Modern Aquarium November 2009

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November 2009 volume XVI number 9



Giant Auction Fish, Plants, New and Used Equipment, Fish Foods, etc

Sunday Nov 8, 2009 12 noon VFW Hall 176 South Winooski Ave Burlington For more information David & Janine 372-8716 David Isham 372-3399 Brian Candib 864-0746

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover photo this month features a male Macropodus erythropterus, also known by the common name of red back paradisefish. To learn more about this attractive anabantid, see Al Priest’s article, “Paradise Revisited,” on page 9.

Photo by Alexander A. Priest


Vol. XVI, No. 9 November, 2009

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2009 Program Schedule President’s Message

Board Members

President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Dan Radebaugh Mark Soberman Jack Traub Warren Feuer Edward Vukich

Fish Bytes by Stephen Sica with Donna Sosna Sica

Paradise Revisited Macropodus erythropterus - the Red Back Paradisefish by Alexander A. Priest

2 3 4 7 9

Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Artie Friedman Ben Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Al Grusell Emma Haus

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Al Grusell Alexander Priest Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Warren Feuer

MODERN AQUARIUM Editor in Chief Copy Editors Exchange Editors Advertising Mgr.

Photos from our October Meeting by Alexander A. Priest

Committee Chairs

A.C.A. Delegate Bowl Show Breeder Award Early Arrivals F.A.A.S. Delegate Members/Programs N.E.C. Delegate Technology Coordinator

N.E.C Convention Logo Contest Rules

Dan Radebaugh Sharon Barnett Susan Priest Alexander A. Priest Stephen Sica Donna Sosna Sica Mark Soberman

Another Day in Key Largo by Stephen Sica

Size Does Matter by Dan Radebaugh

Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

Letter from N.A.N.F.A. Member Classifieds The Undergravel Reporter G.C.A.S. Happenings Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)

11 12 15 17 19 20 21 22 23 24

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


utumn seems to have a way of evoking nostalgia. Our speaker this evening is Past President Joe Ferdenzi, who will be telling us about the history of our Society. If that weren’t enough, the title of our featured species article is “Paradise Revisited,” by Al Priest, and Steve Sica’s “Another Day in Key Largo” could hardly have a more nostalgic title. It certainly awoke some old memories for me. After selling their farm in central Florida, my mother’s brother and his wife moved to Key Largo. This was back in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, and though I haven’t been back recently, I still have some fond – and some not-so-fond memories, mostly relating to scorpions, mosquitoes, sand flies, horse flies, deer flies, and other biting critters. We did a lot of fishing on those visits, and so spent a lot of time on or by the water. I remember walking down to the “boat basin,” that looked as though it had been blasted out of the limestone to provide a shelter for the small boats, and watching the barracudas cruise in to scout for food. There was also a pond nearby where, if you were careful, you might catch a glimpse of a resident crocodile. One of my last visits there was in time to watch the “Ice Bowl” on television, while snacking on delicious smoked kingfish. I also recall a visit shortly after a hurricane had gone directly over the island, bringing a three-foot surge of water along with the back side of the eye. All along the highway, the mangroves on both sides of the road were full of televisions, sofas, beds, refrigerators, washing machines, clothing, small boats, the wreckage of small buildings, and just about anything else you might think of. Right beside the road, leaning against a telephone pole, and a good hundred yards from any water, was a big green fishing boat with a sign proclaiming it to be the “largest fishing boat on the East Coast.” Anyway, back to our issue. Steve Sica’s “Fish Bytes” brings us up to date with what’s been appearing

in the publications of other clubs around the country, Sue Priest reviews a book from 1999 called Aquariums for Dummies (no nostalgia required here), and the Undergravel Reporter reminds us that there’s never likely to be a need to grow nostalgic for stupid laws. As to any nostalgia in my contribution, “Size Does Matter,” I think the less said the better. In next month’s issue we’ll announce our annual awards, and I think this is a good occasion to remind you all that we always need more stories for Modern Aquarium. We’ve been very fortunate to continue to receive new articles from our members, and your contributions have won awards both regionally and nationally. Please do keep up the good work. I know that many of you are involved in very interesting aquarium projects that I’m certain the other members would love to be told about. Please, send them to me. If you’re unsure about how to do so, or if I would be interested in your project, feel free to talk to me at any meeting, or to call or email me at the address given below. Authors Wanted! If you have an article, photo, or drawing that you’d like to submit for inclusion in Modern Aquarium, it’s easy to do! You may fax it to me at (877) 299-0522, email it to, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

Articles submitted for consideration in Modern Aquarium (ISSN 2150-0940) must be received no later than the 10th day of the month prior to the month of publication. Please fax to (877) 299-0522, or email to Copyright 2009 by the Greater City Aquarium Society Inc., a not-for-profit New York State corporation. All rights reserved. Not-for-profit aquarium societies are hereby granted permission to reproduce articles and illustrations from this publication, unless the article indicates that the copyrights have been retained by the author, and provided reprints indicate source and two copies of the publication are sent to the Exchange Editor of this magazine. Any other reproduction or commercial use of the material in this publication is prohibited without express written prior permission. The Greater City Aquarium Society meets every month, except January and February. Members receive notice of meetings in the mail. For more information, contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437. Find out more, or leave us a message, at our Internet Home Page at: http://www. or


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Programs



t is our great fortune to have another admirable cast of speakers who have so graciously accepted our invitation to join us throughout the coming season, bringing us their extensive knowledge and experiences. You certainly won’t wish to miss a moment of our prominent guests, not to mention the friends, fish, warmth, and camaraderie that accompanies each meeting. I know I can barely wait to see you here! Claudia December

Holiday Party!


Winter Break


Winter Break

The G.C.A.S. Proudly extends a most Warm Welcome to

Our Guest Speaker

Joseph Ferdenzi Speaking on The History of the G.C.A.S. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2009


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh


ell, here we are in November, and with the season of Thanksgiving now upon us, it is perhaps appropriate to “count our blessings.” The past year has been a very tough one for the country in general, and for some of us in particular. Even for those of us who have so far come through it relatively whole, uncertainty and anxiety have been constant companions. While the national economic situation seems to be showing signs of improvement, many of our individual prospects remain far from certain. Nevertheless, we’re still here, and there are even a few things to cheer about. A couple of weeks ago, Marsha and I, as well as Joe Graffagnino (on behalf of the Brooklyn club), were guests at a dinner held at the New York Aquarium, where City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. announced a public/private, ten-year initiative, entitled “A Sea Change.” With an initial investment of 100 million dollars, the initiative will include remodeling and upgrading the Aquarium―the oldest continuously operating aquarium in the U.S.―to include a new shark exhibit, along with expansion of indoor space for better year-round viewing, as well as a better exposure to the water, and other needed improvements. For the complete press release, check out the Aquarium’s web site at This is good news for all of us who are interested in raising the level of public awareness and education about the wonders of, and challenges facing marine life around the world. It is also a great relief to those of us who have been concerned by the apparent neglect of the Aquarium in recent years. After all, New York is the home of the Yankees, Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, Broadway, etc., etc. We ought to have an aquarium that measures up to current standards. One of our common concerns as aquarists is conservation. How do we help the species we treasure in our aquaria to continue to inhabit their places of origin? It seems such a vast issue that we often feel there is nothing we can do. There are in fact many worthy programs we can participate in, even if only by making small choices at the grocery store, or by making our voices heard by our politicians. One of these programs is C.A.R.E.S., something we here at GCAS are all familiar with. Many of our favorite aquarium fish are extinct, or nearly so, in their native


habitats. Through C.A.R.E.S. we can keep these species alive, hopefully until they can be returned to their native waters. Another program that we can all participate in is not so well known in fishkeeping circles. For $15 per year, conservation-minded people can purchase an annual Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, also known as the federal Duck Stamp. Since 1934, stamp sales have contributed to wetland and grassland conservation. Currently, 98 cents out of every dollar goes into a fund to purchase or lease these habitats. This program was originally designed to protect our migratory birds, but what else can you think of besides ducks that lives in wetlands? So for our native fish and other animals (and plants), this program helps maintain natural places for them to live. Since the program’s inception, hunters have been shouldering most of the load, but all of us can contribute. Stamps can be purchased online at www. or, and at thousands of post offices. Also, by showing the stamp at national wildlife refuges, we can gain free admission from July 1 to June 30 each year.

Don’t forget―next month’s meeting is our annual Holiday Party. It will be held once again at the Palace Diner, at a cost of $15 per person. If you haven’t signed up yet, please sign up tonight! If you signed up last meeting, please check with Marsha to be sure we have you listed correctly. As I mentioned in this column last month, the Society could use a few volunteers for responsible positions. If you’d like more information, please see or call me, or any member of the Board (check the Contents page of Modern Aquarium for the list of Board members). My phone number can be found at the bottom of page 2 of this issue. Happy Fishkeeping!

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Thanks You! Our Generous Sponsors and Advertisers The Greater City Aquarium Society extends our heartfelt thanks to the following manufacturers for their generous donations. Thanks also to our advertisers, whose contribution to our success as a Society is deeply appreciated. Please patronize our supporters. Ecological Laboratories Cameo Pet Shop HBH Pet Products Coral Aquarium Microbe Lift Nassau Discus Red Sea World Class Aquarium Ocean Nutrition America Zoo Rama Aquarium Omega Sea San Francisco Bay Brand Zoo Med Laboratories Inc. Rolf C. Hagen

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2009

5 Next Board Meeting – Sunday, November 15TH @12:00 p.m. (conference call) If you cannot attend the meeting, please contact Joe Masi at or 845-896-4793 2009 NEC CALENDAR


October 18 NHAS Auction 23-25 NJAS Show & Auction

February 14 PVAS Auction 26-28 NEC Annual Convention

November 8 TFCB Auction 15 NEC BOG Meeting (Conference call)

March 13 NJAS Swap Meet 21 NAS Benefit Auction

December 6 NEC General Meeting

April 18

NJAS Spring Auction

October 22-24 NJAS Show & Auction

The NEC does not coordinate dates for club events, but does publish a monthly calendar for your convenience. Prior to selecting a date for your club’s next event, please check the NEC calendar for availability, and then notify the Editor of the new date immediately at

The Aqualand Aquarium Society and the Exotic Fish Society of Hartford have joined to make one club. They will be called the Greater Hartford Aquarium Society, and will meet at the LUTZ Children’s Museum in Manchester at 7:30 PM on the fourth Tuesday of the month. The Society’s website is


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

An occasional column for society exchanges, guest appearances, articles, and items of general interest. We try not to bite off more than we can swallow. If you wish to offer comments, suggestions, or any information that you would like to see in this column, the authors encourage you to contact us through the Editor (, or at a monthly meeting.

by Stephen Sica with Donna Sosna Sica


’m sitting in my basement admiring a deep blue female betta that I outbid myself for at a recent GCAS auction. I set up the fish in a two and onehalf gallon tank, added some black stones for substrate, and threw in some java moss and watersprite. Four days later, after reading an article about bettas in a popular hobby magazine, I put my fish in a five gallon tank with gravel, a few more plants, and a 25 watt heater. I couldn’t find tubing to set up a filter, so that will have to wait for now. The upgrade made me feel good; hopefully, I made my fish happier too! Feeling good is universally positive, but when I think about my next column, I don’t feel so good. Would someone please suggest to the editor that he reprint a column? I’ve mentioned this previously, but the Greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society’s Finformation still has the most beautiful color photographs on their cover. They should consider compiling and publishing them. I’ll have to check their website, I do wish they would discuss the cover photo more than by just naming the subject and photographer. Their May 2009 cover photo is a green shrimp balancing itself on the tip of a plant, with an out of focus planted background. The Motor City Aquarium Society’s May 2009 TropiQuarium says that you know you’re a fish nut when you know the scientific name of the guppy. I have no idea what it is. Further, you know you’re a fish nut when you can tell what kind of algae is in a bucket by the smell…you can scoop out a dead fish with your bare hand and eat after wiping your hands on your shirt…you have a good idea of what the water tastes like in each tank from using your mouth to start your siphon…I can honestly say that I am not a fish nut. Want another one? Just kidding. In May’s NJAS Reporter Chuck Davis describes his experiences with the blackbelt, a large Central American cichlid. His last two surviving fish (that he

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

thought were both males) bred, but the fry were eaten by large tankmates. In the same issue, Izzy Zwerin, who is branching out his writing skills from Brooklyn to New Jersey, describes “Propagating Cryptocoryne lutea” that is really Cryptocoryne walker, a native of Sri Lanka. It is a suitable midground plant, and robust in a wide range of water and lighting. Intense lighting will bring out its leaves’ reddish color. Some water movement is good, and just a bit of liquid fertilizers will benefit this heavy root-feeder…in case anyone has a tank clogged with Malaysian livebearing snails, just get yourself an “assassin” snail, Anentome helena, according to Rick Borstein’s Cichlid Chatter’s “Cichlid Ramblings” column. This snail lances and injects toxin into its prey, extracts the meat and eats it. Brings to my mind a gourmet meal. My chest, modest though it may be, started to puff out when perusing the Chatter’s November/ December 2008 exchange column. It mentioned a Modern Aquarium article that I wrote! Then I saw that it was attributed to the wrong author. There’s nothing like a dose of humility and not even fifteen seconds of fame…but back to Borstein’s “Ramblings.” Rick says that he likes to breed tilapia and eat them too. Well, I also like (to eat) fish. But I wonder if anyone ever ate the fish they bred? I couldn’t do it. I like most articles about plants; one reason is that they are relatively brief. In the May 2009 Central New York Aquarium Society’s Reflector, Harold Bovair wrote two articles: “The Flowering Anubias barteri” and “The Flowering Anubias nana.” He deserves a medal. He invested two years with twelve hours of daily artificial light to grow offshoots from a mother A. barteri. He fertilized the plants with liquid phosphorous and nitrogen and the tank’s fish waste. Bovair was able to grow two plants that rewarded him by blooming five white flowers between them. Using the same techniques he also grew, with equal success,

November 2009


flowering A. nana from very young plants purchased from a hobbyist. In my last column I wrote that in 2008 the Honolulu Aquarium Society collected two hundred and sixty-seven pounds of plecos from a local stream. This year they collected one hundred and forty-five pounds from the same stream. This is the smallest amount that the club has collected in the past few years. The club believes that unwanted pet fish are disposed of into the stream. A photo of a bucketful of caught fish shows numerous large plecos, which I think indicates that many mature fish were released into the stream, and not naturally reproduced. The Society has quite a history; their initial publication, a quarterly bulletin, was in 1953, and next year marks their sixtieth anniversary. Finally, Pam Chin’s column “Cichlids In The News,” in the November/December 2008 issue of Cichlidae Communiqué has a few words about the “Malawi Safari 2008.” Claudia Dickinson, along with Pam, was one of the expedition’s hardy adventurers. Some remarks that may or may not refer to Claudia: she can swim like Michael Phelps, and like most veteran adventurers on the trip, she travels with only “the


clothes on her back.” Well, I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one who likes to travel light…and finally, Mark Soberman lectured at the October meeting of the North Jersey Aquarium Society. Can anyone guess the subject? Okay, this is really the finale. Joe Ferdenzi’s article, “Double Royalty: La Corte’s Emperor Tetra” was reprinted in North Jersey’s October Reporter.

X marks the spot for more fishy news―which is even better than undersea treasure!

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Paradise Revisited Macropodus erythropterus - the Red Back Paradisefish by ALEXANDER A PRIEST

Macropodus erythropterus

Photo by Al Priest

t is generally accepted that the Macropodus opercularis, or paradisefish, was the first tropical fish to be kept as a pet in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere, having first been imported from Asia into Europe around 1869 and into the United States in 1878.1 For many years, the genus Macropodus was believed to consist of three species: Macropodus opercularis (the common paradisefish seen in many pet stores and often sold as either the blue or red, and sometimes turquoise paradisefish, depending on the shade and intensity of color of their vertical body stripes), Macropodus ocellatus, or roundtailed paradisefish (once known as Macropodus chinensis), and Macropodus concolor, the black paradisefish (now called Macropodus spechti). In a paper published in 2002, Dr. JÜrg Freyhof, of Berlin Germany’s Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, and Dr. Fabian Herder, Curator of Ichthyology at Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY) Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Koenig in Bonn, Germany, identified two new species in the genus Macropodus: Macropodus hongkongensis from Hong Kong, and Macropodus erythropterus from the coastal catchments of the Vietnamese Rivers Quang Tri, Cam Lo and Giang. The rest of this article is about Macropodus erythropterus, also known by the common name of red back paradisefish. As indicated previously, Macropodus erythropterus is one of the two newest members of the genus Macropodus, having been imported into Europe in 2000 by Drs. Freyhof and Herder. I obtained my group at a Greater City Aquarium Society auction (just one additional benefit of attending aquarium society meetings). The body shape of Macropodus erythropterus closely resembles that of the common pet store variety paradisefish, Macropodus opercularis. M. erythropterus has a slightly more pointy head, no (or very faint) opercular spot, and no prominent vertical stripes. Its body is reddish in color, with a

November 2009



more intense red color along the back (thus, the While they will eat almost anything, common name of red back paradisefish). Macropodus erythropterus is primarily a carnivore, This species shares many characteristics with and live or frozen food is recommended, especially M. opercularis, including adaptability to almost if you want the fish to spawn. They readily breed any water conditions, and aggression. Like in captivity, and their spawning process is typical of other bubblenesting anabantoids (such as Betta M. opercularis, the red back paradisefish is not a splendens). The candidate for a peaceful male wraps his community aquarium. body around the Males are aggressive Scientific Name: Macropodus erythropterus female, causing and territorial, and will Common Name: red back paradisefish the expulsion of attack almost any other Standard Length: 2.5" eggs from the fish of similar or smaller pH: 6.5 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral) female. The size. While they are Water hardness: soft to neutral male then takes native to soft, slightly Temperature: 70E to 75E F the eggs and acidic water, they Distribution: coastal Viet Nam and places them into readily adapt to most vicinity of “Dong Hoi,� Thailand his floating water parameters Reproduction: bubblenester bubblenest. (although wild caught Temperament: aggressive, jumper He will specimens are best kept Environment: low-light, caves and/or driftwood, guard the eggs in soft, acidic water if heavily planted including floating until they hatch you want them to breed). plants, tight-fitting cover with no gaps and the fry are They can tolerate a very Nutrition: primarily carnivore (live or frozen free-swimming wide temperature range, worms, brine shrimp, etc.) (usually within but Macropodus Filtration: avoid currents and surface agitation three days), after erythropterus is best which he should kept at 75E F or less. be removed. These are very easy Just as with Betta splendens, the female should be fish to keep and breed in the home aquarium, removed as soon as the spawning embrace requiring very little beyond food and clean water. produces no more eggs, as she (and any other fish Caves, driftwood, and plants are recommended, who might be in the vicinity) will be attacked by especially if you keep more than one adult male in the male once he starts guarding his nest. Once the a tank. As noted previously, males are territorial fry are free swimming, the male provides no and will fight unless they can each stake out a additional parental care. distinct territory. If you expect them to breed, Some sources claim that Macropodus floating plants (or other floating objects) should be erythropterus appreciates some water current 3 but placed in the tank to serve as anchors for I question that, and have found that they do quite bubblenests. well with minimal water movement. In my Be careful, especially at feeding time, as they opinion, any significant current would disrupt their are such enthusiastic eaters that they are likely to nests, since they are surface bubblenesters. jump to try to get to the food faster. A very snug lid, with all openings sealed, should always be in place. Males are larger than females, have longer References fins, and are more colorful. Adult females are 1 wider, have shorter fins, and are less colorful (they can appear to be almost white when ready to breed). Just like the other members of the 2 Freyhof, Jorg and Fabian Herder 2002 Review of Macropodus genus, Macropodus erythropterus is the paradise fishes of the genus Macropodus in a surface bubblenester. That means a male will Vietnam, with description of two new species from build a nest of bubbles at the surface of the water Vietnam and southern China (Perciformes: (usually under a leaf, but in an aquarium a floating Osphronemidae). Ichthyological Exploration of piece of plastic will serve as a suitable substitute). Freshwaters volume 13, no. 2, pp 147-167. He will then try to entice a female to his nest and 3 if she is receptive, they will embrace. Hundreds of eggs can be produced at one spawning. cropodus/Macropodus_erythropterus.htm



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Rules for the NEC’s 35th Annual Convention Logo Contest Rules for the 35th Annual Convention Logo Contest The Deadline for submission is 11:59pm November 21, 2009!! The Logo you design should incorporate this year’s theme, “Caribbean,” into a fishy design, representative of a Tropical Fish Convention. It does not have to include the dates of the convention (February 26-28, 2010) nor the fact that this will be the 35th convention, but you may include this information in the design if you wish. 1. Artist must be a member of an NEC club. 2. Entry must be original artwork. (Never used before) 3. Entry must be submitted by the artist. Please send a non-signed copy. Your signature can be added after the voting, or you may send a signed copy in addition if you prefer. 4. The design should follow the theme of this year’s banquet, “Caribbean” 5. Please submit a color version. Four color maximum please. Black outlining, if used, also counts as one color. Please avoid shading as it will not reproduce as you intend it to on the T-shirts. The winning logo will be decided by popular vote through the NEC Convention Website November 25 – December 8, 2009. It will appear on the Website, the cover of the Annual Convention Program, the Registration Flier and on the Convention T-shirts, and may be used in any/all NEC Convention publicity. Part or all of the logo may be used on the registration button and may be modified to fit. Note that the artist may recommend a color for the t-shirt, but the final color may be decided by the NEC Convention Committee or at the December NEC meeting. The winner will receive a free registration for the 35th Annual Convention, a free convention Tshirt and a free banquet ticket. The deadline is 11:59pm November 21, 2009. All entries must be received via email by Doug Patac,, by this date/time and the subject of the email must be “NEC Logo Entry.” You will receive a reply stating that your entry was received – if you do not receive a reply, it is your responsibility to send the email again and call 802 753-7269 within the next 24 hours to ensure it was received. Late entries can NOT be accepted. Please email or call with questions (802) 372-8716. Good Luck to All!!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2009


Photos from our October Meeting by Alexander A Priest

Warren Feuer started us off with an excellent talk (including videos!) on Lake Tanganyika dwarf shell dwellers.

During the break after the speaker, our members looked over the items to be auctioned.

Our auctioneer, Ed Vukich, kept the auction moving at a rapid pace.

Immediate Past President Joe Ferdenzi (seated) sold some items at the request of a former GCAS member.

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City 17A.S (NY)

You never know what will show up on our Raffle Table!!

October’s Door Prize Winner: Elliot Oshins.

1st Place Bowl Show winner, Bob Hamje

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


2nd and 3rd Place Bowl Show Winner, Mario Bengcion


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)



very autumn for the past three years, Donna and I have attended the annual Sea Dwellers Dive Shop reunion for scuba divers at the Key Largo Holiday Inn near mile marker 100. It’s about one hundred miles north of Key West on U.S. Route One, the southernmost highway in the United States. Our hotel happens to be the home of the original “African Queen” from the movie, but we come here to dive and get some sun. Last year at Halloween the weather was cold, windy, and raining, but this October, early in the month, it was sunny, with temperatures approaching ninety degrees. The water temperature was a “bathwater warm” eighty-three degrees. We dove two wrecks and four reefs during three mornings. One shipwreck, the Spiegel Grove, a 500 foot long U.S. Navy landing craft transport, was sunk in 130 feet in 2004. Fortunately, the bridge and upper deck areas that we visited were only at a depth of 85 feet. The second wreck, the Norwegian

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

merchant ship Benwood, was sailing blacked out to avoid detection by U-Boats in 1942 when it collided with another blacked out freighter. It sank in 40 feet of water. Only the hull remains as a home for numerous fish. As usual, I tried to photograph everything. Rather than try to describe all that we saw, I prepared a photo essay, which hopefully will be self-explanatory. Depending upon which photos are published, some may depict pillar coral, grunts, parrotfish, trumpetfish, a queen angelfish, a blue tang, Atlantic spadefish, a hogfish, a wrasse, green and spotted moray eels, a squirrelfish, the largest brain coral in the Florida Keys, a filefish, and a moon jellyfish. Donna and I find Key Largo to be a very special place that we plan to return to for many years. But for now, move over, Bogie and Bacall…or should I say Hepburn!

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


by Dan Radebaugh efore you ask―no, the title wasn’t inspired by Dr. Ruth. I stole it from this season’s opener of The Ultimate Fighter. In the aquarium hobby one of the questions that never seems to go away is some variation of “How big a tank do I need?” The answer of course comes in the form of another question, and boils down to some variation of “What are your goals?” For example, what kinds of fish do you wish to keep? Are you primarily interested in breeding, in setting up a beautiful presentation, or in just keeping your pets in an optimal environment that meets both their needs and yours? Many of us combine these goals to a greater or lesser extent, and so our answers to what seems to be a simple question are often not so simple. Most of us are limited in our choice of tank size by where we have chosen to live. Do we live on the ground floor? If not, is there an elevator? How large are your rooms? Are you going to devote a room to fish only, or spread your tanks around? How strong are your floors? Do you have enough electrical outlets? How are you going to do water changes? All of these things affect the number and size of the tanks we keep, and therefore the number and size of our fish. You come across some odd things in this hobby, not the least of which are a couple of “rules of thumb” that seem to be magically known to almost everyone who has ever even thought about keeping fish, but which are nevertheless quite simply not true. The first is that a fish will only grow proportionally to the size of the tank. The second is that the correct formula for determining how many fish to put in aquarium is to figure one inch of fish length per gallon of water. Adherence to these two “rules” are probably responsible for more sick and dead fish, and for more failed aquarists than anything else that I can think of, with the possible exception of ignorance of the nitrogen cycle. The proportional growth myth isn’t even worth talking about, other than comparing it to news stories of children who were discovered to have been kept locked in closets for most of their lives, and whose growth and development were thereby severely retarded. So perhaps you could, by stunting, keep the fish from achieving its normal size. I seriously


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

doubt that this “bonsai” method is a viable strategy for growing healthy fish. The “inch-per-gallon” rule might perhaps be a useful tool if you’re only going to be keeping guppies or other small minnow types (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but once you start keeping heavier bodied fishes, such as goldfish or cichlids, it’s totally useless, and almost guarantees producing unhealthy or dead fish. Some newer rules of thumb have been suggested for the heavier-bodied fishes, such as five or six gallons of water per inch of fish, but they still mostly don’t work if taken too literally. For example, consider all those cute little Oscars you see in fish shops (some of the chain stores require their managers to maintain at least a tank of these). Using the 6-gallons-per-inch rule, when that little Oscar gets to six inches long, a thirty-gallon tank should be fine, right? Well, not so much. At that size, your Oscar is coming into his “terrible teens.” He’s eating like there’s no tomorrow, putting on bulk, and (in a small aquarium) becoming increasingly intolerant of tankmates. All that eating―he’s a growing boy (or girl) after all―means he’s producing a lot of waste, and unless you have extraordinary filtration and do frequent and significant water changes, you’re going to start having water quality problems, putting your fish at risk for (among other things) HLLE, or Head and Lateral Line Erosion, also called HITH, or Holein-the-Head disease. We don’t know everything about this condition yet, but poor water quality (such as high nitrates) seems to be the prime contributor, along with stress, which can also be brought about by poor water quality, or by things like cramped quarters. Further, that six-inch Oscar will nearly double in length and increase even more than that in body mass within the next six months, so you’d better be planning for more space right away! There is another size-related water-quality issue that isn’t discussed as much, which is that water quality maintenance is easier in large tanks than in small ones. Because of the concentrations of chemicals, if your water quality starts to go south in a small tank, you have a lot less time to react and save the situation (and your fish) than you do in a large tank, where water chemistry changes tend to happen more slowly. Large tanks typically have more filters in use, as well as more

November 2009


substrate, glass, and decorations to provide home to beneficial bacteria than do smaller tanks, and 200 gallons takes a lot longer to fatally contaminate than ten gallons does. I have experienced “mini-cycles” with my larger tanks, but they were way easier to deal with than when they’ve happened in the smaller tanks. You also have more flexibility in your water change regimen, again because of the greater volume of water. In addition to water quality issues, there are also “quality of life” issues. Fish are not just live “screensavers.” Like ourselves, they are social animals with their own cultural, mental, and emotional needs. Going back to the Oscar example, mental stimulation (part of what zookeepers now call “enrichment”) should definitely be a part of keeping these fish. Different fishes have different needs in this area, and learning what those needs are is an important part of keeping them happy and healthy. Having enough space to live in is certainly in part a quality-of-life issue. How much space does your fish want? I certainly don’t know the needs of every fish in the hobby. Neither, I suspect, does anyone else. So read. Go online and search. Come to club meetings and learn. But in addition to all this, pay attention to your fish, as they’re probably trying to tell you. They try to tell us things all the time; we just don’t always listen. Sometimes that’s because it would cost us money, but more often we’re just not connecting the dots because what they’re telling us doesn’t match what we think we already know. Watch your fish. If your fish is too long to comfortably be parallel to the short side of the aquarium, or has trouble turning around, it needs to be in a bigger tank, or at least one with dimensions more suitable to its length. If your fish acts as though it’s feeling anxious, and is being overly cautious about moving swiftly and naturally, you might need to consider upgrading its accommodations. If you move a fish to a smaller tank than it has been living in, and its color goes ”off,” and doesn’t return to normal within a week or so, it might need to go back to the “big house.” Social circumstances are important. You can’t really claim to know a fish’s behavior until you’ve seen it in varying situations. Some species are renowned in the hobby for their aggressiveness. Red devils come to mind. However, these are in fact rather gregarious fish given spacious enough quarters. I saw a very large group of them in (as I recall) a six thousand gallon non-display tank at the Tennessee Aquarium, and they were practically schooling! Most of us in the hobby just can’t provide enough space to ever see that side of their behavior. Staying with the Central American cichlids for a moment, my experience with Herichthys carpintis and Paratheraps synspilus has been that, unless in spawning mode, they will live quite peacefully in a six-foot community tank, and in that environment 18

the female is pretty safe from aggressive onslaughts by the male. When spawning, however, all bets are off for the rest of the community. Perhaps in a still larger space it’d be less risky for the neighbors, but they seem to require dominance of the entire six-foot tank to be secure about their young. Keeping a pair of either of these species once they’re fully grown in a four-foot tank definitely calls for a divider to provide the female a safe retreat. Interestingly, both these species, while relaxed and confident in the larger tanks, become quite shy and easily spooked in the smaller, four-foot tanks, and will spend much of their time hiding in caves or whatever, which they totally ignore in the larger tanks. I am told by those with more experience that P. synspilus is best kept in small colonies, and my own experience with H. carpintis is that the younger fish are quite gregarious once everyone has an established hideout. But they do need their space. Adequate space though, isn’t just for “tankbusters.” All species need to feel that they have enough space to safely go about their normal business, whether normal means singly or in aggregations. To many species, feeling safe means being in a group, so for them your aquarium needs to be large enough to house a satisfactory group. Tiger barbs, for instance, like to live in groups, and often play rather roughly within their group, but the rough-necking is spread out enough that no real harm is done. If you don’t have enough space for an adequately sized group, some of that energy might be directed at other residents of your tank in the form of fin-nipping. So if you want to keep tiger barbs in a community aquarium, a ten-gallon aquarium is probably inadequate to contain a large enough group (six to eight) of the barbs and other, less robust residents. So, when planning an aquarium purchase, don’t trust facile formulas. Think about what fish you’d like to put in the tank, and figure out before you buy it whether it will suffice. Likewise, when considering a fish purchase, it’s a good idea to know whether your present setup will be adequate for the life of the fish being considered, or if you’ll need to upgrade, and if so, how soon. The one formula I will endorse when planning an aquarium purchase is to buy the largest aquarium you can afford that will fit into your available space. Whether discussing fishkeeping or ultimate fighting, skill matters a lot, but there is no substitute for size.

November 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

she drops coins, your cat, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into your tank. After having said all of that, I’ll bet you think that I didn’t like this book. Not so! It is very reader-friendly, and even though this reader found herself groaning more often than laughing at the a Series On Books For The Hobbyist humor, it is an effective communicator. Here is an example of our authors providing entertainment as by SUSAN PRIEST well as information simultaneously and at the same n the June 1999 issue of Modern Aquarium I time: “The fish law of potential energy—a fish’s reviewed a book called The Complete Idiot’s energy can be stored indefinitely and will only be Guide to Freshwater Aquariums (1998). released when the aquarium hood is opened and a When I stumbled onto this, the current title under direct escape route is in sight. Make sure your review, on for the VERY MODEST aquarium hood fits securely.” The seriousness of chapters six, “All water is not price of $0.01, (one cent) plus a created equal,” and chapter shipping charge of $3.99, and in seventeen, “The breeding virtually new condition, I Aquariums for Dummies room,” are balanced by such couldn’t pass up the opportunity By Maddy Hargrove offerings as chapter twenty to discover what dummies might and Mic Hargrove two, “Ten ways to kill your have in common with idiots. Wiley Publishing, 1999 fish without even trying.” Let’s start out with what This book was written this book is NOT. It is not ten years ago, and F r e s h w a t e r most of the Aquariums for recommended web Dummies, and it is sites are outdated. not Saltwater The authors like Aquariums for undergravel (Word Dummies, both of Perfect thinks this which were published should be one word) in 2005. It IS an filters, and describe earlier version (1999) their use in more which includes both than one place. Very freshwater and little of the text saltwater fishkeeping addresses itself to topics. saltwater topics, and This book freshwater hobbyists describes itself as “the will find that their fun and easy guide to interests are well creating and represented. maintaining a It turns out that beautiful aquarium.” idiots and dummies Is it informative? Yes. at the turn of the Does it offer its century actually had readers good advice? a lot in common. Yes. Is it They both had short entertaining? Maybe. attention spans, and You may or may not were easily enjoy the sense of entertained. They humor of the authors. This might be the single most comprehensive were also lighthearted aquarists who took their book on the subject that I have ever encountered. I fishkeeping seriously enough to want to learn know this sounds like a good thing, but it dissects so everything they could. It seems that not much has many topics into so much microinformation (Word changed in the first decade of the twenty-first Perfect doesn’t think that is a word) within its 26 century, as we are all still turning the pages of chapters and 328 pages, that you may just get tired Modern Aquarium. Maybe it’s because we like of reading. The “fun and easy guide” made the color photos! fishkeeping sound like much more work than it actually is. Then there is such advice as keeping the neighbor’s kid away from your aquarium lest he or


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)



November 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Member Classifieds EQUIPMENT: 3 Rena Filstar XP3 Cannister Filters -- Up to 350 GPH -- $50 each 1 Eheim Pro II 2026 $65 1 Emperor 280 Power Filter (single bio-wheel) $20 1 Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel HOB Power Filter $30 1 Coralife Turb Twist 18 watt with 3 extra (never used) UV bulbs $50 All nearly new, in original boxes. Call (631) 563-1404 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2-10’s---complete $15 each 2-20 Longs complete, no lights 20 each 1-20 high-complete, no filter 20 2-29’s complete 30 each Refrigerator 30 1-55 complete 60 1-65 with canister filter, full lighting, Laterite in gravel metal stand---$250 Some large wood, meds, rock, caves. “Complete” means heater, filter, full lighting (they were used as plant tanks), canopy. Call Charley: (917) 837-6346 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------46 bow tank, light, stand, all oak finish $310 Looking for Oak stand for 36g bowfront Call Ron: 718-464-8408 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Eclipse: 2 hood 12”*24” used only 4 months $122.00 retail price asking price $65.00 Eclipse: rite size hoods H cartridge quantity (7)* (3) packs $10.00 each $9.00 Aqueon filter: 55 flow rate 325 for 55 gal. brand new -never used $50.00 / $40.00 Duetto 100 internal filter brand new-never used $30.00 / $25.00 Marineland canister filter: c-160 up to 30gal brand new-never used $120.00 / $105.00 Marineland canister filter: c-220 up to 55 gal brand new-never used $155.00 / $130.00 Pentair pump: quiet one 400/106 hp brand new-never used $30.00 / $25.00 Coralife: 24” lite 65 white/65 actinic 130 watts brand new- never used $165.00 / $155.00 Coralife: 24” lite 65 white/65 actinic 130 watt -1 actinic bulb barely used $165.00 / $80.00 Coralife: 24’ lite 65 white/65 actinic 130 watt -no bulbs $165.00 / $50.00 Coralife: bulb square pin 28 watts/13” 6700k (2) brand new-never used $30.00 / $20.00 Coralife: bulb square pin 28 watts/13” 50/50 brand new-never used $30.00 /$20.00 Coralife: bulb straight pin 36watts/16” 10,000k brand new-never used $30.00 / $20.00 Coralife: bulb straight pin 36watts/16’ actinic brand new-never used $30.00 /$20.00 Aquatic Gardener: 20’ grabber/cutter brand new -never used $4.00 /$3.00 Planting tweezers stainless steel brand new-never used $15.00 /$12.00 Bone cutter brand new-never used $20.00 /$25.00 Coralife: uva 9watts turbo twist with maxi jet 600 brand new-never used $165.00 /$150.00 Coralife: uva 9 watts turbo twist with maxi jet 600 barely used $165.00 / $75.00 Coralife: uva 9 watts bulbs quantity(3) brand new-never used $40.00 each $35.00 Perfecto: lite strip 24”for tanks15,25,30h,20h,28 euro used 6months $40.00 /$20.00 All Glass: lite strip 20”for tanks 10,15h,16b,20x,35h used 2months $30.00 / $15.00 Attractive decorative bowl holder for betta LIMITED EDITION , not in production for more than 10 years, plastic bowl 3/4 gal retail $70.00 Call Jakleen: 718-225-3940 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2009


Laws, Courts, and other Nonsense A series by “The Undergravel Reporter” In spite of popular demand to the contrary, this humor and information column continues. As usual, it does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of the Editor, or of the Greater City Aquarium Society.

henever I’m at a loss for items to fill this column, I search laws and court cases and find more than enough material at which to poke fun. Our country’s legal system gives people certain legal rights, which sometimes extend to the right to bring lawsuits that, to some, may appear frivolous. For example, let’s say you go to a zoo and visit the dolphin exhibit. What, exactly would you expect to see? Dolphins, of course, maybe a seabird, maybe some fish (at feeding time, at least), and certainly water. Would you expect to get wet? Perhaps not, but would you be very surprised if you did? You need not be an aquarist to know that water, whether in a fish tank, or in a dolphin pool, is wet, and wet usually equates with slippery. Well, here’s a warning: before you invite someone into your fish room, make sure you have posted warning signs, or you could be sued. A woman is suing a Chicago-area zoo for a 2008 fall near a dolphin exhibit, accusing zookeepers of encouraging the mammals to splash water and then failing to protect spectators from wet surfaces. Her lawsuit (for $50,000) claims zoo officials “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands, making the floor wet and slippery,” but failed to post warning signs or lay down protective mats or strips.1 (By the way, did you know that humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure?)2


But, in some other countries, rights are extended to non-persons as well. A recently adopted law in Switzerland stipulates that aquariums for pet fish may not be transparent on all sides, and that owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light. Goldfish under this law are deemed to be a “social species” (or Gruppentiere in German), and any animal classified as a “social species” is considered to be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind. And for anyone planning a mercy killing for a goldfish, special chemicals are required to put them to death.3 Now, this comes from a country in which, at the request of the government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the “dignity” of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong.4 Strangely, Switzerland remains the last western European nation where it is still legal to shoot cats (feral as well as domestic ones that stray more than 200 yards from their homes) for sale to tanners who use the fur in garments and blankets.5

“Social” species like these must be allowed to socialize, according to a new Swiss law Photo: Not to be outdone, a proposed British law would have given courts in that country the power to impose fines of up to £20,000 (over $33,000) and 12 months’ jail time on people found guilty of mistreating animals. Gardeners could even have been fined for killing worms, slugs, and snails if scientific evidence proved they suffered pain and distress. Anyone under 16 would have been banned from owning a pet. (This measure failed, but it did become illegal for persons under 16 to win goldfish at fairs.)6

References 2 3 4 5 6 1


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Robert Hamje 2 Mario Bengcion 3 Mario Bengcion

Black Ranchu Goldfish Yellow Labidochromis Red Zebra Cichlid

Unofficial 2009 Bowl Show totals to date: Mario Bengcion 23

Robert Hamje 22

Susan Priest 3

Vincent Babino 1

Richard Waizman 9 Ed Vukich 3

Richard Levy 1

Here are meeting times and locations of some aquarium societies in the Metropolitan New York area:

Greater City Aquarium Society

East Coast Guppy Association

Next Meeting: December 2, 2009 Speaker: N/A Event: Holiday Party Meets the first Wednesday of the month (except January & February) at 7:30pm: The December meeting will be at The Palace Diner 6015 Main Street - Flushing, NY Contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437 E-mail: Website:

Meets: 2nd Tuesday of each month at at 8:00 pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Gene Baudier (631) 345-6399

Big Apple Guppy Club Meets: Last Tuesday each month (except Jan, Feb, July, and August) at 7:30-10:00pm. Alley Pond Environmental Ctr.: 228-06 Northern Blvd. Contact: Donald Curtin (718) 631-0538

Brooklyn Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 13, 2009 Speaker: Greg Sullivan Topic: Building Your Own Filter Meets the 2nd Friday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30pm: NY Aquarium - Education Hall, Brooklyn, NY Call: BAS Events Hotline: (718) 837-4455 Website:

Long Island Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 20, 2009 Speaker: Horst Gerber Topic: Aquascaping and Hands-On Glass Cutting Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Greenhouse Meeting Room, Holtsville Ecology Center, Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Nassau County Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 10, 2009 Speaker: Ed Vukich Topic: TBA Meets: 2nd Tuesday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30 PM Molloy College - Kellenberg Hall ~1000 Hempstead Ave Rockville Centre, NY Contact: Mike Foran (516) 798-6766 Website:

NORTH JERSEY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: November 19, 2009 Speaker: Chuck Davis Topic: TBD Meets: Lyndhurst Elks Club - 251 Park Ave - Lyndhurst, NJ Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 e-mail: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 19, 2009 Speaker & Topic: TBD Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at: Earthplace - the Nature Discovery Center - Westport, CT Contact: John Chapkovich (203) 734-7833 Call our toll free number (866) 219-4NAS E-mail: Website:

November 2009


Fin Fun Body Parts This month, Modern Aquarium has an article on a fish whose common name is the Red Back Paradisefish. There are many other species with a common name that includes reference to a body part. See if you can correctly match up the common name with the scientific name of the fish below. Answers next month. Scientific Name

Common Name

Ctenopoma ocellatum

Rummy-nose tetra

Anableps anableps

Threadfin rainbowfish

Pseudomugil mellis

Tailspot ctenopoma

Rineloricaria fallax.

Elephantnose fish

Ctenopoma kingsleyae

Spiketail paradisefish

Pseudosphromenus cupanus

Whiptailed loricaria

Iriatherina werneri

Eyespot ctenopoma

Gnathonemus petersii

Firemouth cichlid

Hemigrammus bleheri.


Thorichthys meeki.

Honey blue eye source:

Solution to Last Month’s Puzzle: It

Came From THE Lake

Scientific Name Neolamprologus tretocephalus Paracyprichromis nigripinnis Altolamprologus compressiceps Neolamprologus leleupi Tropheus moorii Eretmodus cyanostictus Epinephelus sexfasciatus Cyprichromis leptosoma Astatotilapia bloyeti Neolamprologus tetracanthus Julidochromis regani


Common Name Five-Bar Cichlid Blue Neon Compressed Cichlid Lemon Cichlid Blunthead Cichlid Striped Clown Goby Sixbar Grouper Sardine Cichlid Bloyet's Haplo Fourspine Cichlid Convict Julie


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY) Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

The Boston Aquarium Society presents our

Rare Fish  Plants  Equipment

Things to know :

● Item registration begins at 10:30 AM, bidding starts at 12:00 PM. ● 60/40 split in favor of vendor. ● Maximum of 15 lots per person. ● Cash or checks only please ● Save time, get your Vendor Registration Form online and fill it out before attending the event!

Where is it ? Smith Leadership Academy 23 Leonard St Dorchester, MA 02122 How do I get there ? By Car - See our website for a link to directions via Google Maps Public Transportation Smith Leadership Academy is near the Fields Corner stop on the MBTA Redline. Our event is an open house Everyone is welcome ! Free Admission

New Date New Location !

For more info please visit:

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