Modern Aquarium

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1994 —

October 2013 volume XX number 8

20th Anniversary — 2013


Upstate New York Killifish Assc. will be hosting the Northeast Weekend (for killifish lovers and Killie-­‐Curious) October 18th-­‐20th at the Best Western Albany Airport in Albany NY. We expect a hundred pairs of killies in our show and at least a couple hundred pairs for auction on Sunday. We do allow other auction fish species and items in restricted numbers. We will have several speakers including Art Leutermann from Texas as our Banquet speaker. Art is an accomplished collector and is the current Advisor to the Board of Trustees of the American Killifish Association as well as chairman of the Judging Committee for the AKA. In addition to Art, we expect to have a specialist in NY State native fish (not just killies) and also a speaker on Water Conditions and Quality. After July 15th, take a look at for new information and regular updates. Contact Tom Grady at with any questions.

Series III ON THE COVER Our cover this month features Pterois volitans, a species by now well-known to our readers. Be sure and see Steve Sica’s update on the impact of this invasive species in his “Lionfish of Nassau, Revisited,” on page 20.

Vol. XX, No. 8 October, 2013

In This Issue From the Editor G.C.A.S. 2013 Program Schedule

Photo by Stephen Sica


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

Claudia Dickinson Leonard Ramroop Warren Feuer Mark Soberman Early Arrivals Al Grusell F.A.A.S. Delegate Alexander A. Priest Membership Marsha Radebaugh N.E.C. Delegate Claudia Dickinson Programs Claudia Dickinson Mark Soberman Technology Coordinator Warren Feuer MODERN AQUARIUM

Exchange Editors Advertising Mgr.

Our Generous Sponsors & Advertisers Cartoon Caption Contest Tonight's Speaker: Mark Soberman by Claudia Dickinson

The LFS Report Pacific Aquarium by Dan Puleo

Pictures from our Last Meeting by Susan Priest


Editor in Chief Copy Editors

September's Caption Contest Winner

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

Hurricane Sandy, and Sandy! by Rich Levy

G.C.A.S. Bowl Show Rules The American Flag Fish Jordanella floridae by Joseph Graffagnino

Lionfish of Nassau, Revisited by Stephen Sica

The Frugal Aquarist, Part II by Alexander A. Priest

Member Classifieds G.C.A.S. Happenings The Undergravel Reporter Save The Uglies!

Fin Fun (Puzzle Page) How Many?

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10

12 15 17 19

20 23 26 28 29 30

From the Editor by Dan Radebaugh


couple of issues ago I mentioned that Modern Aquarium in years gone by used to regularly present articles on saltwater fishes, a subject that, except for Steve Sica’s great contributions, we haven’t seen a lot of recently. Well, ask and ye shall receive! This month we have two! Steve returns to the conservationally important topic of the lionfish invasion of our southern Atlantic waters in “Lionfish of Nassau, Revisited.” The lionfish, in addition to presently being an ecological problem in the waters of the Caribbean, have for many years been an iconic presence in the saltwater aquarium hobby. First of all, they are spectacular-looking fish (check out the photo on our cover this month). Second, and even more appealing for some, they bring an element of danger with them into your tank. Equipped with venomous spines, they are capable of inflicting an extremely painful wound (or worse, in case of an allergic response) should the fishkeeper not exercise care when handling the fish or performing tank maintenance. Maybe some hobbyists who are into catching their charges from the wild should consider a lionfish collecting trip to the Caribbean. This thought brings us to our second saltwater entry, this one from Rich Levy, who looks back a year at Hurricane Sandy, and a wildcaught tropical saltwater fish swept up to our area by the Gulf Stream, that he named in honor of that storm. Staying with the Southeastern theme (I’ve mentioned before in this column how these “themes” just sort of appear), Joe Graffagnino checks in with an article on Jordanella floridae, the aptly named American Flag Fish, reprinted from the Brooklyn Aquarium Society’s Aquatica. Al Priest continues his series, “The Frugal Aquarist” this month with Part II, in which he explains the benefits of airstones, how to use them to best advantage, and how to keep using them for a long time.


The Undergravel Reporter exhorts us to “Save The Uglies,” (you’ll see what he means), and Dan Puleo continues his survey of local fish and aquarium shops, this month featuring Pacific Aquarium, a very nice shop in lower Manhattan, and easy to get to by car or by subway. You’ll also find “Pictures From Our Last Meeting,” and of course our monthly “Fin Fun” puzzle. * * *

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) 2990522, or just hand it to me at a meeting. However you get it to me, I’ll be delighted to receive it!

October 2013

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


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)

October 2013


President’s Message by Dan Radebaugh


e’re closing in on the end of another year, and that means there’s much yet to do to end this year on a successful note! We have to start planning our annual banquet, we have to start totaling up Breeders’ Award Points and Author Award Points, decide on who will be named Aquarist of the Year, and so on and so on. More to the point of my theme for this month, we need to fill some vacancies on our Board of Governors, so that all of these important tasks – and others – can be reliably taken care of. Everything that happens at our meetings: refreshments, tanks for the bowl show, judging for the bowl show, making sure we have auction tickets, making sure we have a projector and a computer for our speaker, making sure that we have a speaker, making sure that we have raffle items, making sure that we can run our auctions and that all of you get paid for the items you have auctioned, producing and distributing our awardwinning magazine, Modern Aquarium, making sure we have our members names and mailing addresses, communicating with other aquarium societies, making sure we have a place to meet, all these things and more are done each and every month by members like


you! We’ve been getting by a bit understaffed this year, but the fact is that we need some help. Our membership continues to grow in a healthy way, and we need to offer some of our newer members the opportunity to contribute to the club in a more active way. Likewise, some members who have now been around for long enough to have a feel for how the club is running may decide that it is time for them to become more directly involved. October is the time when we entertain nominations for positions on the Board, and I look forward to seeing some new folks stepping forward. As you pick up your issue of Modern Aquarium this evening, you’ll also be handed a nomination form. If you’re willing to help the club out in any way, please put your name and contact information on one of these sheets and turn it in to us. If you aren’t certain about exactly what you would or could do to help, that’s OK. Just let us know that you’re interested, and we’ll talk about what might be the best way for you to help – there’s plenty to do!

October 2013


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

September's Caption Winner: Susan Priest

Yes, these are my bowling shoes.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


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October 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)

October 2013


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

Our Guest Speaker Mark Soberman Speaking On Keeping and Breeding Corydoras by Claudia Dickinson


rom the time he was a young boy growing up in Sunnyside, Queens, Mark Soberman was fascinated by all aquatic life. Occasional visits to a neighboring apartment were savored, as here oldfashioned fishbowls, filled with the allure of guppies and live plants, lined the walls. At the age of ten, Mark received his first tengallon aquarium from another neighbor with like interests. The tank came equipped with all of the fittings, which included an old Supreme piston pump, and two fish that Mark remembers well—one kissing gourami (Helostoma temmincki) and one blue gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus). Encouraged by the full support of his parents, Mark’s passion flourished. It was a memorable day when his father took him on an excursion to Brooklyn for the purchase of his first thirty-gallon tank. His bedroom soon held this plus three more tanks, which housed everything from guppies to discus, and even saltwater fish! Attending college at the State University of New York at Brockport, where Mark went on to get his Masters, put fishkeeping on a brief hiatus. In 1984, the newly wed Mark and Robin Soberman went for a day’s outing at the racetrack, where Mark won an Exacta. Well, he immediately drove to Tropical Fish Supermarket with his winnings! The store’s proprietor, Charlie Murphy, assisted Mark and got him back into 8

full swing with a twenty-nine gallon setup. Mark’s hobby had been rekindled and it expanded, until eventually he was able to create his dream of a fishroom. Putting in long days as sales manager of a dental supply company, he can now rejuvenate in this basement room, immersed amongst the fish and bubbling waters of forty aquariums which range in size from 10 to 125 gallons. With Mark’s precise and meticulous style, the neat rows of tanks shine with healthy, vibrant, and prolific fish. Although Mark specializes in breeding Corydoras catfish species, over the years he has also bred cichlids, killifish, characins, and livebearers. He is involved in a variety of projects, his most recent being to attempt the breeding of some of the riverine Synodontis species. One can always spot Mark’s fish in a show, most particularly if they are catfish, for they are certain to stand out from the rest due to the brilliant colors, large size, and striking beauty. His walls and shelves are filled with numerous trophies in recognition of his talents. Mark’s reputation travels far and wide for his ability to condition his fish and provide appropriate conditions for the spawning of the most difficult species.

October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

With a deep interest in the history of the aquarium hobby, Mark has a remarkable collection of antiquarian literature and ephemera that joins numerous aquatic artifacts. This is displayed in special bookcases, with extra space available for his insatiable desire to discover yet another rare book. The premier “All Aquarium Catfish Convention,” held in 2004, began a new journey in Mark’s outstanding career as he served as a panelist on the Corydoras Forum and united with fellow catfish experts from across the world. Since then he also did a workshop on catfish aquascaping in 2008 and gave the banquet catfish quiz in 2010. As a result of his acquaintances there, he now serves in the distinguished role of moderator on the highly respected forum, “Planet Catfish,”, and he is a member of the British Catfish Study Group. In 2006, Mark was invited back to the biannual convention to speak on African catfish. Involved with the formation of the North American Catfish Society, as well as other catfish organizations, Mark is also an author, having written

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

articles for Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Modern Aquarium, and several catfish journals. A highly sought after speaker, Mark has traveled extensively, giving his programs across the country as well as in Bermuda for the Bermuda Fry-Angle Society. A member of the Greater City Aquarium Society since 1984, Mark has served on its Board of Directors for more than 15 years. Named to Greater City’s Joseph Ferdenzi Roll of Honor in 1998, he is also one of the club’s top lifetime breeders. Aside from the GCAS, Mark is a member of the Long Island Killifish Association (LIKA), the American Killifish Association (AKA), and the American Cichlid Association (ACA), as well as the aforementioned British Catfish Study Group. It is with great pride and warmth that we welcome Mark tonight as he shares his extensive knowledge and experience with Keeping and Breeding Corydoras.

Photo by Claudia Dickinson

October 2013


The LFS Report by Dan Puleo

LFS in the spotlight: Pacific Aquarium 46 Delancey St., New York, NY 10002 02 (212) 995-5895 // his month the LFS Spotlight falls on another store that is one of my personal favorites, Pacific Aquarium. This is the first shop in Manhattan to shine in the spotlight, and deservedly so. For many years I’ve heard stories about the great aquarium stores that used to exist in Manhattan, and lamentations about how those days have passed. While we can’t turn back the clock, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that there is still at least one truly outstanding LFS in the city. In my book this is it.


all New York aquarists should celebrate—they would get rid of all the rest and concentrate on what they loved the best, the fish. With their new location and focus came a dedication and determination to become the best aquarium store in the city, and with competition from nearby Chinatown shops and many others throughout the city back then, their strategy was incredibly simple—carry the absolute best fish possible and deal with every customer’s tank as the individual environment that it is. This concentration on prime quality fish stock and caring

I spent some time with store manager and coowner Chi, and learned a bit about Pacific’s history, and what makes this store special. Founded in 1982, Pacific started out as a more general pet store located across the street on the south side of Delancey Street, selling dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, and the standard small fuzzy critters. After a few years the lease came up for renewal, and the decision was made to move to their present location on the north side of Delancey, between Eldridge and Forsyth Streets. This placed them conveniently right over the Williamsburg Bridge for easy access from Brooklyn and Queens. While making this move, Chi and his partners John and James faced the reality of their new home’s smaller size, and made the decision to change the nature of their business. That was a decision that

about the unique nature of their customers’ tanks has paid off for them. They now count among their dedicated customers and clients not only many of New York’s rich and famous fish keepers, but also the Museum of Natural History, for whom they design, build, and install aquatic systems. One thing I love about Pacific is that I never know what I’ll find there. With regular direct shipments coming in from Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia, there is often something truly new that I not only have never seen, but never even heard of! One of my absolute favorite fish in my own fishroom fits this description—my many-striped loaches (Yunnanilus cruciatus) from Viet Nam, which only cost me $10 for three fish when I bought them last year. On my most recent visit I found a brackish goby that matched my loaches’ rarity; this was Acent-


October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

rogobius vignanensis (3/$35). A Google® search found very little on these fish, but just talk to Chi to get the lowdown on these or any other oddballs in the store. Another oddball, though not so rare, were the leopard ctenopomas (3/$18). For the cichlidiot there were pearlscale platinum angels (3/$40), which I have seen nowhere else, and a great one that I haven’t seen in a long time—young keyhole cichlids (3/$14), plus a whole lot more! Another thing I like about Pacific is their low fish prices, and how they really use their pricing structure to encourage their customers to do the right thing when buying. What I mean by this is that any fish which should be kept in groups are heavily discounted when you go for three. So while the amandae tetras can be had for $2 each, who would pass up getting 3 for $4? Similarly, the emerald rasboras, marble hatchets, and rummy-nose tetras ($4ea;3/$8), galaxy rasboras ($9ea; 3/$18), XL albino corys ($7ea; 3/$14), and red phantom tetras ($3ea; 3/$6) are irresistible bargains when bought in groups. Pacific also has plenty of nice fancy goldfish and 6-inch butterfly koi ($30ea; 3/$60) for the pond keepers, and an impressive saltwater collection, with coral frags going for $25 to $45ea. When you come in, though, you will know that you have come to a place that loves their planted tanks, and especially nano tanks. There are several tastefully designed nanos on display which can be purchased

complete and taken home, and you can even bring in your own tank on the right day, and have Chi do a custom design for you. All you have to do is take it home and add the water. In closing, I am happy to say that Chi has been gracious enough to offer the members of Greater City a special opportunity: On the weekend of August 10th & 11th he will give our members a 20% discount on almost everything in the entire store! This includes livestock, plants, foods, lighting, filters, tanks, etc. Oh, I didn’t mention they also sell fishing gear for the anglers out there, and that will be included in the sale! Only a few select specimens will be excluded. When we first spoke about doing this, we had hoped to do it the weekend right after this article would come out, but Chi insisted we wait because “right now I don’t have enough. My plant tanks are empty” (The first time I’ve seen them that way, BTW.) “and I need to get in much more livestock for you. I’m also taking a vacation in July, and I want to be here to talk about the fish I’ll have in.” This is the kind of person Chi is—an over-the-top hobbyist at heart who’s made it his living, still loves it, and is just dying to share it with each customer who walks through the door!

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

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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


Pictures from our

Our speaker, Mark Denaro with GCAS P resident Dan Radebaugh

Mark with Al P riest, the P resident and Vice P resident, respectively, of the American Labyrinth Fish Assn. (ALFA)

Fish buddies: Rich Levy and Bill Adams

Welcome to new member: Fernando Gonzalez

Last Month’s Bowl Show Winners

1st P lace: Rich Waizman

3rd P lace: Bill Amely

2nd P lace: Leslie Dick


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Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

last meeting Photos by Susan Priest

Door Prize Winners:

Sean Cunningham

Bob Hamje

2012 FAAS Publication Award Winners: (see complete list in the August 2013 issue of Modern Aquarium)

Jules Birnbaum Joe Ferdenzi Steve Sica

Al P riest “ Author of the Year” Sue P riest Dan Radebaugh “ Best Editor/P ublication more than six issues”

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


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.


October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Hurricane Sandy, And Sandy! Story and Photos by Rich Levy


setup. After a short time one died, and I wasn’t sure t’s coming up to the one year anniversary of 1 why. I spoke with George, and he told me the same Hurricane Sandy . All of us have memories of happened to him in an even larger setup. He found before, during, and after the storm—I’m sure most out that the fish do best left alone. At around the same of them bad. But this story is not about the bad, but time, Joe Ferdenzi had also lost his interest in the fish. rather a strange but good memory. In fact it’s almost I wasn’t sure if I wanted to house one fish and not a daily reminder. But let me catch you up. be able to put others in LIKA (Long Island with it, but my specimen Killifish Association) seemed to be doing well, members and family so I gave it more thought. make a yearly trek to Weeks went by, and Oak Beach to seine for then I had bigger worries Gulf Stream tropical fish. when we were hit by These fish get carried far tropical storm Sandy— from their native warm that being evacuation and waters to our beaches, then return to a house and most if not all will without electricity or not survive the winter. heat. We were without Jeff, Warren, and heat for nine days and Joe from our club were couldn’t find a hotel, but present on this trek were lucky that friends in 2012. Among the of my family took us tropicals we collected Sandy survivor, Sandy, at about 5 inches. in. The fish were put on the back burner to fend for were a small but pretty looking fish species. Joe, themselves. I did the best I could to set up a few George Grippo, and I kept these fish and took them battery operated pumps for aeration, and filled plastic home. I thought two would be enough for one tank, bottles with hot water (gas was still good), but fish and so I set up a 20 gallon long with an outside were dying. biological filter filled with bio balls. I added lava My only saltwater tank contained the one pinfish. rocks and some saltwater plants including caulerpa. From past experience with saltwater fish I assumed I adjusted the salinity to 1.020, and added sand from that the first fish to die would be them—especially George Grippo’s established saltwater tank. I knew tropical saltwater fish. If I released the pinfish it was the fish were called pinfish, because Dan Katz’s certain death heading into winter. I made the choice grandson Jason got pricked by one while taking it out to let it die “at home.” of the seine. I had marine pellets to feed, and the fish When things started to settle down, and I looked ate right away. However, they liked to hide in the rock at my losses, I found to my surprise the pinfish was still alive. I started feeding it, and it ate well. Within a couple of weeks the fish was almost eating out of my hand and its color was vivid. Time to get a name. Not a hard choice; Sandy it is. I almost said was. As of this date of writing (9/11/2013—I’m big on anniversaries), it’s still alive. I realize, and was told, that this is one hardy fish. It survived in spite of me! When we returned to Oak Beach a few weeks ago we collected some more pinfish. I took two small ones back with the intentions to give Sandy some company. I was astounded by Sandy’s size in comparison! My Sandy is larger than the average size given from Wikipedia (see below).2 Another view -- different light.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


When I prepared to acclimate the new fish and took a salinity reading I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was way off the chart high (1.03 hydrometer), and even after multiple dilutions it has still not returned to the original. Moral of the story: “Get a fish that will live under your conditions” (Joe Ferdenzi).

Sandy (R) and his two new friends. 1

From Wikipedia: “Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. Classified as the eighteenth named storm, tenth hurricane and second major hurricane of the year, Sandy was a Category 3 storm at its peak intensity when it made landfall in Cuba. While it was a Category 2 storm off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km)). Estimates as of June 2013 assess damage to have been over $68 billion (2013 USD), a total surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina. At least 286 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. The severe and widespread damage the storm caused in the United States, as well as its unusual merge with a frontal system, resulted in the nicknaming of the hurricane by the media and several organizations of the U.S. government, ‘Superstorm Sandy.’ Sandy developed from a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, quickly strengthened, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Sandy six hours later. Sandy moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified. On October 24, Sandy became a hurricane, made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica, re-emerged a few hours later into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. On October 25, Sandy hit Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, then weakened to a Category 1 hurricane. Early on October 26, Sandy moved through the Bahamas. On October 27, Sandy briefly weakened to a tropical storm and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane. Early on October 29, Sandy curved north-northwest and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.” 2

From Wikipedia: “The pinfish, Lagodon rhomboides, is a saltwater fish of the Sparidae family, the breams and porgies. It inhabits mostly subtropical shallow coastal waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Lagodon. Other common names include pin perch, sand perch, and butterfish. The pinfish is a small fish, growing only to about 4.5 in (11.4 cm). Both the male and the female have a silvery sheen with five to six vertical bars on the side. They have olive backs with yellow and white pigmentation and blue, green, and purple iridescence. The anterior dorsal fin has 12 rigid, spiny rays capable of superficially puncturing human skin, giving the species its common name, pinfish.”


October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013



October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

The American Flag Fish Jordanella floridae Story and Photos by Joseph Graffagnino


he flag fish is unique for several reasons. First, it is a North American killifish from the state of Florida. Second, the male of the species looks like an American flag; the body has black and blue lines alternating with red lines. When looking at the fish on its side, it appears to have black, blue, red, and white dots on its body. Last, there are two types of flag fish that are nearly identical to one another; the difference being that one type prefers an almost marine environment, with a pH of 8.0, and hard (salt) water. The other type is just the opposite, requiring soft water, no salt, and an acidic pH. I managed to obtain two pairs of these beautiful fish from a pet shop hop that members of the Brooklyn Aquarium Society took in the summer of 2010 to visit our sponsoring retail establishments. I brought them home and placed them in quarantine—a bare 10 gallon tank, with a corner filter containing charcoal and ammonia chips. I also placed a few artificial hanging mops in the tank. The pH was 7.6 and the temperature 80 degrees Fahrenheit. One male chased his tankmates around for a month. They ate sporadically and showed no signs of breeding. When the quarantine time was up, I moved a pair each into 5 gallon tanks, side by side. To prevent aggression between the males, I placed newspaper between the tanks so they couldn’t see each other. A few months went by with no hints of spawning, so I decided it was time to change the environment. One tank I set up with hard water with alkaline pH, dropped the temperature to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and I left one floating mop and one mop container filled with gravel so it would remain on the bottom. In the other tank, I softened the water gradually over several weeks, and lowered the pH, while maintaining the temperature at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I also added Amazon Blackwater

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

extract and almond leaves. This time both mops were weighted to remain on the bottom. Both pairs of fish were fed the exact diet of flakes and frozen food (blood worms and daphnia), with feedings every third day of live blackworms cut into small pieces. After several weeks both pairs started laying eggs. The pair in the hard water laid approximately a dozen eggs on the mop that stayed on the bottom. All were soft, and fungused even with acriflavin added to the tank. A few days later, the pair in the acidic water laid approximately 20 eggs. I removed the eggs into a plastic container, and added acriflavin again, but after a couple of days all these eggs fungused as well. Six days later, the pair in a water environment of 6.0 – 6.2 pH, temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and GH of 3, laid 13 eggs on a black mop and 132 eggs on a green mop. Of the 145 eggs that were laid, 115 eggs hatched. These fry were moved to a 5 gallon tank and fed live vinegar eels and frozen rotifers. After a week, they were fed frozen baby brine shrimp and crushed flakes. The pair in the hard water environment stopped laying eggs. The American flag fish is a great killifish that will intrigue you. They are terrific alone in a tank, or with other fish in a well planted, dark gravel aquarium. Whether you want to breed them or not, it is the patriotic fish to keep in every American home. Enjoy them!

This article previously appeared in the JanuaryFebruary, 2011 issue of Aquatica, the journal of the Brooklyn Aquarium Society, Vol. XXIV No. 3.

October 2013


Lionfish of Nassau Revisited Story and Photos by Stephen Sica


n the April 2008 issue of Modern Aquarium, “The Bahamian Lionfish,” was published. I believe that this was my initial article about lionfish. I had observed these fish in the waters of New Providence, Bahamas, more popularly known as Nassau, during early December 2007. I recall that the exact day was December 7th because it was the first time that we went scuba diving on our wedding anniversary. Fortunately, I was able to research that article in my incomplete collection of Modern Aquarium magazines. I’m certain that Editor Dan has these issues on Greater City’s website, but why do things the easy way?! Anyway, in 2007 we did six dives in three consecutive days, and saw only four lionfish. Since we had left our dog at home and missed her dearly, we made a four-night trip instead of the five nights that we usually do on one of our quick dive trips; that is, three days of diving and the fourth to dry out our gear and rest, or even see some sights, or visit town. On this trip we dove for two days and rested on the third. Typical diving may entail two dives in the morning and two in the afternoon, although some vendors only offer one afternoon dive. We usually make two morning dives and lounge by the pool in the afternoon. Strenuous exercise is not recommended when you have a good dose of nitrogen in your bloodstream. It’s best to be in a relaxed state to assist the body to de-gas. Divers have been known to develop symptoms of the bends hours after completing a dive as the result of strenuous exercise or excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages. We observed many lionfish during our four dives. I do not know the exact count because there were just too many to remember, but I estimate that we saw at least twenty. The bottom line is that five and a half years later we saw five times more lionfish while making two fewer dives. We had dived some of these sites in the past without seeing any lionfish at all. This


was especially true of the shipwrecks, which had no lionfish five years ago. Based upon the number that we saw in 2013, it is safe to say that Nassau is being overrun by this invasive species. Editor Dan sent me an email that raised a good point in reference to lionfish. Since the maximum recommended safe sport diving depth is 130 feet, how many lionfish are residing in deep water, beyond the limit of the average diver? Since I have been observing lionfish, I haven’t gone deeper than 110 feet, and usually stay at much shallower depths. On our last deep dive, the Vandenberg, in Key West, the water was too murky to see much of anything. Also, I only went down to 106 feet. Another twenty-five feet or so is more challenging, once you pass the eighty feet level. It all depends upon the water conditions and one‘s ability to control the urge to panic if a problem arises. Statistically, a major source of danger is running out of air. You would be surprised to learn how many divers run out of air at depth. If you monitor your air pressure gauge every five minutes or so, you should never run out of air. Donna holds her gauge in her left hand, and rarely lets go. We are finely attuned to our breathing cycle, so we

October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

can monitor our air fairly precisely. If I’m swimming into a current or feeling stressed, and breathing more heavily than under normal circumstances, I’ll monitor my air closely. Swimming leisurely on a shallow reef, I am not too concerned. I usually get stressed when taking photos, and I lose sight of Donna and don’t know in which direction she swam. I know that she will look for me and yell at me afterwards. Of course, no matter the circumstances, always monitor your air consumption—and never hold your breath, especially when ascending! While these fish are striking in appearance—even beautiful—and a joy to photograph if you can find one out in the open, it is certain that the destruction that they are causing as they eat any and all juvenile fish that can fit into their mouths is tremendous.

them when they learn that the flesh is not poisonous. Prices are fairly high. Another researcher counted more than two dozen lionfish on a small portion of a sunken wreck at 250 feet. Although many lionfish are sprinkled on reefs, many desire the shelter of enclosed places. Sunken shipwrecks are an excellent habitat. Our recent experience on Nassau’s shipwrecks confirms the abundance of lionfish inhabiting wrecks. Several of my lionfish photographs were taken on shipwrecks. These fish were found at between fifty and eighty feet; sixty feet was the average depth. In reality, lionfish will inhabit any wreck, such as military tanks and equipment, subway cars, airplanes, and steel and concrete debris from roads and bridges.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently waived the recreational license requirements for divers harvesting lionfish, and excluded them from bag limits in June 2013. People can catch as many as they are able to or may desire. Tournaments and roundups to catch lionfish have become very popular. Prizes are donated to encourage participation. Many divers and fishermen hold the conviction that it is their obligation to rid the oceans of these invasive creatures. The deepest confirmed sighting of a lionfish was at 1,000 feet in the Bahamas. Star Trek’s Captain Kirk said that his space ship and crew went where no man had gone before. Now we know that this is even truer for the lionfish. A lionfish goes where no man can ever hope to go—without an underwater ship.

Caribbean islands now encourage the slaughter of these fish by the local dive community. I have yet to hear of the fishing community, sport or commercial, catching lionfish. Are they catching any? If yes, are they considered a by-catch to be thrown back? I decided to research the internet with this question. We know not to believe everything that we read on the internet, but some topics do lend themselves to honesty and accurate information. In 2012, a Florida lobster fisherman claimed that he caught two hundred pounds of lionfish daily in his lobster traps. He sells them for twelve dollars per kilogram, while lobsters fetch sixteen dollars. Restaurants in Florida try to offer lionfish on their menu. Diners usually accept Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


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October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

~ Part II ~ by ALEXANDER A PRIEST - photos by the author hose of you who use only power filters the top surface area of the tank. Any surface (canister, hang-on-tank, or internal) or area counts. The surface area in bubbles does centralized filtration, can probably skip not collect a film that inhibits aeration the way the surface of the tank this column, because I’m does, so it has the most going to discuss airstones. potential for aeration. In a box filter with an Because the bubbles are airline tube inside, air moving, they are bubbles naturally rise to the constantly exposed to surface. As they rise, they water that has less oxygen create an upward current, than the water they had pulling water with them. just been exposed to, This, in turn, creates a meaning the potential for pressure imbalance causing aeration is very high (like water outside the filter to be the cross current flow of drawn into the filter and up blood in fish gills).” 1 and through the filter media. An airline without While box filters an airstone produces fewer may seem to be very “low and larger bubbles. Add an tech” (and, of course, they airstone, and you create are), ask the top breeders multiple smaller bubbles, in almost any aquarium and these provide a greater so ciety an d y ou 'll total surface area to move discover just how many more water and produce a use them with, and even stronger current, and more instead of, “high tech” Figure 1 effective filtration. power filters. I'm not There is also the fact going to get into a debate that the more numerous here on the best filter(s). small bubbles produced by But if you do use box airstones do a better job of filters, then you probably promoting gas exchange at use airstones, and sooner the water's surface. As one or later your airstone is I n t e r n e t c o m m e n ta t o r going to clog and/or pointed out: “Even more disintegrate. If your first important, just blowing air instinct is to throw out the into a tank is not the best offending airstone, I’m w ay to prom ote gas here to tell you that you’re exchange and oxygenate being wasteful. (Yes, the water. The water airstones are cheap, but surface of an aquarium is our hobby has enough w here the prim ary expenses associated with exchange of gases occurs. it, and if you’re like me, Every single bubble is a you use a lot of airstones.) sphere of surface area. With a strong air pump and Figure 2 fine bubbles you can actually match and exceed


Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


The first thing to do if you notice fewer (or even zero) bubbles rising from a box filter is to check the air pump -- is it running, and if so is the airline attached? If the answer to both of those is yes, then inspect the airline itself for kinks, bends, or being pinched by, say a light strip or hood. If it passes inspection, the next thing is to force air through it. Yes, you can stick it in your mouth and blow (and pop your eardrums while doing so), but there is a much better (and safer) way. Buy an inexpensive air pump. Those shown in Figure 1 w ere all purchased at various dollar stores in and around New York City (and, yes, they all cost only a dollar). If you can find it, buy an air pump accessory kit (Figure 2, and also purchased at a dollar store for a buck), and use the plastic insert I highlighted in the photo in a white box. Just push and hold the end of the airline tubing that went on the air pump over the nozzle of the pump, and give it a shot or two. If the airstone is just blocked, this should clear it. If the airline itself is broken or leaking somewhere inside the tank, you should also be able to see bubbles at the point of the break or damage. Most of the time, just this will open up minor clogs without the need to disassemble the filter. There are instructions on the Internet on cleaning airstones with a toothbrush, boiling water, vinegar, bleach, and dechlorinator, but that’s a lot of work. (I’m not only a “frugal” aquarist, but a lazy one, as well!) However, I’ve found that a cheap toothbrush (from the dollar store, of course) used with hot water, followed by a few blasts from the air pump sometimes works wonders.


However, there will come a time when an airstone just deteriorates to the point where it is no longer useful for its intended purpose. What now? W ell, if you’re a “frugal” aquarist, you can still make practical use of what’s left. Look at the airstones (or what’s left of them) in Figure 3. Now, look at the airline tubing connectors in Figure 4. Yes, all I did was take a pliers and squeeze those airstones, then I rotated the plastic stems while holding them in the pliers to clean off any remaining “stone” material. What’s the advantage of these airline connectors over those you can buy in a store (Figure 5)? W ell for one thing, many of those have an intentionally narrow opening to accommodate “mini airline tubing” (something I have never seen anywhere), so their opening is often smaller, meaning less air gets through. Also, if you use silicone airline, as I often do, I have found that the plastic in many of those commercially available airline connectors reacts over time with the tubing, causing the plastic to soften and often close up and clog the opening. I’ve mentioned the use of airstones in box filters, but of course airstones can be used alone to provide increased gas exchange, especially in “tall” tanks where the surface area to water volume is proportionately less than in conventional tanks. In fact, in a power outage, using several airstones in multiple tanks with a battery powered air pump is likely to be of considerable value. There also are some box filters intended to be connected directly to an airline and that have no way to use an airstone. Those generally are the smaller box filters,

October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Figure 6

and I would not recommend their use in most instances. In box filters using airstones, the airline usually goes down a tube and is held in place with fragile plastic spokes. Those spokes tend to break easily. W hile the filter works just as well without them, I like the idea of making sure the airstone remains as far down in the filter as it can go (this maximizes its effectiveness). SO, for my box filters where the restraining spokes have broken off, I use the screw-on cap from a milk container. Using a heated nail (it’s advisable to wear flame and heat resistant gloves for obvious reasons), I make five holes in the cap (the hole in the center being larger). I can now pass the airline tubing through the center hole, while the other holes allow the bubbles to escape. Figure 6 shows two of these in use (the one on the right also shows, if you look carefully, one of my improvised airline connectors, as well).


You can use aquarium-safe silicone to cement these caps on, but I prefer to use silicone tape on the filter tube itself, and then “screw” the caps on. Silicone tape, in case you haven’t used it, is a non-toxic tape that, when pulled and stretched, clings to itself, no adhesive or glue needed. It’s used to make tool handles, grips on sports equipment (bats, paddles, rackets, clubs, etc.), and to repair hoses and pipes. It’s fairly inexpensive, and has a lot of household uses (and I actually found a dollar store selling them in small rolls!). That’s it for this installment of “The Frugal Aquarist.” In my next installment I’ll be showing you a few of the common (and some not-so-common) household items I have “repurposed” for use in my own fishroom, hoping that you’ll get some useful ideas from these for yourself.

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


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: Need 6 1 23 1

to part with 10 fully set up tanks: Ten-gallon tanks 20-gallon-long 0-gallon tanks 125 gallon tank with wood stand and canopy

Call Gerry: 347-837-5794 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------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. 26

October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

House Location: On historic site for Geronimo and his braves, where they ground holes in huge boulders (on the southern edge 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 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOR SALE: 210 Gallon Tank, wood stand. Both need some repair. Call Dan: 718-458-8437 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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)

October 2013


GCAS Happenings





19 5



11 3

9 1



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


Next Meeting: November 6, 2013 Speaker: TBD Event: TBA Meets: Meets the first Wednesday of the month (except January & February) at 7:30pm: Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main Street - Flushing, NY Contact: Dan Radebaugh (718) 458-8437 Email: Website:

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

NASSAU COUNTY AQUARIUM SOCIETY Next Meeting: October 8, 2013 Speaker: TBA Topic: TBD 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:

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: October 11, 2013 Speaker: None Event: Giant Fall Auction 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: October 18, 2013 Speaker: Tom Pelletier Topic: Shelldwellers 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 10th, 2013 Speaker: Ted Judy Topic: The Genus Pelvicachromis 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: October 5 & 6, 2013 Speaker: None Event: 47th Annual Fish Show & Auction 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:

October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

Save The Uglies! 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.

An organization calling itself the “Ugly Animal Preservation Society” recently announced that the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) was voted the “World's Ugliest Animal,” and adopted as the official mascot of the Society.1 The winner was announced at the British Science Festival in Newcastle. The blobfish won by almost 10,000 votes, overcoming fierce competition, including a great YouTube video supporting another entrant in this competition, the “scrotum frog” from Lake Titicaca.2

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs, The homely hen lays one. The codfish never cackles To tell you what she’s done— And so we scorn the codfish While the humble hen we prize. It only goes to show you That it pays to advertise! - anonymous ave the cute tiger cub, the cuddly panda, the pretty little Karner Blue Butterfly, or the majestic humpback whale -- sure, no problem, a no-brainer. But what about species that, at least for many humans, appear to be “aesthetically challenged” (in other words, just plain “ugly”)?


I can show you the winner and even the frog runner-up, but this is a family publication, and that somewhat limits detailed descriptions of some of the other contestants (such as “pubic lice”).


1 2

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

October 2013


Fin Fun How many of these questions can you answer correctly? You don’t need to name which choices fit the category, just count them (but, extra credit if you can). This means you can always take a guess! 1. How many of these plants are floating plants? _____ Salvinia Anubias Duckweed


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

Cardinal Tetras

3. How many of these fishes are livebearers? _____ Butterfly goodeid Least Killifish Swordless Swordtail

Pike Topminnow

4. How many of these fishes are NOT rainbowfishes? _____ Boesmani Threadfin Moonlight Cape York 5. How many of these fishes are black? _____ Black Albino Swordtail Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Mollie

Black Port Hoplo

Solution to our last puzzle: + + + A + + + + + + + + T + + + S + + +


+ + + + M + + A + + + R + + + I + + + +

S + + + + P + I C + I + + + S + + + + +

U + + + + + O T + C + + + P + + + + + +

N + + + + + E N H + + + O + + + + + A +

E + S + + N + O E + + H + + + + + M + +

M M + U O + G L + T C + + + + + O T + +

O + A P L A + E + I C + + + + P + R + +

R + S C S A + B R + + + + + O + + I + +

H + + T R + H T + + + + B N + + + C + +

P S E U D O S P H R O M E N U S + H + +

S R + + + + P + E + + T T + + + + O + +

O + + + + + + O + C C + T + + + + P + +

R + + + + + + + D O O + A + + + + O + +

A + + + + + + + R U + I + + + + + D + +

P + + + + + + C + + S + C + + + + U + +

S Y H T H C I R E A H P S U + + + S + +

+ + + + + M + + + + + + + + L + + + + +

+ + + + M A L P U L U T T A + + + + + +

+ + + + + + + A I L E D N A S + + + + +

October 2013

Modern Aquarium - Greater City A.S (NY)

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