Modern Aquarium November 2012

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November 2012 volume XIX number 9

Series III ON THE COVER This month's cover features Betta balunga, an easy-to-keep, mouthbrooding betta from Borneo. For more information on keeping and breeding this fish, see Al Priest's article on page 14. Photo by Alexander A. Priest GREATER CITY AQUARIUM SOCIETY

Vol. XIX, No. 9 November, 2012

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2012 Program Schedule President’s Message

Board Members

President Dan Radebaugh Edward Vukich Vice-President Treasurer Jules Birnbaum Corresponding Secretary Sean Cunningham Recording Secretary Tommy Chang Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Al Grusell Emma Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Ben Haus Jason Kerner

Committee Chairs

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

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Al Grusell Alexander A. Priest Marsha Radebaugh Claudia Dickinson Claudia Dickinson Warren Feuer

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

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

Bowl Show Rules Last Month's Caption Contest Winner Cartoon Caption Contest A History of the Greater City Aquarium Society by Joseph Ferdenzi

Betta balunga An Easy Mouthbrooding Betta from Borneo by Alexander A. Priest

Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

Sharks of St. Martin by Stephen Sica

Pictures from our Last Meeting by Susan Priest

Our Generous Sponsors & Advertisers Fish Bytes by Stephen Sica with Donna Sosna Sica

G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter The Case of the Disappearing Fish

Fin Fun (Puzzle Page) 90 Years Young

2 3 4 5 6 8 9 14

17 19 22 24 25 28 29 30

From the Editor


by Dan Radebaugh

s I’ve previously mentioned in this column, our twin themes in this 90th Anniversary Year’s Modern Aquarium have been the history of our hobby, particularly in the Greater City of New York, and conservation, a subject that seems to grow more crucial with each day’s news. The contents of this issue exemplify those themes. Joe Ferdenzi, our club’s most notable hobby historian, exceeds all expectations this month. Not only is he speaking this evening on the significance of Greater City’s ninety years of continuously serving the aquarium hobby in the New York area (and indeed beyond), but he has also provided this issue of Modern Aquarium with a detailed history of our club, its antecedents, and its leaders through the past ninety years! Sue Priest, who has devoted her Wet Leaves column this year to the issue of conservation, very neatly combines the themes of conservation and history this month by reminding us of the history of our CARES program. It’s a good read, and a great introduction to an inspired program. Since Greater City is, after all, an aquarium society, we haven’t forgotten what brought us all together here in the first place— the fish! Al Priest shares his experiences with (and photos of) Betta balunga, a mouthbrooding Betta from Borneo. Along with his typically thorough profile of this species, Al reminds us as a conservation note that, due in large part to the nearly unrestricted habitat destruction in that region, virtually any species endemic to that area should, by default, be considered endangered. This lovely fish is no exception. Steve Sica makes two contributions this month, his Fish Bytes column, which


reviews items of interest in other society magazines and newsletters, as well as one of his signature photo essays, “Sharks of St. Martins,” a self-explanatory title if ever I saw one. The Undergravel Reporter tells us about fish equipped with stealth technology, * * *

Remember, as always, we need 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, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

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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! Enjoy! Claudia


March 7

Meet the Experts of the GCAS

April 4

Felicia McCaulley Tips and Tricks to Aquarium Photography on a Budget

May 2

Jeff Michels Dwarf Cichlids

June 6

Rich Levy Virtual Fishroom Tours: Joe Ferdenzi and Jules Birnbaum

July 11

Rich Levy Virtual Fishroom Tours: Jeff Bollbach and Rich Levy

August 1

Silent Auction

September 5

Dan Radebaugh Paratilapia Sp. 'Fony'

October 3

Rachel O'Leary Freshwater Invertebrates

November 7

Joe Ferdenzi GCAS 90th!

December 5

Holiday Party!

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 2012 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 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2012


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh

irst of all, a big Thank-You to Ron Wiesenfeld, who, inspired by Joe Ferdenzi’s call for volunteers, stepped up last month and volunteered to be Treasurer’s Apprentice. I can’t overemphasize how much we need our members – especially our newer members – to help out with the often unnoticed services that must be performed to keep our club running. Thanks, Ron! And Thanks, Joe! On another matter of timely importance, Emma Haus has completed negotiations to hold this year’s Awards Banquet at the Flagship Diner. Flagship is located at 138-30 Queens Boulevard, in Briarwood. The phone number for the diner is (718) 523-6020. The cost for members will be $20 per person. Please see Emma this evening to sign up, or give her a call at (718) 776-5451. She’ll accept your payment, and note your entrée preference. The banquet will be held on the first Wednesday of the month, December 5, at 7:30 PM. Parking is available, and it’s also accessible by bus or subway. With the Banquet being next month, tonight is our final regular meeting this year here at the Queens Botanical Garden. This would be a great time to renew your memberships for next year, if you haven’t already done so. You can renew your membership with Marsha Radebaugh as you collect your copy of Modern Aquarium. Individual and family memberships are still only $20 per year! I hope to see all of you at the Awards Banquet!




November 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

BOWL SHOW RULES There is a Bowl Show at every GCAS meeting, except our Silent Auction/fleamarket meeting and our Holiday Party and Awards Banquet meeting (December). These shows are open to all members of GCAS. Rules are as follows:

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Only current GCAS members may enter fish in the Bowl Show. There is a limit of 2 entries per member per meeting. Unlike some other clubs, every month is an “open” Bowl Show at the GCAS (i.e., there is no “theme,” such that one month cichlids are judged, the next livebearers, the next anabantoids, etc.). Any fish that wins any prize (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) may not be entered again in the same meeting year. The current Bowl Show Coordinator is Leonard Ramroop, who usually also serves as judge (although guest speakers are often asked to do the judging honors). 2.5 gallon containers are available for use (brought to the meetings by the Bowl Show Coordinator), but entrants are responsible for providing enough (and suitable) water for their fish. For a fish too large (or too small) for those containers, entrants must supply a suitable container, which must be clear on at least three sides. Only one fish per container (i.e., no “pairs”). No plants, ornaments, or equipment (filters, airstone, etc.) are allowed in the judging tank (an external mirror, or opaque cards between containers is acceptable, as is a cover that does not obstruct side viewing). Points are awarded: 5 points for 1st Place, 3 for 2nd Place, and 1 for 3rd Place. Ribbons are awarded: blue for 1st Place, red for 2nd Place, and green for 3rd Place. The person with the most points at the end of the meeting season receives the Walter Hubel “Bowl Show Champion” trophy at the Awards Banquet. The decision of the judge(s) is final. A running UNOFFICIAL total of the points awarded is printed in Modern Aquarium. Only the tally of points maintained by the Bowl Show Coordinator is official. In case of ties: 1st Tiebreaker – most 1st Places 2nd Tiebreaker – most 2nd Places 3rd Tiebreaker – most entries

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

March 2010 November 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


Cartoon by Elliott Oshins

October's Caption Winner: Denver Lettman

Hey, these buffalo sure are getting small...

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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

Greater City at 90

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2012


The Modern Aquarium Cartoon Caption Contest Modern Aquarium has featured cartoons before. This time though, you, the members of Greater City get to choose the caption! Just think of a good caption, then mail, email, or phone the Editor with your caption (phone: 347-866-1107, fax: 877-299-0522, email: gcas@ Your caption needs to reach the Editor by the third Wednesday of this month. We'll also hand out copies of this page at the meeting, which you can turn in to Marsha before leaving. Winning captions will earn ten points in our Author Awards program, qualifying you for participation in our special "Authors Only" raffle at our Holiday Party and Banquet. Put on your thinking caps!

Cartoon by Elliot Oshins

Your Caption: Your Name:


November 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

A History of the Greater City Aquarium Society by Joseph Ferdenzi


s we celebrate the 9 0 t h anniversary of the founding of the Greater City Aquarium Society, it is sad to note how little of its history is known. This, then, is an attempt to record that which is known to this author. It is to be hoped that this history will serve as foundation for the addition of future knowledge of the past. Those who have that knowledge are encouraged to share it with the author, so that future generations of aquarists may peek into the grandeur of what history reveals. It is accepted history that the society was founded in 1922. Indeed, in the Society’s 1968 Show Journal, Charles Elzer, then the President, wrote that it was founded in August of that year. Unfortunately, no written record exists to document that fact. It is known from published accounts that at least three other aquarium societies e xisted in New York City before 1922. They were the New York Aquarium Society, founded in 1896 (the first to be founded in America), the Brooklyn Aquarium Society, founded in 1911 (the third to be founded in America; it was preceded by the Aquarium Society of Philadelphia in 1898), and the Ridgewood Aquarium Society (date of founding unknown). Regrettably, none of these societies survived uninterrupted into the present. The New York Aquarium Society, often simply referred to as The Aquarium Society because it was t h e first, lasted into the early seventies, and the Brooklyn Aquarium Society was non-existent for decades, though its descendant, the current Brooklyn Aquarium Society, re-founded in the mid 1950s, is now prosperous and growing. From the last, Ridgewood, probably began our own stirrings. In 1922, there was only one “national” aquarium magazine. It was entitled “Aquatic Life.” The Ridgewood Aquarium Society also published a magazine entitled Aquarium News, which was very short-lived. To say the least, the aquarium literature of the day was sparse. The classic Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

E x o t i c A q u a r i u m F i s h e s by William T. Innes was not to be published until 1935. However, one of the best books up to 1922 had been published by the Innes family publishing company in 1917; it was entitled Goldfish Varieties and Tropical Aquarium Fishes and was written by Innes himself, who noted on the cover page that he was the “Former President, Aquarium Society, Philadelphia.” This book was very popular, and went through many editions from 1917 into the 1930s. It may have been “the aquarium bible” in 1922. The first great aquarium magazine, The Aquarium, also published by Innes, did not appear until May of 1932. Nevertheless, in those rather Spartan times, Greater City was founded. Indeed, the very lack of information from literary sources may have been one of the reasons behind the proliferation of aquarium societies in those days. How “Greater City” was chosen as the name for the aquarium society is not revealed in any of the society’s documents that I have been able to examine. Clearly the members wanted the society to be cosmopolitan in scope, and since the name “New York” had already been taken, “Greater City” may have seemed an obvious choice for this New York City group. A clue does exist for this hypothesis. When New York City was created in 1898, it was officially known as the “Greater City of New York.” In 1922, with the city only twentyfour years old, the term “Greater City” must have been quite familiar, and therefore presented itself as an outstanding alternative to “New York.” So that the year of the Society’s founding may be placed in proper perspective, one might remember that in 1922 the New York Yankees had yet to win a World Series (they were swept 4 - 0 by the New York Giants that year, and did not win the first of their record number of triumphs in the Fall Classic until 1923), the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade did not take place until some four years later (1926), and the first

November 2012


and the author of Tr o p i c a l F i s h e s F o r The talking movie (“The Jazz Singer”) was released in Home, the second edition of which was advertised 1927—five years after our Society was founded. In in the show journal). 1922 the President of the United States was Warren Stoye and Buettner, along with Herman G. Harding, and the Mayor of New York City was Rabenau, were judges at the previous year’s show in John F. Hylan. On the international scene, 1922 1933. Luckily, we also have a precious relic from saw Benito Mussolini become Premier of Italy, the 1933 show—a medal. The medal is made of and it also witnessed the formation of the Union sterling silver, with a dark blue ribbon. The front of Soviet Socialist Republics. Greater City, features an angelfish whose ventral fins are greatly thankfully, has outlived both Mussolini and the splayed. The front also displays the name of the USSR. Society, the year, and the word “Judge.” Inscribed The earliest known written record of Greater on the back is the name “C.H. Peters.” Presumably, City is in a letter to pioneering aquarist Herman he had also been selected to judge that show. C.H. Rabenau, dated May 5, 1929. The letterhead Peters was the editor of a popular magazine, The read “The Greater City Aquarium Society of Home Aquarium Bulletin, and the author of Brooklyn, New York” and was signed by George several books, including The Home Aquarium, Wade, Secretary, who lived at 1151 82nd Street published by the Boston Aquarium Society. This in Brooklyn. The letter made Mr. Rabenau an last fact is noteworthy because Peters lived in New honorary member of the Society. This historic letter Jersey, but the medal was returned to us in 1982 was donated to the Society in 1971 by his widow. by the Boston Aquarium Society. For a more Tragically, the letter disappeared, but not before its detailed story about Peters and the medal, see the existence was preserved in the pages of “Modern article appearing in the February 1997 issue of Aquarium” (February 1971). Fortunately, there is Modern Aquarium. Fortunately, the Society is in a published description of the Society that appeared possession of an even in the September 1929 issue of the then popular older medal, a gold magazine Aquatic Life. This article was reprinted one from our 1932 in the April 1997 issue of “Modern Aquarium.” show. This medal Not all of our archival material is lost. We do has the same design have several show journals from the early 30s, such and colored ribbon as as our 1934 show journal. It is a very interesting our 1933 medal. The little booklet. It heralds the show as its “Sixth medal was won by Annual Exhibition.” This means that Greater City Carl Kaplan, cousin must have been holding shows as early as 1928. of renowned hobbyist The journal includes a welcome message from the Ross Socolof, and chairman, one Harry Plotnick, who apparently sold was donated by Carl fish and lived in Brooklyn. The journal also contains at our 1997 show a one-page article by Mr. Plotnick on “The Home (for a complete story Aquarium.” The advice is very basic, but sound. regarding this medal, In keeping with the simplicity of the day, there is see the November no mention of filtration or heating devices. As a 1997 issue of Modern beginner's fish, he recommends “guppyi” (as guppy Aquarium). Significantly, the medal appears to was then spelled) or the “Helleri” (swordtail). The prove that the angelfish was our Society’s emblem as journal also lists and describes the show classes, of early as 1932. For interesting contemporary reports which there were only four: livebearer, egg layer, on the 1932 and 1933 shows, one should read the labyrinth, and guppy. Incidentally, the angelfish articles from The Home Aquarium Bulletin and (Pterophyllum scalare), is described as “the most Aquatic Life that, among other articles about beautiful” member of the cichlid family—high Greater City, were listed in an article appearing in praise for what was, of course, the emblem fish the April 1997 issue of Modern Aquarium. These of the society. The journal featured numerous early shows were so popular that a report on the ads, mostly pet shops and breeders, and a few 1937 show appeared on the front page of the New manufacturers. The three judges for the show were York Times for August 29, 1937 heralding the first Henry Kissel (an apparently well-known breeder showing of the neon tetra in New York—this article whose impressive hatchery was photographed for was reprinted in the January 1997 issue of Modern the back cover advertisement of the show journal), Aquarium. Richard Buettner (another well-known breeder), In the March 1934 issue of The Aquarium and Frederick H. Stoye (who was perhaps the magazine, there appeared a directory of aquarium most prominent, both as a breeder and writer; he societies then existing in the United States. This was an editor on Innes’ The Aquarium magazine, 10 November 2012 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

During the 1940s the club reorganized itself and became very successful. It sponsored shows at the Mineola (Nassau County) Fair during that time. Its president from 1946-49 was Elliot Whiteway of Jamaica (Queens). During his tenure, the Society grew to a membership of 125. From 195051, the president was Robert Greene, who in 1958 moved to upstate Delancey, New York to become a dairy farmer. Mr. Greene was succeeded by the following Society presidents: 195253, Robert Maybeck; 1954-55, 1958, Leonard Meyer; 1956-57, Sam Estro; 1958-64, Eugene Baiocco; 1965, Andy Fazio; 1966-68, Charles Elzer, Jr. (in 1967, the terms of office changed from calendar years to September to June terms); 1968-69, Walter Hubel (for whom our Bowl Show trophy is named). In 1957, the Society began publishing a modest magazine dubbed Modern Aquarium. Its first editor was a man named Peter Nicholas, who was followed by Gian Padovani. In personal correspondence, Padovani recalls that the name for the magazine came from the concept of imitating Innes’ venerable The Aquarium magazine, but with a more “modern” slant. This first series of Modern Aquarium was discontinued in the early 1960s. By 1971, the Society was meeting on the second Wednesday of the month at the Hall of Science in Flushing MeadowsCorona Park (Queens). The Society had moved there from Ridgedale Hall on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale (Queens). Indeed, the time during which the club met at the Hall of Science marked one of the golden eras of the Society. Beginning in 1968, the Society began publication of the second series of Modern Aquarium, destined to become one of the finest club publications in history. Dan Carson was the first editor, who was followed November 2012 11

list was republished in the 1935 book Tropical Fish and Home Aquaria by Alfred Morgan. The directory included the following societies as existing in New York City and the surrounding counties: Greater City (Brooklyn), Marine Park Aquarium Society (Brooklyn), United Fish Fanciers’ Society (Brooklyn), Glendale Aquarium Society (Queens), Nassau County Aquarium Society (Hempstead), Queens County Aquarium Society (Long Island City), Rockville Center Aquarium Society (Nassau), Aquarium Society of New York City (meeting at the American Museum of Natural History), Richmond County Aquarium Society (Staten Island), and the Westchester Aquarium Society (White Plains). As one can see, there were many societies in those days. Except for Greater City, none survived into the present day (Nassau County was non-existent for decades, only to be re-founded in 1971). Greater City m e t back then on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from September to June. Indeed, this tradition of meeting on Wednesdays, albeit now it’s once a month, has carried into the present. In 1934, the Society met at the Highland Park Y.M.C.A. at 570 Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn. Its Recording Secretary was a man by the name of Harry E. Cronk, Jr., who lived at 125 Decatur Street in Brooklyn. Sometime between 1934 and 1946, the Society moved from meeting in Brooklyn to Queens. By 1946 it was meeting in Jamaica Hall on 91st Avenue in Queens. In the interim, the Society had also held meetings at the Episcopal Church in Woodhaven, Queens. It seems clear from these early meeting sites that the Society was first formed of members from the “border towns” along the Brooklyn-Queens line. Indeed, it is altogether possible that Greater City may have been formed as a “split” from the Ridgewood Aquarium Society (Ridgewood is situated on the Brooklyn-Queens line). This theory is strongly supported by the printed recollections of Robert Maybeck, who joined Greater City in 1931, and was later its President from 1952 to 1953. He remembered that, upon joining, he was told Greater City was founded by a group from the Ridgewood Aquarium Society. Some of the recorded minutes from 1947 reveal that each meeting featured a guest speaker or program, and that refreshments were served at the meetings. Both of these features are continued in the present day, though refreshments were briefly discontinued in 1947 because financial problems. Unfortunately, the actual minutes and records of the early years also “disappeared” sometime after 1974. It would be wonderful if we could rediscover those precious archives. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

unclear. Undoubtedly, a number of factors conspired by Herb Fogal (who to lead to such a result. Some of its more active held the position the members moved out of New York; some drifted longest), and Jay Fryhover. What was over to the newly formed Nassau County Aquarium significant about the Society and Long Island Aquarium Society; other, 1968-74 series was more complex, demographic changes occurred. The its quality. Compared club eventually had to leave the Hall of Science, and for a short time met in the back room of a to other local club publications, it had pub in Queens. Eventually, as the 1980s dawned, few rivals (only the the remaining membership (which at one point journal of the San was as low as six members) decided to seek a new Francisco Aquarium meeting place. Board members Marcia and Nick Society comes to Repanes found it in the Queens Botanical Garden. mind in that regard). The first meetings there were held in the 1979-80 Even today, it would season. This wise decision led to a rebirth of the probably surpass most Society. of the publications During the 1980s the club was ably led by its produced by local presidents Don Sanford (for whom the B r e e d e r s clubs. Why? It was professionally published Award trophy is named), 1979-80; Brian Kelly, 1981-84; and Jack Oliva, 1984-86. J a c k was (indeed, it was sold over the counter in pet shops), succeeded by the author, who stepped down as contained a good mix of articles (especially President following the 1997 season. Thereafter, significant were its interviews and articles about Vincent Sileo served two terms as President, from prominent hobbyists of the day), and it was often 1997 to 1999. He was followed by Jeff George from illustrated with black and white photography 1999 to 2000. The author then served another eight (something no local club does regularly, even years as President from 2000 to 2008. Upon my now). retirement, Dan Radebaugh was elected President At a January 1970 meeting of the Society, it was and has continued in that role to the present. recorded that over 300 people were in attendance. In the 1980s, the society promoted a very Also during that time, the Society sponsored annual successful Breeders Award Program, and began fish shows, including one commemorating the publication of t h e newsletter Network (originated Golden Anniversary of the Society in 1972. The design for the Society’s current official emblem, and first edited by former member Terri Lombardi). an angelfish inside a circle surrounded by the During this decade, the Society co-sponsored Dr. words “Greater City Kenneth Lazara, Jaap-Jan de Greef, and Dr. Klaus Kallman on collecting expeditions to the tropics; Aquarium Society – was active and successful on the local show circuit; Established 1922,” was created in 1969 lent financial support to environmental causes and by Frank Margiotta, scientific institutions; and under the steady hand of an artist and our former Membership Chair, Marcia Repanes, member. Big shows grew to a membership in excess of 100. were held, including On the occasion of its 70th Anniversary, the one at the Gertz Society resumed holding fish shows (the last one department store had been held in 1980); the first show of the 90s took in Jamaica (see place in November of 1992, and was held at the the January 1968 Queens Botanical issue of Tropical Garden. Since Fish Hobbyist for then, shows have a story on one of been held in 94, them). During the 96 and 97 (the 1970s, the Society presidents were: 1970-72, Dave 75th Anniversary). Williams; 1972-73, Dan Carson; 1973-75, Herb A n o t h e r Fogal; 1975-76, Richard Hoey; 1976-1977, Ted significant event Tura; 1977-78, Eugene Baiocco (the same person took place in who served as president a then record six terms in the 1990s. The a row in 1958-64); and 1978-79, Louis Kromm. Society resumed This golden age of the Society somehow came publication of its to an end during the late 70s. Why this occurred is signature magazine, 12 November 2012 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium. The first issue in this third series was published in January of 1994. Under the able guidance of editors Warren Feuer and Al Priest, this series has even surpassed the quality of the 1968-74 series. In both 1994 and 1995 it was judged the best U.S. club publication by the Federation of American Aquarium Societies, and it won the corresponding award for best magazine of the North East Council of Aquarium Societies in 1995 and 1996. As the new millennium dawned, Greater City continued to be a very active society. Major shows were held at the Queens County Farm Museum in 2000 and 2002. Then in 2007 and 2008, Greater City spearheaded the first two conventions of the Aquarium Federation of Independent Societies and Hobbyists (AFISH). These major events were co-sponsored by the Brooklyn, Long Island, and Nassau County aquarium societies, and featured guest speakers from around the globe. Other notable events during this period included the early participation of Greater City in the CARES preservation program, which was begun by Greater City board member Claudia Dickinson. This nationwide program has done much to educate hobbyists and the general public regarding the critical dangers facing aquatic habitats and the need to preserve fish species that are at risk. With regard to publications, 2007 was notable as the year in which Claudia’s book Aquarium Care of Cichlids was published as part of the Animal Planet series of TFH Publications. This became the first hobby book written by a Greater City member since Paul Hahnel’s book on guppies. Modern Aquarium has continued to excel. After Warren Feuer passed the editorship reigns to Al Priest, Modern Aquarium surpassed all previous series of the magazine in longevity, while consistently maintaining its preeminence in the field of society magazines. Al was succeeded as Editor by Dan Radebaugh, who has continued the magazine’s extremely high level of quality. As 2012 comes to a close, the magazine’s nineteen year run has far outstripped those of previous series of Modern Aquarium. In addition to the efforts of its editors, the magazine has been able to preserve its quality and originality because of the many fine authors found among Greater City’s membership. In 2005 the membership voted to alter the meeting schedule so that the society, which for many years did not meet in July and August, would now meet in those months, but would no longer meet in January and February. Another meeting change occurred in 2007, but was of a temporary nature. In that year Greater City needed to find a new meeting place while the Queens Botanical Garden razed Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

its old main building and constructed a new one. The Society consequently met at the VFW Post on Horace Harding Expressway in Flushing, only a few miles from the Garden, on the second Wednesday of the month. Upon completion of the QBG’s main building in 2008, the Society returned to its regular meeting place and schedule. Perhaps other changes will occur before Greater City achieves its 100th anniversary in 2022, but one thing will remain constant. Greater City’s achievements and contributions to the aquarium hobby during its 90 years of continuous existence will shine brightly for as long as there is an aquarium hobby. Acknowledgements: I am indebted to a number of secondary sources for this article. First have been the pages of Modern Aquarium (196874), and especially two articles: “Old Timer’s Night” by Mary and Dan Carson in the February 1971 issue, and “Nostalgia” (author anonymous) in the December 1974 issue. Second, courtesy of Terri Lombardi, have been the pages of Network, especially the Nov/Dec 1982 issue. For perspective and background, I have borrowed from Albert Klee’s monumental work, A History of the Aquarium Hobby in America, which was first published as a 22-part series in The Aquarium magazine from December 1967 to September 1969, and republished in book form by the American Cichlid Association in 1987. I have also used the 1935 edition of the Alfred Morgan book mentioned in the text. In addition, I have accessed the pages of Aquatic Life, The Home Aquarium Bulletin, The Aquarium, and Tropical Fish Hobbyist. I am also indebted to the late Jare Sausaman, and to Lee Finley, for providing copies of various publications. For much of the material I researched, my primary sources have been Marcia Repanes, Jack Oliva, ·and Gene Baiocco, who were members of Greater City for a combined total number of years in excess of 100! To all, I give my thanks, but I accept the sole responsibility for any errors appearing in this history.

November 2012


Betta balunga An Easy Mouthbrooding Betta from Borneo Article and photos by ALEXANDER A PRIEST here are many aquarists who prefer to In only a few months, the water was the color automate as many things as they can with of strong tea, and the formerly bare glass bottom respect to the chores of fishkeeping. Timers had a fairly good layer of mulm. When doing certainly make it easier to turn on and control the water changes I tried not to disturb the mulm layer. lighting in aquariums in an orderly and uniform Yes, you read that correctly, I intentionally tried to way. Hoses that connect to faucets certainly make avoid removing the bottom “muck” as I knew the filling tanks a great deal easier. But some tasks water parameters (including the nitrate level) were are, in my opinion, best done manually. One optimal. example is an automatic feeder. I consider them In removing water during one change, I did useful only for occasional use if a fishkeeper is suck up a bit of mulm, along with the dark-colored away for an water. I do my water extended period of changes by syphoning time and there is no into a five gallon Scientific Name: Betta balunga one else available to white bucket ($8 at a Common Name: Balunga Betta feed the fish. I hardware store). Just Origin: Initially found in a tributary of the think it’s important in case, I always let the Balung River in Malaysia, northern to feed each tank water settle before I Borneo. separately and to discard it. Initially, all Special consideration: anabantoid (air breather) observe which fish I could see in the Size (SL): 5" (females slightly smaller) are eating, their bucket was brown, pH: 5.2 to 7.0 (acidic to neutral) interactions, and to dirty water. However, Water hardness: soft use that time to take when the water settled Temperature: 70( - 80(F (21( - 27(C) inventory and in the bucket, I saw Distribution: Borneo remove any dead movement, and not Reproduction: paternal mouthbrooder leaves (or even dead just of some uneaten Temperament: peaceful fish!), and identify blackworms. There Environment: low-light, caves and/or driftwood, and isolate any sick were Betta balunga fry tight-fitting cover with no gaps or injured fish. in that bucket! If I had Nutrition: primarily carnivore (live or frozen Those tasks can used a direct syphon to daphnia, brine shrimp, etc.) never be performed sink (or for some by an automatic aquarists, a syphon to feeder (or automatic floor drain), those fry anything, for that matter). would have been “flushed” away! When it comes to maintenance, I prefer to As is unfortunately true for most of the syphon water into five gallon buckets rather than species that have spawned in my tanks, I was not using a method that removes the water without able to witness the actual spawning. I would giving me a chance to inspect it. I mention this in expect the spawning ritual to be the same as for connection with this article on Betta balunga for a most of the other mouthbrooding Bettas, and as good reason. described in this account: “The female plays the As is common with many Betta species, Betta more active role in initiating courtship and balunga is native to areas where the substrate defending the area against intruders. Eggs and milt consists of leaf litter and the water is dark (often are released during an ‘embrace’ typical of called “black water”) due to the effect of tannins osphronemids, in which the male wraps his body leaching into the water from decaying roots and around that of the female. Several ‘practice’ leaves. In order to mimic, as much as possible, embraces may be required before any eggs are their natural environment, the pair of Betta released. balunga that I started out with were placed in a “Once spawning commences, eggs are laid in tightly covered tank (virtually all Betta species are small batches and picked up in the mouth of the “jumpers”) with plants tied to driftwood, and female before being spat out into the water for the Indian almond leaves on the otherwise bare bottom male to catch. Once the male has all the eggs in his of the tank. The tank was filtered by a sponge filter and a box filter.


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

I started with one pair of Betta balunga

After a few months of “benign neglect,” this is what I wound up with! mouth the cycle is repeated until the female is spent of eggs, a process which can take some time. “The incubation period is 14 – 21 days, at which point the male will begin to release fully-formed, free-swimming fry.”1 I have always left the fry in with the parents in my tanks with mouthbrooding Betta species (and 18

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

removed the parents in tanks of bubblenesting Betta species). This time, I took the fry I found in the bucket and moved them into a separate tank, filled with water from their original tank. Even though I gave both tanks microworms and finely powered food for the fry, the fry left in the parent’s tank grew faster, larger, and had lower mortality

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(the latter could, however, be attributed to parental “culling” of weak fry). Betta balunga is in the “Akarensis Complex,” a group of closely related Betta species having physical similarities. Akarensis Complex members all have pre- and post-orbital stripes (the post-orbital stripe is faint or interrupted in some species); chin bar present; caudal-fin lanceolate with highly extended median rays in mature males; caudal fin usually with transverse bars; greenish or bluish iridescent scales on body of males in some species; opercle without iridescent scales, except in juveniles. Other species in the Akarensis Complex are B. akarensis, B. aurigans, B. chini, B. ibanorum, B. pinguis, and B. obscura. Dr. Robert J. Goldstein provides this physical description of Betta balunga in his excellent book, The Betta Handbook: “This robust 5 inch (12.5 cm) mouthbrooder (females are a bit smaller) is dark gray with blue highlights in the anal fin and sometimes the lower caudal. A broad black line from the lips through the eye crosses the gill plates and continues to a basicaudal spot near the base of the tail. The band may fade behind the gill covers. The male's caudal fin has a netlike pigment pattern and the central rays extend beyond the fin. The anal fin is dark margined with a white submarginal band. In nuptial coloration, the male develops a dark mask, a second black line extends downward from the eye. and the iris becomes red. The nuptial female lightens. and develops a dark band on the back and another in the midline of the flank.”1 Aside from some fin count differences (virtually impossible to detect on live fish in an aquarium), Betta balunga can be distinguished from other members of the Akarensis Complex by an interrupted second postorbital stripe on the opercle and a reddish-orange eye. This is one of the easiest fish to care for I ever had. They eat almost anything. I feed mine live blackworms and Atison’s Betta Pro pellets from Ocean Nutrition™. (I believe this exact product is no longer available, but the company still sells “Atison’s Betta Food” pellets.) Once fry appeared, I included microworms and powered dry food. (And, of course, fry will feed from the naturally occurring infusoria on the surface of a

mature sponge filter.) Occasionally I feed live adult brineshrimp rinsed in freshwater and treated with a few drops of liquid vitamins (I use Vita Chem from Boyd Enterprises, Inc.), because adult brineshrimp, while apparently a treat for the fish, have little nutritional value. For a fish that is so easy to keep and that breeds so easily in the home aquarium, it’s surprising to me that they are not more well known. Apparently, they were first described back in 1940 by the American ichthyologist Albert William Herre3 and I have read nothing about them ever having been considered extinct. They are not listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, or in the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List. However, Betta balunga is endemic to Borneo, which is the third largest island in the world, and home to three countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei). Borneo “was once covered with dense rainforests, but along with its tropical lowland and highland forests, there has been extensive deforestation in the past sixty years. In the 1980s and 1990s the forests of Borneo underwent a dramatic transition. They were leveled at a rate unparalleled in human history, burned, logged and cleared, and commonly replaced with agricultural land, or palm oil plantations.”4 “The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area shrank due to heavy logging for the Malaysian plywood industry. The rainforest was also greatly destroyed from the forest fires of 1997 to 1998.”5 So, as far as I am concerned, all animals endemic to Borneo should be considered to be a conservation risk. As I indicated, I have found this to be an easy species to keep. They spawned in a tank having soft, acid water, aquascaped with many caves and hiding places (important for mouthbrooding species). Some of the fry left with the parents may have been eaten, but those that were not (and there were many!) faired far better than fry removed from the parents and reared in a separate tank. For someone eager to try an “easy” mouthbrooding Betta species, I can certainly recommend Betta balunga.

References 1 2 Goldstein, R. J., The Betta Handbook, Barron's Educational Series, 2004. p. 71 3 Herre, A. W. C. T., Additions to the fish fauna of Malaya and notes on rare or little known Malayan and Bornean fishes. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum, July 1940, No. 16: 27-61. [see also:] 4 5


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a Series On Books For The Hobbyist by SUSAN PRIEST he time has finally come for you to roll your sleeves up and get your hands wet. The time has finally come to make sure that each of you knows about the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program. C.A.R.E.S. is an acronym. The letters stand for the following: Conservation Awareness Recognition Encouragement Support. Claudia Dickinson is the founder and coordinator of C.A.R.E.S. Claudia is a long-time member of GCAS, and we take pride in calling her one of our own. I quote her briefly here from the C.A.R.E.S. website: “If each one of us is to dedicate at least one existing aquarium, or set up one new aquarium, with the intent of devoting that aquarium space to a species at risk, the aquarium hobby as a whole has the opportunity to make a major impact in ensuring a positive future for these fishes.” Basically, C.A.R.E.S. represents an organized means of preserving as many species of conservation priority fishes as there are hobbyists, of which there are a whole lot of both. (Don’t hold back if you are a beginner. You will get all the support you need.) Carried to its farthest extension, it can include an exchange among hobbyists which will provide for a cross-breeding of the gene pool within each species. If or when these fishes become extinct in the wild, they will thankfully not be lost forever as they will be preserved in our aquariums, and if the day should come when they can be safely reintroduced into nature, they are ready to go, thanks to the efforts of hobbyists from all over the world. The C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program has crossed many oceans and borders, and has become an international initiative. The first mention of the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program in Modern Aquarium was in the January 2005 issue. Once again I quote Claudia Dickinson: “Hope has been found for a future that seemed bleak for countless species, through the


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

diligence and care of concerned hobbyists such as you.” You have probably read about the C.A.R.E.S. program in other venues, including most notably Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine, and the Buntbarsche Bulletin (the publication of the American Cichlid Association). The heart of this program, and the key to its ultimate success, is “the priority list,” that is, the list of fishes which are most at risk. In the earliest days of C.A.R.E.S., this list was printed out, and was available at GCAS meetings. Even at that time, this list was in constant flux, and was changing as often as hourly. In 2012 a hard copy of the list would be obsolete by the time it came out of a printer. Fortunately, we live in an age of accessability. Fortunately, the most up-to-date information on this subject is at your fingertips via the internet. Unfortunately, the list has grown exponentially since then. Anyway, this is where you want to start your participation, by choosing a fish from this list to care for. If you need help in getting hold of a fish from this list, you can talk to our GCAS C.A.R.E.S. Coordinator Tommy Chang, our President Dan Radebaugh, or, of course, Claudia. Once you have your C.A.R.E.S. fish(es), close observation and careful note-taking are of paramount importance. Many fishes, especially those within the same genera, look so much alike that telling one from another can be a real challenge, however, accurate species identification is critical for a fish to be accepted into the C.A.R.E.S. program, particularly with the initial registration. Most applicants can expect to send in a photo for correct identification by the C.A.R.E.S. team of noted experts. Even if the fish(es) you are keeping turn out to be “lookalikes” to some from the C.A.R.E.S. priority list, don’t be disappointed. You are still doing the right thing, and you may even be playing a role in keeping them OFF of the list! This seems like the best place to tell you about the C.A.R.E.S. website. (All you have to do is Google it.) This is a very nice piece of work. If you are anything like me, and have been dragged kicking and screaming into the wide world of the internet, even you will find it to be welcoming and easy to navigate. The priority list of fishes, as well

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as pretty much everything else you need to know about becoming a “caregiver,” can be found here. The R in the C.A.R.E.S acronym stands for Recognition. This part of the program is a finely tuned series of honorariums, beginning with a “certificate of recognition.” To this certificate will be affixed gold, green, blue and red hearts. They will designate (gold) that you have dedicated one tank to a species at risk, (green) shared your knowledge through the writing of an article, (blue) shared fry with a hobbyist from your home club, and (red) shared fry with a hobbyist from another club, respectively. This is quite an impressive presentation, and you will surely consider it to be worthy of being framed. Of course, there is no limit as to the number of these you can earn. Taking a brief step back to Modern Aquarium for just a moment, I want to make sure you know that as participants of the C.A.R.E.S. Preservation Program, you are eligible for a couple of extra perks. They are 1) double points in the GCAS Author Award Program for any article you write on a C.A.R.E.S fish, and 2) double points for a photo or drawing of a C.A.R.E.S. fish which appears on the cover of Modern Aquarium. Also, the GCAS Breeder’s Award Program gives an extra ten points for breeding a C.A.R.E.S. species at risk fish. Before I leave the topic of perks, I want to mention The Federation of American Aquarium Society (FAAS) Publication Awards, which is an annual competition designed to reward excellence in writing by tropical fish hobbyists. (See the July 2012 issue of Modern Aquarium for the results of the 2011 competition.) There are 31 categories, and one of them is called “Best Conservation-Related Article.” An eligible article can be about anything from water pollution to global warming (or, yes, even a species of fish at risk). BUT, if you write an article for another category (such as spawning or collecting, to name only two), about a species which coincidentally happens to be on the C.A.R.E.S. priority list, that article can also be entered into the conservation category. Even if you are not writing about the conservation status of the fish, you could still win one of these awards just because you CARE. Cool! Obviously this is not the whole story when it comes to C.A.R.E.S. Think of this article as a brief introduction. Check out the website, talk to hobbyists who are already participating, and do as much homework as you can on those species which you are most interested in helping to save. Before I bring this article to a close, here are a few words from our GCAS C.A.R.E.S. coordinator, Tommy Chang:

species of fishes. For several months I had the information out on the table between Marsha Radebaugh (membership), and Jules Birnbaum (treasurer). The information was printed on colorcoded paper, and I did my best to distribute it. I did this from month to month until around August when I suddenly seemed to have disappeared, for which you have my humble apologies. I am currently taking an online course which takes a lot of time, and is very important to me. All in all it has been a slow re-boot for the GCAS C.A.R.E.S. effort. My online course ends in early January. I expect to have the species journal booklets ready by the first meeting of 2013. The positive side of this is that GCAS C.A.R.E.S. is back! How exciting! Now new members who may not be aware of C.A.R.E.S. species maintenance efforts will be informed of this most worthwhile endeavor. I wish everyone a great end to 2012, and hope to see all of you at the 90th anniversary bash coming up in December. Tommy The A in the C.A.R.E.S. acronym stands for Awareness. I sincerely hope that the 2012 series of Wet Leaves columns has heightened your awareness of the many problems facing our environment and its inhabitants. In addition to visiting several continents and meeting lots of people, we have learned much about these problems along with their causes and effects, as well as a variety of potential solutions. Have you figured out where you fit in? Next month I will be closing out this series on conservation, not by reviewing a book, but by reviewing an author. This person has been dubbed “the patron saint of the environmental movement.” If you all ready know who I’m talking about, and are familiar with the works by this author, you will surely enjoy revisiting your favorite among them. If you don’t yet know who this is, then you are in for a treat. Last Minute Revision I sent a preview copy of this article to Claudia so she could check it for accuracy. She would like all of us to be informed as to some changes to the C.A.R.E.S acronym. The most upto-date version reads as follows: Conservation, Awareness, Recognition and Responsibility, Encouragement and Education, Support and Sharing

This past April the GCAS brought back C.A.R.E.S. to promote the conservation of at risk


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Sharks of St. Martin Story and Photos by Stephen Sica

e awakened early Monday morning as our ship was cruising into the harbor for the first stop on our itinerary. In a couple of hours a bus would pick us up for the ride to a local dive shop that Donna had found on the internet. We had dived in St. Martin once before on an offshore wreck that was washed by a raging current, and in a shallow bay close to shore that had very poor visibility. Donna did not enjoy our first encounter, so I was curious as to where this adventure would take us. We found the bus, and were accompanied by a Canadian couple from our ship who had also booked a morning of diving with the same shop. The sultry and exotic proprietress, Luciana, greeted us. She and Donna had corresponded via the net. Her best advice was to suit up and assemble our gear at the shop, and that we leave everything behind except our dive gear, because the seas were rough, and we would get wet in their small dive boat. Luciana spoke the truth. On the trip to the first dive site the Canadians got seasick and remained so for the duration of the trip. Donna was okay, as were two male divers who made up the complement of guests. I felt my stomach churning with each bump we hit. Fortunately, I had eaten a very light breakfast, so all I got were dry heaves. Every wave that we sped into broke over the boat’s bow


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

into our faces. Finally, we arrived. Two dive masters would accompany us; the third crew member remained on the boat to help us board upon completion of the dive. The location was only a mile or two offshore. The bottom was white sand, except for the metal hull of a sailboat. The hull was about thirty meters, or almost a hundred feet long, and ten feet wide. It was broken open in several places and surrounded by small schools of fish, as well as many individuals. Over a hundred feet away were concrete blocks from a rebuilt bridge. The relief of these blocks was perhaps ten feet at the highest point, and stretched for only a few yards. This structure was also swarming with fish. We swam around both the boat hull and bridge for forty-five minutes, in fifty feet of water. I took a great number of photos, already thinking that the closely packed schools would make a good photo-essay follow-up to an article I had written about schooling fish. After our second dive, I knew that this day of diving was going to be a worthwhile writing experience. We were taken to the entrance of the harbor where our cruise ship was docked, and told that we would be diving a deep, expansive reef in fifty to sixty feet of water. We were also informed that there was a narrow blue hole, just inside the mouth of a small cave on the reef. We could look into the blue

November 2012


This shark cruised a sand patch below the reef. It was probably looking for treats in the sand and the lower portion of the reef.

hole from the cave mouth, but we were warned not to enter the cave because of the tight confines of both the cave and the blue hole. We entered the water by rolling backwards from the sides of our small boat, and began swimming toward the bottom. As our vision and equilibrium adjusted to our downward plunge, I looked around to see us being buzzed by a large shark. We began to follow the dive master, and I noticed that this reef was inhabited by three sharks. One was fairly large, in the eight to nine foot range; another was about six feet; and the last one was four feet—a nice “family,” I remarked to myself. We were under water for about forty minutes, and all three sharks were continually circling around us and swimming near us, but always maintaining safe distance, until I attempted to cut the big one off in order to try to photograph it. They appeared to be ordinary reef sharks, which are usually not considered dangerous, so I thought my tactic was sound. Sharks are wild animals in their own element, while I’m clumsy and considerably less mobile, so my tendency is to be careful, though sometimes my camera takes over my body, causing me to chase after sharks foolishly, on the assumption that overall I’m too big to eat and my appendages do not have snack appeal. The big shark wasn’t interested in being photographed, so I could never get a closeup of a signature “head, mouth, and teeth” shot.

This large Caribbean Reef shark circled around us as we explored a deep reef. It kept its distance, so I took several photos using high magnification that unfortunately hindered my ability to get a sharp image.


After a while we swam by a small opening. I stuck my head into it and recalled that this must be the blue hole cave. It was inky-black and scary. I swung my camera arm downward and snapped two or three photos. The dive master had said that a local diver swam down into it for ninety feet before returning. I had no desire to emulate that daring person; I thought that it was spooky! Just turning around in its narrow width was an act of bravery. Imagine if you had an equipment malfunction, and had to swim out of that narrow cave entrance after swimming up through the narrow hole. My thoughts were causing me to breathe heavily through my regulator. I caught myself and calmed down, taking slow, deep breaths. All I did was look through the entrance of that cave and I was becoming stressed! I backed away and turned around. Where was everyone? I was alone. There were no other divers. They had all continued on their way—even Donna. I gazed through the clear water column, searching for divers or their air bubbles.

The dark spot is a small blue hole about eight feet in diameter inside a small cave. This blue hole is only a few feet inside the cave entrance at a depth of about sixty feet. A local diver swam ninety feet down the hole before turning back after reaching a total depth of 150 feet.

Seeing nothing, I began swimming in the direction that I assumed the others would be traveling. After a minute, I rounded a sea bank and came across my wife, giving me a stern stare. Donna had not looked into the cave or blue hole, so I knew it would be hopeless for me to try to telepathically communicate my anxiety. Back on the boat, Donna told me not to dally any more taking photos. She has told me all this before, so I knew the drill. I tried to explain to her how scary the blue hole was. Looking downward, it had reminded me of the funnel of a tornado. Donna was not impressed. When we arrived back at the shop, we were told that a bus had overturned on a hilly section of the main—and only—road to town. The road was now closed, and it was anyone‘s guess when it would be reopened. If we wanted to return to our cruise ship before it left for its next destination, St. Lucia, we would have to take the dive boat back along the

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

This shark came in for an up-close pass. It seemed to be investigating me, and posed no danger.

shoreline. Off we went. Since the water was still quite rough, the boat went very slowly. The woman from Canada soon became seasick again, and remained so for the hour-plus passage. I felt sorry for her. Once I was seasick for an entire two and one-half hour trip to Belize’s famous blue hole. I think that perhaps I’m beginning to see a parallel here. We finally made it to the harbor, and walked several hundred yards with our water-soaked

equipment to the ship itself. Returning from a dive is often tedious, because your wet gear weighs a lot more than it did when dry. We hauled it to our room, where I put it in the tiny shower area to rinse it and set it out on our balcony to dry. It had been a long and strenuous day, when Donna proclaimed, “I’m hungry and thirsty. Let’s get some refreshments.” It sounded like a capital idea to me, so off we went!

Kingfish (

Good for the Hobby – Organizations – Industry Ray “Kingfish” Lucas Celebrating 23 years in the business (1989-2012) of participating at your events. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2012


Pictures from our



Rachel O’Leary gave us an interesting program about “Little Critters.”

Our Auctioneer, Bill Amely

Jeff Bollbach and Leslie Dick

Steve Sica and Herb Walgren

Sharon Barnett

Ron Wiesenfeld November 2012 November 2012

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

last meeting Photos by Susan Priest

A warm welcome to our newest member:

Gilberto Soriano

And to “Old Timer”:

Joseph Ferdenzi

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners

1st Place: Ruben Lugo

2nd Place: Bob Hamje Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY) Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

3rd Place: Bob Hamje November 2012 November 2012



Support Fish in the Classroom! If you have any 5 or 10 gallon tanks, or any filters, pumps, or plants that you could donate to NYC teacher Michael Paoli's classrooms, could you please bring them in or email Rich Levy ( If you'd like to donate larger tanks, be sure and email Rich so he can make sure Michael can accommodate it.

Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Aquarium Technology Inc. Cameo Pet Shop Cobalt Aquatics Coral Aquarium Ecological Laboratories HBH Pet Products KingďŹ sh Koller-Craft Kordon, LLC Marineland 24

Microbe Lift Ocean Nutrition America Omega Sea Red Sea Rena Rolf C. Hagen San Francisco Bay Brand Seachem World Class Aquarium Zoo Med Laboratories Inc. Zoo Rama Aquarium November 2012

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 Next, all the way from Hawaii, for only one, presorted postage stamp, comes I’a O Hawai’I, or Fishes of Hawaii, from the Honolulu Aquarium Society. Since I have been your Exchange Editor this publication has come every month like clockwork. Like our club, they always include photos of their members and meetings. For live-bearer enthusiasts, member Franklin Lau writes in his “The Return of the Magnificent Green-Blue and Black Marble Swordtail” in the August 2012 issue, that a late club member had developed a local strain in the early 1970s, only to take his well-guarded secret to the grave. Another member spent years trying to recreate the strain without success. Finally, after six more years with two fish, the author was able to succeed. Back to the grab-bag, but not for long, because while I’m writing this there is a shout at the screen door. It’s Howard, my loyal mailman. He never forgets our travel dates, and does an outstanding job. Nowadays, you can input a hold mail request via the internet, although a substitute mail deliverer is still quite apt to err if your regular mailman is on leave or taking days off. Oh no—Howard just delivered the August issue of Fish Tales! I guess I’m switching back to a nonHawaiian theme. There were no articles or good news in this issue. Currently I have the September issue, that has an “Undergravel Reporter” type story. A seam in a 13,000 gallon saltwater aquarium on the second floor at Gulfstream Park sprang a leak, spilling out all but 3,000 gallons of water. Ohmygosh! Two casinos at the track had to be closed! Well at least the fish, including sharks, survived, and were transferred to another aquarium. The leak was almost plugged with towels from the bar. I think that if it happens again they should call the laundry room for larger towels! Sometimes I download publications to my notebook computer and review them many months (or years) later. The Durham Region Aquarium Society’s on-line publication, Tank Talk, is an exceptional November 2012 25

ell, that was another fast summer! It’s already well into autumn, although I did start this column a few months ago. Let‘s peruse our first publication for this go-round, because I have a really large batch to choose from. Most are mailed to me electronically, but I also have a small pile of hard copies. Let me put my hand into that grab-bag. Out comes the Tri-County Tropical Fish Society’s Fish Tales—the newsletter of course, not an actual fish part. Ha! You knew that! I wonder how things are going in Peoria, Illinois. My wife Donna has a friend who was raised in Peoria. Her father co-owned an airplane, so he used to fly his family to neighboring cities and states for lunch. Ah—the good life! In the July 2012 issue, Sarah Rosengrant, the club’s Secretary, wrote “How To Build A Paludarium.” When I see this word I can’t help but think of the London Palladium. Plus, the London Summer Olympics just ended yesterday as I am writing, so it’s especially on my mind. After I read Sarah’s first few sentences I thought that I should try to build one, but by the time I finished her article I had decided that the undertaking was well beyond me. The author was quite frank, and kind enough to discuss some of her design and construction errors in an attempt to keep history from repeating itself for her imitators. She corrects flaws that might collapse the inner “land” structure or foul the substrate in a year or two. Oh well, I think it’s time for me to change some water in my guppy’s fishbowl; I’ll leave the difficult stuff to Sarah. The same issue had a news story of a piranhalike fish being caught in a small Illinois lake. It turned out to be a pacu, but residents were still afraid to swim in the lake. They can reach fifty-five pounds with teeth quite human-like. The fish were presumed to have been illegally dumped in to the lake by an aquarist. What else is new? The next time someone in the media annoys me, I’m going to tell him or her to jump into a lake. Can I send them to Lake Lou Yeager in Litchfield? Okay, back into the grab-bag.


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

So many fish…so many fish stories…

publication, with color photos and well written articles. The DRAS is located in Ontario, Canada. Many articles are written by a few dedicated members. The June 2011 issue has an article about four early botanists. Numerous plants, flowers, and trees have been either discovered or named for these men. Many are aquatic plants. “The Names You Know, the People You Don’t: The Plant People!!!” by Derek Tustin, is a biography about these pioneers who lived in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. A spawning article about Hemichromus cristatus, or the crown jewel cichlid, in the July/August 2012 issue of The Youngstown Aquarist, caught my eye. The photos of these fish are striking. The article, “From Out of the Past—Crown Jewel Cichlid,” by Jim Graham of the SWMAS, appears to be a rerun, but I think that any cichlid lover will really enjoy these fish. They are quite attractive. Later in the same issue is Joe Graffagnino’s “Breeding the Blue Angels,” reprinted from the May 2012 issue of Modern Aquarium. Joe recounts how, after an angelfish hiatus of twenty-five years, he bred blue angelfish. For all you snail admirers and "breeders," the September 2012 issue of the Kitchener/Waterloo Aquarium Society’s Fins & Tales published Don Rhodes “At a Snail’s Pace—A BAP Article.” It’s a good basic primer on several common snails that aquarists encounter in pursuit of the hobby. 26

The September 2012 issue of Cichlid Blues, of the Pacific Coast Cichlid Association, publicized a great idea on page 9. The Federation of American Aquarium Societies “offers an online searchable database of speakers…available to aquarium clubs at” You may search the database by topic, speaker name, or zip code. Anyone can use this search tool, but “only FAAS member clubs may download speaker contact information and speaker photos.” Of course the FAAS encourages speakers to register on the site. You may enter your biography, photograph, speaking topics, and descriptions. You may also include travel preferences and other details. Finally, the July/August Cichlidae Communique has Pam Chin’s “A Tanganyika Cichlid Paradise, Nkondwe Island.” The East African Lake Tanganyika, with its clear waters, offered both excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. The snorkeling for Pam and her travel companion, Claudia Dickinson, was exceptional. Pam’s travel photos almost make me wish that I was there—but only if I could eliminate the long flight over and back. Traveling can be difficult, with much pleasure in its anticipation. On that note, I have nothing to anticipate, because this column is done…and so am I.

November 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2012


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Ruben Lugo 2 Robert Hamje 3 Robert Hamje

Calico Ancistrus Red Severum Marble Angel

Unofficial 2012 Bowl Show totals to date: Richard Waizman 17 William Amely 8

Robert Hamje 14 Jerry O'Farrell Carlotti deJager 3


Ruben Lugo


A special welcome to new GCAS member Gilberto Soriano!

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 5, 2012 Speaker: None Event: Holiday Party! Meets: Meets the first Wednesday of the month (except January & February) at 7:30pm: Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main Street - Flushing, NY Contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437 Email: 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

Nassau County Aquarium Society

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 9, 2012 Speaker: Gene Ritter Topic: Reef Diving Meets: 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 16, 2012 Speaker: Harry Faustmann Topic: Killifish Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Room 120 in Endeavor Hall on theState University at Stony Brook Campus, Stony Brook, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:


Next Meeting: November 13, 2012 Speaker: Arie Gilbert Topic: Aquarium Plants 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 15, 2012 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBD Meets at: The Lyndhurst Elks Club, 251 Park Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 Email: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society Next Meeting: November 15, 2012 Speaker: TBA 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 Email: Website:

November 2012

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

properties. By mixing these two types, the fish’s skin doesn’t polarize reflected light and the result is an optical illusion that can make the fish, at times, seem invisible to other marine dwellers.1 “We believe these species of fish have evolved this particular multilayer structure to help conceal them from predators, such as dolphin and tuna,” Roberts was quoted in a press release.2 "These fish have found a way to maximize their reflectivity over all angles they are viewed from. A series by The Undergravel Reporter This helps the fish best match the light environment of the open ocean, making them less In spite of popular demand to the likely to be seen.” (I’ve experienced invisible fish contrary, this humor and information myself S one day I turn over and move every cave, column continues. As usual, it does plant and rock to look for a particular fish, and NOT necessarily represent the can’t find it, the next day it’s out front begging for opinions of the Editor, or of the food. But I guess that’s a different matter that Greater City Aquarium Society. scientists haven’t studied yet.) Speaking about disappearing fish, a rare deep-sea fish that has never been captured on film recent article in the October 2012 issue of before was filmed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium the journal Nature Photonics was titled: Research Institute (MBARI) using a remote “Non-polarizing broadband multilayer operated vehicle (ROV) 7,500-11,000 feet below reflectors in fish.” That title isn’t very descriptive the surface of the ocean off the coast of northern as to what this study is about (at least not to me California. The Chaunacaops coloratus anglerfish and I would guess most folks). Basically, the was described in 1899 from a dead specimen, but article reports that PhD student Tom Jordan and his has never even been filmed alive, until now. supervisors Professor Julian Partridge and Dr. Research suggests that this fish starts off life Nicholas Roberts of the as a transparent larva. University of Bristol’s It turns blue as it ages. School of Biological Finally, when fully Sciences in England mature, it turns red. found that fish such as Once mature, they can herring, sardines, and use their fins to “walk” sprat (fish they term as on the sea floor.3 “silvery” in appearance) During the filming are “breaking” a basic of the rare fish, it law of physics. No, it’s attempted to use parts not the law of gravity of its body to lure a (although sometimes meal. Anglerfish use when I see a fish jump, special adaptations to or when I view the attract food close unfortunate result of an enough to eat. MBARI The rare Chaunacaops coloratus anglerfish unseen fish jump, I’m observed it dangling a Photo from Discovery News inclined to think that “shaggy, mop-like they somehow defied lure,” called an esca, from a modified fin between the law of gravity). The skins of these fish its eyes. Though the fish didn't catch any food, the contain multilayer arrangements of reflective observation of the behavior was helpful in guanine crystals. The researchers found that the determining how it hunted. skins of sardines and herring contain two types of guanine crystal, each with different optical

A 3 1 2

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

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Fin Fun As the Greater City Aquarium Society celebrates its 90th year of continuous operation, see how many of the words associated with our society you can find in the puzzle below.

Answers to our last puzzle: Common Name Scientific Name Green Terror ---------------------------------- Aequidens rivulatus Vampire Pleco ---------------------------------- Leporacanthicus galaxias Bloodfin Tetra ---------------------------------- Aphyocharax anisitsi Assassin Snail ---------------------------------- Clea helena Dracula Fish ---------------------------------- Danionella dracula Black Ghost Knifefish ---------------------------------- Apteronotus albifrons Devil Stinger Fish ---------------------------------- Inimicus didactylus Goblin Fish ---------------------------------- Glyptauchen panduratus Fangtooth Fish ---------------------------------- Anoplogaster cornuta Devil Fish ---------------------------------- Mobula mobular Giant Snakehead ---------------------------------- Channa micropeltes Viperfish ---------------------------------- Chauliodus sloani Atlantic Wolffish ---------------------------------- Anarhichas lupus

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

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