Modern Aquarium October 2009

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October 2009 volume XVI number 8

Friday, Saturday & Sunday October 23-25, 2009 Lyndhurst Elks Club, 251 Park Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 See for directions and auction rules

Come spend the weekend with New Jersey’s largest Tropical Fish Club. Weekend includes a fish show on Saturday only, & a huge tropical fish, plant & dry goods auction on Sunday only. Vendors, Silent Auction, Food & Drinks available both days.

*** Free admission *** Open to the Public *** FISH SHOW:


Friday, October 23 6:00 – 9:00p.m. . . . . . . . . . . Entry Registration

Sunday, October 25 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lot Registration 10:00 a.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Public Viewing of Lots 11:30 a.m. . . . . . . . . . .Presentation of Show Awards 12:00 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Auction Starts

Saturday, October 24 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. . . . . . . . . . Entry Registration 10:00 a.m. . . . . .Doors open for public viewing 6:00 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Judging 9:00 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Winners announced Sunday, October 25 2:00 p.m. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Show fish removed

Bidder Cards $2.00 for NJAS & NEC members; $5.00 for non members Visit for auction rules and registration forms

Show Entry Fee: $2.50 per entry

Cash prizes & trophies will be awarded!

1st prize = $25.00 2nd prize = $10.00 3rd prize = $ 5.00

NJAS Learning Corner  Hands-on demonstrations of basic fish keeping & keeping plants  Continuous video presentation viewing of informative programs  Access to NJAS expert breeders for Q&A

For more information, visit us on the web at or call our hotline 732-541-1392, or call: Kevin Carr (201-724-9460)

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover photo this month features a male Poecilia velifera (the Yucatan, or sailfin molly), a longtime favorite in the aquarium hobby. For more information, see Sue Priest’s article, “My First Favorites,” on page 8.

Vol. XVI, No. 8 October, 2009

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2009 Program Schedule

Photo by Alexander A. Priest


Butkiss, the 41-Year-Old Pacu

Board Members

President Vice-President Treasurer Corresponding Secretary Recording Secretary

Dan Radebaugh Mark Soberman Jack Traub Warren Feuer Edward Vukich

Members At Large

Claudia Dickinson Artie Friedman Ben Haus Leonard Ramroop

Pete D’Orio Al Grusell Emma Haus

Committee Chairs

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Aquarium Plant Ludwigia repens by Stephen Sica

My First Favorites by Susan Priest

MA Classics Soft Water for Breeding Fish by P. Hartman

On the Road The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium by Dan Radebaugh

Our Generous Members My Adorable Goldfish Pond by Jannette Ramirez

The 2008 FAAS Publication Awards The Undergravel Reporter G.C.A.S. Happenings Fin Fun (Puzzle Page)

2 3 4 5 7

8 11


14 15 17 22 23 24

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


ell, here we are in October. Kids are back in school, the subways and buses are crowded, baseball is ending, and football is beginning. Coincidences do sometimes play a role in putting a magazine like this together, and the other day Joe Ferdenzi forwarded me an article from a Web site about a fish whose owner named it (though with a slight spelling change) after Dick Butkus, the great former Chicago Bears linebacker. OK, so maybe the football season thing is a bit of a stretch. Still, the added attraction for me is that the fish resides at Cameo Pet Shop, which most of us know well. Cameo has been a long-time advertiser and supporter of Greater City, so I just had to get the article in, even at the “last minute.” We received lots of positive comments about last month’s cover photo of Neolamprologus similis, taken by new GCAS member Jules Birnbaum’s granddaughter, Alexandra Horton. Well, with all that fuss, we just had to have her back for an encore, so down below this you’ll see a picture of (rather than by) Alexandra as she relaxes with her issue of Modern Aquarium.

Our cover photographer last month, talented 13-year old Alexandra Horton, admiring her copy of Modern Aquarium.

We have a couple of member favorites in this issue. Steve Sica tells us about his current favorite aquarium plant, while Sue Priest reveals her first favorite fish, and Jannette Ramirez describes an adorable goldfish pond. The Undergravel Reporter tells us about another popular aquarium plant. He won’t say whether it’s his favorite, but he does tell us about a possible new, non-aquarium use for it. Meanwhile, I chip in another “On the Road” installment, and we have the second in our “MA Classics” series, this one telling us about an inexpensive, low-tech way to obtain soft water for some of our favorite fussy fish. We end the issue with a special Fin Fun puzzle for those of you whose favorite fish come from Lake Tanganyika! Also in this issue, you will find the listing of winners of the 2008 FAAS Publication Awards. For our readers, I’ll point out in advance that each author in this issue of Modern Aquarium (of course excluding MA Classics) won at least one award in this competition, and we had a strong showing in the “Author of the Year” category. Congratulations to all our authors! Thank you for your contributions! Keep up the great work! Remember, if you have an article, photo, or drawing that you’d like to submit for inclusion in Modern Aquarium, it’s easy to do! You may fax it to me at (877) 299-0522, email it to, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

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


October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

GCAS Programs



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

Joseph Ferdenzi History of the GCAS


Holiday Party!


Winter Break


Winter Break

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2009


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh

he first thing that springs to mind this month is occasioned by the article on the opposite page. First of all, it reminds us of some of the reasons we’ve had such a good relationship with Cameo Pet Shop for so many years. Not only have they been steadfast friends and supporters of GCAS, but, as this article illustrates, they act responsibly toward the creatures that we fishkeepers cherish. Not every pet shop in town would take back a large fish like this, and keep feeding it for forty years. While it’s gratifying that this case had a happy outcome, not all such cases do, and the result has become a real problem for the hobby. The frequency of bad endings to stories like this points up the joint responsibility―of both the fishkeeper and the shop owner―of ensuring that the prospective fishkeeper can actually take care of the fish he (or she) is planning to buy. The fishkeeper should have at least some idea of the nature of the fish he/she plans to buy. What does it eat? How large will it grow? Does it like company, or does it “want to be alone?” The shopkeeper should be sure his customer has the answers to these basic questions before the purchase is consummated. I realize that from a sales point of view (just keep the register jingling), this seems counterproductive. They should tell customers not to buy their fish? Well, yes! I would argue that an informed customer is a better customer. Take the classic scenario: New customer (or new customer’s kid, spouse, or acquaintance) buys an Oscar/goldfish/pacu/catfish, and a goldfish bowl or other unsuitably small home for the species in question. Nothing is said, the sale is made, and in a couple of weeks or months the fish dies, and the customer figures that this fishkeeping stuff is just not working out. So now, instead of having that customer return for years of fish food, supplies, more fish, more tanks, et cetera, all he’s made is a couple of bucks on an “introductory special” tank, and maybe five dollars worth of fish. This is good business?



When Marsha and I were in Tampa a few months ago we visited the Lowry Park Zoo. Unfortunately, the boat ride up the Hillsborough River wasn’t running that day, so our visit lacked much in the way of fish focus. There was just one small bridge over a stream running through the black bear enclosure that had a fish-feeding station, where a huge mob of turtles and fish (I couldn’t really tell, but they looked a lot like tilapia) waited expectantly for the manna to fall. What was different here was that in their Manatee hospital and recuperation pool they were keeping what looked like a collection of cast-offs from unwise aquarists. There were a few arawanas, a couple of peacock bass, a redtail catfish, and a lot of big pacus. I didn’t take the time to hunt down anyone and ask if this was a deliberately planned program, but I certainly intend to find out, and to praise them for “thinking out of the box” (assuming that’s what they’re doing). On a more immediate note, I’d like to thank Warren Feuer for picking up the ball so quickly to fill our unexpected speaker vacancy this evening. I’m looking forward to Warren’s presentation. The Society has the need to fill a couple of positions of responsibility. If you’d like more information, or to be considered for nomination, please see or call me, or any member of the Board (check the Contents page of Modern Aquarium for the list of Board members). Happy Fishkeeping!

October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


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����������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������� ����������������������������������� ���������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������� ������������������������������������ Cameo Petshop, well known to many of you as a long-time supporter of Greater City Aquarium ���������������������������������� ������������������������������������� Society, recently gained some celebrity on by way of this story about Butkiss, a ����������������������������������� ����������������������������������� �������������������������������� black pacu. From:

The 41-Year-Old Pacu


uttkiss, a 20 lb. black Pacu (related to the Piranha), has been living in the same Queens pet shop since the Summer of Love. That’s right, he was born in 1967, and 41 years later he’s still going strong. Why is this so special? The average life expectancy of a Pacu is 2 to 20 years -so pet shop owner Steve Gruebel must be the reigning king of Pacu care! In 1968, Buttkiss was sold to a man named Kurt Emerick. At the time, the fish was only about two inches long but soon grew to be much bigger and became very aggressive. Emerick wasn’t so psyched when the Pacu started knocking things over in his fish tank, so he returned him to the pet shop, where Gruebel named him after linebacker Dick Butkus. (Gruebel likes to spell it Buttkiss.) Gruebel has been working at the Cameo Pet Shop in Queens, New York for 47 years. He now owns the shop that originally belonged Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

to his wife’s father, and Buttkiss has been � there pretty much since the beginning. “He’s my mascot,” Gruebel tells Paw Nation. Buttkiss even does tricks. He comes to Gruebel’s hand because he knows that’s where the grub comes from. (Okay, so maybe it’s not the most impressive trick, but the fish is elderly! Cut him a break!) When asked if Butkiss bites, Gruebel laughs, “Well, I stick my hand in there all the time to clean the cage [sic] and he just goes and lays in the corner.” Asked if Gruebel has done anything special to keep Buttkiss around so long, Gruebel says, “No, just feed him 20 goldfish every day, every other day depending.” So why has Buttkiss lived so long? Gruebel shrugs, “I don’t know.” And the mysteries of longevity continue... Photo: Gothamist

October 2009


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

Our Guest Speaker

Warren Feuer Speaking on Shelldwellers of Lake Tanganyika 6

October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

MY FAVORITE AQUARIUM PLANT Ludwigia Repens by Stephen Sica henever I peruse books and magazines, I always admire the exotic-looking plants. Of course, with my limited skills and modest budget, there is no way that I could ever cultivate one of these beautiful plants, much less keep it healthy or possibly even alive for very long. My primary rules of thumb when it comes to an aquatic plant are: it should look good, it should be inexpensively priced, and it should be easy to keep alive and healthy. An added bonus would be leaves of red color. One day recently, I was inspecting a local pet shop when I spotted an inexpensive red plant labeled simply “Ludwigia.” My initial instinct was to research it in my plant books, but I was fearful that everyone else who saw the plant would instantly be attracted to it and purchase every last one before I was in the neighborhood again. This was foolish, but sometimes I just can’t help myself! So I purchased two plants and transferred them to a twenty gallon long so they would receive plenty of light from twin T-5 bulbs. To avoid algae I keep the light on for only four plus hours each day. But as you know, any red plant slowly loses its color when it doesn’t receive sufficient light. Anyway, I took several photos of the plants for this article, and researched several sources on the internet for some information about it, and so far they seem to be holding up. Some common names that refer to this plant are red leaf ludwigia, red repens, and water primrose. The plant is native to tropical regions of North and Central America, and, less frequently, South America. Some aqua-botanists feel that it is a good plant for beginners, because it adapts to almost any environment and is easy to maintain. It has a fast growth rate, and reaches a height between 12 to 20 inches, with a width of two or three inches, depending upon leaf growth. It is suitable as a mid-to-background plant, and is most effective when planted in large groups. For lighting, it requires from two to five watts per gallon, so it should do well in medium to high lighting. Optimal growth


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

temperature is between 75 to 79 degrees F, but it can grow in much lower temperatures. It is recommended that the water’s pH range be from 5.5 to 7.5 (I have not tested the pH in any of my tanks for years). Opinions range from a very easy to grow stem plant to very difficult! Most sources agree that when it has enough light―at least three watts per gallon―the plant is stunning, with striking dark red leaves and stalk. The lower leaves tend to fall off with insufficient lighting, so if this happens to your plant either upgrade the lighting or keep it on longer. I later put a second pair of plants in the front of an eight gallon aquarium illuminated by two compact fluorescent bulbs of 18 watts each. The light is on for only three hours each day, and the lower leaves fell off the plant within one month. The remaining plants in this tank are easy growers, so I refuse to keep the lights on longer for fear of growing algae. Ludwigia repens reproduces when fully mature. You can break off the top and plant it in the substrate. The remaining stem will grow several side shoots. In nature, or in the hands of a competent aquarist, a mature plant will develop small, vibrant yellow flowers above the water’s surface. Seeds will develop and drop to the substrate to begin to grow into a new plant. Some growers insist that CO2 and iron-rich fertilizers will benefit the plant. This seems to makes sense. No matter what the size of your aquarium, a well-placed group of Ludwigia repens will be really eye-catching. I’m sure your fish will like it too!

October 2009


by Susan Priest ollys weren’t my first fish, but they were my first favorite fish! Very early in my career as a fishkeeper, I fell under the spell of these beauties. It was one of those rare instances of “love at first fin.” I’m not sure which species of molly was responsible for this romance. It was either Poecilia latipinna or Poecilia velifera. When translated into English, Poecelia latipinna means “speckled wide fin.” You may know this fish as the sailfin molly. The Poecilia. velifera is commonly known as the Yucatan molly (named for the location where it resides in nature, which is Yucatan, Mexico). Due to its large dorsal fin, the P. velifera is often called a “sailfin” as well. I am writing this article so that if you, too, should become spellbound by these beautiful fish, you will be prepared with the basic information needed to provide them with a suitable aquarium environment. It presumes that you will be starting out with a thorough understanding of the nitrogen cycle.


Throughout this article I have chosen to spell the common names of Poecilia latipinna and Poecilia velifera as “molly,” and not “mollie.” Both spellings are used in equal measure by people writing about these fish. This was not a random choice on my part. I decided to spell molly as it is done so in the definitive reference work, the Baensch Aquarium Atlas. Proximity Beginning aquarists will probably encounter what I did at the time. When they are shopping for tropical fish, they will most likely find mollies next to (and maybe even in the same tank with) other livebearers such as guppies, platys, and swordtails. Consequently, they may assume (as I did) that fish on display together will happily co-exist in the same aquarium. Close proximity of a variety of different species of fishes in a store does not mean that they all have the same needs and preferences. All this really means is that the store does not have enough tank space to spread them out, and enough time to print out some basic directions for their care. It is a lucky fish which gets taken home very quickly by a knowledgeable aquarist, or by one who is willing to do their homework.

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


Native Americans As used by aquarists in this country, the term “native fish” refers to a fish which is native to North America. P. latipinna, being native to the coastal as well as estuarial waters ranging west from North Carolina to Northeastern Mexico, fall into this category. If you have ever said to yourself “I would like to keep some native fish,” you may have already done so! Think High When you are caring for mollys, you need to think high. A high degree of hardness (dGH of 1130), and a high level of pH (7.5 to 8.5) are basic requirements. I accomplish both of these by incorporating a layer of dolomite inside their box filter. Also, a higher temperature than most of your aquariums (78E-82EF) is optimal for these fish. Think Green When meal time comes around, your mollies will need something green on their plate. Fry and juveniles need about two-thirds protein (small live foods are best), and one-third greens. The larger a molly gets, the higher the percentage of greens it will require. Many chroniclers recommend feeding them things like spinach or peas. Mollies will not consume the full portion of these foods, thereby fouling the tank with “leftovers.” Their water being at a higher than usual temperature compounds this problem. Your best bet is to feed them commercially prepared fish foods with a high vegetable content (read your labels). Tank-bred mollies will take to them with no problem. Spirulina flakes are an optimum choice. They can be crushed as small as necessary for the fry, and fed straight from the container to the adults. As with all fish, be careful not to overfeed. Sodium Chloride A controversial topic among aquarists who keep mollies is whether or not to add salt to their aquariums. Having read many opinions on this subject, I feel confident in extracting a general consensus. Basically, the most frequently recommended practice is to add a small amount of marine salt to a dedicated molly tank. Marine salt

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is preferable to table salt because it contains ingredients which will help establish the correct dGH and pH. Please make note of the word dedicated. If other species of freshwater fish are in the same tank with your mollies, then do not add salt. Once having established this, the question of how much marine salt to add is also a hotly debated topic. In nature, mollies can be found in pure freshwater, pure seawater, and in every level of brackish water in between. That being said, the addition of any amount of marine salt up to, but not more than, one tablespoon per 10 liters of water (approximately 2½ gallons) will be beneficial. In my opinion, an abundance of caution would dictate staying below what is considered to be the maximum amount of salt. When doing water changes, make your best effort to keep the amount of salt consistent. Remember that salt does not evaporate. If you are topping off the tank without doing a water change, do not add salt to the water. Poecilia velifera In addition to contributing to optimal water chemistry, marine salt also helps inhibit fungal and parasitic diseases to which mollies are susceptible. Investments How much you want to experiment with live plants in your molly tank depends on your budget. Salt in the water will have a negative effect on most freshwater aquatic plants, as will a high pH. Also, mollies will very often snack on plants (yes, this does include algae!). Unhealthy plants can only contribute to an unstable environment. If you have a budget that will support it, you can experiment with lots of different plants, and maybe you will be rewarded by finding a couple that will do well. Various species of Anubias may be hardy enough. Don’t forget to consider the investment of time you will need to make if you have to frequently remove/replace plants, and do extra water changes. They are not to everyone’s taste, but you may find that investing in a few artificial plants will give you a satisfactory ambience. Beneficial bacteria will colonize the extra surface area they provide, and the mollies will be just as content 6 Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY) Modern

with the shelter of their leaves. Plus, once you purchase them, you can give your wallet a rest! The “H” Word What do the following phrases mean to you: “cross-breeding,” “artificially selected varieties,” “aquarium cultivated variety,” “color variants,” “crossing for specific phenotypic features?” There are countless ways to say it, but they all spell hybrid. A hybrid is “an offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species or genera.” Hybridization is virtually always a product of humanity’s interference with nature’s chosen path. For a hundred years, give or take a few decades (the Poecilia latipinna, originally c all e d M o l l y n e s i a latipinna, was first described in 1821), people have been tampering with the genetics of mollies. Why? Well, the word arrogance comes to mind, but the only fair answer to this question is that each person who Photo by Al Priest has done so has had their own reasons. As for me, it would never enter my mind to presume that nature could be improved upon. Whatever the motives of the aquarists of the past, the result of their hybridizing is that very few commercially available mollies have much in common with those which still exhibit nature’s “phenotype.” In particular, mankind has surely “selected” for every possible color variant. My first mollies, which I purchased some seventeen years ago, were a bold orange with bright yellow markings. I would like to refer you to the photo accompanying this article. This pair of wildcaught P. velifera (female above), resemble as closely as possible the “green” mollies originally cultivated by nature. By now even wild-caught fish of every species have surely been “genetically polluted” by generations of people having released hybrids into our natural waterways.

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Inner Beauty

Threat or threatened?

The outward appearance of mollies wasn’t the only thing I liked about them. They are livebearers. This fascinated me. It still does. If I diligently observe the gravid female(s) at just the correct time on just the correct day, I can be gifted with the sight of molly fry exiting the inner world which they have been occupying, and entering this larger, more challenging, and infinitely more interesting environment. In most cases I discover the newborns after they have arrived, and are in the first stages of exploring their strange new world. By the time they are six months of age, mollies are ready to spawn. As is the case with many livebearers, the females will store sperm, producing more than one brood from a single insemination. A new brood can occur every sixty to seventy days, and the larger the female, the larger the brood will be. If you want your mollies to grow large (they can reach a standard length of four inches), then thin them to a low population density. Please notice that I did not say cull them. Share healthy fry with your fellow aquarists.

Mollies have been widely distributed throughout the western U.S., most notably in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Even though (adult) mollies are almost exclusively herbivorous, they have been introduced to various environs for the purpose of mosquito control. Mollies have been proven to be poor mosquito control agents. However, the decline of populations of the desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularis) in California is attributed to their introduction. The desert pupfish is a critically endangered fish. Mollies themselves are not endangered.

Success What does success mean to you? Most aquarists equate success with the presence of fry in their tanks. “I successfully bred my such-and-such fish,” or “I was unsuccessful in trying to breed my so-and-so fish.” It seems like an awful lot of pressure to put on yourself, especially since it’s the fish that do the breeding, not us! But, when it comes to raising the fry, this is where we aquarists can contribute to, and claim somewhat of a share in, the success. Fry are tricky business, and their needs are complicated. Here is where experience counts most. Have you got what it takes? It goes without saying that a livebearer which gives birth to its fry in a community tank will not be establishing a family, as the other occupants will quickly gobble them up. If you are willing to dedicate a couple of tanks to them, success at raising a new generation is much more likely. Adult mollies do have cannibalistic tendencies, and if you want to perpetuate the species, you might want to have a second tank prepared for either the parents or the fry. (Actually, I think it is easier to let the breeding tank become the grow-out tank by removing the parents.) It should have the same water chemistry as the breeding tank. As I said earlier, you can never be exactly sure when the need will arise, so you should have this tank prepared in advance of a birthing event. Also, It would be a good idea to house one or two mollies in the second tank in order to maintain the nitrogen cycle.

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Poecilia sphenops Another species of molly which is popular among hobbyists is Poecilia sphenops. Common names for this fish include the pointed-mouth molly and the short-finned molly. It is native to Mexico and Colombia. The color morph of this species most frequently encountered in the hobby is the black molly, which is a hybrid, and whose life span is shorter than non-hybrid (that is, nonblack) P. sphenops. Nature’s choice of coloration for this fish more closely resembles that of the wild P. latipinna. Standout The font which I chose for the title of this article is called “standout.” What makes one fish stand out above the rest? This is a very personal thing, and is subject to change over time. I have had quite a few favorites since I first fell for mollies, but they still stand out in my mind’s eye as one of nature’s most beautiful achievements. References: poecilia%20latipinna.htm (as of 7/13/2009) speciesID=858 (as of 7/13/2009) Baensch, Hans A., and Riehl, Dr. Rudiger, Aquarium Atlas, Vols 1 and 2, Baensch, 1991and 1993. Webster’s Universal Encyclopedic Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, 2002.

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MA Classics In this second installment of our new series showcasing articles from past issues of Modern Aquarium, we feature a piece from the February, 1970 issue. You’ll notice (in addition to the wonderfully sly, low-tech method of obtaining soft water) that this article, in contrast to our current practice, was reprinted from another publication.

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October 2009



October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

ON THE ROAD The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium by Dan Radebaugh


aving passed by the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium a few times in recent months, Marsha and I decided to make a day trip of it, and check out what is advertised to be the largest living collection of New York reptiles, fish, and amphibians. Located at 1660 Route 25A in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, the Hatchery marked its 125th anniversary in 2008. Originally operated as a trout rearing facility, it has more recently evolved as well into an environmental education center, with an active educational outreach program, though it continues to raise brook and rainbow trout for stocking of private ponds. In addition to the Aquarium, Hatchery, and Educational programs, there is also a “catch and keep” area where you can catch your dinner if you like. The best way to reach the Hatchery is by car, though Marsha and I took the LIRR to Cold Spring Harbor, and a taxi from the train station to the facility. A pretty easy trip, all things considered. After paying our admission fee, we were advised by a helpful young lady as to the best sequence to follow through the facility, which includes two “aquarium” buildings, as well as a number of ponds, and an indoor rearing facility (which we could not enter). There are two sources of water for the ponds (and I gather for the larger tanks in the Ross Aquarium Building). Trout require cool, clean water, and their water supply is an artesian well that feeds water yearround at a constant 52° F. There is also a “warm water pond” containing an eclectic group of fishes, such as gar, catfish, carp, sunfish, perch, bowfin, and suckers.

The water source for this is the nearby St. John’s Pond, which may freeze in the winter, or have water temps of around 85° F in summer. Right next to this warm water pond is a turtle pond, with several species sharing the water and the basking logs.

Bowfin (Amia Calva). Some condensation on the glass partially obscures his (?) head. A very ancient fish; the last of its genus.

Following the young lady’s suggestion, we began our tour with the ponds for young trout (hatched last December), then passed by the Robert Koenig Memorial Pond, containing water lilies and brown trout (though we couldn’t see any trout because of the green water), and then on to the Walter L. Ross II Aquarium Building. This last building contains the larger display tanks, and houses over 30 different species of freshwater fishes native to New York State. (Perhaps this number would seem more impressive if I were addressing this article to a different audience.) This is where the trip began to break down for me. First the practically opaque green water in the memorial pond, and now the “display tanks.” The lighting in these tanks could be very simply described―dim and dimmer. To the barely adequate lighting was added a second visual obstruction. The 52° water, combined with the heat and humidity of the open room, produced a heavy layer of condensation on the glass of the tanks, so that seeing the fish was not easy, and photographing them was nearly impossible. I totally soaked my pocket handkerchief in a vain attempt to gain a clear view. This was a shame, because there really were some nice fish to look at, and―visibility aside―in attractively designed presentations.

A couple of burbots (Lota lota), the only freshwater member of the cod family (gadiformes).

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2009


Another rather frustrating element here was the lack of adequate species identification aids. I mean―line drawings? We’re supposed to distinguish among several similar sunfish species in almost no light with line drawings? Color photos have been around for many years now. Why not use them? For that matter, so has aquarium lighting. So now, frustrated and grouchy, and with a sopping wet handkerchief, we went back across the street to continue our tour. The first thing we came to were a couple of (concrete) ponds with somewhat larger trout―this group being about a year older than the 9-month-olds we saw in the first ponds. There were pellet stations by these ponds so that visitors could feed the fish, and enjoy their “piranhas in a feeding frenzy” routine as the pellets hit the water. Walking clockwise around the enclosure, we next came to the warm water pond, that housed some really large longnose gars, koi, common carp, catfish, and presumably others, though again green water was a problem, so if the fish didn’t come to the surface for some pellets you mostly couldn’t see them. Back-to-back with the warm water pond is the turtle pond. Here at last we could actually see the animals, and our handout with color pictures gave us a means of identifying what we were looking at. This was a good display. They should seek to emulate this clarity in their fish exhibits. This also ended the outdoor part of the tour, except for the trout-fishing area, which we looked at, but did not participate in. That left the Fairchild Exhibit Building, featuring some of New York’s smaller native freshwater fish, as well as some snakes, and the “New York Amphibia” exhibit, the largest living collection of native amphibians in the Northeast. The exhibits in this building consisted of smaller tanks that were better lit, and the species were better identified. I found the madtoms (various species of smaller North American catfish) to be of particular interest, as I’ve been considering keeping some for years, but hadn’t actually seen any till this trip.

Turtle sunning itself on a log in the outdoor turtle pond.

If I seem less than totally positive about this trip, I think it’s because there seems to be a certain lack of focus here. While their Web site implies a certain grandiosity, this is a fairly small facility, and calls to mind visiting a working family farm that is trying to double as a museum. It’s kid-friendly, and the science here seems to be in good hands, as does the educational outreach program. However, the “Aquarium” part of the facility seems to be a complete afterthought, and is just not very well presented, or particularly educational. There are few amenities; nowhere to get anything to eat other than a candy bar or a drink from one of the vending machines, so if you’re making a day of it you’ll need to bring along sandwiches or something. Being able to see some of the native species up close, such as the bowfin, piqued my interest (and fishkeeper greed), making it worth the trip for me. I applaud the good work that they’re doing in the educational area. Probably they have nice programs lined up for school group visits. However, casual visitors are very much on their own, so unless you’re nearby and have a car, I can’t enthusiastically recommend it as a destination for “fish people.” Photos by Marsha Radebaugh.

Our Generous Members Each month a blue sheet is located on our auction table where those members who donate items to the auction can indicate their donations if they wish to do so. Due to the immense generosity of those who donate, we have no shortage of items to be auctioned. A warm thank you to the following members and others who so generously contributed, making last month’s auction the bountiful success that it was: Bill Amely Sharon Barnett Jules Birnbaum Rod Du Casse Harry Faustmann 14

Horst Gerber Jason Kerner Rich Levy Jack Traub Ed Vukich

October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

My Adorable Goldfish Pond by Jannette Ramirez nce upon a time, there was a tropical fish hobbyist girl who longed to have a pond of her very own. Every day she prayed for the opportunity to have such a wonderful place, where she could raise and care for some pond dwelling fishes. The problem with this dream was that she lived in an apartment in Queens, and this prevented her from fulfilling her desire to have her very own pond of fishes. Would she ever get her wish? This she wondered often.


The day finally came when the tropical fish hobbyist girl met her Prince Charming, who like a genie in a bottle, fulfilled her every wish and desire! He loved her so very much that anything she yearned for he obtained. Her wishes, never lavish, were likewise a joy for him to fulfill. As the tropical fish hobbyist girl and her prince got to know each other, their love for each other flourished and blossomed, as she dreamt one day her pond’s aquatic plants would also flourish and blossom. During this time, they discovered that they both had a love and respect for nature and for the many animals that exist on land and in water. This wonderful Prince owned two homes, his main dwelling in New York and another in Vermont, where they enjoyed many pleasant outings that included trail walks, horseback riding, boating, and visiting zoos and other nature-related recreational destinations. Such memorable experiences would be remembered and cherished always! In all the excitement of the weekend getaways with her Prince and sharing their love of animals, nature, and each other, the fish hobbyist girl had been too caught up to remember and ponder about her wish to have a pond. Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Then one day her wonderful Prince mentioned that he had always wanted to have his own pond with plants and fishes! Pleasantly surprised and delighted by this news, her buried wish awakened once again, they settled under the old willow tree, where she and her Prince animatedly began to go over the details of the adorable goldfish pond that would soon be. Such beauty to one’s eyes to behold, this pond they dreamt of! When to begin excavating? Perhaps in the Spring, just before the hot days are upon us. We shall need to excavate at least 2 feet in depth, with 4 feet in the middle, so that our fish can hide from predators, which can number from just one to many on any given day. Some day after its completion we shall be able to experience tranquility, relaxation, and peace at our perfect garden pond, listening to the soothing sound of water falling through the rocks. We can sit with a favorite book and admire our adorable creation up close. Near this pond shall sit a wooden or iron bench made for the two of us. The smile that will light up our faces as the sounds of water and the sights of our fishes beckon our ears and eyes, our joy magnified even further by the sight of a beautiful lake in the background landscape! Each rock, pebble, and stone, meticulously placed, all in uniform colors, will highlight our pond. Plants! Oh yes, they shall be in abundance, including lilies, so as to attract frogs. Predators beware, as we shall be keeping our radar on while away so we shall see everything that might pose a hazard or threat to our joyous pond. A fountain shall re-circulate water, adding oxygen for our little outdoor pets. Days shall seem endless, with the sun shining above our heads, bringing warmth, light, and love upon our creation. Tall trees will provide the perfect combination of shade

October 2009


and sunshine upon the pond. There will be no rainfall or cloud of gray; the days will be warm, with sunshine in abundance once our pond has been created. I wonder what the fish think, and wish that they could speak, but their smiles speak a thousand words. The tropical fish hobbyist girl sighed deeply and looked over at her Prince as he finished his description of this adorable goldfish pond! Imagining all of the cherished moments that will be shared between them as they enjoy their very own Garden of Eden, they sit upon their bench holding hands. They are so deeply in love with its beauty, and with each other!


October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2009


Best Spawning Article, 500-1,000 words 1) Anthony Tu Spawning Cyphotilapia gibberosa "Samazi Blue" 2) Ted Judy Nanochromis transvestitus? The Clown Dwarf Cichlid 3) Richard and Brandon First Time Breeding and the Sciaenochromis fryeri Kong (Electric Blue)

Best Spawning Article, more than 1,000 words 1) Alexander A. Priest A New Star in the Galaxy: The Celestial Pearl Danio, Celestichthys margaritatus 2) Dan Radebaugh The Banded Severum (Heros efasciatus) Derek P.S. Tustin What I (Accidentally) Did this Summer (A Kinda BAP 3) Report but Not Really) Harry Faustmann Breeding a South American Killifish HM)

Best Article on a Genus of Fish 1) Dan Spielman They're Not Just Convicts Anymore 2) Derek P.S. Tustin Eyeballs on Oddballs? Freshwater Jellies 3) Mike Garibaldi Petrochromis, My Way




Best Article on a Species of Fish 1) Frank Fallon The Case of the Hanging Cichlids GCAS 2) Alexander A. Priest Are You Truly My Honey? The Honey Gourami, Colisa GCAS chuna 3) Dan Radebaugh The Banded Severum (Heros efasciatus) GCAS HM) Eric Rogne The Signifier Rainbow MAS

Best Marine Article 1) Stephen Sica 2) Stephen Sica


The Bahamian Lionfish French Angelfish of Aruba and Bonaire


Best Continuous FAAS Column 1) Pat Smith FAAS Report 2) Pat Smith FAAS Report


Best Article on Aquascaping/Design 1) Derek P.S. Tustin Cyptic Emersion? Part One of Ten) 2) Derek P.S. Tustin My Green Wet Thumb? Going Topless 3) Sharon Barnett Takashi Amano I am not, but I love my Jungles!


Best Article on Plant Maintenance/Cultivation/Reproduction 1) Derek P.S. Tustin My Green Wet Thumb? Summer Flowers 2) Stephen Sica My Favorite Aquarium Plant: Rotala rotundifolia 3) Derek P.S. Tustin My Green Wet Thumb? Silly Salvinia


October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Best Show Article 1) Pam Chin 2) Claudia Dickinson 3)

Margaret Peterson


Pat Smith

ACA 2008 Recap The Pirates of the NEC: The Event That We Have All Been Waiting For! "Behind the Scenes" in View . . . From the Other Side of the Glass Weekend Workshops


Best How To or Do It Yourself Article 1) Derek P.S. Tustin My Green Wet Thumb: Floating Gardens 2) Kevin Plazak African Cichlids for a Tiny Tank 3) Tara Miller Spreading Roots: Tools and Tricks from Tara's Fishroom


Best General Article on Society Management 1) Joseph Ferdenzi A Greater City Memoir 2) Derek P.S. Tustin Audience Etiquette? Something "Non-Fishy" to Ponder 3) Jon Schweikert Don't Forget to Sign Up! HM) Ken Smith Introduction to the Board


Best Article on Health/Nutrition 1) Alexander A. Priest My Microworm Recipe 2) Joseph Ferdenzi The Chlorine Storm 3) Pat Smith Raising Adult Brine Shrimp


Best Collecting Article 1) Tom Mason 2) Dan Radebaugh 3) Margaret Peterson

Visiting Caňòo Palma - A Trip to a Mini-Paradise DRAS Catfish Hunter or As Long as You're Going to Florida.. GCAS View . . . From the Other Side of the Tank: Seining in the LIAS Great South Bay

Best Traveling Aquarist Article 1) Sam Borstein John G. Shedd Aquarium High School Lake Ecology GCCA [J-III] Mentorship 1) Dan Radebaugh Catfish Hunter or As Long as You're Going to Florida.. GCAS 2) Susan Priest My Trip to Madagascar GCAS 3) Stephen Sica Of Sharks and Democrats GCAS

Best Humorous Article 1) Michael Foran If you Build it, They will Come 2) Undergravel Reporter Fish-Flush Foolish 3) Margaret Peterson The View . . . From the Other Side of the Tank (3/08)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)




October 2009 October 2009

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

Best Original Art Work 1) Pat Smith

Best Cartoon 1) Bernard Harrigan 2) Bob Kulesa 3) Bernard Harrigan

White Cloud (Drawing)


Caption: "My best friend, my wife, AND my cichlids?!"GCAS The Topical Fish Tank ACLC Caption: "Deep in the rivers of Asia, the Archerfish are GCAS on the hunt"

Best Continuing Column, Single Author 1) Rick Borstein Cichlid Ramblings 2) Pam Chin Ask Pam 3) Susan Priest Fishkeepers Anonymous


Best Article, All Other Categories 1) Dennis Heltzel Aquarium Filtration 2) Jannette Ramirez The Fishkeeper Who Was Kept By Her Fish! 3) Richard Kong More Than Just a Hobby HM) Claudia Dickinson The GCAS Presents Greg Steeves


Author of the Year 1) Derek P.S. Tustin 2) (Tie) Alexander A. Priest 2) (Tie) Pam Chin 4) Stephen Sica

Tank Talk Modern Aquarium Cichlidae Communiqué Modern Aquarium


Legend: Societies AAA - Asociación de Acuaristas de Aguadilla (El Ojo de Agua) ACLC - Aquarium Club of Lancaster County (Tank Tales) DRAS - Durham Region Aquarium Society (Tank Talk) GCAS - Greater City Aquarium Society (Modern Aquarium) GCCA - Greater Chicago Cichlid Association (Cichlid Chatter) LIAS - Long Island Aquarium Society (Paradise Press) MAS - Milwaukee Aquarium Society (Splash) NCAS - Nassau County Aquarium Society (Pisces Press) PCCA - Pacific Coast Cichlid Association (Cichlid Blues and Cichlidae Communiqué) Legend: Other abbreviations [J-III] - Junior. Level III HM - Honorable Mention


October 2009 Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S. (NY)

October 2009

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2009


One Man’s Weed, Another’s Feed 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.

he journal of the Aquatic Gardner’s Association, The Aquatic Gardner, reported in its latest edition that three plant biologists at Rutgers University in New Jersey have convinced the federal government to focus attention on “duckweed’s tremendous potential for cleaning up pollution, combating global warming and feeding the world.”1 Yes, duckweed, that same blanketyblank small green plant that, once it finds its way into one of your tanks, never leaves. The article states that “These plants produce biomass faster than any other flowering plant, serve as high-protein feed for domestic animals and show clear potential as an alternative for biofuel production.” Scientists from North Carolina State University found that growing duckweed on hog wastewater not only helped to dispose of the hog waste, but also produced five to six times more starch per Duckweed acre than corn.2 Currently, most U.S. ethanol is produced from corn, which requires large amounts of toxic pesticides and dead zone-feeding, fuel-intensive fertilizers. The use of corn to produce ethanol has also been blamed for an increase in the price of corn as food. When all costs are considered, corn-based


ethanol may not be much “cleaner” than gasoline. Duckweed consumes nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium, and iron. It can be used to clean any type of wastewater. It can be a cheap way of producing a biofuel that does not adversely impact the supply and cost of food, and an environmentally friendly way to recover polluted bodies of water. In an article3 titled “Tiny Flower Turns Pig Poop into Fuel,” reports that “Able to thrive on nutrients in animal waste, duckweed produces far more starch per acre than corn, say researchers. It could be an alternative to corn-based ethanol biofuel, which is disfavored by environmentalists because of waste generated in farming it.” Waste produced from the billions of farm animals raised every year in America has fouled watersheds, especially in the South, and fed oxygen-gobbling algae blooms responsible for rapidly-spreading coastal dead zones. Production of ethanol by using corn relies on enzymes, yeast, and sugar. Ethanol producers add penicillin and virginiamycin, an antibiotic, to kill bacteria. This raises two concerns. The first is that it might promote the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The second concern is that the antibiotics could find their way to humans through the food chain. Using duckweed to produce ethanol raises neither concern. I remember one very accomplished aquarist telling me he uses a pair of tweezers to pluck out each and every fragment of duckweed he sees in his tanks. Just about every Greater City auction features a bag of duckweed, usually selling for one (but sometimes as much as two) dollars, and usually purchased by someone for the purpose of feeding it to goldfish. Well, apparently duckweed isn’t just goldfish food any more. The plant so photo: public domain many aquarists hate may prove more useful than we ever imagined. And, no, I haven’t run across any mention of smoking this weed, but who knows what those Rutgers professors will come up with next?

References “Rutgers Researchers Focus on Duckweed” by Joseph Blumberg, Aquatic Gardner, July-Sept 2009 2 3 1


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

October 2009

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

GCAS Happenings


A warm welcome back to renewing GCAS members Artie Friedman and Nicholas Pandolfi! A special welcome to new member Jules Birnbaum!

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners: 1 Mario Bengcion 2 Sue Priest 3 Vincent Babino

Ruby Red Cichlid Red Female Betta Killie

Unofficial 2009 Bowl Show totals to date: Mario Bengcion 19 Robert Hamje 17

Richard Waizman 9 Ed Vukich 3

Susan Priest 3 Richard Levy 1

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

East Coast Guppy Association

Next Meeting: November 4, 2009 Speaker: Joseph Ferdenzi Event: History of the GCAS 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 (347) 866-1107 E-mail: Website:

Meets: 1st 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 Next Meeting: October 9, 2009 Speaker: None Event: Giant Auction Meets the 2nd Friday of the month (except July and August) at 7:30pm: NY Aquarium - Education Hall, Brooklyn, NY Call: BAS Events Hotline: (718) 837-4455 Website: Next Meeting: October 16, 2009 Speaker: David Boruchowitz Topic: Adventures With Cichlids Meets: 3rd Fridays (except July and August) 8:00pm. Greenhouse Meeting Room, Holtsville Ecology Center, Buckley Road, Holtsville, NY Email: Margaret Peterson - Website:

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Next Meeting: October 13, 2009 Speaker: Sal Silvestri Topic: Apistogrammas 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:


Brooklyn Aquarium Society

Long Island Aquarium Society

Nassau County Aquarium Society

Next Meeting: October 23-25, 2009 Speaker: N/A Event: Fall Show Meets: See Inside Front Cover Lyndhurst Elks Club - 251 Park Ave - Lyndhurst, NJ Contact: NJAS Hotline at (732) 332-1392 e-mail: Website:

Norwalk Aquarium Society Next Meeting: October 15, 2009 Speaker & Topic: TBD Meets: 8:00 P.M. - 3rd Thursday of each month at: Earthplace - the Nature Discovery Center - Westport, CT Contact: John Chapkovich (203) 734-7833 Call our toll free number (866) 219-4NAS E-mail: Website:

October 2009


Fin Fun It Came from THE Lake THE Lake is, of course, Lake Tanganyika. In keeping with the theme of this month’s speaker, can you match the common name with the corresponding scientific name of the following cichlids found in Lake Tanganyika? Answers next month. Scientific Name

Common Name

Neolamprologus tretocephalus

Striped Clown Goby

Paracyprichromis nigripinnis

Convict Julie

Altolamprologus compressiceps

Five-Bar Cichlid

Neolamprologus leleupi

Sardine Cichlid

Tropheus moorii

Sixbar Grouper

Eretmodus cyanostictus

Bloyet's Haplo

Epinephelus sexfasciatus

Blunthead Cichlid

Cyprichromis leptosoma

Lemon Cichlid

Astatotilapia bloyeti

Compressed Cichlid

Neolamprologus tetracanthus

Blue Neon

Julidochromis regani

Fourspine Cichlid source:

Solution to last month’s puzzle:

Everything Old is New Again!

Scientific Name Ancistrus aguaboensis Amphilius atesuensis Farlowella acus Pareutropius buffei Gogo ornatus Brochis splendens Otocinclus affinis Phractura ansorgii Hoplosternum littorale Pseudacanthicus spinosus Phyllonemus typus Peckoltia brevis

New World X

Old World X

X X X X X X X X X X source:

24 24

October 2009 October 2009

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

DANBURY AREA AQUARIUM SOCIETY Serving the Hudson Valley Area, Westchester, Fairfield, and Litchfield Counties

23nd AUCTION - Fall 2009!    TO BE HELD AT THE: Carmel Firehouse 94 Gleneida Ave (Corner of Route 52 & Vink Drive) Carmel, NY 10512  , 1 red dot, 50/50 split, *60/40 for 6 or more lots, and preprinted lot #

labels (no description, please label your bags) *Acceptable lots will be determined by the auction committee Vendors: Ken’s Fish (TBD)

Cuisine provided by Culinary Institute Graduate Rod Rigby 

REGISTRATION.................................8:30 AM TO 11:00 AM VIEWING OF GOODS........................10:00 AM TO 11:00 AM AUCTION..................................................11:30 AM TO 5 PM RAFFLE..........................................................................50 / 50


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