Modern Aquarium

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1994 —

November 2013 volume XX number 9

20th Anniversary — 2013

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Series III ON THE COVER Our cover this month features Betta ocellata, one of the “wild” bettas. For more information on this larger-than-you-might-expect, and relatively easy to keep betta, see Al Priest's article on page 13.

Vol. XX, No. 9 November, 2013

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2013 Program Schedule President’s Message

Photo by Alexander A. Priest


President Dan Radebaugh Vice-President Edward Vukich Treasurer Jules Birnbaum Assistant Treasurer Ron Wiesenfeld 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


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

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

Who CARES? by Tommy Chang

Cartoon Caption Contest Pictures from our Last Meeting by Susan Priest

G.C.A.S. Bowl Show Rules The LFS Report World Class Aquarium by Dan Puleo

Our Generous Sponsors & Advertisers The Eyespot Betta: Betta ocellata by Alexander A. Priest

How To Get Out of the Fish Biz? Move! by Charlie Kuhne

Wet Leaves by Susan Priest

Melanotaenia of New Guinea, Part I by Derek P.S. Tustin

Shark Diving At the North Carolina Aquarium by Stephen Sica

Paratilapia Sp. ̔fony̕ by Dan Radebaugh

Member Classifieds G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter Satellite Spawners

Fin Fun (Puzzle Page) True or False

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11

12 13 16 17 19 25 28 32 34 35 36

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


his issue of Modern Aquarium has several elements that are familiar to our readers, and a few elements that are a little bit unusual. For instance, we have not one, but three CARES-related articles, led off by Tommy Chang’s “Who CARES?”. Of the remaining two, “Paratilapia sp. ‘fony’ is written by a Greater City member (me), but reprinted from another publication, Buntbarsche Bulletin, and the third, “Melanotaenia of New Guinea” is a new article written for us by Derek Tustin, the author of an article we re-printed back in May from the Durham Regional Aquarium Society’s Tank Talk. Another unexpected voice this issue is former Greater City member Charlie Kuhne. See Charlie's “How To Get Out of the Fish Biz? Move!” on page 16. Charlie also has an ad in Member Classifieds for his house out in New Mexico. Dan Puleo’s “The LFS Report” this month features World Class Aquarium, a shop that has been a regular advertiser in Modern Aquarium for many years. Steve Sica gives us another wonderful photo essay of one of his and Donna’s traveling and diving adventures in “Shark Diving at the North Carolina Aquarium.” Appropriately, Sue Priest’s Wet Leaves column this month features Steve’s contributions to Modern Aquarium. Sue also once again contributes the always-popular “Pictures From Our Last Month’s Meeting.” Meanwhile Al Priest contributes another of his astute and informative articles, this time on Betta ocellata, the “eyespot betta.” The Undergravel Reporter tells us about noisy, satellite-spawning midshipmen (not from Annapolis), and the issue closes with our monthly Fin Fun puzzle. 2

Remember, we need articles. We always 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 email it to, fax it to me at (877) 299-0522, 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 6

Joe Ferdenzi 90 Years of GCAS!

April 3

Larry Johnson Lake Malawi

May 1

Sal Silvestri

Apistogrammas June 5

Leslie Dick Livebearers

July 3

Joe Ferdenzi Do-It-Yourself Aquarium Gadgets

August 7

Silent Auction

September 12

Mark Denaro Bettas/Labyrinth Fishes

October 2

Mark Soberman Keeping and Breeding Corydoras

November 6

Dan Radebaugh Herichthys carpintis

December 4

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 2013 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 2013


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh


little over a year and has passed since Hurricane Sandy's visit, and since the meeting that didn't happen. But now it’s time to turn our thoughts forward. About a month from now, on December 4th, we will be gathering for our annual Holiday Awards Banquet. Last year we held our banquet for the first time at the Flagship Diner on Queens Boulevard. Last year Flagship charged us $22.50 per person. The club picked up $2.50 of that, and so members paid $20 each. This year the price has gone up by a couple of dollars each, but the club will make up the difference, and members will once again pay only $20 each. Think about that—a year’s membership in Greater City is $20, which includes monthly speakers, refreshments, auctions, raffles and door prizes, not to mention the camaraderie of hanging out with people who share your interest in fish. On top of all that,

another $20 gets you a great meal and dessert, and yet more festivities! Is this a deal, or what? I pay that much for a container of freeze-dried krill! And I don’t even eat them! Last month I asked for some volunteers to help the club in various ways, and I was pleased to get a few positive responses. I’ll be speaking with our new volunteers to see how they can both help us out and do something that interests them. More news will be forthcoming soon! On another matter, I recently received the letter below from Christine Policastro of the North Jersey Aquarium Society, which I thought our members should see. See you at the banquet!


October 12, 2013 Dear Greater City Aquarium Members, On behalf of the Board, Officers and membership of the North Jersey Aquarium Society, I would like to thank you for your support of our 60th anniversary event, by sponsoring two classes in our All-species Tropical Fish Show. No hobbyist club could exist without the support of their members, local pet shops, vendors, manufacturers, and sister societies. The reality is we have been a viable club for sixty years because of the support we have had for all of those years. NJAS is only one of a couple of aquarium societies in the northeast that have an annual show, so your support of the event is important not only to NJAS, but to the tropical fish hobby as well. NJAS is renowned for their amazing ability to consistently organize a fun and informative event, and this year will no doubt prove to be especially extraordinary. Your sponsorship of show classes this year will help to defray the cost of our show, and provide hobbyists a great opportunity to view a large number of show-quality fish. It may even generate new interest in the hobby with the number attendees expected who are not familiar with North Jersey or the organized hobby. We are aware of the tough economic times most of us are still facing, and yet you offered your support. In closing, I would like to thank you once again for your continued support of our organization. You have supported our annual show throughout the years, and we greatly appreciate that! Sincerely, Christine Policastro NJAS Show Class Sponsorship Chairperson


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October's Caption Winner: Mike Gallo

Good-Bye, Columbus!

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2013


Who CARES? by Tommy Chang

ou all may recall a blurb from me about GCAS CARES about a year ago—how the CARES program here at the GCAS had a slow reboot at the beginning of 2012, and how I intended to contribute to the program by managing it. Unfortunately, I must humbly accept responsibility for the fizzle in the progress of that revival to date. I would also like to apologize to anyone with CARES fish who were due awards for their efforts at conservation, such as Jules Birnbaum and Al Priest. I quote King Hal, Henry V in the play of the same title: “Once more onto the breach!” At the beginning of 2013 I broke my right foot; I then had weight and hip flexor problems which required physical therapy. Finally, I had cataract surgery. It was a grueling year of doctor’s appointments. But I am happily back! They say the third time’s the charm, but I hope to nail it the second time around—or is it actually the third time around—this being the third year? Anyway, thanks to all, and I urge you to get involved in this worthy project. There are a few ways that you can participate. First, and most important, you can devote some tank space—you decide how much—to keeping, breeding, and distributing to the hobby an at-risk species. You can help me run the CARES program. What that might involve is unclear to me right now, but if the program prospers, we will need to keep records, perhaps institute an awards program, and communicating with other clubs so that we and they are truly involved in this program that may be the last hope for survival of so many at-risk species. At the very least we should have at least one person acting as backup so that one of us is always present at our regular club meetings. If you would like to help out, please let me know or tell Dan, who will pass the info on to me. Thank you, and Happy Fishkeeping!


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November 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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:

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2013


Pictures from our

Ed Vukich does another great job of auctioneering



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last meeting Welcome back to renewing members:

Karen Ottendorfer

Tommy Chang

Photos by Susan Priest

Peter Steiner

Door Prize Winner:

Leonard Ramroop

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners:

1st Place: Jerry O’Farrell

2nd Place: M ario Bengcion M odern A quarium - G reater City A .S. (N Y )

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

3rd Place: Bill Amely N ovember 2013

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The LFS Report by Dan Puleo

LFS in the spotlight: World Class Aquarium 2015 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, 11234


his month the LFS Spotlight falls on a store that is new to me, but an old favorite for some of our members: World Class Aquarium. I had been to the shop only once before, but was happy to return to do this article. World Class has been a part of the Brooklyn aquarium scene since 1986, and has flourished in that time to be considered among the best. Anyone familiar with the Brooklyn shops knows that that’s saying a lot. If you’ve never spent a day fish-shop-hopping in Brooklyn, you’re missing out. While talking with the owners and employees, and looking at the tanks, a common theme in the best shops once again becomes apparent: beautiful, healthy fish and serious customer service. I spent quite some time talking with Dwayne, who maintains all the tanks and cares for all the fish with a passion that is incredible. Once he got rolling about “his” fish, and how he works with “his” customers, I realized that here was someone with a love of fishkeeping that rivals or exceeds that of any member of our society. He grew up in Jamaica (NOT Queens!), and some of his earliest memories are of diving to look at the fish on the reef when he was three. While growing up he earned a living capturing fish for the aquarium trade, and he came to New York when he was 21. Not long after his arrival he started working at World Class and has never looked back. He is serious about how his customers take care of their fish—he won’t sell you any fish until he knows what size tank they’re going into, and what other fish are in that tank. If he thinks you shouldn’t be adding those fish he won’t sell them to you, and if you return with a sick fish he Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

insists on getting a water sample, keeps the fish, and won’t return it until “we get your water dead on right.” He also has a passion for breeding cichlids, and loves to try different crosses to see what will come of it. It seems like his bosses take very good care of him and give him the room to do his breeding experiments. He had a white Midas cichlid and a flowerhorn in a cube tank preparing a spawning site as we spoke. “Watch this.” he said, and reached into the tank. The Midas immediately came up to be petted! “I love my fish and they love me.” Once his hand was out, it was right back to prespawning. Some of his crosses have come out quite beautifully, and have sold for as much as $300! This shop’s love of big fish is obvious when you see the 280 gallon tank. It contains a 3-foot silver arowana, red devils, buttikofferi, Oscars, a gorgeous gold tilapia, plecos, and a lukanini that’s obviously one of Dwayne’s favorites. All he has to do is look at it, and it acts like my dog when I come home from work. While I was there, some of the other fish that stood out to me were the silver distichodus ($5), beautiful monos ($10), and the dollar sized red-eyed platinum pearlscale angels ($10). There were large rummynose tetras ($2.50) that were properly colored up, and Odessa and black ruby barbs ($7) that make you realize what these fish should look like. In the African tanks the yellow labs ($9) absolutely glowed, and I was treated to a species I had never seen or heard of before—Aristochromis christyii ($20). They also had impressive lyre-tailed peacocks & kenyii ($7)

November 2013


and blue dolphins ($8). All fish are “buy 3, get the 4th free.” On the salty side, all the fish and inverts looked incredible. I was especially impressed by the yellow carpet anemones. It turns out that Alan, one of the owners, is a marine biologist, so you know you will be getting the best advice when you come in with a question for that side of the aisle. As to other aspects of this shop that make it special, one is that they make all kinds of custom tanks. This is the work of the other partner, Robert. He had rimless flat-back hex tanks, and lots of oddball sizes ready to go in “the tank room,” and his talent and creativity show in many of the stock tanks. I had never seen a store with the top shelf tanks shaped so that the front glass is tilted down toward you at about a 30 degree angle, but it certainly made for easy viewing.


He also makes some impressive custom paludarium tanks. The other side of the coin at World Class is their birds. You won’t just find the typical parakeets, finches, and cockatiels. Here you can find the big boys: conures, parrots, cockatoos, and more— both hand-fed babies and adults. Of course you will also find a knowledgeable and dedicated staff to make sure you know what you’re doing when you consider making a purchase—just like on the aquarium side. So take some time to go visit World Class Aquarium. It’s definitely worth the trip!

This month’s LFS Report was originally distributed in flyer form at our July, 2013 meeting.

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The “Eyespot” Betta Betta ocellata

Text and photos by ALEXANDER A. PRIEST


hen I first began researching the “[Betta ocellata] differs from other subject of this article, Betta members of the Betta unimaculata ocellata, I was surprised that a fish species group by the follow ing first described in 1933 by Dutch biologist combination of characters: distinct Lieven Ferdinand de Beaufort, was not in my black spot near caudal peduncle; body 1993 Baensch Aquarium Atlas. I could only wormish; opercle blue; uniform caudal find a reference to Betta ocellata as a fin coloration; vertebrae 33-34 (mode “synonym” for Betta unimaculata. 1 33); anal-fin rays 30-31 (mode 30); The “Unimaculata Complex” is a group dorsal-fin rays 8; pectoral fin rays 12-13 of Betta species with similar physical (mode 13); subdorsa l scales 5-5 1/2 characteristics, in this case large (at least for (mode 5 1/2); lateral scales 32-34 (mode the species Betta), paternal mouthbrooding 33); predorsal scales 24; predorsal fish. This complex currently includes, in length 68.8-71.9% SL; head length addition to Betta unimaculata, Betta patoti, 31.4-33.3% SL; length of anal-fin base Betta ocellata , Betta gladiator, Betta ideii, 52.2-54.5% SL; length of dorsal-fin base Betta macrostoma, Betta pallifina, and 10.5-11.3% SL; lower jaw length Betta compuncta. 27.3-33.1% HL.” 3 There are two known color variants of Any species having the scientific name of Betta ocellata, with fish collected from clear ocellatus (or, ocellata, or ocellatum) is likely to water environments (such as the Danum have spots, especially spots large enough to V alley in Sabah, resemble eyes. The Malaysia) having a reason is that b l u e / g r e e n ocellatus is a Latin Scientific Name: Betta ocellata co lo ratio n , w ith adjective meaning Common Name: Eye-Spot Betta those from murkier “with little eyes” Adult Standard Length: 3.94" - 4.33" waters being more pH: 6.3 to 7.7 (from ocellus, y ello w /bro w n . W ater hardness: soft (4-18 N) diminutive of oculus, Temperature: 73.4 - 78.8 F (23 - 26 C) A p p are n tly , th e or eye). In the case Distribution: M alaysia and Indonesia blue/green form of of Betta ocellata, Reproduction: paternal mouthbrooder Betta ocellata is there is a large spot Temperament: peaceful (males may display often mistaken for on either side of the 2 some aggression to each other) Betta unimaculata. body at the caudal Environment: low-light, caves and/or and, until 2005, peduncle (the place driftwood, tight-fitting cover Betta ocellata was w here the fish’s Nutrition: primarily carnivore (black worms, regarded as only a caudal, or tail fin daphina, brine shrimp, etc.) color morph or begins). Males may variant of Betta also have iridescent unimaculata (which explains its omission in blue scales on the gill covers, and are more my 1993 Aquarium Atlas). However, in brightly colored than females. Some females 2005 a new study was published describing have two lateral bands, while no males do. Betta ocellata as a separate and distinct A majority of the species in the genus species, as follows: Betta are mouthbrooders (as opposed to bubblenesters), and all mouthbrooding bettas

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are paternal mouthbrooders (meaning that the male holds the fertilized eggs until they hatch). Based on my experiences with many other mouthbrooding Betta species, once the fry are released and are free-swimming, the parents will take no more notice of them, either by providing care or predating them.



Betta ocellata is a paternal mouthbrooder and the male incubates the eggs from 12 to 17 days. (Incubatio n time can vary with water temperature.) Females normally initiate spawning. 5 There are varying opinions on the difficulty of having these fish breed in the home aquarium. One source claims: “Eyespot mouthbrooders are very difficult to breed in the

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aquarium. In the wild they will breed in waters with very low pH. The male will mouth brood the young; at this stage it is best to remove the female to prevent aggression. When the fry are released they can be fed on rotifers or newly hatched brine shrimp.” 4 On the other hand, I obtained my fish from a member of our aquarium society who apparently had no problem in breeding them. My specimens have not yet spawned, so I’ll withhold judgment on the degree of difficulty of breeding in the home aquarium. I can at least attest to the fact that they are very easy to maintain, and are not demanding with respect to precise water parameters or food (so far, I haven’t found a fish food that they won’t eat!), but they do prefer cooler water (in the mid 70s). There are two schools of thought regarding what should be done with the female while the male is holding eggs. Some breeders remove the female, others do not. For Betta bubblenesters, the female should always be removed when the male starts tending his nest, as he will attack any fish, including his mate, that approaches that nest. However, in the case of Betta mouthbrooders, I have never seen a brooding male attack his mate. On the contrary, I’ve seen several instances where the female positioned herself to guard a brooding male. The best argument for removing the female is that once the male has released free-swimming fry, she will attempt to mate with him almost immediately thereafter. Since his mouth was filled with fertilized

eggs, the male has not eaten for over two weeks by the time the fry are released; and he needs time to eat and regain his strength. My recommendation is IF the female can be removed quickly and quietly (so as not to alarm the male who, if alarmed might eat the eggs), do it. Otherwise, wait until the fry are free swimming and remove her then. As with all Betta species, Betta ocellata are prone to sudden and sometimes quite dramatic and long jumps. A tight-fitting cover should always be in place. I find that caves and bottom-level hiding places (plants and driftwood especially) help reduce some of the tendency to jump out (when startled, the fish will usually head for a place previously determined to be safe). Caves also provide a place for the male to stay when brooding the eggs in his buccal pouch, and driftwood helps to lower the water’s pH. (While Betta ocellata are tolerant of a wide range of water parameters, a lower pH appears to be most conducive for spawning.) This is not a very colorful fish, but it is interesting and not at all shy. It will accept almost any food you give it and beg for more. It tolerates a wide range of water parameters (but regular water changes are still required). While not common in local shops, it is fairly well established in the hobby and available through local aquarium societies (which is how I got mine) or from the Internet.

References 1

Baensch, Hans A., and Rüdiger Riehl. Aquarium Atlas. Vol. 2. Melle, Germany: Hans A. Baensch, 1993, p. 800.



Hui, Tan Heok; Ng, Peter Kl, 2005: The fighting fishes Teleostei Osphronemidae genus Betta of Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology y 1: 43-99 Suppl 13



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How To Get Out of the Fish Biz?

MOVE! by Charlie Kuhne


ngels, angels, angels... Black, marbles, golds, lace tails, lyretails, and super lace. I had been a member of GCAS for over 20 years through 1993. In the final years I specialized in angels, bringing bags of young fish to every meeting for auction. That year we discovered our dream retirement home in a small town called Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. We were to move on January 31, 1994, and needed to dispose of everything in a two to three month window. Fortunately, GCAS member Richie Gambina bought my entire collection of tanks and fish. Richie had been disappointed by past claims of “guaranteed breeder angels” that did nothing, but within a week he was delighted to have his first spawn. Today those who know him can tell you he has a house full of angels. Back in T Or C a few years later, I picked up a 20 gallon high at a yard sale (whatta mistaka to maka). So on my next trip to New York Rich loaded me up with angels and twin corys. In those days you could travel by air with shopping bags full of fish!


So began (again) the proliferation of tanks and fish throughout the house, until my wife Shirl got peeved about angelfish staring at her while she bathed. She swears that they gathered in the nearest corner of the tank, pursed their lips, and whistled. I managed to escape the situation with my life and at the same time expand my hobby by creating a 10-tank fishroom out of the carport—and a depletion of almost twenty grand from our bank book. Now it’s almost 20 years later, and I’ve managed to sell off my breeders and adult fish, leaving me with five empty tanks, but a slew of fancy guppies, assorted swordtails, and a handful of immature cory catfish. Oh yes; I forgot to mention that a year after the carport conversion we built an indoor pond to house our tropicals as well. I’m ready to get out of the fish biz again—does anyone want to buy a house? Help!!!

See Charlie's ad in Member Classifieds, page 32.

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

by remarkable photos. They are invariably in focus and artfully framed. Many of them have graced the covers of Modern Aquarium. Can you name even one other club publication which can boast of regular contributions such as these? The second thing is the unique a Series On Books For The Hobbyist perspective he provides on the increasing by SUSAN PRIEST threat to reef environments that lionfish have ne of the best things which has come to represent. He gets up-close-andhappened to Modern Aquarium in personal, bringing back telling photos along recent years is Steve Sica’s retirement with face-to-face reporting on the size of the problem. Quoting from the IRS. As near briefly from “Lionfish as I can figure, this took of Nassau Revisited” in place somewhere Author Profile of the October 2013 issue: around the end of 2010. Steve Sica “Five and a half years Hmm! I can see that I Writing for Modern Aquarium later [between 2007 am already getting and 2013] we saw five ahead of myself, so let times more lionfish me back up a bit. while making two fewer dives. It is safe to Steve and Donna Sica have been say that Nassau is being overrun by this members of the GCAS for quite a few years invasive species.” Where else is this kind of now. They never miss a meeting unless it i n f o rmation happens to fall on their a v a i l able? wedding anniversary, Scientific American and sometimes not comes to mind! even then. Steve has Thirdly is his been a regular dry wit. He will contributor to Modern rarely make you Aquarium since 2006 laugh out loud, and when he started writing he will occasionally his iconic exchange make you groan, but column, Fish Bytes. most often you will Fortunately for the rest find that he has put a of us, that was only the smile on your face. beginning of a steady In 2011 Steve stream of articles on a wrote NINE articles wide variety of topics. for Modern No matter what Aquarium, and in Steve was writing 2012 he wrote about, he was always Patriotic Partners TWELVE. That’s a accompanied by his Donna and Steve Sica lot of wet leaves! “silent partner” Donna. This is what led me to the conclusion that his Why do I call her his silent partner? Because anxiously awaited retirement had finally she is almost invariably present in her wet suit arrived. Also, during his tenure as an author and diving mask, and with a piece of “airline for Modern Aquarium, he has won tubing” in her mouth. Steve has filled many a NUMEROUS FAAS Publication Awards, but page with articles describing their underwater who’s counting? escapades together. (Donna is a retired lawyer, Steve has written several articles with as well as Steve’s proofreader.) the title “My Favorite Marine Fish: (insert the To my mind’s eye, three things distinguish Steve’s work. The first thing is his name of a fish here).” I don’t know if this underwater photography. Every article in means that he keeps changing his mind about which he writes about a dive is accompanied which one is his favorite, or he is merely


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indulging in the time honored right of every aquarist to have as many favorite fishes as they want to. Choosing a photo to accompany this piece turned out to be a challenge. The obvious choice was a lionfish. But what about the Fish Bytes logo, or maybe one of Steve collecting a few of his writing awards? For some reason I was particularly drawn to the December 2011 cover photo of a barracuda, but in the back of my mind I kept returning to a photo of Donna and Steve which was taken at the July 2013 GCAS meeting (printed in the August issue) showing yet another side of this dynamic duo, their patriotism.

In 2011 Steve wrote an article called “Aquaria as Art.” In it he describes the “renovation” of a small aquarium. In my opinion, his description of a “gray and white striated rock with a small pointed peak - sort of a three inch miniature Matterhorn,” demonstrated a particularly artistic flare for writing as well as decorating. He goes on to say that “Modern Aquarium is itself a higher form of art, thanks to all the people who are responsible for its being. It is my singular honor to occasionally contribute in a small way.” Amid all of his talent is a streak of humility! Thank you, Steve, on behalf of all of our readers, for filling the pages of Modern Aquarium to overflowing with your insights, your photos, and even a few smiles along the way!

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


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Melanotaenia of New Guinea A Crisis on the Horizon? Or One Already Here? Part I by Derek P.S. Tustin


n this hobby, we all have one or two, or sometimes even three passions that we follow before everything else. For some it is cichlids, for others livebearers, some anabantids, and still others cherish catfish. Me, I have two passions – aquatic plants and Sahul rainbowfish. When I first got into this hobby in a serious fashion, Sahul rainbowfish were the ones that first caught my attention, and are the ones that have held it ever since. I’ve dabbled with keeping other types of fish, but time and time again I return to rainbowfish. But even further, I have found that of the 10 genera that are considered Sahul rainbowfish, Melanotaenia are the ones that capture my attention the most. I’m hoping that most of you are somewhat familiar with Sahul rainbowfish, but for those of you who aren’t, let me tell you a bit about them. First off, I should point out that I am only addressing the Sahul rainbowfish, and am not looking at either the Celebes rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladigesi), or the Madagascar rainbowfish (the Bedotiidae family encompassing the Bedotia and Rheocles genera). Sahul rainbowfish consist of two families of closely related freshwater fish, Melanotaeniidae and Pseudomugilidae, that originate from and are restricted to Australia, New Guinea, and several small islands off the coast of New Guinea. While there is some controversy over Pseudomugilidae being a separate family or a subfamily of Melanotaeniidae, they are all commonly referred to as rainbowfish. The two families, with their associated genera, are: Melanotaeniidae Cairnsichthys (1 species) Chilatherina (11 species) Glossolepis (9 species) Iriatherina (1 species) Melanotaenia (60 species) Pelangia (1 species) Rhadinocentrus (1 species) Pseudomugilidae Kiunga (2 species) Pseudomugil (15 species) Scaturiginichthys (1 species) Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

It must be emphasized that the number of species listed for each of the genera is not static; new species are being discovered all the time. For instance, of the 60 known species of Melanotaenia, 22 were described between 1843 and 1979, 16 described between 1980 and 1989, 10 between 1990 and 1999, and 12 from 2000 to the present day. (In fact, the most recently described Sahul rainbowfish, Melanotaenia sneideri, was only first formally collected in March 2013 and first described in July 2013.) In other words, of the 60 Melanotaenia species currently described, 38 of them, or approximately 63% of the entire genus, were described in the last 33 years. When you consider that the earliest description of a Melanotaenia species occurred in 1843 (170 years ago), you can see that the past three decades has seen a virtual explosion of knowledge about rainbowfish. Overall, they are relatively small and very colorful, with all being native to freshwater habitats, although some can tolerate brackish water. They can be found in a variety of habitats throughout Australia and New Guinea, including rivers, lakes, and swamps. They are usually less than 5” (12.5 cm) in length, although some species are reported to grow up to 8” (20 cm). As mentioned, the first Sahul rainbowfish was described in 1843. Since then countless ichthyologists have tramped through Australia and New Guinea, poking, diving, and wading into further countless bodies of water and finding new and wonderful forms of these fish. In the past 30 years the two most prolific discoverers and collectors have undoubtedly been Dr. Gerald Allen and Heiko Bleher. But… Why Are They From Two Places? I’d bet dimes to dollars that most of you have never heard of Sahul. So to confuse you, I’ll tell you that rainbowfish are from Sahul. During the last ice age, about 18,000 years ago, the sea levels were substantially lower around the world. As a result of the lower sea levels Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania were actually one land mass. (In fact, from about 100,000 years ago to 5,000 years ago, some part of Australia was always connected to some part of

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New Guinea.) The attached map shows the current landmasses of Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania outlined in red within what was the Sahul continent of 18,000 years ago.

But why can’t people just (easily) wander through New Guinea and discover stuff? Well, the population of New Guinea is not homogeneous, but rather heterogeneous. (Didn’t know you were going to get a language lesson, did you? Homogeneous = composed of similar or identical parts, uniform in nature. Heterogeneous = differing in kind, having unlike qualities or characteristics.) The inhabitants of New Guinea have several thousand different communities or tribes, most with only a few hundred members. Each group may have different languages, customs and traditions, and many have been engaged in conflict with other groups for thousands of years. Then there is the geography and infrastructure of the island. The CIA World Factbook provides information on every country on the planet, and provides detailed information on various facets of the country like population and infrastructure. For Papua New Guinea, the eastern half of the island, the CIA World Factbook informs that there are 561 runways. Of those, only 21 are paved. So to fly there, you are flying into primitive conditions. Under the section for “Economy” the CIA World Factbook notes that “Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure.” So you’ve got an island with rugged terrain that is difficult to cross, has very little infrastructure, is divided between two countries, and is home to thousands of different groups who don’t necessarily get along with their neighbors. The primary concern of the native population isn’t finding new species of fish, but rather just surviving. So it is kind of hard for ichthyologists to go exploring. You have to give kudos to these intrepid modern day explorers who manage expeditions to one of the last truly wild and unexplored frontiers on Earth, returning with new species previously unknown to science. Melanotaenia of New Guinea As mentioned, the Melanotaenia genus is the one that has caught and captured my interest. As detailed above, as of October 2013 the genus contains 60 species. Of these 60 species, 49 are endemic to New Guinea and the outlying islands, 10 are endemic to Australia, and one species, Melanotaenia maccullochi, is found in both. As I write this, there is some confusion regarding a fish that is currently known as Chilatherina lorentzi. In a paper published in April 2013, Phylogeny and biogeography of rainbowfishes (Melanotaeniidae) from Australia and New Guinea, Dr. Peter Unmack, Dr. Gerald Allen, and Dr. Jerald Johnson make the argument that Chilatherina lorentzi should actually be placed in the Melanotaenia genus rather than Chilatherina. However, as this has not yet been conclusively established, I have not included Chilatherina lorentzi in addressing the following. But what is really interesting about Melanotaenia and their relation to both Australia and New Guinea is the progression of discovery:

As you can see, it was possible to walk from the southern coast of today’s Tasmania all the way to the northern coast of current day New Guinea. And of course where you can walk, water can flow. Rivers flowed throughout the Sahul continent, and the predecessors of today’s rainbowfish swam in those rivers. As the ice age receded, the ice caps melted and the sea levels rose, once again separating the landmasses of Australia and New Guinea. But the rainbowfish remained in the now distant rivers, becoming separate but closely related species. (For those of you interested, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia has a project tracking the progression of the Sahul continent over the millennia as the oceans rose and fell. It’s really very interesting and you might want to check it out at http://sahultime. Now modern day Australia is pretty well explored. Most of the species of rainbowfish living there have probably been discovered. Oh, there are still some places to go and things to find, but for the most part it has been pretty much explored and is a pretty hospitable place, at least compared to New Guinea. Why Hasn’t New Guinea Been Totally Explored? At 303,381 square miles (785,753 square kilometers), New Guinea is the world’s second largest island (Greenland is first at 822,706 mi2 [2,130,800 km2]), but is one of the least explored places on the planet. While New Guinea is less than 0.5% of the surface of the Earth, it has an estimated 5% to 10% of the total species on Earth… and many, many of those are unknown and undiscovered. Politically it is divided in two, with the eastern half of the island being a separate county, Papua New Guinea, and the western half comprised of two provinces of Indonesia. 20 November 2013

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Progression of Discovery of Species Australia (including M. maccullochi) 9 1 0 1 0 11

Time Frame

New Guinea

1843 – 1979 1980 – 1989 1990 – 1999 2000 – 2009 2010 – 2013 Total

13 15 10 3 8 49

As is evidenced, only two new species of Melanotaenia have been discovered in Australia since 1980, while 36 species of Melanotaenia have been discovered in New Guinea in the corresponding time period. With a ratio of five species of Melanotaenia endemic to New Guinea for every Melanotaenia species endemic to Australia, and with the vast majority of new species of Melanotaenia being discovered in New Guinea since 1980, it is easy to see why anyone interested in Melanotaenia has to be focused on New Guinea. The IUCN Red List and CARES Preservation IUCN Red List of Threatened Species It is neither my intention, nor within the realm of practicality to give a comprehensive overview of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. For those interested in better understanding it, I refer you to their excellent and thorough website at www.iucnredlist.

org. However, to understand the relationship between the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the CARES Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List, a basic understanding of both is required. IUCN is the acronym for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization with a stated mission to “influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable”. They have created an inventory for the global conservation status of species, both animals and plants, which is based on evaluating the potential of extinction of thousands of different species. It is a living document, with revisions of both the categories and criteria occurring over time. Presently there are nine categories into which a given species may be placed. They are:


A taxon is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. A taxon is presumed Extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times, throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual.

Extinct in the Wild:

A taxon is Extinct in the Wild when it is known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population (or populations) well outside the past range. A taxon is presumed Extinct in the Wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times, throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual.

Critically Endangered:

A taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.


A taxon is Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.


A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Near Threatened:

A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.

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Least Concern:

A taxon is Least Concern when it has been evaluated against the criteria and does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

Data Deficient:

A taxon is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status. A taxon in this category may be well studied, and its biology well known, but appropriate data on abundance and/or distribution are lacking. Data Deficient is therefore not a category of threat. Listing of taxa in this category indicates that more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate.

Not Evaluated:

A taxon is Not Evaluated when it has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.

These are basic descriptions of the categories, and that for a species to be placed in one of these categories there are specific criteria that must be met. CARES Preservation Program

CARES Preservation and Melanotaenia

The IUCN Red List has several sub-divisions where focus is given to a different area of biological diversity. One of these areas is freshwater habitats, which include fishes, mollusks, reptiles, insects, plants, and mammals. It is in this area where the IUCN Red List and the CARES Preservation Program have their overlap. As of October 2013, the CARES Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List contains 561 species divided amongst 11 categories. Of these 561 species, 231 have the IUCN Red List as the primary or shared authority for the risk classification. However, this changes slightly with relation to Rainbowfish. One of the 11 CARES Preservation Program categories is “Rainbowfish”, containing 38 listed species, or 6.77% of the total number of all species listed in the program. But of the 38 species, 27 have the IUCN Red List as the authority.

Now the CARES Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List groups all rainbowfish (that is all Sahul species from both the Melanotaeniidae and Pseudomugilidae families, and all Madagascar rainbowfish from the Bedotiidae family) under the unified heading of “Rainbowfish.” Of the 38 species contained in the “Rainbowfish” section of the CARES Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List, only 6, or 15.79% of the 38, are Melanotaenia species.

The 6 Melanotaenia species listed are; • • • • • •


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Melanotaenia arfakensis Melanotaenia boesemani Melanotaenia eachamensis Melanotaenia lacustris Melanotaenia oktediensis Melanotaenia parva

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

One of the six fish, Melanotaenia eachamensis, is native to Australia and as such, I won’t examine it here. (I will say that the story of why it is a vulnerable species is very interesting, and for those who are interested, I would direct you the excellent summary of the species provided by Adrian Tappin at his Home of the Rainbowfish website, http://rainbowfish.angfaqld. I also find it interesting that the distribution of known species of Melanotaenia between New Guinea and Australia is at roughly a 5:1 ratio, and the distribution of Melanotaenia species on the CARES Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List is exactly a 5:1 ratio between New Guinea and Australia… Of the five New Guinea Melanotaenia species that are on the CARES Preservation Program Conservation Priority Species at Risk List, two (Melanotaenia

lacustris and M. oktediensis) are from the country of Papua New Guinea, and the other three (M. arfakensis, M. boesemani and M. parva) are from the Indonesian province of West Papua.

In Part 2 we'll take a look at each of these fish and see why they're on the list.

Derek Tustin is a member of the Durham Region Aquarium Society (DRAS), a club located just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A prolific author on aquarium related topics, he has had multiple original articles published in Tank Talk (the publication of DRAS), Fishes of Sahul (the publication of the Australia and New Guinea Fish Association [ANGFA]) and The Tropical News (the publication of the Sacramento Aquarium Society). A recipient of the Federation of American Aquarium Societies (FAAS) Author of the Year Award for 2007, 2008 and 2011, he approached Greater City Society about placing an original article in what he considers to be “one of the best society publications in North America.” We were happy to do so. If you have comments, criticism, or just want to say hi, feel free to e-mail Derek at:

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


NORTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM Story and Photos by Stephen Sica


ne day Donna suggested that we begin and eleven sandbar sharks. Called the “Graveyard of taking more car trips, so that we could take the Atlantic,” this tank is the Aquarium’s main exhibit. our dog Cordelia with us. I readily agreed, We drove to North Carolina on a Sunday, and so she planned two nights out in Montauk, and checked out the Aquarium’s location on Monday. The followed that trip almost immediately with a longer week before we left home Donna phoned the Aquarium trip to North Carolina’s and scheduled our dive Outer Banks. On the for Tuesday at 11 A.M. way home we would The dive is offered stop at Chincoteague, three times daily on Virginia, which is next weekdays. It is limited to Assateague Island, to two divers and a home to a herd of wild divemaster. The dive ponies. Each year a lasts about thirty to group of the ponies forty minutes, but our that are born that Tuesday dive in midyear are rounded up, September was wide and herded to swim a open, so Laaron, our narrow channel to the divemaster, let us stay mainland, where they in the tank for fifty-five are sold at auction. You minutes. Jason was can purchase a pony The business end of a sand tiger shark, Odontaspis taurus. The two large our topside guide, who for several thousands specimens swam circular patterns, as did the sandbar sharks. Venturing explained the whole up in the water column to take a close-up, I was startled when something of dollars, or you can grasped my leg and pulled me down! It was Laaron. procedure beforehand. buy one, keep it for a All dive gear was year, and the next year send it back to the wild herd supplied except for our personal dive masks. I was on Assateague where it will live out its natural life. allowed to bring my underwater camera, but I left the That’s a generous donation! flash strobe at home. I used the camera’s internal flash Now you may ask what all of that has to do with for some photos, and no flash for others. the title of this article? Well, let me think about that. After suiting up, we entered the water via a threeHmmm, let me think some more. I guess it has nothing foot deep, sump-like pool behind the main tank, with to do with the North an opening to the back of the primary tank. Entering Carolina Aquarium. Donna decided that a dive in their shark tank would be the focus of our trip, and I readily agreed. There are three affiliated North Carolina Aquariums, but the facility at Roanoke Island happens to have a 285,000 gallon tank Nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum. that is the home to a This shark's favorite hiding place was lone nurse shark, two A dose of what it feels like being in the “goldfish bowl.” Was the inside the wreckage recreation of the audience captive looking at us and the fish, or were we? sand tiger sharks, USS Monitor. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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scale replica of the Monitor was in the back of the tank. I failed to recognize the ship when we first entered the main tank, but then it dawned on me that this replica was a recreation of the wreckage of the Monitor in its current state. The model was fifty feet in length, so I assume that the original Monitor was 150 feet long, which seemed to me to be rather small, but I guess that half the length of a football field is not too small. I understood that this would be the closest that I would ever come to personally viewing the original Monitor. Still, the model gave me an historical perspective, even though I knew that if I came across the real ship on the seafloor I wouldn‘t know what I was looking at. Sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus. These specimens were four to five feet in length. They mostly circled the tank continuously and ignored us, but every now and then one swam close to inspect us. I did the same with my camera.

via the sump pool enabled us to adjust ourselves and our equipment to the pending experience while still in shallow water. Laaron entered the main tank first, Donna followed, and I was next. I was too buoyant and had difficulty submerging, so Jason snapped a two pound weight to my shoulder harness, and down I went. Laaron, a young woman transplanted from California, held a four or five foot pole made from white PVC, with striped tape to fend off aggressive sharks. She also had a small waterproof camera, and took photos of us and the fish. Later, I asked her to clarify her name. “Aaron preceded by an L,” she replied. When we had entered the water, Jason monitored us from a catwalk above the tank. While Laaron was to assist us in case of an emergency, Jason’s dive briefing explicitly stated that if Laaron had difficulty, we were expected to assist or rescue her—not that we wouldn’t help a fellow diver. It was the first time that we have been specifically asked to save the dive professional! As in most sports, there is camaraderie among divers.

Sand Tiger shark, Odontaspis taurus.

The model was the home of the nurse shark. It never left the inside of the hull, but there were openings to look inside and see the shark. I wondered if any sharks lived in and around the real Monitor. We have seen many nurse sharks in a similar state of relaxation. Nurse sharks average five to nine feet in length, but can grow to fourteen feet. I couldn’t see the whole shark, but estimated it to be at least seven feet.

Donna is literally on the seat of her pants keeping a close watch on the sharks swimming above.

Donna observes a sand tiger shark from the safety of the Monitor wreck.

The tank is seventeen feet deep, so it was large enough to almost feel as though we were in open water. North Carolina is home to the remains of the Civil War ironclad vessel, the Monitor. It rests in about 230 feet of water several miles offshore. Jason had told us that, in keeping with the main tank’s theme, a one-third

Sandbar sharks average only five to seven feet. They have been observed at depths of 300 to 800 feet, especially during the winter. Warmer weather and water brings them to shallow estuaries. It is a plain looking, bluish gray to brownish gray shark, with a large dorsal fin relative to the fish’s overall size. It


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Large sergeant major fish, Abudefuf saxatilis. I decided that these fish were sergeant majors even though they were the largest that I had ever seen. My original identification was a banded rudderfish, Naucrates ductor, a pilot fish that associates with sharks but the body shape didn’t quite match.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

tends to stay away from divers, but may be aggressive in the vicinity of spear-fishing activities. Finally, there were two large, fierce-looking sand tiger sharks. A fully grown specimen is eight feet in length, but it can grow to ten or eleven feet. They swim with an open mouth full of long curved teeth, and can be found inhabiting North Carolina’s offshore wrecks. Their color is grayish brown. They are not considered to be a threat, but we would be with them in a very confined space. Before we entered the main tank, I did ask Jason if the sharks had been fed that day. He replied that they were fed the day before. “When are you feeding them today?” I inquired. He responded that they are fed three times a week, and would not be hungry today. We kept that assurance in mind from the time we entered the tank until we made our ascent.

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Paratilapia sp. ‘fony’ in the author’s aquarium.

residents, it also occurs on the offshore island of Nosy Boraha. The northern range limit is yet to be determined. (Loiselle, 2011) Diet

P. sp. ‘fony’ are crepuscular (more active during dawn and dusk), prefer taking their food (prey) from the water’s surface, and are not fussy eaters. Most cichlid pellets and sticks are taken with gusto. Mine have shown no interest in vegetable fare, though all predators get some veggies by way of whatever is in their prey’s digestive tract, so a high quality pellet with some vegetable content is a good choice as a staple. They will gladly eat feeder fish, though I prefer not to use them due to the danger of introducing Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, commonly referred to as ich, Oodinium pilularis or related species, or other parasites (remember their susceptibility to skin infections). Commercial foods these days are good enough that live feeders aren’t nutritionally necessary, and freezedried krill and the occasional bug keep them in good spirits. I have to put in a plug here for Hikari Massivore Delite™ pellets. All my big fish love them. Their only drawback is that pellets missed on the way down will not necessarily be retrieved, so I reserve these Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

April 2012

sinking pellets for when I have time to individually hand-feed. Sexual Dimorphism Sexually dimorphic, the P. sp. ‘fony’ males I have seen usually have a darker (nearly black) base color than females, which lean more toward brown. The spots of the females seem to me to resemble spangles rather than spots, though this could be because of the lighter base color. As with many cichlids, color can vary because of mood and other factors, so don’t get too cocky when using this method to guess sex. While most of the males I’ve seen have spots that vary from white to blue, I’ve also seen individuals, clearly males, with a brownish base color and yellowish spots. The males grow larger than the females, and can develop a pronounced nuchal hump. When mature, both sexes are intolerant of conspecifics. Dominant behavior may be expressed by direct attack, or by not allowing subordinates to feed, particularly from the surface. Housing In my experience, keeping a fully grown P. sp. ‘fony’ pair without a divider requires at least a 6-foot tank, with some good hiding places for the female. Both

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(known) spawnings by my fish have been in a 55-gallon. In a 4-foot tank a divider is not optional. Interestingly, and somewhat misleadingly, the male is not always overbearing to the female. Even when not spawning, they can give the appearance of affection, even tenderness, often ‘lying down’ together next to a rock, or in a hollowed-out area of the gravel. However, the female needs a safe retreat when that mood ends. For a time I was keeping a pair in a 125gallon tank along with a pair of Herichthys carpintis. When the behavior of the male P. sp. ‘fony’ became too oppressive, the female often took refuge with the H. carpintis pair where the male P. sp. ‘fony’ would not pursue. Spawning Attempts My original pair spawned twice. The first time, they seemed confused about what to do next, and finally ate the eggs. The second spawning failed at my hand– literally. I didn’t realize they had spawned, and I smushed the eggs while attempting to adjust one of the filter intakes. Their eggs are produced in a gelatinous mass which they may or may not attach to a handy surface; in this case the handy surface was the side of the intake, and I didn’t see it until too late. They didn’t spawn again, and last year both became gravely ill—the first symptoms were the familiar fluffy patches on their skin. The male pulled through, but I wasn’t quick enough to save the female. At a recent auction I picked up another pair from GCAS member Jeff Bollbach, so we’ll see what happens with them.

that comparison. Yes, the youngsters will display that puppy dog enthusiasm when you come near the tank, but to me it has always seemed to come with a more mercenary edge (where’s that food?) than A. ocellatus project. In a community tank– even a spacious one–P. sp. ‘fony’ has always seemed more concerned with food and social rivalries than with anything else. Well, of late I have been forced to reconsider that view. While subduing yet another stubborn columnaris outbreak (you’d think that such combative fish would have less sensitive skin), I put the big male in a 55-gallon tank, alone except for a couple of catfish. Once again I was reminded that fish behavior depends to an enormous extent on how you are housing them. With no female to attend to and no other potential competitors to try to dominate, this big guy suddenly became a warm and friendly ‘people person.’ It’s been a good reminder. I think that sometimes, particularly with cichlids, we can become so fixated on the breeding and family life interactions that we can forget to just enjoy having a fun pet to come home to–a role that P. sp. ‘fony’ can fill admirably. Also, remember the crepuscular activity cycle? Well, for those of you who go off to work at daybreak and return as the sun is going down, your P. sp. ‘fony’ will be up and alert while you’re getting ready to leave in the morning, as well as when you return in the evening. Most of my other

Personality Plus Some commentators have compared the personality of P. sp. ‘fony’ to that of the ever-popular Astronotus ocellatus. Until recently I would have seriously questioned Paratilapia sp. ‘fony’ in the author’s aquarium. 30


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Buntbarsche Bulletin 269

Reprinted from the April, 2012 (Number 269) issue of Buntbarsche Bulletin, official publication of the American Cichlid Association, Inc. (ACA). To join the ACA contact Marty Ruthkosky, ACA Membership, 43081 Bond Court, Sterling Heights. MI 48313, or visit the ACA website

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Member Classifieds WANTED: For Restoration Project: Does anyone have some pieces of

bubble-edge glass? Perhaps from a broken or old tank? Need three pieces -- Will pay! Please contact Steve: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOR SALE: 75 Gallon Tank, custom wood stand, lighting, 2 filters.

Call Paul or Debbie: 718-908-8127 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOR SALE: 210 Gallon Tank, wood stand, glass canopies. Tank & stand both need some repair. Call Dan: 718-458-8437 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------FOR SALE: Fish Hobbyist’s Dream Home: $169,000! Fishroom: 15 X 26 – Almost 400 square feet. 10 Picture-window tanks, with builtin wall shelving underneath for storage. Room for more tanks, with pressurized air system throughout the room. Full sink (hot/cold) with work space; ceramic tile floor. Pond Room: 12 X 16 – Almost 200 square feet. 300 gallon indoor pond for tropical fish. Mag pump, ceramic tile floor, large cathedral windows, lots of light for growing plants. Gorgeous views. Great place to read the Sunday papers. Rest of House: 2 BR, 2 BA, HUGE kitchen with 49 cabinets and drawers. All rooms huge, LR/desk area. Almost 2,000 square feet. Central A/C. Climate: 340 sunny days last year. Mild winters with absolutely NO snow shoveling. Location: Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Great name, huh? Was formerly called Hot Springs (and yes, we’ve got ‘em). Very friendly community. Cars actually stop for you to cross the street. Rarely hear a car horn. Two blocks from town. House Location: On historic site for Geronimo and his braves, where they ground holes in huge boulders (on the southern edge 32

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

of the property) for cooking maize. Evidence still there (placard next to property). Just 20 feet below us stands a fish pond stocked with trout, and another hundred feet down is the Rio Grande River, for rafting, tubing, and fishing. For even greater bass fishing, we’re only five miles from Elephant Butte Lake, the largest lake in New Mexico, which also features water sports such as boating, swimming, fishing, jet skiing, etc. There are two marinas. View: Tremendous! From the front porch (completely tiled) you have the best view of Turtleback Mountain rising majestically above the park and river in front of you. Breakfast on the porch is breathtaking! Lunch too! Taxes: Only $600 per year. Summing Up: We’ve lived here for 19 years, and I both the fish pond and the fishroom built for my hobby, but I’m now 83, and it’s time to retire from the hobby. We watched our grandchildren grow up as they spent all their summers here. Irreplaceable memories. You could have them too. Charlie Kuhne: (575) 894-2957

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------FOR SALE: African Cichlids -- Fry to Adult size; plus filters heaters, etc. Call Derek: 917-854-4405 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEEDS HOME: Beautiful young orange & white tabby. Neutered male with chip. Smart, loving, exhuberant. Needs to be your one and only kitty. Call Dan or Marsha: 718-458-8437

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2013


GCAS Happenings


Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Jerry O'Farrell 2 Mario Bengcion 3 William Amely

Chocolate Delta Betta Orange Plakat Betta Yellow Half-Moon Betta

Unofficial 2013 Bowl Show totals Richard Waizman 19 Jerry O'Farrell Carlotti DeJager 5 Leslie Dick

to date:

16 3

Mario Bengcion

12 Ruben Lugo

William Amely



A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Karen Ottendorfer and Peter H. Steiner!

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


Next Meeting: December 4, 2013 Speaker: None Event: Annual Holiday / Awards Banquet Meets: Flagship Diner 138-30 Queens Blvd Briarwood, NY 11348 (718) 523-6021 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


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 8, 2013 Speaker: John Coppolino Topic: Modern Fish Keeping in Reef Aquaria 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 15, 2013 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBA 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: October 8, 2013 Speaker: Horst Gerber Topic: Aquarium Decorating Tips and Glass Cutting 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 21, 2013 Speaker: Guy Van Rossum Topic: Fish Photography for Everyone 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, 2013 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBA Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month except for July & December 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 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Satellite Spawners 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.

ver heard of “satellite spawning?” It’s a mode of reproduction used by Midshipman fish. They belong to the genus Porichthys (toadfishes) and came to my attention from a post on the Mother Nature Network titled “Mating fish keep British town up all night”1


Midshipman fish, of which there are currently 14 recognized species, have three sexes (or, depending on how you want to look at it, two and a half sexes): Females, Type I males, and Type II males. The reproductive organs of Type II males are seven times larger than those of Type I males. On the other hand, Type I males are eight times larger in size, and have much larger vocal organs than Type II males. Type I males use their vocalizations to attract females to the nest with hums that can last up to an hour. Type II males then “sneak” into the nests (because they look much like females) and fertilize the eggs. (This behavior is referred to as cuckoldry or satellite-spawning.) Mother Nature Network reported that residents in the British town of Hythe have complained to the local council, saying they’ve had to leave the area just to sleep because of nocturnal noises. The Scottish Association for Marine Science thinks the noises are coming from male midshipman fish, whose mating ritual creates a sound of such low frequency and long wavelengths that it carries through the ground and into homes.

a Midshipman fish According to Wikipedia2, “Mating in midshipman fishes depends on auditory communication. Male midshipman fish produce several different vocalizations while females only make grunts in non-breeding situations.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

And, this isn’t the first time midshipman fish have interfered with people’s sleep. Last year, the mysterious sound was so loud that it woke Seattle residents in the middle of the night. I think I’ll just stay with my Trichopsis vittata (croaking gourami).

References 1 2

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

November 2013


Fin Fun 1) The higher the temperature of the water in your aquarium, the more oxygen it can hold. True9 False9 2) The labyrinth organ in anabantoids is located in the fish’s buccal pouch. True9 False9 3) Turkiichthys transgrediens is a killifish native to Lake Aci in Southwestern Turkey. True9 False9 4) Indian almond leaves and bog wood will harden the water in your aquarium. True9 False9 5) One gallon of water weighs more than 8 pounds. True9 False9 6) Daphina are crustaceans commonly called “water fleas.” True9 False9 7) A brackish-water aquarium is one where the water is always light to dark brown in color. True9 False9 8) Goldfish are the first tropical fish kept as domestic pets. True9 False9 Solution to our last puzzle: 1. How many of these plants are floating plants? 2 Anubias Duckweed Salvinia


2. How many of these fishes come from Africa? 2 Synodontis catfishes Congo Tetras

Corydoras catfishes

Cardinal Tetras

3. How many of these fishes are livebearers? 4 Butterfly goodeid Least Killifish

Swordless Swordtail

Pike Topminnow

4. How many of these fishes are NOT rainbowfishes? 1 Boesmani Threadfin Moonlight

Cape York

5. How many of these fishes are black? 3 Black Albino Swordtail Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Mollie

36 24

November 2013 November 2013

Black Port Hoplo

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

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