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Practical Fishkeeping 01 2018

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FREE 24-PAGE BEGINNE
WRONGLY ACCUSED?
5
RICE PALACES
Keep and breed
the fascinating
rice?sh
Issue 1 January 18 �20
?sh of ill-repute.
Guilty as
charged ? or
misunderstood?
SPECIAL REPORT
Our top picks
from the
AQUA show
DISCOVER THE
sensational
MALAWI
E BITER
DOUBLE
YOUR FUN
Gorgeous marines
to keep in pairs
US WHAT?S HOT ON THE GOLDFISH FRONT
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Welcome
Learn from
the best
JEREMY GAY is a
former PFK editor and
now Evolution Aqua?s
Business Development
Manager. He spotlights
the Malawi eyebiter
cichlid on page 66.
DAVE WOLFENDEN is
curator at the Blue
Planet Aquarium in
Cheshire Oaks. He
offers some fascinating
facts about Artemia on
page 84.
NATHAN HILL is an
aquatic journalist and
PFK?s features editor. He
pro?les the amazing
rice?sh, checks out some
top quality gold?sh and
has tips on buying used
tanks. Pages 8, 51 & 84.
Like many things in life, ?shkeeping is
subject to trends. In recent years these have
included LED lighting, wi? controllable
hardware, Optiwhite glass aquariums and
the incorporation of natural decor such as
leaves into the aquascape. Discover some of
the latest aquarium innovations in our report
of the AQUA trade show (page 100).
There are trends in the ?sh we keep, too
? you only have to look at the current
popularity of the Siamese ?ghter to see that. Other species have been
best sellers for decades, and it?s easy to see why the small, dazzling
and peaceful Neon tetra has stood the test of time for so long and is
the ?darling? of community tank keepers everywhere.
But what about those ?sh that continue to be popular despite the
fact that they have a rather less sociable reputation? While Tiger
barbs and Red-tailed black sharks are both stunning ?sh for example,
they do carry an element of risk that they will turn your peaceful
community set-up into a battle zone. But is this really ?bad behaviour?
on the part of the ?sh ? or does it come down to a lack of
understanding of their needs? We investigate the ?crimes? of ?ve
known aquatic offenders and offer our verdict on each (see page 58).
This issue of Practical Fishkeeping comes with a free 24-page
beginner?s guide. If you are already an experienced hobbyist, why not
pass it on to a friend or relative so that they can discover the joys of
?shkeeping, too?
8 Discover the fascinating
world of the rice?sh.
38 Keep and breed the
Flame tetra.
58 Five alleged mischief
makers ? guilty or not?
Get more PFK!
Karen Youngs, editor
Like us on Facebook.com
GEORGE FARMER is a
world-renowned
aquascaper. He sets up
a gorgeous low
maintenance planted
aquarium on page 46.
Enjoy six months of
Practical Fishkeeping
Follow us @PFKmagazine
for just �!
Watch us on youtube.com/
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5
nu
Cover image: Foto Malawi Stan
ON THE COVER
08
RICE PALACES
The dainty rice?sh are easy to
keep, fascinating to breed and
don?t need acres of space. Here?s
what you need to know about
these rock stars of the science
world?
30
TWO?S COMPANY
51
GOLDFISH GALORE
30
While many marine ?sh species
are best kept singly to avoid
con?ict, there are some which do
very well in pairs ? and they may
even breed for you!
A visit to the UK?s leading
gold?sh supplier offered the
perfect chance to showcase some
of the country?s ?nest!
58
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
We spotlight ?ve alleged ne?erdo-wells ? are they truly the
underwater version of the Kray
twins, or just misunderstood?
66
A FEAST FOR THE EYES
100
NEW GEAR
Meet the Malawi eyebiter cichlid
? a ?sh that?s guaranteed to
attract attention, and not just
because of its name.
Our special report looks at some
of the highlights from the AQUA
2017 trade show.
58
YOUR FISH & TANKS
24
28
TANK COMMUNITY
The place to share your ?sh,
tanks and experiences.
ME AND MY TANK
The ?dark and atmospheric tanks
of ?shkeeper Mike Calnun.
NEWS & REVIEWS
16
106
6
FISHKEEPING NEWS
We report from the penultimate
Festival of Fishkeeping event, plus
news of a UK Charity Fish Auction
taking place in December.
SHOPTOUR
This month we visit aquatic
retailers in Dorset and
Northamptonshire.
08
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
74
72
FISHKEEPING KNOW-HOW
20
38
46
In association with
DIPLOMA
72
FISH IN THE SHOPS
Four non-community ?sh that
need careful housing.
REKINDLING THE FLAME
Gabor Horvath gets reaquainted
with a ?rst love.
FERNTASTIC
This low maintenance aquascape
uses mature plants to give it
immediate impact. But you can
achieve something similar with
new plants if you?re prepared to
wait for them to grow in.
CLAWS FOR THOUGHT
The Panther crab is one of the few
totally aquatic crabs available in
the hobby ? and it?s freshwater?
74
38
AQUATIC SCHOOL
In the fourth part of our Diploma
series, we look at disease issues
and how to tackle them.
84
BUYING A USED TANK
While we might all want to ?ll our
homes with new, top end gear, our
cash ?ow might have other ideas.
Here?s some important advice on
buying secondhand.
86
THE FISHKEEPER?S
EMERGENCY TOOLBOX
96
EVERYTHING YOU WANTED
TO KNOW ABOUT ARTEMIA
84
It pays to have a few essential
items to hand for those sudden
unexpected emergencies.
Artemia have featured in South
Park, NASA has sent them into
space, and they?re a great live
food. Here?s our guide on getting
the best out of these incredible
crustaceans.
51
PROBLEMS SOLVED
89
FISHKEEPING ANSWERS
96
Some of the world?s top experts
answer your questions.
PLUS
44
82
16
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
114
SUBSCRIBE TO PFK!
Save money when you take out a
subscription to PFK.
DYED FISH CAMPAIGN
What wrong with injected
?sh? Find out ? and get your
local retailer to sign up to our
campaign against the selling of
dyed ?sh.
TAILPIECE
Nathan Hill tries to deal with his
baying crowd of superfans.
FREE WITH THIS ISSUE 24-PAGE BEGINNERS? GUIDE
7
Rice
Palaces
The dainty rice?sh are easy to keep, fascinating to
breed and don?t need acres of space. Here?s what
you need to know about these rock stars of the
science world?
MP&C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
8
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish of the month
Daisy?s rice?sh,
Oryzias woworae.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
NEIL HEPWORTH
Female rice?sh carry their eggs around
on their undersides. Some species
deposit them on plants after fertilisation,
but others carry them to maturity.
9
here?s nothing quirkier than ?sh,
and few ?sh quirkier than the
Medaka. Medaka, Oryzias
latipes, is an old acquaintance,
being a species I kept in my early hobby
years. Visually, I have clear memories. I?m
maybe 14 years old, with a rickety all-glass
Clearseal tank ? the life blood of the hobby
in the early ?90s, complete with dappled
plastic hood and crude lights that were
around 50% illumination, 50% impending
?re risk ? and my ?sh are dancing. One
goldy-green female, faint orange highlights
on her tail, is being embraced by a male. He
hooks his dorsal ?n over her body, as casual
as old friends meeting in a pub, and
shimmers and shakes. Underneath her, like
a clump of transparent grapes, a bundle of
eggs hangs from her body.
Under the excess yellow of my entirely
unsuitable light, this early morning
encounter is cut short for me. I have to go to
school. On my return, there are no eggs left.
A happy looking male seems plumper than
usual, and even the female seems to have
regained some of the weight she lost. This
series of events repeats itself over coming
weeks, always spawning in the morning,
and always the eggs gone by the time I get
home. I?m at that age where I want to keep
everything. Within a couple of months,
my Medaka had been traded in for
something newer. To date, I?ve never had
my successful spawn.
The Medaka is one of 33 known species of
Oryzias, collectively known as the rice?sh.
From the far east, they?re synonymous with
rice paddies, which they call home. Or at
least they were until invasive species
arrived and started eating them.
For a long time, unless a ?shkeeper had
interest in spawning them, there was little
aquarium appeal. Rice?sh would appear on
import lists, but less so in retailer tanks,
where they would tend to sit unsold.
And then Sulawesi happened. In 2007
Daisy Wowor, a carcinologist from
Indonesia, no doubt looking for the
crustaceans of her trade, came across a
species that would change the rice?sh?s
fortunes. The ?sh now named in her honour,
Daisy?s rice?sh, Oryzias woworae, easily
ranks as the catwalk model of Oryzias. You
might not know it yet, but you really, really,
want some in your life?
Fish of science
While we often hear about Zebra danios
being used in research, the Medaka is also
busy behind the scenes, helping all sorts of
technological and medical advances. It has a
tiny genome, about half the size of the danio,
and an outrageously fast turn-around time.
A whole generation of Medaka can be
cultured in as little as seven weeks,
trumping the danio by a whole fortnight.
While a dedicated set-up
would be perfect, Daisy?s
rice?sh will do just as well
in a community tank.
Did
?
you
know
NATUREPL
Oryzias were once thought
to be Cyprinodontiformes,
alongside killi?sh and
pup?sh. But they have since
been moved to the family
Adrianichthydae, within the
order of Beloniformes. They
have some curious cousins, like
the Hemiramphid halfbeaks, the
needle?sh and even the famed
Flying ?sh.
10
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish of the month
Oryzias latipes
with eggs.
MP&C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
While some species are a little delicate,
Medaka can withstand rough housing that
would wipe out many a community tank.
They?ll tolerate temperatures to extremes
beyond most gold?sh ? down to 4癈 and as
high as 40癈, albeit brie?y. They?re
euryhaline ? able to tolerate fresh and
brackish water.
They?re also easy to manipulate at a
genetic level. From a research perspective,
that means certain functions can be turned
on and the ?sh exploited in toxicology tests
? what better way to see that a lake has
been contaminated than by a ?sh that
changes colour when exposed to toxins?
From a retail perspective, the
receptiveness of the ?sh to transgenic
mutation means that it?s also become a
target of the ?glowing? gene. While not
available (or legal) in the UK, overseas
you might ?nd them in tanks saturated
with UV ?blacklight? and glowing
DAISY?S
RICEFISH
MEDAKA/
JAPANESE
RICEFISH
You?ll see these offered more than any
other rice?sh species, but expect to pay a
hefty sum for them. Most images don?t
do them justice. You need to see the
pearlescent sheen and the iridescence
of the blues in the ?esh to really
appreciate them.
Peaceful and tough, even if you?re just
using them to ?ll out a community, I bet
you anything you?ll grow really fond of
these pretty ?sh.
G Scienti?c name: Oryzias latipes
(Orr-rit-zee-ass lat-ip-eez).
G Size: To 3.2cm.
G Origin: Japan, China, Vietnam and
Korea.
G Habitat: Take your pick. Marshes,
streams, ponds, pools, rice paddies, in
both fresh and brackish water.
G Tank size: Minimum 45 x 25cm for a
small shoal.
G Water requirements: Neutral to slightly
alkaline: 7.0 to 8.0pH, hardness over
10癏.
G Temperature: 18 to 24癈.
G Temperament: Peaceful, but small so
may be eaten or intimidated by tank
mates.
G Feeding: Micropredators. Offer lots of
bloodworm, Daphnia and Cyclops.
Flake food is taken greedily.
G Availability and price: Not so common
for such an easy ?sh, priced from
around �50.
G Scienti?c name: Oryzias woworae
(Orr-it-zee-ass woah-war-ay).
G Size: To 2.8cm.
G Origin: Muna Island, Sulawesi.
G Habitat: Clear stream over mud and leaf
litter.
G Tank size: Minimum 45 x 25cm for a
small shoal.
G Water requirements: Neutral to slightly
acidic: 6.0 to 7.0pH, hardness 4 to 12癏.
G Temperature: 23 to 27癈, ideally 25癈.
G Temperament: Peaceful, but small so
may be eaten or intimidated by tank
mates.
G Feeding: Micropredators. Offer lots of
bloodworm, Daphnia and Cyclops. Flake
food is taken greedily.
G Availability and price: Embraced by
many retailers as a good seller, you?ll
?nd these at many stores around the UK,
often priced in the �region.
Tank volume
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
28 l+
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
28 l+
ALAMY
5
ALAMY
5
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
a
0
pH
11
arti?cial hues of green, pink or yellow.
From the perspective of spawning, there?s
pretty much nothing left to understand
about the Medaka. Studies of its
reproduction and development are so
meticulous as to be comprehensive, with
key events predictable to the second in
some cases. We know, for example, that the
micropile (the tiny hole present on ?sh eggs
where sperm enters for fertilisation) seals
exactly nine seconds after sperm enters. At
one hour and ?ve minutes, the ?rst cell
division occurs. Researchers have broken
the entire spawning and development
procedure into 39 timed stages, which you
can ?nd with a simple online search.
Native to Japan, Medaka have been kept by
the Japanese since the 1600s, which is
where a lot of the ?sh?s natural tolerance
probably came in handy.
Time served is great, but it still doesn?t get
over the fact that Medaka are pretty
underwhelming to look at, so it was a big ask
for rice?sh to ever become popular.
2007 changed all that, thanks to Sulawesi,
a curious, ?leggy? island that makes up a part
of Indonesia. We?re talking a big island ?
the eleventh largest in the world ? with a
population over 18 million.
From an evolutionary point of view,
Sulawesi has been running riot for millions
of years. As human encroachment goes,
Sulawesi only picked up an infection of
Homo sapiens around 30,000 years ago, but
on a very small scale. Rather than deforest,
industrialise, kill everything and introduce
mass cultivation, the early indigenous
peoples resigned themselves to cave
painting and leaving the wilderness alone.
In its isolation, Sulawesi turns up plenty of
endemic species. There are birds and
mammals that you won?t ?nd elsewhere in
the world ? 62% of the mammals there are
endemic. Free to diversify to Sulawesi?s
niches, ?sh have followed suit, with 12
species of halfbeak endemic to the island,
and at least 15 endemic Oryzias.
Sulawesi is rich in rice?sh. It hosts both
the largest (the closely related
Adrianichthys poptae ? the ?other? rice?sh
Females produce the eggs through the night
and by dawn they?re swimming about with
them attached to their undersides.
12
ALL SEQUENCE: MP&C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
NATUREPL
The Sulawesi upgrade
The males embrace the females,
fertilising the eggs. She then
chooses a leaf to deposit them on.
The embryos inside
the eggs continue
to develop...
Fish of the month
Did
?
you
know
The name Oryzias stems
from Oryza, pronounced
either orr-rit-zah, or orrright-zah depending on how
Americanised you are. Oryza,
as the botanists out there will
have already identi?ed, is the
scienti?c name for rice?
On all fronts, rice?sh are
undemanding, so the only
real choice is whether you
want something cheap and
easy to keep, or something
brighter, more expensive
and easy to keep.
...and they?re ready to hatch at
around 9?12 days.
The fry can be fed on microworms
and freshly hatched Artemia.
13
NPL
14
part of the same ?woworae complex?. Like
woworae, O. asinua was living alongside
Nomorhamphus halfbeaks. Troublingly, it
was already sharing its habitat with invasive
species like Oreochromis cichlids and even
Trichopodus trichopterus (Blue gourami).
O. wolasi is sometimes sold as Oryzias sp.
?Neon? and looks very similar to woworae.
The key difference is in the dorsal ?n ? that
of O. wolasi has extended rays, leading to an
elongate, pointed tip that woworae lacks. O
woworae is also slightly more intense in
colour, though in shop conditions with
juvenile ?sh, this isn?t always apparent.
So how do you keep them?
On all fronts, rice?sh are undemanding, so
the only real choice is whether you want
something cheap and easy to keep, or
something brighter, more expensive and
easy to keep.
Starting with my old spawning nemesis,
the Medaka, your layoput options are vast.
Medaka are found in rice paddies, ponds,
slow streams, canals, bogs, marshes, and
even brackish lowlands ? some researchers
and hobbyists cite slightly salted water as
better for culturing them, but you?ll do this
at the expense of plants. If you?re going to
explore the brackish path, you?ll need some
marine salt. I?d be aiming for a salinity no
greater than 8ppt (8 grams of salt per litre),
but it?s a debateable area. The Medaka aren?t
so fussed. If you?re a beginner, go freshwater.
They?re from Japan, as well as Korea,
China and Vietnam, so plants from any of
those will ?t, but you?re really missing a
trick if you don?t consider a fake rice paddy.
I say fake as rice is a bit rampant for aquaria,
so the trick is to get a tank with a generous
footprint (shallow and wide is good) and
cover the base with sand, maybe a tiny bit of
leaf litter (not enough to discolour the water
or make things acidic) and all the grassy
plants you get your hands on. Try lashings of
Vallisneria at the back and sides, with the
lower growing Blyxa japonica in the middle.
Don?t use soft or acidic water! Medaka like
a chemistry somewhere between 7.0?8.0pH,
and seem happiest toward the higher end of
that. Keep the hardness over 10癏.
For temperature, don?t go to extremes, but
don?t panic if you?ve no heater: 18?25癈 is
?ne, with preference towards the lower end.
You only need a small ?lter. A dinky
internal canister set to slow ?ow rate will
do, but an air driven foam ?lter would be
optimal. The emphasis is on slow ?ow. I?ll be
candid here ? they?re pretty resilient to
poor water quality, too. Bear in mind that for
centuries the Japanese kept them
successfully in little rice bowls, and you get
the idea. For the records, to get an outbreak
of disease in Medaka, you have to mess up
real bad. Now I think of it, they could be the
hardiest ?sh in the hobby right now.
Or you could go in for Daisy?s rice?sh,
which is what any sensible aquarist looking
for colour would do. Alas, if you want to go
authentic, sourcing Sulawesi plants from
the speci?c river that woworae comes from
is near impossible, so you?ll need to pretend.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Close-up of a developing
rice?sh embryo.
Oryzias eversi.
ALAMY
genus) at 20cm, and the smallest, Oryzias
asinua at just 2.7cm. It also houses the most
coveted species of all ? Daisy?s rice?sh,
Oryzias woworae.
When woworae ?rst appeared in the trade,
few thought that they were rice?sh at all,
and fewer thought they were natural, such
are the astounding colours. With a steel
blue, pearlescent body, and ?ns dripping
with brilliant red, the accusations ?ew thick
and fast. ?GM? came the detractors. ?Clearly
hybrids? said others, while citing specious
stories of hormone enhancement from
Czech Republic breeders.
But the woworae is both real and natural,
hailing from the Muna Island region of
Sulawesi, an island off of an island, isolated
from Sulawesi proper by seawater. There,
they live in rivers with crystal clear waters
as blue as azure skies. They were found in a
freshwater stream, with only around 20%
direct sunlight exposure, thick jungle
canopy obscuring the rest. Over mud
and leaf litter, and directly opposite a
freshwater spring in a 4m deep blue hole, O.
woworae were happily shoaling with
Nomorhamphus halfbeaks.
O. woworae gained its formal description
in 2010. Within three years, ichthyologists
were describing other ?nds. It turned out
that this wasn?t the only Oryzias with pretty
colours, and the bright O. asinua ? notably
small, with curious orange nostrils ? and O.
wolasi were waiting to be discovered.
Although all from Sulawesi, there?s around
100km+ between each of the species,
leading researchers to believe they?re all
Fish of the month
When woworae ?rst appeared in
the trade, few thought that they
were rice ?sh at all, and fewer
thought they were natural, such
are the astounding colours.
Daisy?s rice?sh hails
from crystal clear
streams in Sulawesi.
I?ve always found O. woworae to be an ?all
levels? kind of ?sh, so plump for a deeper
tank than you would for the Medaka. This
isn?t essential, but you?ll see them at their
best if you get something 45cm or so deep.
As a substrate, sand or ?ne gravel works
well, and a mixture of both even better.
Anecdotally, it would seem that darker
substrates lead to darker coloured ?sh. In
the wild, the only vegetation found grows
marginally, but it?s worth having some
grassy plants at either the back or sides of
the tank if you want to venture into breeding
? and you really do want to venture into
breeding. Unlike the Medaka, leaf litter can
be abundant in a woworae tank, so browse
for exotic botanicals, or collect leaves from
local hardwood trees throughout Autumn.
Just like keeping Medaka, a small,
air-powered foam ?lter is the best choice.
With Daisy?s rice?sh the heater isn?t
optional ? keep them between 23 and 27癈
at all times. They are also a little fussier with
water chemistry. For one, don?t add salt ?
I?d even extend this to using salt in
treatments. Second, keep them either at a
neutral pH, or just slightly under. Acidic
water is preferable to alkaline if you can?t
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
get conditions bang on 7.0pH. Keep hardness
somewhere between 4 and 12癏.
That?s about as tricky as it gets. Keep ?ows
low, don?t go mad with lighting (a T5 tube
will be ample), water change 15% of the tank
weekly and your ?sh will be ?ne. Why not go
the whole hog and track down some small,
freshwater Nomorhamphus halfbeaks too?
The only catch with O. woworae is the
price. At around �a time, even a small
group will soon add up.
Either ?sh will make for a fun biotope, or
just add them to a community tank ?
rice?sh are easy going and totally peaceful.
Multiply your assets
Or go for a breeding tank. Start with a trio of
either species, a 45 x 25 x 25cm all glass tank
with hood (no light), a small air-driven ?lter,
and a big spawning mop or some expendable
plants, and you?re all set. Breeding is, frankly,
an absolute must, even if only to make up for
my own failures.
Rice?sh belong to a tiny niche of egglayers
that carry their eggs around with them, and
it is fascinating to see. Some species, like O.
eversi carry the eggs to maturity, a bit like a
kind of prolapsed Guppy, while O. latipes and
O. woworae only carry their eggs for a few
hours before depositing them on a leaf.
Spawning always takes place at dawn. The
females produce the eggs through the night
and by sunrise they?ll have a dozen little
globes attached to their undersides. The
males embrace them, fertilising the eggs
? in male O. latipes you might even be able
to see the small quasi-gonopodium at the
front of the anal ?n. Think of a male Guppy
with a miniaturised reproductive organ.
Once fertilised, the female swims about,
business as usual, until she eventually
deposits them somewhere. To get rice?sh in
spawning condition, just feed them and
provide the right water chemistry. They will
soon produce under their own volition.
Oryzias will eat their own offspring, so
look at where the eggs have been deposited,
and remove them. Place them into an egg
tumbler (don?t touch the eggs, but carefully
move the whole leaf/segment of spawning
mop they?ve been place on) and sit back and
wait for the next 9 to 12 days.
Feeding the fry is as straightforward as
offering some microworms and freshly
hatched Artemia. Within a few days, they?re
often ready to take ?nely powdered ?ake.
15
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics.
SPECIAL REPORT
Festival of Fishkeeping 2017
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: NATHAN HILL
The weekend of October 7?8 saw the UK?s
penultimate Festival of Fishkeeping at
Hounslow, Middlesex. The show, directed
annually by the Federation of British Aquarist
societies, and now into its 31st consecutive year,
acts as host to various members of numerous
clubs, which come together to display the best
of the best of UK show ?sh.
Over two days, contest categories included the
British Open, the Diamond Class Final, the
Supreme Breeders Final, the Supreme Pairs
?nal, and the cr鑝e-de-la-cr鑝e, the Supreme
Championship Final. Winning this last category
is ?the? coveted position for ?sh showers, and
this year the prize went to Allan Finnegan for an
outstanding Aulonocara maylandi.
For those unfamiliar with ?sh showing, the
initial layout might come as a surprise. After
years of associating ?sh care with large, ?ltered
aquaria, the sight of numerous small display
tanks, completely barren and without any life
support equipment can be unsettling to those
outside of the ?scene?. As always, it requires the
newcomer to actually look at the ?sh on
display to see that they are, contrary to what
might be expected, far from showing any signs
of stress.
Your mind is put at some ease when you speak
to the showers themselves and get a feel for the
love and effort that has gone into conditioning
the ?sh throughout the year. Most of those you
meet at this level have admirable ?sh houses,
and a signi?cant amount of time and effort is put
in to their livestock ? the shows are a way of
showing off these efforts.
For those looking to pick up outrageous
bargains, many of the pristine show ?sh were
sold off after ?nal judging on the Sunday
afternoon. Specimens like the Sawbwa
resplendens Asian Rummynose seen on the
opposite page were snapped up for a mere �
each. For collectors of unusual ?sh, Sunday
afternoon became quite a harvest.
As well as the traditional shows, the Festival
hosted other attractions over the weekend. Set
on an urban farm, the site is home to various
semi-exotic animals and visitors were treated to
unusual, non-?shy spectacles like owl ?ying.
Reptiles were also displayed, for the more
adventurous folks to investigate. From the
perspective of those attendees with children,
arts and crafts and play zones were present.
This year also saw the ?rst FBAS Betta Show,
which was notably the largest (by numbers) of
any category. Combined with the Betta displays
provided on the day by LJB Aquatics, 2017
constituted what was easily the most Betta
splendens oriented show to date.
Flowerhorns played a large part of displays
and sales on the day, again hosted by LJB, but
for folks looking to buy, plenty was available.
Elsewhere, surplus home-bred ?sh provided
some serious bargains.
High-tier Potamotrygon supplied by
Freshwater Stingrays were a particular draw, in
both buyers and casual admirers. All manner of
?shkeeping paraphernalia, from mugs to
aquarium ?ltration all made an appearance.
Supporting companies included
Rolf C Hagen, Simply Koi and Fish Science,
with staff on hand to offer technical advice
to hobbyists.
Sadly, absent from the year?s event were one
of the Koi displayers (and subsequently his Koi)
as well as Discus (usually a ?rm favourite), so
the event was a little thinly spread compared to
previous years.
To repeat, this show is the penultimate Festival
of Fishkeeping, so the last chance to attend one
of these historic occasions and see what the
fuss is about will be in Autumn 2018.
Flowerhorn cichlid.
Some outstanding
Betta were on show.
First class ?sh were on
display in the show section.
16
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Don?t miss
the ?nal
ever show
in 2018
Sawbwa resplendens.
Allan Finnegan?s
winning Aulonocara
maylandi.
SHOW RESULTS
Winners of the Supreme Pairs
title were these stunning
Dwarf chain loaches.
It?s safe to say it was a successful
weekend for Allan Finnegan
(pictured left).
BRITISH OPEN CHAMPIONS
1st place ? Aulonocara maylandi ?Sulphur head Eccles Reef?
(92 points). Allan Finnegan
2nd place ? Aulonocara jacobfreibergi (91 points). Allan
Finnegan
3rd place ? Neolamprologus leleupi (90 points). Allan Finnegan
SUPREME CHAMPIONS
1st place ? Aulonocara maylandi ?Sulphur head Eccles Reef?
(92 points). Allan Finnegan
2nd place ? Paraneetroplus argenteus. Tansie Harrison
3rd place ? Sawbwa resplendens. Mollie Edwards
DIAMOND CLASS
1st place ? Otopharynx lithobates ?Sulphur head? (86 points).
Allan Finnegan
2nd place ? Phallichthys fairweatheri (85 points). Terry Hewitt
3rd place ? Sawbwa resplendens (84 points). Roy Chapman
SUPREME PAIRS
1st place ? Ambastaia sidthimunki. Allan Finnegan
2nd place ? Xiphophorus xiphidium. Terry Hewitt
3rd place ? Nannostomus marginatus. Roy Chapman
SUPREME BREEDERS
1st place ? Xiphophorus milleri. Tims Edwards
2nd place ? Sawbwa resplendens. Tims Edwards
3rd place ? Brachyraphis rhabdophora. Allan Finnegan
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
17
FISHKEEPING NEWS
DIARY DATES
UK Charity
Fish Auction
Sell ?sh, buy ?sh, and raise money for charity at a fabulous event in
Leicester on Sunday, December 3.
The 2017 UK Charity Fish Auction takes place at Braunstone & District
WMC, Braunstone Close, Leicester, LE3 2GE. The aim is to raise lots of
money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK. Last year?s
event raised more than �0 for Macmillan Cancer Research.
Doors open at 9am and the ?rst auction will be at 11am. Refreshments
are available all day, with both hot and cold choices available. Entry costs
just � If you want to sell ?sh at the event or require other details, check
out the UK Charity Fish Auction facebook page, where a list of some of the
amazing ?sh you?ll be able to bid on will also be posted nearer the time.
O More info: www.facebook.com/uk?shauction/
S
INDUSTRY NEW
Keith Davenport (right) receives
his award from Dr David Pool.
OATA hands out Lifetime
Achievement Award
Retired Chief Executive Keith Davenport has been recognised for his
work in the aquatics industry by being awarded OATA?s Lifetime
Achievement Award.
Keith, who spent 25 years at the helm of OATA, was presented the
award at the AQUA2017 show dinner by Dr David Pool.
Keith was recruited at the beginning of the ?90s to help set up and
run a new trade association, originally called OFI UK, to tackle a
number of big issues facing the industry at that time. Renamed OATA
in 1997, he took the organisation from strength to strength, raising
standards and awareness over a quarter of a century. Before joining
OATA, Keith established the ?rst full time courses anywhere in the
world covering ornamental ?sh husbandry, at Sparsholt Agriculture
College and, while there, he also established the National Aquatic
Training centre. Many of the students from these courses, and the
predecessor YTS scheme he taught, still work in the industry and
occupy senior positions within it.
G
FISH SMUGGLIN
CLUB NEWS
ILFORD CLUB CLOSES AFTER
MORE THAN 80 YEARS
Ilford Aquarist?s and Pondkeepers Society will close its doors in December
2017. Ilford AS was formed in 1934 and except for a break due to World War
II, it continued to be the largest society in the south-east.
Vice President Ken Wrightson says: ?This decision has been regretfully
made due to numerous Committee and Club members moving away from
the area, dwindling attendances and nobody being prepared to help keep
the Society going. Only a few years ago we had regular attendances of 40+
people ? guest speakers always remarked how good it was to speak to
such a large audience.
?I feel privileged to have been a member of Ilford AS, having
shared experiences with good like-minded people over many years,?
Ken continues.
He adds that the remaining members are hoping to form a Study
Group which would meet quarterly, so that the name of Ilford AS won?t be
lost completely.
18
Airport police in Manaus, Brazil, seized a huge number of Amazonian ?sh
hidden inside three large suitcases, on October 14.
They discovered a total of 672 ?sh, with seven species in all ? a record
number of species ? including one threatened with extinction and two
undescribed species. They included more than 300 Zebra plecs,
Hypancistrus zebra, which are endemic to a small stretch of the Xingu
River and under increasing threat of extinction due to the construction of
the Belo Monte dam. The ?sh had been packed inside plastic bottles and
bags. Many had bruising and some ? including two stingrays ? died.
Two people were arrested as they attempted to travel to Tabatinga, on
the triple border with Peru and Colombia, from where the ?sh would most
likely have been taken over the border into Colombia. The pair ?
described as ?mules?, similar to those used by drug smugglers ? were
charged with environmental crime and attempted smuggling.
Zebra plec,
Hypancistrus zebra.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Pick up a bargain and
support two worthy causes at
the UK Charity Fish Auction.
Over 670 ?sh seized at
airport in Brazil
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The antisocial set!
This month we look at four non-community ?sh that you?ll
need to house very carefully if you want to avoid carnage...
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: NATHAN HILL
MANUEL?S PIRANHA
There are piranha keepers, and there are
alpha-tier piranha keepers. As a closet
pirahna fan myself (I keep it all a bit
low-key) this is a species I have long
coveted, but even after some 35+ years
as a ?shkeeper, I?m still not con?dent I
could house one successfully.
Manuel?s piranha needs ?awless water
quality. As an aquarist, it would help if
you were borderline neurotic about
testing, and had a few vats of RO on
standby in the event of an emergency.
As well as impeccable water, you need
to offer a good, varied diet. Manueli eats
a certain amount of ?esh ? chunks of
alternated oily and white fresh ?sh make
a good start ? and a degree of fruits and
seeds too. Every week, I?d consider
something like CE Essentials Naturekind
food for the ?green? side of things.
A big tank is vital. Anecdotal reports
suggest 45cm for S. manueli in captivity,
while an unveri?ed comment in a piranha
book hints at a 61cm ?sh. Wow.
In captivity you need to keep Manueli solo.
They?re not gregarious by nature, and any
other tank mate will be bitten or outright
eaten. They also appreciate some ?ow, so get
some circulation pumps running.
Scienti?c name: Serrasalmus manueli
(Serr-ah-sal-muss man-well-eye).
Size: 45cm or more.
Origin: Amazon and Orinoco basins, South
America.
Habitat: Deep, ?owing rivers.
Aquarium size: Minimum 180 x 60cm
footprint.
Water requirements: Close to neutral: 6.8
to 7.3pH, hardness below 12癏.
Temperature: 24 to 28癈.
Temperament: Solitary species, will eat
tank mates and attack hands.
Feeding: Feed only a few times a week with
meaty foods such as prawn, cockle,
mussel, white and oily ?sh. Also ensure
some fruit and veg is offered.
Availability and cost: Rare and expensive,
this ?sh was on sale at a bargain �5.
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
648 l+
5
Seen at
Wharf
Aquatics,
Pinxton.
20
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish in the shops
Predators
to handle
with care!
?By interactive, I mean that
the ?sh lunges at objects
outside of the tank that
happen to be moving...?
SHARP-NOSE PIRANHA
Also known as Sanchez?s piranha
(which technically it isn?t ? it?s a
Pirambeba), keepers of these ?sh
frequently tell me how interactive they
are. Of course, by interactive I mean
that the ?sh lunges at objects outside
of the tank that happen to be moving,
but you get the idea.
Sanchez is a stealth predator that
likes to creep up on prey, going for ?ns
and soft parts ?rst. That?s not to say it
won?t nail another ?sh outright,
because it will. That?s what Piranha and
Pirambeba do. Unlike more common
Piranha types, this one can?t be kept in
a shoal. It?s possible that someone out
there has managed it, but Sanchez is in
the habit of seeing anything in its tank
as food.
Like other Piranha, it comes from
South America (speci?cally Peru) where it
likes to hide itself away in dense vegetation
and wait for prey to pass by. That?s what
you want to try to recreate in any tank you
set up ? lots of dense greenery in a layout
with heavily shaded regions.
Be real careful when it comes to cleaning.
I?ve seen how these things get switched on
by movement, and they could really cause
an injury to the careless aquarist.
Scienti?c name: Serrasalmus sanchezi
(Serr-ah-sal-muss san-chez-eye).
Size: To 15cm.
Origin: Peru, South America.
Habitat: Slow rivers and pools, amongst
dense plants.
Aquarium size: Minimum 120 x 30cm.
Water requirements: Ideally slightly soft
and acidic, but quite tolerant: 6.5 to
7.5pH, hardness below 16癏.
Temperature: 24 to 28癈.
Temperament: Solitary species, will eat
tank mates and attack hands.
Feeding: Feed only a few times a week
with meaty foods such as prawn, cockle,
mussel, white and oily ?sh. Avoid
terrestrial meats like beef or chicken.
Availability and cost: Not common at all,
this ?sh was on sale for �.95.
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
108 l+
5
Seen at
Wharf
Aquatics,
Pinxton
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
21
GREEN ?RESHA? FEATHERFIN
Here?s a juvenile ?sh that?ll look nothing
like this when it?s an adult.
When mature, it has a unique nose,
which gives it the scienti?c name, with a
pronounced conk that sticks out over the
lips ? males show this off more than
females, and it develops best in the most
territorial ?sh.
In the wild, these ?sh will form a group
of individuals around a metre or two
above the bottom of their habitats, where
they collectively forage.
Like most Tanganyikan cichlids, the
species is subject to huge variation on a
geographic basis, and while you?ll see
some types that develop into yellow
adults, the Resha variant here grows into
a grey-green adult. All Ophthalmotilapia
develop the most wonderful, extended
ventral ?ns with bright ?bulbs? at the end, and
the Resha is no exception.
These are plankton feeders rather than
aufwuchs grazers (though they?ll indulge
from time to time) so plenty of free
swimming foods should be offered ?
Daphnia wouldn?t be a bad idea.
Spawning involves the building of a huge
bower (think of a volcano shape
constructed out of sand) which the male
guards ferociously.
G Scienti?c name: Ophthalmotilapia nasuta
?Resha? (Off-thal-mo-till-app-ee-ah
nah-soo-ta).
G Size: To around 20cm.
G Origin: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika.
G Habitat: Over huge boulders with no
vegetation.
G Tank size: Minimum 120 x 30cm footprint.
G Water requirements: Very hard and
alkaline: 8.4 to 8.8pH, hardness above
30癏.
G Temperature: Around 26癈.
G Temperament: Aggressive, territorial
G Feeding: Sinking pellets and granules,
live and frozen Daphnia, Cyclops and
bloodworm. Frozen Calanus.
G Availability and price: Rare import,
specialist retailers only. This ?sh were
on sale at �.95.
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
108 l+
5
Seen at
Wharf
Aquatics,
Pinxton.
22
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish in the shops
For hard
water tanks
only!
CYGNUS FAIRY CICHLID
Anyone who has dabbled in Tanganyikan
cichlids will have kept a Neolamprologus
of some kind. For those that haven?t,
here?s what you need to know.
Neolamprologus are small and feisty.
As in, I?ve seen videos of them attacking
a diver?s face kind of feisty.
They need a specialist tank, something
big with real hard, alkaline water and a
lot of rocks to swim amongst. Not little
beach cobble type rocks, either. Get a
120cm tank and get big lumps in the
45cm long mark.
The Cygnus fairy was, for a while,
recognised as a variant of
Neolamprologus falcicula, but cichlid
guru Ad Konings (it?s pretty safe to defer
to Ad for Tanganyikan cichlid data ? it?s
kind of his life?s work) considers them a
standalone species. While N. falcicula
excavates homes for itself, the Cygnus
inhabits existing cracks and narrow caves.
Don?t get too excited about the stunning
mottling over the face. That striking orange
?birthmark? colouring eventually pales off in
adults, leading to a deep magenta/beige mix
so familiar to the genus. Still lovely though.
G Scienti?c name: Neolamprologus sp.
?cygnus? (Nee-oh-lam-pro-low-gus
sig-nuss).
G Size: To 8.1cm.
G Origin: Southern Tanzanian shore of Lake
Tanganyika.
G Habitat: Rocky substrates and giant
boulders. Lives in cracks and caves.
G Tank size: Minimum 100 x 30cm footprint.
G Water requirements: Very hard and
alkaline: 8.4 to 8.8pH, hardness 30癏+.
G Temperature: 23 to 27癈.
G Temperament: Territorial, aggressive.
G Feeding: Sinking pellets and granules, live
and frozen Daphnia, Cyclops and
bloodworm. Frozen Calanus.
G Availability and price: Unusual but not
exactly rare. These ?sh were on sale at
�95.
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
90 l+
5
Seen at
Wharf
Aquatics,
Pinxton.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
23
TANKCOMMUNITY
The place to share your ?sh, tanks, letters and photos
FORUM
Find the popular ?shkeeping
forum at http://forum.practical
?shkeeping.co.uk.
Howlonghaveyou
leftyourtank
unchanged?
Jeroen
Wijnands
My aquarium has been
running now for four years
and 11 months. In that time,
the planting has evolved but I
have left the hardscape pretty
much unchanged, and half
the plants are the same. I just
wondered how long other
?shkeepers have left their
set-ups unchanged for.
LukeBescoby
About a month!
PaulFoley
Two years.
Miranda
Belcher
About two years for me on a
couple of tanks... a couple
of months probably for all
the others!
Secret
aquarist?
My wife presented me with my
second wedding anniversary
present at the weekend and I
thought I would take a moment
to share it with you.
I have enjoyed ?shkeeping
ever since my girlfriend at 17
(now my wife) bought me a 60 l
community tank. I arrived home
to ?nd she had left school and
with the help of her dad had
completed the set-up with ?sh
and all ? without question it
was the best present to date.
Fast forward 12 years and we
now have a house and of course
a ?sh tank. I keep a 200 l Aqua
Oak planted community tank in
our hobby room. I take great
enjoyment from it but as we all
know, this hobby is addictive
and I keep wanting more. On
many occasions I have
expressed my intrigue at the
small shrimp varieties but in a
community aquarium, breeding
was rarely successful.
And so, this weekend I arrived
home and my wife had once
The ?shrimpium?, bought and
aquascaped by the talented
Mrs McSpadden.
again surprised me with a superb
present. She had bought,
aquascaped and set up, a nano
aquarium just for shrimp ? she
BobMehen
I tend to keep my
stock for a long time, but
?ddle with the decor every
year or so, usually under the
excuse of cleaning, but really
because I like a change of
view. Personally, I think you
need to run most tanks for
a couple of years to see
them (and the ?sh) at their
mature best.
Scott?s larger community tank.
24
SCOTT McSPADDEN, EMAIL
The writer of each star letter will win a 250ml pot of their choice
from this quality range of food, which uses natural ingredients.
Email: editorial@practical?shkeeping.co.uk
About 18 months on
the big tank ? although it?s
just the plants that I?ve
changed, the hardscape is
the same.
I?ve upgraded my
aquarium recently and
slightly changed the
hardscape, but my stock has
been more or less the same
for the last 15 months.
calls it a ?shrimpium?. I?ve
attached a picture because I?m
not just impressed with the
sentiment but with the quality. I
am in awe of the ?scape she
created in the 10 l space and it
far surpasses what I could have
created. It?s easy on the eye and
the hardscape and planting
works superbly. A hidden talent
it would seem.
So, in summary, she buys me
the tank that gets me hooked, a
PFK subscription last year and
now a ?rst class shrimpium; I
think she might be the secret
hobbyist in the family!
Win FishScience aquarium food
NickyArthur
George Brown
+
STAR
letter
JOIN THE PFK COMMUNITY
There are ?ve different ways to get in touch with Practical Fishkeeping: Tweet, like us on Facebook, drop us an
email, join the forum or simply send a good old-fashioned letter:
editorial@practical?shkeeping.co.uk
facebook.com. Search Practical Fishkeeping
http://forum.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
twitter.com/PFKmagazine
Practical Fishkeeping, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TANKCOMMUNITY
FROM
FACEBOOK
Responses to our
question ?What?s the
most under-rated ?sh
out there??
SHUTTERSTOCK
Glowlight tetra.
Ben Pendell: Alotofthe
smallercat?shseemtobeas
hardasnails,andlastfor
years!GuppiesandPlaties
arebilledasbeginner?sh,but
I?veyettogetmorethansix
monthsfromaPlaty.They
justseemtocatchany
diseasegoing.
Rebecca Bentley: Ithinkin
termsofshoaling?sh,
rainbowsneedmorecredit!
Japanesegold?shdon?treally
getasmuchattentionasthey
deserveeither,probably
becausepeoplerarelyever
seethem.EventheRanchuin
shopsareofChineseor
Thaiorigin.
Martin Payne: Yellow
phantomtetra.Absolutely
lovethem.Greatlittle?sh.
Inquisitiveandshoalwell.I
have12inmytankwithsome
Flametetra.
Anke Mo: Glowlighttetra.
Theyaresobeautifulina
heavilyplantedtankand
muchbettersuitedina
smallerset-upthantheactive
rasbora.
O Red dwarfs
The Red Sakura shrimp is one of the brightest
colour varieties of Cherry shrimp and makes
a striking addition to any tank with suitably
small tank mates. These ones are picking over
an oak leaf in Emily Cook?s tank.
Leave the ?sh as
nature intended
Theresa Fasching:
Trichopsispumila,forever
myfavourite.Andnobody
elseeverhasthem.
Jacki Learmonth:
Microdevariokubotai(Neon
greenrasbora)andBoraras
urophthalmoides(Sparrow
rasbora).Mostnano?share
under-rated.
Cathy Crummay: Tilapia
guinasana.Ilovethem.
Darren Paul: Anytypeof
cory.
Christopher Fraser: Glass
cat?sh.
Vishaal Dalal: Badissp.
Theyhavelotsofcharacter
andareveasytokeep.
Tessa Walsh: Greenneon
tetra. They are so beautiful
when a lot are kept together!
Donnie Hutchins: White
Cloud Mountain Minnow.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
OKing of the whiptails
While many ?plecs? are lumbering, armoured tanks, the
giant whiptails (Sturisoma sp.) are graceful, cryptic ?sh that
make a wonderful addition to suitably peaceful aquariums.
This magni?cent specimen belongs to David Price.
I write in response to Adam Kennedy?s
letter, published in the December issue
of PFK.
I am returning to ?shkeeping after a
lay-off of some 30-odd years. Walking
around some of the retailers I am shocked
at how the ?sh have changed. Why does
man insist on having to modify what
mother nature gave us? Some of the
monstrosities that are available are
hideous ? what is wrong with ?sh as they
should be in the wild?
I can remember seeing wild caught
Discus that looked so elegant and were
truly King of the Aquarium. Now we have
these blingy-coloured ?sh that only
vaguely resemble their original wild
caught cousins of yesteryear.
What is the fascination with long ?nned
?sh? I know man has been messing about
with Guppies ever since Noah was a boy,
but why do we need long ?nned Zebra
danios and the like?
The advancements in equipment I can
only applaud, but please leave the ?sh to
look as they should do.
Call me old fashioned but I much prefer
?sh as mother nature made them.
Keep up the good work with the
magazine, by the way.
JOHN WHITE, EMAIL
OThe Key to a peaceful
cichlid
Keyhole cichlids, Cleithracara maronii, are
peaceful, smaller cichlids that have remained
popular for decades. This beautiful ?sh
belongs to Jan Cremetti.
U
25
OFlying the ?ag with a smile
The Dwarf ?ag cichlid, Laetacara curviceps, is a
lovely, underrated South American species also
known as the Smiling cichlid due to the pattern
around its mouth that makes it look happy! This
group is settling into Tracey Parker?s aquarium.
CONTACT US
Address Practical Fishkeeping,
Bauer Media, Media House,
Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA
Email: karen.youngs@bauermedia.co.uk
If you or someone you know
are aged between 16 and
24 and are interested in
work experience
opportunities at Practical Fishkeeping
go to www.gothinkbig.co.uk
EDITORIAL Phone 01733 468000
Editor Karen Youngs
Features Editor Nathan Hill
Art Editor Katie Wilkinson
Editorial Assistant Nicki Manning
ADVERTISING Phone 01733 468000
Key Accounts Stephen Tanner
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Lucy Baxter
MARKETING Phone 01733 468329
Brand Manager Lynne Fairburn
Direct Marketing Julie Spires
Head of Newstrade Marketing
Leon Benoiton
Deputy Newstrade Marketing Manager
Samantha Tomblin
PRODUCTION Phone 01733 468000
OWho needs Neons?
Few ?sh can match the neon
blue glow of Paracheirodon,
but a mature Colombian tetra,
Hyphessobrycon columbianus, will
certainly give them a run for their
money. This gorgeous ?sh belongs
to Mike Longshaw.
Print Production Manager
Richard Woolley
Advertising Production
Nicholas Greenwood
Printed by Wyndeham Group in the UK
Distributed by Frontline
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Group Managing Director
Rob Munro-Hall
OIf looks could kill...
While the Laetacara at the top of
the page may have a smile on their
faces, Michael Huthart?s Turquoise
cichlid, Kronoheros umbriferus,
looks far from happy having its
photo taken!
O Going native
The UK may be short on
freshwater ?sh variety,
but you can still put
together a lovely little
local biotope
aquarium like Neil
Barton has here,
using Sticklebacks,
Gasterosteus aculeatus,
and Minnows, Phoxinus
phoxinus.
26
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TANKCOMMUNITY
Me & my
TANK
Mike describes his tanks as
?dark and atmospheric?.
My current ?sh
? Fishkeeper: Mike Calnun.
? Age: 44.
? Occupation: IT salesman.
? Whereabouts? Manchester.
? Time in the hobby: Off and on, all
my life.
? Number of tanks? Six. The main one
is a 120 x 60 x 30cm/48 x 24 x 12in
blackwater tank.
What attracted you to the hobby?
Diversity mainly. Seeing all the fantastic
blackwater tanks online re-kindled my
interest and I haven?t looked back since.
How would you describe your
tanks?
Dark and atmospheric.
What?s your favourite ?sh?
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE CALNUN UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED
Harking back to my childhood, it was always
the Red tailed shark. I?d really like to do a
large biotope for one of these one day. They
get a bad reputation due to the dross you see
in many LFS tanks.
What?s the most challenging ?sh
you have ever kept?
That would be Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. I
have had several pairs over the years. They
can be ?ne one day, and the next they have
jumped or are just plain old dead despite
there having been no changes to water
quality or conditions. They are still an
enigma to me.
And the easiest?
Cardinal tetras are bomb-proof. Being a
northerner, our water is very soft and they
seem to thrive. I?ve had my current 12
Cardinal tetras in ?ve different aquariums
28
? 12 Cardinal tetras, Paracheirodon
axelrodi
? Six Corydoras loxozonus
? Pair of German blue Rams,
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
? 14 Otocinclus sp.
? Pair L199 Hypancistrus furunculus
? One L201 Hypancistrus sp.
? 12 Marbled hatchet?sh, Carnegiella
marthae
? Six Corydoras melini
? Six Corydoras trilineatus
Mike has
found Ram
cichlids
particularly
challenging.
over the last 18 months with no issues
at all.
Do you have a favourite plant?
Plants are so 1990s. Botanicals and leaves are
the future. There are some fantastic seed
pods available at Tannin Aquatics and
Blackwater UK. I?m slowly working my way
through the catalogue. Snapping Lampada
pods are just awesome.
My advice for
beginners
To have any measure of success in the
hobby, patience is key. Read a lot and
only listen to recommended aquarists
in online groups. There is a lot of
misleading ? and simply wrong ?
information posted online.
Save money: Buy quality equipment.
Cheaper stuff ends up getting
replaced much sooner. I learned this
the hard way.
Save time: I?d suggest preparing
water prior to changes, but otherwise
time and nature are your friends here.
Things I wish I?d known: That I?d
eventually need a much bigger house.
Ideally one with a massive cellar!
Hypancistrus furunculus.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Like many ?shkeepers, Mike
is discovering the joys of
leaves and seed pods...
...and so are his cat?sh.
My wish list...
NATHAN HILL
Ivanacara
adoketa.
Dicrossus
?lamentosus.
ALAMY
Corydoras loxozonus.
Marbled
hatchet?sh.
PHOTOMAX
Corydoras trilineatus.
Which ?sh would you like to keep next?
Checkerboard cichlids, Dicrossus ?lamentosus ? very underrated
?sh and I?m all about dwarf cichlids at the moment. My ?dream? ?sh
would be a pair of wild Ivanacara adoketa ? simply stunning and
one day, they will be mine.
What would be your dream aquarium?
A massive blackwater river bank, with about 1000 Marbled hatchets
and other South American delights, if space wasn?t an issue.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
29
ALAMY
Mandarins spawn around
dusk on natural reefs, with
the event preceded by an
elaborate courtship.
T
?S
OMPANY
Marine
While many marine ?sh species are best kept singly
to avoid con?ict, there are some which do very well
in pairs ? and they may even breed for you!
WORDS: TRISTAN LOUGHER
I
was fascinated in my youth, watching
the courtship and breeding of
tropical freshwater ?sh such as
Kribensis and Dwarf gouramis in my
community aquarium. The fact that my ?sh
were sufficiently content in their
surroundings to even consider breeding
always felt like an achievement.
In the marine aquarium just getting a pair
of ?sh to live together can be challenge.
After all, many saltwater ?sh are intolerant
of tank mates with even remotely similar
appearances let alone members of the same
species, and there is a tendency in the
marine hobby to have rather arti?cial
scenarios where single individuals of a
particular species and sex are stocked.
While there?s nothing wrong with this
approach, you could be missing out on some
interesting behaviour and interaction.
There are many species of marine ?sh that
can be maintained in male-female pairs, but
some require a little skill to determine the
gender of an individual. The good news is
that with a few notable exceptions the
characteristics of those species listed here
can be applied to the other members of their
genus. Therefore, what applies to one
swallow-tailed angel?sh species for
example, can be applied to all members of
the genus Genicanthus.
The species I?ve listed here have separate
sexes that can be identi?ed without too
much trouble, although it always pays to
observe interactions between individuals
before purchase. Some of these ?sh begin
their reproductive ?careers? as the opposite
sex to which they might end their lives. In
their natural environment this might mean
that a dominant individual dies leaving a
niche to be ?lled into which the best placed
individual of the opposite sex will move. We
see this in anemone?sh (Premnas and
Amphiprion spp.) in which the dominant
and larger individual is female, having
changed from a male, and in haremic
species such as anthias (Pseudanthias spp.)
where females have a marked pecking order
with the uppermost individual best placed
to replace the male should he meet an
untimely end.
So, if we want to keep ?sh in pairs in a
saltwater set-up, what are the options?
Some ?sh seem
oblivious to the
aquarist as they
court and breed.
Others may spawn
regularly without
you ever knowing.
Advantages of keeping
?sh in pairs
Perhaps the most obvious reason for
keeping a pair of a particular species is the
hope that it will result in courtship and
spawning and all that they involve.
Sometimes this behaviour is obvious,
particularly for groups of ?sh such as the
anemone?sh that are seemingly oblivious to
intrusive eyes of aquarists as they court and
breed. Others may spawn regularly in the
aquarium without you ever knowing. Think
of ?sh such as burrow-living gobies or
crevice dwelling dottybacks and grammas
What is...?
SEXUAL DIMORPHISM: Differences
between males and females from the
same species consisting of variations in
shape, colour, size and structure.
SEXUAL DICHROMATISM: Differences
in colour between males and females of
the same species.
and it is easy to see how they could evade
even the most observant of aquarist?s eyes.
But there are other reasons to keep a pair
of ?sh, such as sexual dimorphism. Think of
the enormous number of wrasse species
available in the hobby and then also
consider that the majority show marked
differences between male and female
individuals in terms of size and colour.
Therefore, by stocking a single species one
might get two different sized, differently
coloured individuals that may also interact
in highly interesting ways.
There can also be bene?ts to the ?sh
themselves in maintaining them in a more
naturalistic way. They may settle more
easily when introduced into a new
aquarium because seeing members of their
own species on a regular basis is the norm.
Put simply, one ?sh might hide in the
aquarium whereas two are on display
practically all the time.
Look at the diversity of species available
and select those that are best suited to your
ALAMY
Bluethroat triggers can be
kept in pairs in larger systems
? and they?re reef safe, too.
32
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
Did
?
you
know
Yasha gobies settle more
quickly in the presence of an
Alpheid pistol shrimp
with which to share a burrow.
ALAMY
A ?pair? usually describes two
individuals of reproductive age
and opposite sexes, but there
are some exceptions. In the
hermaphroditic hamlets of the
genus Hypoplectrus, both male
and female reproductive organs
are present and mature at the
same time. This simultaneous
hermaphroditism means that
the ?sh can take it in turns to
undertake each role; sperm
production or egg development.
Potential issues
Where there are marked differences in size
between members of the opposite sex, you
might ?nd the larger individual intolerant of
tank mates and occasionally aggressive
towards its own species. This can result in
lots of chasing and bickering at best and
fatalities at worst. Research potential stock
before purchase and take steps to mitigate
any anticipated problems by stocking the
?sh in a sufficiently large aquarium or
providing plenty of hiding places for smaller
?sh to take cover until things settle down.
Pairs are not always easy to lay your hands
on. In some high value species, such as the
rarer fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus spp.), pairs
are occasionally the only way you can
purchase them (and usually at a premium).
But in other species where only one sex is
particularly colourful, it is these colourful
specimens that are collected for export
rather than the less desirable opposite sex.
This can make trying to source a pair very
frustrating, and it?s worth asking if your
local retailer can put a request into their
wholesalers to look out for the difficult-to?nd individuals of a particular sex.
It can be difficult to positively identify the
females of those less colourful species when
they are all remarkably similar in pattern
and colour. This is particularly problematic
in wrasse genera such as Cirrhilabrus fairy
wrasse and Paracheilinus ?asher wrasse,
where males are brightly coloured and
larger than the females, which are almost
uniformly red, occasionally with a few thin
stripes or bars of contrasting pigment. In
such cases knowing a little about the origin
of the ?sh concerned is useful, along with
what ?sh arrived in the same shipment.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
Girls will be boys ? sometimes!
Species in which both sexes are colourful are widely available, like the beautiful
members of the wrasse genera Halichoeres and Macropharyngodon. These genera
contain species that are protogynous hermaphrodites (functional females ?rst then, if
the opportunity arises, they become functional males). In some species from both
genera differences between males and females in terms of colour and pattern can be
striking with each beautiful in its own way. With these genera you also have the option
of putting two female or juvenile specimens into the same aquarium and letting them
sort themselves out; typically the larger individual will assert itself over the smaller and
become male. Unfortunately, this doesn?t always happen, and the aquarist is
occasionally left with two female individuals that seem content with their gender and
not inclined to change?
Blue star leopard wrasse,
Macropharyngodon bipartitus.
The larger of two individuals
will usually become male.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
individual aquarium. There are some
notable examples given here that do not
include some of the more obvious groups of
?sh such as damsel?sh (Pomacentridae),
cardinal?sh such as the Banggai
cardinal?sh, Pterapogon kauderni, and the
obvious anemone?sh (Amphiprion and
Premnas spp.) and many more.
33
9 great ?sh to keep in pairs
PSYCHEDELIC MANDARIN DRAGONET
One of the most iconic of the commonly available marine ?sh. Spawning takes place
around dusk, preceded by elaborate courtship in which both sexes swim side by side,
touching ?anks upwards in the water column until, with a quick separation, sperm and
eggs are released. This behaviour is repeated on a regular basis.
ANDREAS MARZ, CREATIVE COMMONS
O Scienti?c name: Synchiropus splendidus.
OSize: Around 9cm.
OOrigin: Tropical Indo-West Paci?c from Ryuku Islands in the North to Australia.
OAquarium size: Either keep a pair in a dedicated smallish aquarium (100 l maximum) to
which you can add plenty of live and frozen food to ensure they ?nd enough to eat, or
provide a larger system with abundant, mature live rock and tank mates that won?t
compete for the naturally occurring crustacean fauna that should become sustainable over
time. Keeping two individuals means you will need plenty of this type of food.
OTemperament: Usually peaceful but can behave aggressively towards members of the
same sex or, occasionally towards similar species.
OEase of keeping: Can be problematic due to issues surrounding feeding.
OAvailability and cost: Males widely available; females less so. Putting two males together
can result in the death of one, so ensure they are sexed correctly. Price �?� each.
Captive bred Mandarins may cost twice this but issues with feeding are often reduced.
CHERUB ANGELFISH
O Scienti?c name: Centropyge argi.
O Size: Around 7.5cm.
O Origin: Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico south in the Tropical Western Atlantic to French Guyana.
O Aquarium size: 250 l will accommodate a pair given the provision of plentiful nooks
and crannies.
O Temperament: Cherubs are anything but angelic, particularly the males. They will dominate
other Centropyge angel?sh and possibly even kill them in more con?ned aquaria, so are best
kept with small, streetwise ?sh that present little threat to them or their browsing areas, or
with equally robust species such as tangs and surgeon?sh.
O Ease of keeping: Well settled individuals are hardy but check they are feeding well before
purchase. Offer dried algae on a lettuce clip regularly.
O Availability and cost: Sporadic but worth waiting for. Around �?� per ?sh.
BRIAN GRATWICKE
SHUTTERSTOCK
CLEANER PIPEFISH
O Scienti?c name: Doryrhamphus excisus.
O Size: Around 6.5cm.
O Origin: A relatively enormous range from
the Western Indian Ocean including the
Persian Gulf to the Eastern Paci?c.
O Aquarium size: 60 l minimum for a pair
provided that excellent water quality can be
guaranteed. This species will handle a
larger aquarium with more boisterous ?sh
but it is likely to be more reclusive under
these circumstances.
O Temperament: Very peaceful towards other
species but males are extremely intolerant
of one another and this can result in the
death of the weaker individual.
O Ease of keeping: Success or failure with this
?sh centres almost entirely on the ability to
get them to accept readily available
foodstuffs. Live foods will almost always
provoke a feeding response but many
The Cherub angel?sh forms monogamous pairs and yet is, like all other members of the
genus, a protogynous hermaphrodite meaning that it begins its reproductive life as a fem
and then becomes male as circumstances allow. Males are larger than females and this
really the only clue that aquarists have to the sex of individuals. Pairing them can be diffi
but is not impossible and begins by selecting two individuals showing a signi?cant size
difference; space helps as individuals are able to get away from one another if necessary
until one, most likely the larger individual, undergoes the transition from female to male.
34
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
Marine
ORCHID DOTTYBACK
individuals will take frozen brine shrimp
and/or Mysis. Don?t be afraid of offering
Mysis shrimp even though it can look almost
as wide as the ?sh itself as these ?sh can
take quite large particles of food ? or
simply snip the tails from them beforehand.
OAvailability and cost: You may have to
request a pair from your dealer but unsexed
?sh are frequently available in wholesaler?s
systems. Price between �?� per pair.
OScienti?c name: Pseudochromis fridmani.
OSize: Around 6cm.
OOrigin: Endemic to the Red Sea.
OAquarium size: A pair can be housed in a 60 l system. In their natural reef environment,
several individuals may be found per square metre.
OTemperament: Usually peaceful but can bully smaller ?sh especially if they encroach on
the territory of a male?s preferred spawning site.
OEase of keeping: Easy and relatively undemanding. Captive bred specimens are
available.
OAvailability and cost: Good; expect to pay �?� per specimen.
Sexing these pipe?sh is easy although it
might mean very close observation with
smaller specimens. Males have a series of
bumps or nodules along the upper surface of
their short snouts that are absent in the
females. It can take a little time to get one?s
eye and it certainly helps to have a group of
individuals to compare. While it can prove
difficult to breed, successful spawnings are
apparent as the male carries the eggs in a
pouch located on his underside.
Sexing Orchid dottybacks is, on paper at least, reasonably straightforward. Males
display an elongate lower lobe to the tail ?n absent in females. This difference can be
observed in very small ?sh making the acquisition of pairs relatively simple. Kept as a
pair, the Orchid dottyback will almost certainly reward you with regular spawnings
although these may not be visible, merely inferred from the behaviour of the ?sh.
Males guard a ?nest? ? typically a hole or crevice into which he entices the female to lay
her eggs. These form a small (1?1.5cm) diameter cluster which he guards until they
hatch. During this time he is very unlikely to feed or be visible at all in the aquarium.
Given that spawning can occur every 6?10 days he may be off display almost as much
as he is out and about!
BLUETHROAT TRIGGERFISH
ALAMY
OScienti?c Name: Xanthichthys auromarginatus.
OSize: To 23cm.
OOrigin: Widespread in the tropical Indo-Paci?c from East Africa
to Hawaii.
OAquarium size: 350 l minimum for a pair.
OTemperament: Not an overly aggressive trigger?sh species.
OEase of keeping: Relatively easy. May be initially timid.
OAvailability and cost: Good; around �?� each depending on size.
The beautiful Xanthichthys are well-known for their marked sexual
dichromatism and for being among the most reef safe of all trigger?sh.
The Bluethroat is the most commonly available and affordable species
in the genus and may be purchased as pairs or as single individuals. As
they are easy to sex with the male having the blue throat and yellow
edge to dorsal and ventral ?ns, you can save a few pounds by making
up your own pair.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
35
CARPENTER?S FLASHER WRASSE
OScienti?c name: Paracheilinus carpenteri.
OSize: To 7.5cm.
OOrigin: Western Paci?c including the collection hotspots of the Philippines and Indonesia.
OAquarium size: 100 l minimum for a pair offer the female plenty of space to avoid the advances
of the male should she need to.
OTemperament: Males can be assertive and bossy. The extent to which this is a problem will
depend on tank mates and the size of the aquarium but it rarely becomes too much of an issue.
OEase of keeping: Quite an easy species provided it is feeding when purchased. A lid is
compulsory for this jumper.
OAvailability and cost: Males are almost always available as they are relatively inexpensive,
colourful, reef safe and have a modest size potential. They will typically will set you back
between �?�. Females can be trickier to ?nd, are and tend to be less expensive.
O Scienti?c name: Stonogobiops yasha.
O Size: Around 6cm.
O Origin: Tropical Western Paci?c. Frequently collected from Indonesia, particularly islands
surrounding and including Bali but also ranging to the Great Barrier Reef and into the
Central Paci?c.
O Aquarium size: 50 l upwards.
O Temperament: Typically peaceful unless kept with a same-sex individual. Males will ?ght
to the death unless the aquarist intervenes.
O Ease of keeping: Easier when kept with a suitable species of Alpheid pistol shrimp with
which it enjoys a symbiotic relationship; the shrimp builds a burrow in which both animals
reside and the goby acts as the eyes of the near-blind crustacean. Newly imported
individuals can show signi?cant weight loss and be reluctant to feed but placed in a
peaceful aquarium with a pistol shrimp and they soon settle and begin to accept food
readily. Weight is regained easily.
O Availability and cost: Sporadic; expect to pay �?� per ?sh.
LABOUT?S FAIRY
WRASSE
O Scienti?c name: Cirrhilabrus laboutei.
O Size: Around 12cm.
O Origin: Great Barrier Reef, New
Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.
O Aquarium size: A pair will need a system
of 250 l minimum to afford both
swimming space and the ability to avoid
each other if necessary.
O Temperament: A typical fairy wrasse that
may be short-tempered with similar
species or those occupying a similar
niche in the aquarium. This seldom
results in actual damage.
O Ease of keeping: Relatively
straightforward. Ensure a ?rmly ?tting
lid is on the aquarium to prevent these
?sh jumping.
O Availability and cost: Reasonably good.
NEIL HEPWORTH
The Yasha goby is one of the few species of shrimp-goby that can be sexed easily.
Although it is perfectly possible to maintain pairs of many other species only a handful
show any degree of sexual dimorphism, so it?s a case of trial and error. The Yasha goby
male has a red-edged black blob of pigment on the rear edge of its pelvic ?ns ? these are
the ?ns that are fused in many gobies and used as a prop to rest
upon in shrimp gobies. Females lack any pigment in this
area. Note that stressed males may display very little in the
way of pigment in this area or a faded patch at best.
36
ALAMY
YASHA SHRIMP GOBY
ALAMY
Although actually a haremic species in which a dominant male may court and spawn with
many females, pairs of this wrasse can work rather well in the aquarium. Males can be rather
short-tempered with the female so provide space for them to avoid one another and plenty of
holes and crevices in abundant rockwork for her to retreat into should he get too boisterous.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
BELLUS ANGELFISH
O Scienti?c name: Genicanthus bellus.
O Size: Around 12?15cm.
O Origin: Moderately deep to deep water from Cocos Keeling Island in the Indian Ocean to the
Western Paci?c including the Philippines and other, more remote island chains.
O Aquarium size: 350 l or more to offer decent swimming space for a pair.
O Temperament: Generally very peaceful, particularly for angel?sh. Females are more
peaceful than males however and there should be plenty of space for both swimming and
hiding for females and other pelagic tank mates as dominant males can be short tempered.
O Ease of keeping: Acquiring healthy specimens is the key to success. This species is typically
found in depths over 45m on exposed seaward reefs and over steep drop-offs. Some
specimens refuse to feed whereas others can display buoyancy issues that result from being
taken to the surface too quickly after collection. The good news is that healthy specimens
usually thrive.
O Availability and cost: Reasonably good. Females being smaller than the males are less
expensive at around �?�. Males are likely to cost you �0+.
Swallowtailed angel?sh show marked sexual dimorphism and distinct sexual
dichromatism. Males are larger and, being a protogynous hermaphrodite, females may
undergo a transition to males under the right circumstances. They may also change back
which can make choosing a pair quite interesting, if not a little frustrating. Pairs are
occasionally offered for sale but they are also easy to make up from individuals.
Alternatively, you could attempt to form pairs or even harems by stocking two or more
female specimens and allowing them to sort out amongst themselves which one will
become male. These ?sh are reef safe additions for larger aquaria ? the sometimesboisterous males may chase smaller ?sh meaning that space and plenty of refuges are
required in the system. Otherwise they are generally uncomplicated ?sh to keep.
Females being smaller generally cost
around �; larger males �?�
depending on size and origin.
Male Bellus angel?sh...
NEIL HEPWORTH
In many fairy wrasse species the males
are brightly coloured, while females are
more typically red or pink with a paler
belly. So, here the separation of the sexes
is solely down to the physical size of the
?sh, as males are substantially larger. For
the many other species of fairy wrasse
available in the hobby the problem in
maintaining pairs can be acquiring the
females as they are less frequently
imported than the more colourful males.
Exceptions do occur, and higher value
species are often sold in pairs but
interested aquarists need deep pockets to
afford them.
Have some patience and a good
relationship with a dealer and they will
often keep their eyes open for pairs.
NEIL HEPWORTH
...and this is the female.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
37
REKINDLING
MP & C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
Gabor Horvath gets reaquainted with a ?rst
love and discovers that the ?re is burning as
strongly now as it was over 30 years ago.
Favourite ?sh
Flame tetras are small,
peaceful, colourful and
affordable ? what?s not to like?
THE FLAME
I
t?s often advised not to warm up a
relationship with your ex, and
especially not with your ??rst? one.
You can end up being disappointed
(again), as your memories are often biased
towards all those good things which
happened a long time ago.
Fortunately, my recently renewed
relationship with a ?rst ?ame proved a real
success story. Although the effects of the
past three decades were visible, their
original prettiness and charm remained
unchanged. But before anyone ? including
my wife ? misunderstands me, I?m
talking about a well-known, yet often
overlooked little ?sh, the Flame tetra,
Hyphessobrycon ?ammeus.
These ?sh originate from the vicinity of
Rio de Janeiro and began to appear in
European ?sh tanks as early as the 1920s.
Being very undemanding and tolerating
unheated aquariums as low as 18癈/64癋,
they quickly became ?rm favourites. Their
small size (3.5cm/1.4in), peaceful nature
and bright colours have also contributed to
this success. They were (and still are)
affordable, which really helped me to fall in
love with them.
First encounter
We need to travel back in time to the early
80s for the full story. Being a teenager I was
hungry for success in every aspect of my life
and saw competition in everyone and
everywhere. This included the local
aquarist club, which I was a member of back
then. Having kept ?sh for more than eight
years by that time, I considered myself a
kind of expert (with ?ve tanks), especially
among my peers. Unfortunately, my
breeding successes were limited to
livebearers and cichlids. Although I
managed to spawn Betta several times the
lack of proper fry-food and Artemia eggs
clearly see the distinguishing broad black
edge marking on his anal ?n. The female
also had some black on hers, but that of the
male looked as if it had been drawn with a
thick eye-liner.
meant I was unable to raise any fry.
So, I was very keen to make some progress
on the breeding front, especially since my
good friend (and biggest rival) had
succeeded in rearing a small shoal of Zebra
danios. As I considered the danios too easy
(well, it was obvious, if my friend had
managed to breed them...) I wanted to up my
game with a more difficult ?sh, and I set my
eye on the tetras.
After a consultation with the club?s
president I acquired a pair of Flame tetras. I
knew it would have been better to start with
a small shoal, but my then very limited
resources only allowed me to buy a pair,
even at the relatively low price they had
been sold at. However, as a bonus I also got a
small pack of Artemia eggs, which were
more valuable than gold to me at the time.
Prior to getting the ?sh I read every bit of
available information about Flame tetras
(this wasn?t difficult as I only had one, albeit
very comprehensive aquarist book), and set
up a small, 20 l breeding tank for them.
Because RO water was unknown back
then and I lived in an industrial city where
the rainwater was very dirty, I had no
choice, but to ?ll up the tank with tapwater.
I knew that the very hard (over 25癏) and
alkaline (8.0pH) water was far from ideal,
but I hoped for the best. The bottom of the
tank was covered with glass marbles to
provide some protection to the eggs I was
hoping to see. A bunch of Java moss was
also added as a hiding space and potential
spawning media. I added the only heater I
had next to the air-driven sponge ?lter.
The newly purchased ?sh felt at home
straight away and the much more slender
male began to show his true colours to his
attractively curvy companion. The rear half
of his body turned into an almost uniform
bright ?ame red, justifying the name given
to them. He stretched his ?ns and I could
Spawning success
I watched their joyful chase for a while, but
then the lights were switched off and
everyone retired for the night. I was up early
next morning, when the ?rst rays of the
rising sun reached the spawning tank. In
that beautiful morning light the pair began
their ritual, meaning lots of chasing and
colour ?ashing from the male?s side.
Knowing that Flame tetra females can be
temperamental and picky I was worried
about the response. Fortunately, his lady
also got into the mood and soon they were
shaking side-by-side. The male held his
partner close with a small hook on his anal
?n and the pair sprinkled eggs and milt all
over the decoration and the tank bottom.
40
ALAMY
GABOR HORVATH
Gabor?s breeding set-up. The mesh allows eggs to fall to
the base of the tank where the parents can?t get to them.
Favourite ?sh
The female (below)
has a much rounder
shape than the male.
GABOR HORVATH
After an hour or so they ?nished and the
exhausted female retired behind the Java
moss. I let them rest for a bit, then moved
them to my community tank. Knowing that
the developing eggs and the newborn fry are
sensitive to light, I covered the sides of the
tank with newspaper. I could hardly wait for
them to hatch, and by the next morning the
?rst babies had started to appear, hanging
on the sides.
To begin with there were only ten of them
and I thought that the hard water had
decimated the hatchlings. By the end of the
day however, hundreds of tiny ?prickles?
covered the glass and hung from the moss. It
was soon time to set up the Artemia
hatchery so there would be freshly hatched
nauplii ready by the time the fry begin to
hunt, which is usually three days after
hatching. As I had never done this before, I
was a bit anxious, but thanks to the good
advice from the elders of the club the eggs
hatched on time and the tetra fry didn?t have
Keep your Flames in groups
of six or more for best results.
GABOR HORVATH
The much more slender male
began to show his true colours to
his attractively curvy companion.
The rear half of his body turned
an almost uniform bright ?ame
red, really doing justice to these
?shes? common name.
Many characins
can?t hold a candle
to Flame tetras.
Favourite ?sh
of just a few clumps of Liverwort
(Monosolenium) and Java fern on
bogwood. As these tetras prefer slightly
cooler temperatures (20?24癈) their
aquarium was placed on the bottom row of
my ?sh house.
They settled down very quickly and the
males soon got heavily involved in vigorous
sparring. It came as bit of a surprise, as I
hadn?t experienced this during our earlier
encounters. I guessed this was a more
aggressive strain with a waspish nature
? and it also explained why their ?ns had
been slightly ragged when they arrived.
Another possible reason was the
change of environment, which may have
woken up their mating instinct, because as
soon as the males established their own
territories the whole shoal began a
breeding frenzy. There were ?ashing red
bolts speeding around the aquarium and
among all this chaos I could see clutching
pairs disappearing into the dense
vegetation everywhere.
The orgy only lasted for about an hour,
then the tired and hungry ?sh decided to
have some caviar for supper and ate all the
eggs. This time I didn?t mind, as I wasn?t
planning to breed them until later. Because
the ?sh repeated this feast ? although with
less vigour ? almost every day, I decided to
separate some of the females to preserve
their eggs.
For two weeks the girls had the best
possible diet, with plenty of live and frozen
bloodworm, Daphnia and Cyclops, as well as
some top quality ?akes. When they became
plump with eggs a small breeding tank was
prepared as a ?honeymoon suite?.
This set-up was very similar to the one I
used 30-odd years ago, except for the plastic
mesh which replaced the glass marbles as
an egg protection device. Another difference
was the much softer water. Although I could
have used ?ve or even more pairs for a high
number of offspring, I only wanted a
GABOR HORVATH
Flame tetra fry are tiny
but straightforward to
raise if you have the
right food on hand.
to starve. I had started them off with tiny
amounts of squashed hard boiled egg-yolk
and two days later introduced the
brineshrimp nauplii.
Despite their tiny size the youngsters went
after the Artemia straight away and to my
great satisfaction their bellies turned nice
and orange, proof of a successful hunt.
Flame tetra fry are known to be quite
sensitive to water quality, so following the
great start I did have some losses, but at the
end I still managed to raise around 40
juveniles from that very ?rst spawning. This
success has greatly contributed to my
development as an aquarist, and I will
always be grateful to these tiny ?sh.
Flame rekindled
After that initial excitement our ways
separated and I didn?t kept Flame tetras for
more than 30 years, partly due to my other
interests and partly because they seemed to
have disappeared from the shops.
Recently, however, these ?sh have had a
bit of a comeback and are available much
more frequently in the shops.
Unfortunately, due to the commercial
breeding, which focuses more on quantity
than quality, the best coloured specimens
are still rare. So, when I was offered a shoal
of bright red Flame tetras by a friend I took
the opportunity to renew my relationship
with these beauties.
This time around I got a group of 12, so I
prepared a 75cm tank for them using JBL
Sansibar black sand as a substrate to bring
out their colours. My silky smooth Welsh
tapwater, with its 3-5癏 and 7.1pH was
perfect for them, so I could ?ll the tank up
straight from the hose. The decor consisted
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
FISH FACTFILE
G Common name: Flame tetra.
G Scienti?c name: Hyphessobrycon
?ammeus.
G Size: 3.5cm/1.4in.
G Origin: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
G Tank size: 60 x 30cm footprint; smaller
is ?ne for breeding purposes.
G Water requirements: Prefers soft and
slightly acidic water, but adapts to most
water conditions; 6?7.5pH, hardness
ideally <10癏.
G Temperature: 20?24癈.
G Feeding: Takes the usual dried foods
but should also be offered live or frozen
Daphnia, bloodworm and Cyclops.
G Availability and cost: Increasingly
available. Expect to pay around �50.
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
54 l+
5
While soft, acidic conditions
are ideal, Flame tetras are
adaptable when it comes to
water chemistry.
GABOR HORVATH
The vigorous
sparring between
males explained
why their ?ns had
been slightly
ragged on arrival.
handful, so I decided to go with a single pair
only. Thanks to the experience I had gained
over the decades, this time around more
than 100 little Flames were the fruits of my
work. The majority went to new owners, but
some of them are still with me, happily
sharing their tank with Red throat killies
and Peacock gobies.
I hope the Flame tetra will become
popular again, as it?s a truly versatile and
very undemanding little ?sh that makes an
ideal ?rst breeding project for aspiring ?sh
breeders, and it?s one I?d strongly
recommend. Who knows, maybe they will
be your ?rst love, too?
43
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The Microsorum pteropus ?Trident?
ferns used for this aquarium had
been growing in another set-up for
12 months beforehand.
FERNTASTIC!
This low maintenance aquascape uses mature plants
from an existing set-up to give it immediate impact.
But you can achieve something similar with new plants
if you?re prepared to wait for them to grow in.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER
W
hen I was contacted by
Matt Amin from Amin
Aquatics to assist with a
large planted aquarium for
one of his clients the brief was simple.
?Can you create something that?s
visually stunning and mature-looking
right away?? asked Matt. ?It also has to be
low maintenance.?
The client had already seen some photos
of my previous aquascapes and wanted
something similar to a 120cm/4ft nature
aquarium I had at the time, consisting of
mainly crypts and ferns. But getting that
mature, grown-in look in a new set-up is
virtually impossible ? new plants never
look their best and are often still in their
emerged form (grown out of water) when
you receive them from the supplier.
A set-up like mine with slow growing plants
would take several weeks at least to settle in
46
glass and minimal silicone. A bespoke
and begin to look anything like mature.
cabinet was hand built out of solid oak
The answer was staring me in the face,
and gloss black doors to give a
literally. I was sat opposite my home tank
and it was ready to have its ?nal photo shoot luxury appearance.
as keen to have as little kit
for the International Aquati
ow as possible so, rather
Layout Contest (IAPLC). Af
an going for my usual
this I was planning on
reference of clear ?lter
stripping down the tank
hoses
and glass ?lter outlet
ready for a new aquascape,
Plan your
and inlet, we decided to
so I could re-use the plants
aquascape and
drill the tank and hard
in the client?s tank.
consider sketching out
plumb the two external
The set-up
?lters with inline heating,
the design before
CO2 and UV. Matt drilled
Matt and I planned the
planting.
he tank himself and ?tted a
hardware, opting for a
ck vinyl background to
high-end set-up with a lot of
he pipes. The ?lter out?ow
automation due to the client
has adjustment so the best circulation
being at home for long periods at a
pattern could be applied after some
time. An Aquascaper 1500 aquarium by
experimenting.
Evolution Aqua was chosen for its high
Lighting was an important consideration.
quality ?nish featuring 15mm Super White
TOP TIP
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Step by step
Planting heavily from the
outset with good quality
plants will help prevent algae.
I?d had great results with Kessil LED units,
and combined with the stainless steel
lighting hanging kit, they suited the whole
set-up really well. Because we were using
low-light tolerant plants we only needed
two units. These were controlled by the
Kessil Spectral Controller set at 50%
colour and 50% intensity for a photoperiod
of eight hours.
Liquid fertiliser was to be added using an
auto-doser with JBL Ferrapol for
micronutrients and JBL ProScape NPK for
macronutrients. A UV unit was also ?tted to
help avoid single cell algae along with an
auto top-up to keep the water level constant.
Great care was taken over the interior of
the cabinet to keep it neat and tidy and the
hard plumbing looked great. A JBL
pressurised CO2 kit with solenoid was ?tted
with the gas being injected via an inline
diffuser ?tted to one of the ?lter outlets. The
CO2 was set to come on two hours prior to
the lighting and off one hour before they
went off. A remote-controlled LED strip
was also ?tted so you could easily see the
equipment inside the cabinet.
Matt Amin adds a few
?nishing touches.
TOP TIP
Consider CO2
injection for the best
results and dose a good
quality liquid fertiliser
to keep your plants
well fed.
Aquascaping the tank
The Microsorum pteropus ?Trident? ferns in
my aquarium were almost 12 months old.
They were attached to three large pieces of
branchy driftwood that I knew would ?t
well into the client?s tank. I removed the
ferns and attached wood and wrapped them
in large plastic bags ? if allowed to dry out
Microsorum will quickly die.
The removal of the mature crypts was a
particularly messy task due to the huge root
system. The crypts were again placed in
plastic bags ready for their journey.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
Despite the tank?s location in a room
with lots of natural light, there has
been no algae, thanks to high plant
mass, good CO2 and regular feeding.
47
I had already planned the aquascape in
advance, going for a simple design
consisting of two mounds of substrate for
planting the crypts. In between and in the
foreground a cosmetic sand
d
for decorative effect. Larg
pieces of Mini Landscape
Rock were placed between
the soil and sand to act as
Using just a few plant
a physical barrier, as well
as to add aesthetic
species and one or two
interest. Around 70kg of
species of ?sh gives a
rocks were used in total
strong
sense of design
with some large stones
and purpose to the
to act as eye-catching
focal points giving plenty
aquascape.
of height and interest. The
crypts were simply plante
each rear corner with the
and attached ferns creating a bridge
effect across the main length of
the aquascape.
TOP TIP
Aquarium maintenance
The ?rst few weeks are the most important,
The bespoke cabinet adds
as this is when algae is most likely to strike.
an element of luxury...
We had an advantage as we were using
mature plants with plenty of biomass.
However, one big risk was the potential
?melting? of the crypts ? they are well...and hides all
known for shedding their leaves if there?s a
the equipment
sudden change in environment. This is
from view.
particularly common when buying a new
plant that?s still in its emerged state and it
struggles to adapt to its submerged
(underwater) form. Thankfully we
experienced virtually no melt and the
crypts settled in ?ne.
The tank?s location is in a large room
with loads of natural light. I was a
A commercial
little concerned that this would lead
soil substrate will
to algae blooms but with the
combination of high plant mass,
give your plants the
good CO2 levels and regular
best possible start by
fertiliser dosing I was hopeful that
encouraging healthy
the plants would use any excess light
root growth.
for growth, thus beating algae to it. I
was reassured when I re-visited the
tank a few weeks after initial installa
Water change schedule
to see just a small amount of soft brown
Week one - 50% water change three times per week.
algae which was easily removed, and
Week two - 50% water change twice per week.
typically only lasts a few weeks until the
Week three onwards - 50% water change once per week.
system fully matures.
TOP TIP
TANK SET-UP
Aquarium - Evolution Aqua Aquascaper 1500, custom drilled
with black background, 150 x 60 x 55cm (495 l/110 gal).
Cabinet - Custom built, solid oak with gloss black doors and
built in LED lighting.
Lighting - Two Kessil A360we Tuna Sun with Kessil Spectral
Controller and Evolution Aqua Lighting Hanging Kit.
Filtration and plumbing - 2 x JBL 1501e ?lters hard plumbed,
JBL UV system, Hydro external inline heater 300W, TMC auto
top-up using RO water.
Fertilisers - JBL Ferrapol and ProScape NPK, 20ml each dosed
daily with TMC auto-doser.
Substrate - JBL Volcano Mineral (4 x 9 l bags), JBL ProScape
Soil (Brown, 4 x 9 l bags), 15Kg JBL Sansibar White sand.
Hardscape - 70Kg Mini Landscape Rock, branchy driftwood.
Plants - Microsoroum pteropus ?Trident?, various mature
Cryptocoryne.
Livestock - 50 Neon tetra, 50 Cherry shrimp, 20 Otocinclus.
48
The aquarium sets off the
living space perfectly.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Step by step
How the aquascape came together
1
Two mounds of JBL Volcano Mineral are
added to the left and right rear corners.
This helps to bulk out the substrate and
allow for oxygen penetration. It also helps
to prevent the soil from levelling out over
time. Two 9 l bags are added to each side.
This product does cloud the water
signi?cantly so do consider rinsing it ?rst.
2
Rocks are added towards the front
of the Volcano Mineral substrate.
This de?nes the two areas and also acts
as a barrier to prevent the soil from
migrating to the front sand area. Around
70Kg of Mini Landscape Rocks are then
positioned so that they look as natural
as possible.
3
The crypts are planted into each corner
of the aquarium using large tweezers.
These plants are already mature so the
roots require trimming to allow for easier
planting. This will also help to promote new
root growth.
5
The wood with the ferns attached is
added. The ferns are sprayed regularly
to prevent them drying out. A gap is left in
the middle to help create a sense of depth
with the sand running from the front to the
rear. The ferns add instant maturity to
the aquascape.
6
4
Two 9 l bags of JBL ProScape Soil are
added on top of the Volcano Mineral.
This soil will promote healthy root growth,
as well as help to soften the hard
tapwater and buffer the pH at around 6.5. It
doesn?t require pre-rinsing. The soil is
soaked with a small layer of water to assist
with the planting.
The aquarium is slowly ?lled with
dechlorinated tapwater using a
colander to help prevent soil disturbance.
Then the equipment is switched on and
checked to ensure it?s all functioning
properly. The lights are set to eight hours
a day.
The aquarium is home to a large
group of Neons, along with
Cherry shrimp and Oto cat?sh.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
49
Fancy gold?sh
Goldfish
A visit to the UK?s leading gold?sh supplier offered the
perfect chance to showcase some of the country?s ?nest!
WORDS: NATHAN HILL AND ANDY GREEN
PICTURES: NATHAN HILL
THANKS TO
Andy Green of Star Fisheries
in Surrey for all his help with
putting this feature together.
For more information on the ?sh
pictured on the following pages
contact Star Fisheries on
0208 915 0455 or visit
www.star?sheries.co.uk
O
f all the ?sh we see on sale, the humble Gold?sh may be the
one that has been subject most to human manipulation.
There?s no ?sh that better polarises ?shkeeper opinions.
Purists consider them a step too far, seeing them as
grotesque morphs. But for a huge and eager fanbase, the gold?sh scene
is enthralling, with a?cionados happy to pay triple-?gure sums (or
more) for the ?nest specimens. We had the privilege of visiting Star
Fisheries, to speak to Andy Green, the man behind the specialist UK
trade in so many of these amazing variants, and who has forgotten
more about them than most of us will ever learn.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
MATT NACREOUS RANCHU
A new colour variant on the Ranchu, and only
recently available. The matt calico base colour
of the body may also be sprinkled with a
handful of individual metallic scales. Both
varieties of colour and scale type are
considered rare within gold?sh circles. Of the
various Ranchu available, this type is highly
sought after.
51
52
RED AND WHITE SHORT TAIL RYUKIN
In recent years this ?sh has become one of the
most popular fancy gold?sh varieties in the
UK. A very powerful swimmer through the
water, the short body and short, stubby tail
gives this ?sh its strength.When short tailed
Ryukin grow large they are a majestic sight.
Beyond red and white, they?re available in a
variety of colours.
RED AND BLACK ORANDA
With black markings set over the metallic red
base (not the other way around), these ?sh are
highly attractive Oranda variants. They come
with various degrees of black on the body, but
often when young the extent of the black
coverage can change. They are normally
highly prized if the black remains intact, with a
good pattern when the ?sh reaches adult age.
HI-CAP TRI-COLOUR ORANDA
The straight-up strawberry-cap hood growth
on this variety of Oranda has become more
proli?c over the last few years. This unusual
hi-cap combined with the three colours can be
quite striking visually in appearance.
Variations in colour intensity between the red,
black and white can be seen as with most
tri-colour metallic ?sh.
CHOCOLATE RANCHU
Normally you see in this variety offered in
metallic red or red and white, with types like
the nacreous calico less available. This
chocolate example is extremely rare, and you
can see it is only a young ?sh despite its good
size. Hood growth and development takes
longer on this colour of Ranchu but it?s totally
worth the wait for a striking adult.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fancy gold?sh
JADE SEAL TRI-COLOUR ORANDA
Take note of the clean, white cap on this
tri-colour metallic Oranda ? that cap makes
this a very rare ?sh indeed. The white cap is
referred to as the ?Jade Seal? and the pattern
on the body of the ?sh ? black and orange
over a white base ? combined with a great
body shape make this another highly sought
after Oranda.
CHOCOLATE POM POM
One of the more unusual looking fancy
gold?sh, the pom poms just in front of the
nose of the ?sh make this type stand out ?
this ?sh is an acquired taste. You can see
variations in colour intensity of both chocolate
and orange, and sometimes you may
encounter chocolate based ?sh with orange
pom poms ? they look amazing!
MATT NACREOUS RANCHU
The same variant as the ?sh on the ?rst page
of this gallery, a Ranchu is characterised by its
absence of dorsal ?n, smoothly curved back,
the deep position of the tail and stubby ?ns
when compared to other fancy gold?sh types.
Red and white Ranchu have historically been
the most common types available, though the
trend is shifting to a wider colour range.
TRI-COLOURED ORANDA
A very popular ?new generation? colour of
these lovely ?sh. Firm, intense colours and
solid patterns are most desirable, although
young ?sh may exhibit changes in colour
intensity and pattern as they grow. Generally
when the ?sh is older the colours tend to be
?xed. Pristine examples can change hands for
considerable sums of money.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
53
54
RED CAP BLACK ORANDA
Orandas were the ?rst fancy gold?sh to possess a
?wen?, or crown on top of the head. Interestingly,
the ?wen? has its own set of categories, from the
?goose? head seen here, to the all encompassing
?tiger? head. Red cap gold?sh usually have a silver
body but are occasionally found in black as seen
here. Stunning ?sh like this will never be popular in
numbers as they are so hard to ?nd and produce.
RED AND BLACK DRAGON EYE TELESCOPE
The stunning colour and enlarged eyes make
this a stand-out ?sh. Although at face value
they look quite delicate, these ?sh are actually
deceptively robust and very strong swimmers.
The dragon eye Telescope (sometimes still
referred to as a ?Moor?) comes in a number of
colours although the red and black makes for
a great combination.
TRI-COLOUR ORANDA
As well as being the ?rst to have a crown,
Orandas are also the largest of the fancy
gold?sh varieties, reaching up to 30cm when
fully grown (if we cheat and include the tails).
Orandas have a long history, ?rst appearing in
Japan (they actually originated in China)
some time just before the year 1800, after
which their popularity blossomed.
TOSAKIN
A Japanese re?ned variety with a beautiful
shaped tail and perfect for viewing the ?Asian?
way ? keepers in the Far East tend to
appreciate their ?sh viewed from directly
above, while we in the west have a penchant for
looking at them side on. The attractive short
body and long, fully curled tail means that this
variety has already gained a fanbase in the UK.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fancy gold?sh
?Pristine examples can change hands
for considerable sums of money...
TRI-COLOURED ORANDA
This example has more solid block colours
compared to the previous tri-colour, and
although the solid block colours appear
visually brighter the choice is down to
personal preference. As well as strong bodily
markings, this ?sh has nice colours running
through the ?ns, which increases its
desirability among collectors.
Caring for fancy gold?sh
O Temperature will have a huge effect on ?sh metabolism, with
warmer conditions leading to greater food consumption and more
waste being produced.
O Ensure powerful and copious ?ltration. Large internal canisters are
okay, but external ?lters heaving with coarse and ?ne foams and
biomedia are even better.
O As well as big ?lters, lots of swimming and growing space is a
must. A tank of 120cm long should be the minimum for adults.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
O Offer a varied and nutritious diet. Flakes and pellets are okay, but
rely too heavily on them and you?ll get constipated ?sh. Occasional
feeds of Daphnia are a must, as is plenty of fresh vegetable matter
? squashed peas go down well!
O Consider tank mates carefully. While not aggressive, gold?sh have
big mouths and will accidentally eat any ?sh small enough to ?t in
there. Also, some ?sh are too nippy to house alongside them, and
will bite at the tempting, ?owing ?ns of fancies.
55
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BRISTOL SHUBUNKIN
A true British origin ?sh, the striking
pearldrop tail makes this the most desirable
Shubunkin. Still only produced in relatively
small numbers in the UK, this magni?cent
looking single tail ?sh is ideal for both
aquariums and garden ponds ? although
when viewed from the side can you really
appreciate the splendor of that stunning tail.
GOLF BALL PEARLSCALE
Harder to ?nd than the longer tail version of
the Pearlscale, this short round dumpy ?sh is
full of character. They have been seen for sale
in the UK with bodies as big as tennis balls!
Due to the shape of the ?sh and the shorter
?nnage they tend to ?waddle? along rather than
power through the water, although they make
an interesting addition to unheated aquaria.
JIKIN
Another re?ned fancy gold?sh from Japan.
This ?sh has the body of a single tail gold?sh
variety but has a smart, short twin ?ared-out
tail. Elegant swimmers and a rare ?sh in the
UK, hobbyists are sometimes confused
between this ?sh and the Wakin ? the Wakin
tends to have sharper ?n lobes, as opposed to
the rounded lobes of the Jikin.
BLACK SCALED SHORT TAILED RYUKIN
Some different colour variations are now
available on the short tail Ryukin. You can see
on this example that the colour is on the
individual scales of the ?sh, almost looking as
though they have been airbrushed on. This
older ?sh is very likely to keep this attractive
appearance now and as with all short tail
Ryukins, they are powerful through the water.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fancy gold?sh
RANCHU
Ranchu from China and Thailand are generally
bred to be seen from the side and ?sh from
Japan are bred to be viewed from above.
Outside of Japan the most famous Ranchu
breeder in Europe is Andrew James and
although many people view his ?sh from
above they can appreciated from the side just
as much.
PANDA BUTTERFLY MOOR
Absolutely stunning ?sh in black and white,
which is a rare combination in fancy gold?sh.
When you see a good example with a stark
contrast, they are incredible. The lovely shape
of the tail, which curls back under the rounded
body, combined with the unique markings
puts them a cut above the normal butter?ies
for most hobbyists.
RED BUTTERFLY MOOR
One of the original colours in the Butter?y
moors, and still regarded as one of the best.
This older ?sh is a really nice example ? the
?ared out tail, good body shape and large set
eyes all add to the appeal and overall
appearance of this butter?y. The soft
edges of the ?ns are also particularly nice on
this example.
KIN RIN NACREOUS BUTTERFLY MOOR
The re?ecting individual metallic scales on
this new colour of Butter?y moor are not
easily visible on this particular ?sh, but you
can just see some on the stomach ? Kin Rin
refers to the re?ective scales. The matt blues
and blacks with some dashes of red are
present, and this is a nice example of the new
colours available to Butter?y moor keepers.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
57
THEUSUAL
We spotlight ?ve alleged aquatic
ne?er-do-wells ? are they truly
the underwater version of the Kray
twins, or just misunderstood?
WORDS: BOB MEHEN
Community ?sh
S
PFK POLICE DEPT.
PUNTIGRUS TETRAZONA.
AKA TIGER BARB, SUMATRA BARB.
cm
ALAMY
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LAST KNOWN WILD RESIDENCE: Asia; Sumatra and Borneo.
DESCRIPTION: Stripey ? body marked with four bold, black vertical
stripes interspersed with a pleasing golden orange. Fins ? red. Some
Tigers go incognito ? ?Moss Green?, ?Platinum?, ?Golden? or ?albino? are
just a few of their commercial disguises, but a Tiger cannot change its
stripes and stays true to its ancestry.
SIZE: Around 7cm/2.5in.
CHARGES: Tiger barbs are nippy ?sh, never happier than when taking
chunks of out their tank mates as well as each other. They seem to
thrive on violent intimidation. First hand testimony from numerous
sources back up these accusations.
the truth behind ?ve of these alleged troublemakers to try and
reach the facts behind the mythology ? are they truly underwater
Ronnie and Reggie Krays that will menace and intimidate ? or
are they simply misunderstood, ?rough around the edges? ?sh
that with the right care can become model members of
?shkeeping society?
Don?t have nightmares...
VERDICT: Here at PFK we have long been aware
of the Tiger barb?s poor reputation. Ever
popular, thanks to its eye-catching
markings, it remains one of the most
CRIME:
commonly sold barb species.
The simple truth is they can be all the
CANNIBALISM
things that people accuse them of BUT
& VIOLENCE
there are some big caveats to this
statement. Pop a handful of Tigers into
your community and before long you?ll
have trouble. Fins will be nipped, tank mates
will be harassed. That shoal of peaceful Corys
you like so much? They?ll be badgered into a
nervous huddle under any available cover. Those graceful gourami or
stately Angels you bought as a centrepiece will be tattered and torn,
each ?n extension trimmed to perfection by the bellicose barbs...
But wait! Don?t write off these lovely ?sh as dyed in the wool
hooligans. They can be well behaved members of the community
without the need for community service! Tiger barbs are inquisitive and
social ?sh. Almost all the problems prescribed to them are easily
remedied simply by keeping them in sufficient number. Think of small
groups of them as bored, unruly youths left with nothing to do on a wet
Wednesday in the holidays, without mobile phones to keep them
occupied, but with a selection of ?reworks and a box of matches nearby.
Tiger barbs like to hang around in big groups, where everyone knows
the Tiger barb rules. If you add them in number, (let?s start with a
minimum of ten) then almost all of their time will be spent interacting
with each other. In this large ?gang? their bolshy behaviour makes sense
as they spar with each other for social dominance within the group. A
quick nip from the ?top dog? (?sh) shows the lesser barbs who?s boss
and keeps things orderly. It really is a case of the more the merrier. With
a large group of Tigers, many of their previous targets will be completely
ignored. Don?t get too carried away and start adding trailing ?nned
delicacies and it?s probably best to avoid other stripey ?sh of similar
size ? your resident Tigers won?t appreciate or understand tank mates
wearing gang colours who don?t know the rules...
ALAMY
S
ome ?sh come with baggage; a reputation for thuggery,
belligerence or a general disregard for a peaceful
aquarium. Somehow however, they still appear in the
average ?sh shop week in, week out and remain popular,
simultaneously ?most wanted? and ?public enemy No.1?. This
apparent disparity of opinion can be confusing, so here at
Crimewatch PFK headquarters we?ve decided to delve deeper into
Community ?sh
PFK POLICE DEPT.
YASUHIKOTAKIA MORLETI
AKA SKUNK LOACH, SKUNK BOTIA,
HORA?S LOACH.
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LAST KNOWN WILD RESIDENCE: Asia; Cambodia, Laos, Thailand.
DESCRIPTION: Body ? long and laterally compressed with a sloping
head ?nishing with a whiskered, underslung mouth. Colour ? a sandy
brown with the namesake black/brown ?skunk? stripe running from the
nose, along the back and down through the caudal peduncle. Fins ?
dorsal and deeply forked tail are a light yellow, often marked with dark
spots, other ?ns a red/orange colour. Young ?sh often sport tiger
striping to add to their attraction but this fades with age.
SIZE: 10cm/4in.
CHARGES: The Skunk loach lives up to its common name ? it?s a real
stinker! Often entering ?shkeepers? tanks under false pretences as a part
of a pest control programme, they will soon become the pest
themselves, running a campaign of violence and intimidation against all
but the sturdiest tank mates.
ALAMY
ALAMY
cm
0
VERDICT: The Skunk is one of the most commonly seen Botiid loach
species in the hobby. Their striking markings and bold, active behaviour
and low price tag leads to many unwary hobbyists falling for their
charms. They are also often marketed as a cure for nuisance snails.
Once added to the average community aquarium they may well
initially knock back your mollusc menace ? newly imported ?sh are
often underweight and hungry. But it usually won?t be long before they
show their darker side. Fellow bottom dwellers such as Corydoras will
appear harassed, uneasy and often sport torn and damaged ?ns.
Trailing ?nned and slow moving mid-water ?sh will often suffer similar
problems. In severe cases eyes may go missing! At the beginning the
culprit may not be obvious, but closer observation will show the Skunk
loach is almost certainly to blame.
There are however, extenuating circumstances. Botiid loaches are well
known for their love of company of their own kind ? these are social
?sh. Too often they are sold singly or in pairs where they are unable to
build a stable hierarchy, so behaviour that would be appropriate
amongst a large crowd of Skunks spills over onto their unsuspecting
tank mates. The nipping and chasing that would settle who?s who in the
Skunks? power structure becomes a blitzkrieg of violence against all
and sundry.
A large group (ten or more) should expend most of their efforts on
bothering each other, but even so are not recommend for a normal
community. These ?sh should really only be considered if they are the
basis of your tank?s stock and other ?sh are chosen for their suitability
for life alongside a tank full of ?stinkers?!
CRIME:
INTIMIDATING
OTHER TANK
MATES
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
61
NEIL HEPWORTH
ALAMY
VERDICT: There are few ?sh that carry with them the reputation for
violence and disorder as the Red-tailed black shark, yet still remain
popular. This is probably down to their unrivalled colouration. Truly
PFK POLICE DEPT.
black ?sh are few and far between and add to this their bright red tail
and you have a ?sh of subtle beauty. The ?shark? moniker certainly helps
EPALZEORHYNCHOS BICOLOR.
raise their pro?le as well...
AKA RED-TAILED BLACK SHARK,
Even those who have bothered to do a little research before plunging
into RTBS ownership will often be lulled into false sense of security
RTBS, RED-TAIL SHARK-MINNOW
when confronted by a dealer?s tank packed with dozens of tiny juveniles
apparently getting on like a house on ?re. Many will take the plunge and
pop a shark (or from less scrupulous dealers, a brace of sharks) into
cm
their community.
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It usually takes a couple of weeks for the trouble to start, but sooner
or later one of the sharks will start looking a little tatty and grey. If not
removed to safety two sharks will shortly afterwards become one. Now
the reign of terror can really begin, with the remaining shark asserting
its rights to tank dominion. Any similarly shaped ?sh will be chased
around the tank, likewise ?sh with similar colouration will also get its
attention. Bottom dwellers such as corys will get short shrift for daring
to live on the substrate. These blustering chases seldom actually end in
any physical violence, but in the con?nes of the average aquarium they
can be unrelenting, meaning the increasingly exhausted target is
unable to gain respite or food.
However, this does not mean that the RTBS is a lost cause, it just
means you need plan your tank around these magni?cent moody ?sh.
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First off they need space, so a tank with a footprint of around 120 x
30cm should be the minimum. Fill it with plenty of hidey holes; think
LAST KNOWN WILD RESIDENCE: Asia; Thailand.
roots, logs and caves. Lush planting will also help. All this decor will
DESCRIPTION: Body ? long, slender with an increasingly high back as
help break lines of sight along the tank meaning once your RTBS has
it matures and coloured an inky, velvet black. Fins ? black, apart from
found ?home? he can defend it, but crucially not see all the tank at once,
namesake tail which is red or deep orange. High dorsal and forked tail
so tank mates can ?nd solace elsewhere. Out of sight, really is
give it the ?shark? common name. Occasionally seen in albino
out of mind. Only consider similarly robust tank mates, able
form which while lacking the black, retains the red tail.
to give as good as they get. The Tiger barbs mentioned
SIZE: Up to 15cm/6in.
earlier should be up to the job. Finally add your RTBS
CHARGES: The Red-tailed black shark is a brutal tyrant
last when all the other stock has settled in to avoid
CRIME:
who will chase and terrorise tank mates. It will claim
problems with newcomers barging into its ?manor?.
the whole tank as its own and relentlessly harass any
TERRORISM,
You might even be lucky enough to get a happy,
?sh that bears a passing resemblance to itself. It has a
HARASSMENT
peaceful, community friendly RTBS ? they do exist
special hatred of ?sh sporting the colour red which it
but are very much the exception.
& RACISM
considers its own personal livery.
62
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Community ?sh
PFK POLICE DEPT.
TRICHOPODUS TRICHOPTERUS
AKA THREE-SPOT GOURAMI, BLUE
GOURAMI, OPALINE GOURAMI, GOLD
GOURAMI, SILVER GOURAMI.
ALAMY
ALAMY
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LAST KNOWN WILD RESIDENCE: Asia; Cambodia, Indonesia,
Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam.
DESCRIPTION: Body ? deep and laterally compressed, marked with
two spots, one in the middle and one near the tail. The namesake third
spot is the eye which is typically red rimmed. Colour is normally a silver
blue but they are also found without the spots and covered in deep blue
bars (Opaline) or washed with a golden yellow.
SIZE: 15cm/6in.
CHARGES: The Three-spot gourami is prone to spousal abuse, usually
by the male towards the female. Similarly the males are jealous and
violent and will not tolerate competition for their chosen partner ?
other males will be beaten, battered and generally bothered if kept in
close proximity.
VERDICT: In spite of its notoriety in ?shkeeping circles as a bully and
general trouble maker, the Three-spot gourami remains among the most
commonly encountered species of gourami in the hobby. It?s possible
that many people are fully aware of their thuggish tendencies but don?t
realise that those glorious Golden gourami or eye-catching Opalines
are simply well camou?aged Three-spots with all the problems these
?sh can present.
The rumours about their behaviour aren?t just urban myth; Threespots can be downright nasty! Males are the usual culprits and will
chase, bite and generally harass any female ?sh unlucky enough to be
paired with them. Other males will soon feel the wrath of the dominant
male and this attention can go well beyond chasing with the smaller ?sh
usually getting a beating and this can soon lead to one less ?sh. It?s not
just males though, as some females can be terrifyingly truculent. As
with so many of these tank terrors young ?sh can appear ?ne, only
showing their true colours once settled and mature.
Luckily these ?sh aren?t so beyond the pale that they can?t be
reintegrated into the community if a few simple techniques are
employed. Firstly give them space; these are substantial ?sh compared
to many community regulars and cramming them in a small tank is a
sure ?re route to trouble ? 90 x 30cm base dimensions should be your
starting point, but bigger groups will need bigger quarters.
The males are generally more feisty than their female counterparts
and usually have only one thing on their mind aside from food ?
convincing any females resident that they should try and make more
gouramis! With this in mind and to give the females a chance of a little
peace you should add females and males at a ratio of at least 2:1 and
only consider more than one male in large tanks. Telling the sexes apart
with immature ?sh can be tricky, but as they develop males get bigger
and develop a tell-tale pointed dorsal ?n. The classic tricks of breaking
up lines of sight with decor and plants will also help. Floating plants are
always popular and offer yet more in the way of cover.
Avoid keeping these ?sh with similar sized or smaller gourami or their
close relatives; Siamese ?ghters may have pugilistic history behind
them but won?t stand a chance against the pit-bull nature of the average
Three-spot. Plop them in with fast moving, robust midwater species like
barbs or larger tetras and they shouldn?t be a problem. Bottom dwellers
tend to be ignored, being seen as literally and ?guratively beneath them.
CRIME:
DOMESTIC
VIOLENCE
Community ?sh
PFK POLICE DEPT.
GYRINOCHEILUS AYMONIERI.
AKA SUCKING LOACH, ALGAE EATER,
CHINESE ALGAE EATER,
SIAMESE ALGAE EATER.
ALAMY
ALAMY
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LAST KNOWN WILD RESIDENCE: Asia; Cambodia, China, Laos,
Thailand, Vietnam.
DESCRIPTION: Body ? long, tapering, thickening with age. Large,
underslung sucker mouth. Colour ? variable, from sandy brown, to
sludge green on top, fading to a cream belly. Lateral line marked with a
dark brown stripe. Younger specimens may sport a metallic bronze
sheen. Also available in a golden (yellow) and albino form.
SIZE: 30cm/12in.
CHARGES: Entering community tanks under false pretences as a
solution to nuisance algae, Sucking loaches (which aren?t even loaches!)
show little long term interest in their newly assigned caretaker and
groundsman role and take an overly proprietorial attitude toward their
new residence, with particular ire reserved for any other bottom
dwelling ?sh.
64
VERDICT: Sucking loaches are certainly not stocked for their beauty ?
these are ?sh that even their own mothers would struggle to ?nd
attractive. Heavy set, largely brown with a rubbery suction cup for a
mouth ? even the more glamorous sounding ?golden? version is about
as appealing as stocking a blanched parsnip in your aquarium.
The reason so many shops stock them is they are cheap and have a
reputation for loving nothing more than chowing down on all that algae
that ?shkeepers ?nd such a chore to deal with themselves. They are
called ?algae eaters? after all, so what could go wrong?
The truth is the ?sucking? part of their common name is more
appropriate as they really do ?suck? at algae eating! Very young, newly
imported and hungry Sucking loaches may well have an initial go at
your green glass and rockwork, but the simple fact is that there isn?t
enough sustenance for a growing ?loach? in the available greenstuff and
like a child given the choice between a plateful of healthy greens or a
bag of chips with a side order of Haribos, there is only going to be one
outcome. Sucking loaches will want (and need) extra feeding in the
form of wafer and tablet food ? they are not obligate algae eaters! If
you don?t provide this they will either starve or decide the ?at sides of
any larger ?sh in the tank, such as Angel?sh or gouramis, look in need
of a clean with predictably disastrous results.
All the while your algae will grow away unchecked, while your
two-inch ?algae eater? will match this unchecked growth, burgeoning
into a foot-long monster. Its monstrous size and lumpen looks will be
matched with a bellicose nature that will brow-beat and bludgeon tank
mates into submission.
If you have spent time, money and effort
aquascaping your tank then the Sucking
loach will make it its life?s work to bulldoze
the whole thing into a recreation of the
CRIME:
aftermath of a wet Glastonbury festival.
IMPERSONATION
None of this is really the fault of the
Sucking loach of course ? it?s just a
& FALSE
victim of misleading marketing.
IDENTITY
Nevertheless, if you want a peaceful, algae
free community, then look elsewhere. On the
other hand, if you want to keep an ugly,
quarrelsome loner that will reduce your
aquarium to rubble in a matter of days, then you?ve just
found it.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
is available at your
?ngertips too!
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A FE
FOR THE
EYES!
Meet the Malawi eyebiter cichlid
? a ?sh that?s guaranteed to
attract attention, and not just
because of its name.
WORDS: JEREMY GAY
FOTO MALAWI STAN
W
66
orking as I do in
marketing, I can see the
sales potential in giving a
?sh a good name. The
Malawi eyebiter has just such a name,
attracting those who like to keep
predatory ?sh while at the same time
creeping-out those types of ?shkeeper
who don?t.
The Malawi eyebiter, Dimidiochromis
compressiceps, was given its common
name in 1966, when Wickler found ?sh
eyes in the stomach contents of wild
caught ?sh. In his book, ?Malawi Cichlids
in their natural habitat?, cichlid guru
Ad Konings references this event,
while at the same time stating that
such eye eating behaviour had never
been observed in the lake ? and he
should know.
So, the eye-biting behaviour that gave
this cichlid its name went down as a bit of
an anomaly, and it?s certainly not the
norm. I myself and other cichlid authors
have also made that reference over the
years and rejoiced in telling people that
we, the informed, knew that they don?t
actually eat eyes, so there was no need to
worry when keeping them in captivity.
Until I kept them again recently that is!
Special delivery
We wanted some ?sh to ?ll up and test
out a commercial ?ltration system where
I work, and along with the stunning
Thorichthys maculipinnis that I went on
to keep and breed, my mate Mark
McKinney at Clearly Aquatics came over,
bringing with him several adult pairs of
Dimidiochromis compressiceps.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Cichlids
He opened the lid of the over-sized
bucket as I peered over and exclaimed at
the size. They were fully grown ? the
males a good 17.5cm/7in in length,
mature, and in colour. And there were
plenty of females too.
From above I could see their shape in
more detail. They are very laterally
compressed as their name suggests, but
what you don?t usually see is that these
?sh are tapered both at the back and
the front too, making them
javelin-like in top pro?le ?
perfect for lunging at prey.
As we hadn?t expected the ?sh
to be adult-sized, they were split
into two systemised
aquariums, one of which was
90cm/36in in length and the
other 120cm/48in.
Once installed, the ?sh fed
well on whitebait, cockles,
mussels, cichlid pellets and
even Koi pellets. When they
were gorging themselves on the large,
thawed-out whitebait, I could observe
just how large and protrusible their
mouths actually are. I wouldn?t trust a
hungry compressiceps with any ?sh half
its size or smaller?
Battle zone
But with good condition came the
inevitable ?ghting. The dominant male
in each tank took a large territory by
force, banishing all males and from
females from it, admitting females by
invitation only, and then expanding the
no swim zone to the entire length of each
tank to other males.
With nowhere to go the inferior males
got bitten over and over again until it was
time to intervene. Even the females got
fed-up and formed a hierarchy, with the
smallest female getting snapped at and
bitten, and not even allowed to feed,
which made them smaller and darker in
colour, so even more of a target to the
The colours of a mature
male are incredible
? and just look at the
size of that mouth.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
67
others. I removed one casualty, looking as
beaten up cichlids do ? as though it had
been rubbed up and down with a cheese
grater. It was also missing an eye?
But the one luxury I did have with
commercial ?sh tank racking was other
tanks, albeit small ones. I reluctantly went
against my own advice and removed the
aggressor instead of the victim. Within
hours, after the resident raging bull had
been removed, the next male had stepped up
to the plate, taking his territory, and
continuing the onslaught of aggression.
This time I removed the victim, the worst
looking female, followed over successive
days by beaten up male, then beaten up
female, until I had about ten tanks with one
?sh in each: ?ve males and ?ve females.
Divided only by glass, the males now all
became masters of their box-shaped worlds,
colouring up and displaying to each other
and to the females, which were in sight and
smelling distance. Away from harm, the
68
males became superb specimens, refracting
both blue and green colours all over their
bodies, with ?re coloured crests on their
dorsal ?ns, mirrored on the anal ?ns, and
with lots and lots of dummy egg spots.
As tanks needed to be given over to
successive batches of the Thorichthys, I
decided to reacquaint the ?ve females with
one another in the four footer, this time
decorating the tank with lots of rocks, and
strands of giant Vallisneria.
Feisty females
This type of set-up would usually be
perfectly ?ne for virtually any Malawi
cichlid, as females aren?t territorial or
aggressive, and have nothing to ?ght over
? but not so for the ?ve female
compressiceps. The largest ?sh became
dominant over all, chasing the other four
into the cover and not wanting them to feed.
Like poorly Discus, the smallest female
turned very black in colour and looked very
As their scienti?c name
suggests, these are very
laterally compressed ?sh.
Cichlids
Eyebiters make a
spectacular choice for a
large, hardwater aquarium.
AD KONINGS
PHOTOMAX
A golden female with her
brood of youngsters.
The males became superb specimens,
refracting both blue and green colours
all over their bodies, with ?re coloured
crests on their dorsal ?ns, mirrored on
the anal ?ns, and with lots and lots of
dummy egg-spots.
sorry for herself. I made sure it was able to
eat though, by feeding the others with so
much whitebait that they literally couldn?t
eat any more. Once their mouths were
full this last ?sh could come out and get
some food.
Weekends came and went and one day I
found I was now down to four females. The
smallest, most beaten up female was again
missing an eye.
This really wasn?t what I wanted for these
beautiful ?sh so I used my experience to set
up a larger tank, this time a 150 x 60cm/5 x
2ft, set-up specially for them and decorated
with a few rocks, lots of sandy areas and lots
of now very long giant Vallisneria.
I moved across the four females and the
largest, most dominant male, adding him
after the females had gone in. They looked
great, gliding across the tank with great
speed, while getting me thinking that they
actually required even more room ? in fact
a 2.4m/8ft tank would have been ideal.
FOTO MALAWI STAN
Plants? or not?
I posted a picture of the aquarium onto
social media, but got heckled over my use of
Vallisneria by one user. ?Dimidiochromis
compressiceps inhabits only rocks,? he
stated, ?and there are no plants?.
I was pretty sure I had read every Konings
book cover to cover, and even seen
photographs of D. compressiceps over beds
of Vallisneria. The user linked a YouTube
video of a bright yellow compressiceps
swimming over rocks around Chizumulu
island. I quoted Konings where he said that
compressiceps were always associated with
higher plants, apart from the yellow
individuals at Chizumulu. But he wasn?t
having it. Luckily Professor George Turner
of Bangor University stepped in and
con?rmed of all the compressiceps that he
had collected from the lake, they had all
come from beds of Vallisneria. My F1 ?sh
may even been the offspring of those that he
had collected. My reputation intact, I
carried on enjoying the tank.
Breeding behaviour
In the 150cm/5ft aquarium the male would
chase the females, but largely left them
alone, building what would have been a
circular bower in the sand had it had not
been for the front wall of the tank. In true
cichlid fashion he banked the sand up at the
front to about 15cm/6in high, and over the
next few days and weeks invited females
over to spawn. But unusually no females
were seen carrying either eggs or fry in their
mouths, despite what should have been
paradise for the one male and four females.
I buffered the pH and hardness of the
water, as soft acidic water can be a barrier
for Malawi cichlids when it comes to
breeding, but still nothing.
69
Like this? Try this?
Dimidiochromis strigatus is also quite commonly available,
with similar, yet not quite so specialised body shape, more
green colouration in males, and a large red patch behind the
pectoral ?n. These could be mistaken and even mis-sold as D.
compressiceps, although once you have seen the real McCoy
the difference is clear.
JEREMY GAY
The Eyebiter set-up at
Evolution Aqua?s head office.
The male compressiceps
on tank patrol.
Males have a classy,
almost ?expensive? look
about them.
AQUARIUM PHOTO.DK
Dimidiochromis
strigatus.
70
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Was the male too old, I wondered ? he was
a big, mature ?sh of unknown age. He
certainly went through the motions but
nothing came of it. So, back he went into the
stock tanks and this time I chose the
smallest of the ?ve, separated males. This
?sh was still large at 15cm/6in, but he
looked younger and had a smaller head
and less developed features. Within days he
had done the business and my females
were carrying.
Compressiceps breed as all
Haplochromine Malawi cichlids do. They
are non-pair forming, maternal (female
only) mouthbrooders, with mating lasting
only seconds. The male clears the area of
other ?sh and shimmies and shakes, low to
the ground in a circular motion. The female
comes over, joins his circular dance before
dropping a large, beige egg on the sand. She
does an about turn, and picks it up in her
mouth, before going to pick the next one up.
Though this time she gets the quivering
curtain of eggs that is the male?s anal ?n,
complete with a row of dummy eggs, and
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Cichlids
JEREMY GAY
she gets sperm, instead of eggs. The process
is repeated until she ends up with 30 or so
now fertilised eggs in her mouth.
Taking roughly a month from eggs to large,
spittable fry, the female won?t feed during
that time, and to the untrained eye doesn?t
look out of the ordinary. It?s this mobile
creche though, that is key to the Lake
Malawi cichlids? adaptive radiation ?
something that Professor George Turner is
world champion on.
So, what did I learn? That adults need
large tanks, crowding works, but low
numbers in small tanks doesn?t work, even
with females. And that (in the case of mine,
anyway) they do eat eyes. There were no
other ?sh present in the tanks when it
happened, and one of mine lost an eye
before it was killed.
To the aquarium ?sh lover, the males are
stunning when in colour, and look
expensive, if that?s at all possible. The
females, being silver, will just not be to the
taste of many people although I still
appreciate them, and they are essential for
natural behaviour and of course breeding.
The fry are large, easy to raise, and far
more amiable towards each other, even
while being grown on in smaller tanks.
If you don?t create a species tank, both
males and females could be mixed in
Malawi ?Hap? tanks, with other, large
predatory genera, although even then only
one male Eyebiter will be best, and they
won?t do well in the rough and tumble of the
rocky, crowded mbuna tanks ? except when
it comes to devouring fry.
But if you are looking for the perfect
blend of hard water biotope ?sh, oddball,
and potential breeding project, and you have
a large tank spare, I would de?nitely give
them a go.
Malawi eye biter
G Scienti?c name: Dimidiochromis
compressiceps.
G Size: To around 20cm/8in.
G Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa.
G Aquarium size: 150 x 60cm footprint
would be the ideal minimum.
G Water requirements: As with all Lake
Malawi cichlids, hard alkaline water is
essential. Aim for 8?8.5pH.
G Temperature: 24?26癈.
G Diet: Whitebait, cockles, mussels,
cichlid pellets and similar.
G Availability and cost: African cichlid
specialists will either have this in stock
or should be able to get it for you.
Expect to pay around � each.
0
pH
Temp C
9
Don?t trust these ?sh with
tank mates less than half
their size...
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
540 l+
TOP TIP
Avoid hybrids like
Orange Blotch (?OB?)
compressiceps. Albino forms
look right in shape but don?t
trust their ancestry ? and why
would you want a perfectly
adapted visual hunter
with poor vision and
a pink body?
Female Dimidiochromis
compressiceps.
SHUTTERSTOCK
FOTO MALAWI STAN
5
Claws
forth
Meet the Panther crab. It?s one of the few
totally aquatic crabs available in the hobby
? and it?s a freshwater species, too?
WORDS: SIMON CORDEY
PHOTOGRAPHY: OLIVER MENGEDOHT,
WWW.PANZERWELTEN.DE
TOP TIP
Never use copper
treatments in tanks
containing crabs or
other invertebrates
as it is lethal to
them.
72
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Freshwater inverts
Housing your crab
M
any of us will remember
searching in rock pools for
various critters at some
point in our childhood.
During these expeditions if we found
anything at, it would often be a crab.
In my younger days I would go looking on
the beaches during family holidays at
Weymouth or Weston Super Mare and was
overjoyed if I came across a crab. Oh, how I
wanted to take it home and keep it as a pet!
This would have been impossible for me
back then ? or at least very difficult ?due to
Mr Crab?s water requirements. But
nowadays, even without a marine set-up,
you can keep a crab at home.
Many of us will have seen crabs on sale in
aquatic shops, including the beautiful Red
clawed crab, Sesarma bidens, or the
Purple vampire crab, Geosesarma sp., and
very tempting they are, too ? but without
the correct conditions, these guys don?t
really do very well, requiring a brackish
set-up, humidity and an out of water
basking area.
But there is an alternative ? and it?s a
stunner! The Panther crab is a 100%
freshwater, totally aquatic crab. It?s also
easy to keep, fun to own and long lived.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
The Panther crab, Parathelphusa
pantherina, originates from Sulawesi,
Indonesia. These crabs reach a carapace
size of around 7.5cm/3in or so and like their
water with a pH anywhere from 7 to 8.4.
Like cray?sh, they prefer hard, alkaline
water which greatly assists in the hardening
of their shell, which they need for when they
moult. Aim for a hardness of 10癏 or more.
Temperature wise they will be happy with
anything from 22?26癈. A lifespan of 3?4
years is not uncommon for these crabs.
Tank wise, the bigger the better, especially
if you are housing them alongside other
crabs as they like to have their own territory.
Personally, I like to keep them singly in a
60 l tank ? they will recognise their owner
after a time, waving their claws to attract
you over with food. Get too close and they
will wave those same claws as a warning if
you get too close. And boy, can they move...
A standard gravel base with caves or
tunnels from pipes, wood or rock are all
ideal. If you want plants, use the arti?cial
variety as real ones will be shredded and
devoured. The most important thing to
include is a tight ?tting lid with no gaps.
Panthers are nosey, inquisitive things and
would like nothing more to than to go for a
quick wander given the opportunity.
These crabs will generally eat anything!
Mine enjoy earthworms, ?sh pellets or ?ake,
along with bloodworm or vegetables.
Tank mates
Generally, Panthers get on with their own
kind providing they have enough room and
they tend to do well in groups. You may get
the odd squabble between individuals, but as
long as there is plenty of space for them to
run off, this shouldn?t be a problem. The
worst injury is normally a lost leg and this
will grow back over time anyway.
Fishy tank mates should be considered
very carefully, especially in smaller tanks, as
the Panther will attack and devour anything
it can get hold of, especially slower moving
snack-sized ?sh that may be having a
lights-out snooze.
In a larger tank, medium sized ?sh will
probably be safe ? but then there is a risk of
the crab becoming a tasty snack itself,
especially at its most vulnerable time which
is after moulting its external carapace.
Will Panther crabs breed?
Breeding is only possible in very large tanks.
The female release pheromones into the
water to attract males. Unfortunately, this
can cause males to kill one other (or even the
female) in their frenzy, so a large tank to
dilute the pheromones and offer plenty of
escape for injured crabs is a must. And what
will you do with hundreds of baby crabs once
the female releases them from her abdomen?
73
AQUATIC
In association with
DIPLOMA
SCH
In the fourth part of our Diploma
series, we look at the many disease
issues that can face our ?sh, and
how to tackle them.
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
PART FOUR: DISEASE MANAGEMENT
O
ne day, most of us will all have to deal with a
?sh disease. In previous instalments, we
looked at the many aspects of water, which
we?ll be putting to use here in understanding
disease causes.
Understanding disease is essential if we are to avoid
rash diagnoses and incorrect treatments. The wrong
treatment can be harmful, and you?ll rarely get a second
chance to correct any mistakes.
The single, most important message to take away from
this section of the diploma is that the overwhelming
majority of disease is preventable, and that prevention
will always trump trying to cure a disease that has
already broken out.
REGISTER NOW
DJPALME / CREATIVE COMMONS
at
www.practical?shkeeping.
co.uk/diploma and at the
end of the course we?ll send
you a link to take the free
online exam. Pass the
exam to receive your
Fishkeeping
Diploma!
MISSED THE PREVIOUS PARTS?
Buy the October, November and
December issues at pfkmag.com with free
?rst class postage if you live in the UK!
74
Stress is a major trigger
of whitespot.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 4
NEIL HEPWORTH
used, causing further stress on the ?sh.
Some illnesses (like slime disease) require
a sample of mucus to be inspected for
correct diagnosis. This involves performing
a skin scrape ? a coverslip is gently moved
from head to tail on the ?sh to collect some
mucus. The coverslip is then placed onto a
slide and observed under a microscope.
Small ?sh may be too delicate to scrape.
Stress
Stress is a major factor of disease. When
stressed, ?sh divert energy away from their
immune systems, making them more
susceptible to infectious diseases. Stress is
almost always a precursor to infectious
diseases like whitespot and ?nrot.
Stress can be acute, or chronic. Acute
stress, or shock, is the result of a sudden
trauma. Poor handling (such as being
dropped during capture), exposure to
sudden noises (slamming doors, tank
slapping), being captured and bagged for
transport, being subject to sudden drastic
changes in temperature or water
chemistry, and exposure to concentrated
toxins all cause acute stress.
] Signs of acute stress can include: loss
of balance and orientation; immediate
lethargy; escape responses, swimming
rapidly around the tank or trying to jump
out; hiding; intensity of or sudden loss of
colour; and even outright death. Symptoms
are apparent directly after the stressful
incident and may wear off over time.
Avoid acute stress with good handling and
husbandry, and understanding of the water
quality and chemistry needs of ?sh.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Types of disease
On hearing the word disease, most of us
think of infectious pandemics. But disease
as a concept is much more complex.
There are infectious diseases. These are
the types of disease that involve an active
pathogen or parasite ? pathogens such as
viruses, fungi or bacteria.
There are also non-infectious diseases.
These include inherited deformities,
genetic abnormalities, physiological
defects, dietary de?ciencies and (most
importantly of all) symptoms directly
resulting from environmental problems.
Most disease diagnosis in ?sh is visual.
Fish may exhibit speci?c or non-speci?c
signs of illness. Speci?c signs, or
symptoms, are direct and unmistakable
manifestations of the illness ? such as the
white spots during a white spot infestation.
Non-speci?c signs are the behaviours
and bodily changes that indicate a problem
without directly revealing a speci?c illness.
These include colour changes, swimming
difficulty, failure to feed, shyness, clamped
?ns, scratching, rapid breathing and so on.
When facing non-speci?c signs of illness,
the priority of the aquarist is to investigate
all of the environmental parameters of the
tank, including: temperature, ammonia,
nitrite, nitrate, pH, and hardness,. Any
incorrect parameters can cause a range of
non-speci?c signs.
Under no circumstances should an
aquarist treat ?sh without a diagnosis based
on actual symptoms. Non-speci?c signs of
illness can apply to a wide range of issues,
and a treatment based upon these alone will
often lead to the wrong medication being
Always acclimatise new
?sh slowly to avoid sudden
changes in water chemistry.
] Chronic stress has many causes ? most
of them environmental. They can include:
incorrect temperatures; elevated levels of
ammonia, nitrite or nitrate; incorrect pH;
excessively soft or hard water; excess
noise in the room housing the aquarium;
tapping of aquarium glass; lingering
medications, such as excess salt; bullying
or intimidation; lack of cover; sexual
harassment from a potential mate; and
toxins from outside the tank.
Signs of chronic stress are hard to isolate.
General malaise, weight loss, lack of
colouration, poor growth, excess mucus
production, ragged ?ns, nervous
disposition, unusual swimming behaviour
or the occasional outbreak of infectious
disease and unexplained death can all be
attributed to chronic stress issues.
Avoiding chronic stress requires an
understanding of the habitat and water
requirements of individual ?sh species.
Soft, acidic water species like
Rams won?t do well in hard,
alkaline aquaria.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
75
The greatest causative factor of disease is
improper water quality management. Some
of this was covered in part two of the
Diploma, but speci?c problems are
recognised as follows:
] Ammonia poisoning ? excess slime,
gasping at the surface, dashing and trying to
escape the tank, red patches on ?ns and
body, and gasping at the surface. Typically,
ammonia poisoning is an acute problem.
] Nitrite poisoning ? red streaks in the
?ns and skin, gasping at the surface, excess
slime, ?browning? of the gills, scratching
against surfaces, trying to escape the tank,
lethargy, and shimmying. Typically, nitrite
poisoning is an acute problem.
] Nitrate poisoning ? ?yawning?,
discolouring of the ?sh (especially black
patches), fast breathing, lethargy, reduced
appetite, gradual loss of condition, clamped
?ns. Typically, nitrate poisoning is a
chronic problem, but may also be acute.
] Oxygen starvation (also called
hypoxia) ? obvious difficulty breathing,
gasping at the surface, lack of co-ordination,
loss of balance, death.
Causes of oxygen starvation include:
overcrowding; ?lter malfunction; lack of
surface movement; lack of circulation;
excess high temperature; exhaustion;
physical gill damage (as caused by some
medications); medication; pathogens on the
gills; and night-time plant respiration.
] Carbon dioxide poisoning ? gasping at
the surface, ?icking, sudden erratic
movements, weight loss, unexplained death
with kidney damage.
Causes of carbon dioxide poisoning are
linked to incorrect CO2 dosing. CO2 can
have a chronic effect of causing kidney
damage through calci?cation.
] Gas bubble disease/gas embolisms
? bubbles physically present in the skin of
the ?sh, sometimes huge bubbles displacing
the eye.
Gas bubble disease is caused by:
supersaturation of nitrogen from a faulty
pump/?lter connection. Rarely, it can be
caused by adding excessively cold water
during water changes. Sometimes, it may
be pathogenic.
] Other types of poisoning ? gasping,
?icking, yawning, shaking, scratching, faded
or intense colouring, rocking, excess mucus
production, jumping from the tank, dashing,
hiding, rapid breathing and death.
Generic poisoning can be caused by any
alien chemical inside or outside the tank.
Typical culprits include cigarette smoke, air
fresheners, perfume, soaps on hands,
cooking fumes, paint, pesticides and
residues in water change buckets.
Infectious diseases
PHOTOMAX
Environmental diseases
Caused by pathogens and
parasites. Can transfer
from one ?sh to another.
Finrot needs prompt action
Zoonotic diseases can
to prevent it spreading into
even transfer to
the body.
Bacterial
humans or other
diseases
animals and need
extra care when
Single celled
encountered.
organisms that
Fish can be
reproduce
subject to a
through selfprimary or a
division to form
secondary
colonies. Aquaria
infection. Primary
rely on certain
infections arise
bacteria species to
when healthy ?sh
convert down
succumb to a pathogen
aquarium wastes, but
or parasite invasion.
other bacteria can be
Secondary infections arise
pathogenic. Bacterial infections
when a ?sh that is already damaged
take a few common forms in aquaria,
(physical injury, stress or already suffering
and most are directly associated with acute
from a primary infection) is attacked by an
or chronic stress.
opportunistic pathogen. Typical examples
include bacteria entering the body
] Ulcers ? caused by Aeromonas,
through cuts.
Pseudomonas, Vibrio, Mircobacterium
and Flavobacterium genera of bacteria,
present in aquarium water at most times.
Overcrowding can lead
Opportunistic pathogens that infect ?sh
to environmental health
suffering prior stress and/or injuries.
issues for your ?sh.
Signs: depressed, rounded wounds on the
?sh, usually red and with a white edge.
Extreme cases may expose organs.
Ulcers cause osmotic stress in the ?sh.
Open wounds allow essential minerals to
leave (or excessively enter) a ?sh?s body.
Treatment: off the shelf broad range
antibacterial medication (usually formalin
based). 3g/l of salt will help. Extreme cases
may require prescribed antibiotics added
via food. Some antibacterial treatments can
be applied direct to the ?sh and sealed in
with a ?wound sealer?.
ALAMY
] Fin rot ? caused by the same bacteria as
in ulcers, through different entry points.
Signs: erosion of tissue between one or
more ?n rays, often with a white edge. Fin
rays and spines often left intact.
76
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 4
aquarium husbandry as well as generic
conditions of chronic and acute stress. Poor
water quality is a particular culprit.
Signs: white/grey lips, cottony tufts around
and on the mouth, shimmying, reluctance to
feed, red patches on the body, grey patches
over the head and gills.
Treatment: formaldehyde or
phenoxyethanol based bacterial
medications may help, along with 3g/l salt.
Severe infections require antibiotics.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
Ulcers are more common in
?sh with injuries or those
suffering from stress.
Treatment: off the shelf medicines
containing phenoxyethanol. 3g/l salt will
help. If the bacteria reach the body, the
disease escalates rapidly, and treatment as
for ulcers will be needed.
] Cotton mouth/Columnaris ? caused
by Flavobacterium columnare bacteria.
Outbreaks are linked directly to poor
] Fish TB/Wasting disease ? caused by
Mycobacterium marinum and M.
fortuitum on infected ?sh. Chronic stress
from poor husbandry and poor water
quality will trigger outbreaks. Cannibalism
and infected faeces transmit the disease.
Signs: emaciation, pale colours and general
poor health. External diagnosis difficult,
as internal organs are infected. Dissection
of dead ?sh will expose white nodules in
the body.
Treatment: strong antibiotics may rarely
have some effect. Salt and off-the-shelf
medicines ineffective.
Fish TB is a zoonotic illness that can
potentially transfer to humans through cuts
in the skin.
Fungal diseases
Fungi are ever present in aquaria as spores,
and are opportunistic. Most fungal
infections in ?sh are external but there are
rare instances of internal infections.
] Cotton wool disease ? caused by
Achyla and Saprolegnia fungi. Poor water
quality, poor hygiene, chronic stress and
injury are all factors in an outbreak. Often
follows diseases such as ulcers or ?n rot.
Signs: obvious patches of white ?uff,
usually where the ?sh has been injured.
Patches may turn green or brown over time.
Spreads from damaged ?esh to healthy
?esh, degrading it by sending hyphae down
to digest living tissue.
Treatment: rectify all predisposing factors,
dose aquarium with off the shelf,
phenoxyethanol based medicine. 3 to 5g/l
salt will inhibit spread of fungus.
Viral diseases
Relatively rare in aquaria, viral infections
pose a particular problem as they cannot be
treated. Viruses ?hijack? living cells to create
more viruses. Sometimes, invaded cells
become so large that the infection becomes
visible as lumps on the body. Internal virus
infections are hard to diagnose without
specialist equipment. As well as the
diseases listed below, viruses may be
implicated in some tumours, as well as
dropsy outbreaks.
] Lymphocystis ? caused by
Lymphocystis or similar viruses.
Chronic stress appears to be an underlying
cause, though the condition is often
synonymous with ?sh that have been
injected with arti?cial dyes. The virus
may spread via injuries, though
cannibalism of dead ?sh may be a factor.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Orfe with a nasty
fungal infection.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
77
Signs: small pink or white-grey lumps that
can grow large and ?cauli?ower? like.
Infected ?sh may appear unbothered. In
extreme cases, they may lose condition and
refuse to feed, eventually dying.
Treatment: not possible.
that require a microscope to diagnose, to
huge crustaceans that cling to the ?sh.
Parasites can have complex life cycles, and
some even have multiple hosts at different
stages of their lives. Because of these,
treatment can be prolonged.
] Dwarf gourami iridovirus ? caused by
a yet to be identi?ed iridovirus, the disease
attacks Dwarf gouramis, as well as Betta
splendens, and possibly Angel?sh and Ram
cichlids, amongst others.
Signs: (in dwarf gouramis) emaciation, loss
of appetite, reduced colours, belly bloating,
open sores and death.
Treatment: not possible and the
underlying factors not clearly understood.
] White spot ? caused by the protozoan
Ichthyopthirius multi?lis. Stress appears
a major trigger. Ammonia and nitrite
poisoning causes outbreaks. Scaleless and
small-scaled ?sh more prone. Sudden drops
in temperature act as a trigger. Usually
occurs when new ?sh are added to a tank,
one of which is carrying. Fish exposed to
whitespot in the past may develop
immunity to some strains, meaning that not
all ?sh in a tank become infected.
Signs: obvious presence of small white
spots on skin and ?ns, like tiny paint
droplets. Fish in early stage infection may
scratch and ?ick. Excess slime production.
Tattered ?ns.
Treatment: off-the-shelf medication
(usually malachite green, methylene blue,
formalin or copper sulphate based). NOTE:
Some ?sh are susceptible to whitespot
medication. Always read instructions
before dosing. 3g/l salt will help. The
parasite?s life cycle involves several stages,
of which only one will respond
to treatment.
Parasitic infections
Biologically more complex than viruses,
fungi or bacteria, parasites make up a huge
chunk of the infectious disease problem in
?sh. Parasites frequently arrive in to a tank
via the addition of new ?sh. Unlike bacteria
and fungus, many parasite outbreaks are
primary infections that may not require ?sh
to be stressed to take hold.
Endoparasites are those that live inside
the ?sh and may be hard to diagnose.
Ectoparasites live on the outside of the ?sh,
and can range from single celled organisms
Whitespot life cycle
Parasitic feeding/growing
stage between skin of ?sh
Infective stage
swims in the
water in search of
a ?sh to infect.
Cyst releases between
250 and 2,000
infective stages.
78
On the ?sh, the trophont (the feeding,
parasitic stage) is beneath the ?sh?s skin
and cannot be treated. When mature, the
parasite leaves the ?sh and falls to the
substrate (leaving wounds susceptible to
secondary fungal or bacterial infections).
On the substrate, the spot becomes a
tomont, and begins to divide into up to
2000 new white spot protozoans. The spot
then releases theronts in to the water. The
theront is the stage of the life cycle where
the white spot looks for a host, and it is this
stage that responds to treatment.
Because medicine will only treat the
theront stage, repeated doses are needed.
Even if the ?sh looks free of spots, tomonts
in the substrate will be producing more
theronts. Daily gravel cleaning during a
white spot infestation will help to remove
the dividing cysts on the substrate.
Increasing the temperature (where
possible) by a couple of degrees centigrade
will speed up the life cycle, making
treatment faster.
] Guppy disease ? caused by the
protozoan Tetrahymena. Mainly affects
Guppies, but can manifest on other species,
like Angel?sh and Betta. Transmits directly
from ?sh to ?sh, through water.
Signs: listlessness, rapid breathing,
difficulty swimming, erosion of the ?ns or
body. Unlike ?n rot, the tail will
disintegrate along with rays and
spines. Bright colours may turn
Parasite
enlarged.
Mature parasite
leaves ?sh and
falls to the
substrate.
Cyst begins to
divide.
Reproductive stage
(cyst) on substrate.
This may also be found
attached to plants.
Whitespot affecting a
Tiger barb.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 4
] Velvet disease ? caused by the protozoan
Piscinoodinium. Poor water quality may be
a factor. Introduced on infected ?sh, but also
transported on contaminated nets, plants
and decor. A particular problem for fry.
Signs: a ?dusting? of gold all over the ?ns
and body, excess mucus production,
lethargy, rapid breathing, ?icking and
scratching, and loss of balance. Scales may
appear ?lifted? from the body. Can be difficult
to see on some ?sh.
Treatment: turn aquarium lights off
(Piscinoodinium derive some energy from
photosynthesis) and medicate with a course
of off the shelf antiparasite treatment
(malachite green, methylene blue, formalin
or copper sulphate based). 3 to 5g/l salt will
help. Velvet disease has a complex life cycle,
and treatment should last at least seven
days to catch any released spores.
Velvet can be
transported from
tank to tank on
contaminated equipment.
touching each other, or sometimes through
water. Poor water quality and
overcrowding are factors, as these parasites
may be present at unnoticeable levels in
even the healthiest aquarium.
Signs: ?icking and scratching in the early
stages, a grey or white sheen to the body as
mucus is produced to excess. Fish
eventually look slimy, with mucus
sloughing off. Fin erosion, rapid breathing
ALAMY
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
] Slime disease ? Caused by one (or more)
of several microscopic parasites, including
Trichodina, Chilodinella, Ichthyobodo
and Gyrodactylus. Transmitted via ?sh
MYDIGITALLIFE/ CREATIVE COMMONS
white at affected areas. Spread is fast, and
mortalities happen quickly. Scales may
appear ?lifted? from the body.
Treatment: advanced cases require
dipping the ?sh in Potassium permanganate
or Chloramine T, followed with an off the
shelf, broad range antiparasite medicine
(malachite green, methylene blue,
formalin or copper sulphate based).
3?5g/l salt will help.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
and secondary ulcers possible in
advanced cases.
Treatment: correct diagnosis requires a
skin scrape ? mucus is taken from the ?sh
and looked at under a microscope,
indicating both the type and extent of the
infection. Infections of Trichodina,
Chilodinella and Ichthyobodo may be treated
with off the shelf medications (copper and
formalin based). Treatment is often a single
Fish louse attached to
the tail of a swordtail.
Only the female louse
attacks ?sh.
79
dose, followed by a follow up second dose
after one week if the ?rst fails. Infections of
Gyrodactylus require treatments
containing Levamisole or Praziquantel.
Avoid using salt, which increases mucus
production, and can in some cases actively
promote numbers of parasites.
] Camallanus ? caused by the nematode
worm Camallanus cotti. Can be introduced
in live foods, but also by ?sh eating infected
faeces. Wild caught ?sh that haven?t been
quarantined properly are a common cause.
Signs: emaciation, but the disease is most
obvious as thin, red worms protruding from
the anus of an infected ?sh.
Treatment: medicated food (using
fenbendazole wormer) or dosing of the
aquarium with levamisole, found in a couple
of off the shelf medicines. Regular gravel
cleaning during an infection will help
remove contaminated faeces.
] Fish louse ? caused by Argulus
crustaceans. Transmission is direct, from
?sh to ?sh, or from eggs that the Argulus lay
in the tank which hatch into tiny larvae.
Argulus only attach to a host to feed, then
drop off and reproduce. Only females attack
?sh. Introduced via infected ?sh, or
contaminated nets and decoration.
Signs: visible to the naked eye as a large 5 to
10mm green disc that clings to the ?sh?s
body. Affected ?sh may have puncture
wound injuries and secondary infections.
Treatment: remove the adult parasites
with tweezers in a heavy infestation. Follow
up with a course of insecticidal treatment
such as Di?ubenzuron (found in some off
the shelf treatments). Also, remove any eggs,
visible as white ?strands? on rocks and glass.
Antibacterial treatments may be needed for
secondary infections. 3g/l salt will help.
] Hole in the head ? an illness found
RADEK BEDNARCZUK
Hole in the head
affecting a Uaru.
mainly within cichlids, and can be either a
parasitic infestation of Spironucleus,
Octomitus and Hexamita, or a symptom
caused by an unknown cause. Poor water
quality can be a factor, as can poor diet and
stray voltage. Secondary bacteria may be
involved. Exact mechanism of the illness
not well understood. The parasite primarily
infects the gut of affected ?sh.
Signs: white ?pits? in the head that may
expand down the lateral line and may exude
white slime. Faeces may turn white, ?sh
become emaciated and refuse to feed.
Treatment: requires metronidazole which
needs to be obtained under prescription.
Some off the shelf medicines may have
some effect in the early stages of infection.
Diseases with multiple causes
Some disease symptoms can be caused by
several different pathogens, or none at all.
This makes diagnosis extremely difficult,
and often guesswork is involved in treating.
] Dropsy ? retention of ?uid in the body,
caused through physical injury, pathogenic,
parasitic, viral or bacterial infestation, poor
water quality and chronic stress.
Signs: bodily swelling until the ?sh?s scales
start to distend, making it look like a pine
cone. The swelling may just be around the
internal organs, or it may be the entire ?sh.
Treatment: broad range antibacterial
medication, though this won?t work against
dropsy caused by non-bacterial factors. 3g/l
salt may help with osmotic stress. Move
infected ?sh to a separate tank, as the cause
may be transmittable. Where treatment is
ineffective, euthanasia may be needed.
] Pop eye ? also called Exophthalmus,
this condition of distended or even
PHOTOMAX
The typical pine cone
effect caused by dropsy is
evident on this gourami.
80
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 4
prolapsed eyes can be down to bacteria,
parasites, virus or fungus infection, as well
as dietary and water quality issues. Often
occurs after physical injury to the eye.
Signs: gross distention or even prolapse of
the eye, possibly with clouding. May be
found in tandem with dropsy.
Treatment: hard without knowing the
underlying cause, but a broad range
antibacterial medicine is advised, as is 3g/l
salt where possible.
This double-headed
Arowana is the result of
a birth defect.
Nutritional diseases
]Fatty liver ? caused by feeding ?sh
excessively fatty foods, especially terrestrial
foods such as mammal and bird ?esh.
Signs: outwardly limited. Fish condition
may deteriorate rapidly, and the ?sh may
die. Post mortem examination is required to
reveal the problem.
Treatment isn?t an option, but the problem
can be avoided by providing the correct diet.
]Vitamin de?ciencies ? rare with
today?s modern foods, but can happen
where ?sh are given stale or incorrect diets.
Signs: poor colouring, pop-eye (vitamins A
and E), poor growth, kinked spines, bloating,
deformities, blindness, ?n erosion and
bleeding (vitamin C).
Treatment: requires the correct diet to be
offered to ?sh with immediate effect.
Deformities will be irreversible.
]Intestinal blockage/constipation
? incorrect foods can build up in the guts
and intestines of ?sh.
Signs: long, unbroken faeces from the ?sh,
bloating around the stomach, loss of balance
as gas builds up in the digestive system.
Treatment: correct the diet, but also offer
food with some indigestible content
? Daphnia and Cyclops are good. Epsom
salts added to food or used as a bath may
help to ?ush ?sh through.
Genetic and physiological
diseases
Some diseases are the result of inherited
traits or the natural process of ageing. While
these are diseases that cannot be treated,
knowing their existence helps avoid
misdiagnosis with other disease types.
]Birth deformities ? often caused by
NEIL HEPWORTH
Incorrect feeding can lead to illness, causing
premature ?sh deaths or deformities.
Birth deformities are often caused by
inbreeding, rearing eggs in poor
conditions, or vitamin de?ciencies.
inbreeding, rearing eggs in poor conditions,
or vitamin de?ciencies, these may or may
not be problematic or fatal.
Signs: any deformity you can think of, from
extra or missing ?ns, to conjoined ?sh.
Treatment: none, but prevention by
choosing good stock and performing good
husbandry will reduce incidences.
]Old age/senility ? inevitable in all living
organisms, and untreatable. Knowing the
lifespan of your ?sh will help diagnosis.
Some species may be elderly within 12
months, while others may take decades to
reach old age.
Signs: loss of balance, lethargy, blindness,
emaciation, loss of condition, or sudden
onset of most diseases listed on these pages.
]Treatment: none.
Zoonoses
Diseases that can transfer to humans are a
risk for any aquarist. Zoonotic infections
enter the human body usually via ingestion
or broken skin.
Zoonotic disease risk can be reduced by
good aquarium protocols. When working
inside tanks, protect broken skin with
waterproof gloves.
After working on any aquarium, or
touching any ?sh, the aquarist should
immediately wash their hands with soap
and water, and, if there is any concern of
zoonotic infections present, a hand
sanitising gel should also be used.
ANY unusual symptoms, including fevers,
nausea, skin in?ammation, sores or raised
bumps on the skin that appear after
working on aquaria should be discussed
with your doctor.
Disposing of dead ?sh
Fish should never be ?ushed down a toilet.
Nor should a dead ?sh ever be fed to another
?sh ? this is how diseases spread.
Even burying ?sh in the garden risks bodies
being dug up and eaten by wildlife ? a
particular problem if zoonoses are involved.
Sealing ?sh in polythene bags and
disposing of them as domestic waste is the
sensible option. Your retailer may have
facilities to have ?sh taken away and
incinerate
destroying
pathogens
was carry
and this is
far the bes
option in
the few
sites that
is availabl
HOW YOU CAN GAIN YOUR DIPLOMA
Go to www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk/diploma and register for
the free online exam now. You will then be sent a link to take the
exam at the end of the ?ve-month course (there will be a paper copy
option for readers without online access). If you pass the exam, you
will receive your very own Fishkeeping Diploma, to show that you
have successfully completed the course, and which is yours to
display on the wall near your aquarium, hang in your ?sh house
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
? or keep somewhere safe where you can take it
out and just look at it from time to time. Open to UK
residents only. The Fishkeeping Diploma is not a quali?cation and
should not be confused with the type of diploma presented by
colleges, universities and other educational establishments.
The Fishkeeping Diploma is awarded by PFK in association with
Fluval. For more info on Fluval, visit www.?uvalaquatics.com/uk
81
MP & C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
COMMON SPECIES
SUBJECT TO
INJECTION AND DIPPING
O Albino corydoras
O Glass ?sh, Parambassis sp.
O Parrot cichlids
O Black widow tetra
O Giant gourami
WHAT?S WRONG WITH INJECTED FISH?
Fish can be arti?cially coloured in a couple of ways ? Dipping or Injecting
DIPPING: Fish have their mucous layers stripped, before dunking
in concentrated dyes stains them with arti?cially bright colours.
`Fish are dyed all over including the gills, causing respiration issues.
`Ink in the body can have serious effects on organ function.
`Stripping away mucus leaves ?sh open to bacteria and parasites.
INJECTING: Fish are stabbed with a needle, and dyes injected.
They may have patterns or words tattooed on the body.
`Against ?sh body sizes, needles are huge. Imagine your arm being
injected with a pencil for a comparison.
`Injection sites are access points for infections.
`Needles are not cleaned or sterilised, risking infection.
`Chemical embolisms from injection can cause fatalities.
`Injecting causes granulomas, tumours and cauli?ower like growths.
`The dyes cause in?ammation of skin and muscle tissues.
`Injecting requires rough handing which is highly stressful.
ARE THEY LEGAL?
It IS illegal to dye a ?sh through
dipping or injection in the UK, but
NOT illegal to import or sell them.
Almost all dyed ?sh are commercially
produced in the far east, and
imported directly.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ask if retailers have joined up to
the Practical Fishkeeping Dyed Fish
Campaign. Started in 1996, the
campaign asks retailers to pledge not to
sell any dyed ?sh.
If you see some on sale, raise your
concerns with store owners. Because
dyed ?sh aren?t always advertised as
such, staff may genuinely not know they
are stocking them!
Your voice can help make the difference!
Improve your
Fishkeeping
Practical advice and great ideas to ensure you get
the most from your hobby.
84
d tank
While we might all want to ?ll our homes with the
newest, top end gear, our cash ?ow might have other
ideas. Here?s our advice on buying secondhand.
Fishkeeping
Answers
86
Fishkeepers? emergency toolbox
It pays to have a few essential items to hand
for those sudden unexpected emergencies.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
89
Fishkeeping Answers
Your aquatic problems solved
by our panel of experts.
83
Improve your Fishkeeping
Buying a used tank
While we might all want to ?ll our homes with the newest, top end
gear, and artisanal tanks and cabinets, our cash ?ow might have
other ideas. Here?s some important advice on buying secondhand.
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
Know your rights!
Buying from a private seller is very different to
buying from a retailer. Private sellers don?t
have an obligation to tell you about any
defects or faults, while retailers (even those
trading used goods) do.
If you buy from a private seller, and your item
breaks a week later, you might have no
comeback at all. A retailer is obliged to sell you
something ?t for purpose, and of satisfactory
quality (though that last bit is very open to
translation). A private seller has to provide an
item that is, at the least, as described. If you
buy a Hagen aquarium, get it home and then
?nd out it?s actually a different brand with a
Hagen sticker over the top, then you?re entitled
to a refund.
Ask to see it running
If you?re buying a used complete set-up, ask to
see pictures of it when it was running. Did it
look good when it was set up? If it looked ?lthy
and the owners struggled to maintain it, then
possibly they had the wrong equipment
selection ? and you?re about to buy a lot of
substandard or incorrect gear!
Do you really want ?sh?
Silly question, I know. But do you want
someone else?s ?sh? A lot of set-ups on offer
come ?complete with ?sh?, which often means
they can?t offload or sell the ?sh separately.
Don?t be surprised if you turn up to collect and
?nd that the centrepiece of the set-up is some
kind of hulking tankbuster that?s eaten all its
tank mates and still has a lot of growing to do.
Find out EXACTLY what ?sh are in the tank.
Note also that if you need to move a tank
with ?sh, things just got a lot more difficult?
Fill it up outside
Anecdotally speaking, tanks seem likelier to
burst after they?ve been sat empty for a while
between uses. Don?t trust any secondhand
purchase right off the bat. When you get your
aquarium home, take it somewhere out of the
way and ?ll it up where it can?t damage your
furniture and carpet.
Also, leave it ?lled for a few days to check
that it?s not going to spring any leaks ? or
worse!
Avoid obscure brands
I?ve nothing against lesser known names.
Some of them make really good tanks,
right up until the point something goes
wrong and you need to source spare parts.
Fish tanks are made all around the world, and
if you buy up some rare Korean import, then
you might struggle ?nding a new impeller at
short notice.
SHUTTERSTOCK
The secondhand market for ?shkeeping
equipment is alive and well, but not always for
the right reasons. While bargains are to be
had, there?s also plenty of scope for the unwary
aquarist to get their ?ngers burnt.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Don?t take on unwanted
tankbusters along with
a secondhand tank.
84
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Basics
If the set-up comes with
?sh, ?nd out what they
are ? they might not be an
ideal mix.
medications. If it is rigid and ?aky, it could be
degrading and in need of replacement.
Check that glass
If you?re buying a tank, look long and hard at
the extent of scratches, and make sure you get
close up to inspect before you buy. You can?t
exactly polish out a deep scratch up the middle
of the front pane, and that scratch might not
be obvious when you?re buying on the strength
of a grainy, slightly out of focus mobile phone
camera. While you?re at it, have a good look at
the silicone.
Sealant that has been ravaged by algae
scrapers or chewed away by suckermouth cats
(they do that, you know?) might not have
much integrity left. Silicone should have a
degree of ?squishy? about it, and it should be
either black, or slightly off white/clear. If it?s
green or blue, it might be stained by
Ditch the decor
If the tank comes with heaps of porous rocks
and wood ? I?d bin it all off. Decor like this
can absorb anything that has been added to
the tank, including medications. That chunk
of Tufa rock could be heaving with copper
based medicine, just waiting to take out your
beloved invertebrates.
Watch that pump and ?lter
running!
Even if you turn up to collect and it?s all
bagged up ready to travel, ask to see the ?lter
running in a bucket of water or something. Get
the seller to show you exactly how the thing
opens up, and speci?cally ask to see the
impeller and the impeller well. If the impeller
or the well has obvious wear and tear, then
that ?lter is likely on the way out. Fight your
corner and haggle.
A wet heater is a bad heater
There?s an awful lot of broken heaters out
there, going unnoticed. Have a look at what
Some rockwork can absorb
copper medications, so bin
it if in doubt.
Don?t move ANYTHING
with water
NEIL HEPWORTH
GABOR HORVATH
Watch out for degraded or
damaged silicone sealant.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
you?re being offered, and check in particular
for any signs of condensation inside it. If
there?s a misting of ?uid inside, or a few
droplets of moisture, then you don?t want it ?
reject it and get some money knocked off the
package so that you can buy a new one.
If you?ve turned up to buy the tank and it still
has a few inches of water in the bottom, don?t
touch it until it is fully drained. Carrying a tank
with even a couple of jugs of water inside it is
asking for trouble, and all that sloshing is
going to be outrageous wear and tear on the
silicone seals.
85
Improve your Fishkeeping
NEIL HEPWORTH
Things don?t always run as smoothly
as we?d like, and keeping a few key
items to hand will help you deal with
problems quickly.
T
e
fi
e
rgency
ox
It pays to have a few essential items to hand for those sudden
unexpected emergencies, explains Tetra?s Dave Hulse.
WORDS: DAVE HULSE, TECHNICAL CONSULTANT AT TETRA
The laboratory in which I worked when I ?rst
graduated from university was an exciting
place. Among the ?sh tanks housing a range of
species were cupboards full of everything
you?d need to deal with any ?sh emergency
from ?ow regulators and air pumps to limitless
test kits, water treatments and medications.
For more experienced ?shkeepers,
maintaining a stock of these items is second
nature. However, for newcomers, it is very
bene?cial to know what items you should have
to hand should some unforeseen emergency
arise such as a broken or leaking tank,
breakdown in water quality or stressed ?sh.
Dealing with a broken or
leaking tank
The ultimate emergency for a ?shkeeper is a
broken or leaking tank as this will affect ?sh
health as well as equipment such as ?lters,
Dave Hulse is Tetra?s Technical Consultant. He has 20 years of experience within the
aquatics industry, and has been involved in education and training for
the last 15 years, having taught at both Sparsholt and Reaseheath
Colleges. He is currently based at the School of Life Sciences at Keele
University where he turns his hand to other subjects in the biological
sciences ? although he usually manages to crowbar a piscatorial
reference in at some point! With such a varied
and rich background in aquatics, Dave brings
a wealth of experience to support Tetra and
its customers.
86
heaters, air pumps and lighting failing.
A consequence of failed life support
equipment will almost certainly be a drastic
deterioration in water quality, leading to
increased stress in your ?sh and a weakened
immune system. As well as spare equipment,
you should always keep test kits handy, and
use them as part of your maintenance regime.
When it comes to a shattered aquarium,
there is little that can be done although having
a spare tank to hold the ?sh in an emergency
can be useful ? used tanks are widely
available and can be handy, otherwise a clean
Tub-Trug might do the job. Pondkeepers will
often use a knocked-down pool to hold ?sh
temporarily if there is an emergency, or more
often during a major clean.
A breakdown in the
water quality
Let?s imagine that our water quality tests
reveal a major horror in the tank; ammonia
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
i
levels are off the chart or there are
dangerously low pH and KH levels,
for example.
The most likely course of corrective
action in these instances would be a
signi?cant water change, which is why
our emergency kit must include a good
stock of tapwater conditioner, to
neutralise any harsh chlorine
from the tapwater that may be
residual, making a drastic
water change a lot easier.
For marine ?shkeepers, a
partial water change means
making up a batch of synthetic
saltwater; a process that
should really take 24 hours. A
stock of synthetic saltwater
should be kept as part of your
emergency kit for a quicker
water replacement.
Following a partial water
change to correct the water
quality, adding some
activated carbon to the ?lter
can help to further restore
water parameters.
If high ammonia and nitrite
levels were the issue, then a
dose of a ?lter bacteria culture,
such as Tetra SafeStart or Tetra
Always have dechlorinator on
FilterActive, will help restore the
hand in case you need to do an
populations of nitri?ers.
emergency water change.
Ensuring ?sh w
Following
n on from the
deterioration
t
of their
habitat, ?sh
h will often be
left with raised
e stress
levels and lowered
we
immunity which
h can
c
leave them more
susceptible to ill health
lth or
diseases. Should such an
infectious disease strike,
the ?sh will often show
predictable symptoms.
Microscopic ectoparasites, such
h as
a
the skin and gill ?ukes, Costia and Trichodina,
Tric odin
cause intense irritation to the ?sh, leading
din to
the production
duction of a thicker mucous coat whic
wh ch
may cause the ?
?sh
h to become lethargic and
d
gasp at the water surface.
surfac With an
Ichthyophthirius infect
ction,
n white
w
spots can
develop all over the skin
k and ?ns
?ns.
These parasites can usually be controlled
cont
with a dose of a broad spectrum
antiparasite treatment. It is preferable to
have this typ
type of ttreatment to hand as part of
an emergency ?rst aid kit
k for your ?sh,
and to know the circumstances
es when
whe you
would need to use it, than to panic
a buy a
treatment in the hope it will cure your
ou
sick ?shes.
Only use a disease treatment
ment followi
following
g
a full and thorough appraisal of the water
quality values in your aqua
h
will allow you to correct a
s with
eeding with
water parameterss befor
before proceeding
the treatment.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
l?shkeepin
Keep pump and ?lter
impellers clean ? and have a
spare impeller handy in case
of breakages.
Freshwater emergency kit checklist
Should a situation arise, it?s important to have items ready in order
to ensure ?sh wellbeing by responding quickly. If you?re unsure
about your aquarium or have questions about your ?sh or water,
your local retailer will always be happy to support you.
O Tapwater conditioner (eg. Tetra AquaSafe)
O Broad spectrum antiparasite remedy
O Water test kits (eg. Tetra 6in1)
O Bucket
O Syphon
O Fish nets of a suitable size
O Pump impeller
O O-rings for canister ?lter
O Filter media (including activated carbon)
O Spare heater
Activated
carbon.
Make sure
that the net
you buy is big
enough for
your largest
?sh.
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Fishkeeping
Answers
Send your questions to
PFK and you?ll receive a
personalised reply from
one of our top experts.
Remember to include as
much information as you
can about your set-up ? a
photo is useful too. There?s
a box of goodies from Tetra
for the letter of the month.
TROPICAL
A Betta requires a tank of
25 l or more as a permanent
residence.
OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS
TRISTAN LOUGHER
works in aquatic retail
and has sold marines
for 15 years. He has
written books and
taken part in research
projects. Tristan works
at Cheshire Waterlife.
BOB MEHEN
has been keeping ?sh
since the 1970s and
has a particular passion
for cat?sh. He helps to
moderate the PFK
website forum and
excels at advising and
guiding new keepers.
NATHAN HILL
is PFK?s features editor.
He?s worked as a public
aquarist, managed
a number of aquatic
stores and has
lectured in aquatics.
JEREMY GAY
has kept ?sh most of
his life. He?s managed
an award-winning
store and is a former
PFK editor. He?s now
Evolution Aqua?s
business development
manager.
NEALE MONKS
has kept ?sh for over
20 years. He has
authored a number of
?shkeeping books and
has a particular passion
for brackish species.
What is the minimum amount of water in
which a Betta should be kept? I am
wondering about the practices of pet stores
who keep them in drinking cups.
SHELLEY, EMAIL
A
If you research online on forums and
websites, or ask at different shops, you
will get a range of answers based on various
ideas and theories. Personally, I would never
keep a Betta in anything smaller than 25 l
volume, and this ideally would be a relatively
shallow tank to give as much swimming space
for the volume as possible.
Many retailers do still keep their Betta in tiny
cubic tanks, or even plastic drinking cups as
you mention. I?m not a fan of either practice,
especially the latter which for me is totally
unnecessary. The small tanks are often part of
a greater volume of water at least (as part of a
sumped, ?ltered bank) which means while
their swimming space is limited, the water is
unlikely to become laden with ammonia and
other waste, unlike the cups. These small
quarters are intended to allow shops to stock
multiple Betta that they couldn?t in larger
open display tanks or together for obvious
reasons. They are not intended as examples of
long term husbandry.
Many people will argue that in the wild Betta
inhabit small, muddy puddles of water or
murky paddy ?elds, however while this may
have an element of truth to it, it shouldn?t be
taken as best practice. The line bred ?sh we
see in the hobby are far removed from their
wild ancestors, and we as their custodians
should give them the best environment we
can, not settle for the minimum we can get
away with.
Betta are inquisitive, entertaining ?sh with
real character ? but they are unlikely to show
any of this in a tea-cup! BOB MEHEN
SHUTTERSTOCK
Q. What?s the smallest tank size
suitable for a Betta?
GEORGE FARMER
is a world-renowned
aquascaper. He
co-founded the UK
Aquatic Plant Society
and now works as a
freelance aquatic
specialist.
Send your questions to us at: Fishkeeping Answers, Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood,
Peterborough, PE2 6EA, or email them to us on questions@practical?shkeeping.co.uk
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www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
89
U
Fishkeeping Answers
COLDWATER
Q. What can I keep with my fancies?
Ramshorn snails would be OK, as are Giant pond snails, Tadpole
snails and Nerite snails. Apple snails are now banned, and avoid
freshwater mussels as they starve to death in aquaria.
The only oddities I would recommend would be ?shy ones, not
invertebrates. Variatus platies are OK with small fancies, as are
Zebra and Leopard danios. White Cloud Mountain minnows are ?ne
when the fancies are small too, but I?d never add White Clouds or
danios to a gold?sh tank where the ?sh are 12.5cm/5in plus.
To be honest, the best tank mates for fancies are other fancies.
But if you removed the fancies or set up another unheated
tank, you could open up a whole world of suitable, small,
temperate ?sh and invertebrates which would rival even a
tropical set-up.
I would like some advice on what other little critters I can keep
with my Calico fantails and Orandas. They are quite small at the
moment, but I know they grow big. I have two Peppered corys
with them and they all get on ?ne. Is it possible to keep Ghost
shrimp with fancy gold?sh?
VIRGINIA AINSWORTH, EMAIL
A
I?ve kept shrimp with baby fancy gold?sh, and Cherry shrimp
do suit temperate, unheated tanks well, but as soon as your
?sh reach upwards of 5?7.5cm/2?3in body length they will try to
eat the shrimp. The Cherry shrimp will then hide inside the decor
and won?t eat all the algae. Amano shrimp are larger and will
tolerate unheated indoor tanks, as will Ghost shrimp, but as your
gold?sh grow, even they will be on the menu.
JEREMY GAY
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
Ghost shrimp will be ?ne
with very small gold?sh.
Cherry shrimp work
well in temperate
set-ups.
The best tank mates
for fancy gold?sh
are other fancies...
ALAMY
Nerite snail.
LETTER OF THE MONTH
SHUTTERSTOCK
Virginia wins a box of Tetra
goodies: 100ml TetraMin and
TetraPro Colour foods, Holiday
Food, Pleco Algae Wafers,
FunTips Tablets, 100ml
SafeStart, EasyBalance and
AquaSafe water treatments and
Tetra Test 6 in 1.
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
90
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
NEIL HEPWORTH
Cloudy water can be the result
of a bacterial bloom.
Q. Why has my tank gone cloudy?
I have an established tank that has been
running for six years now. However, I?ve
recently experienced a problem with cloudy
water ? it looks as though there are minute
particles in it.
For the last six years I have cleaned the
tank every two weeks but around six weeks
ago I started to clean tank every week .
After three weeks of having cloudy water
I got rid of my real plants because I
thought that they might be the problem.
But the water is still cloudy. The only other
thing I can think of that could be the
problem is the gravel substrate, which has
been in the tank for the whole six years.
Any ideas, please?
MARTIN BARRY, EMAIL
A
The change in your long established
routine may well have caused the
cloudiness you mention. It could initially
have been a bacterial bloom and I suspect
removing the live plants has not helped as it
will have disturbed the substrate and its
bacterial population, as well as removing
the plants? capacity to use the waste
produced by the ?sh.
You don?t mention which type of ?lter you
are using (internal, external etc.) but it may
be worth adding some ?ne ?lter wool to the
?lter and changing it regularly to remove
any ?ne ?oating particles ? just be careful
it doesn?t clog up and block completely.
It is unlikely that the gravel itself is
causing the cloudiness directly ? after six
years it seems doubtful that it is chemically
adding to the problem as some gravels can
if they include stone that dissolves in water.
However, if your gravel bed is deep (bearing
in mind that you would have needed enough
substrate for the plants to root into when
you had them originally) it might be worth
carefully syphoning off around 50% of the
substrate, if it is ?ne enough to be sucked up
a syphon tube without blocking it, or
removing it by hand which will help make
keeping it clean easier.
A dirty, recently disturbed substrate may
have released nutrients that bacteria in the
water column are taking advantage of. Keep
up the weekly water changes and give your
tank a chance to settle down again after
the recent changes and I suspect the
cloudiness will go.
BOB MEHEN
TROPICAL
Q. How do I set up for breeding Rope?sh?
I am attempting to breed the Rope?sh, Erpetoichthys calabaricus.
I remember reading an article about the limited successes of Ralf
Britz and Ritva Roesler, which was very helpful, but I?d like to ?nd
out more about the water parameters and set-up they used.
I?m leaning toward a paludarium style system with heavily
planted slow moving to standing water with land options ?oating.
I would love more information if possible, please.
HAYLEY COX, EMAIL
A
dramatic a change in environmental conditions. But I would make
the water a bit cooler than the tank, to beef up the impression of
heavy rain, which is likely important when we?re talking about ?sh
adapted to the seasonal conditions typical of West Africa.
The idea of keeping them in a paludarium set-up is a good one, but
bear in mind they are notorious escape artists! Half-?lling a deep
tank works well with Rope?sh however, as they can?t propel
themselves more than about two-thirds their body length above the
waterline. NEALE MONKS
I wrote to the original author, Ralf Britz, and asked him about
this, and he was able to offer up some extra details that you and
other readers might ?nd useful. Although the tank wasn?t particularly
large (120 l) it was quite distinctly decorated, with a ?ne gravel
substrate that was almost entirely covered with Java moss. A few
pots and rocks were provided for hiding places. The aquarium
temperature was allowed to vary across the year, down to 20癈 in
winter and up to 27?C in summer. He reports that water conductivity
varied between 100 to 800 microsiemens, or in more familiar terms,
very soft to hard, while pH varied between 6.5 and 7.5.
While you might try to replicate one particular point within that
range of water chemistry values, the variation is interesting, and
adding some deionised water to replicate heavy rainfall might be a
spawning trigger worth investigating. If it was me, I?d change no
more than 25% the tank this way, so the ?sh weren?t exposed to too
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NEIL HEPWORTH
Rope?sh will ?nd a way out of
the tank if they can.
U
Tetra UK
91
Fishkeeping Answers
TROPICAL
Q.What can we keep in this tank?
My wife recently bought a 35 l Biorb ?sh
tank and after stocking it with various
accessories, almost two weeks ago we
bought our ?rst ?sh ? four Platies ? on
the advice of our shop.
We?re now looking to add some more
?sh over a period of time, but we?ve
received con?icting information about
what to get.
Among the species we?re considering
(but not all at the same time and in
small quantities) are Danios,
Guppies, Corydoras cat?sh, Mollies and
Neon tetras.
Any advice on the above, or alternative
small species would be welcome.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Guppies need hard water
to do well.
JENNIFER AND KEITH BROOKS, EMAIL
A
NEIL HEPWORTH
Try to buy only male Platies ?
females are likely to be pregnant
when you buy them and
numbers can get out of hand.
Danios are highly active ?sh
and demand a large tank for
their size.
BOB MEHEN
SHUTTERSTOCK
There is a lot of con?icting advice
around, so it?s understandable that
you may be a little confused. The Biorb 35
is certainly an attractive looking tank, but
does have a few drawbacks due to its
unusual shape. Smaller tanks can be
harder to keep stable in terms of chemistry
and greatly restrict stocking choices and
35 l is around half the volume I?d
personally recommend a newcomer to have
for their ?rst aquarium.
The Platies you already have are a
reasonable choice for the tank, but a little
larger than ideal ? there is also their
ability to reproduce proli?cally in a short
space of time to take into consideration. If
you have females you will almost certainly
have pregnant females, and therefore more
Platies that could soon leave your tank
overstocked without the addition of
further ?sh! The basic 1cm to 2 l/1in per gal
rule of stocking for small ?sh means
your tank could feasibly hold around
17.5cm of ?sh. Given that Platies can grow
to around 5cm then you can see you may
have a problem.
You don?t mention the pH or hardness of
your water which is critical in choosing new
stock ? some of the ?sh you suggest are
hard water, alkaline loving species while
others do best in softer, acidic conditions.
Of the ?sh you list, the Mollies and Guppies
get too big and require hard water, while
the tetras and Corydoras cat?sh prefer soft,
acidic conditions. The Danios sit
somewhere in the middle, but are far
too fast swimming and active for such a
small tank.
Basically, my advice would be to add no
more ?sh to the tank, just enjoy the ones
you have for the time being ? perhaps the
?shkeeping bug will really bite and
you will upgrade your current tank or get a
second set-up to keep more of the species
you mention.
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Silver sharks are easily
spooked, so watch what you
keep with them.
Q.What do I need for Silver sharks?
a bit less demanding than plants that keep
their foliage closer to the substrate. I?m
thinking that the various Crinum species,
such as C. thaianum and C. calamistratum,
would look especially good here, but you
could just as easily use Vallisneria species.
A lot of public aquarium use these grassy
plants for deep display tanks, so a visit to
one of these might be inspiring!
Regardless, choose sturdy plant
species ? Silver sharks are distinctly
omnivorous, and enjoy eating soft-leaved
aquarium plants.
Now, so far as the community goes, it?s a
mixed bag! Silver sharks are opportunistic
I am planning to have an Asian tank with
?ve Silver sharks, 15 Tiger barbs, eight
Giant danios and four Black collared
cat?sh. First of all, will it work, and
secondly, what size tank would I need and
what decor?
KYLE SPENDIFF-SMITH, EMAIL
A
NEALE MONKS
Black collared cat?sh,
Horabagrus nigricollaris.
AQUARIUMPHOTO.DK
Silver sharks are massive, adults easily
reaching more than 30cm/12in given
the chance, and a group of ?ve specimens
will require a fair amount of space ?
something upwards of 800?1000 l,
especially if you?re planning on adding a
variety of tank mates.
On the other hand, such a tank would look
magni?cent and it would be well worth the
effort if you are able to do it. Given the depth
you?d probably have, getting plants to grow
well would be a challenge due to the lighting
levels required although large epiphytes
such as Java fern and Anubias would work
really nicely, being easily removed (on their
rocks or bogwood roots) whenever you
needed to do maintenance. Removable rocks
and bogwood roots is the way to go with big,
messy ?sh so you can give the substrate a
thorough clean, otherwise organic waste
such as faeces and leftover food will decay
in the gravel, diminishing water quality.
Plants with long, tall leaves might also be
predators, but they?re also rather nervous
and easily spooked, so the Tiger barbs are
going to be a bit of a wildcard here. They
may be ?ne, being deep-bodied enough to
be overlooked as prey, but they might not be,
and conversely, their nippiness might cause
them to harass the Silver sharks, causing
them to jump into the hood or against the
glass walls of the tank. However, the Giant
danios should be safer, and the Black
collared cat?sh, Horabagrus nigricollaris
should be ?ne, too. Given these cat?sh reach
25?30cm/10?12in, they?re another reason for
a really big aquarium.
Expert aquarium care with our digital water test app, download here:
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
93
SHUTTERSTOCK
TROPICAL
Fishkeeping Answers
Q. How do I stop this
rampant seaweed growth?
I have a 250 l marine tank. Over the last
eight weeks or so it has slowly been taken
over by a red seaweed that has been
positively identi?ed as Gracilaria. It
covers about 75% of my live rock.
Whenever I ?prune? it, it just grows back.
I?ve spoken to local aquatic shops for
advice. One suggested a Longspine sea
urchin but my tank is too small. They both
also recommended getting one of the
smaller bristletooth tangs to eat it. The
problem is, I have a Coral beauty and I?m
worried that the angel and tang wouldn?t
get on.
The tank contains two Common clowns,
a Canary wrasse, Coral beauty, Chalk
goby, two Cleaner shrimp, Sand sifting
star?sh, Collector urchin and several Blue
legged hermits. The sg is 1.025, 8pH,
nitrate 10, KH10 and phosphate 0.025.
Can you please recommend anything that
would eat the algae, as I would rather use
something natural than chemical.
NATURE PL
IAN LIMBRICK, EMAIL
Gracilaria can get out of hand
in the aquarium.
A
Gracilaria is lovely, but it can grow
rampantly under the right conditions (lots
of light and nutrients. Macroalgae can
dominate at various stages of the aquarium?s
life, even well after the tank is established, so
this could be a temporary event and you might
?nd it?ll die off spontaneously in time.
Even so, while your nitrates are pretty low
and the phosphate isn?t astronomical, I?d
suggest that the ?rst approach would be to try
and get these down a little ? in particular the
phosphate. Try running some phosphateadsorbing media with the aim of reducing
levels to 0.015. At the same time, continue with
manual removal to export as much algal
biomass as possible (this will also assist with
nutrient export, further reducing nitrate and
phosphate levels).
It?s worth checking the skimmer is working
optimally ? check the water and air ?ow is
sufficient for the skimmer to pull out as many
organics as possible from the water. Additional
nutrient export can be achieved through
increasing water movement and maximising
Yellow-eyed bristletooth tang,
Ctenochaetus strigosus.
Longspine
sea urchin.
ALAMY
JAMES ST. JOHN, CREATIVE COMMONS
MARINE
the efficiency of mechanical ?ltration. Also
consider whether to cut back on feeding to
help with getting nutrient levels down.
Another factor worth investigating is
lighting. Many folks ?nd that reducing the
photoperiod by a couple of hours a day does
the trick. Check if any bulbs or tubes need
replacing, as changes in the output of
lighting over time can be a factor
encouraging nuisance algae. Ultimately, if
you cut off the algae?s nutrient supply and
limit the available lighting, you?ll have an
impact on its growth.
As far as biological control goes, you?re
right that Longspine sea urchins get very
large, so it?s probably best to give them a
miss. There is a fantastic sea hare known as
Dolabella auricularia which can be a superb
algae-muncher but they will need
supplementary feeding once they?ve cleared
the tank. Tangs and rabbit?shes are the
obvious candidates in terms of ?sh. While
it?s risky, it is possible that adding a
bristletooth may not be a problem if it?s
introduced to the resident angel. But on
balance, the best option is to remove the
problem at source through a reduction of
nutrients and possibly an altered lighting
regime. DAVE WOLFENDEN
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
94
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
Q. Will this set-up
suit a dragonet?
Please could you tell me whether it would be feasible to keep any
of the dragonets (Mandarins or Scooters) as a sole ?sh in a 60 l
set-up with live rock and mushrooms and zoas? I intend to
mature it for several months before I add the ?sh. I may stock a
single shrimp ? probably a Peppermint ? and maybe a Turbo
snail, but that?s it. Will there be enough for the dragonet to eat
and can I convert it to frozen foods?
JONATHAN LINLEY, EMAIL
A
Dragonets are amazing ?sh, but they are demanding. As
you?re aware, they need a well-established mature system
with a live sand bed and live rock capable of supplying ample
populations of benthic copepods to sustain them. This is really
crucial to their care, and whilst they can be trained to accept
enriched frozen feeds they don?t fare very well in the long term
without sufficient live food.
You would be amazed at how much food these little ?sh can
snaffle, and the bottom line is that a tank of 60 l is very unlikely to
provide sufficient zooplankton for long-term health. Ideally, you?re
looking at 200 l or so for maintaining one dragonet. In small
systems, dragonets tend to clear out the copepod populations
very quickly, reducing it to such a level that it?s no longer capable
of being self-sustaining. Once the copepod population crashes,
the dragonet risks starvation. It?s theoretically possible to keep
adding copepods to the tank to maintain the food supply, but in
practical terms this is a big commitment ? as well as being
potentially expensive.
As an alternative, why not consider one of the Stonogobiops
species of gobies? As far as I?m concerned, the lovely S. yasha
gives many dragonets a run for their money in terms of looks.
These are gorgeous little ?sh which top out at a mere 5cm or so
and they?re not ?nicky feeders, accepting a range of frozen foods.
This makes this an ideal species for the small, peaceful nano.
Even better, you could pair one with a pistol shrimp Alpheus
randalli for a natural symbiotic partnership? If you?re going to
create a goby/shrimp partnership, provide a deep mixed rubble
and sand substrate for the shrimp to burrow in. Apart from that,
this would not be a demanding pair of animals to keep, and it
would be great fun.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
SHUTTERSTOCK
Like other dragonets, Scooters
need copious amounts of
natural foods to do well.
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Neons prefer slightly cooler
temperatures, but they?re
de?nitely not ?coldwater?.
Q. What should I do
with this sole Neon?
I have a tank that holds about 56 l. When it was ?rst set up some
time ago, it was a freshwater tropical system, however over the
years the ?sh numbers have dwindled. At some point, when there
were just two Neon tetras left, the heater broke ? I didn?t realise
at the time, and as the ?sh were doing ?ne in the colder water, I
decided not to replace the heater. Now there is just the one Neon
tetra left, which as you can imagine, is a bit boring (and probably
very lonely for the ?sh). Do I move the tetra to another smaller
tank so that I can start a saltwater system in the 56 l set-up? I
haven?t done so as he has been doing really well and I don?t want
to disturb or shock him.
EIBHILIN O?REARDON, EMAIL
A
While a single Neon tetra might do okay in a smaller tank
than your 56 l system, it?s hard to recommend that given
these are sociable ?sh that do best in groups of six or more. On the
other hand, if you?re dead-set on using this tank for a marine
project, investing in more freshwater ?sh doesn?t make much
sense. Rehoming ?sh isn?t easy, but a good approach is to get in
touch with a local aquarium club either online, or via social media
websites such as Facebook. In any event, the people who belong to
these clubs are usually dedicated hobbyists who will know
responsible ?shkeepers in the neighbourhood who?ll be able to ?nd
your ?sh a good home. This is probably a better approach than
relying on aquarium shops to take in unwanted ?sh. While many
shops will do this, it?ll be much less certain that your Neon will ?nd
its way into a mature, stable aquarium with peaceful tank mates.
A brief word about your Neon?s apparent ?adaptation? to
coldwater conditions. Neon tetras are low-end tropicals, meaning
that their preferred water temperature is between 22?25?C. This
means that, during summer at least, an unheated aquarium in a
warm, sunny room may well be perfectly adequate because the
lights provide enough heat to warm the tank up during the day.
While the tank cools down when the lights are off, water cools
down slowly, and provided the water doesn?t drop below, say,
18?C, low-end tropicals might actually experience precisely this
sort of temperature change in the wild, so no harm is done. During
the winter your central heating may provide further buffering
against chilling, and it?s my experience that in tanks set up for
low-end tropicals the heater hardly ever comes on. But your Neon
tetra remains a tropical ?sh, albeit a low-end one, and prolonged
exposure to low temperatures (anything below 18?C) will kill them,
either directly or by making them more susceptible to disease.
On the other hand, keeping Neons warmer than they should be is
quite possibly a reason why many people struggle to keep them
alive for more than a few months. In standard communities with
middling to high temperatures, aquarists are probably better off
keeping Cardinal tetras, which do indeed like a bit of warmth,
24?28?C being ideal. NEALE MONKS
Tetra UK
95
SHUTTERSTOCK
MARINE
EVERYTHING YOU
WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT
Artemia are a
g; they?ve featured in South Park,
NASA has sen
into space, and they?re a great
live food. Here?s our guide to how to get the best out
of these incredible crustaceans.
ALAMY
WORDS: DAVE WOLFENDEN
96
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
A
rtemia (known to many of us as brine
shrimp) belong to a group of arthropods
known as fairy shrimps. These ancient
crustaceans are often found in extreme
habitats, including hypersaline lakes and can
withstand punishing conditions, including the ability
to enter ?suspended animation? for years if necessary.
The North American Artemia fransiscana is the
species traditionally used in the aquarium trade. A.
franciscana is considered to be a superspecies, with
separate strains in various locations (which may in
the future be identi?ed as subspecies or even distinct
species in their own right).
Commercially, the strains from Utah?s Great Salt
Lake (GSL) and California?s Bay Area (including San
Francisco Bay) are of particular interest. These differ
in both size and nutritional pro?le. GSL nauplii (the
newly-hatched stage) are slightly larger in size than
Bay Area nauplii, although these tend to contain
higher levels of HUFAs (highly unsaturated fatty
acids) making them potentially more nutritious.
Research has shown that nutritional pro?les can
vary within strains of A. franciscana from year to year.
This appears to be related to factors such as food
availability, and inland areas appear to be more stable
in this regard. Bay Area Artemia, for example, are
particularly vulnerable to variations in phytoplankton
availability which in?uences the annual nutritional
pro?le of the population. In contrast, GSL Artemia
experience more stable conditions from year to year,
resulting in a more consistent nutritional make-up.
In reality, Artemia is not a particularly natural food
for marine ?sh and it?s de?cient in many essential
fatty acids otherwise found in zooplankton such as
copepods. But it can be enriched before feeding it out
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
to boost its nutritional to prevent any potential issues.
The life cycle of Artemia can change depending on
environmental factors. Females can produce
developing eggs or free-swimming larvae when
conditions such as temperature, salinity and food
availability are optimal. If conditions are harsh, they
switch to producing dormant, encysted eggs which
have a tough protective outer coating known as a
chorion. This occurs when salinity rises and the food
supply dwindles. In this state, the offspring can ride
out the tough times until things improve ? ideal in
habitats with often wildly shifting conditions.
Effectively, these encysted offspring are in a state of
suspended animation. This is thanks to a sugar known
as trehalose, which acts as a form of glassy scaffolding
during periods of dormancy, maintaining the
structures of proteins and other cellular components
during dehydration. Known as cryptobiosis (meaning
?hidden life?), this adaptation allows dormant Artemia
cysts to remain viable for many years (perhaps over
two decades) under dry conditions.
Culturing Artemia
Hatching Artemia from cysts is easy, requiring simple
equipment. Inexpensive conical hatcheries are
commercially available, although an inverted plastic
bottle can be used as a hatching vessel (conical vessels
are preferred as they help to prevent dead spots and
keep the cysts in suspension). To hatch cysts, place
them in your chosen vessel in full-strength (around 35
parts per thousand) saltwater. The cysts should be
vigorously aerated (open-ended airline is ideal). Hatch
time and rate is in?uenced by temperature and light.
For the fastest hatching, maintain them at around
28癈, and constant lighting is important.
97
Light stimulates the production of an
enzyme which converts the egg?s trehalose
store into glycerol. This allows water to be
drawn into the egg?s membrane and
hatching commences; in the absence of
light, trehalose conversion is compromised
and hatch rates reduced. The pH also
appears to in?uence hatch rate, which is
reduced at below 8.0pH ? ideally, you?re
looking for 9.0pH. A standard arti?cial salt
mix should deliver a pH 8.2?8.4, which is
perfectly ?ne. If pH is on the low side, a little
sodium bicarbonate added to the hatch
water can help to give it a boost, but nudging
much higher than this can compromise
hatching and even kill the Artemia.
Hatches should take around 24 hours, and
then they can be harvested and fed out
immediately or grown on. It?s important to
try and harvest just the nauplii, and leave
behind the cysts. Cysts can foul the
aquarium, and become lodged in the guts of
?sh fry and suspension-feeding
invertebrates, causing serious ? perhaps
fatal ? problems. Decapsulating cysts
removes this problem entirely, and
magnetised cysts offer a clever solution, but
with undecapsulated cysts, separation of
the nauplii from the cysts can be achieved
by exploiting the tendency of the newlyhatched Artemia to gravitate towards light
(known as phototaxis).
Once the Artemia have hatched, turn off
the aeration, and cover the upper part of the
hatchery to darken it. Shine a bright light
near the bottom; after a few minutes, the
nauplii should congregate at th t
point, whereas unhatched
cysts and debris will sink to
the bottom; hatched cysts
?oat to the top. Syphon off a
many nauplii as possible,
being careful to avoid
sucking up cysts or debris.
The hatch water can
contain very high levels of
ammonia and nitrite, so
Keep it clean!
Bacterial ?lms can build up in the hatchery vessel and any equipment in contact with
the hatching water, so clean everything after each use. Avoid scratching the hatchery as
this can create sites where bacteria can thrive. Periodic bleaching (use unscented
bleach), followed by neutralisation with sodium thiosulphate can help to keep
everything in tip-top condition. Artemia cysts can harbour viruses and bacteria such as
Vibrio. Observing good hygiene means these shouldn?t become an issue, but in
aquaculture, disinfectants are commonly used in the hatchery water. One such product,
Sanocare ACE, is based on tea tree oil, and this has been shown to give good results in
terms of bacterial suppression and improved hatching and water quality.
never introduce it into the aquarium. If
you?re going to be culturing Artemia, a
suitable sieve with a mesh size of around
150?200 microns is an essential piece of kit.
Drain the hatch into the sieve and wash it
out before feeding.
Artemia cysts are graded according to
their percentage hatch rate. In general, the
higher the hatch rate, the more expensive
the cysts. You?ll pay top dollar for 90?95%
grade brine shrimp. On balance, it?s worth it,
however. Hatch rates are a guide to the
proportion of cysts that will hatch under
optimal conditions ? many aquarists are
disappointed with yields far below those
claimed, but this is often simply due to
attempting to culture Artemia under less
than ideal conditions. Store cysts correctly,
watch the salinity, pH and temperature,
ensure sufficient aeration and provide
plenty of light and you can?t go wrong.
advantages. The decapsulation process
helps to sterilise the cysts and reduce levels
of pathogens such as Vibrio bacteria and
viruses; the time to hatch is reduced as the
nauplii don?t have to break through the
tough corion, meaning their nutritional
value is increased as they save energy and
retain more reserves from the yolk sac.
Harvesting decapped Artemia simply
entails running the entire hatch through a
sieve, rinsing and then enriching or feeding
out from the get-go.
Decapsulating Artemia is an involved
process, so unless you?re regularly using
large amounts, use the viable predecapsulated cysts that are available. Bear
in mind that some manufacturers sell
decapped cysts intended for use directly as
food, and which are not viable for hatching.
Magnetised cysts
These cysts are specially coated with a
magnetic material. They hatch as normal,
but are harvested using a special vessel
which contains magnets. The spent cysts
(and any unhatched ones) are attracted to
the magnet and the clean hatch can then be
drained off, rinsed and used. Magnetised
cysts are widely used in public aquariums
and aquaculture ? the technique offers an
ingenious approach to ensuring the
separation of cysts from the nauplii, and the
dry cysts can be conveniently stored.
Decapsulated cysts
capsulated Artemia have
d the hard, indigestible
ter shell (or chorion)
moved, which gives several
Some decapped Artemia
is not viable for hatching
and is intended to be
used directly as a
food source.
TOP TIP
Hatched cysts are buoyant.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
DAVE WOLFENDEN
Store cysts in the
fridge in the short term;
if they?re not going to be
used for several months,
they can be kept in the
freezer.
Simple hatcheries are
ideal for Artemia culture.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
Hatching magnetised cysts
Keep the cysts as dry as
possible after opening.
What you will need
A separator
beaker.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
Magnetised
brine shrimp
eggs.
Enriching Artemia
Hatch the Artemia as normal and
drain into a container.
Pass the hatch through a sieve.
1
2
Flush the hatch into the separator
beaker, and allow the magnetised
cysts to stick to the bottom.
Pour the hatched nauplii into a
suitable container for feeding out,
enriching or growing on.
JBL
Newly-hatched instar I Artemia nauplii can
be reasonably nutritious due to the presence
of the yolk sac, but the nutrient content
declines rapidly once hatching has occurred
and the yolk sac is absorbed. In any case,
Artemia nauplii should be enriched if
they?re to be used as ?rst food for marine
?sh. This is because they contain low levels
of highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs)
such as the omega-3 fatty acid DHA
(Docosahexaenoic acid), proven to be
essential for development of larval marine
?sh. De?ciencies can lead to phenomena
such as sudden death syndrome.
Instar I Artemia lack mouthparts and
therefore don?t feed, meaning gut-loading is
impossible ? early enrichment relies upon
coating (encapsulating) the nauplii in
lipid-based HUFA enrichment media. After
12 hours or so at 28癈, the nauplii
metamorphose into instar II, which have
functional mouthparts and a gut. At this
stage, they can be reliably gut loaded by
ingesting microglobules of HUFA
preparations, Spirulina powder or
microalgae such as Nannochloropsis. Many
brands of Artemia enrichment are available
? these typically contain HUFAs as well as
vitamins and pigments. In general, these are
emulsi?ed and used to soak the Artemia
before feeding out. Techniques vary, so
follow the manufacturer?s instructions. Use
Artemia immediately after enriching, as
once it has been enriched, its nutritional
value decreases rapidly once it is starved.
3
4
In ideal conditions, Artemia can reach adult
size in around two weeks, but it?s a labour
intensive process. It can be hard to maintain
water quality and hygiene while ensuring
there?s sufficient food. Batch culture is the
best approach. Regular water changes and
syphoning of debris are essential. A variety
of foods can be used including yeast,
Spirulina and commercial liquid feeds, in
addition to live microalgae.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
OCEAN NUTRITION
Growing on Artemia
Spent and unhatched cysts are
attracted to the magnet.
5
The cysts remain trapped on the
beaker?s magnetic base.
6
99
PFKNewGear
The latest products arriving in a shop near you soon...
SHOW REPORT
AQUA Telford 2017 showcase
If you?re in the industry ?
retailer, wholesaler and so on
? then you?ll already know what
the AQUA Telford show is.
If not, then AQUA Telford is a
bi-annual, trade-only event over
two days, open to the folks
mentioned above, in which
manufacturers, importers and
wholesalers display their wares
and compete with each other for
next year?s pre-orders.
As a journalist, this means I
get to see the newest products
showcased ?rst hand, and I?m
able to grill the makers and
designers right there in front of
me, in real time. Or I would, if I
wasn?t getting grabbed by
well-wishers every ten seconds.
This year was a battle for me to
even cover half of what was on
show. On the plus side, I did get
to waltz up to a lot of stalls, wave
my arm majestically like a
monarch over my property, and
say ?send it all to me for review?.
So, I have plenty of new
products lined up.
First up, from the pe
of AQUA Telford?s jud
panel, a few products w
selected as category w
? the best in their clas
all that was available.
Blagdon?s mains free
Liberty pond oxygenator.
For pond pumps, the judges?
choice was the Blagdon
Liberty Pond Oxygenator
from Blagdon/Interpet. The
pump in question is an airpump
that runs on solar power, but
with a backup lithium battery.
The idea is that the pump runs
and charges using sunlight
throughout the day, then
switches to battery power alone
for the night. With a ?ow rate of
60 lph, two outlets, and coming
supplied with airline and
airstone, chances are that this?ll
be a big product in the summer.
Pond ?lter of choice was
Evolution Aqua?s EazyPod
UV Automatic. The EazyPod
is a self-contained ?lter heaving
with K1 media, with a built-in,
automated valve that
periodically initiates a cleaning
cycle, ?ushing out waste to a
drain. To be fair, most of the EA
pond ?lter gear is unrivalled in
quality and innovation, so by
lashing an 18W UV to the side of
one of these pods and releasing
Over 100 exhibitors
showed off their
products at this year?s
AQUA show.
going to romp home with
this award.
Winning the aquarium and
furniture category was the
Biopod Aqua. Biopod had a
stand I kept heading back to
when I got the chance, and I
reckon it?s going to be the
of 2018 ?
are going to
Now, I?m not 100% sure that
the design is built with ?sh
primarily in mind (even on
Biopod?s website they only get a
passing mention as ?aquatic
animals?). The whole thing is a
bit vague, in fact, on the ?shy
angle, and the devices are
seemingly aimed at amphibians
and plants instead (which look
r, if I?m
ay, the
ith air and
D lighting,
ction and
ity. It?s
y I?ll be
project at
hwater
ipment,
winner
s the Ziss
qua BL-2
SIRASTUDIO
remy Gay
Evolution
Aqua (and
rmer PFK
ditor) with
award for
pond ?lter
e EazyPod
utomatic.
100
NATHAN HILL
One of the curiosities
of the show was this
?freshwater Trevally?.
emerge in recent years. The
BL-2 Breeder is a continuation
of the same theme ? a perfectly
crafted piece of acrylic to house
?sh fry or gravid parents, with
airline accessories and
circulation, at a reasonable
Biopod was a stand I kept
heading back to when I got the
chance, and I reckon this will
to be the Marmite product of
2018 ? lovers and haters are
going to take sides here.
SIRASTUDIO
The Biopod will
be more suited to
amphibians than ?sh.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
price point (retailing around the
� mark).
The marine equipment
category was taken by ITC
Aquatics for its ALR1 Algae
Light Reactor, and rightly so.
While not the cheapest design
out there (retail is just shy of
�0), the ALR1 takes algae
culture to a whole new level.
Traditionally, Chaetomorpha
algae is used in aquarium sumps
to help strip out nit
phosphates, but the
usually haphazard a
oblige you to put a lo
grow the algae) righ
don?t want it (next t
activity of ?lters an
reactors, where bac
light). The ARL1 is
tube ringed on all si
LEDs for algae grow
sealed in an opaque
stick some Chaeto i
some ?ow through t
rigging it up to a pum
return feed. Report
the ALR1 include ra
redox potential, pH
and stripping of CO
by ?sh and corals. T
only consume 16W
too. Wow.
Natures Grub to
place in the food ca
accessories catego
Corydoras Sticks
company that I?ve b
following for some time (I
reviewed most of their early
range a few years ago) as they
specialise in freeze dried insects
and other foods that are
otherwise hard to get hold of.
Made up of a mix of insect meal,
crustacean and plant meal, and
with a hint of garlic to assist
appetite and digestion, I look
forward to trialling this food in
the near future
Ziss Aqua?s Fish
and Shrimp
Breeding Box.
SIRASTUDIO
Breeding Box, which comes as
no surprise to me. Readers may
recall my rave reviews of the
Ziss Aqua Egg Tumblers some
months ago, where I essentially
proclaimed Ziss Aqua to be one
of the most important brands to
PFKNewGear
Left: ALR1 Algae Light
Reactor from ITC Aquatics.
Below: Natures Grub
Corydoras Sticks.
Category winners aside, what
excited me this year? Unusually,
given how much the hobby has
been overwhelmed by LEDs the
last few years, the Aquamai
LRM Pro light caught my eye.
The LRM is the ?rst venture
into LED from the company
that owns Hydor (those of
the venerated ?ow pumps). I?ll
be reviewing this light in the
near future, but the key
features to note are the
controllability, the approach to
cooling, the suspending cable
and the potential for
interchangeable trim.
NATHAN HILL
The OASE stand at
AQUA 2017.
This year marked a
proliferation of roll ?lter
designs, but the standout model
for me was the Clarisea Gen 2
Smart Roll from D&D. I got
close up to early designs of this
recently while visiting David
Saxby (who has been tweaking
the model). Roll ?lters are the
bees? knees for removing tiny
particulates, using a ?ne, thin
screen that water passes
through over a large surface
area. The theoretical downside
there is that the media will
quickly clog, but in this case
that?s kind of the point. As the
system traps waste, the aquarist
routinely rolls fresh media into
the interface area. When the
entire roll is eventually used up,
102
Albino Glossolepis
rainbow ?sh on the
Neil Hardy stand.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
kits to date, have branched in to
a marine master test, containing
40 tests each of carbonate
hardness, calcium, magnesium,
nitrate and phosphate. If it?s as
good as the freshwater kits they
make, then this?ll be a really
affordable, precision kit.
Prodibio, ever innovating,
have a simple piece of kit in the
form of their Dose?n Drop kit.
If you?ve never seen Prodibio
stuff, it?s a selection of (really
well engineered) additives in
the form of ampules, which you
crack open and add as advised
on the packaging. But this new
approach allows for a drip feed
over several days (up to 15) in
the form of big vials in a holder
that you can place on to a sump.
The drip rate is controlled by
hand, and currently the kit
includes BioDigest (bacteria)
and Bioptim (bacterial
nutrients to sustain them). I?m
really interested to see where
this range goes next, especially
if they look at doing something
similar for plants.
Speaking of plants, Seneye
has released new variants of the
classic Seneye monitor,
?bioplastic? (I originally thought
it was starch based, but I got
shot down for suggesting this).
Long story short, bacteria utilise
the plastic as a food source as
they convert nitrates into
nitrogen gas. I cannot wait to get
my hands on this stuff, as I have
a particularly dirty tank planned
and will be in a good position to
put it to the test.
JBL also caught my interest
with the ?rst (to my knowledge)
dedicated planaria trap.
Planaria have been more of an
issue since the shrimp market
took hold (the two seem
inextricable). Traditional
medicines have led to issues
with deformed shrimps, or just
outright deaths, and this tubular
device (a lot like a miniature
bristleworm trap) offers a way
to bait and remove planaria
without resorting to chemicals.
Colombo, makers of one of
my favourite freshwater test
SIRASTUDIO
you simply buy another.
I was pleasantly surprised to
see that old favourites Eheim
have been working away off of
my radar for the last year. As
well as launching some new
tank and cabinet designs,
including a new nano marine
package (I?ve got one coming
soon), they also boast a new
range of circulation pumps (in
three sizes) as well as LED strip
lights, pre-set heaters, and even
some tank cleaning sundries. Of
these, I?m most thrilled about
the circulation pumps ?
remember that it was Eheim
that ?rst discovered back in ?63
the potential of the magnetic
impeller in aquaria, so I?m
hoping for big things on these.
JBL has jumped on the
freshwater nitrate-reducing
media market with
BioNitratEx. This media,
while it looks just like any other
biomedia, is actually made of a
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
including one for plants.
Designed to read CO2 content in
the water, and still working on
the principal of uploading and
recording all information on an
ongoing basis, the aquascaper
will be able to track exactly
when CO2 might be ?uctuating
in their tank and resolve it
(?uctuations of CO2 are
implicated as a major cause of
algae). The other variant is a
coral Seneye, which reads
alkalinity (at the expense of the
old NH3 reading) as well as pH,
temperature and light. If the
price doesn?t shift too much,
then that?ll be one hell of a score
for marine keepers.
Newcomers (to the UK) Fritz
Aquatics have a few promising
looking products, including a
?small batch? production of salt.
The claim is that because Fritz
uses a uniform particle size,
there?s less layering out of trace
elements (marine keepers will
be aware of the need to roll their
salt buckets prior to use to mix
things up). Smaller batches also
mean greater uniformity in the
distribution of trace elements,
meaning that there?s increased
Clarisea Gen 2 Smart
Roll ?lter from D&D.
103
ingredient consistency from
box to box.
One range I couldn?t keep
away from was the Red
Star?sh line-up. If it?s acrylic,
and a bit of a novelty, they?ve got
it. Though not as advanced as
the Ziss Aqua range, their
breeding traps are well crafted
and well thought through. But
there?s more ? feeding tubes,
feeding pipettes, coral viewing
cylinders, a non-electronic
top-up device for tanks,
skimmers, and all sorts.
On the livestock side, Neil
Hardy had some unusual tetra
available, along with albino
Glossolepis rainbows, and a
typically nice new range of
African bits (Rift lakes and
riverine jungle). But the
standout ?sh had to be the
?freshwater Trevally? swimming
about happily with Peacock
bass. I?m still trying to get a
formal identi?cation, and for
what it?s worth this ?sh will be
destined to a public aquarium
over a home aquarist?s tank, but
the likeliest explanation is that
it?s a species that?s temporarily
freshwater tolerant and has
found itself landlocked in a lake
by a storm and/or ?ood.
Whatever the explanation, it
was really odd to see this thing
swimming about in a totally
freshwater tank (it was, I tasted
it). Just don?t expect to see them
on sale soon ? I?m pretty sure
the trade currently has enough
100cm+ ?sh knocking about?
So, how was it?
NATHAN HILL
PFKNewGear
Every year I?m asked what the
?mood? of the show was, and so
this year, rather than tell
everyone when they ask, I?ll just
air my feelings publicly.
Larger aquaria
seem to be back
?in? again after
the nano boom.
104
NATHAN HILL
I get the feeling that the nano
bubble has burst. Companies
are concentrating again on
mid to larger aquaria, and the
associated equipment .
Red Star?sh makes
acrylic exciting.
My immediate impression
was that the marine side of the
industry has reached a plateau,
or possibly even started to
decline. For a long spell, R&D
budgets for marine gear seemed
to be huge ? companies were
churning out innovative, and
ultra-expensive LEDs like
biscuits off of a factory
conveyor. Systemised marine
set-ups were the in thing,
historically speaking. But this
year, companies had started to
embrace more in the way of
affordable acrylic gadgets over
high-tier electronics. I?m
inclined to wonder whether the
market is now fractured (after
all, a lot of small companies did
spring up to have a slice of the
lucrative marine pie), or
whether the home aquarist isn?t
embracing marines on a level
that was anticipated.
For the pond gear side, I felt
that the polarisation between
high end and mediocre gear has
widened further. The likes of
Evolution Aqua have the
high-end gear market cornered,
while some companies resign
themselves to scrapping it out
over the price of economy lines.
In the freshwater aquarium
world, I get the feeling that the
nano bubble has now burst.
Companies are concentrating
again on the mid to larger
aquaria, and the associated
equipment? which I have to say
is great news, because I?ve run
out of stocking ideas for 30 l
tanks now. I think the
companies that stuck their eggs
in the shrimp and nanoscape
basket have failed to see enough
of a return to warrant following
up with newer products.
The aquarium plant side of
things was underwhelming.
Usually I get blown away by
aquascapes from plant sellers,
but this year there were only
plant cascades offered by the
major providers, and the stands
felt dry-oriented. It seemed like
the emphasis on greenery was
?business as usual, just less of it?,
which somewhat re?ects a
recent rant I had where I stated
how retailers have failed to
embrace the planting side of
aquaria properly.
Across all areas, however,
manufacturers and suppliers
appeared way more upbeat than
in previous years, suggesting
things haven?t become the doom
and gloom that some (myself
included) have been predicting
for the last ?ve years or so. The
only glum faces I saw were some
retailers who, I think, are
struggling to adapt to the ever
shifting UK aquatics trade.
JBL?s new
BioNitratEx media.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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P
Shoptour
Towcester
This month takes us to shops in Dorset and Northamptonshire.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER
Wimborne
Fishcove Aquatics
Address: Oaks Garden Centre,
Queen Anne Dr, Wimborne,
Bournemouth BH21 3BA.
Tel: 01202 883065.
Website: www.?shcove.co.uk
Opening hours: Mon closed;
Tues to Fri 9.30am?5pm;
Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 10am?4pm.
What is it?
Fishcove Aquatics is a relatively
new retail shop in Dorset that
opened its doors in December
2015. It?s a small premises of
just 250 square feet and it?s run
by husband and wife team,
Duncan and Aimie Jones.
Fishcove Aquatics stocks a
wide variety of tropical species
(no marines or gold?sh).
High points
Despite its small size the shop
stocks a surprisingly large
variety of freshwater tropical
livestock ranging from bread
and butter community tropicals
to some very interesting
oddballs, which included
freshwater pipe?sh and Frail
gouramis on our trip. All livestock
was in excellent health and
holding tanks well-maintained. A
nice touch was a dedicated
shrimp and Siamese ?ghter rack
containing a huge range of
livestock including some rarely
seen Caridina dennerli shrimp
from Sulawesi. The shop gave a
real family-friendly vibe and at the
time of visit there were plenty of
customers, most of whom were
obviously regulars. The shop?s
labelling for livestock was among
the best I?ve seen.
Blackwater set-up.
Low points
The shop did feel a little cramped
at busier times but I understand
the owners are already looking at
expanding any time soon. With
such small shelf space for dry
goods the selection was
understandably limited. I was
surprised to see only bunched
plants available in the wet system
but tissue-cultured plants were
also in stock.
White metallic
crowntail Betta.
Verdict
A tiny shop with big impact! Great
quality and interesting livestock, a
couple of lovely display ?scapes
and a really friendly atmosphere
? this is a gem of a store. The
passionate and forward thinking
nature of Duncan and Aimie was
apparent. It?s no wonder they
achieved Top 40 in the recent PFK
Readers? Poll. Well worth a visit!
Star rating
Duncan and Aimie of
Fishcove Aquatics.
What stood out:
G White metallic
crowntail Betta ? �
G Crystal red shrimp
(Grade A) ? �G Dwarf pipe?sh ? �95
G Blue dwarf gourami ? �G Cherry shrimp ? �G Chocolate gourami ? �G Butter?y Betta ? �
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
106
Tropical ?sh
11111
Discus
NS
Cichlids
11111
Cat?sh
11111
Oddballs
11111
Indoor plants
11111
Pond plants summer only
Koi
NS
Pond ?sh
NS
Fancies
NS
Indoor coldwater
NS
Marine ?sh
NS
Marine inverts
NS
Indoor dry
11111
Pond dry
11111
Freshwater inverts 11111
Labelling
11111
Crystal red shrimp.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Blue dwarf gourami.
There?s a good
range of tissue
cultured plants.
Chocolate gourami.
Freshwater pipe?sh.
Fans of freshwater
inverts will ?nd plenty
to interest them.
Betta and
shrimp system.
Space has been used
well in this small store.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
107
PFKShoptour
Northampton Reptile and Fish Centre
Address: The Bell Plantation,
Watling St, Towcester,
NN12 6GX.
Tel: 01327 350088.
Website: www.reptilecentre.com
Opening hours: Mon? Sat
9am?5.30pm; Sun 10.30am?
4.30pm.
well-fed, with very clean
accommodation.
Aquarium plants were fresh and
plentiful at the time of our visit
with an impressive 90cm/36in
high-end aquascape situated
adjacent to the plants.
What is it?
If you?re an oddball, Discus or
African cichlid enthusiast then
you may be disappointed. I
would have also liked to have
seen a larger selection of shrimp
to complement the great
selection of plants and other
aquascaping goods.
Northampton Reptile and Fish
Centre is a new shop that
opened in April 2017. Owners
Lois and Antony Hook already
ran a successful reptile-only
shop and decided to expand
into aquatics by opening
another store in Towcester (this
new store also stocks reptiles).
The shop is situated in the
attractive grounds of a high-end
garden centre and you?re
greeted with a large selection of
pond livestock and plants
before entering the shop. This is
a medium-sized store
measuring 1,600 square feet,
of which around two thirds
are dedicated to freshwater
only aquatics.
High points
Being a new store, the shop
looks great with new systems
and an impressive layout. The
pond vats outside contained a
large variety of healthy Israeli
and English Koi with some
impressive pond plants and
hardscape materials, which
provided a great ?rst
impression.
Tropical ?sh selection
consisted of mostly bread and
butter species, all of which are
kept in regular mains water.
Exceptions were a stunning
L200 plec and some beautiful
mature Angel?sh.
All of the ?sh were healthy and
Low points
Verdict
This is a well-run and clean shop
in an attractive surrounding,
making it an appealing retailer
with something to suit most
tastes. While it does not stock a
huge variety of livestock, the ?sh
on sale were good quality at a
reasonable price. The reptile
section provides extra interest for
most. Well worth a visit.
The store also
stocks reptiles.
Fish selection is
freshwater only.
Glass cat?sh.
Star rating
Tropical ?sh
11111
Discus
NS
Cichlids
11111
Oddballs
11111
Indoor plants
11111
Pond plants
11111
Koi
11111
Pond ?sh
11111
Fancies
11111
Indoor coldwater 11111
Marine ?sh
NS
Marine inverts
NS
Indoor dry
11111
Pond dry
11111
Freshwater inverts 11111
Labelling
11111
What stood out:
G Thai glass cat?sh
? �50
G L200 green phantom
plec ? �.95
G Skunk Corydoras
? �50
G Angel?sh ? �.50
G Siamese ?ghters
? �95 to �.95
G Golden pencil?sh
? �95
G Lampeye ? �50
G Rummynose tetra
? �95
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
108
There?s an impressive
outdoor section here.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Skunk cory.
The XL Angel?sh were
particularly tempting.
Rummy nose tetra.
Betta fans are
well-catered for.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
Smaller Angel?sh.
109
TOP of the
SHOPS!
Top shops
Scotland
North
East
Northern
Ireland
THE ROLL OF HONOUR
Retailer of the Year
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Charterhouse
Aquatics, London
TOP 40
(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
North
West
Yorkshire &
Humberside
Republic
of Ireland
East
Midlands
Wales
Online Retailer of the
Year
East
London
AllPond Solutions
Runner up: Charterhouse Aquatics
South
West
Small Retailer of the Year
Octopus 8 Aquatics, Brough, East Yorkshire
Runner up: Aqua Design Aquatics,
Skegness
West
Midlands
South
East
Shrimp Retailer of the Year
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Runner up: Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
REGIONAL
South east
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Windsor
Runner up: Crowder?s Aquatics, Hampshire
South west
Emperor Tropicals, Devon
Runner up: The Aquatic Store, Bristol
TOP SPECIALISTS
Marine Retailer of the Year
Lincs Aquatics
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Cichlid Retailer of the Year
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Cat?sh retailer of the Year
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Runner up: Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Wales
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wenvoe
Runner up: Maidenhead Aquatics @
Cardiff
London
Charterhouse Aquatics, London
Runner up: Wholesale Tropicals, London
East Midlands
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Abacus Aquatics, Kent
Aqua Design Aquatics, Skegness
Aquahome, Leyland, Lancs.
Aqualife, Leyland, Lancs.
Aquatic Finatic, North Yorkshire
Bow Aquatics, Devon
Carrick Aquatics, Co Monaghan
Charterhouse Aquatics, London
Clearly Aquatics, Co. Down
Crowder?s Aquatics, Hampshire
Cuddra Aquatics, St. Austell, Cornwall
Discovery Aquatics, Dundee
DL Discus, Co. Durham
Emperor Tropicals, Plymouth, Devon
Ferrybridge Aquatics, Wake?eld
FishCove Aquatics, Wimborne, Dorset
Fishkeeper Braehead
Fishkeeper Coatbridge
Fishkeeper Inverness
H2O Habitat, Surrey
Innovation Aquatics, Southampton
Lanchester Aquatics, Co. Durham
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Mere Park
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Shirley
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wenvoe
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Windsor
New Concept Aquatics, Bonnybridge
Octopus 8, Brough, East Yorkshire
Pier Aquatics, Wigan, Lancs
Real Reefs, Gloucs.
Riverside Aquaria, West Lothian
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Sweet Knowle Aquatics, Warks.
Tank Terror Aquatics, Cornwall
The Aquatic Store, Bristol
The Waterzoo, Peterborough
TriMar, Cornwall
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Wholesale Tropicals, London
North east
DL Discus, Co. Durham
Runner up: Lanchester Aquatics, Co.
Durham
North West
DL Discus, Co. Durham
Runner up: Devotedly Discus, East Sussex
Plant retailer of the Year
Scotland
East
Emperor Tropicals, Plymouth, Devon
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Discovery Aquatics, Dundee
Runner up: Fishkeeper Inverness
The Waterzoo, Peterborough
Runner up: Amwell Aquatics, Soham
Pond retailer of the Year
Republic of Ireland
Yorks and Humber
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Runner up: Carrick Aquatics, Co.
Monaghan
Octopus 8, Brough, East Yorkshire
Runner up: Ferrybridge Aquatics,
Wake?eld
Northern Ireland
West Midlands
Clearly Aquatics, Co. Down
Runner up: Exotic Aquatics, Belfast
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Mere Park
Runner up: Maidenhead Aquatics @
Shirley
Discus Retailer of the Year
Aquahome Aquatic Centre, Lancs.
Runner up: Pier Aquatics, Wigan
Oddball Retailer of the Year
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Runner up: Tank Terror Aquatics,
Cornwall
NEXTMONTH
in the ebruary issue of
On sale December 20th 2017
PHANTOMS WITHOUT MENACE
ALAMY
Our ?sh of the month are the friendly Phantom tetras
Discover the big,
bold, colourful
carpet anemones.
GEORGE FARMER
ALAMY
MAGIC
CARPETS
READER?S REEF
We visit a spectacular hanging
aquarium in Amsterdam.
HOW TO KEEP SARDINES
GOING DOWN THE RIVER
Great ideas for river-themed set-ups, advice
on getting the ?ow right and what to keep.
MP&C PIEDNOIR , AQUAPRESS.COM
NEIL HEPWORTH
No, not the kind that come in tomato sauce
? we?re talking Cyprichromis sardine
cichlids. Find out what you need for these
Tanganyikan schoolers.
Plus
O Freshwater breeding heroes O New ?sh in the shops
O Air pumps on test O Inspirational aquariums O The latest gear reviewed
111
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
BRISTOL
LONDON
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
The Fish Bowl Ltd
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
14
The Aquatic Store
Really does have it all!
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
LEICESTERSHIRE
To advertise
please contact
James Belding
on 01733 468410
www.leicesteraquatics.com
Leicester Aquatics
email: the?shbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
RS ONLY
RETA IL SHOPPE
G TIMES
r all your
Thank you fo 1967!
e
support sinc
AY: CLOSED
? TUES, WED &
FRI 10.30-6.00
? SAT 10.00-6.00
? SUN 10.00-2.0
0
, London, E2
l Green Road 0 77292444
220 Bethna
02
5356 Fax:
Tel: 020 7739
KENT
ABACUS AQUATICS
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
ics.co.uk
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Readers?poll
2017
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Readers?poll
Six-time winner of top UK aquatic retailer
2017
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Tel: 01773 861255 Marine direct: 01773 811044 Reptile direct: 01773 811499
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 8DJ
020 8302 8000 / enquiries@abacusaquatics.co.uk
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
LANCASHIRE
ww.wholesaletropicalsaq
uat
Huge range of
livestock in more
than 600 tanks!
TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
Now open on Sundays
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
SCOTLAND
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
With over 1000 aquariums full of tropical, marine and cold water ?sh
Huge range of aquariums, aquarium furniture and equipment at discount prices
Unit B/G, 207 Strathmartine Road, Dundee, Scotland, DD3 8PH
01382 832000 www.tropical?sh-scotland.com
AQUATICS
CENTRE
Over 250 tanks stocked
with Top Quality Fish and a
Huge dry goods section!
Here at DKP we specialise in producing bespoke
?breglass ?sh tanks for the discerning customer
who wants the BEST for their ?sh.
The DKP product range includes Filters, Bakki?s and
Tanks 400, 450, 900 & 1500 gallons in rectangular
with 700 & 800 gallons in circular but any bespoke
size can be catered for including viewing windows.
Tel: 01772 623497
www.aquahome.co.uk
Within Avant Gardens, (Opposite Leyland Golf
Club) Wigan Road, Leyland, PR25 5XW
www.denbykoiponds.co.uk
01773 863991/07773186198
sales@denbykoiponds.co.uk
LINC
QUAT
SA
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LINCOLNSHIRE
Hanger1 ? Strubby Air?eld
Woodthorpe ? Nr Alford ? LN13 0DD
01507 451000
EAST YORKSHIRE
Hedon Road ? Burstwick
East Yorks ? HU12 9HA
01482 898800
SOUTH YORKSHIRE
Great North Rd
Doncaster ? DN10 6AB
01302 711639
To all our customers ? thank you for your support with the PFK Awards
LARGE SELECTION OF
? Aquariums
? Fibreglass ponds
? Working Water
Features
? Waterfall Display
? Pumps
HUGE SELECTION OF
? Koi & Ornamental
Pond Fish
? Marine Fish & Invertebrates
? Tropical & Fancy Cold
Water Fish
? Pond & Tropical Plants
lincsaquatics-lincolnshire
Come & feed our friendly ?sh
? Discounted Pond Liners
? Lighting
? Food
? Ro-Water
? Tropical & MarineMix
? Treatments
All ?sh are packed to travel anywhere in the UK
lincsaquatics-eastyorkshire
lincsaquatics-southyorkshire
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
112
INTERNET
P L A N T E D AQ UA R I U M S P E C I A L I S TS
www.aquariumgardens.co.uk
01480 450572 info@aquariumgardens.co.uk
LINCOLNSHIRE
CS
Classi?ed To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366411
0116 2709 610
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.the?shbowlltd.com
www.
.co.uk
T:01254 208245
EVERYTHING FOR THE AQUARIUM,
PONDS AND REPTILES, TOP BRANDS
AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES.
HUGE SELECTION OF GOODS,
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FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL
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FRIENDLY AND
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1000?S OF PRODUCTS IN STOCK
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FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY ON
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fb.com/completeaquaticsuk
@completeaquatic
pinterest.com/aquaticsuk
NATIONWIDE DISTRIBUTORS
INTERNET
Barlows Aquatic Trading
AQUARIUM MANUFACTURERS..supplying direct to the public at trade prices
HiVcYVgYh^oZh[gdbhidX`
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FAC
www.aquarist-classi?eds.co.uk
Please mention
EBO
OK
Ring: 01254 388815
www.barlows-aquarium-supplies.com
e mail: barlowsaquatics@aol.com
or call in and see us at:
Brisol Works, Mount St., Accrington, Lancs BB50PJ
when responding to adverts
DID YOU KNOW?
BEGINNERS?
GUIDE TO MARINES
FREE24-PAGE
XCITING IDEAS FOR 90CM TANKS
AZ
IN
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YEARS
NNIVE
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66
19
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Amazing fish and how to keep them
25
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pfkmag.com
Grow your own
KILLIES
November '17 Issue 12 �40
aquarium
pumps
on test
Discover the fishy
equivalent to
garden seeds!
STEP BY STEP
Be inspired by nature &
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CREATE THE
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AQUASCAPE...
To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366411
MEET HE
TAMASABA
GOLDFISH ?
THE MARINES WITH MUCKY HOMES
R BEHAVED MBUNA: IS FOOD THE KEY?
a fancy for ponds!
shades
MARINES
to add contrast
ty aquarium
Channa?
ghting for
Get spawning!
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CLEANER
WRASSE
DEBATE
All the colours of
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Discover the
dazzling Micro Lord
? the coral every
reefkeeper is after!
The arguments
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HT
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wonderful
IT?S A
101
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FISH FACTS
Discover what makes
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AQUASCAPES
TO INSPIRE YOU
3
THINK
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Keep the
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Why Aussie
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OCTOBER ?17 ISSUE 11 �40
Discover the tiny,
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NEW SERIES
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113
NAOMI BRAISBY
Tailpiece
with Nathan Hill
?
Then there are those uncomfortable moments when faces
I?ve never seen before come up to me and ask ?are you Nathan Hill??
as I scramble into a defensive position and brace myself for a slap.
?
I
?ve got a total love/hate relationship
with trade shows. Actually, now I
think about it, it?s more of an
excitement/frustration relationship
with trade shows. Probably at about a 30:70
ratio, too.
While I was at this year?s AQUA trade
show in Telford, I had a bit of an open snort
at one point, one of those unintentional
sinus-rippers that comes out when you hear
something preposterous. Long story short, I
got called a celebrity, and more than once.
Yeah, I?m still laughing at that one too.
Anyone in my social circles would know
that, a) I?m not, and b) I can think of nothing
more abhorrent. Besides, if I?m a celeb,
where?s my paycheque?
Perfect for radio
A re?ection of the hobby
The industry is consumer led. You buy
things, manufacturers look at what?s selling,
and then give you more of what (they think)
you want. That means that trade shows like
this are a re?ection of what?s been going on
in the hobby.
What does that tell me? For one, you?re not
interested in plants as much as I previously
thought. Plant displays have receded. Two
114
Just a few of the
new products at this
year?s AQUA show.
SIRASTUDIO
I am, unfortunately, easily recognisable. I?ve
got one of those faces that?s perfect for radio.
Except it doesn?t go on a radio. It gets
plastered on the inside cover, and in the top
corner of here every four weeks. And that,
dear reader, is an extreme disadvantage
whilst trying to navigate the many stands of
a trade show.
To be sure, I love interacting. I like to think
I?ve made a fair few friends in my decades in
the industry. Even those I left stranded on
burning bridges seem to have time to badger
me about something. Then there are those
uncomfortable moments when faces I?ve
never seen before come over and ask ?are you
Nathan Hill?? as I scramble into a defensive
position and brace myself for a slap.
This year I was at the show for two days, as
photographer and journo. I didn?t get one
side of one page of A5 scrawled in notes, and
took maybe a dozen photos, tops. From what
I could gain from my momentary glances at
stands between conversations was that the
industry is doing? okay. Ish. Which suggests
to me that the hobby is doing okay. Ish.
years ago, at the last AQUA, it was like a
jungle. This year it was as if someone had
sprayed Agent Orange beforehand.
I see you?ve all started plumping for nicer
tanks and cabinets. Without naming names,
in former years, some of the furniture I
witnessed was vile ? to my tastes, anyway.
Hideous ?nishes, poor assembly, and no
aesthetic longevity, the designs of old seem
rightly consigned to the crate of failures.
Good riddance, too.
A multitude of pouches, tubs, bottles and
vials on the marine supplement front tells
me an apothecary mentality to reefkeeping
is strong. Given the reduction in marine
hardware, perhaps reefers are shifting to a
new paradigm where chemistry, not
technology, is the future of good corals.
I strongly felt a lack of presence ? once
again ? in freshwater innovations. A lot of
what was new was in the ?pocket money?
category. A ?ver here, a tenner there, but
nothing that would revolutionise the hobby.
Which leads me to think that the freshwater
aquarists out there are the genre that want
the easiest ride. Or perhaps you?re just doing
things more ?naturally? than ever. Why
resort to a chemical soup in a tank when a
decent air-powered foam ?lter and a bed of
leaf litter will do, huh?
Or I could be entirely wrong. There might
have been tonnes of other stuff about, but I
was too busy ?ghting a desperate rearguard
action against endless waves of wellwishers
to get out and see it.
Baying crowds of superfans
In seriousness, it was lovely catching up
with each and every one of you I saw each
day. But for AQUA 2019, I swear I?m going to
invest in one of those camou?age suits that
the alien in Predator chips about in. Maybe
I?ll even turn it off for ?ve seconds while I?m
on a podium, just to send a jolt of hysteria
through my baying crowds of superfans.
Then I?ll turn it back on and sneak off in the
ensuing pandemonium, sit down with a cup
of tea and take a half hour out to open up
that new canister ?lter and have a really
good grommet about in its inner workings.
Failing that, I?ll embrace my ?celebrity?
status and insist on sel?es with everyone,
which I?ll charge � a time for. Straight up,
I need the money. I?ve got a lot of ?sh I want
to buy?
Nathan Hill is Practical Fishkeeping?s features editor,
Hollywood A-lister, renowned socialite, trademarked
amateur skating aquarist who is likely to be 2018?s Time
Magazine man of the year, or something.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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[[[?WLWGMIRGIGSYO
Beginners? guide
WELCOME
You?re just starting your ?rst aquarium, huh? I am so jealous of you right now! There?s so much to see, so
much to do, and the possibilities are endless. My own journey into ?shkeeping started over 35 years ago ?
I?ve owned dozens of tanks, kept hundreds of different species, and I?ve still barely scraped the surface.
Fishkeeping involves learning a handful of basics, but from there you can innovate and explore to your
heart?s content. You can visit the habitats of the world, vicariously through your aquaria. If you fancy it, you
can help with conservation, by breeding rare and unusual species. And if the bug really bites, you might ?nd
yourself one day becoming an expert in your ?eld. Many have done just that!
This guide exists to equip you with some of the core information essential to making a success of your
?rst aquarium. But also, I hope it inspires you, triggers some curiosity, and sends you on the path to a long
and successful future oin ?shkeeping! Enjoy!
NEIL HEPWORTH
Nathan Hill
CONTENTS
4 WHERE TO START
With tens of thousands of ?sh in the world,
living in thousands of different habitats, you?ll
never be stuck for ideas. But where should you
look as a beginner?
8
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
Setting up a tank requires a few choice
pieces of hardware. Here?s what to consider
when putting together your shopping list.
10
HOW THE FILTER WORKS
14
TOP TIPS FOR GROWING PLANTS
What you need to know about the ?lter
? the most essential part of any tank
As part of your aquarium?s decoration,
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
you might like to add some plants. Follow this
essential advice?
1620 FISH TO GET YOU STARTED
Researching which ?sh you can have is
great fun. But with so much choice available it
can be tricky to get the right balance in a new
community. Here?s are some safer bets?
20 KEEP THINGS TIDY
The routine tasks you?ll need to do to
keep your tank and your ?sh looking their best.
22 FEEDING TIME!
CONTACT US
Practical Fishkeeping
Bauer Media,
Media House, Lynchwood,
Peterborough, PE2 6EA.
Email: editorial@
practical?shkee ing.co.uk
Tel. 01733 468000
Feeding your ?sh offers an ideal
opportunity to interact and really enjoy them.
Keep them healthy by offering the right food!
3
WHERE TO
START?
Fishkeeping is vast. With tens of thousands of ?sh in the
world, living in thousands of different habitats, you?ll
never be stuck for ideas. But where should you look as a
beginner? Here are a few options to consider...
Community tank
NEIL HEPWORTH
The ?classic? aquarium, and the one we?re likely to remember from
our childhoods. The community tank is a ?pick ?n? mix? approach to
?shkeeping that allows you to house different species from different
habitats all together in one set-up.
Community tanks are easily the most popular tanks in the UK,
and a great way of ?nding your feet before moving on to something
more specialised. A community usually requires no special
consideration beyond using your local tapwater, and discussing
with your retailer about which ?sh would best suit your set-up ?
chances are your retailer will be using the same water supply as you,
so will be in a strong position to advise here.
When setting up a community, the only tricky part is selecting
?sh that live harmoniously together. Some ?sh grow large,
some are predatory, while others may have particular temperature
or water chemistry requirements. But then again, this is also the fun
part of a community tank, and I guarantee you?ll spend weeks at a
time reading and watching videos about all the possible species you
can keep!
Beginners? guide
To this day, gold?sh are popular starter ?sh,
but the reality is that they?re not good in
small set-ups (even when young). They can
be messy, they grow very large (and very
quickly), and are best suited to either ponds
or very large aquaria.
Still, if you want to keep them, they are
rewarding, personable ?sh. You?d bene?t
from living in a hard water area to keep
them happy, but in a worst case scenario you
can buy additives to ?x this.
You?ll need a big, powerful ?lter to cope
with the mess they make, and a tank of at
least 100cm long for juvenile ?sh
(upgrading as they eventually outgrow it).
Did
?
you
know
Gold?sh live for
many decades in
the right conditions,
meaning you?ll have
plenty of time to
enjoy them!
Planted aquascapes
Aquascapes are the aesthetic cutting edge of aquaria, with less
emphasis on ?sh and more on the plants. They?re something of an
acquired taste ? many traditional ?shkeepers don?t ?get? aquascapes
at all.
If you want a tank that?s going to wow the
neighbours and impress even non-?shkeepers,
and if you have a good budget, then these
could be for you. You?ll need some
equipment above and beyond a standard
tank ? carbon dioxide injection is often
used, as is fertilisation, plus you?ll need
plant friendly substrates and lighting.
Aquascapes are
You?ll also need to invest some time
trimming and pruning, otherwise your
hugely popular in
artwork will soon turn feral.
countries where
?Scaping has a huge and relatively
people
don?t have
underground following, but if you?re
access to gardens.
interested, look in to some of the specialist
clubs and forums that cater to this niche.
Did
?
NEIL HEPWORTH
you
know
Marines are the creme-de-la-creme for many, but as a newcomer
you?ll need to be exceptionally switched on and have a good
background of chemistry if you want to get one right.
Saltwater tanks are gorgeous, but much more sensitive and much
more expensive than freshwater layouts. There?s more equipment
involved, and a greater focus on water chemistry. Corals can attack
each other, ?sh can poison their tank mates, and the methods of
?ltration often require an in-depth knowledge and grounding in
aquarium husbandry.
That?s not to say the ?rst time aquarist can?t get a marine tank
right. Many do, and they look lovely. But many more don?t, and it can
be an expensive and tragic learning curve that leads to sick or even
dead ?sh. Our advice is to start with freshwater and progress later
down the line.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Marine aquaria
JACQUES PORTAL
Betta homes
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
The fastest growing area of ?shkeeping this last decade has been
the Siamese ?ghting ?sh, or Betta. Breeders have developed strains
with long, ?owing ?ns and an exuberance of colour, and a hungry
audience has gobbled them up.
Part of the appeal of Betta is that they don?t need a huge tank ?
something just 45cm long will be more than ample for an adult. You
can make that tank as natural or arti?cially decorated as you like
and the ?sh won?t mind. Filtration only needs to be light, and they
are relatively unfussy about water chemistry.
On the downside, Betta should be kept alone. Tank mates can nip
their ?owing ?ns, and other Betta will always be beaten to death
(this is why they are called ?ghting ?sh). But because they are so
stunning, they work perfectly as a standalone ?sh in a tank, and
there?s good reason that many Betta keepers will have multiple
tanks (often dozens) each containing a single, different type. When
you see one in the ?esh, you?ll understand the appeal.
5
GEORGE FARMER
Coldwater gold?sh aquarium
Beginners? guide
Biotope set-ups
Biotopes aim to perfectly recreate a speci?c habitat. That means the
biotope keeper will research the plants, ?sh, water chemistry, even the
substrate type and what kind of leaves fall into the water, so that they
can make a perfect replica at home.
While often looking like muddy puddles of leaves and debris, the ?sh
that live in biotope tanks are often unrivalled in quality. They may
have greater colours than community-kept counterparts, they may
spawn more readily, or they may simply show off behaviours you
won?t see elsewhere.
While rewarding, biotopes will require
a lot of research from you before you
set them up. Some tanks are pretty
straightforward to put together ? Corydoras
cat?sh over sandy substrates with leaves, for
example ? but some of the more extreme
habitats where the water is hyper-acidic,
or where conditions vary seasonally, are
The Amazon, Congo,
best left until you?ve built up some
and
Mekong river basins
experience.
Did
?
you
know
NEIL HEPWORTH
are among the most
diverse habitats in the
world when it comes to
freshwater ?sh.
NATHAN HILL
Nano tanks
Nano tanks (very small tanks of 30 l capacity or less)
are readily available, although they are less popular
than they were a few years ago. Nano tanks allow you
to keep ?sh even if you?re stuck for space, and some
delightful small displays can be put together by those
with a creative streak.
While nano tanks are small, their requirements are
not. Far from becoming less work, these tiny tanks
need more labour hours per litre than larger ones, and
that?s because small volumes of water become
unstable (think about which is more dangerous ? a
drop of pollution in a swimming pool, or a drop of
pollution in a teacup).
Even though these tanks are very affordable, don?t
think of them as the easiest starting point. You?ll likely
experience more success starting with a tank of 150 l
capacity, than one of 15 l.
GEORGE FARMER
Lake Malawi tank
For some folks, the tranquility of a community tank just doesn?t do
it. They prefer ?sh with a bit of rough and tumble, and to cater for
that we have the lake cichlids of Africa.
Malawi ?sh have a few requirements. They need a big tank, of
120cm long or more. They need very hard, alkaline water, which can
be created by adding supplements to the tank. And they need lots
and lots of rocks to mark out their territories.
Malawi cichlids are the pugilists of the ?sh world. They are
6
?ercely aggressive towards intruders, and in aquaria they are
usually packed in tightly to keep squabbling and bullying to a
minimum. But they are also intensely coloured ?sh ? a Malawi
tank is often considered the closest you can get to a marine
aquarium without adding salt. Their interactions are fascinating
to watch, and if conditions are right they will even spawn in
the aquarium, with ?sh carrying around eggs and young in
their mouths!
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
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WH
YOU NEE
Setting up a tank requires a few choice pieces of
hardware. Take note of the following when putting
together your aquarium shopping list.
AQUARIUM ? ?ve panes of glass
held together by silicone sealer.
When buying new, it is likely that
the aquarium will come with a
hood, light or both. Some modern
tanks are open-topped, which is
great if you opt for ?sh that do not
jump. Although it may not seem
obvious, the bigger the tank you
buy, the easier your ?rst
experience at ?shkeeping will be.
As a beginner, aim for something
60 x 30 x 30cm as a minimum, if
you want an easy ride.
CABINET ? use an aquarium
designated design, as this will
be made to cope with the
intense, ongoing weight of the
tank. Even a smallish set-up
with rocks, gravel and water
can weigh well over a hundred
kilos. The cabinet should be
water resistant to stop
construction materials from
swelling. Note that a chest of
drawers or domestic table will
be highly unlikely to cope with
the weight of a tank.
BASE MAT ? some aquaria have
what?s called a ?oating base. Look at
how the tank sits on your cabinet. If
the bottom pane presses directly on
the surface of the cabinet, you will
want some sort of base mat, so that
the tank doesn?t crack from any
unevenness. If the bottom pane is
lifted slightly by a frame, this mat
won?t be needed.
HEATER ? most thermostatically
controlled heaters sit inside the tank and are
either pre-set to a particular temperature, or have
buttons or dials that allow you to set your own
temperature. Heaters come in a range of wattage options
for different sized tanks. For extra peace of mind, consider
a heater guard to protect it from breakages.
8
TOP TIP
Use a spirit level to ensure
the tank and cabinet are
completely level. If it?s out by
even a fraction, this will become
obvious once the aquarium is
?lled with water.
SUBSTRATE ? gravel is easy
to clean but is a terrible
medium for plants. By
contrast, ?ne sands are difficult
to clean but preferred by many
?sh (especially cat?sh) and
plants. Avoid anything that can
affect water chemistry ?
calcium based substrates like
coral gravel are unsuitable for
most freshwater layouts.
DECORATION ? natural wood needs to be
aquarium safe (hardwoods) and soaked prior
to use. Wood can contain acids that discolour
water and alter chemistry. Rocks containing
limestone or heavy metals are of no use in
most freshwater tanks. If you?re unsure, stick
to resin ornaments such as arti?cial wood.
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
Beginners? guide
FILTER ? absolutely essential for all kinds of ?shkeeping, the ?lter may come in one of several
designs. Internal ?lters can be unsightly, but are cheap to run and easy to work with. External ?lters
(far left) sit outside the tank and connect through a series of hoses. These are bigger and better than
internal ?lters (centre) but cost more and require laborious maintenance. Some tanks even come
with built in ?lters incorporated into the hood or back (below). When buying a ?lter, opt for one that
is slightly overpowered for the tank, rather than underpowered, and remember that bigger brand
names are often easier to get spares for than a cheaper, obscure design.
ALGAE SCAPERS ? hand held, on the end of
a stick, or magnetic designs that stick to the
glass, algae wiping is an essential chore.
Choose a design that suits you
best, as you?ll be using it lots!
WATER CONDITIONERS ?
something that removes chlorine from
tapwater will be needed for ongoing
maintenance in the tank.
GRAVEL CLEANER/
SYPHON ? looking like
tube with a length of ho
attached, this piece of
equipment will be getti
used every week or two
choose a good one that
you?re comfy using.
PLUS YOU?LL
ALSO NEED.....
SMALL NET ? to scoop out uneaten food.
TEST KITS ? some retailers will test your
water for you, but at the very least you want to
own some dip test strips that check for
ammonia, nitrite and pH. These will be
essential when setting up the tank.
OUR-WAY PLUG ADAPTOR ? a lot of power
points are needed to run all the aquarium electrics! If
you can invest in a waterproof design then great ? or
consider an aquarium switchbox to keep things tidy. Label
your plugs to make it easier at maintenance time!
BUCKET ? buy a 15 l or so, hardwearing bucket for
cleaning, and don?t use it for anything else but
the tank! Buckets used for jobs like car
washing will be contaminated with
harmful residues that could
kill your ?sh.
LIGHTING ?
?uorescent tubes are
cheaper to buy initially,
while LED lights are
more economical to
run and have
considerably longer
lifespans. LED lights
may also come with
the option of
controllability, allowing
you to increase and
decrease intensity, or
even change colours.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
THERMOMETER ? don?t trust a heater to
perform by its settings alone. A thermometer
placed at the opposite end of the tank to the
heater will give you extra peace of mind.
9
HOW A
FILTER
WORKS
The most essential part of any tank is the
?lter, and understanding how it works is
vital if you?re going to get this right!
L
ong story short, your ?sh is
swimming around in its own
sewage. Con?ned to a glass box,
and with no way of getting out to
use a lavatory, everything your ?sh does
ends up in the water alongside it. Imagine
being locked in a box with no toilet, and
you?ll get the idea.
Your aquarium ?lter takes this sewage and
turns it into something much less harmful.
Without a ?lter, your ?sh would eventually
poison themselves on their own wastes, or
at the very least they?d become really ill with
diseases like white spot and ?n rot (these
problems almost always come back to
poor ?ltration).
and these bacteria consume raw ?sh waste
and turn it into something less harmful.
They?re delicate bacteria, and slow to grow,
so you need to be really careful how you
treat them. Clean the ?lter the wrong way,
or expose these bacteria to the wrong
chemicals, and they?ll die ? and if they die,
your ?sh will soon follow!
Chemical ?lters ? these
polish up the tank. They
remove speci?c
chemicals from the
water, such as those
that cause yellow
discolouring, and help
to keep things clean
and sparkling. Of the three components,
chemical ?lters are the ones to worry about
the least. Biological ?lters are where the
action is...
How can I get them wrong?
The usual way a person messes up their
?lter is through improper cleaning. The
essential thing is to always use old
aquarium water in a bucket for
any maintenance chores.
The reason for this is that
the chlorine in tapwater
will kill the bacteria that
live in ?lters. Remember,
the bacteria are the
What kinds of ?lter are there?
For freshwater aquaria, most ?lters are
canister designs that sit inside or outside of
the tank. There may be a ?lter built in to the
hood, or your tank may have a weir at the
back, which is where the ?lter lives. Most
?lters are relatively quiet running, some
need hoses to connect them to the tank,
some have controllable ?ow rates and even
choices of return spout. But all of them
require some kind of maintenance.
How do they work?
Inside a ?lter you?ll have one or more of
three components.
Mechanical ?lters ? think foam blocks. A
mechanical ?lter sifts out the ?oating, solid
wastes. Because of this, mechanical ?lters
clog easily and will need regular cleaning.
Biological ?lters ? these are the sewage
farm component of the ?lter. The media
involved may look like grey hoops, or
Sticklebricks, or even just chunks of gravel.
A biological ?lter?s role is to house bacteria,
10
Bacteria
within the
?lter media
consume the
?sh waste and
convert it into
less harmful
nitrate. The
clean water
is returned to
the aquarium.
Water is
pulled
through
the grilles
of the ?lter
and travels
through the
?lter media.
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
Beginners? guide
biggest cause of aquarium ?sh deaths.
The way to establish your ?lter is to add
arti?cial ?sh waste to it, and the way to do
this is by adding ammonia. Now ammonia
isn?t nice stuff, and you?ll need to handle it
with care, but the idea is that you buy some
ammonia and ammonia and nitrite test kits,
and then using an online calculator you
input some tank details and simply follow
the instructions from there.
The calculator will tell you when to test,
how much ammonia to add and when, and
by reading the results of the test kits you?ll
be able to tell when the tank is safe to start
adding ?sh.
In a nutshell, if there?s ammonia or nitrite
present in the water then this indicates that
you don?t have enough bacteria yet ? give it
time, keep dosing the ammonia, and
eventually you?ll get there.
All of this is what we call ?shless cycling,
Regular impeller
maintenance will keep
pumps and ?lters
running smoothly.
ones doing all the work and making that ?sh
sewage safe.
Another mistake is to leave the ?lter
switched off for too long ? never turn it off
at night, for example! When the ?lter is
off, the bacteria run out of food and
oxygen quickly.
Using excessive salt or medication is
another sure?re way of knocking out the
?lter bacteria. If you ever need to treat for
anything, make sure you always stick rigidly
to the dosage advised.
Wise up on water
WASTE
FROM FISH
AND
UNEATEN
FOOD
FOOD
Can anything else go wrong?
Most ?broken? ?lters aren?t actually broken
at all! Instead, ?shkeepers fail to clean the
impeller ? the moving heart of the ?lter ?
and so it eventually fouls and seizes up.
Whenever you do aquarium maintenance,
always be sure to have a look at the impeller
and give it a quick rinse if needed.
How do I make my ?lters
??sh ready??
When you buy a new tank and ?lter,
won?t have any of the bacteria you n
convert the ?sh sewage. You need to
those bacteria, and I?m sorry to say t
take a few weeks to do this properly.
If you rush in to stocking your tank
?sh, what will happen is that the ?sh
will reach lethal levels long before th
bacteria develop. It?s a common prob
called ?new tank syndrome? and it?s the
Without a ?lter,
your ?sh would
eventually poison
themselves on
their own wastes,
or at the very least
become really ill.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
AMMONIA
NH3/ NH4
DECOMPOSING PLANT
AND ANIMAL MATTER
NITRATE IS USED
BY PLANTS AND
ALSO DILUTED
BY WATER CHANGES
PROCESSED BY
NITROSOMONAS
BACTERIA
NITRITE
NO2
NITRATE
NO3
PROCESSED BY
NITROBACTER
BACTERIA
11
Beginners? guide
and is the safest way to establish your ?lters
before adding ?sh.
What is ammonia?
Ammonia comes from raw ?sh waste.
They excrete it from their gills as well
as in their urine, and it?s what their faeces
and any uneaten food breaks down in to. It?s
also highly toxic and can kill ?sh at
miniscule levels by burning their gills
and skin.
There?s an interplay between ammonia
and pH (see below), so the important thing
to remember is that in warmer, alkaline
water (such as that of a marine aquarium or
a Malawi cichlid set-up), ammonia becomes
considerably more dangerous.
What is nitrite?
Nitrite is a chemical that the friendly
bacteria in your ?lter convert ammonia
into. Unfortunately, like ammonia,
nitrite is also lethal at low doses, but
thankfully there is another species of
bacteria that develops in the ?lter, which
converts nitrite into nitrate ? and nitrate is
much less harmful.
What is nitrate?
Nitrate is the chemical formed at the end
process of ?ltration. Nitrate is not
converted by any normal
?lter bacteria and will
External ?lters enable
you to add more media and
of different types, but the
maintenance is more complicated.
accumulate in the aquarium water.
While some nitrate will be used by plants
and algae as a food source, levels of nitrate
should be kept under control by carrying
out regular weekly or
fortnightly partial
water changes.
What is pH?
Bacterial
supplements can
help in maturing a
new ?lter.
ACIDIC
Measuring whether the
water in your aquarium is
acidic or alkaline is done
according to pH.
The pH scale (pictured
below) runs from
0 to 14, and right in the
middle at 7.0pH, the tank is
considered neutral ? neither
acid nor alkaline.
At below 7.0pH, water becomes
increasingly acidic, while above 7.0pH,
it becomes increasingly alkaline. Many ?sh
have a window of tolerance, coping with a
range of pH values, but some have speci?c
demands. Malawi cichlids, for example, like
a pH up around 8.2 ? enough to kill off
many acid loving species ? and certainly
won?t do well at a pH much below 8.
In a community aquarium, most of the
popular ?sh we keep will be happy with pH
somewhere around neutral.
As a beginner, you ideally want to aim for a
pH value somewhere between 6.8 and 7.8
for most of the species you?ll be keeping.
Luckily, this suits most of the tapwater
around the UK.
If your pH is at the more extreme end of
the scale ? above 8.0 or below 6.0, you?ll
need to chat to your retailer to ?nd out what
is causing it. Rocks and other decoration
can sometimes have a dangerous effect on
pH, for example.
THE pH SCALE
NEUTRAL
ALKALINE
pH
12
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
Quarantine room. Hatchery section. Unusual & UK bred ?sh.
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Please see our website for current stock.
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TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
With many years of
experience in both the
hobby and aquatic trade,
our staff can help no
matter what your level
of involvement in the
hobby - from beginner
to advanced ?shkeeper
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Beginners? guide
As part of your aquarium?s decoration, you might like to
add some plants. If you want to get them right, follow
this essential advice?
plants vs.
houseplants
1Aquarium
A lot of ?aquatic? plants on sale are actually
just water-resistant houseplants, like
Dracaena and Fittonia species. These will
eventually drown ? no amount of feeding or
care will increase their submerged
lifespans.
An old (and far from ?awless) rule of
thumb is to lift a prospective plant out of
water. If it wilts and struggles to hold its
own weight, it will be a true aquatic plant. If
it remains rigid and upright, there?s a good
chance it could be a houseplant.
2The right substrate
Gravel is bad for most plants. Sand is
better, but trickier to keep clean. For the
lushest plant growth, a planting substrate is
best, but many of these contain nutrients
that leach out, and can severely delay the
maturation of a tank, so check with your
retailer before purchase.
Plants on wood and rocks
3
Plants like Java fern and Anubias are a
blessing for new aquarists. They require no
substrate, only a piece of wood or rock to
cling to. Many can be bought already
attached to decoration (for a premium). As
Bunched plants are often
multiple cuttings clumped
together with a metal alloy
weight to hold them down.
Unwrap the weight from
the plants, separate them,
and plant each cutting
individually.
long as these plants receive
some light and nutrients,
they will grow (albeit slowly).
4Feeding plants
Plants will need some
nutrients to grow. Two
staples you should have to
hand are an all-round plant
food (such as The Aquascaper
plant food) and a form of liquid
carbon (such as EasyCarbo). As a
newcomer, you might hear mention of
carbon dioxide, but unless you?re prepared
to splash out on a high quality, controllable
injection device, I?d steer clear ? incorrect
carbon dioxide dosing can be dangerous.
5Pots or bunches?
Potted plants come with their roots
packed in a mineral wool. You can plant the
pots directly in to your substrate, but
eventually the plant will become pot bound.
It is better to remove the plants from their
pots early on, rinse away the wool from the
roots and position plants directly in to your
substrate. Use a pair of long tweezers to do
this (you can buy plant-speci?c tweezers)
and be careful when cleaning near those
plants for the ?rst week or two.
about
snails?
6What
Snails come in as either adults or
eggs ? check the undersides of
leaves for a clear jelly and remove it before
adding plants to tanks.
Snails tend to proliferate in dirty tanks,
and where plants are weak and dying, so if
numbers start to take off, it means you need
to have a bit of a clean-up. Consider using a
snail trap to catch the excess. Avoid using
snail poisons, as all those little dead bodies
will pollute the tank!
7Trimming
As your plants grow, you?ll need to cut
them back. Purchase some aquascaping
scissors for the job, or buy some extra sharp
manicure scissors. Cut off any browning
leaves or leaves with holes, and remove
them with a net.
Snails and their eggs can come
in on plants, but numbers only
get out of hand in dirty tanks.
Java fern grows on
wood or rocks and is
very easy to look after.
14
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
20
FISH TO GET
YOU STARTED
NEIL HEPWORTH
Researching which ?sh you can have is great fun, but with
so much choice available it can be tricky to get the right
balance in a new community. Here are some safer bets?
Neon tetra, Paracheirodon innesi
The ultimate in colour, try keeping two or three females to
every male. Males have longer ?ns, smaller bodies and
boosted colours, but also look at the shape of the anal ?n
? males have a ?n modi?ed in to a tube, for reproduction!
The original community stunner, keep Neons in groups of six or
more for their wellbeing. They like their water slightly cooler than
most, so don?t keep them with hot-house ?owers like Ram cichlids.
Size: Males to 3.5cm, females to 7cm.
Water: Slightly hard and alkaline, 7.0 to 8.0pH.
Temperature: 20 to 27癈.
Feeding: Flakes, live and frozen Daphnia and bloodworm..
Price: Start around �50 each.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Guppy, Poecilia reticulata
Size: To 4cm.
Water: Soft and acidic, 5.0 to 7.0pH.
Temperature: 20 to 26癈.
Feeding: Flakes, live and frozen Daphnia and Cyclops.
Price: Start at �50 each.
Angel?sh, Pterophyllum scalare
Small angels are community ?sh, but beware when they age,
and especially if they start to spawn. They become hostile
when breeding, and are partial to eating tiny ?sh once they
grow large enough. Need a tall tank!
NEIL HEPWORTH
Size: To around 15cm (taller than it is long).
Water: Acid to alkaline, slightly soft to slightly hard, 6.0 to 7.8pH.
Temperature: 24 to 30癈.
Feeding: Slow sinking pellets and ?ake food, live and frozen
Daphnia and bloodworm.
Price: Start around �for young ?sh.
Dwarf gourami, Trichogaster lalius
Size: To around 8.5cm.
Water: Slightly soft and acidic to just above neutral, 6.0 to 7.8pH.
Temperature: 25 to 28癈.
Feeding: Floating ?akes and pellets, live and frozen Daphnia.
Price: Usually sold as pairs, starting around �50 a pair.
16
SHUTTERSTOCK
Farmed varieties come in stark blue or red colours, even in the
females that were traditionally silver and bland. Note how the ?sh
?taste? around using their long, whispy pelvic ?ns. Fascinating!
Harlequin rasbora, Trigonostigma heteromorpha
Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus
One of the toughest little rasboras out there, and real pretty to boot. Keep
shoals of six or more, and use colour enhancing ?ake foods to bring out
the delightful orange markings. De?nitely improves with age, too!
The ultimate hardy livebearer, few community starter tanks
are complete without a brace of colourful Platies. Sex them by
looking at the anal ?ns on the underside ? males have a ?n
developed into a tube, while females have normal anal ?ns.
? Size: To 5cm.
? Water: Soft and acidic to slightly hard, 5.0 to 7.6pH.
? Temperature: 22 to 26癈.
? Feeding: Flakes, pellets, live and frozen Daphnia and bloodworm.
? Price: Starts around �each.
NEIL HEPWORTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
? Size: Males to 4cm, females to 6cm.
? Water: Neutral to hard and alkaline, 7.0 to 8.1pH.
? Temperature: 18 to 26癈.
? Feeding: Flakes, spirulina ?akes and greenfoods.
Fresh leaves and fruit.
? Price: Start at �each.
Gold barb, Barbodes semifasciolatus
Dwarf oto, Otocinclus vittatus
Barbs sometimes get a bad image as ?n nippers, but the majority are
peaceful and ideal community ?sh. Gold barbs keep themselves to
themselves, and develop the most stunning adult colours. Offer a
few bushy plants as cover.
Ideal for smaller tanks, these tiny, if ?ckle, cat?sh are great at
nibbling algae from the leaves of wide leafed plants. Sensitive to
water quality, so de?nitely one for the slightly more advanced
newcomer, but well worth the extra effort.
? Size: To 7cm.
? Water: Soft acidic to quite hard and alkaline, 6.0 to 8.0pH.
? Temperature: 18 to 25癈.
? Feeding: Flakes, pellets, live and frozen Daphnia and bloodworm.
? Price: Start at around �50 each.
? Size: To 3.5cm.
? Water: Soft acidic to slightly over neutral, 6.0 to 7.4pH.
? Temperature: 20 to 25癈.
? Feeding: Algae wafers and tablets, fresh greens and fruit.
? Price: Start around �50 each.
Bristlenose, Ancistrus cf. cirrhosus
A glass ?cleaner? that won?t grow too big, Ancistrus need a good
supply of algae and green foods to keep their bellies bulging ?
hollow bellies soon spell disaster. Provide caves, and look for a
?beard? around the nose of growing males.
ALAMY
NEIL HEPWORTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
Beginners? guide
? Size: To 12.5cm.
? Water: Soft acidic to relatively hard, 5.8 to 7.8pH.
? Temperature: 21 to 27癈.
? Feeding: Algae tablets and wafers, fresh greens, fruit, algae.
? Price: Starting around �each.
17
Kuhli loach, Pangio kuhlii
Pygmy puffer, Carinotetraodon travancoricus
100% adorable, but equipped with a powerful and sharp beak that can
ravage tank mates if housed in the wrong place. Best kept in a planted
tank, and will need feeding with snails to help keep the beak short.
? Size: To 3.5cm.
? Water: Hard and alkaline, 7.5 to 8.4pH.
? Temperature: 22 to 28癈.
? Feeding: Live and frozen Daphnia, bloodworm and lots of live snails!
? Price: Start around �50.
Dwarf pencil?sh, Nannostomus marginatus
A lot more complex than it ?rst appears, there?s gold, red, black
stripes and all sorts going on in pencil?sh. They can be prone to
whitespot, so keep a close eye. Bene?t from a tank with hiding
places and ?oating plants.
? Size: 7.5 to 12cm.
? Water: Soft and acidic, 5.5 to 6.8pH.
? Temperature: 24 to 30癈.
? Feeding: Live and frozen bloodworm,
Daphnia and Cyclops, sinking pellets.
? Price: Start around �each.
X-ray tetra, Pristella maxillaris
Not as see-through as the name alludes, the X-ray is a uniquely
pretty ?sh with a good balance of pleasant understated colours and
laid-back attitude. A shoal will eventually fragment and split up, but
they seem happy with this.
? Size: To 5cm.
? Water: Slightly soft and acidic to
slightly hard and alkaline, 6.0 to
7.8pH.
? Temperature: 24 to 28癈.
? Feeding: Flakes, pellets, live and
frozen Daphnia and bloodworm.
? Price: Start around �50 each.
NEIL HEPWORTH
ALAMY
Worm-shaped, small and mostly hidden
away, a little group of Kuhli loaches is a treat
in a planted tank with lots of hiding places.
You won?t see them often, but when you do,
you?ll be overjoyed. Don?t forget to feed them!
NEIL HEPWORTH
? Size: To 3.5cm.
? Water: Soft and acidic, 5.8 to 7.2pH.
? Temperature: 24 to 26癈.
? Feeding: Small ?akes, live and frozen Cyclops.
? Price: Start around �95 each.
Dwarf rainbow?sh, Melanotaenia praecox
Most rainbows get too large for the everyday community, but the
bright blue dwarf is a star in a mixed tank. Better in a tank with
plants, which will help bring out the colours, pay attention to them
in the mornings, when they display.
Zebra danio, Danio rerio
White Cloud Mountain minnow, Tanichthys albonubes
One of the most resilient starter ?sh there is,
females will get larger and plumper. Spend
much of their time at the surface of the tank,
erratic and constant swimmers. Prefers
water to be slightly cooler than most.
Peaceful, colourful, but fares better in a tank with a lower temperature (making it a
good tank mate to Neon tetra). Keep in a shoal, and don?t be shy to have a little ?ow
through the tank ? they like swimming in currents.
? Size: To 4cm.
? Water: Slightly soft acidic, to slightly hard and alkaline, 6.0 to 8.0pH.
? Temperature: 18 to 22癈.
? Feeding: Flakes, live and frozen Daphnia and Cyclops.
? Price: Start around �50 each.
SHUTTERSTOCK
? Size: To 4cm.
? Water: Slightly soft acidic, to slightly hard
and alkaline, 6.0 to 8.0pH.
? Temperature: 18 to 24癈.
? Feeding: Flakes, live and frozen Daphnia
and Cyclops.
? Price: Start around �50 each.
18
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEIL HEPWORTH
? Size: To 7.5cm.
? Water: Neutral to slightly hard and alkaline, 6.8 to 8.0pH.
? Temperature: 22 to 27癈.
? Feeding: Slow sinking ?akes and pellets, live and frozen Daphnia.
? Price: Start around �each.
ALAMY
Beginners? guide
Kribensis, Pelvicachromis pulcher
Always buy in pairs, ensure plenty of caves, and expect a little aggro
if they spawn, but otherwise these are peaceful, colourful cichlids
that live near the substrate. They become more con?dent when
housed alongside surface dwelling, small ?sh like Danios.
G Size: Between 7.5 to 10cm.
G Water: Soft and acidic to slightly hard and alkaline, 5.0 to 7.8pH.
G Temperature: 23 to 26癈.
G Feeding: Flakes, live and frozen Daphnia and bloodworm.
G Price: Starting around �50 for a pair.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Female Kribensis (left)
and the male below.
Siamese ?ghting ?sh, Betta splendens
SHUTTERSTOCK
You need to be real careful what you put these with. Those
stunning ?ns will be shredded by any nippy tank mates, so
?ghters are best housed solo. If two males meet, they?ll ?ght to
the death. The males also beat up females.
NOT a cleaner ?sh in any sense, these cat?sh require well
maintained tanks with tidy substrates, and plenty of good food ?
not the scraps and leftovers from others. Often sold in trios, but get
on much better in shoals of six or more.
G Size: Males around 5cm, females to around 7.5cm.
G Water: Soft acidic to hard and alkaline, 6.0 to 7.8pH.
G Temperature: 24 to 28癈.
G Feeding: Sinking pellets and tablets, live and frozen Daphnia
and bloodworm.
G Price: Starting around �50 each.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Bronze cory, Corydoras aeneus
G Size: To 6.5cm, plus long ?ns.
G Water: Slightly soft and acidic to slightly hard and alkaline,
6.0 to 7.8pH.
G Temperature: 24 to 30癈.
G Feeding: Floating ?akes and pellets, live and frozen Daphnia.
G Price: Start around � but � upwards not uncommon for
good ones.
Hatchet?sh, Carnegiella strigata
Surface dwelling, peaceful, but prone to whitespot, hatchets are odd
shaped ?sh you?ll want to keep a close eye on. You?ll need a good
?tting hood, as these ?sh can ?y, and when spooked they?ll launch
themselves across the room.
NEIL HEPWORTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
G Size: To 3.5cm.
G Water: Soft acidic, to slightly hard and alkaline, 5.0 to 7.8pH.
G Temperature: 24 to 28癈.
G Feeding: Surface ?oating ?akes, pellets, live and freeze dried insects.
G Price: Starting around �each.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
19
KEEP
THINGS
TIDY!
With your tank in
place, you?ll need
to get in to the
habit of carrying
out some routine
tasks to keep it
looking its best.
Gravel cleaning
Algae magnet.
Any muck down in the gravel will be hidden
out of sight, decomposing and turning water
dirty. You can get it back out in the
following ways...
O Nets: Directly after a feed (especially if
you overfeed by accident) get in the tank
with a small, ?ne net and remove any large
uneaten ?akes.
O Battery powered/air powered hoover:
Used as an alternative to a net, the hoover
sucks up and recycles water, trapping any
waste through a ?ne mesh. A lot easier than
using a net!
O Syphon powered gravel cleaner: The
best method of gravel cleaning, and should
be tied in with a water change. The trick is
to learn how to kink the hose to control ?ow
rate. Master this and yo
able to suck gravel up, c
and drop it back down
without draining the
whole tank!
Algae wiping
Algae is inevitable
wherever you have
light and water.
Address it early
before it becomes a
deep-seated problem.
TOP TIP
You might get told
that certain suckermouth
cat?sh are great for keeping
the tank clean. Truth is, they?re
not. At best, suckermouth cats
may graze on a small patch
of glass, but the only one
keeping things clean
is you.
O Hand held pads: Yo
can buy coarse pads for
or softer ones for acrylic. Be
careful not to trap anything (like gravel)
between the pad and the glass as you?ll
scratch it. Also, be cautious of contacting
?sh ? especially those with sharp spines!
Use a gravel cleaner
to remove muck
from the substrate.
20
O Magnetic scrapers: The magnet with
the soft, felt pad goes outside the tank, the
coarse magnet goes inside the tank.
Magnets can struggle to get close to the
bottom without picking up sand or gravel.
Floating models make life a lot easier if the
two halves ever come apart.
rapers: May be hand
on a stick, and often
rporate a blade to slice
gae away from the
lass. Be careful around
tank edges where the
blade may cut
through the silicone
seal and avoid on
plastic tanks as it will
scratch them.
Water changing
u can change water
ly or fortnightly, but
o go longer. Waste will
build up, which can be toxic to ?sh.
The best way to remove water is with a
gravel cleaner, as you can kill two birds with
one stone. A good syphon will have a
self-start mechanism which may involve
bobbing the device up and down, or
manually squeezing a hand-held pump. In
the absence of one of these, do NOT suck on
the hose to start water ?owing. Instead, ?ll
the gravel cleaner and the hose with water,
place your thumb over the end of the hose,
and carry it to the tank. With the gravel
cleaning end submerged, and the hose
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
Beginners? guide
TOP TIP
Keep any old water
you?ve drained from the
tank and use it to clean
?lter media. Afterwards, it
is an excellent source of
nutrients for watering
house plants!
safe to say that carbon in a tank is exhausted
after around the six-week mark. Note that
carbon will be exhausted extra fast in tanks
where medication has been used (note that
because it adsorbs medications, carbon
always needs to come out before treating
your tank for any health problems).
Always add dechlorinator to
tapwater before using it in
your aquarium.
outlet in a bucket below the tank, remove
your thumb and the syphon will start.
If water changing weekly, aim for around a
15% change. Fortnightly, aim to change 25%.
Don?t change more than 33% of the water at
once as it can shock the ?sh and ?lters.
The replacement water needs to be the
right temperature and pH. If using tapwater,
mix it in a bucket with some hot water from
a kettle (don?t use the hot tap ? heavy metals
may be an issue over time). Use a glass
thermometer to get within 1癈 of the tank
temperature. Add dechlorinator to the
bucket the water is in, and give it a minute to
deactivate any chlorine from the tapwater.
It?s a lot easier to add the new water a jug at
a time rather than lifting the whole bucket.
Some retailers sell ?return pumps? that go in
a bucket and push water back up to the tank
via a length of hose.
O Foams: Foams will be the ?rst element in
a ?lter to block as they trap out solid waste.
Some foams become biological (they
develop bacteria that keep aquariums safe)
and these bacteria need to be cherished.
Always clean foam media in old tank water,
not under a tap (which will kill the bacteria).
Eventually, the foam will need replacing ? if
you can squeeze it in your hand and it
doesn?t spring back to its original shape, it
needs changing. In ?lters with multiple
foams, just change one foam at a time.
Cleaning ?lters
O Carbon pouches: These don?t need
cleaning, but they will need replacing. It?s
The ?lter also needs regular maintenance.
O Impeller: This is the moving part inside
your pump that pushes the water through.
This will also need cleaning. Try doing it
every time you clean the ?lters, as good
practice. The impeller ISN?T covered under
your pump warranty against failure to clean
it. If your pump packs up because of a dirty
impeller, you?ve no right to a refund or
replacement. Keep it clean.
O Hoses: External hoses will eventually
build up a layer of grime and algae. Every
few months, consider getting down them
with some pipe brushes (your retailer will
have some tucked away on sale somewhere)
and ?ush through with cold water. Don?t be
tempted to clean your pipes with boiling
water ? it?s dangerous.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR
FILTER MEDIA
O Biological hoops: Leave these alone until
they get visibly dirty. Using a bucket of
aquarium water, place the biological media
into a net, and shake it about in the water as
though frying chips in an old-fashioned
fryer. When the worst of the waste comes
off, the media is clean enough.
Give the foam media a squeeze in
a bucket of old tank water ? don?t
clean it under the tap.
4 more routine jobs
COUNT THE FISH: Fish grow and ?sh
breed. Eventually, you might ?nd your
tank becomes overstocked. If your tank
gets dirty way too quickly, or if you
struggle to maintain water quality,
chances are you need to offload some ?sh
to friends or a retailer.
CLEAN THE LIGHTS: Eventually they will
get covered in splashed water residue,
and this can cause a gradual overheat.
Turn the lights off and wipe them every
couple of weeks.
WATER TESTING: Don?t avoid water
testing. As daunting as it sounds, a test
for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH is
actually really easy. In some cases, you
can do it with a simple dip strip. Your
retailer will be happy to discuss any
readings you have, and if you?re really
intimidated by it, the retailer may even
test a sample of your water for a small fee.
CHECK THE FISH: Look at skin and ?ns.
Are there spots that weren?t there before?
Have ?ns become torn or haggard? Are
the ?sh slimier than usual? Are there any
red streaks on them? Are they gasping, or
are they less or more active than normal?
Check out any unusual behaviour
i
di t l ith
t t t!
Biological media like ceramic hoops
just needs a rinse in old tank water
to remove the worst of the muck.
If you use activated carbon it will
need to be replaced every six weeks
or so.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
21
Beginners? guide
FEEDING TIME!
Flakes are great all-round foods, and suited
to the small to medium mouths of most
community species. Some contain health
boosters or colour enhancers, too.
Flakes are sprinkled directly on
the surface of the tank. Aim to
feed as much as your ?sh can
eat inside of two minutes.
Beyond that, you?ll just get
fat ?sh and a messy tank!
Flakes are ideal for
surface and midwater
swimmers, but are slow to
sink, so of little use to ?sh
at the bottom, like cat?sh.
Tablets and wafers
Dense, fast-sinking foods like
tablets or wafers can be targeted to ?sh on
the bottom. Select the type of tablet your
?sh needs. Ingredients can be meaty, with
lots of insect or ?sh meal, and are aimed at
omnivore and carnivore ?sh. ?Green? tablets
and wafers can be rich in vegetable matter,
so better suited to herbivorous ?sh.
Pellets
Either ?oating or sinking, pellets are usually
made from similar ingredients as ?akes, but
in a denser package. Be careful not to add
pellets too large for ?sh?s mouths.
Grazers
Blocks of food that attach to the side of the
tank via a sucker, or sit on the bottom, these
give ?sh an opportunity to nibble at food
throughout the day. Excellent if you have a
tank with greedy ?sh that outcompete tank
mates for ?ake foods ? all the ?sh can
graze at the same rate on these!
Freeze dried foods
Dehydrated insects, worms
and crustaceans that
often have quite a low
protein content (meaning
they?re not very messy),
but can take a long time to
sink in a tank. You can
even get freeze dried snails
for puffer?sh!
Frozen foods
Nutritious but a little messy, frozen
bloodworm, Daphnia, Artemia and Cyclops
is great for meat-eating tetras, barbs and
cichlids, while frozen greenfoods can be
great for herbivore ?sh.
NEIL HEPWORTH
A piece of courgette, held down with a
plant weight, will be superb for
Bristlenose cat?sh to graze on. A fresh
pea, squashed between your ?ngers,
will be nibbled at by certain cat?sh, tetra
and barbs.
Storing your food
Once seen as a disease risk, most live food
nowadays is carefully cultured and low risk.
Pour the live food through a net and rinse
quickly with tapwater to ?ush any bacteria
or parasites away.
Dried foods like ?akes, tablets and pellets
need to be stored in airtight containers, and
out of direct light. Avoid using clear tubs, as
light can damage the vitamin content.
When you buy new food, use a permanent
marker to note when it was opened on the
underside. After six months, bin any that is
left over and buy fresh.
Fresh food
When to feed
Omnivores will bene?t from the addition of
some fresh fruit and veg from time to time.
In an ideal world, a typical community
tank will get two or three small feeds a day,
and this is ?ne
for those
?sh active dur
the day.
Cat?sh and
When feeding, don?t
other
nocturnal
put wet ?ngers in to the
species may
food tubs. If ?akes and
not come out
pellets get damp, they
to feed while
can turn mouldy, and
lights are still
potentially toxic for
on, so tablets
and other
your ?sh.
sinking foods
may need to be
added just after lights
out. Always remember to remove any
leftovers by morning.
Try to keep feeding at the same times
daily, so that your ?sh get in to a routine.
This means they?ll be ready to eat, and
subsequently there will be less waste
produced from leftovers.
Live foods
Lots of ?sh will enjoy the
occasional offering of fresh veg.
22
Grazing foods
can be stuck to
the tank glass.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Flake foods
JACQUES PORTAL
Feeding your ?sh offers a great opportunity to interact
and really enjoy them. Keep your ?sh healthy by offering
the right foods to the right species!
TOP TIP
YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM
Discover
Fishkeeping
Chat to your local store
about any species you?re
interested in keeping, or visit
our comprehensive databank for
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?WLOIITIVGSYOHEXEFERO
;ILEZISZIVWXSVIWXLVSYKLSYXXLI9/WXE?IHF]
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Find a store near you today or visit ?WLOIITIVGSYO
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Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
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NEXTMONTH
in the ebruary issue of
On sale December 20th 2017
PHANTOMS WITHOUT MENACE
ALAMY
Our ?sh of the month are the friendly Phantom tetras
Discover the big,
bold, colourful
carpet anemones.
GEORGE FARMER
ALAMY
MAGIC
CARPETS
READER?S REEF
We visit a spectacular hanging
aquarium in Amsterdam.
HOW TO KEEP SARDINES
GOING DOWN THE RIVER
Great ideas for river-themed set-ups, advice
on getting the ?ow right and what to keep.
MP&C PIEDNOIR , AQUAPRESS.COM
NEIL HEPWORTH
No, not the kind that come in tomato sauce
? we?re talking Cyprichromis sardine
cichlids. Find out what you need for these
Tanganyikan schoolers.
Plus
O Freshwater breeding heroes O New ?sh in the shops
O Air pumps on test O Inspirational aquariums O The latest gear reviewed
111
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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14
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TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
Now open on Sundays
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
SCOTLAND
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
With over 1000 aquariums full of tropical, marine and cold water ?sh
Huge range of aquariums, aquarium furniture and equipment at discount prices
Unit B/G, 207 Strathmartine Road, Dundee, Scotland, DD3 8PH
01382 832000 www.tropical?sh-scotland.com
AQUATICS
CENTRE
Over 250 tanks stocked
with Top Quality Fish and a
Huge dry goods section!
Here at DKP we specialise in producing bespoke
?breglass ?sh tanks for the discerning customer
who wants the BEST for their ?sh.
The DKP product range includes Filters, Bakki?s and
Tanks 400, 450, 900 & 1500 gallons in rectangular
with 700 & 800 gallons in circular but any bespoke
size can be catered for including viewing windows.
Tel: 01772 623497
www.aquahome.co.uk
Within Avant Gardens, (Opposite Leyland Golf
Club) Wigan Road, Leyland, PR25 5XW
www.denbykoiponds.co.uk
01773 863991/07773186198
sales@denbykoiponds.co.uk
LINC
QUAT
SA
I
LINCOLNSHIRE
Hanger1 ? Strubby Air?eld
Woodthorpe ? Nr Alford ? LN13 0DD
01507 451000
EAST YORKSHIRE
Hedon Road ? Burstwick
East Yorks ? HU12 9HA
01482 898800
SOUTH YORKSHIRE
Great North Rd
Doncaster ? DN10 6AB
01302 711639
To all our customers ? thank you for your support with the PFK Awards
LARGE SELECTION OF
? Aquariums
? Fibreglass ponds
? Working Water
Features
? Waterfall Display
? Pumps
HUGE SELECTION OF
? Koi & Ornamental
Pond Fish
? Marine Fish & Invertebrates
? Tropical & Fancy Cold
Water Fish
? Pond & Tropical Plants
lincsaquatics-lincolnshire
Come & feed our friendly ?sh
? Discounted Pond Liners
? Lighting
? Food
? Ro-Water
? Tropical & MarineMix
? Treatments
All ?sh are packed to travel anywhere in the UK
lincsaquatics-eastyorkshire
lincsaquatics-southyorkshire
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
112
INTERNET
P L A N T E D AQ UA R I U M S P E C I A L I S TS
www.aquariumgardens.co.uk
01480 450572 info@aquariumgardens.co.uk
LINCOLNSHIRE
CS
Classi?ed To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366411
0116 2709 610
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.the?shbowlltd.com
www.
.co.uk
T:01254 208245
EVERYTHING FOR THE AQUARIUM,
PONDS AND REPTILES, TOP BRANDS
AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES.
HUGE SELECTION OF GOODS,
FROM ALL MAJOR BRANDS
LOYALTY POINTS SCHEME
5 STAR RATED SERVICE
AND AFTER SALES
FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL
ORDERS OVER �0.
FRIENDLY AND
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE
1000?S OF PRODUCTS IN STOCK
FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH
FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY ON
ORDERS OVER �!
fb.com/completeaquaticsuk
@completeaquatic
pinterest.com/aquaticsuk
NATIONWIDE DISTRIBUTORS
INTERNET
Barlows Aquatic Trading
AQUARIUM MANUFACTURERS..supplying direct to the public at trade prices
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www.aquarist-classi?eds.co.uk
Please mention
EBO
OK
Ring: 01254 388815
www.barlows-aquarium-supplies.com
e mail: barlowsaquatics@aol.com
or call in and see us at:
Brisol Works, Mount St., Accrington, Lancs BB50PJ
when responding to adverts
DID YOU KNOW?
BEGINNERS?
GUIDE TO MARINES
FREE24-PAGE
XCITING IDEAS FOR 90CM TANKS
AZ
IN
E
Y
YEARS
NNIVE
RS
AR
66
19
2016 PET FIS
H
RA
LY - P CTICA
L
TH
I
ON
EN A
LD
GO
K
SH
M
Amazing fish and how to keep them
25
EE
50
pfkmag.com
Grow your own
KILLIES
November '17 Issue 12 �40
aquarium
pumps
on test
Discover the fishy
equivalent to
garden seeds!
STEP BY STEP
Be inspired by nature &
the great outdoors to
CREATE THE
PERFECT FOREST
AQUASCAPE...
To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366411
MEET HE
TAMASABA
GOLDFISH ?
THE MARINES WITH MUCKY HOMES
R BEHAVED MBUNA: IS FOOD THE KEY?
a fancy for ponds!
shades
MARINES
to add contrast
ty aquarium
Channa?
ghting for
Get spawning!
Banish winter blues
with our breeding
project ideas
CLEANER
WRASSE
DEBATE
All the colours of
the rainbow
Discover the
dazzling Micro Lord
? the coral every
reefkeeper is after!
The arguments
for and against
keeping these
remarkable ?sh
HT
EYES
wonderful
IT?S A
101
FASCINATING
FISH FACTS
Discover what makes
them
EASY TO ACHIEVE
AQUASCAPES
TO INSPIRE YOU
3
THINK
FESTIVE
Keep the
gloriously laid back
Mesonauta cichlids
Why Aussie
Doughnuts
run rings
around other
corals
OCTOBER ?17 ISSUE 11 �40
Discover the tiny,
colourful and
fascinating relatives
of the rainbow?sh
LIFE!
16 simple ideas
for happier,
healthier ?sh
NEW SERIES
Get your very own
FISHKEEPING
DIPLOMA!
Find Part One
of our exciting
new home
learning
course inside
Colour your reef tank
I as o i t on i h
DIPLOMA
Buy eye-popping
corals ? and keep
them that way!
You can now buy single issues
of practical ?shkeeping
magazine online with
FREE POSTAGE
More details at magsdirect.co.uk
113
NAOMI BRAISBY
Tailpiece
with Nathan Hill
?
Then there are those uncomfortable moments when faces
I?ve never seen before come up to me and ask ?are you Nathan Hill??
as I scra
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