Modern Aquarium November 2010

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November 2010 volume XVII number 9

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover photo subject this month is a male Xiphophorus montezumae, the Montezuma swordtail. For more information on, and photos of this striking livebearer, see Jules Birnbaum’s “A Wild Original from Mexico,” on page 16.

Photo by Joseph Ferdenzi


Vol. XVII, No. 9 November, 2010

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2010 Program Schedule Our Generous Members President’s Message

Board Members

President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Dan Radebaugh Mark Soberman Jules Birnbaum Warren Feuer Edward Vukich

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 A. Priest Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Warren Feuer

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

Photos by Alexander A. Priest

Fish Bytes by Stephen Sica with Donna Sosna Sica

Something Simple by Susan Priest

How Not to Breed Corydoras sterbai by Joseph Ferdenzi

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

Photos from Last Month’s Meeting

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

Adopt a Pet! by Warren Feuer

G.C.A.S. Sponsors and Advertisers A Wild Original from Mexico by Jules Birnbaum

Member Classifieds MA Classics Hobby Builder: John Cillo by Dan Carson (Introduction by Linda Cillo Suppa)

G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter The More the Merrier

Fin Fun (Puzzle Page) Sweet and Sour

2 3 3 4 6 7 9 11 13 15 16 17 18

22 23 24

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


received an unexpected email the other day from someone I didn’t know. It contained not only a note of introduction, but a copy of an article from an old issue of Modern Aquarium as well. As soon as I read the note, I knew I had to include it in the magazine. The writer is the daughter of a former member of Greater City back in the 1960s and ’70s. The story is of a strange and wonderful confluence of lives, and their connection to Greater City and to Modern Aquarium. I won’t spoil it by telling the story here, but be sure and see “MA Classics.” For those of us who breed fish, or attempt to breed fish, sometimes it seems that there are just too many arcane details to fret over. Occasionally of course, a new (to us) species can present some real challenges. However, as Sue Priest points out in “Something Simple,” sometimes we just need to simplify our thought processes, and get back to basics. Then, moving on from breeding “how-to’s,” Joe Ferdenzi further illuminates us with a “how not to” guide. We cover things from all angles around here! So much so that when I saw the title of Jules Birnbaum’s article, “My Experiences with a Wild Original from Mexico,” I was actually a bit disappointed to find that it was indeed about fish. Oh, well. Bob Guccione may be gone, but he isn’t forgotten. Warren Feuer’s article, “Adopt a Pet,” struck a personal chord for a couple of reasons. First, like Warren, Marsha and I recently adopted a young, apparently abandoned kitten who, as I type this, is sleeping just to my left. I―we―can totally relate to Warren’s delight with his new charge. The process of capturing this desperate but distrustful young being also brought us into contact with a whole network of neighborhood dog, cat, and bird rescuers that I had no idea existed. These kind people’s devotion goes a long way toward easing the lives of many of our outcast pets, an appalling number of which are killed each year. Warren’s story also reminded me that helping rescue a carnival goldfish was what pulled me back into the hobby about fifteen years ago.


Fish Bytes returns this issue, reviewing what’s been going on in other society publications. The Undergravel Reporter shows us some interesting, but improbable aquarium designs, and the issue finishes, as always, with our puzzle, Fin Fun. Happy Thanksgiving! Remember, we need more articles! Modern Aquarium is produced by and for the members of Greater City Aquarium Society. Our members are our authors, and with ten issues per year, we always, always need more articles. I know several of you are keeping and/or breeding fish that I would like to know more about, and I’m certain other members would be interested as well. Share your experience with us. Write about it! If you’re a little unsure about the state of your writing technique, don’t worry – that’s why there are editors. 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 gcas@earthlink. net, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Programs 2010-11


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! Enjoy! Claudia November

Joseph Ferdenzi My Fishroom: Adventures in Fishkeeping


Holiday Party!


Winter Break


Winter Break


La Monte Brown Native Fishes

Our Generous Members Each month a blue sheet is located on our auction table where those members who donate items to the auction can indicate their donations if they wish to do so. Due to the immense generosity of those who donate, we have no shortage of items to be auctioned. A warm thank you to the following members and others who so generously contributed, making last month’s auction the bountiful success that it was: Bill Amely Tommy Chang Carlotti de Jager Pete D’Orio

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Harry Faustmann Michael Macht Dan Puleo Ed Vukich

November 2010


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh


ast month our guest speaker, Rusty Wessel, wowed us with his underwater videos, and with photos of his fish house. I know my envy was well stimulated by the number and size of his tanks, and by his automatic water changing system. This month another renowned aquarist, our own Joe Ferdenzi, will be the featured speaker. I have mentioned this in previous columns, but I am reminded again how fortunate we are to have so many true experts in our own ranks. I always look forward to Joe’s presentations. There’s always something new, and usually a new slant on looking at something that might have seemed old. Don’t forget―next month’s meeting is our annual Holiday Party/Awards Banquet. It will be held once again at the Palace Diner, at a cost of $16 per person. If you haven’t signed up yet, please sign up tonight! As you pay Jules for your reservation, show your receipt to the person handing out Modern Aquarium, and your reservation will be noted.

At our meeting last month we distributed nominating sheets to fill vacancies on our Board of Governors. We did secure some nominations, and this evening, as you receive your issues of Modern Aquarium you will also be given a list of the nominees. The final vote will be taken by secret ballot next month at the Holiday Party/Awards Banquet on December 8. If by any chance you cannot attend the banquet, Please indicate your “yes” votes by checking the appropriate box(es), and return the sheets to us for tabulation. You can mail the voting sheet to me at: Dan Radebaugh 7910 34th Ave Apt 1C Jackson Heights, NY 11372 If it’s easier you may fax it to (877) 2990522. Needless to say, you don’t need to put a return address on the envelope. If you will be at the banquet, we’ll take your vote there.


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 gcas@earthlink. net. Copyright 2010 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: or 4

November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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

Our Guest Speaker

Joseph Ferdenzi Speaking on Adventures in Fishkeeping

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2010


Last Month’s Meeting

Last month’s speaker, Rusty Wessel (center) with GCAS President Dan Radebaugh (left) and former GCAS President Joe Ferdenzi (right).

Last month’s winner of our Door Prize, a book on Catfish, was Steve Sica.

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners

1st Place Winner: Harry Faustmann

2nd Place Winner: Bill Amely

3rd Place Winner: Al Priest



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


t was a hot summer, but now it has become a rainy autumn. After squelching my ambition to begin this column for the past two months, I decided to give it a go today―a rainy Monday morning. Here’s a “lite” column, as in concise. Okay, let’s get started. North Jersey Aquarium Society’s July Reporter has a Chuck Davis article, “Some Notes on Heaters.” Chuck likes to place his submersible heaters flat on the tank bottom or substrate. He believes that it looks better and warms the water more efficiently. I never saw a heater lying on the bottom, or even thought to place one there. In the earlier June issue, Chuck writes about weather loaches, Misgrunus anguillicaudatus. Would you believe it? The weather loach happens to be one of my favorite fish―I even own one! Since they have lived in rice paddies and mud holes throughout Southeast Asia, they have developed the ability to breathe air above the surface. Chuck once received a shipment wrapped in wet newspapers. They can grow to at least ten inches and are often eaten as food in their native lands. Chuck claims that some states have banned these fish. Why? Here’s a first (I think): The January/February issue of The Darter by the Missouri Aquarium Society has reprinted Modern Aquarium’s October 2009 column, “One Man’s Weed, Another’s Feed,” by “The Undergravel Reporter.” If the “Reporter” would like to quietly identify him/herself to me, I can transfer the publication in question to that person. It’s probably already a collectible. I can keep a secret. The May Pisces Press ran a headline stating that the Florida tropical fish farming industry had been devastated by last winter’s abnormal cold. I can vouch for the cold. I was in Clearwater last January for a family function, and the outdoor temperature never broke forty degrees. Restaurants don’t know what heat is. We had to dine with either many layers of clothing, or keep our winter coats on. Believe me; just

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

sitting and eating generates no body heat. But there’s one thing about Florida that would keep me from ever moving there. If it isn’t hot, it’s raining! One of my tanks houses a few purple danios, so I was thinking of writing a brief “My Favorite Fish” article but then I found Joe Graffaganino’s article, “Purple Passion Danios,” in the November/December 2009 Brooklyn Society’s Aquatica, that was reprinted in March 2010 in North Jersey’s Reporter. I hope Joe doesn’t get writer’s cramp, because April’s Reporter has his article, “Hyphessobrycon columbianus, Colombian Tetra” in which he reports his successful attempt to breed a friend’s school of these tetras even though Joe has scant experience in breeding tetras. This brief item was both interesting and a fast read. Here’s my usual plant plug. This Aquatica issue contains Izzy Zwerin’s “The Practical Plant” column. It profiles the propagating of Anubias coffeefolia and Bolbitis heudelotii. Although I enjoy live plants, I especially enjoy Izzy’s columns, because he makes it sound so easy. Aquatica’s “Exchange Editor’s Report,” by Stu Hershkowitz, was kind enough to mention 2009 articles by Joseph Ferdenzi, Alexander Priest, Marsha and Dan Radebaugh, and myself. In its March issue, the LIAS’ Paradise Press “President’s Message” mentions Joe Ferdenzi’s February lecture about setting up his new fish room upon his relocation from Whitestone, Queens to Greenvale, Nassau. Photos of Joe in his maroon GCAS sweatshirt grace page two and the centerfold! I have the same shirt, but it never got me a centerfold. The prior February issue gave Joe’s illustrious biography and credentials prefatory to his lecture. I have lately noticed quite a few articles about angelfish by local and national aquarium societies. Back to Izzy; he writes that plants of the Ludwigia genus are not too difficult to grow, but if you like a challenge, Ludwigia peruensis is it. I have a question: what does “not too difficult” mean? I seem to always

November 2010


have difficulty. I read that most of Izzy’s plants “are not fussy as long as it receives lots of light,” such as a native North American plant, Hemianthus micranthemoides, or Baby’s Tears, also known as Japanese pearlgrass. My problem is that “lots of light” usually equates to lots and lots of algae! Now I have to begin reviewing all those internet publications that I have been sending to my saved mail folder. Somebody, please remind me―maybe next year. But for now it’s the first week in October; outdoor temperatures have been in the fifties both day and night. I guess it’s about time to break down my outdoor aquarium. I’ve just let it be for the past few weeks, so now it’s time to find out what’s in the tank.


This sergeant major refused to talk fish gossip, and just bubbled through its lips a serial number. But Donna saw its stripes; she knows a sergeant from a major.

November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

by SUSAN PRIEST Photos by the author ow long have you been waiting and their species? These are all indicators of their watching for that group of six shell health. What about tankmates? (You might want dwellers to bloom to sixty, for your to consider putting the shell dwellers and the favorite angelfish to lay row after row of golden mollies into separate tanks!) When it comes to eggs as her mate dusts them with milt, and for your breeding, one species per tank is usually best. mollie mom to put on the soul stirring spectacle of How closely have you looked at the water? giving birth to her young. Long enough! So what Do your fish have enough water, or maybe even are they waiting for anyway, a total eclipse of too much? (They could actually lose sight of one Jupiter? another.) What does it smell like? I can’t think of I’m sure that a celestial anomaly is the last any circumstances when it should smell like thing on their minds. In fact, I’m quite sure that anything at all. If it does, then you need to find out they are not thinking at all. Perhaps they aren’t why. Is it moving when it should be still, or still when it should be moving? even waiting. Most likely they are reacting to There are only two types of filters suitable their surroundings; what’s there, and what’s not; for use in a breeding tank; sponge filters and what they like about it, and what they don’t. sponge filters. Even though they are not a natural You have done all the tough stuff. Your fish part of freshwater landscapes, for whatever reason, are conditioned to perfection! You have adjusted virtually all the pH to precisely freshwater fish seem what your fish of to ignore the presence choice would of a sponge in their experience in their tank. These filters do, native habitat, but of course, supply the perhaps they were same benefits in a born in New York breeding tank as they City tap water and are do in all aquariums. better acclimated to These benefits include that. They have been an excellent source of fed live food which has also been fed live biological filtration, food, but are you sure as well as a supply of your fish are eating it? microorganisms for M a y b e you a r e fish of all sizes, but working too hard. So, most especially fry, to Seven hour old mollie fry what are they waiting feed on. In a breeding for? Perhaps they are tank, the velocity of water circulation can have an effect on the parent’s waiting for you to do something simple, behavior, and even more of an effect on the eggs something even they don’t expect. Let’s take a and/or fry. You wouldn’t want to delete filtration closer look. completely, but in a breeding situation, less is A good place to start is with the fish themselves. Are they sexually mature, or past their probably more, so a simple thing to try might be to sexual peak? How old are they? Are the females close the valve from the air pump just a tad. much older than the males, or vice-versa? Are What about the temperature of the water? they approximately the same size? Do they have I have read enough books on tropical fish topics to the correct ratio of males to females, such as at confidently offer the opinion that this is the single least one of each? (Sometimes it is impossible to most influential element of the breeding be sure!) Maybe they simply need a change of environment. But don’t take your book’s word for what temperature is best for the species you are partners. Are the fish eating a variety of foods? Have working with; experiment a little bit! A few they grown while in your care? Are they active, degrees up or down might make all the difference. curious, peaceful, or aggressive, as is typical of What could be simpler than that?


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

November 2010 November 2010



Some books say that when the atmospheric How about plants? Have you chosen them pressure drops, as it does during a storm, many to your liking, or in the likelihood that they will fish feel the urge to reproduce. Perhaps you have suit the preferences of the fish? Hmmm! If you observed this phenomenon yourself. Other books have included plants, then once again, less may say that some fish are waiting for the “rainy actually be more when it comes to light, as in season.” What time of year does the rainy season nature many fish spawn at dawn or dusk. Taking arrive in your fishroom? Sooner or later the this into consideration, you may want to choose plants with low light requirements. Floating plants pressure will drop, and you might even be home at with dangling roots, such as Salvinia, may set just the time. If you are, you can combine the two “stimuli.” You could try pouring aged water (no the right atmosphere of privacy and subdued light. “acid rain” allowed) on the surface of your tank(s) If there are no plants in the breeding tank, then you while the thunder is booming, using a watering can may not need to provide any lighting at all. with a sprinkler These are just a head. Nature few ideas for simple knows best! changes you might Have you want to try when your considered the fish aren’t as interested influences of the in earning BAP points as you are. What substrate on your species of fish you are breeders? Gravel; keeping, what materials fine or course, dark you have available to or light. It could you, and most of all, turn out to be a what your experiences simple matter of have already taught p e r s o n a l you, will be your best preference, and not guide. Being the It must be a full moon! duplicating the color creative and of the bottom of that adventuresome stream bed in Sri aquarists that you are, I’m sure that each of you Lanka where your fish were spawned, which puts will find the winning combination! them in the mood. Perhaps a change of color I would suggest that you try one simple scheme is worth a try. change at a time. This way if a spawning follows A lot of aquarists prefer a bare floor in their breeding tanks. They make this choice because it soon thereafter, you will know what the trigger is easier to see the eggs and/or fry. This was, and you will be able to duplicate the arrangement also makes it easier to keep the tank circumstances in the future. clean. All of that is fine for us people, but the fish So, you have switched partners, tweaked the could be freaked out by this, especially if they are temperature, added some dark gravel, and fed used to a substrate in their “home” tank. How so? treats to your fish, as well as applied a couple of The last thing a fish expects to see when it looks secret techniques of your own divination, all to no down is the pale abdomen of another fish (they avail. When nothing else has worked, then try the don’t know that they are looking at a reflection of simplest thing of all. Do the biggest water change themselves). That is the usual view they have of that you dare, and I suppose it couldn’t hurt if you another fish when they look up at it from beneath. tried it on the night of a full moon. Good luck! (What effect would vertigo have on your spawning activities?) If you do opt for a bare floor, you may want to consider obstructing the view of the tank below, if there is one.

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

How Not to Breed Corydoras sterbai by Joseph Ferdenzi


o, our esteemed Editor did not make a typo in the title of this article. This story is indeed about how not to breed this particular fish. You are always reading articles about how to breed fish, and they are valuable, but this article also has a valuable lesson that I’d like to pass on to you. Once upon a time, I received a group of six Corydoras sterbai. This is one of the prettiest in the Corydoras genus, and therefore a very desirable fish. Corydoras are very peaceful and small. Hence, they are ideal aquarium fish. So when you have a species as pretty as sterbai, they become very sought-after. My group began to spawn in 2007, and did so repeatedly. I had them in a 15 gallon tank all by themselves. The only thing I seemingly had to do was feed them well, and in a day or two I would find eggs, singly or in pairs, attached to various places on the glass (sometimes a few could be found on the leaves of the Anubias barteri plants in the tank). The temperature was in the steady 75°F range, and my water changes did not coincide with the spawnings.

They spawned fairly regularly from 2007 through 2008; sometime in 2009 they began to go into a hiatus. Why this happened I’m not sure, because I changed nothing in the tank (except for the normal water changes). This did not alarm me, because they had previously produced so many eggs that I just figured they needed a rest. In the latter part of 2009, at a meeting of the Long Island Killifish Association, I bought a pair of magnificent Berlin swordtails (a variety of Xiphophorus helleri) that had been donated to the auction by Anton Vukich (brother of Ed, and also a member of Greater City). For those of you who are not familiar with the fish, I can best describe it as an almost metallic all-black swordtail with blue highlights on top, and saffron colored fins. Most interestingly, they produce two differently colored fry: all-black and all-red (and I mean vivid red). Bred and raised by a master hobbyist like Anton, these specimens were spectacular! The only problem after I acquired them was where to house them in my fishroom.

Corydoras sterbai nibbling on tablet food in their 15 gallon tank. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY) November 2010


I decided that the 15 gallon tank with the sterbai was most suitable, and so in they went. They got along fine with the catfish. After awhile, I started to get some fry from the swordtails, but not enough, to my mind. I reasoned that I wasn’t finding more fry because they didn’t have enough places to hide (the swordtail parents are large, aggressive feeders, and unfortunately that includes eating their own fry). So, after awhile, I made the decision to move them to a 20 gallon (long) tank that was full of Java moss (perfect for providing hiding places for fry), but that contained no other fish. Another view of C. Sterbai feeding on algae wafers.

A pair of Xiphophorus helleri (Berlin strain), male at bottom, in their 20 gallon long tank with much Java Moss.

Well, within a week of moving the swordtails, I spotted eggs on the glass of the sterbai tank. I collected about thirty eggs. About a week later (while I’m writing this), I found another dozen. Other than


removing the swordtails, I had not done anything special to promote the catfish to spawn. So, the only conclusion I could draw from this was that it was not a good idea to have large (three to four inch), aggressive fish like swordtails in the Corydoras tank if I want to find eggs. Therefore, the lesson to be learned is that, if you do not want to spawn sterbai, keep them in the same aquarium with fish that will eat their eggs! Humor aside, this lesson could actually be applied to many fish. While community aquariums are delightful visually (and I have several), they are not ideal if your intent is to spawn fish. My experiences have convinced me that it is best to keep most species by themselves if you want to succeed in having (and raising) fry. Photos by the author.

November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Adopt a Pet! by Warren Feuer


t is very much in vogue these days to bring home a rescue pet. These pitiful, mostly abused and abandoned creatures have been taken from the beasts in puppy mills and dog fight clubs, or collected by the good souls that pick up strays from the various places that they have been found. We are constantly being presented with pictures, articles, and news stories featuring adorable puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats that need homes before they (gasp!!) have to be euthanized because we can’t provide homes and support enough to feed and care for them. And these are the mostly healthy ones; the saddest of all are the physically abused creatures that have been maimed and otherwise tortured, and are missing eyes, ears, legs, tails, and so on. While I am not going to get on a soapbox or preach on these issues, I consider the people who do this to helpless animals to be criminals, who should be punished to the fullest measure possible. I guess to some extent we have the football player Michael Vick to thank for this media attention; his actions and behavior were, in my opinion, a disgrace. I don’t really care to hear about how he grew up with this all around him. The way he treated those animals was abominable, and he was not punished enough, though he now seems to have been forgiven by most. Sorry, not by me. Anyway, as I stated, I am not here to preach. I can tell you that we in the Feuer family have recently adopted a rescue kitten, one who was born in a car repair shop in Queens, New York, and who has, in very short time, become a beloved and precious part of our family. But this is a fish magazine, right? So where, you may well ask, am I going with this? Well, there are creatures in our hobby that need to be rescued as well. Have you ever considered the fate of the unfortunate carnival goldfish? Those little gems that are presented in small bowls that daddies, older siblings, and boyfriends try to win by tossing ping pong balls into their bowls so that they can be placed in a plastic bag and brought home? Yes, they are essentially feeders, the most unfortunate, doomed and most meaningless sacrifice of all. But forget feeders; that’s not what I am here to write about. They do not have a chance. But what about those carnival goldfish? Once brought home, they usually end up in a bowl, vase, small tank, or sometimes they go right into the toilet bowl. Well, I am here to tell you a story about one

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

such fish, and how she was rescued. I am not sure if the subject of this article is actually a he or a she, but since my daughter named her “Juliet” I will refer to the fish as she. In September of 2009, my daughter brought home a fish that her boyfriend had won for her at a local carnival (truth is, they are no longer called carnivals, but instead festivals; however, there are the same rides, booths, food vendors and other items that were the elements of a carnival.) My daughter proudly showed me her prize, which I of course knew was doomed. When I asked what she was going to keep the fish in, my wife, who I did not know was a fish expert, enlightened me to the fact that the fish could be kept in a bowl, as her sister had done, and that it would be fine. Of course, as we shall soon see, I knew differently, and attempted to identify the necessary actions to keep the fish alive. I donated a 5 ½ gallon tank, and told my daughter that the water would have to be changed several times a week, and the fish fed sparingly. At first that worked. Goldfish are amazingly hardy, and can survive a great degree of abuse and neglect, and actually grow in those meager conditions. Then, the inevitable outcome when one adds a pet to a teenager’s life began to occur; the water changes became less frequent, the feedings less often and the general neglect and ignoring increased. Once the fish outgrew the 5 ½ gallon tank and needed a bigger home, the lack of a filter and the need to change water several times a week caused the effort to become too great. One day, I found the fish tank on the counter in the bathroom. When I asked why, I was told by the “fish expert” (my wife, as you may recall) that both she and my daughter attributed the “smell” in my daughter’s room to the fish. Not the clothes that were lying on the floor for two weeks, or the dishes of half-eaten food that were strewn about the room. It had to be the fish. As my daughter prepared to head out for the day, Mr. Meanie (yours truly, of course), let her know in no uncertain terms that she could not leave the house until Juliet’s tank was cleaned. Well, at least she was using Stress Coat when she changed the water. That much I insisted upon. The truth is, I refused to play much of a role in this adventure, especially after my wife notified me that I did not know what I was talking about when it came to goldfish care. Who knew I was that ignorant? Juliet’s care improved a bit for a short while (at any rate, there were no more abandonments on the bathroom counter!) until Thanksgiving weekend, when

November 2010


I found Juliet and her tank on the dining room table. I was notified that once again, the odor in my daughter’s room had been blamed on the fish tank. “What is going to happen to the fish now?” I asked, after it was left there for several days. My wife just shrugged and said that it could stay there for all she cared. In other words, my daughter had accepted responsibility for the care of the fish and then gotten tired of doing it, and now, if the fish languished there until all the water evaporated, neither one of them cared. Well, I have to tell you that I rarely get to say “I told you so” in my house, but I could not resist the opportunity this time! Especially since my wife had let me know that she knew how to care for a goldfish, and that my guidelines were above and beyond what was required. I think the term she used was “anal.” Fortunately for Juliet, there was an empty 10 gallon tank in my fishroom. It had been functioning as a quarantine tank, but, I knew that without it this poor creature was doomed to a long, slow death, and I could not stand by and watch that happen. By now the poor fish was almost entirely white, with none of its original gold coloring anywhere to be seen. I have since been told that the poor water conditions caused this to occur. Well, like my wonder rescue kittie, Juliet is doing just fine now, thank you. Though she will never be gold again, there are red highlights throughout her


The Editor’s rescue carnival goldfish, “Jaws.” Photo by Marsha Radebaugh.

body and fins. She is about five or six inches long, and swims happily about in her home. In fact, she is a great help to me in that, because I have one tank that has a rather healthy population of duckweed, every several months I harvest the duckweed, and Juliet gets a treat that she makes very short work of. I don’t know if she will need a bigger home, but, if she does, I will find room for her in my fishroom once again. So, the next time you find yourself at a fair, carnival, or whatever it may be called, and see a bunch of goldfish in cups or bowls, why not rescue one and take it home with you? They really are quite easy to take care of, and you will be doing something that will make you feel good about yourself.

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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 contributions to our success as a Society are deeply appreciated. Please patronize our supporters. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Aquarium Technology Inc Ecological Laboratories HBH Pet Products Koller-Craft Kordon, LLC Marineland Microbe Lift Ocean Nutrition America Omega Sea Red Sea

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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November 2010


My Experiences with

A Wild Original From Mexico by Jules Birnbaum


o, it’s not a woman. I’m too old for that. It’s ranging in size from 5 to 45 gallons. The only other a swordtail. The Montezuma swordtail’s livebearers in the room are black guppies and Endler’s scientific name is Xiphophorus (translation: livebearers. bearing a sword―but it refers to the gonopodium, not After growing these four fish out, I learned that the caudal fin) montezumae. The family is Poecillidae, what I unfortunately had were four females. Breeders which are live-bearing tooth carps. report that some of these fish can develop male Native to the Rio Panuco in Mexico, this fish is characteristics (the gonopodium and the sword) when described by Dr. Herbert Axelrod in his 1971 edition they seem to be mature adults. However, no sword of the Handbook of Tropical Aquarium Fish, as “the appeared on any of my four fish. dull little creature,” and he goes on to describe it as I asked Joe if he had a young male available, and “drab, olive-green”. He also stated that there are not too I was able to acquire one of his. A wonderful feature many around. The fish is of the male is the very also described elsewhere long sword tail, which as the true wild swordtail. can be even longer than In his Tropical Fish as the body of the male. a Hobby, Dr. Axelrod Now I had what asserts that the swordtail I needed to work with has another feature that these fish. The four adds to its popularity, females and the male that is, it’s desirability to were placed in a 20 be used in hybridization gallon high, with plenty experiments. of najas, Java moss, and Dr. Myron Gordon Java fern to give any fry Strain from Capuchin collecting area. (1899-1959), an expert NY the cover they needed to Photo by Gary Lange on the Xiphophorus, survive. used them extensively in cancer research as well as Filtration was provided by a large round box hybridization. He wrote many articles and booklets for filter, and water changes of 25% were performed once TFH Publications. During the research for this article per week, at which time I also cleaned the bottom of I found out how important the pure Xiphophorus is to the tank. The gravel was only a one inch layer. The cancer research in 2010. To find out more about this plants I used did not need more than that, and it made interesting subject go to the web site, xiphophorus. cleaning the bottom easier. In fact, the way the tank was set up I did not need any substrate. Whenever These livebearers make good community fish, possible, aged water was used for the changes. but keep in mind that they are good jumpers, so The temperature was kept at 76 degrees F. cover your tank. This true wild fish is where many The pH was on the acid side (6.2), and the general of today’s swordtails came from. The Montezuma hardness on the high side. I did nothing special to the sword is considered by many experts to be where it water to achieve these parameters. This is interesting all began. The fish you see being sold today are many because some authorities say the pH should be slightly generations removed from this original. alkaline, at 7.0 to 7.4. Neither did I use salt as some In 2009 I picked up four juvenile Montezuma suggest. I must report that there is certain amount of swordtails from Joe Ferdenzi, who acquired his from misinformation out there on the internet, so be careful. the famous rainbow fish expert, Gary Lange. The true I don’t trust the authority who insists that it’s his or her X. montezumae is not commonly seen at our auctions way or it’s wrong. or in local pet shops. I took a look at Aquabid (on Starting about a month before the first fry the internet) to see what kind of prices they bring, but appeared, I fed the parents each day―dry food in the did not see any for sale. My feeling is that the pure morning and black worms in the evening. There was montezumae is a rare fish. one large albino bristlenose catfish in the tank that These fish were a welcome addition to my handled the cleanup. This is not a catfish article, but a new fishroom, which has approximately 20 tanks, few corys or a bristlenose in a livebearer’s tank can’t


November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

hurt anything, and might help clean up after all the heavy feeding you are doing to encourage the parents to breed. Snails also can help. About three weeks ago I noticed approximately ten fry, and decided to leave the fry and parents together. The fry congregated near the surface, while the parents stayed below in the heavy plants. Last week I noticed another 20 or so smaller fry, which indicated to me that the male was servicing more than one female. From Capuchin area. Photo by Gary Lange.

Rio Tamosopo, blue strain. Photo by Gary Lange.

I fed the fry fine dry food in the morning and brine shrimp in the afternoon. (Afternoon? What do you expect? I’m retired!) They are growing fast, and my plan is to let some grow out in another 20 gallon tank populated with young Aspidoras catfish, while

the rest will stay for now with the parents. I have the feeling there is going to be a greater ratio of females to males; at least this is what some local swordtail breeders report. In writing this article I have tried to tell a little of my personal experiences with this fish. If you decide to acquire some, I encourage you to supplement your knowledge by reading other available material as well. It’s a wonderful fish! Why take a substitute when you can have one of the swordtails that started it all?

Member Classifieds EQUIPMENT: 1 Eheim 2217 Canister filter $125 1 Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel HOB Power Filter $30 1 Coralife Turb Twist 18 watt with 3 extra (never used) UV bulbs $50 1 Coralife Superskimmer 125w/ pump $100 2 Solarmax 36” HO double-T5Lighting System w/Moonlight $159 ea (new) All nearly new, in original boxes. Call (631) 563-1404 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------155 gallon All-Glass Tank setup for sale. Asking $60.00. Includes dual 2’ canopies, aqueon heater, emperor 400 biowheel filter, penn plax metal stand, stick-on thermometer. Setup is less than a year old. Must pick up in Bayside, Queens. Call Tommy 718-423-8995 cell: 516-672-0176 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Filters: Eheim 2076 (for tanks up to 90 gallons) $200 Marineland C-160 (tanks up to 30 gallons) $50 Call Temes: 718-468-1569 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2010


MA Classics A few days ago I received an email from the daughter of one of our former members, containing a very hearwarming story—one of both tragedy and inspiration, and ultimately of thanksgiving. It also contained this article, which I am delighted to include in our series showcasing articles from past issues of Modern Aquarium. I’ll begin with the email itself; the article follows on the following pages.


y father, John Cillo, was a member of your society back in the late 60s and early 70s, until his death in 1975. In the April, 1973 issue of Modern Aquarium there was a story written about my dad (see attachment). Fast-forward 37 years; I work in the corporate office of Barnes & Noble. I have worked for this company for 20 years in various positions, starting in the Corporate Office, moving out of the Corporate Office to a District Office, and just four years ago returning to the Corporate Office. During the past four years Terri Kenny, a co-worker who sits only a stone’s throw away from me, brought up the fact that her mom had written a book about her sister, who was hit by a truck some 40 years ago. I told her I wanted to read the book, so she brought it in. Reading the jacket of the book, I noticed that it mentioned that her mom (the author) had contributed to articles in Modern Aquarium. I never thought it could be the same publication, but I mentioned that I had come across an issue of Modern Aquarium at my brother’s house after he had recently passed away. She told me that her dad had over 100 fish tanks in their basement when she was growing up. With my mouth hanging open I said, “So did my dad!” After comparing many details we realized our fathers had belonged to the same society, attended many of the same meetings, and were both even judges at many shows. Talk about a small world! Well, that night as soon as I got home I ran to get the issue of Modern Aquarium in which the write-up about my dad had appeared. I immediately looked to see if either of her parents names were listed, and sure enough―there on the first page it listed her parents as Staff Members. But it didn’t end there; when I opened the page to my father’s article, whom do you think I found had written and photographed my dad’s story? Well, sure enough, it was Terri’s dad, Dan Carson! Who would believe that we probably had met 40-some odd years ago, and that we would end up working together? But more than that, I find that God works in mysterious ways. When my dad passed away I vividly remember exactly what Terri’s mom wrote in a sympathy card to my mom, and I remember not only because it was so touching, but also because I have often used those same words to comfort others who have suffered a loss. Well, here it is 40 years later, and my brother and his wife and mother-in-law were recently killed in an accident, and Terri is now comforting me in my loss. I just had to share this story with you and I hope you too are inspired by it as I was. Linda (Cillo) Suppa


November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2010



November 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2010


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Harry Faustmann 2 William Amely 3 Al Priest

Fundulopanchax gardneri Orange Gold Betta Female White Betta splendens

Unofficial 2010 Bowl Show totals to date:

Al Priest 22 Mario Bengcion 18 Robert Hamje 10 William Amely 6

Harry Faustmann 6

Richard Waizman 1

A special warm welcome to new member Intakab Dawood!

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 8, 2010 Speaker: None Event: Annual Holiday Party Meets: 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 12, 2010 Speaker: Pat Donston Topic: Reef Care Conflicts - Who is Right? 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 19, 2010 Speaker: Kathy Cardineau Topic: Reefer Madness Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Greenhouse Meeting Room, Holtsville Ecology Center, Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:


Nassau County Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 9, 2010 Speaker: Jeff Bollbach Topic: Selling Fish on Aquabid 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 18, 2010 Speaker: Dr Joy Hey Topic: Cichlids of Lake Malawi Meets: 7:30 PM Lyndhurst Elks Club, 251 Park Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 e-mail: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 18, 2010 Speaker: Eric Cline Topic: Poison Dart Frogs 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 2010

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The More the Merrier 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. common question aquarium hobbyists are asked (and ask each other) is “how many aquariums do you have?” That question used to be easy to answer. Not necessarily any more, now that tanks are merging together. What, you haven’t heard about this? Well, look at these photos and you’ll see what I mean.


Figure 1: A fish double bowl “racetrack.”

Figure 3: This is not an optical illusion. It’s called an “infinity aquarium.”

Figure 4: if you work in an office cubicle, you already know it often feels like a fish tank. Someone just removed the cubical walls and the sides of all those desk aquariums to make one big long desk and one big long tank!

Photos: Figure 1 CA8/Macef-Award-Winning-Fishbowl Figure 2 992/Luxury-Aquariums Figure 3 6379/INFINITY-AQUARIUM Figure 4 nique-fish-tanks/ Figure 2: Think about trying to net out one particular fish from these connected globes!

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

November 2010 November 2010


Fin Fun Many species of fish can be acclimated to survive in water conditions differing from those in their places of origin. But, to see them in their best colors and to maximize the chances they will spawn in your aquarium, matching the water parameters of their native habitat is your best course of action. One of the most important factors is pH. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, a lower pH is acidic (“sour”), and a higher pH is alkaline (“sweet”). See if you can identify the pH range of the native waters for the fish listed below. Fish




Cardinal Tetra Firemouth Cichlid Marbled Hatchetfish Black Molly Celebes Rainbowfish Dubois Tropheus Lemon Cichlid Madagascar Rainbowfish Clown Loach Dwarf Gourami Source: Tullock, John - Freshwater Aquarium Models Answer to our last puzzle:


Common name

Scientific name

Amazon Swordplant

Echinodorus amazonicus



Ceratophyllum demersum


Banana Plant

Nymphoides aquatica


Dwarf Anubias

Anubias nana


Giant Bacopa

Bacopa caroliniana


Dwarf Bacopa

Bacopa monnieri



Lemna minor


Java Moss

Vesicularia dubyana


Water Fern

Bolbitis heudelotii



Salvinia auriculata


Red Cabomba

Cabomba furcata November 2010


November 2010


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

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