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The GOLD Cardinals coming to a shop near you
How to set up a
river aquarium
?and what to
put in it
FRIENDLYGHOSTS
Whyyouneed
Phantom tetras
in your life
32
Issue 2 February 18 �40
AIR PUMPS
TRIED &
TESTED
&
THE BRIGHT
THE BOLD
THE BEAUTIFUL
Discover Flag?n angel?sh, Zebra plecs,
Carpet anemones, Sardine cichlids and more
STEP-BY-STEP
Takeiteasywithour
lowmaintenance
island aquascape
900S
1200S
1500S
1800S
600SCube
OASE HighLine Aquariums
Pure design, no compromise
The HighLine range of aquariums from OASE help make fish-keeping easy including
contemporary design, hidden technology and reduced cleaning and maintenance.
Filter technology is located in the cabinet which is hidden from view but still easily
accessible. Modern, energy efficient LED lighting creates the right atmosphere while
beautifully lighting your fish and encouraging plant growth.
Quality and individual design - a new standard in Indoor Aquatics.
? Available in three sizes - 200L, 300L & 400L
? Available in three decors - glossy white, glossy
anthracite and natural oak
? Pull out shelf
? Adjustable feet for stability
? No handle doors
For more information please visit www.oase-livingwater.com
Welcome
Learn from
the best
JEREMY GAY is a
former PFK editor and
now Evolution Aqua?s
Business Development
Manager. He spotlights
a very un-cichlid-like
cichlid from Lake
Tanganyika. Page 36.
DAVE WOLFENDEN is
curator at the Blue
Planet Aquarium in
Cheshire Oaks. He
offers advice on keeping
carpet anemones on
page 46.
NATHAN HILL is an
aquatic journalist and
PFK?s features editor. He
pro?les phantom tetras,
discovers a gorgeous
new ?gold? Cardinal tetra
and offers advice on
fast-?ow set-ups.
Pages 8, 18 and 78.
One of the ?rst ?sh I ever kept as a newbie in
the 80s was the Black phantom tetra. These
are gorgeous little ?sh and, kept in a decent
ratio of boy and girls, you?ll see plenty of
displays between rival males. At the time I
was a very inexperienced ?shkeeper, and
while I?d noticed the males, with their
elongated dorsal ?ns and black attire, I hadn?t
really taken notice of the females, which were
looking washed out in the sales tank. I assumed in my naivety that they
were a different species (the shop regularly mixed the ?sh in its tanks).
Once the assistant had con?rmed that they would be okay in my
set-up, I left him to bag me some up. It wasn?t until I got home that I
realised I had three Black phantoms and three ?other ?sh?. Rather than
make what would have been a 50-mile round trip back to the shop, I
muttered something unpleasant about the assistant and acclimatised
them all to my tank. In my defence there was no Internet back then,
with research limited to books and magazines. It didn?t help that the
only photo I had of Black phantoms ? in black and white ? showed a
single male.
However, as the females coloured up and became gorgeous in their
own right while the males sized one another up with stiffened ?ns and
displays, it was obvious even to a newbie that they were different sexes
of the same species. In fact, when I visited the shop again I bought a
few more ? and they were even better in bigger numbers. I still have a
soft spot for these delightful ?sh. Find out more about them on page 8.
I?d like to take this opportunity on behalf of everyone at PFK to
wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a ?sh-?lled 2018!
24 Reader?s amazing
hanging reef aquarium.
8 Phantastic Phantoms.
36 Keep sardine cichlids.
Get more PFK!
Like us on Facebook.com
Karen Youngs, editor
NES WITH MUCKY HOMES
GABOR HORVATH
is a Hungarian aquarist
with over 35 years of
?shkeeping experience.
He tests a range of
aquarium air pumps on
page 96.
Get the next three
issues of Practical
Fishkeeping for
SEE
just �
PAGE
MARI
NES S
Get spawning!
Banish winter blues
with our breeding
project ideas
No m
e
101
FASCINATING
FISH FACTS
Discover what make
th
a
ids
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
FR EGU
24-PA
GE
IDE TOBEGINN
ER
Why Aussie
oughnuts
un rings
around other
corals
contra
arium st
es
All the
colours
the rainb
of
ow
Disco
ver
dazzl ng the
? the Mic o Lord
co
ee keepe al every
r is a ter!
GOLDF AB
ISH ?
a fancy
for pond
s
Follow us @PFKmagazine
Watch us on youtube.com/
user/practical?shkeeping
52
5
February
Cover image: Neil Hepworth
ON THE COVER
08
PHANTASTIC PHANTOMS
You don?t have to be garish to
leave a lasting impression, and
the subtle, understated charm of
the Phantom tetras will win you
over in a heartbeat.
18
SEASONAL DELIGHTS
36
HOW TO KEEP SARDINES
42
46
54
58
78
96
6
46
Oddities are in full swing
this month, with some very
unconventionally coloured new
arrivals...
No, not the kind you buy in
tomato sauce! These sardines are
the gorgeous Cyprichromis, from
Tanganyika. Every Rift Valley fan
should keep them at least once?
A SOFT SPOT FOR STRIPES
The Zebra plec is one of the
most iconic freshwater ?sh in
the hobby. Johnny Jensen puts
together an ideal home for these
lovely cat?sh.
MAGIC CARPETS
The carpet anemones are among
the most beautiful and imposing
invertebrates you?ll see and in
the right set-up they can make an
amazing centrepiece.
THE TAKE-IT-EASY ISLAND
Aquascaping doesn?t have to
be hard work. You don?t need
super high lighting, loads of
liquid fertilisers, expensive
CO2 injection and huge water
changes...
78
HOIST THE FLAG
A stunner on every front, the
Flag?n angel is a slightly
wildcard marine showpiece that?ll
liven a dull FOWLR system, or ?
with an element of risk ? a well
planned reef.
GOING DOWN THE RIVER
While most aquaria are static
cubes of water, many ?sh hail
from waters that are much livelier
? and there?s plenty to gain from
going with the ?ow?
THE BIG AIR PUMP TEST
42
We compare 32 aquarium air
pumps over a range of tank sizes,
with some surprising results.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
70
FISHKEEPING KNOW-HOW
60
PARENT POWER
68
INSPIRATIONAL
AQUARIUMS
70
AQUATIC SCHOOL
The underwater world is a
dangerous place and young ?sh
need all the help they can get to
make it to maturity. For many
species, the key to survival starts
with their parents.
In association with
DIPLOMA
60
The colours of the cichlids in this
Malawi set-up contrast beautifully
with the almost monochrome
rocky hardscape.
The ?nal part of our Diploma
series looks at tank management,
and the tasks that you need to
perform to keep things healthy.
84
84
HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR
Make a new year?s resolution to
improve your ?shkeeping this
year. One small change can bring
lots of bene?ts.
YOUR FISH & TANKS
24
OFF THE WALL
Ralph Moorman discovered a way
to have a large, heavy reef tank in
a fourth storey apartment without
it falling through the ?oor.
30
34
58
24
TANK COMMUNITY
The place to share your ?sh,
tanks and experiences.
ME AND MY TANK
Gavin Little?s aquaria are a
paradise for L-number cat?sh
and elephantnoses.
NEWS & REVIEWS
14
102
106
FISHKEEPING NEWS
All the latest on the aquatic front.
NEW GEAR
We review the products coming to
a shop near you soon.
106
SHOPTOUR
We visit retailers in Dublin and
Wembley.
PROBLEMS SOLVED
87
36
PLUS
52
114
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
FISHKEEPING ANSWERS
Some of the world?s top experts
answer your questions.
SUBSCRIBE TO PFK!
87
Save money when you take out a
subscription to PFK.
TAILPIECE
Nathan Hill is suffering with
the heat.
7
Phantastic
PHANTOMS
You don?t have to be garish to leave a lasting impression,
and the subtle, understated charm of the Phantom tetras
will win you over in a heartbeat, given the chance.
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
I
f you ever fancy getting lost within a single genus, you could
do worse than immersing yourself into the Hyphessobrycon
of South America. Fishbase, the online ??shcyclopaedia? of
species, currently has no less than 140 species marked as
valid. Wikipedia, either ahead of the curve, or still including
outdated species, lists 154.
Understanding the relationships between different
Hyphessobrycon is a feat at best. Taxonomists put in long hours to
tidy things up, but these far-reaching and loosely homogenous
?sh make it hard work. In some cases, the construction of clades
(a kind of tighter ancestral link within a genus) has lifted
imbricated clusters of ?sh out of the confusion. Particularly
switched on readers may have heard of the Rosy tetra clade, for
example, where DNA analysis has highlighted the relationships
between a handful of species.
A consequence of ongoing reclassi?cation is that it tears apart
some of the old ?colloquial? associations we?ve known and trusted
for years. In the early days, ?sh were routinely lumped together
on the basis of similar appearance alone, and the hobby came to
recognise them as such. Now the old ties are being broken at a
scienti?c level. Among those tossed around in this new world
order are the gorgeously trapezoid ?sh that are the Phantom tetra.
Three of a kind
If you?re out of the loop, you might be confused ? Phantom tetras
are Meglamphodus, not Hyphessobrycon, surely? Well, they were,
up to 1997 when Meglamphodus was made a synonym. If you?re
hauling old books off the shelf, like the Baensch or Axelrod atlas,
then they?ll be written up as Meglamphodus all the way. You?re
also forgiven if you?re using retailer labels as identi?cation.
Whether lazy or oblivious, I still to this day see Phantoms sold
under the old scienti?c moniker.
Almost all of us will have seen the regal Black phantom,
Hyphessobrycon megalopterus. Fewer of us may have sifted out
Red phantoms, Hyphessobrycon sweglesi, from retailer tanks
?lled with similarly shaped, similarly marked Hyphessobrycon on
offer. But you?ll need an acquired taste ? likely you?re a biotope
buff ? if you know the Yellow (or Golden) phantom,
Hyphessobrycon roseus, too.
This sliding scale from well-known to scarce ties in with their
availability. Black phantoms are almost entirely farmed, en masse
in the Far East or Eastern Europe. Red phantoms tend to be a mix
of farmed and wild caught imports. The best Yellow phantoms are
those that come in wild ? the farmed versions are the blandest of
the bunch.
Yellow phantoms,
Hyphessobrycon
roseus.
8
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Fish of the month
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Red phantom,
Hyphessobrycon
sweglesi.
Male Black phantom,
Hyphessobrycon
megalopterus.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
9
Black phantoms
Getting a Black phantom to bloom requires
clever housing, and a little patience. Young
?sh in stores (especially in tanks denuded of
substrate) are the piscine equivalent of
bedroom-dwelling teenagers ? pale and
gaunt, and a little bit moody too.
If you want them at their best you should
buy multiple males, and plenty of females
for them to show off to. Sexing them is
pretty easy. A big dorsal ?n, leading to a bit
of a point, and it?s a young male. A round
paddle of a dorsal, and some orange-red in
the anal ?n and belly, means it?s a lady.
Now, get them in a tank. Rest assured,
they?ll ?ourish in almost any choice of decor
(I?ve seen them as a curious contrast,
looking stunning in a tank with ?clown
vomit? gravel and dayglow plastic plants
? not mine, I should add). They?ll look even
more stunning in a biotope.
Black phantoms, originally from Bolivia
and Brazil, are often found in vast wetlands.
For the aquarist, that?s a biotope blessing.
Wetlands mean plants, plants and more
plants, as much or as little sunken wood as
you like, and totally clear water.
I?d want a tank of around 100cm long for a
decent shoal (12 to 18 individuals),
preferably with a respectable width as well
as length. Some of the new aquascapeoriented tanks have ideal footprints, but
make sure you can cover them. Black
phantoms are known to launch themselves
from open aquaria.
On the base, plump for something dark,
like a planting substrate, or one of the dark
sands from JBL or Dennerle. Lighter sand
will look stark against a jet-black ?sh.
Besides, these tetras lend themselves to a
tank that?s moody, dull and secretive. You
want them to completely relax in their
surroundings.
Go mad on plants ? Sagittaria, Eleocharis,
Bacopa and Echinodorus are all great. Toss
on some ?oating Salvinia and let it
proliferate, and it?ll all add to the wetland
ambience, while keeping excess nutrients
in check.
Finish your tank off with a few fallen
branches and a generous handful of leaf
litter. You?ll need to soak the leaves for a long
time before use ? I simmer mine on the hob
for an hour or so, replacing the stained
Male Black phantoms grow to live up
to their name. Gone are the wishy
washy greys and in comes a sheen as
black as coal. The dorsal ?n becomes
a long, arcing scythe of
bellowing skin. Now is
when the magic happens.
10
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish of the month
BLACK PHANTOM
ALAMY
water with fresh every ten minutes or so.
The aim of the game is not to stain the water
? you want to get a nice, wilderness feel on
the bottom of the tank. You may even get a
bit of an ecosystem down there, with little
worms and copepods that the phantoms can
tuck in to. Don?t panic if you do happen to
get some water discolouration, the ?sh
won?t mind a bit of tannic acid in the water.
Just avoid turning everything the colour
of amber.
Sit back and wait. Feed them well with a
mix of fresh, live and frozen foods ? don?t
forget to add some greenery to it. Those
young, greyish ?sh will mature, and oh, will
they mature into something special.
Females will stay the blander gender, but as
adults they?ll have wonderful, burnt-orange
ventral ?ns, and a charming red adipose ?n,
as subtle as a brooch. On their ?anks, the
unique ?Eye of Sauron? markings will be at
full shine, an inverted black teardrop set
arly sheen of green,
urquoise.
males will grow to live
o their name. Gone
e the wishy-washy
Watch for whitespot
reys and in comes a
when buying Black phantoms.
sheen as black as coal,
with only a splash of
While not especially prone to
powdery, bright
the disease, they can be carriers,
colour behind each
and newly imported ?sh in
pectoral. Look to the
particular may have the odd
dorsal ?n, and where
it was only slightly
spot. Inspect all the ?sh in
nlarged before, there?s
the sale tank, not just the
w a long, arcing scythe
ones you?re buying.
llowing skin. This is
he magic happens.
tuck to a decent male
to female ratio (40/60 is a safe bet), the
men of the tank will now display to each
other, full of moxie and proud as Adonis.
Two ?sh will approach each other, with an
eye on becoming the tank?s alpha, raising
their disproportionate dorsal ?ns while
stretching their anal ?ns to capacity, and
they?ll dance a tight dance to one another,
each vying for dominance. There?s no biting
involved, no chasing or bullying. Everything
comes down to who is the biggest, and who
dances the best. Look closely for the ?nesse
of the moves, especially the slight sideways
tilt at the last moment. The whole affair
looks a little like the kind of circling combat
seen in ocean sharks.
Tank mates can include anything that?s
peaceful, not too large, and ideally South
American. Avoid pugnacious cichlids like
Angel?sh ? small Apistogramma would be
best suited, but avoid species that need
extreme blackwater conditions. Torpedobodied tetra will be ignored and pencil?sh
and hatchets will ?t in nicely. A shoal of
NATHAN HILL
TOP TIP
Why the Hyphessoconfusion?
A trio of Black
phantoms, with the
female to the left.
We have French Icthyologist Jacques G閞y to blame for
bundling some tetra together in groups where they no longer
?t. In his defence, he was dashing around, formally describing
the phantoms in 1961, a year before Watson and Crick were
given a platform for their discovery of DNA. With relatively
primitive morphological tools at his disposal, it made sense
to G閞y to arrange ?sh by colour relations.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
G Scienti?c name: Hyphessobrycon
megalopterus (High-fess-oh-brr-eye-con
meg-ah-lop-terr-uss).
G Size: Usually to around 3.5cm, females
slightly smaller.
G Origin: Bolivia and Brazil.
G Habitat: Wetlands, ponds, pools, lakes,
backwaters. Found in shoals around
plants.
G Tank size: 60 x 30cm minimum footprint
for a small shoal.
G Water requirements: Soft and acidic to
neutral: 5.5 to 7.0pH, hardness 1 to 12癏.
G Temperature: 20 to 28癈.
G Temperament: Hierarchical but not
aggressive.
G Feeding: Flakes, pellets; live and frozen
Daphnia, Cyclops, bloodworm and
Calanus; greenfoods algae supplements,
fruit.
G Availability and cost: Common, from
around �50 each.
0
Temp C
pH
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
Tank volume
54 l+
5
Corydoras whiskering about in the
substrate will help to keep leaf litter aired.
Red phantoms
While the Black phantom comes in one
type, and one type alone, there seem to be a
handful of different morphs masquerading
under the Red phantom name.
The most common ?sh are the farmed
ones. They have a body shape similar to, but
slightly more stretched than, the Black
phantoms. They?re mostly orange with a
hint of transparency. On the ?ank, the black
spot is more splodge than teardrop shaped,
and lacking any kind of blue/green
backdrop. The anal, ventral and caudal ?ns
are the same orange as the body, if a little
deeper. The dorsal may be orange-bottomed
with a broad black blotch covering the
upper two-thirds, though it may also be
orange throughout. Sometimes, there?s a
white tip to the dorsal, too, while the adipose
?n can be either white or orange.
To be controversial, I think many of these
farmed Red phantoms are frauds. I think
that somewhere along the line, some
broodstock has been contaminated with
other Hyphessobrycon species. It certainly
wouldn?t be the ?rst time.
Wild imports come in from Venezuela or
Colombia and tend to be clearer in the body,
but redder in the ?ns ? the dorsal, ventral
and caudal ?ns in particular have an
intensity not found on the farmed species.
The black splodge on the ?anks is still there,
but to my eye always looks a little ?rougher?
than those of farmed ?sh. Again, the dorsal
11
Male Red phantom (top)
with the female below.
The only connecting theme with these
?sh is the ?phantom? in the name.
Rather than blood brothers, they are
loose cousins. But related or not, all
make for superb aquarium denizens.
are higher maintenance than their Black
counterparts. They?re unforgiving of swings
in pH or hardness and the dreaded
whitespot will be hot on the heels of a poorly
kept specimen.
Behaviour and shape wise, there isn?t a
huge difference between these and Black
phantoms. Males will dance, erecting their
elongate, sickle-shaped dorsal ?ns, while
smaller, less glamorous females watch
with indifference.
Suitable tank mates are also similar ? Red
phantoms are no more or less waspish than
Black ones, happy to spend their time
displaying to each other and ignoring all
RED PHANTOM
G Scienti?c name: Hyphessobrycon
sweglesi (High-fess-oh-brr-eye-con
sway-gels-eye).
G Size: Usually to around 3.5cm, females
slightly smaller.
G Origin: Colombia and Venezuela.
G Habitat: Wetlands, ponds, pools, lakes,
backwaters. Found in shoals around
plants and Morichale roots.
G Tank size: 60 x 30cm minimum
footprint for a small shoal.
G Water requirements: Soft and acidic to
neutral: 4.5 to 7.0pH, hardness 1 to
12癏.
G Temperature: 20 to 28癈.
G Temperament: Hierarchical but not
aggressive.
G Feeding: Flakes, pellets; live and frozen
Daphnia, Cyclops, bloodworm and
Calanus; greenfoods algae
supplements, fruit.
G Availability and cost: Farmed ?sh are
common, from around �50 each.
Wilds usually on request, starting
around �50 per ?sh.
0
pH
Temp C
8
7
6
5
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
Tank volume
54 l+
4
12
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
?ns may be plain orange, or they may be
imprinted with a large black blob.
Then there?s the Red phantom ?Red? or
?Rubra? variant, often brought in from
Colombia. Here, the body has very little
pigmentation, while the head and ?ns are
the ?ercest red of all. The adipose ?n looks
almost see through it?s so pale, while the
dorsal ?n carries a black streak along the
front. In contrast to the other Red phantom
types, the ?anking black splodge tends to be
washed out.
The ?Rubra? examples seem to come from
?owing blackwater regions, with high
tannins and high acidity, while the tamer
variants are found across the tropical
grassland plains of Los Llanos. Here, Red
phantoms are found in close proximity to
Moriche palms ? a tree that will only grow
where it can live with its roots underwater.
Phantoms are often found around the fallen
palm leaves and associated vegetation at
their bases.
However, all of that means nothing if
you?ve got a run-of-the-mill supplier.
Farmed phantoms haven?t seen a palm leaf
in their lives.
But note that even farmed Red phantoms
Fish of the month
Yellow phantoms may be the
least colourful of the trio,
but they will be perfect for a
biotope set-up.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
YELLOW
PHANTOM
else. If it?s small and torpedo shaped, or if it
shuffles across the substrate, it will be ?ne.
Yellow phantoms
The Yellow phantom is the two-door
hatchback compared to the family saloons
of the Black and Red relatives. It?s a smaller
?sh, with comparatively muted colours. At
its worst, this is a silvery-yellow tetra, with
hints of red around the caudal peduncle.
The spot on the ?ank is present, at a darker
and higher resolution than its cousins. Any
black in the ?ns is washed out at best, and
that?s where black exists at all. Mostly, the
?ns are a light orange hue, and wholly
underwhelming. As you can tell, I?m not sold
on them.
Until, that is, you show me a wild import.
Suddenly the yellow of the body becomes all
the more intense. The ?ns brandish bright
tips, with hints of a dark central band
through the dorsal ? much like the X-ray
tetra. Fed well, with a carotenoid-rich diet,
the red of the caudal region becomes a
glowing beacon. With a little work, this
phantom can be reclaimed from the land
of drab.
Yet, they still lack the ?oomph? of the Red
and Black phantoms. Their compact bodies
reach maybe half to two thirds the mass of
the others here. The dorsal ?n, for its
colours, never attains the sail-like stature. It
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
is, I?m sad to say, a species that needs to be
appreciated on its own merits.
Those merits include being a subtle ?sh in
an outstanding biotope. Yellow phantoms
are associated with iragap閟 ? the
indigenous name for canoe paths ? which
are shallow, blackwater, packed with leaves
and fallen wood, with maybe a little
vegetation here and there. They?re great fun
to set up at home, too.
Get ?ne sand (silver is ?ne). Toss in a few
branches. Rain dried leaves over it all like
some South American snowglobe, and
maybe plant a little hairgrass here and there.
Use ultra-soft water (invest in some RO)
and let those leaves release their staining
tannins. The Yellow phantoms will love it.
That?s pretty much it! If you?re not too
fussed about owning a communitope, add
some bright pencil?sh species (this
aquarium is crying out for the likes of
Nannostomus mortenthaleri) and a
handful of small Corydoras, and you?ve an
enviable set-up.
Just note that of all three, wild Yellows
are the least tolerant of high or ?uctuating
pH values, so keep things soft and acidic.
But that really isn?t an issue with the
farmed ones. For their blandness, I?ve seen
them kept in communities alongside tank
mates that prefer things in the 7.5pH
upwards mark.
G Scienti?c name: Hyphessobrycon
roseus (High-fess-oh-brr-eye-con
row-see-uss).
G Size: Usually to around 2cm, females
slightly smaller.
G Origin: French Guiana and Brazil.
G Habitat: Slow, shallow streams with
heaps of fallen wood and leaf litter, and
overhanging vegetation.
G Tank size: 60 x 30cm minimum
footprint for a small shoal.
G Water requirements: Soft and acidic to
neutral: 5.0 to 7.0pH, hardness 1 to
10癏 ? farmed ?sh to 7.5pH, hardness
to around 16癏.
G Temperature: 22 to 28癈.
G Temperament: Hierarchical but not
aggressive.
G Feeding: Flakes, pellets; live and frozen
Daphnia, Cyclops, bloodworm and
Calanus; greenfoods, algae
supplements, fruit.
G Availability and cost: Farmed
moderately available (check larger
chain stores in particular), starting
around �50 each. Wild caught ?sh
available intermittently from
specialists, starting around �50 each.
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
54 l+
5
13
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics.
SPECIAL REPORT
The best (and worst) of the China show
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GABOR HORVATH
The China International Pet Show is Asia?s ? if
not the world?s ? largest pet show, with
hundreds of exhibitors. 2017 year saw its 21st
show, which took place in November in
Shanghai, in four enormous halls, each big
enough to swallow a football stadium. CIPS is a
giant showcase, where potential buyers from all
over the world can ?nd suppliers, and I actually
met quite a few representatives from the UK,
looking for new ideas.
Full of colour
One of the ?rst things that struck me was the
abundance of colour everywhere. There were
neon green ?lter pumps, purple air pumps and
yellow submarines (which actually turned out to
be aquarium heaters).
You could also ?nd tank decorations in every
shape and colour, including underwater
volcanos, pink jelly?sh with ?ashing LEDs.
Fortunately, for those (like me), who prefer
their decor a bit more natural, there was still
plenty to see. An international aquascaping
contest was included in the program and many
of the contestants were on hand to answer
questions, as well as holding workshops during
the four days of the show. Several stalls
presented a wide range of rocks, wood and other
aquascaping hardware.
Wi-Fi control
The key theme of this show seemed to be the
intelligent aquarium with Wi-Fi controllable
products. Among them was SICCE, which
recently introduced its smart Syncra SDC Wi-Fi
Controllable pump series. There were lots of
claimed ?world?s ?rsts? at the show, including
Wi-Fi controlled Moon-LEDs, wavemakers,
top-up systems, feeders and even power
sockets. Many of them had a mini USB input
allowing them to be run or charged by mobile
power banks.
Other companies focused on smart
monitoring systems, many offering complete
set-ups with built-in dashboards, which looked
very sleek and futuristic. Perhaps we?ll soon ?nd
ourselves controlling fully automatic aquariums
from our mobiles, doing water changes or
feeding our stock from the comfort of an
armchair without getting our hands wet ?
although for me, that would take the joy out of
my ?shkeeping.
No more water changes?
Having said that, I?m not against products that
reduce aquarium chores, giving me more time
to spend on my favourite ?sh related activities.
Therefore, when I saw the DBS stand boasting
14
that no water changes were necessary in the
tanks they build, I decided to investigate further.
According to the manager, their special ?ltration
system based on natural minerals removes all
the harmful materials from the water, so there is
no need for a water change. In a moderately
stocked tank (in this case a 3m long aquarium
with six 45cm long Koi and a Pearl Arowana) you
need to replace one of the four ?lter cartridges
every six months. In the ?rst two years the
replacements, sent to you directly by the
manufacturer, are included in the original price
(which is $1000 per metre aquarium) and would
set you back $50 a year afterwards. The
manager told me they have tanks more than ?ve
years old running in the test lab with this
system. The only issue is that this ?ltration only
works in a bare bottomed tank.
Equipment-wise, I didn?t see many new
products. There were some minor improvements
on the existing lines, but nothing major.
Nevertheless, it was a great experience to meet
the big Chinese companies and browse their
immense offerings. Many of the aquarium
products you can buy in the UK originate from
China, with several well-known brands getting
their supplies from factories here ? there really
are some quality products coming from China,
especially if you stick to the well known brands.
I found a few very promising new companies
bringing fresh ideas to the market. One of them
is a company from South-Korea, called ZISS
Aqua (PFK recently reviewed its ingenious egg
tumbler), but there are plenty more products in
this range. The build quality looked exceptional.
However, I also came across other companies
(some of the names pop up regularly on online
marketplaces) whose products looked like the
mainstream stuff of ten years ago, and in some
cases the build quality was appalling.
A Chinese dragon made an
appearance in the marine
aquascaping competition.
These bowls take the
word ?ornamental? to
the extreme.
Flowerhorns
are still very
popular in
China.
Global Championships
CIPS isn?t just a trade show ? there was a
Global Ornamental Fish Championship in
several categories, featuring outstanding
specimens of stingrays, Loricariids, ornamental
shrimp, cray?sh, Flowerhorns, Guppies, Betta,
Koi, Discus and Arowana. There was also an
international marine aquascaping contest. I felt
like a child in a sweet shop.
While waiting for my train after the show had
?nished, inspired by all the amazing ?sh I had
seen, I began to contemplate my choices in case
of a lottery win: should it be an Arowana, Discus
or Stingray tank?
However, as I managed to squeeze myself into
the already full metro car another ?sh came to
mind: sardines?
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fancy a McDonald?s theme?
Superb Koi Plakat ?ghter
in the Betta show.
An international aquascaping
contest took place at the show.
These cylindrical ?sh tanks had
everything up to and including
bathing elephants mounted on
the hood and sides.
This eye-catching
stingray is likely to
be a hybrid.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
15
RETAIL NEWS
PFK Top Staff Member award
This year Practical Fishkeeping launched a
new award for the top shop staff member of
2017. We asked shop owners and managers
to nominate their employees for what we
wanted to be an extension of the PFK Retailer
of the Year, to recognise the hard-working and
often unsung heroes of our hobby.
What we weren?t prepared for was the sheer
number of nominations, by both people in the
trade and shop customers. The support for
this award has been quite overwhelming,
making choosing a winner more difficult than
we expected. But ?nally, after much
deliberation, we are delighted to announce
that the winner of the 2017 award is Martin
Chamberlain of The Aquatic Store in
Bristol, who was nominated by the shop?s
owner, Nicholas Cox.
Walking encyclopedia
Martin is the ?sh house manager and he has
worked at The Aquatic Store for the past
seven years. Nicholas describes him as a
?walking encyclopedia?, loyal and passionate,
offering great customer service as well as
being a keen aquascaper.
He tells us: ?Martin?s knowledge is second
to none. From South/Central America to
Australia, he knows the ?sh, biotope and care
of most freshwater species.
?He always goes above and beyond the call
?Martin refuses
?sh sales daily,
either because the
tank wasn?t set up
correctly or the
?sh doesn?t suit
the aquarium size
or tank mates.?
Martin Chamberlain (right) with boss
Nicholas Cox, who nominated him
for this new PFK award.
of duty, including going to customers? houses in
his own time to help people either set up a new
aquarium or help resolve issues they are having.
?A while back we had a wild Brazilian shipment
due in at 1am ? I was very unwell at the time
and couldn?t make it in, so Martin went into the
store for 1am and put the whole shipment away
on his own; he didn?t leave until 5am.?
The welfare of the ?sh is paramount to Martin
and he always puts them ?rst, Nicholas says. ?As
the ?sh house manager, he brought in a policy
that we don?t stock any gold?sh at all in the
store, so people physically cannot purchase
gold?sh from us to go into tiny bowls, small
tanks or even aquariums in general.
?Martin refuses ?sh sales daily, either because
the aquarium was not set up correctly or the ?sh
does not suit the aquarium size or tank mates.?
As winner of the PFK Top Staff Member award,
Martin wins �0 worth of gift vouchers. He
says: ?After almost 10 years in the aquarium
trade it is an honour to receive this award. If it
Martin is the ?sh house manager
at The Aquatic Store in Bristol.
16
wasn?t for the support and dedication from
every customer and aquarist I?ve worked with
over the years I wouldn?t be where I am today.
?With almost 150 aquariums in my care, I
always strive for perfection whether it be
measuring and altering water chemistry
speci?c to the needs of individual ?sh or
ensuring customers leave with compatible
?sh that they?ll be capable of caring for
correctly, I am always happy to get to work.
?I am never afraid to refuse a sale if I feel the
customer won?t be able to provide a suitable
home or cater for the individual needs of the
?sh. The wellbeing of the ?sh comes ?rst and
any sell or purchase ties into a duty of care.
?A huge thank you to Nick, who took over
The Aquatic Store this year, for his
recommendation and for upholding the
extremely high standards of ?sh care and
customer service we have always offered.
A great boss and the most dedicated aquarist
I know!?
Martin has 150 aquariums
in his care.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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The EasyCrystal ?lter, which is also
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www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
STABILISING WATER
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For those looking to keep tropical ?sh, the
Tetra AquaArt Explorer 60 l also comes
complete with a Tetra HT50 heater, perfect
for ?shkeepers looking to expand their
experience.
The Tetra AquaArt Explorer 30 l
aquarium is available with an RRP of �
and the 60L, �5*.
*Please note any reference to pricing is
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O WANT TO
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17
Seasonal delights!
Oddities are in full
swing this month,
with some very
unconventionally
coloured new arrivals...
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: NATHAN HILL
Seen at
Neil Hardy
Aquatica,
Carshalton
GOETHE?S
CHARAX
y species within its genus, the tiny
ax goethei is a nano-biotope dream in
Usually, these things come in as
couple here and a couple there
d Cardinal tetra. Wholesaler Neil
k full of the things.
ed to be really gentle when handling
g ?ve into a bag (and I take great
m of my netting skills) and all of
from being caught. They rolled
ught they might even die. It took
snap back out of it.
Next up, assuming you can get them transported safely, is to
get a magnifying glass and have a good look at their mouths.
All tetra are ?toothy? (that?s one of the traits of being a
characin) but these guys are more ?fangy?. Rather than being
close to the likes of Glowlights and Neons, these are closely
related to the Freshwater barracuda and Dog characins ?
those high-speed, needle-toothed, hook jawed predators.
For their rough connections, in aquaria they seem as
peaceful as Tibetan monks. Get them a little planted tank
with leaf litter, and they?ll shine.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish in the shops
GOLDEN CARDINAL TETRA
Okay, so how do I approach these? Technically, the ?sh in question are ill, or at least
they were once. As they are here, they?re in rude health. They?re just at the zenith of
unusual (read ?gorgeous?) markings for a Cardinal.
Gone are the classic electric blue and red layers, and in comes this intense
golden-platinum sheen. This metal-plating effect is only ever seen in wild caught
?sh, and is a sign of an active immune system. Long story short, some wild tetra
become infected with a tiny trematode parasite (a microscopic ?atworm) and by
way of reaction they produce light-re?ecting guanine that deposits in the skin.
The gold-guanine response is seen in several wild-import tetra species (famously
in the Gold tetra) but this is the ?rst time I?ve seen it to such an intense degree on
Cardinals. Note that if you spawn them, the golden sheen isn?t inherited. You?ll just
get ordinary Cardinals. Which is no bad thing.
Being wild caught, you?ll need soft and acidic water, and some
discolouring tannins in the water would be a de?nite advantage.
G Scienti?c name: Hoplocharax goethei.
G Size: To 3cm.
G Origin: South America, including Brazil, Venezuela
G Habitat: Slow moving forest streams, usually in blackwater and
associated with overhanging vegetation.
G Aquarium size: Minimum 45 x 30cm footprint.
G Water requirements: Soft, acidic, blackwater conditions: 5.0 to 7.0pH,
hardness to 4癏.
G Temperature: 23 to 28癈.
G Temperament: Peaceful.
G Feeding: Fine ?akes, Cyclops, microworms, Artemia nauplii.
G Availability and cost: Rare as can be, these are currently at a wholesaler
?? ask your retailer if they stock Neil Hardy ?sh to get a price.
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
Tank volume
40 l+
5
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
G Scienti?c name: Paracheirodon axelrodi.
G Size: To 3.5cm.
G Origin: Brazil and Venezeula.
G Habitat: Slow moving forest streams, usually in
blackwater and associated with overhanging vegetation.
G Aquarium size: Minimum 60 x 30cm footprint.
G Water requirements: Extremely soft and acidic: 5.0 to
6.0pH, hardness below 4癏.
G Temperature: 23 to 28癈
G Temperament: Peaceful.
G Feeding: Flakes, pellets, live and frozen Daphnia,
Cyclops, bloodworm.
G Availability and cost: Gold Cardinals of this calibre are
extremely rare, these are currently at a wholesaler ? ask
your retailer if they stock Neil Hardy ?sh to get a price.
Temp C
9
Seen at
Neil Hardy
Aquatica,
Carshalton
Tank volume
0
pH
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
54 l+
5
19
ALBINO SPOTTED HOPLO
The Japanese have, for decades past,
trumped us on interesting cat?sh, and
that?s exactly where these specimens
were headed until something went
wrong and UK wholesaler Neil Hardy
needed to ?rescue? the box from limbo.
As I understand it, these are being
commercially produced by a breeder,
but who and where that breeder is, I do
not know. In early 2017, I noticed a batch
of the same ?sh crop up on a Glaser
import list, so someone out there has the
touch. Neil Hardy has already grabbed a
handful to slip into the breeding section
out back (who knows if they?ll breed
true?), but the rest are up for grabs to
retailers who are fast enough.
On inspection, they really are albino, too.
Check out the bright pink eyes! On the
downside, that means they come across
as pretty short-sighted (they seemed
oblivious to me coaxing them around
the photo tank with net handles) and so
you?ll want to house them in a tank
where they?re not going to need to see
any territorial boundaries.
Scienti?c name: Megalechis thoracata.
Size: To 15cm.
Origin: Widespread over South America,
including Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Trinidad,
Guyana and Venezuela.
Habitat: Pools, ponds, oxbows, ?oodplains.
Aquarium size: Minimum 120 x 30cm
footprint.
Water requirements: Tolerant, but best in
soft and acidic: 6.0 to 7.8pH, hardness 4 to
16癏.
Temperature: 20 to 28癈.
Temperament: Peaceful.
Feeding: Sinking pellets and granules, live
and frozen Daphnia and bloodworm.
Availability and cost: Albinos pretty much
unheard of, these are currently at a
wholesaler ? ask your retailer if they stock
Neil Hardy ?sh to get a price.
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
108 l+
5
GOLDEN FALSE
UPSIDE-DOWN CATFISH
That?s an awful long-winded name, but it is at least accurate. This ?sh is
Synodontis nigrita, the not-quite upside-down cat?sh from all across
Western Africa. Given its wide distribution and ubiquity, it was inevitable
that colour morphs would spring up sometime.
This is an imposter on two fronts. It isn?t a true albino (you can tell by the
black eye) and importantly, it isn?t a real upside-down cat?sh, Synodontis
nigriventris, either. That second point is essential to note as there?s a size
difference between the species ? this ?sh can reach maybe 27cm or so at
full stretch, making it great for bigger and oddball communities, but not so
hot if you?re planning a 90cm community of tetras and barbs.
Considering they have no scales, these are up there as some of the most
robust ?sh you?ll ever meet. I?ve seen them in some very rough and tumble
tanks giving just as good as they get.
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
Tank volume
108 l+
5
Scienti?c name: Synodontis nigrita.
Size: To 27.5cm.
Origin: Widespread across Western Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Niger,
Chad, Senegal and Gambia.
Habitat: In pools adjacent to rivers, usually underneath fallen trees and
other cover.
Aquarium size: 120 x 30cm footprint or larger.
Water requirements: Soft acidic to slightly alkaline: 6.2 to 7.8pH, hardness 4
to 18癏
Temperature: 21 to 27癈.
Temperament: Generally peaceful, but can chomp tiny ?sh. Can be stubborn
with territorial species.
Feeding: Sinking pellets and tablets, live and frozen bloodworm.
Availability and cost: Golden variants unusual, these are currently at a
wholesaler ? ask your retailer if they stock Neil Hardy ?sh to get a price.
20
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish in the shops
Seen at
Neil Hardy
Aquatica,
Carshalton
Seen at
Neil Hardy
Aquatica,
Carshalton
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
21
Seen at
Wharf
Aquatics,
Pinxton
PEARL PARROT
Has science gone too far? Perhaps we should leave the
scientists alone and go straight to the ethicists instead. Are
these a ?sh too far? As a man who formally studied ethics,
even I?m ducking out of this one.
The fact is, Parrot cichlids are a major seller, so they?re not
going to disappear any time soon. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Breeders are now melding more and more ?sh together,
creating numerous morphs of a morph. Parrots are
hybrid cichlids to start with, and so all farmers need to do
now is toss more compatible genes into the mix to see
what happens.
As deviations from nature go, these Pearl parrots are only
slightly distorted. In particular, when I see a parrot I go
straight for the mouth ? a telltale sign of how mutated these
?sh are. In the case of these Pearls, they actually had
relatively normal mouths ? none of that weird puckering
that blights so many Parrots. As for where the markings
come from? Texas cichlid, maybe? The problem for me is
that it?s now reached the point where there could be almost
any Central American ?sh involved, so your guess is good
as mine.
Scienti?c name: Amphilophus/Paraneetroplus hybrids.
Size: Usually 20 to 30cm
Origin: Made in Taiwan (not joking).
Habitat: None.
Aquarium size: Something around 120 x 30cm footprint
suits them.
Water requirements: Endures a wide chemistry range: 6.5 to
8.0pH, hardness 8 to 25癏.
Temperature: 23 to 28癈
Temperament: Semi-peaceful cichlids, not good with
tiny ?sh.
Feeding: Flakes, pellets, live and frozen foods. Unfussy.
Availability and cost: This strain is newer and less common,
but Parrots in general are now everywhere. These ?sh were
� each.
Tank volume
0
Temp C
pH
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
108 l+
5
22
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Fish in the shops
HUMPBACK PUFFER
Hawwww! That face! Those chubby cheeks! The adorable
big eyes!
I lost a chunk of ?nger ?esh to one of these a long time ago,
and still have bitter memories of it. For placid looking lumps,
they can sure move fast when you?re distracted and cleaning
their tanks.
Humpbacks are ambush predators, and ravenous ?sh eaters,
so that?s pretty much any idea of a community tank out of the
window. A few years back, I knew a guy who had some with
Pterygoplichthys cat?sh, but I don?t know how that worked out
in the long run. I?m guessing not great.
In the context of the are they/aren?t they debate when it
comes to puffers and brackish water, the Humpback is totally
freshwater. Unlike some of the other ambush puffers, this one
doesn?t bury itself in the substrate, so you?ve a good chance of
seeing it, but you do need to give it some cover or it?ll just
sit and sulk.
Relatively easy to cater for, just
ensure a good-sized tank, as they
can hit near to 20cm, and make
sure you stock up on plenty of
shell?sh to feed them ? offer
too much soft food and the
beak will overgrow, so those
shells are essential!
Scienti?c name: Tetraodon palembangensis.
Size: To 19.5cm.
Origin: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia.
Habitat: Pools, ponds, slow streams and rivers, over mud,
sand and debris.
Aquarium size: Ideally 150 x 30cm minimum footprint for
a full grown adult.
Water requirements: Neutral to slightly alkaline: 6.8 to
7.5pH, hardness 10 to 20癏.
Temperature: 25 to 28癈.
Temperament: Highly aggressive, house as a species only.
Feeding: Shell?sh such as cockle, mussel and clams,
prawn, ?sh chunks.
Availability and cost: Specialist retailer territory, these
?sh were on sale at � each.
Seen at
Wharf
Aquatics,
Pinxton
Tank volume
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
135 l+
5
23
PHOTOGRAPHY: IVAN MIKOLJI UNLESS STATED
E
H
T
F
F
O
24
!
L
L
A
W
Reader visit
This sensational reef tank belongs
to Dutch aquarist Ralph Moorman,
who discovered that there is a way
to have a large, heavy aquarium in a
fourth storey apartment without it
falling through the ?oor...
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER
25
Ample space between corals
allows room for growth and
prevents too much warfare.
N
ow and again I stumble across
an amazing tank that I just have
to see in person. I found Ralph?s
Reef, a beautiful peninsulastyle mixed reef system on Facebook almost
by accident. It immediately caught my
attention with its unusual hanging design
and awesome aquascape. After a brief
message exchange, I booked some ?ights to
Amsterdam armed with camera kit and
notepad. Only 15 minutes? drive from the
airport I met up with Ralph, hosted by my
Dutch friend, Stefan Pracht.
Not surprisingly, the tank was even more
impressive in the ?esh. The colour and
movement was almost too much to take in.
The stunning nature of the livestock and
layout was matched by the way the system
?tted in with Ralph?s amazing fourth ?oor
apartment. It?s no wonder that this tank is
internationally well-known and respected
by many reefkeepers, and it was a real
privilege to be able to witness, photograph
and ?lm it.
Here?s what Ralph had to tell us about his
amazing reef aquarium...
26
Meet the reefkeeper
Squarespot anthias.
O Name: Ralph Moorman.
O Age: 41.
O Occupation: Author of health books,
health expert.
O Favourite ?sh: Hypsypops rubicundus
and Apolemichthys trimaculatus.
O First ?sh kept: Gold?sh.
O Time in hobby: 15 years.
O Favourite coral: Stylophora.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Reader visit
PFK: Tell us about your background in the
hobby. How did you get into reefkeeping?
RM: When I was a kid I started with gold?sh,
then I progressed to a community aquarium
with tropical ?sh. After that I kept Malawi
cichlids at my parents? place. I then gave the
hobby a ten-year break. But there was still one
big wish on my list ? a saltwater reef ? and
four years ago my dream came true!
PFK: Your tank design is amazing! Can you
explain the hanging structure and
installation process in more detail?
RM: I always wanted a big ?look through?
aquarium. But with a weight of almost 3000 kg
it was impossible to put it on the ?oor in my
fourth ?oor apartment.
A friend of mine, Peter van Wieringen, is a
reefkeeper and contractor. After calling an
engineer he told me that the only possibility
was to use a steel construction and hang it on
the two opposite bearing walls. One extra
advantage was that with this construction we
could make a free hanging aquarium ? an
awesome effect ? and we put the sump
against the wall and disguised it as a dresser
that blends seamlessly with the room. When
it?s closed it looks just like a piece of furniture.
PFK: What challenges have you faced since
the aquarium was set up?
RM: This set-up has been running for just
over four years so it?s no wonder that I?ve faced
a lot of challenges. Almost all of the
equipment has failed at least once, which has
been really frustrating for me. I was also
dissatis?ed with the lights. I started with
Paci?c Sun Triton LED lights and the coral
growth and colours were not what I expected.
After I switched to just T5 lights the reef really
started to shine.
Purple tang.
PFK: You have a beautiful mix of corals from
soft to SPS. What?s the key to keeping them
all happy despite their different demands?
RM: I think it is key to start with easy corals
and let the reef do its work. I formed large
groups of the best growing corals and waited
patiently. I think a lot of reefkeepers buy too
many types of corals too soon ? rather like
they are collecting stamps. I am lucky to have
a big aquarium and a lot of spaces between
the corals, so they won?t interfere with one
another too much.
PFK: Are you completely happy with the
aquascape or are you always looking for
improvement?
RM: I am happy with the aquascape right
now. But I know that with the fast coral growth
that I have, I will have to frag soon. Less is
more in this beautiful open aquascape to keep
the tangs happy and healthy.
PFK: What?s the biggest lesson this tank has
taught you?
RM: Don?t trust your equipment too much
and check a lot! I also got myself a lot of help
by hiring Martin van ter Meij every two weeks
for maintenance. He checks everything and
does a 400 l water change. This ensures that
on the occasions when I?m too busy, the reef
remains well maintained.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
27
Reader visit
The Flag?n angel is one
of Ralph?s favourite ?sh.
I think it?s key to
start with easy
corals and let the
reef do its work. A lot
of reefkeepers buy
too many types of
corals too soon ?
rather like they are
collecting stamps.
What?s in Ralph?s reef?
Ralph?s set-up
FISH
O Nine Yellow tangs, Zebrasoma ?avescens
O Two Purple tangs, Zebrasoma xanthurum
O Flag?n angel?sh, Apolemichthys
trimaculatus
O Seven Common clown?sh, Amphiprion
ocellaris
O Two Mandarins, Synchiropus splendidus
O Two Squarespot anthias, Pseudanthias
pleurotania
O Radiant wrasse, Halichoeres iridis
O Jewelled leopard wrasse,
Macropharyngodon lapillus
O African pygmy angel?sh, Centropyge
acanthops
O Flame angel?sh, Centropyge loricula
O Two Watanabei angel?sh, Genicanthus
watanabei
O Three Blue green chromis, Chromis viridis
OAquarium size: 3.10 x 1.00 x 0.75m; 2300 l volume.
OLighting: 36 x 39W HO T5 Gieseman Corallight
?new generation? + Aquablue, 15 hours.
OCirculation: 70,000 lph.
OSump size: 300 l.
OProtein skimmer: Bubble King 300 Supermarin.
OAdditives/media: Calcium reactor, magnesium
supplement, carbon and phosphate removal.
OWater changes and salt used: 400 l every two
weeks, using Reef Crystals salt.
ODecor: Started with ?dead rocks?.
OSubstrate: Coral sand.
OParameters: NO3 0.1ppm, PO4 0.12ppm, Mg 1320.
Ralph switched back to
T5s from LED lighting.
CORALS
O Stylophora pistillata
O Acropora blue
O Acropora neon green
O Entacmaea quadricolor
O Seriatopora hystrix: pink and yellow
O Montipora plates: green, red, yellow, purple
O Montipora digitata: white, red, yellow
O Mushroom leather coral: White and green
polyps
O Green Nepthea leather coral
O Maze brain coral
O Plexaurella dichotoma (gorgonian)
MORE INFO:
www.facebook.com/ralphsreef or @ralphsreef on Instagram
Tank build by Peter van Wieringen, www.aqualuxury.nl
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
The aquarium houses a
total of eleven tangs.
28
TANKCOMMUNITY
The place to share your ?sh, tanks, letters and photos
One of Beth Marsden?s two
rescue Corydoras.
FORUM
+
STAR
letter
Find the popular ?shkeeping
forum at http://forum.practical
?shkeeping.co.uk.
Whyismytankstill
cloudy?
KrisMeredith
I have just put sand in
my tropical aquarium. I
washed it like there was no
tomorrow...but it?s still cloudy
in the tank! Any suggestions?
JessicaMacRae
Have you got any ?lter
wool? Lots of water changes
will help.
KrisMeredith
Yes ? I have ?lter
wool. What should I do with
it?
JessicaMacRae
Put as much as you
can into your ?lter ? it will
help collect ?ne particles.
MarkRaw
This happens from
time to time and is really
nothing to worry about ? no
matter how much you wash
sand there are always dust
like particles left but they will
settle or get ?ltered out over
time. Is the tank a new
set-up?
Tale of two corys
This photo shows one of two
beautiful Peppered Corydoras
that I have had for six years
now ? two sisters. They were
rescued when 1cm long (along
with 30+ others) from a tank
with a ?lm of ice across the top
of 2in of water, which had been
dumped in a back garden in
Liverpool when I was a student
at University. The fantastic
owners of Smithdown Aquarium
in Liverpool took in all the babies
and I took two home ? and they
are wonderful, healthy, stunning
?sh ? who probably due to their
upbringing, do fantastically in an
unheated tank!
They have lived in three different
tanks and are now in a small
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
OCongos worth the
Yes, it?s new. I?ll give it
a day or two then thanks.
wait
Congo tetra, Phenacogrammus
interruptus, especially young
?sh, can look a little dull and
unimpressive in bright shop
tanks, but given time and
correct care they just keep
getting better with age. These
?sh belong to Jacob Annison.
MarkRaw
Antony
Swindale
Wait for a day or two and it
should clear on its own.
JOINTHEPFKCOMMUNITY
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
30
BETH MARSDEN, GRIMSBY
Win FishScience aquarium food
KrisMeredith
I asked because you
may be having a bacterial
bloom in the water which can
give a milky clouding. It?s
quite normal and harmless
and will go in a week or so
but doing water changes in
this situation can make
things worse.
community set-up with six
danios, two of whom are now
blind and a bit grumpy at seven
years old!
I?ve been buying the magazine
ever since, and despite having
?ve tanks of ?sh now, I ALWAYS
keep a look out for articles about
little Corydoras.
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
ALAMY
Responses to our
question ?How much
and how often do you
do water changes??
Are you a weekly or a
fortnightly ?shkeeper?
Jason Beard: 30to50%once
aweek.
Matt Branch: 20%weekly,
external?ltermonthly.Just
seemstowork.Morecan
disruptthechemistry,less
andyougetbuildupofcr*p
andalgae.
Tim Caldwell: None.
Matthew Ellam: 90%every
otherweek.
Richard Neave: 50%weekly.
Chanelle Irish: 50%,Ithink
routineisimportantforthe
?shsoalwaysweekly.
Paul Jones: Whatarewater
changes?
Paul McNaughton: Ido
25%everytwoweeks.The
nitratesoutthetaparepretty
highinthisarea.Ifit?sleft
longerthenitratesgetreally
highandthe?shstarttoget
healthissues.
Michael Rice: 10%weekly.
Paddy Flint: 40?50%weekly.
Irufflethesubstrateabitand
removeoldplantlitter.Iclean
the?ltereveryeightweeksor
so,dependingonload.
Su Delve: Wetake6-8
bucketsoutofourbig330l
tankevery7?10days,andtwo
bucketsoutofthesmaller
tankaboutfortnightly.Wedo
itwheneverthebottomneeds
hooveringandtheglassneeds
cleaning,anditseemstowork
outprettyregular.
Darren Paul: Waterchange
and?ltercleanonceayear.
Oliver Pate: 50%weeklyasa
minimum.
Mike PA Calnun: Weekly,
usinga30%ROand?ltered
rainwatermix.Ineedtokeep
TDSaslowaspossiblefor
manyofmydwarfcichlids.I
don?treallyunderstandwhy
somanyseem?anti?water
changes.Itcanonlybeagood
thingright?
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
OA welcome return
Andrew Williams is returning to the hobby after a 12-year
long absence and has made a great start with this bright,
smart looking tank. Stock includes Black neon and
Glowlight tetras as well as Albino corys.
OYou?d have 2B mad not to
love these Pencils!
Pencil?sh seem to often get overlooked when
it comes to choosing attractive, small, softwater South American ?sh. With an adult size
of just 25mm, Dwarf pencil?sh, Nannostomus
marginatus, are the perfect smaller tank resident
as seen here in Alex Bell?s photo.
Where are the women?
First of all, I wanted to say a massive thank you to
all PFK staff ? I?ve been living on a steady
back-issue diet of the magazine for the past two
months in the lead up to my dream tank which
arrived last week. The incredible knowledge
passed down in truly awesome easy to understand
fashion has been just utterly invaluable to me.
Those writers will never know how incredibly
grateful I am.
However, while pouring over the past few years?
issues I noticed something. Where are the women?
There have been quite a few in the Me & My Tank
features but that seems to be very much the only
place we see them.
Is the whole industry really that guy-heavy? If so,
any idea why? Is it the ?techy? side that keeps us
ladyfolk away? Is there a way to bring more of us
into the hobby, do you think? Or is it a case of the
guys are louder, more out there? It seems more
gender equal in the online forums.
Please could you also pass an extra thanks to
your photographers? They?ve really inspired me to
try and improve my macro ?sh/tank life
photography by pushing myself.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Now
to continue with April 2017...
MAGGIE GALBRAITH, EMAIL
Editor, Karen Youngs, says: There are certainly
more women in the hobby than when I
?rst started keeping ?sh 30-odd years ago. Back
then if I walked into an aquatic shop and asked a
question, the usual response was for the staff to
give me the answer while looking at my husband, as
though I?d either asked the question on his behalf or
wouldn?t possibly be able to understand their reply!
But our research suggests that we still have more
male readers than women ? and they de?nitely
outnumber the girls at all the events I?ve been to.
We?d love to see more women featured in PFK
? we know they?re out there, judging by the
members of the PFK Chat Room and Facebook
pages. So, come on, girls ? if you have a set-up
you?re proud of, get in touch!
31
U
OGo wild for real Angels
Although there are dozens of domesticated
Angel?sh varieties, it?s hard to beat the
wild ?sh for striking beauty as seen in this
Pterophyllum scalare ?Manacapuru? owned
by Phillip Mackie.
CONTACT US
Address: Practical Fishkeeping,
Bauer Media, Media House,
Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA
Email: k.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
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Samantha Tomblin
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Print Production Manager
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Advertising Production
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Practical Fishkeeping magazine is published 13
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The submission of material (manuscripts or images
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Complaints Policy is complaints@bauermedia.
co.uk.
OStunning Stendker
Breeders have brought a huge variety of colour into the Discus hobby in the past few decades and the German
breeder Jorg Stendker is responsible for many of these stunning ?sh in John Allder?s tank.
32
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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E
nsuring your aquarium water stays well balanced and
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33
TANKCOMMUNITY
Me & my
TANK
G Fishkeeper:
Gavin Little.
G Age: 29.
G Occupation:
Sales advisor
for O2.
G Whereabouts:
Penrith,
Cumbria.
G Time in the
hobby: 17
years.
G Number of
tanks: Three. One 700 l set-up, plus a
250 l and a 70 l. I also have a pond.
What attracted you to the hobby?
From an early age I was fascinated by aquatic
life, but when I started secondary school I got
the opportunity to go and work at my uncle?s
aquatic shop, North Lakes Aquatics, at
weekends to earn a bit of pocket money. My
uncle, Sid Boulter, will be known to a lot of
PFK readers and is renowned in the
?shkeeping world for his endless knowledge
of the hobby, especially cat?sh.
How would you describe
your tanks?
A ?sh paradise for the ?sh that I have; all my
tanks are bespoke for each ?sh species I keep.
For instance, my largest tank is heavily
planted with wood and has low lighting, to
suit the L-number plecs and Peters?
elephantnoses that live in there.
My pond is a memorial to my mother, who
loved the sound of running water and enjoyed
sitting and watching wildlife. She loved the
patterns you can get on Koi, so I?ve stocked
the pond with these.
Gavin?s large aquarium houses
a group of ten elephantnoses.
My current ?sh
G Blue-eye plec, Panaque cochliodon
G Papa Panaque (L090), Panaque
bathyphilus
G Sunshine plec (L14), Scobinancistrus
aureatus
G Watermelon plec (L330), Panaque cf.
nigrolineatus
G Zebra plec (L46), Hypancistrus zebra
G Scarlet plec (L025), Pseudacanthicus sp.
G Titanic plec (L273), Pseudacanthicus sp.
G Orinoco angel plec (L201),
Hypancistrus sp.
G Golden cloud plec (L048),
Scobinancistrus cf. pariolispos
G King tiger plec (L066), Hypancistrus sp.
G Shampupa royal plec (L418),
Panaque titan
G Gold-line royal plec (L027c), Panaque cf.
nigrolineatus
G Royal Panaque (L191), Panaque sp.
G Blue phantom plec (L128),
Hemiancistrus sp.
PHOTOGRAPHY: GAVIN LITTLE UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED
What?s your favourite ?sh?
Royal Panaque. Against a lighter background
their striking black lines just ooze class and
elegance, and I can?t help but say ?wow?
whenever I see one. They?re the Rolls Royce
of the L-numbers. But my pride and joy has to
be my big Blue-eye Panaque ? highly
sought-after by L-number collectors and very
difficult to get your hands on.
What?s the most challenging ?sh
you have kept?
This has to be the Peters? elephantnose ?sh.
It is highly sensitive to water quality and can
also be aggressive towards members of its
own species, so it?s all about getting the
balance right. After many years of keeping
this ?sh, I have ?nally got a group of ten as my
feature ?sh in the large tank, but there have
been a lot of late nights and plenty of
perseverance involved!
34
Gavin is a big fan
of the Royals.
G Green phantom plec (L200),
Hemiancistrus subviridis
G Chocolate Zebra plec (L270),
Hypancistrus sp.
G False Zebra plec (L173b),
Hypancistrus sp.
G Flash plec (L204), Panaqolus albivermis
G Gold nugget plec (L18), Baryancistrus
xanthellus
G Red ?nned leopard plec (L114),
Pseudacanthicus cf. leopardus
G Sultan plec (L264), Leporacanthicus
joselimai
G Candy stripe plec (L15), Peckoltia vittata
G Rusty plec (L310), Hypostomus
cochliodon
G Peters? elephantnose ?sh, Gnathonemus
petersii
G Clown loach, Chromobotia macracanthus
G Giraffe cat?sh, Auchenoglanis
occidentalis
G Network cory, Corydoras reticulatus
G Corydoras sterbai
G Slate cory, Corydoras concolor
G Panda cory, Corydoras panda
G Adolfo?s cory, Corydoras adolfoi
G Black cory, Corydoras schultzei
G Corydoras duplicareus
G Peppered cory, Corydoras paleatus
G Dwarf neon rainbow?sh,
Melanotaenia praecox
G Melanotaenia boesemani
G Red rainbow?sh, Glossolepis incisus
G ?Boris? the Figure eight puffer,
Tetraodon biocellatus
G False cuckoo cat?sh, Synodontis petricola
And the easiest?
Rainbow?sh and Torpedo barbs, along
with my Corydoras; they look after
themselves and the tank. It?s all about
keeping your ?sh happy, getting their
habitat right and keeping stress levels
to a minimum.
Do you have a favourite plant?
Anubias and other plants that will root
onto wood.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
You have to be able to
keep爓ater before you can
keep ?sh.
Plecs are not for cleaning
tanks and they do not just eat
algae. If you need a ?sh to
clean your tank then you
should question if you are in
the right hobby.
Patience is a virtue: good
things come to those
who爓ait.
Do your homework and
don?t be too proud to ask
for燼dvice.
You will have ?downs? in this
hobby, but don?t look at them
as negatives; learn from them
and pass on your knowledge.
Filtration is key!
Save money: Build your own
aquarium stands if you have
the ability to do so. The stand
for my large tank cost about
� to build and can take
twice the爓eight that is
actually sitting爋n it, but the
stand that came爓ith the
tank would have cost me
around �0!
Things I wish I?d known:
How expensive some of the
L-numbers would get due to
things like import restrictions!
Elephantnoses are highly sensitive
to water quality issues.
My wish list...
NEIL HEPWORTH
My top tips for newcomers
to the hobby
Leopoldi stingray.
What ?sh would you like to keep?
L-number plecs feature
heavily in Gavin?s tanks.
I have been lucky enough to have worked in a well-run, established
aquatic shop that has sourced some of the weird and wonderful
species from around the world. This means I have been able to try my
hand at all angles of ?shkeeping. Although I don?t have a wish-list as
such, I would still like to try keeping a Black diamond stingray,
Potamotrygon leopoldi, or a Super red Arowana, Scleropages formosus.
What would be your dream aquarium?
I already have it! I always wanted a tank that looks like the one I have
? as though I?ve cut a section out of a river and placed it into my
living room. I think with my large tank I have ?nally achieved this. I
may upgrade to a 10ft tank, which would give me even more room to
play with. That?s the beauty of the hobby: you see an image in your
head and then you can create it.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Super red Arowana.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
35
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESSCOM
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Cyprichromis
leptosoma
?Bulu Point?
C. leptosoma
?Chisanza?.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESSCOM
C. leptosoma
?Chisanza?.
No, not the kind you buy in
tomato sauce! These sardines are
the gorgeous Cyprichromis, from
Tanganyika. Every Rift Valley fan
should keep them at least once?
WORDS: JEREMY GAY
AQUARIUM PHOTO .DK
36
C. microlepidotus.
C. leptosoma ?Nangu?.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
NEIL HEPWORTH
C. sp. ?Jumbo?.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. microlepidotus.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. leptosoma.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESSCOM
C. leptosoma
?Malasa?.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. leptosoma
?Karilani?.
L
C. leptosoma ?Mpulungu?.
C. leptosoma ?Kapembwa?.
C. microlepidotus.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. pavo.
C. leptosoma ?Malasa?.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. leptosoma ?Utinta?.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. leptosoma
?K閠閟�.
ake Tanganyika is full of cichlid varieties of all shapes and sizes, but
the contenders for the least cichlid-like of them all in terms of both
looks and behaviour must be the Cyprichromis. These open-water
swimmers are often referred to as Sardine cichlids, and it?s a moniker
which describes these slender ?sh rather well.
Lake Tanganyika endemics, Sardine cichlids congregate in huge shoals in open
water, where they feed on zooplankton. Shoals may be thousands strong,
offering security in numbers when faced with the constant onslaught from
predatory birds, predatory cichlids and man.
Females, juveniles and non-breeding males are plain (in order to disguise their
outlines in the abyss) but sexually-active males sport bright blues and yellows
on their ?ns and tails in order to court females. Cyprichromis are maternal
mouthbrooders ? no big surprise there considering the African rift lake they
live in. But what is unusual is the way in which they spawn compared to other
mouthbrooders. Typically, female mouthbrooders lower themselves onto rocks
or substrate, before dropping the eggs and then swiftly picking them up in their
mouths. In the case of Cyprichromis, however, because they live and spawn
within the water column, they don?t use the substrate for spawning. The large
eggs are dropped one at a time into the water by the female, after she has
snapped at the male?s quivering anal ?ns to take in his milt. The females then
back up and spiral downwards, snapping up each egg as it is ejected. This same
spawning behaviour can be seen in an aquarium if you are lucky, but the real
draw with these ?sh has to be the spectacular colouration of the males.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
C. leptosoma.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Cichlids
37
Three species of Cyprichromis are
recognised: C. leptosoma, pavo and
microlepidotus. However, there are many
geographical variations of each, and a few
undescribed species too. Of the above, the
?rst species that I kept, Cyprichromis
leptosoma, is my favourite, and males may
have either blue or yellow tails. These are
probably the most widely available in the
shops too, followed by C. leptosoma ?Jumbo?,
which can come with yellow tails, blue tails,
all-yellow ?ns, all-blue ?ns, or even all-blue
or all-yellow bodies!
What?s more, several Cyprichromis
species will swim and feed together and
even breed next to one another in the lake,
so how natural hybridisation doesn?t occur,
and how females can choose the right male
of their species when even they are sporting
differing colours, I have no idea.
Cyprichromis
microlepidotus.
The breeding behaviour of the males is
fascinating. Being open-water ?sh with no
hard surfaces to defend, Cyprichromis form
a mid-water, three-dimensional territory
which they defend on all sides from rivals.
Sexually-active males space themselves
out into territories measuring one cubic
metre, where they hold their place in the
water column, display and entice females
into their space. We don?t get to see this in
the aquarium, of course; at best we cram
several males into tanks which may offer
just one quarter of that three-dimensiona
volume. If only a public aquarium would
one day offer over one of its ten-metre
deep, one million-litre display tanks to
the ?shes of Lake Tanganyika: we could
then get to see this incredible spawning
SARDINE
CICHLID
G Scienti?c name: Cyprichromis spp.
G Origin: East Africa, Lake Tanganyika
endemic.
G Size: Males up to 12cm, depending o
species. Females smaller.
G Tank size: 120cm x 60cm tall minimum.
G Water requirements: Hard and alkaline;
8.2?8.5pH.
G Temperature: 24?26癈.
G Feeding: Meaty invertebrate foods such
as brine shrimp, Mysis and Krill.
Females don?t eat while carrying eggs
and fry.
G Availability and cost: Usually available
from cichlid specialists; expect to pay
� or more per ?sh ? and you?ll
ideally need at least ten.
AQUARIUMPHOTO.DK
Three-dimensional territory
TOP TIP
You will be able tell
Cyprichromis leptosoma from sp.
?Jumbo? in the shop (take a reference
book) but even an expert will struggle
to pick out regional variants in mixed
groups. Buy from a cichlid specialist
who receives them in separate batches,
and keeps them that way, so when
you breed them and pass them
on you can tell the recipient
exactly what they are.
Tank volume
0
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30
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AQUARIUMPHOTO.DK
pH
Cyprichromis
leptosoma.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Cichlids
behaviour without having to learn to dive
and then travel to East Africa...
Tank set-up
AD KONINGS
Being open water ?sh, with no
hard surfaces to defend,
Cyprichromis form a
midwater three-dimensional
territory which they defend on
all sides from rival males.
So, open-water space is critical when
keeping sardine cichlids, especially if you
want to see hints of that natural behaviour.
Fully-grown at 12cm in the largest species,
Cyprichromis require an aquarium of at
least 120cm in length, and they should be
kept in shoals ? ideally of ten or more
individuals. Rocks are not necessary,
although some rockwork helps to create the
illusion of the Tanganyika lake habitat, and
authentic-looking rocky background inserts
can look particularly effective.
Lighting should be subdued. Males will
display brighter colours under a less intense
illumination, and I prefer to have marine
spectrum lighting over my Tanganyika
tanks to add a deep water illusion.
Adequate mechanical and biological
?ltration is needed, and an external canister
?lter is best, plus some carbon to keep the
water looking clean. Cyprichromis don?t
mind ?ow. Due to its size, Lake Tanganyika
behaves like an inland sea, and currents can
be considerable. Keep aeration high at all
times, so either ?t a venturi to the ?lter
outlet or add an airstone ? Tanganyikan
cichlids won?t tolerate low oxygen levels.
Water temperature should be 24?26癈
and hard and alkaline at all times, ideally at
8.2?8.5pH. In soft-water areas, buffering
materials like dolomite, oyster shells and
limestone will help to keep the water hard,
and Lake Tanganyika ?salts? can be bought
and added to your replacement water at
water-change time.
It is always tempting to add plants to bare
or rocky Tanganyikan tanks, but it isn?t
biotope correct, and Cyprichromis neither
want nor need them ? heavy planting would
get in the way of their displaying behaviour.
Cyprichromis
microlepidotus,
Milima Island.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
39
Cyprichromis sp.
?Leptosoma jumbo?,
Nkondwe Island.
40
TOP TIP
While it won?t be cheap,
ideally you need to keep
these ?sh in groups, and it
could be argued that captive
welfare would be improved
by keeping these ?sh in
numbers, as much as it
would when keeping
tetras together.
AD KONINGS
NEIL HEPWORTH
AD KONINGS
In their natural habitat, these ?sh shoal
in their thousands, so it should come
as no suprise that they do best in larger
groups in the aquarium.
Cyprichromis
leptosoma ? note
the mouthbrooding
female at the top.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Keep as few as one male and two females,
and when mature, they will breed. The
female?s buccal cavity (throat) will distend
as soon as she takes in eggs, and will clearly
be visible. The fry are huge, up to 15-20mm,
when spat out, so expect the numbers to be
small. They will be able to feed on
zooplankton immediately. You won?t need
to intervene unless you are concerned about
predation of fry in the main tank. Skilled
hands can ?strip? a female of either
unhatched eggs or developed fry, and
keepers these days have the bene?t of being
able to purchase egg tumblers, like those
from ZISS Aqua. These are ready-made
protective Perspex boxes which use water
?ow to spin eggs or fry, oxygenating them as
if they were in their mother?s mouth.
G TANK MATES FOR
CYPRICHROMIS
Altolamprologus calvus and
compressiceps will work particularly well
alongside your sardine cichlids.
Sand-dwelling Xenotilapia make good
tank mates for these open-water,
shoaling ?sh.
In a large and deep enough set-up you
could keep Cyprichromis alongside
Julidochromis, but ensure that the open
water area is sufficiently far above the
rock-dwelling ?julies? to avoid con?ict
over territory. Sardine cichlids are
easily bullied.
The babies are quite big by
the time the mouthbrooding
female releases them.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
41
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Breeding
PFKrecommends
NEIL HEPWORTH
aquariums that is. Large Cyprichromis with
small to medium Frontosa would be ?ne
? just avoid extremes in size difference.
Steer clear of Tropheus, which inhabit
shallow, rocky areas in the lake and are too
territorial. More important is the vegetarian
diet Tropheus require, which is in direct
contrast to the small meaty invertebrate
foods that Cyprichromis need.
Avoid small tanks and aggressive tank
mates. I added Cyprichromis to a 30in tank
with lots of established Neolamprologus
many years ago. My newly-added leptosoma
were not received well by the resident ?sh,
which had already formed territories. The
tank was aquascaped heavily with rocks and
there was nowhere for the Cyprichromis to
go that wasn?t ?owned? by someone else.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
With a group of ten ?sh I would aim for
three males and seven females. If you are
lucky enough to be able to house 20 ?sh, and
they are easily bred, the male to female ratio
can rise to 50:50.
While my usual advice would be never to
mix Cyprichromis species due to the risk of
hybridisation, they manage to coexist in the
same shoals in the wild without doing it, so
it?s up to you ? just ensure you have both
sexes available of whatever species you go
for. In large tanks, the more Cyprichromis
individuals, the merrier. Fiery males will
chase each other and make physical contact
as they mouth each other?s ?anks. This may
result in the odd split ?n, but you won?t end
up with males being beaten to death, as you
might with Lake Malawi mbuna cichlids.
I would certainly go for a Lake Tanganyika
biotope tank every time when selecting tank
mates for Cyprichromis. Altolamprologus
calvus and compressiceps work particularly
well, and will bene?t from the regular brine
shrimp, Mysis and Krill frozen foods that
you could offer the sardines. For other
lamprologines like Julidochromis and shell
dwellers, the tank would have to be
sufficiently large, and the open water area
sufficiently far away from rock or shell
territories for the Cyprichromis to avoid
being snapped up, and to be allowed to do
their own displaying unhindered. Sanddwelling Xenotilapia make good tank mates.
Frontosa are said to predate Cyprichromis
at night in the lake, although after keeping
many Frontosa, I ?nd them the least
predatory of predatory cichlids ? at least in
SHUTTERSTOCK
Tank mates
A soft spot for
STRIPES
The Zebra plec is one of the most
iconic freshwater ?sh in the hobby.
Johnny Jensen puts together an ideal
home for these lovely cat?sh, in the
hope they will eventually breed.
ALAMY
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHNNY JENSEN, AQUARIUMPHOTO.DK
42
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Favourite ?sh
I
The Zebra plec has
a place on many a
?shkeeper?s wish list.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
know I?m not the only one who is
fascinated by the Zebra plec ?
extremely beautiful, expensive?
and soon to be extinct in the wild,
due to the effects of the Belo Monte dam
on its natural habitat in Brazil.
I recently decided to set up an aquarium
with an aquascape that best suits the
needs of these stunning ?sh.
I wanted to create a semi-natural space
for the Zebras that provided something
nice to look at and, last but not least, I
wanted a great looking environment to
photograph them in.
I took inspiration from images of the
River Xingu, shown to me by my friend
and co-worker at Blue Planet Aquarium,
Peter Petersen. These pictures and videos
showed me exactly what the river bottom
topography looks like in the Zebra?s
natural habitat. However, as interesting it
was to see underwater footage from the
Xingu, aquascaping my tank to replicate
the environment exactly would be pretty
difficult and, ultimately, fairly boring.
So, I kept in mind that Zebra plecs prefer
dark crevices, fast moving water, plenty of
oxygen, and soft water with a high
temperature, and then planned the
aquascape using those guidelines.
I placed the tank just under a window. I
like the natural light in the tank very much,
but as the plecs prefer some dark areas, I
covered the back of the tank up to about
2.5cm/1in from the top, meaning most of
the rocks are left in relative darkness.
For the best water quality, I change half
the water at least once a week; using 50:50
reverse osmosis water and tapwater. I
keep the temperature between 28?30癈.
I feed the ?sh daily with Tetra Discus
granular food, and once a week with some
frozen foods.
I have the tank right next to my home
office work space, and initially I thought
maybe the plecs wouldn?t show
themselves much because of my presence,
but those worries have been ?rmly put to
rest. Of course, they tend to stay near their
covered caves, but they are active and
visible almost all the time, even though I
move about right in front of them.
43
Zebra plecs require a
meaty diet ? they are
certainly not herbivores.
?Scaping the aquarium
I packed the rocks together, sloping along the direction of the
water ?ow, so there would be as much current as possible in
the spaces between the rocks. I positioned the rocks on top of six
plec caves, which sat on top of a couple of layers of slate.
1
Did
?
you
know
The Zebra plecs
you see on sale
now are all likely
to be captive bred.
Hypancistrus
zebra was given
Appendix III CITES
protection last
year in an effort to
curtail smuggling
of wild-collected
specimens. This
means that any
H. zebra leaving
Brazil will have to
come with a stateapproved export
permit ? and this is
unlikely under the
current conditions.
AQUARIUM
SETUP
G Tank: All-glass aquarium,
60 x 30 x 25cm; 45 l/10 gal.
G Decor: Mini Landscape rocks
and slate, plus six pleco caves.
G Plants: Java fern, Microsorum
pteropus ?Narrow.?
G Filter: Eheim Liberty 200, 760
lph, rated for a 200 l tank.
G Heater: Cobalt Aquatics EasyTherm submersible heater.
Ensure that with all the water
movement, the food actually gets
to your ?sh. Clever aquascaping
will allow areas for food to collect
around rocks and caves.
I used sand of varying sizes for the foreground and bottom
material. The slate layers help the Zebras to easily ?sweep? the
sand away from the caves, which is apparently what they prefer.
2
I added the Java fern on top of the rocks, where they seem to
thrive. I know there isn?t much plant life in the Xingu where the
plecs live ? and if there was, it certainly wouldn?t be Java ferns
? but the plants are there for my own pleasure.
3
44
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Favourite ?sh
ZEBRA PLEC, LO46
PFK recommends
G Scienti?c name: Hypancistrus zebra.
G Size: 8cm/3.2in.
G Origin: Rio Xingu, Brazil.
G Aquarium size: Ideally 60 x 30cm footprint for a group.
Height is less important.
G Water requirements: Slightly acidic, soft water replicates the
natural habitat best, but this species has also been found to
do well and even breed in harder, more alkaline conditions.
The important factors are that the water needs to be high in
oxygen and warm. Aim for 6?7.5pH; hardness ideally <15癏.
G Temperature: 28?30癈.
G Feeding: A meaty diet is required ? bloodworm, prawns,
brine shrimp and sinking and granular Discus foods will all be
enjoyed.
G Availability and cost: Becoming increasingly captive bred, so
available in more specialist shops. Expect to pay �0 or
more each?
Johnny keeps his Zebra plecs with Cherry shrimp, Neocaridina
davidi ? in his case it?s the ?Sakura red? variety. Most species
of Neocaridina do best in medium to hard water, with 6.5?8pH
and a temperature of 20-27癈.
0
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8
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TOP TIP
The wide water chemistry tolerance of his Zebra plecs means that
Johnny can keep them with Endler?s livebearers, Poecilia wingei.
These lovely little ?sh will be happy at 7?8.5pH and are ?ne at
warmer temperatures. They are very peaceful and in no danger
from the bottom dwelling cat?sh.
Provide more caves
than plecs so that a
choice is available.
This will cut down
squabbling over the
best caves.
PETER PETERSEN
Zebra plec in its
natural habitat.
Plenty of ?ow is appreciated
by these little ?sh.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
45
ALAMY
Clown?sh are the obvious choices of
tank mates for carpets ? they also
tend to be safer than other ?sh from
these aggressive anemones.
46
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
Magic
carpets
The carpet anemones are among the most beautiful
and imposing invertebrates you?ll see. As an impulse
purchase, they can be a terrible choice, but in the right
set-up a carpet anemone makes an amazing centrepiece.
WORDS: DAVE WOLFENDEN
I
t?s easy to see how carpet anemones get their
name, thanks to their wide oral discs and densely
packed, stubby tentacles that give them a distinct
?shag pile? appearance. There?s no doubt that
these are stunning anemones. But their aggressive
nature and sheer size mean that they need to be
considered as part of a dedicated system with carefullychosen tank mates. In the wrong set-up they could
prove to be a disaster, but if you can create a suitable
habitat for carpet anemones, they really are incredible.
With a few exceptions, anemones in general don?t tend
to fare well in a typical reef system; they really do best in
a set-up based around their exacting needs. Large
carpet anemones epitomise the need for this approach,
and they?re often not strictly found on the reef itself,
being found on the reef edge or among mangroves.
Choosing your carpet
Carpet anemones belong to the genus Stichodactyla.
There are six species in the genus, all but one of which
reach large sizes. Of these, just two are seen in the trade
with any regularity: the Giant carpet anemone, S.
gigantea, and Haddon?s anemone, S. haddoni, both of
which come from the Indo-Paci?c. These anemones are
often misidenti?ed, so it?s best to give any prospective
purchase a once-over before buying.
S. gigantea tends to have a more convoluted, folded
appearance and less ?stubby? tentacles than S. haddoni
(and the tentacles of S. haddoni are noticeably stickier).
There tends to be a pronounced area around the mouth
of S. gigantea which lacks tentacles ? on S. haddoni, the
entire upper surface of the anemone is covered with
tentacles, bar a region of 1cm or so around the oral disc.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
Finally, the pedal column of S. haddoni is relatively wide
in comparison to that of S. gigantea.
Stichodactyla gigantea can reach a diameter of nearly
one metre, making it obviously unsuitable for anything
other than very large systems. In the wild, this species is
found in extremely shallow water, often in tide pools
where it can be exposed at low tide. It tends to be found
in shallow pockets of sand within rocky microhabitats.
Therefore, it needs a sand bed of a few centimetres in
depth in addition to some strategically-placed rockwork
to replicate its natural habitat.
Brown and beige specimens are relatively
inexpensive, but the more exotic forms of S. gigantea
command high prices. You?re looking at perhaps several
hundred pounds for some of the red morphs, but the
blue, yellow, white and green forms are all still pricey.
Stichodactyla haddoni reaches between 50 and 80cm
in diameter. Haddon?s anemone is typically found on
the reef edge in deep sand or mud, into which it can
retract when it feels threatened. Therefore, a deep
sandy substrate (around 20cm depth) is needed. In the
aquarium, S. haddoni will attach to the tank base with
its foot, the column extending through the sand.
Again, the cheapest specimens tend to be a fairly drab
coloration, but multiple colour morphs are available,
with varying prices. The most desirable and expensive
morphs tend to be vivid red in colour, although white,
green and blue forms are also sought after.
Getting your new carpet home
It?s obviously preferable to quarantine any livestock
before introducing it to the main aquarium, but
anemones pose a challenge here. Because they require
established systems, maintaining the stability they need in a
Placing your carpet
quarantine tank can be difficult. Essentially, you?re having to
replicate the optimal, rock-solid conditions of the main aquarium in The aquarium must be able to accommodate the adult size of the
a temporary tank ? not an easy feat. Nevertheless, it is possible to
anemone. Overall system volume is less important here than length
safely house carpets in quarantine for several weeks, given suitable
and width, but you are certainly looking at several hundred litres for
substrate, ?ow and lighting. Managing water
a single S. gigantea or S. hadonni.
quality is key, so an established ?lter and/or live
Carpets demand established, mature systems
What?s in a name?
rock are essential, along with frequent water
which can provide stable conditions ? any
Stichodactyla is derived from
changes ? and avoid using freshly mixed salt
?uctuations in parameters are bad news. Aim
the Greek words for ?line?
water; mature mixes are needed here. On
for zero ammonia and nitrite, nitrate at less than
(sticho) and ?digit? (dactulos).
balance, many aquarists feel that the potential
5ppm and phosphate at 0.03ppm. Lighting
This re?ects these anemones?
stress of quarantine on large carpets outweighs
should be intense for large carpet anemones,
stubby, ?nger-like tentacles,
the bene?ts, so they opt to introduce the animal
and warmer spectrums generally provide the
which frequently seem to be
directly to the aquarium ? it?s your call.
optimal useable light. The use of higher-kelvin
arranged in rows.
Acclimation techniques for anemones are
blue lighting is in vogue for reef aquariums, but
similar to those used for corals. Specimens that
it?s not the best for anemones.
have had a relatively short trip of just a few hours
Stichodactyla anemones require fairly brisk
can be safely drip acclimated for an hour or so. Those shipped
water movement to rid the animal of wastes and ensure adequate
overnight should be transferred more rapidly into optimal
gas exchange, but how the ?ow is provided is important. Avoid
conditions, as gradual drip acclimation runs the risk of causing
directly blasting the anemone and aim to provide chaotic, turbulent
ammonia spikes. In this case, it?s much safer to equalise
water movement rather than strictly laminar ?ow.
temperature and salinity over 15 minutes or so, and introduce it to
Do be aware that large carpets will move around if they?re not
the tank.
happy. This is one of the reasons they can be a problem for a mixed
Large carpet anemones will
move around if they?re not
happy?providing a suitable
sandy substrate will encourage
them to feel at home, and
appropriately-placed rocks
on the sand zone?s margins
can provide enough of a
barrier to prevent them
from upping sticks.
ALAMY
Giant carpet
anemones can reach a
metre in diameter.
48
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
reef tank ? as they wander round in search of an ideal spot, they can
cause mayhem, stinging corals in their path. In the case of S.
haddoni and S. gigantea, providing a suitable sandy substrate should
encourage them to feel at home, and appropriately-placed rocks on
the sand zone?s margins can provide enough of a barrier to prevent
them from upping sticks. Introduce the anemone directly to the
space you?ve prepared for it, providing full lighting to dissuade it
from wandering off in search of a more brightly-lit spot. For the ?rst
few hours, dial the ?ow down to allow the anemone to settle without
being blown around the tank.
Your aquarium should be anemone-proof; a wandering anemone
Carpet burns
Avoid touching carpet anemones with bare
hands when acclimating and moving them. Many
large carpets can deliver painful stings thanks to
their potent cnidocytes (Haddon?s anemones, in
particular, can pack a real punch). Touching them with bare
hands can also damage the anemone?s delicate tissue. If you
must handle these anemones at all, wear disposable gloves.
can easily become sucked into ?lter and pump inlets, so these
should be inaccessible in case yours decides to take a walk.
Greedy feeders
Although they harbour zooxanthellae, large carpets are greedy
feeders, and you?ll need to provide food frequently ? twice a week is
usually sufficient, although many aquarists feed more frequently.
Frozen krill, mussel and chopped ?sh are all ideal, and it?s best to
enrich this with a HUFA (highly unsaturated fatty acid) and vitamin
preparation to maintain health and coloration. Offering specialised
anemone pellets in addition to enriched frozen feeds is also
recommended ? these may contain additional vitamins which will
bene?t the animal.
To feed, simply place food on the tentacles using tweezers. This
should rapidly elicit a feeding response, where the anemone will
draw the food towards its mouth. Every now and then, the anemone
will eject pellets of waste ? these should be removed from the tank
as soon as possible to help maintain water quality.
Suitable tank mates
The large Stichodactyla anemones are extremely aggressive. They
will munch just about any unlucky ?sh or mobile invertebrate
which bumbles into them, and they will sting corals and other
The stubby
tentacles are
arranged in rows.
Gigantic sea anemone,
Stichodactyla
gigantea.
Periclimenes shrimp
make interesting
tank mates.
BRIAN LOW, CREATIVE COMMONS
NICK HOBGOOD, CREEATIVE COMMONS
Haddon?s anemone
with resident
porcelain crab.
Essential points to look for when buying your anemone:
O A well-in?ated specimen with no signs of damage.
O A mouth that doesn?t gape excessively.
O No evidence of stringy white mesenterial ?laments being
ejected from the mouth ? this is a sign of an anemone in
potential trouble.
O No signs of tears or trauma to the pedal disc (foot). Many
injuries occur here during collection.
O The anemone should be actively adhered to the substrate.
Many dealers keep anemones on AstroTurf in their holding
tanks as it allows the anemones a reasonable grip, but still
facilitates safe and easy removal when required.
O Check the anemone is feeding ? it might not be possible
to witness this ?rst hand but if you can, so much the better.
ALAMY
ALAMY
6 signs of a good carpet
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
49
Marine
sessile invertebrates, including other anemones. Having said that, it
is possible to keep several carpets together in the same system
providing the tank is large enough and the aquarium is aquascaped
in such a way as to prevent them from encountering one another.
The bottom line is that their aggressive tendencies severely limit
the choice of tank mates. Indo-Paci?c carpet anemones will
naturally host a range of clown?sh species in the wild, and it?s
possible to recreate this symbiotic relationship in the aquarium, so
many folks opt for clowns as the sole ?sh in carpet anemone
systems. Even so, it has been known for large carpets to occasionally
eat even clowns, so it?s not a given that they?ll be immune from
predation. It?s safest to try and pair the anemone with a species of
clown?sh with which it would naturally associate in the wild.
Various species of crustacean form commensal relationships with
Stichodactyla anemones (in which the anemone derives no apparent
bene?t), and these symbionts are a safe bet. Shrimp from the genus
Periclimenes as well as the Sexy shrimp, Thor amboinensis, make
fascinating additions to a carpet anemone set-up.
Mini carpets
While the majority of carpet anemones reach large sizes, one
member of the genus is much more manageable. Topping out at a
maximum of 10cm in diameter (with most specimens signi?cantly
smaller), the Mini (or Mini-maxi) carpet anemone, S. tapetum, is a
pint-sized alternative. However, it has a potent sting, so be warned.
This Indo-Paci?c species is potentially a good candidate for a nano
tank but Mini carpets will eat small ?sh and they?re not a natural
host species for clown?sh, so there are still risks with keeping them
in a mixed nano reef. As with their larger cousins, they?re best kept
in a species tank with commensal shrimp ? Sexy shrimp are ideal.
Cultured specimens are available in a variety of colours; the
anemones are propagated by splitting them in half, and they can also
reproduce asexually in the aquarium. Provide a mixed substrate of
sand and live rock, and feed regularly.
One for huge tanks
On rare occasions, Merten?s anemone might be seen in the
trade. Stichodactyla mertensii has a narrow pedal column
relative to the animal?s overall diameter, and although there
may be some folding apparent around the edges, the disc is
generally ?at. The non-sticky tentacles are quite short and
stubby (particularly towards the outer edge of the oral disc),
and warty verrucae (adhesive projections) help the pedal disc
to adhere to the substrate.
This Indo-Paci?c anemone is not frequently collected,
however. This is due partly to the fact that it is found in deeper
water, but it?s mainly because it lives on rocky substrates, and
the pedal disc is extremely difficult for collectors to prise off
without the animal being damaged. The stalk is also very thin
and fragile, adding to the risk of damage during collection.
The very few specimens making it into the trade are therefore
expensive. While it?s not necessarily any more demanding than
other carpet anemones providing it?s given a suitable hard
substrate, stable parameters and optimal lighting, this
anemone?s ultimate size is an issue. This species reaches a
diameter of well over a metre, so it needs a very large dedicated
system to thrive ? de?nitely one for experts with a huge tank
who are able to create a suitable tailored habitat.
Merten?s anemone is difficult
to collect without damaging
the foot.
CREATIVE COMMONS
ALAMY
Mini-maxi
anemone.
ALAMY
A cluster of carpet
anemones among
mangroves.
50
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The
take-it-easy
island
Aquascaping doesn?t have to be hard work. You don?t
need super high lighting, loads of liquid fertilisers,
expensive CO2 injection and huge water changes.
Just plan ahead and consider a few key components...
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER
This set-up is proof that
low maintenance ?scapes
can still look amazing.
54
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Aquascaping
The lighting is run at just 10%
intensity to slow plant growth
and reduce maintenance.
N
ot everyone has the time
required to keep a high end
aquascape looking its best, let
alone the money that?s required
for the expensive kit to run it.
The good news is that you can achieve
some fantastic results without having to go
down this route.
I was recently asked to set up a lowmaintenance but high-impact aquascape for
the Managing Director?s office at Evolution
Aqua in Wigan, UK. My previous layout in
the same aquarium in the same office was
high-impact but also required a lot of work
to keep it looking its best. With me not being
local enough to maintain it regularly it saw
periods of neglect and consequently there
was a constant battle with nuisance algae.
Keen not to tread a similar path, I planned
for an aquascape that would tolerate periods
of infrequent water changes and sporadic
fertiliser dosing. As long as the ?sh were fed
and the water quality was maintained,
which they were, the plants could be almost
forgotten about to no ill-effect and there
would be minimal risk of nuisance algae.
5-step plan
1 The aquascape design
I wanted something that was easy to
maintain. No carpeting plants to trim, no
stem plants to prune, just plants that I could
add and ignore. The obvious choices were
Java fern, Anubias and Cryptocoryne ? all
classic low-light tolerant plants that grow
slowly. The Anubias and ferns do best
attached to hardscape and crypts grow well
in a nutrient-rich substrate. The aquarium
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
measured 150cm /60in so a lot of planting
would be required to ?ll it if we went for a
regular aquascape. I was keen to limit the
amount of plants and to rely on lots of open
space to give impact. An island design was
the obvious choice where we could use
impactful wood and rocks to create an
immediate effect.
2
Lighting
TANKSET-UP
O Aquarium: Evolution Aqua
Aquascaper 1500, 150 x 60 x 55cm.
O Cabinet: Evolution Aqua, Raw
Concrete Grey.
O Lighting: 2x Kessil A360we Tuna
Sun lamps with Spectral Controller, set
for eight hours a day, 10% intensity,
50% colour.
We had three Kessil A360we Tuna
Suns from the previous set-up. Due to the
island composition with plants in the
central area of the aquarium, I removed one
of the lamps and adjusted the other two on
the lighting hanging kit. I set the lighting
intensity to just 10% on the Kessil?s Spectral
Controller unit to grow the plants as slowly
as possible. An eight-hour photoperiod
would be plenty, with it being set to regular
office hours.
complete liquid plant food every time the
?sh were fed.
3 No CO injection
5 Filtration and circulation
2
The addition of CO2 injection was a
no-go area due to the fact that it promotes
rapid plant growth. This leads to a higher
nutrient requirement (more liquid
fertilisers) and need for large frequent
water changes. CO2 injection means higher
maintenance.
4 Liquid fertiliser
We used mature plants in pots from
Dennerle, as these would be able to tolerate
lean periods due to their large nutrient
store. With low levels of lighting and no CO2
injection the plants? nutrient demands are
also very low. That said, plants do best with
a daily feed, even if it?s just a small
quantity, so I suggested adding 5ml of
O Substrate: 3 x 8 l Dennerle Scaper?s
Soil, Unipac Maui Sand.
O Fertilisers: The Aquascaper Complete
Liquid Plant Food, 5ml per day
Two large external canister ?lters
would be plenty for this size of aquarium. I
usually recommend ten times turnover in a
higher energy planted tank, which in this
case would equate to 5000 l per hour.
However, in such a low-energy system we
could go much lower.
So, with the plan in place I set about
organising the wood and rocks, most of
which I already had laying around at
home from previous aquascapes. I
purchased some additional rocks as
required and we re-used the Maui Sand
from the original set-up.
Plants were supplied direct from the
German greenhouses of Dennerle and I set
about creating this easy island ?scape?.
55
Tips for low-maintenance
aquascaping
Use the lowest lighting levels you can get
away with. Figure out your most demanding
plant and cater for that and no more.
1
2
3
Avoid using CO2 injection in low
maintenance planted tanks.
Do use good ?ltration. It will help to
prevent excess waste organics collecting in
the aquarium.
Choose slow growing plants. Typically
avoid stem plants as these grow faster than
rheophytes (plants that attach to decor).
Rosette plants are a good option ? these are
plants that grow new leaves from the same root
stock such as crypts.
4
This aquarium
contains 20 Black
widow tetras.
Avoid carpeting plants. They usually
require higher lighting levels, CO2 injection
and can trap waste, leading to algae problems.
5
Stock lightly with ?sh and heavily with
shrimp. The shrimp will help to keep away
algae and produce relatively little waste.
6
BLACKWIDOWTETRA
O Scienti?c name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi.
O Origin: Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina.
O Size: 6cm/2.2in.
O Aquarium size: Minimum ?oor plan, 90 x 30cm, 80 l volume.
O Water requirements: Hardy and adaptable; pH 6 to 7.5, 5?20癏.
O Temperature: 20?26癈.
O Feeding: Easy ? takes most suitably size dried foods with relish.
Supplement with frozen bloodworm, Daphnia and brine shrimp.
O Availability and cost: Common. From �upwards.
0
pH
Temp C
9
8
7
A few snails managed
to make it in.
6
5
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
80 l+
THANKS TO
Dennerle: Plants
and ?Scapers Soil
Unipac: Maui Sand
JBL : 1501e external
?lters
Stocking lightly with
?sh results in less
nutrients to feed
troublesome algae.
56
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Aquascaping
How the aquascape came together
1
A bag of Dennerle ?Scapers Soil is added
to the middle of the aquarium ? this
substrate contains nutrients to feed the plant
roots and also helps to buffer the pH of the
aquarium water to around 6.5. This
specialist planting soil doesn?t require
rinsing and its porous and light structure
makes it ideal for root penetration. More soil
is added later.
2
The most dominant piece of wood is
added. It?s positioned with consideration
given to the rule of thirds, which gives the
focal point aesthetic balance. This main
piece of wood is pre-soaked so it will not
?oat or leech tannins that can stain the
water. The top of the wood protrudes from
the top of the tank, which adds another
dimension to the design.
3
4
Around 50Kg of Mini Landscape Rock is
added around the soil. The rocks are
positioned to give the most attractive
appearance with attention paid to their
strata and aesthetic balance. The rocks also
act as a barrier between the soil and the
cosmetic sand that will be added later.
5
Around 10Kg of Unipac Maui Sand is
added around the rocks. This is an inert
quartz product that won?t affect the water
chemistry. It does tend to attract algae
because it is very pale but gently turning it
over before every water change limits the
algae build up.
6
All of the rheophyte plants are attached
to the wood and rocks. We use a
mixture of Anubias nana and Microsorum
pteropus ?Trident?. These plants do best
attached to hardscape because their
rhizomes need to be exposed to the
circulating water.
8
The tank is ?lled with de-chlorinated
tapwater. We use a colander while ?lling
to help disperse the water ?ow ? this
prevents the water from disturbing the
substrate. The water in Wigan is very
soft, making it suitable for most plants
and ?sh.
9
7
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
The remaining pieces of wood are
placed in the aquarium. A total of four
pieces of wood are used. This wood has not
been pre-soaked before use, so to prevent
the pieces ?oating about in the water, we
have used cable ties to attach the wood to
rocks placed on the bottom of the tank.
These rocks are then partially buried in
the soil.
The Cryptocorne are planted into the soil.
I use 12 pots of various species including
Cryptocoryne wendtii ?Green? and ?Brown?, C.
becketii, C. petchii and C. undulata. Crypts
often lose their leaves in the ?rst few weeks,
but if this happens they will grow new leaves
that are much more robust.
The ?lters and external inline heater are
?tted. The ?lter media is already mature
from the previous set-up so we can add ?sh
right away in this case ? 20 Black widow
tetras compliment the aquascape beautifully.
This aquarium is big enough to safely stock a
lot more ?sh but sometimes less is more?
57
Hoistt
f la
A stunner on every front, the Flag?n
angel is a slightly wildcard marine
showpiece that?ll liven a dull FOWLR
system, or ? with an element of risk
? a well planned reef.
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
I
t has to be said that the Flag?n angel
has a lot going on. There?s the stark
white and black clash on the anal ?n.
There?s the golden ?ecking in the
scales. The triangulation of noggin-spot,
opercular spot and black eye making up the
points of a triangle over the head. Then
there?s the bold lemon-yellow of the body
? a shade and sheen that only marine ?sh
seem able to command.
But I always wondered why the common
moniker overlooks the obvious. Among the
many things it could have drawn attention
to with the name, it ignores the blue ?beak? of
hastily applied lipstick, jutting forward,
prominent as a Baboon?s backside.
Housing one requires a leap of faith and a
bit of space. In the wild, these ?sh can get
large by aquarium standards ? 25cm/10in
or more isn?t unknown. But in aquaria, that
maximum length is shortened considerably
? I?ve yet to see a tanked Flag?n much over
15cm/6in long, lips-to-tail tip.
The leap of faith comes in regard to a
heated temper, and a likelihood to turn
territorial. In the wild, male ?sh collect up
harems of females, from a couple to over a
half-dozen females, and guard them with
gusto. That doesn?t normally spell trouble
on a reef, but in the con?nes of a tank, with
nowhere to ?ee to, if a male takes exception
to any particular ?sh, things can get nasty.
Buying up females isn?t a way to avoid
trouble, either. These are protogynous
hermaphrodites ? a female can swing her
sex and become a male if it?s needed.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Reef or ?sh-only set-up?
On the whole, most keepers will report
peaceful ?sh, with an occasional rogue. Part
of the trick, it appears, is to manipulate the
stocking in such a way that everything is
roughly the same size. Bullying looks to be a
downwards affair, with considerably
smaller ?sh chased. And whatever you do,
don?t mix a Flag?n with other angels.
There?s also the issue of invert nipping. If
you?ve got a Flag?n that hasn?t already been
weaned on to aquarium foods (and I know
that some folks are all too eager to rush a
purchase) then you?ve a heck of a time
58
teaching it how to eat. In the oceans,
sponges and tunicates are on the menu. In
aquaria, you?ll not be culturing enough of
those any time soon to keep an angel ?lled.
In the reef tank, you need to play it clever.
Zoanthids, Palythoa, Xenia are safe enough,
usually. Many broad LPS and jagged SPS are
untouched. Clams are likely to get nibbled.
Branching ?softies? may receive a bite out of
curiosity. If you?ve got a monumental reef
set-up ?lled with prize corals, maybe ensure
you have a way to haul a rogue Flag?n back
out before you add one.
In a ?sh only system, live rock in
abundance is a must, especially for
juveniles. This has the dual bene?t of
providing shelter, as well as the impeccable
water quality you?ll need to keep them
happy. As young ?sh, Flag?ns are quite deep
dwellers (well below the 25m mark) and hug
close to boltholes and caverns. As they age,
they gain con?dence, still remaining in
visual range of aquatic ?panic rooms? but
with a laid-back demeanour. Initially, they?ll
vanish whenever you do anything in the
tank, but over time you might ?nd them
spectating when you?re algae wiping.
Feeding time
Feeding is probably the tallest hurdle, and
one you?ll need to use trial and error to
overcome. Frozen Mysis or brine shrimp is
a good entry point, especially when
enriched with a liquid prior to feeding.
Getting some fresh fruit and veg, along with
dried seaweed into the tank will keep them
tip top. If you?ve got a non-feeder, chances
are you?ll want live foods to get things going.
Dried foods, while not an impossible
proposition, will be more likely refused
than accepted.
But for all that, as marine angels go, these
are well worth a look, especially if you?ve
always wanted a Gold?ake angel but could
never justify the price.
If you?ve experience with Dwarf angel
species ? Coral beauties and the like ?
then it?s doubtful you?ll have any real issues
with Flag?ns. Just do yourself one big
favour and ensure that it?s feeding before
you buy one.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Marine
This ?sh?s common name
overlooks the obvious. Among
the many things it could have
drawn attention to, it ignores
the blue ?beak? of hastily
applied lipstick, jutting
forward, prominent as a
Baboon?s backside.
FISH FACTFILE
Common name: Flag?n angel?sh.
Scienti?c name: Apolemichthys
trimaculatus.
Origin: East Africa, north-east to
southern Japan, and down to northern
Australia.
Habitat: Reef-associated, from surface
2m to around 80m depth.
Tank size: 120 x 60 x 60cm aquarium
advised. 400 l volume minimum.
Water requirements: 8.1 to 8.4pH, 8 to
12癒H, 1.020 to 1.025 speci?c gravity.
Temperature: 23 to 25癈.
Temperament: A gamble. Usually
peaceful with all but other angels, but
there are exceptions.
Reef safety: Risky, known to nip.
Feeding: Ideally, sponge-rich angel?sh
food, brine shrimp, Krill, Mysis, fresh
greenfoods.
Availability and cost: Relatively
common, starting around � for
a juvenile.
0
Temp C
pH
9
8
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
400 l+
SHUTTERSTOCK
5
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
59
ALAMY
PARENT
A male Betta blows a nest of
bubbles in which to nurture
eggs and fry.
60
Behaviour
POWER
The underwater world is a dangerous place for
young ?sh and they need all the help they can
get to make it to maturity. For many species,
the key to their survival starts at home
with their parents.
WORDS: CHRIS SERGEANT
F
or the species that don?t feature at the top of
the underwater food chain, the aquatic world
can be one that?s fraught with danger at every
turn, and animals are never more vulnerable
than during their early life stage. At this point in their
development, larval animals need all the help they can
get to survive to adulthood.
From selecting suitable nesting sites through to caring
for their eggs and young, a whole array of commonly
occurring aquarium species invest everything they can
to try to ensure the survival of their offspring.
That?s the spot?
In terms of parental care and concern, even the
minutest of details can help in?uence the survival or
hatching success of larval animals. Take the
Zebra danio, Danio rerio, for example. These popular
aquarium ?sh hail from the Himalayan region,
inhabiting still or slow-moving bodies of water. Using
dawn light as a cue, males and females rush to the
shallow edges of their immediate environment to
spawn. While they don?t demonstrate any direct care for
their offspring, laboratory studies have shown a distinct
spawning preference for gravel substrate in both wild
caught and domesticated Zebra danios, indicating that
consideration goes into their spawning sites.
In one study by Rowena Spence at the University of
Leicester, wild caught Zebras produced no eggs when
provided with a silt substrate, despite it being the most
common substrate in the area they originally inhabited.
Eggs laid on a silt substrate are in danger of being either
exposed to predatory species, or being buried, and
deprived of oxygenation as a result. In contrast, the
particle complexity of the gravel provides interstitial
spaces within the substrate for the eggs to be hidden
from predatory ?sh, and increases the oxygen ?ow
around them. So, while Zebra danios might show no
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
interest in the outcome of their young once they hatch,
they actively choose the best possible egg deposition
sites to boost their offspring?s hatching chances.
Building a nest
With conscientious parents, care starts straight after
fertilisation, and a good nesting spot goes a long way to
help safeguard unhatched eggs, as well as increase the
chances of attracting a member of the opposite sex.
Nests can be simple, such as those favoured by
salmonids. Female salmon excavate small pits in the
gravel substrate, known as redds, using their tail, and
the eggs are deposited and consequently buried, hidden
from view.
Male Three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus
aculeatus, also start by excavating small pits in the
substrate, but then go on to create a far more elaborate
structure, ?lling the pit with ?lamentous algae and
other debris, and then gluing it all together using a
substance called spiggin, an adhesive protein
synthesised in their kidneys.
Closer to home, many aquarists will be familiar with
?sh species creating bubblenests at the surface of the
tank, known as aphrophils. The most commonly
encountered in the trade are from the suborder
Anabantoidei, and consist of gouramis, climbing
perches and Betta, but other bubblenest makers
include the African pike characin, Hepsetus odoe,
Armoured cat?sh, Hoplosternum littorale, and the
Electric eel, Electrophorus electricus. In the case of all
these species, they typically occur in still or stagnant
tropical waters, gulping air from the surface to enable
them to survive these hypoxic conditions.
Male members of the Anabantoidei family tend to
build nests in the presence of females, but other factors
such as temperature or rainfall ?uctuations can
in?uence this behaviour. Where possible, nests are built
61
close to structures that break the water?s
surface, such as twigs, branches and plants,
with the male intolerant of the female?s
presence during this construction process.
The nest itself will usually just consist of
bubbles coated in saliva, densely packed
together, although other species such as the
Armoured cat?sh, Hoplosternum littorale,
use the surrounding vegetation to create a
plant mound held together with the
oxygen-rich foam. The foam not only
provides shelter and protection for the eggs
and newly hatched young, but can help by
elevating and oxygenating the eggs above
the surface of the water, while preventing
possible desiccation.
For the most part with Anabantoidei, it is
the males that continue with the parental
care after successful breeding, chasing away
the female, along with any other intruders
from the vicinity. For the duration prior to
the eggs hatching, the male carefully tends
to the nest, collecting and returning any
fallen eggs, and will not seek to feed during
this time. Nest quality is important, as
bubbles that are only loosely connected are
liable to disintegrate during the spawning
event, resulting in the loss of eggs or fry.
Parental care continues after hatching too,
with the male guarding the fry, spitting any
fallen individuals back into the nest, until
they are capable of free-swimming and he is
relieved of his duties. Some species of
snakehead, such as the Rainbow
snakehead, Channa bleheri, share parental
responsibilities and will both patrol the
perimeter of the nest and return dropped
eggs or fry together.
Common occurring and readily breeding
Anabantoidei species in the aquarium trade
include the Dwarf gourami, Trichogaster
lalius, the Pearl gourami, Trichopodus
leeri, the Gold gourami, Trichopodus
trichopterus, and Siamese ?ghter, Betta
splendens. With all these species, warmer
water temperatures (25?28癈) and minimal
?ow are key, so as not to physically disturb
the best.
In most cases, it?s best to set up a separate
breeding aquarium for pairs, with a sponge
The egg scattering Zebra danios
put more thought into the
survival of their offspring than
you might think...
Cave breeders
?lter to provide gentle water circulation and
cover objects or a number of live plants to
enable the female to hide from the male if he
gets over-amorous. Add the female ?rst and
condition her using live or frozen meaty
foods before adding the male once the
female is visibly gravid.
For more details on breeding Betta
speci?cally, Gabor Horvath?s excellent
article in PFK?s July issue goes into much
more detail.
ALAMY
A pair of sticklebacks
breeding in the nest
constructed by the male.
62
Not all nests need to be self-constructed,
and many species will happily make use of
naturally occurring small alcoves and caves
formed under rocks and sunken logs
instead. In an aquarium setting, it?s easy for
the aquarist to manipulate the decor to
incorporate such shelters into the tank
layout for appreciative occupants.
Bristlenose cat?sh, Ancistrus sp, are one
such group of popular aquarium ?sh that
will make use of arti?cial caves. These
secretive spawners readily breed in
aquarium settings, laying large numbers of
amber-coloured eggs inside or underneath
aquarium furnishings, with the male of the
species being the parent who tends to them.
The eggs can take ?ve days to hatch, so he
will spend the duration of this period on
guard duty, while using his pectoral ?ns to
continually aerate the eggs. Once hatched,
the fry will initially attach themselves to the
decor, before free-feeding and swimming
once their egg sacs have been fully absorbed,
and it is at this point that the male?s parental
duties stop.
When housing breeding pairs, be sure to
protect the ?lter inlets with sponge to
prevent any damage to the young.
Otherwise, these ?sh are fairly
undemanding, other than their need for
bogwood for grazing purposes, as they
extract lignin from the wood as a key part of
their diet.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Taking the kids along
For some animals however, guarding a nest
just isn?t an efficient enough method, as it
limits behaviours such as feeding until the
eggs hatch, which is particularly an issue if
you are sizing up to being a single parent. So,
the other alternative is to bring the eggs
along for the ride, and this behaviour occurs
all over the aquatic kingdom. The family
Syngnathidae in the marine world are
famed for such examples, with male
seahorses carrying their eggs inside a
brooding pouch, while the males of
other species, such as the leafy
seadragon, Phycodurus eques,
stick their eggs to the
underside of their tails.
But some freshwater
species also carry their
Did
eggs too, and in the absence of a brooding
pouch like the seahorses, they need to be
creative. The male Nursery?sh, Kurtus
gulliveri, carries its eggs on a specialised
hook on the front of its head, the Eeltailed
banjo cat?sh, Platystacus cotylephorus,
carries its eggs on the ventral surface of its
body, while the cave?sh Amblyopsis
spelaea incubates its eggs within its gills. A
Baby Bristlenoses are
cared for by the male.
?
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
you
know
With stable water
parameters and a
predominantly vegetable
based diet, Bristlenose
cat?sh are capable of
spawning at regular 6?8
week intervals.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Bristlenose cat?sh are
undemanding and, provided you
have a pair and a cave, they will
regularly breed in the aquarium.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
63
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Behaviour
mouth, to avoid being picked off under the
cover of darkness.
In the wild, Tocantins eartheaters are
found in soft, acidic waters, and show a
preference for either clear or black water
environments, avoiding the turbulence
surrounding white water rapid habitats. As
with all ?sh, water quality is important, but
these species are particularly sensitive to
deteriorating water conditions and wild
?uctuations in water parameters. While
set-ups can be to the taste of the aquarist, a
section of Lake Tanganyika, they do best in
groups in larger aquariums with rocky
structures in place to provide refuge and to
reduce aggression levels. A pH in the region
of 7.8?8.6 should suffice, along with water
temperatures between 24?27癈, but
parameter stability is just as important as
matching these numbers. These deep-water
cichlids are predatory, so care should be
taken when selecting suitable tank mates,
and any smaller species are liable to end up
on the menu.
Provide Kribs with a choice of
caves and adequate food, and
you are almost guaranteed
success. They are dressed to
the nines in an electric array
of yellows, reds and blues, too.
64
sandy bottom is a must to allow these ?sh to
engage in their natural foraging behaviours
without the risk of physical damage to their
gills, or internal damage as a result of
ingested substrate.
Another mouth brooding cichlid available
within the aquarium trade is the Lake
Tanganyikan Frontosa, Cyphotilapia
frontosa. Translated as ?hunchback with big
head?, these striking cichlids can reach in
excess of 30cm/12in length, and sport large,
bulbous foreheads. Found in the northern
Protective parents
Other cichlid species adopt
different, but equally attentive
parenting methods.
Kribensis, Pelvachromis
pulcher, are one of the most
commonly encountered, and
popular, cichlid species
available in the trade. These
dwarfs retain that renowned
cichlid personality, but without
the huge growth spurts, bouts
of rage and exact water
parameter requirements of
some of their family members
display. Kribs are a perfect ?beginners?
breeder ?sh ? provide them with a choice of
caves, adequate food source and you are
almost guaranteed success. Add that to the
fact that they are dressed to the nines in an
electric array of yellows, reds and blues, and
that they will tolerate most communitytank set-ups ? what?s not to like?
As with the vast majority of other dwarf
cichlids, Kribs are cave spawners, laying
their eggs on the underside of logs, rocks
and caves, with both parents taking an
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
host of other ?sh however retain their eggs
in their mouth.
If you are lucky enough to host a large
enough aquarium, the Silver arowana,
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, will mouth
brood, but for the majority of ?shkeepers
who wish to keep ?sh with this behavioural
trait, you will need to look for species within
the cichlid family.
Famed among aquarists for the parental
care afforded to their fry, cichlids are
freshwater ?sh from the family Cichlidae,
and from the same suborder,
Labroidei, as marine damsel?sh
and wrasse species. Found
predominantly across the
Americas and Africa, all cichlids
engage in parental care, with a
huge variety of species found
across the aquarium trade.
The Tocantins eartheater,
Geophagus altifrons, is a mouth
brooder found in the majority of
the tributary drainage basins
that feed into the lower to mid
Amazon. Like other mouth
brooders, the female will carry
the eggs around in her mouth
until they hatch, ceasing to feed during this
period. Once the fry hatch, the female and
male take turns in continuing to mouth
brood the young, switching duties by
placing the fry in depressions built in the
sand during the swap. As the fry develop,
they spend longer outside of their parents?
mouths, but should danger be detected, a
rapid movement of the ventral ?ns warns
the fry to take cover in the adult?s mouth
once more. While at a vulnerable size, the
fry also spend the night inside the parent?s
ALAMY
NATHAN HILL
Eel-tailed banjo cat?sh
take their eggs with them,
attached to their undersides.
Behaviour
...and those mouths
can hold a lot of
growing youngsters.
ALAMY
Arowana are
mouthbrooders...
Kribs are easy and rewarding
to breed ? and look at the
colours on this female.
Did
?
you
know
While Kribs tend to be unfussy
about water chemistry, pH plays a
factor in determining the sex ratio of
offspring, with the number of females
increasing along with water acidity.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
65
Baby food
As well as providing care and security,
cichlids take an active role in helping feed
their young too. The Convict cichlid,
Amatitlania nigrofasciata, escorts its fry
around, lifting up leaves and moving the
sand with its ?ns to reveal micro-sized prey.
Others show a more mammalian approach
to feeding by offering up their own source of
food. Discus, Symphysodon sp., Uaru, Uaru
amphiacanthoides, and the Midas cichlid,
Amphilophus citrinellus, all secrete a
nutritional mucus on which their young
feed. As with mammals, the nutritional and
immunological content of the secretion
changes over time, reacting to the needs of
the fry to provide them with the best
possible start. When fry want feeding, they
engage in a process known as contacting,
whereby they appear to nip the ?anks of
their parents to stimulate the mucus glands
to swell and secrete. Discus parents share
the feeding responsibilities too, with one
gently ?icking their brood over to the other
parent when their turn is up.
Cuckoo in the nest
As well as the threat of fry predation, certain
Tanganyikan cichlids can fall victim to the
parasitic behaviour of the Cuckoo cat?sh,
Synodontis multipunctatus. Far from being a
dedicated parent, this sneaky ?sh leaves the
job of childcare to mouthbrooding cichlids.
During the cichlid spawning process, the
female cichlid lays and then gathers up all
her eggs in her mouth. While she is busy
collecting her eggs, the male cichlid
shimmers his tail in front of her, revealing a
row of egg shaped spots along the base. As
she tries to grab these too, the male releases
his sperm and fertilises the eggs in her
mouth. At this point the cat?sh swoop in to
feed on the cichlid eggs and simultaneously
release their own fertilised eggs. In a panic,
the female cichlid scoops up every egg she
can, including the cat?sh eggs, and then
unwittingly mouthbroods those too.
Unfortunately for the cichlids, the cat?sh
eggs and fry develop and grow quicker than
their own, predating on the cichlid fry within
the mother?s mouth. Despite their obvious
cat?sh appearance, the cichlid is undeterred,
and continues to raise and care for them as if
they were her own.
Convict cichlids with
their brood of fry.
66
Convict cichlids will ?nd food
for their youngsters among
the leaf litter and substrate.
Ctenochromis cichlid
mouthbrooding a
juvenile Cuckoo cat?sh.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
active parenting role. Initially, the female
will guard and aerate the eggs in the shelter,
whilst the male patrols and chases away any
intruders in the nearby vicinity to the nest.
Once hatched and free swimming, the
parents will escort the fry in tank
excursions, foraging for food, but always on
hand to protect their bounty. During this
period, it?s not uncommon for one adult to
drive away the other. While literature
suggests that the female often takes the
dominant role, my own personal experience
with Kribs has always seen the male take
the lead and become completely intolerant
of the female?s presence. Then, after a
couple of weeks, the fry drift away to a life of
independence, and your pair, after a little
making up, will often look to start spawning
once more.
Hailing from Nigeria and Cameroon,
Kribs prefer softer, slightly acidic water, but
being so easily bred, those offered for sale
are often adapted to a wide water chemistry
range, although caves and shelters are a
must. Although they produce comparatively
large fry, ensure you have adequate micro
live foods and crushed pellets available.
During the breeding season, even the most
peaceful of cichlid parents are far less
tolerant of intruders on their territory, and
will aggressively defend their offspring in
the wake of a perceived threat. But such
displays of anger use up vital resources, and
when parents are relying on stored energy
reserves in the absence of being able to
forage, it pays to really know who your
enemies are.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Discus secrete a nutritional mucus on which their
young feed. They share the feeding responsibilities
too, with one gently ?icking their brood over to the
other parent when their turn is up.
Be prepared
GETTY
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
Playing happy families in your
tank can be both educational
and rewarding, but remember
to consider the outcome of
the success ? a lot more
hungry mouths to feed. If you
are planning on housing
species with the goal of
breeding them, be sure to be
prepared in terms of ?rst
foods and grow out tanks
before you start, as this will
save you the hassle when
things get going.
Dinner is served ? in
this case on the ?anks
of a Discus parent.
67
ALAMY
Behaviour
BRIGHT-ON
The colours of the cichlids in this Malawi set-up contrast
beautifully with the almost monochrome rocky hardscape.
WORDS AND PHOTOS: GEORGE FARMER
T
his aquarium system, designed and installed by Amin Aquatics, is dedicated to
Malawi cichlids. It?s the perfect combination of clever equipment meeting
visually appealing design. The tank was custom built with a separate ?engine
room? situated outside that houses the ?ltration system so there?s no visible
equipment in the tank.
At a generous 120cm length and 75cm in height, this aquarium offers a large viewing
window to the rock-island theme aquascape. The gravel matches the colour and texture of
the large rocks and the whole design is very coherent. LED lighting from a point source
offers extreme shadowing and highlights for extra dramatic effect.
The effect of more than 70 colourful and active cichlids swimming among that Grey Pillar
rock is stunning and provides the owners with many hours of viewing pleasure.
There?s always
plenty going on
in this set-up.
TANK SET-UP
? Aquarium: Custom built, 120 x 60 x
75cm/48 x 24 x 30in, 540 l.
? Cabinet: Aqua Oak sump (situated
outside in insulated housing: 150 x 60
x 60cm, 558 l volume.
? Filtration: Two biological media
reactors with K1 media, UV clari?er,
Hydra, inline heater and in-sump
heating.
? Lighting: One AI Hydra 52.
? Hardscape: 140 Kg Grey Pillar rock.
? Substrate: Dennerle Baikal.
? Fish: 76 various Malawi cichlids
supplied by Kevin and Scott Lynch
(Kev?s Rifts).
68
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Inspirational aquariums
ROCK
The height of this
aquarium helps give the
aquascape more impact.
The LED lighting
provides dramatic
effect by shadowing
some areas while
highlighting others.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
69
AQUATIC
In association with
DIPLOMA
SCH
The ?nal part of our Diploma series
looks at aquarium management,
and the tasks that you need to
perform to keep things healthy.
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
PART FIVE: MAINTENANCE
S
o far, we?ve covered a lot of theoretical ground,
from water quality and chemistry, physiology
and habitat, ?lters and aquarium maturation,
and diseases. Now it?s time to look at the
pragmatic side of aquatics.
Successful ?shkeeping is about more than buying a
tank, ?lling it and hoping for the best. Where you
position your tank can have an impact on a ?sh?s
wellbeing. Your choice of decoration may be
unintentionally harming your livestock. Feeding
requirements may vary from ?sh to ?sh. The way you
choose to clean your substrate and ?lters can have a
huge impact on a tank?s ecosystem.
The skills needed to run an aquarium are like
household tools. Some of them you?ll draw upon
frequently, while others may only ever be used once or
twice. But, just like in a tool kit, even if they?ve been sat
you?ll be glad you have them when the time comes.
REGISTER NOW
MISSED ANY OF THE SERIES?
Buy the October, November, December and
January issues at pfkmag.com with free ?rst
class postage if you live in the UK!
70
Fine, sandy substrates
need careful
maintenance to prevent
them turning anaerobic.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
NEIL HEPWORTH
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!
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 5
Siting an aquarium
Avoid housing tanks near any of the
following:
] Windows ? these allow direct sunlight to
reach an aquarium, potentially causing
algae growth, overheating, and sunburn or
heatstroke of ?sh. Indirect sunlight, in a
bright room with multiple windows,
can exaggerate algae growth. Open
windows create draughts, leading to
potential temperature ?uctuations.
] Radiators ? cause aquaria to ?uctuate in
temperature and dangerously overheat.
Your tank needs to be located
somewhere that offers easy
access for maintenance.
Ensure there are plenty of
power sockets nearby.
] Audio speakers on televisions and
stereos ? produce vibrations, stressful to
the sensitive hearing of livestock.
above the tank will be a hindrance when
working inside it.
Power supplies need to be nearby, but
away from splashing. Avoid positioning
directly over plug sockets. Long power
cables can become trip and ?re hazards.
Increase safety by using a drip loop on any
aquarium connections. These simple loops
stop water from running into a socket.
] Doors ? potential for collisions, draughts
and noise (through slamming). Especially
avoid a door?s opening arc, as a direct impact
will cause a catastrophic break.
You will need to consider access, power
supply and traffic.
Traffic means the people passing an
aquarium. A quiet living room is a better
choice for shy and nervous ?sh than a busy
hallway. Note that in busy areas, the risk of
tank collisions increases considerably.
Access to an aquarium includes ability to
reach pipework set behind it, and the outer
glass on the back and sides. Obstructions
NEIL HEPWORTH
Aquarium size
Don?t place your aquarium
in direct sunlight or close
to radiators.
The total mass of ?sh in a tank is called its
stocking density. Optimal stocking
densities are subject to so many variables
that accurate calculation is almost
impossible. Among the in?uences on
optimal stocking density are: total water
volume, ?sh mass, feeding amount and
frequency, protein content of food, ?sh
metabolic rate, aquarium surface area to
volume ration, ?lter turnover, biological
media volume, temperature, plant density,
and supplementary ?ltration.
At purchase, few ?sh will have reached
their full adult mass potential. For each
doubling in bodily length, mass increases
many times over. A gold?sh of 2cm long may
weigh around 0.2g, but 3g at 5cm. The larger
?sh, while only 3cm longer, is 15 times the
mass of the smaller ?sh. Increased ?sh mass
leads to increased pollution.
When calculating how many ?sh a tank
can hold, stocking density should be based
around adult size of the ?sh being added.
Biological ?lter capacity is the principal
limiting factor of stocking density. The more
the tank?s ability to convert ammonia and
nitrite, the higher the number of ?sh it can
hold. In commercial systems, 30 to 40kg
(and upwards) of ?sh per 1000 l of water is
commonplace. In aquaria, 2kg of ?sh per
100 l may be at the ?lter?s limit.
71
NEIL HEPWORTH
Sunlight, heat, and noise can all be
restricting factors to positioning an
aquarium.
Kitchens, working garages and bathrooms
make poor choices for housing tanks,
because of airborne contaminants or
temperature ?uctuations.
Site tanks away from places where
children and boisterous pets may collide
with them. Always use sturdy aquarium
cabinets that cannot be easily tipped over.
] A hiding place for eggs and fry, or spawning
medium for some ?sh. In some cases, the
presence of substrate may be required as a
trigger to facilitate spawning between ?sh.
] Slow release of nutrients for plants.
Drawbacks of substrate can include:
] Excess mineral release into softwater
(such as with coral sand in acidic tanks).
] Deep sand can turn anaerobic without
adequate passage of oxygen. This can lead to
the development of bacteria that convert
nitrate back in to nitrite, or produce highly
toxic hydrogen sulphide.
] Substrate can conceal waste like ?sh
faeces and uneaten food, making a tank
appear cleaner than it really is.
] Incorrect substrate size and texture can
?sh barbels and skin from repeated contact.
] Some planting substrates may initially
contain a source of ammonia which may
require them to be soaked in the tank
without ?sh for some time.
] Substrates may act as a refuge for
disease-causing parasites and pathogens,
making them difficult to remove.
] Incorrectly sized gravel can get lodged in
the mouths of substrate browsing ?sh.
Allow for the adult
size of your ?sh when
considering stocking levels.
A primitive way to determine stocking
density is the cm (?sh) per litre (water)
formula. Based on the type of ?ltration
used, and assuming that the tank will
mainly house small ?sh with a low
mass, the stocking rates can be
calculated as follows:
]Tanks with undergravel ?lters
? 0.8cm ?sh per litre of water.
]Tanks with internal canister ?lters
? 1 to 1.2cm ?sh per litre of water.
]Tanks with external canister ?lters
? 1.5 to 1.8cm ?sh per litre of water.
Heavy ?ltration, high oxygenation, and
frequent water changing combined may
allow for an abnormally high stocking
density
A ?six-times? rule is sometimes used to
calculate minimum tank sizes for individual
?sh, determining that the length of the tank
should be no less than six times the ?sh?s full
adult length.
Territoriality should be factored in to tank
size. Tanganyikan cichlids, for example,
require a larger tank than peaceful ?sh of a
similar size, to allow the formation of
72
boundaries. Red tailed black sharks and
Sucking loaches are examples of ?sh that
are peaceful while small, but become
territorial as they age.
Some ?sh require a shoal, which means
their combined mass should be considered.
Though they may be small, the weight of
their numbers may require a larger tank.
Substrates may be coarse or ?ne. Coarse
substrates like gravel are easier to clean, but
provide a poor medium for plants. Fine
substrates like silver sand are great for plant
roots, but more prone to turning anaerobic.
Deeper substrates harbour more waste
and are likelier to turn anaerobic than
Substrate and decoration
Bene?ts of substrate can
include:
] Natural/calming environment
for ?sh.
] Increased biological surface area.
] Slow release of pH buffering
minerals into the water (as with
coral sand).
] Rooting medium for plants.
] Feeding area for some species,
such as cat?sh.
] A hiding place for some ?sh, such
as burrowing cat?sh or loaches.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 5
NEIL HEPWORTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
shallow ones. At the maximum, coarse
Wood and leaf litter is ideal
substrates should generally be no deeper
for a softwater set-up.
than 5cm in a community tank. For ?ne
substrates, no deeper than 2.5cm substrate
should be used. Exceptions may include
aquascapes, where deep beds of highly
porous planting substrate are used for
decorative effect, and natural ?lter systems
that rely on deep gravel beds.
Arti?cially coloured gravel (the bright and
almost ?ourescent kind) is often made from
dolomite and then coated. Dolomite is a
mineral rich substrate and may cause water
to become hard and alkaline, making it
unsuitable for softwater tanks.
Alternatively, a tank may lack substrate
altogether. A bare-based aquarium can be
easier to keep clean, as the accumulation of
waste will be visibly obvious. It can also be
easier to extract dormant pathogens on the
base in the event of a disease outbreak.
This type of system is often used in
Don?t go deeper
hospital and quarantine tanks, as
than 5cm with gravel ] Dried, aquarium safe leaves
well retailers with large
substrates.
(usually hardwood).
volumes of livestock.
The downside to not using
] Igneous and sedimentary
substrates is that your ?sh
rocks.
miss out on all of the bene?ts
noted above.
] Resin ornaments.
Decoration in a tank is both
aesthetically pleasing, and
] Terracotta tubes and pots.
bene?cial for the ?sh.
Decor needs to be considered on a case by
Decoration needs to be chosen with regard
case basis. It may act as a boundary marker
to ?sh behaviour and water requirements.
for territorial ?sh, or as a hiding place for
Real woods and leaves can leach
shy/nervous ?sh. Fish may require
discolouring, pH reducing tannic acid into
decoration in the form of caves to spawn in
the water. To reduce the effects of this, wood
or on, or to retreat to at night.
needs to be soaked for prolonged periods
before use. Many woods also need to
Decoration can be naturally or
become waterlogged before they will sink.
arti?cially derived. Examples of
Some rocks increase hardness levels by
aquarium decoration include:
releasing carbonates as they dissolve. These
] Dried hardwood branches and roots.
can sometimes be detected by exposing
them to srtrong acids and checking for a
reaction. Usually, the acids required for an
observable reaction are more concentrate
than the lay aquarist has access to. Rocks
from the ocean (such as Tufa rock and
Ocean rock) typically contain carbonates.
Some rocks contain dangerous metals,
often visible as colourful striations. These
can be reactive in acidic tanks, where they
increase the acidity levels as they
simultaneously release toxic metals.
Rocks with sharp surfaces may be
unsuited to ?sh that like to rest on
decoration, or those that may brush against
it (especially highly active fast swimmers).
Cheap arti?cial decoration may have
harmful paints that can be rasped off by
suckermouthed cat?sh. Lead paint may be a
particular hazard for ?sh.
GEORGE FARMER
Avoid rocks with sharp
surfaces that may damage
your ?sh.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
73
Feeding
Fish need food for energy and metabolic
processes, as well as protein and nutrients
required for muscle growth, tissue repair
and egg development.
Incorrect feeding can cause nutritional
diseases (see part 4). As well as these, the
aquarist needs to avoid underfeeding or
overfeeding.
Underfeeding can lead to emaciated or
weak ?sh, poor egg production, inability to
regenerate damaged tissues, stress, lowered
immunity and eventual death.
Overfeeding can be problematic in several
ways. Uneaten food decomposing in the
aquarium produces more ?waste? ammonia
than food that has been utilised by ?sh for
growth and energy. Excess food consumed
by ?sh will lead to elevated amounts of
ammonia excretion.
Uneaten food can lead to outbreaks of
snails, planarians, copepods, and bacterial
or algal blooms.
Fish may be opportunists or grazers.
Constant grazers (such as seahorses)
cannot retain food stores and need near
constant feeds throughout the day.
Opportunists, like Red tail cat?sh, might
gorge on a single meal and then not feed for
weeks, until the meal has been digested.
Most aquarium ?sh are casual opportunist
feeders that will feed to excess given the
opportunity.
Ammonia is released relative to how ?sh
feed. Grazers excrete ammonia constantly,
while predators produce ammonia in large,
intermittent spikes, whenever fed. A tankful
of predators fed at the same time will
experience more ammonia ?uctuations
than a tank ?lled with grazers.
Community ?sh require two to three small
feeds a day. Offer as much as they will eat in
90 to 120 seconds, and then stop until the
next feeding schedule. Ideally, ?sh should
receive food as a percentage of their
bodyweight daily, which would involve
weighing the ?sh.
Uneaten ?sh food can lead to outbreaks
of snails, planarians, copepods, and
bacterial or algal blooms.
For day to day maintenance, most ?sh
require 1% of their bodyweight in food daily.
For fast growth, tissue repair or egg
development, this can be raised to 2%
bodyweight daily. At the extreme, 3%
bodyweight daily may be offered to fast
growing fry.
Fish have low energy requirements
compared to similar sized terrestrial
dwelling animals, such as mammals. Fish
need to neither generate body heat (as
mammals do) nor resist gravity (their
swimbladders make them neutrally
buoyant), saving them considerable energy.
Ensure that species can access the type of
food offered: ?oating food for surface
feeders, sinking food for bottom feeders, and
so on.
Cleaning
Substrate needs regular cleaning, to remove
food and faeces. The best way to clean gravel
is with a gravel cleaning syphon, combined
with a partial water change.
Sand is too ?ne to be cleaned this way.
Physically rake through sand with an
aquarium planting tool or (carefully) ?ngers
to stir up debris. When waste settles back on
top of the sand, use a siphon to skim it off.
Recirculating vacuum cleaners can also be
used with either sand or gravel. These lift up
water and waste, returning water to the tank
via a ?ne screen which traps debris. These
vacuums can be motorised or air driven.
Water changes perform several roles,
including:
] Dilution of nitrate, phosphate, phenols,
pheromones and dyes.
Aquarium ?sh will gorge to
excess given the chance, so
offer two or three small
feeds a day.
] Dilution of ammonia and/or nitrite during
an emergency.
] Replenishing essential minerals depleted
by ?sh, plants and biological ?ltering.
The amount and frequency of water
changes is linked to stocking density. A
lightly stocked aquarium will deplete
minerals and generate nitrate at a slower
rate than a heavily stocked one.
Accurate water change volumes and
frequencies require regular water tests to
determine. In the event of increasing
nitrates and phosphates, frequency of
changes should increase. In the event of
declining water hardness, water changes
should be increased.
10% water changes once or twice a week
are wise in tanks where ?sh do not tolerate
?uctuations in water chemistry.
25% water changes weekly are the norm
for a typically stocked aquarium.
35% water changes weekly represent the
upper limit of water that can be safely
replaced for many community species.
50% water changes are usually reserved
for emergencies, such as accidental
overdoses of medication, or issues like
catastrophic ?lter failure.
Source water should be appropriate for the
tank (part one of this series covers hardness
and pH). Most aquarists use tapwater, or
reverse osmosis (RO) water.
Tapwater has a few drawbacks for ?sh,
including:
] Chlorine, and possibly chloramine, added
as a disinfectant.
] Potential contamination with nitrates and
phosphates.
] Potential for very high or very low mineral
content, pending its source.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Clean ?lter media weekly
or fortnightly, depending
on your stocking
density.
74
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In association with
Fishkeeping Diploma Part 5
a mineral free source such as RO if
possible.
Minerals aren?t depleted with
LEFT:
evaporating
water, causing concentrations
Gravel cleaner.
in
the
aquarium
water to increase slightly.
ABOVE: Tapwater
Repeatedly
topping
up with mineral rich
conditioner.
water increases the hardness level.
Testing water should take place weekly,
for the water quality parameters addressed
in part one of this series.
Water testing methods can involve probes,
] Possible contamination in the event of
or colorimetric chemicals in liquid, tablet or
groundworks.
strip kits. Probes may be expensive and
only test individual parameters, but are
RO water is a contaminant free source
usually highly accurate if maintained well.
of aquarium water, but has drawbacks,
Liquid, tablet and dip tests are cheaper and
including:
more commonly used. Colorimetric tests
] RO units for home use are expensive, and
require installation into domestic plumbing use reagents that change colour to identify
levels of compounds being tested.
and are wasteful (many litres of water are
wasted for each litre of RO produced).
When testing it is vital that:
] Water removed from the tank into test
] Home RO units may be damaged if
tubes is not poured back into the aquarium.
pre-?lters aren?t maintained.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Check it for signs of
damage or wear before
cleaning it gently.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Remove the ?lter impeller
from the well.
more regular ?lter cleans. Filter hoses, ?lter
cases and impellers will also need cleaning.
Clean ?lter hoses with a proprietary pipe
cleaning brush. Disconnect the hose from
the tank and ?lter and clean it over a sink or
in a bucket. Don?t use boiling water to ?ush
the pipe, as this is dangerous. Check hose
ends for signs of perishing. Where the hose
has become brittle, it may need to be cut off
to bring fresh hosing to the connections.
Severely brittle hosing will need replacing.
Filter cases, especially strainers, can
become clogged with debris. Remove them
from the tank, and using a small brush, such
as a repurposed toothbrush, thoroughly
clean any slats and apertures.
Impellers need frequent cleaning.
Remove them from the impeller wells
when you perform ?lter maintenance
to clean and inspect them. Look for:
] Uneven wear and tear on the magnet.
] RO water will require minerals to be added
to it to make it safe to use.
] Testing takes place away from the tank to
avoid accidental spillage of reagents.
] ?Lines? carved into the magnet to indicate
detritus has entered the impeller well.
] Purchasing RO from a retailer requires
travelling and carrying/storage of water.
] Gloves and safety glasses are used with
any reagents that pose a health hazard.
] Misalignment of the impeller shaft.
] RO may have low oxygen content if not
aerated before use.
] Test tubes are capped securely before
shaking them ? don?t use ?ngers or thumbs
as they pose a health risk and may also
contaminate readings.
] Missing vanes on top of the impeller.
If using tapwater for water changes, it
must be dechlorinated with a proprietary
dechlorinator before use. Failure to do so
risks gill and skin damage, compromised
immune systems and potentially damaged
?ltration. Always mix dechlorinator with
water before being added to aquaria.
Some dechlorinating devices containing
carbon can be attached directly to a tap,
removing chlorine as water passes through.
Evaporated water should be replaced with
] Test tubes are thoroughly washed, rinsed
and dried after use to avoid contamination
in later tests.
Filter maintenance
Most ?lter media requires cleaning weekly
or fortnightly, pending type of media and
the burden on it. Heavily stocked tanks need
] Cracks in the impeller magnet.
] Vanes that spin unimpeded on the impeller
magnet body.
Any of the above warrants immediate
replacement of the impeller and shaft.
To clean the impeller, gently brush it with
an old toothbrush, and rinse thoroughly.
Clean the impeller well with a cotton bud
and ?ush out with water before replacing
the impeller. Ensure the impeller can turn
unrestricted before reassembling the ?lter.
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
75
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and search for Practical Fishkeeping and you?ll
get access to extra content including video
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Improve your
Fishkeeping
Practical advice and great ideas to ensure you get
the most from your hobby.
78
Going down the river
Many ?sh hail from waters that are far livelier
han those in the average aquarium ? and
here?s plenty to gain from going with the ?ow.
Fishkeeping
Answers
84
Happy, healthy new year
Great ideas to help you improve
your ?shkeeping during 2018.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
87
Fishkeeping Answers
Some of the world?s top aquatic
experts answer your questions.
77
Improve your Fishkeeping
GOINGDOWN
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
ANCISTRUS ? Bristlenose plec
A robust South American
suckermouthed cat?sh that thrives in
high ?ows over rounded rocks.
78
NEIL HEPW
NEIL HEPWORTH
Fantastic ?sh for fast-?ow set-ups
SHUTTERSTOCK
ALAMY
While most aquaria are static cubes of water, many ?sh
hail from waters that are much livelier ? and there?s
plenty to gain from going with the ?ow?
BARILIUS ? River trout
Open-water swimmers that like a
moderate to strong current in at least
half of their tank to swim against.
NOTROPIS ? Rainbow shiner
North American river ?sh that swims in
open waters. Prefers an open tank with
a moderate to high laminar ?ow.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Basics
THE RIVER
DEVARIO ? Giant ?danio?
Active schooling ?sh that like moderate
to fast ?ows. Lots of dissolved oxygen
and excellent water quality essential.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
ALAMY
AQUARIUM PHOTO.DK
Fast ?ows result in a high level
of dissolved oxygen in the
water, which is essential if you
are keeping rapids species in
the aquarium.
GYRINOCHEILUS ? Sucking loach
Bottom dwellers that thrive in the
fastest of ?ows. Can become
territorial with age.
CHAETOSTOMA ? Bulldog plec
These cat?sh cling to rounded
stones and appreciate fast and
torrential ?ows.
79
Improve your Fishkeeping
found in the middle of the river, in the open
water column. In shallower waters, ?sh may
live among or under rocks. There?s also the
riparian region, or the riverbank ? this is a
greyer area as the ?sh here, while living in a
river, may be subject to entirely different
?ows to those living in the river ?proper?.
Shaped by the current
Rivers make up a considerable chunk of
freshwater biotopes. The ?sh that live
within them have had to adapt to ?owing
waters, leading to body shapes that are
either ?attened with little drag, or
torpedo-shaped and suited to scything
through the water with ease. Some ?sh are
so reliant on fast ?ows that they can make
tragic aquarium residents, if kept
incorrectly. At a physical level, their
adaptations may include a ratio of red to
white muscle best-suited to continuous
swimming. Denied the freedom to do this,
they may become stressed, ill or both.
Fish that live in fast-?owing waters are
called rheophiles, and quite a few are
immediately obvious; they never quite look
right in a still tank.
Mid-water-swimming rheophile ?sh
? Barilius and Opsarius, for example ? look
fast at a glance. In an aquarium they?re
notably restless, tearing around the layout
with seemingly endless energy reserves.
Tank mates can be a problem. Slow or
nervous species can be intimidated by the
restless movement of other ?sh. Remember
that some species use the behaviour of
Gobies have modi?ed pelvic
?ns that act like suckers,
effectively sticking them to the
rocks in fast-?ow habitats.
NEIL HEPWORTH
E
ver just stood and watched a
river racing by? Maybe you?ve
leant over a stone bridge on a
scorching summer day to play
?Pooh sticks? in the ?owing stream beneath.
Don a snorkel and dip your face into that
sprinting water, and you shouldn?t be
surprised to see ?sh swimming along to
their own beat.
Not all rivers are the same, and even the
same river can vary considerably over its
length. Many can be divided into set zones.
Crenon zones are the highest, where the
river begins, and these can be slow-moving,
relatively cool and lacking oxygen.
Rhithron zones are the much quicker
upstream stretches that follow the crenon
? stretches with fast ?ows and high oxygen
levels, but still quite cool water.
Potamon zones are the downstream
stretches, where the water is warmer, but
the oxygen lower than the rhithron zone.
The potamon is where we ?nd sandy
bottoms and sluggish ?ows.
Rivers are in?uenced by the type of
ground they run through. Mountain streams
fed by melting ice peaks will be soft and
clear. As they progress, they may take on
minerals from calcareous rocks, making
them hard and alkaline. They might run
through forests ?lled with decaying leaves,
devoid of rocks, becoming soft and acidic as
a result. They may be stained black by
tannins, or could be ?white? with particles.
Across the river, ?sh may live in one or
more of several areas. Species like knife?sh
and cat?sh may live at extreme river depths,
on the bottom. Active swimmers may be
SHUTTERSTOCK
A fast-?owing
rainforest river.
80
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Basics
Step-by-step manifold system
Create a laminar ?ow in your river aquarium with this simple project.
WHAT YOU?LL NEED
O Enough 2.5cm/1in diameter rigid piping to span the length of your aquarium more than three times.
OFour 2.5cm/1in 90� bends. OSix 2.5cm/1in tee pieces. OTwo 2.5cm/1in caps. OPipe cleaner (optional). O Pipe cement (optional).
OTwo powerheads. OJunior hacksaw. O File. O Power drill and sharp drill bit. OTape measure.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Clean the ends of the pipes and the
insides of the elbows, then apply a
conservative amount of cement to both.
Pushing the pipes into place, hold them for
ten seconds, after which they will have
formed a permanent seal. When
cementing you need to be accurate and
fast. You only get those ten seconds!
Drill holes in two lengths before
cementing on the caps. These are
then connected to the tee pieces at one
end of the manifold. Don?t cement them, to
allow you to access and clean them. At the
other end of the tank insert two lengths at
the height you want the pumps to sit.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
Measure the lengths of pipe. We?re
using three 77cm/30.3in lengths to go
from end to end, allowing space for the
bends. Cut shorter, but equal-sized
lengths to ?t between bends and tee
pieces. Have a ?dry? run and lay the
parts out to establish what will go
where.
Cement a tee to each end of the
outside lengths of pipe, ensuring they
sit at the same angle. Then, using
smaller pieces of pipe, connect a tee to
each corner bend. Pieces must point up
90� from the rest of the manifold, as
these will house the pumps and the
strainers.
After placing your ?nished
manifold into the bottom of the
aquarium, ?t the powerheads at one
end using the conical adaptors
provided. Once in position, add your
chosen substrate to cover one end of
pipework.
Using a level surface, cut the piping.
Ensure that the cuts are as straight as
possible to avoid inconsistencies when
?tting the manifold together. Once cut,
take care to ?le the swarf from the inside
ends of the pipes, as any that?s remaining
may come loose and damage the pump
impellers when running.
Cement the remaining short pipes
to the tee pieces and, using the two
outer assemblies, ?sandwich? them onto
the centre length. You can now focus on
the uplift pipes you want to act as
strainers and pump holders. Here
we cut lengths of pipe around
17cm/6.7in long.
Now it?s simply a case of decorating
the tank using the large, rounded
type of stones that you?d expect to ?nd in
a fast-?owing river. Once you have
everything in place, you just need to ?ll
the tank!
NEIL HEPWORTH
We?re using a Hagen Studio 900
aquarium, 94cm/37in in length. Be
aware that with some tanks there may
be a central bracing bar that makes it
difficult to get the ?nished manifold into
place. In tanks with drilled bases, as with
this model, you?ll need to factor this into
your design.
81
Improve your Fishkeeping
It?s important to note that ?ow can be
laminar or turbulent. Laminar ?ow, which
is what you?d experience in a slow, wide
river, is orderly ? all the water moving from
Point A to Point B in a nice, straight line.
Turbulent ?ow, which is what you?d ?nd
in crashing river rapids or under a waterfall,
is violent and chaotic, with small, localised
movements of water going in any and all
directions.
In aquaria, turbulent ?ows are the easiest
to create. Laminar ?ows need some forward
planning and a bit of DIY pipework.
High oxygen demands
If you?ve managed to get the ?ow right, then
oxygen should naturally follow, but it still
doesn?t hurt to keep oxygen levels higher
than you would in a normal community
tank. Species like Sewellia, Chaetostoma
and Barilius have exceptionally high oxygen
demands. Sewellia and Chaetostoma often
come from torrential streams with a
constant, churning action that saturates the
water with oxygen. An undersized canister
?lter running at half power in the corner of
a tank isn?t much of a substitute for that.
Generating surface movement is a great
way of upping oxygen. Repositioning
ALAMY
Rivers and streams can be fast. At the top
end, crashing river rapids may peak at
outrageous velocities of around 14mph ? in
aquarium terms, that would be equal to
shifting all the water from one end of a
6.5m-long tank to the other end in one
second. Thankfully, we don?t need to go quite
that far to make a river tank.
More sedate rivers ? the Nile, Amazon
and so on ? tend to have velocities ranging
from around 30cm per second at their slow
end, to around 2m per second in wet
seasons. Taken as an average, the Amazon
river (home to many of our aquarium
species) ?ows at around 1.5mph ? roughly
65cm per second.
PAREUTROPIUS ? ?Debauwie? cat?sh
These prefer a tank with both high and
low-?ow areas, as well as open space.
82
pumps so that they cause splashing and
ripples increases the surface area of the
tank, allowing a larger interface for oxygen
to get into the water.
Air pumps help to a degree, mainly
through boosting the water?s surface area.
To increase oxygen and produce a realistic
look for turbulent river rapids, consider a
venturi device connected to a pump or
powerhead. The venturi works by using
water ?ow from the pump to draw a ?ne
stream of air down an air line. This is then
blasted out of the pump outlet as a ?ne mist
of tiny bubbles. It?s a great way to provide a
?crashing? rapids effect, with minimal effort.
Waste management
Rheophilic ?sh are never exposed to their
own waste in the wild, but produce a large
amount of ammonia by virtue of being so
active ? high activity equals high
metabolism. When setting up a river tank,
you will want a slightly larger ?lter than
usual. Where possible, go for external
canisters, and plump for a good balance of
foam and biomedia.
As the tank has such a high ?ow, less waste
will settle in the substrate than it would in a
?slow? set-up, meaning that mechanical
RHINOGOBIUS ? Dragon gobies
Come from shallow rivers in China
where they form territories around
stones. Like moderate to high ?ows.
SEWELLIA ? Hillstream loach
Originate from shallow, cool,
fast-?owing streams. Prefer aquarium
?ow that is high to very high.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEIL HEPWORTH
This river aquarium
uses turbulent ?ow.
ALAMY
The right ?ow
TOP TIP
Remember that
perpetually swimming
?sh have high metabolisms.
They?ll need more food and
frequent feeds compared to
their tank mates, and this
can lead to a lot of
pollution.
SHUTTERSTOCK
those around them as a barometer for how
safe things are; if ?sh are frenzied and look
like they?re trying to escape something, that
screams ?predator? to nervous prey species.
Active swimmers also have little concept
of territories and boundaries. As their own
ranges are ever shifting and never con?ned,
the idea that an aggressive cichlid wants to
defend a third of an aquarium is alien to
them, and they will keep blundering across
the lines, over and over, to the detriment of
both themselves and the poor ?sh trying to
defend its patch.
Bottom-dwelling rheophiles are often
equally as obvious at a glance, but their
bodies are different in shape to the
mid-water swimmers. Examples include
loaches like Sewellia, and goby-shaped
cichlids like Blockheads. Rather than swim
against the ?ow, these ?sh reduce drag as
much as they can and try to get under the
?ow. Many bottom-dwelling rheophiles
have tiny swim bladders, making them
?heavier? in the water. Some have adapted
?ns on their underside, which they use as
suckers to cling to rocks. Others have
powerful suckermouths that they can use to
cling and feed at the same time.
If you?re going to keep rheophilic ?sh, it?s
worth keeping them right. And that means
you need to consider three key areas: ?ow
delivery, oxygen, and waste management.
Basics
including the circular ?ows needed for a
river set-up. The XF150 model starts at
5,500 lph at the lowest setting, up to almost
19,000 lph at full power. It attaches to the
tank glass with a magnetic holder.
The market is alive with ?ow pumps,
mostly designed for marine tanks. Models
in the Fluval Sea range start at a ?ow rate of
1000 lph, up to 5,200 lph, and attach to the
glass via a sucker. Hydor?s Koralia range of
?ow pumps start with ?ows as low as 900
lph, up to a high of 12,500 lph, and connect
via a magnet to the glass.
Many movement pumps can be used with
a controller to switch them on or off at preprogramed times or, in high-end models, to
adjust ?ow rates throughout the day.
As opposed to movement pumps or a gyre,
powerheads only draw water from one set
area. The drawback here is that they can
suck up and kill ?sh ? something movement
pumps will not do. They also have a much
lower ?ow-to-wattage ratio than movement
pumps, making them expensive to run. But,
unlike movement pumps, powerheads can
be attached to a river manifold design to
create a true laminar ?ow.
.
Yangtze River in China
?lters (foams and sponges) clog relatively
quickly. It can be hard to spot the reduced
?ow coming from the ?lter with multiple
pumps running. If the ?ow is impaired for a
while, it will have a drastic effect on the
biological ?ltration, potentially leading to
ammonia and nitrite build-up.
one end of the tank, the best approach is to
construct a river manifold. This will
provide a continuous, linear ?ow at the
height you require.
When it comes to pumps, Maxspect?s
Gyre is designed explicitly to create ?ow,
Get the pump right
ABOVE:
Maxspect?s Gyre.
LEFT: Maxijet
powerhead.
TELEOCICHLA ? Cylindrical cichlids
These ?sh live close to substrates and
like a moderate water ?ow.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
STURISOMA ? Whiptail cat?sh
Often found hanging onto fallen wood
in rivers, these prefer moderate
to high ?ows.
ALAMY
SHUTTERSTOCK
RIGHT: Fluval Sea
?ow pump.
RADEK
For open swimming rheophilic ?sh
(certain barbs, characins, Barilius and so on)
you want to try to create a laminar ?ow in
the region of 10 to 15 times the tank?s volume
every hour. So, a 200 l tank would need a
?ow of 2000 to 3000 lph. Because you want
a predictable ?ow, it would be best to source
all the pumps at one end of the tank to create
a circular, undisturbed ?ow.
For bottom-dwelling rheophilic ?sh
(loaches and some cat?sh) you can go for
either laminar or turbulent ?ow, though
laminar is preferred for most. Aim for a ?ow
of 10 to 20 times the aquarium?s volume
every hour. So, for a 200 l tank, you need a
?ow of 2000 to 4000 lph. That may sound
incredibly high, but even this is considerably
slower than wild ?sh would be used to.
While you can create a circular ?ow for
bottom dwellers using multiple pumps at
STEATOCRANUS ? Blockhead cichlids
Heavyset bottom dwellers that live
over and between rounded stones. Like
moderate to high ?ows.
83
Improve your Fishkeeping
ALAMY
HAPP
HEAL
N
Make a new year?s resolution to improve
your ?shkeeping in 2018. One small change
can make a big difference...
WORDS: DAVE HULSE, TECHNICAL CONSULTANT AT TETRA
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.
84
Many of us start the new year by making a
pledge to change our lives in some way
whether it?s to lose weight, stress less or
clean the house more often. However, for
?shkeepers, getting your aquarium or pond
in the best shape could be the most
rewarding resolution to make. Here are my
top tips for 2018.
Record water chemistry data
Water chemistry parameters change over
time. Carbonate hardness, which balances
the pH levels, declines in all closed
?shkeeping systems, and close monitoring of
ammonia and nitrites gives vital feedback on
the health of the biological ?lter bacteria.
Many ?shkeepers reach for the water test kits
only when problems begin to arise but this is
too late for the ?sh and can result in health
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Health
If your sockets
look like this, sort
them out!
ALAMY
small amounts of food throughout the day
rather than eating full meals. In addition to
storing food, the stomach is also the site of
protein digestion by enzymes. For carnivorous
?sh, taking large, protein-rich meals
infrequently requires their stomach to expand
and accommodate the meal and to
enzymatically digest the protein. Research has
shown feeding tropical community ?shes little
and often leads to more food being digested.
This in turn means less waste leading to less
water pollution.
Help pond plants beat algae
Algae is the scourge of garden ponds but it
can be beaten if attacked early in the growing
season and on several fronts. Algae loves the
increasing day length and warmer water
temperatures. Have a new UV clari?er bulb
ready, clean the quartz sleeve in your UV unit
and add a preventative dose of algaecide. Give
pond plants the best possible start in spring to
help them outcompete algae for the available
nutrients and sunlight. Repotting plants in
new aquatic compost and adding a liquid
fertiliser will allow them to come out of winter
dormancy and into spring in peak condition.
issues. If tested regularly problems can be
nipped in the bud before catastrophe arises,
which is why professional aquarists maintain
water chemistry logs of all their systems.
Although this is a legal requirement in public
aquaria, it?s a great routine for ?shkeepers to
get into, as it will alert you to any changes.
Tetra have developed an app meaning your
smart device can do all this for you. Simply dip
one of the 6 in 1 test strips into the tank or
pond water, take a photo of the strip and let
the device do the rest. The app will interpret
the values for you and most importantly, it will
store the data allowing you to observe the
trends. Easy!
Upgrade to a larger tank
If you have the space and money, upgrading
your aquarium will give you more stable water
chemistry, extra swimming space for your ?sh
and increased aquascaping opportunities.
Don?t always trust the internet
I searched ?treat aquarium whitespot? and the
?rst result told me to ?use aquarium salt at one
Keep an eye on expiry dates
teaspoon per gallon.? So, what?s wrong with
this advice? Salt is effective against protozoal
Food that is past its expiry date will lack
infections, but at a dose much higher than
nutrients and will be unappetising to the ?sh.
speci?ed here. Also, the whitespot parasite
Also, once the freshness seal is broken, the
shows much resistance. The advice made no
decay of these volatile nutrients accelerates,
mention of side effects ? many
especially if the food is stored in a
softwater ?sh are salt intolerant,
warm, damp place. At Tetra, we
and it?s good way to kill off most
can guarantee that unopened
aquarium plants! Finally, no
food will have the speci?ed
reference was made to the
concentration of vitamins,
diagnosis of the disease and what
minerals and types of oils for
the cause of the problem might be.
happy healthy ?sh, if it?s kept in a
A novice ?shkeeper reading that
cool, dry space.
advice is unlikely to successfully
Keep wiring tidy
purge the infection from their tank,
and may make matters far worse.
Pumps, ?lters, heaters, lighting
The internet is a great source of
? the tank may look fantastic but
information but there is rarely any
what?s the wiring like? Overloaded
editorial control, so be critical of
power adaptors can overheat
what you read online. Fact checking
creating a ?re hazard ? check the
and cross referencing is essential. A
power rating of any extension
good ?shkeeping magazine or
cables and multiway adaptors you
are using, and ensure they are not Only buy enough ?sh book, written by experts and
overloaded. Coiling power cables
food to last you six reviewed by other experts puts you
in much safer hands.
look neat, but can also overheat if
months at a time.
Most community ?sh digest
their food more effectively
when fed little and often.
NEIL HEPWORTH
If you want to beat algae in
your pond this summer you?ll
need to start before spring.
the current is sufficient. Use cable tidies and
shorten power cables where possible to keep
wiring neat and organised.
Feed little and often
Most community ?sh lack a stomach in their
alimentary canal meaning they forage for
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
85
TIME TO
STEP OFF THAT
TRE ADMILL
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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.
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.
TROPICAL
Q. What?s wrong with my ?sh?s eyes?
One of my tetras has a problem with its eyes,
which seem to be protruding more than usual.
Could this be pop-eye? If so, what should I do?
C. DEAL, EMAIL
My ?rst port of call here would be Epsom
salt. It?s a mild laxative, which helps with
bloating, but also with things like pop-eye. Use
1-3 teaspoons per 20 l of aquarium water, mixing
it up ?rst in a little warm water in a jug. Add it to
the tank in stages across, say, 20 minutes,
pouring it somewhere near the ?lter outlet so
that it gets evenly mixed across the aquarium.
You can also raise the temperature of the tank by
a degree or two (within the limits of the species
being kept, of course) to speed things up. While
Epsom salt isn?t a miracle cure, it?s quite good at
A
helping otherwise healthy ?sh get themselves
sorted out. Of course, you want to ensure such
?sh are also getting a good diet and plenty of
water changes (adding the appropriate amount
of Epsom salt to each new bucket of water).
Pop-eye is a swelling behind the eyeball that
causes it to push out. As a rule-of-thumb, if a
single eye is pushed out, it?s often an injury, and
the Epsom salt will work nicely. If both eyes are
popped out, there?s a good chance that bacterial
infection or severe environmental stress are to
blame, and antibacterial medications will also
be required.
Pop-eye is rarely lethal in itself, but is a good
sign that something is amiss, and warrants
further investigation.
NEALE MONKS
GEORGE FARMER
is a world-renowned
aquascaper. He
co-founded the UK
Aquatic Plant Society
and now works as a
freelance aquatic
specialist.
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.
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.
PHOTOMAX
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.
Pop-eye is often the result
of bacterial infection or
environmental stress.
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
Expert aquarium care with our digital water test app, download here:
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
87
Fishkeeping Answers
TROPICAL
Q. Can my ?sh recognise me?
to them, but you have to be a bit careful
before saying that it clearly knows who?s
looking after it. If the owner is the person
who turns on the lights, moves carefully
around the tank, or even picks up the food
container, then perhaps that person?s
behaviours are being recognised, rather than
their face.
Justifying the belief that ?sh can?t learn
faces is the fact that their brains lack the
neocortex that allows mammals to perform
the sophisticated processing required to
recognise a face. However, some recent
studies are challenging this view, providing
clearer evidence that some ?sh can recognise
faces. They might not be doing it in the same
way as we do, but are able to do it
nonetheless, perhaps by spotting patterns
rather than actually knowing what a face
should look like. The evidence for this has
come from archer?sh, the brackish-water ?sh
sometimes kept by aquarists that are famous
for their ability to spit at insects above the
I recently conducted a homemade
?experiment? to see if my ?sh could tell me
apart from the rest of my family. They
didn?t do what I thought they would, as
they reacted in the same way to every
member of my family. Can aquarium ?sh
such as gouramis recognise faces?
FINN MURRAY, EMAIL
The ability of ?sh to learn faces has
been discussed many times, even in
scienti?c literature. Konrad Lorenz was
probably the ?rst person to really document
in depth the complex behaviours of
aquarium ?sh. He kept and studied species
such as cichlids, and if you get the chance
to read his popular account of animal
behaviour, King Solomon?s Ring, you?ll
probably come across a few interesting
behaviours that you?ve witnessed yourself.
That said, the general consensus among
animal behaviour experts has been that,
while many ?sh clearly learn to recognise
human beings as potential sources of food,
whether they can tell one person apart from
another is more open to question. Even if we
all look the same to them, the simple fact
that a wild-caught ?sh can overcome its fear
of a big hulking monster like us is pretty
impressive, and demonstrates that many
?sh are much smarter than people think,
being able to adapt their behaviours to the
peculiar conditions of aquarium life. Things
are a bit different when we?re talking about
farmed ?sh though, particularly those
species, like gold?sh, that have been as
thoroughly domesticated as cats and dogs.
To a gold?sh, humans are a normal part of
their world, and begging for food is as
natural to them as squirrels climbing trees
to ?nd nuts. Some gold?sh owners say that
their ?sh ignores other people but responds
A
waterline, thereby knocking their prey into
the water and getting at food that other ?sh
can?t reach. Archers are certainly smart ?sh,
accounting for refraction before they spit ?
which sounds more like a physics A-level
question than something a ?sh would do!
Scienti?c experiments have also shown
archer?sh learn that if spitting at photos of
certain faces gets them a reward, they?ll
spit at the right face even when presented
with a second face of similar size, colour
and brightness.
It?s impressive stuff, and difficult to explain
given the relatively simple structure of the
?sh brain when compared with ours. The sort
of experiment you?re doing at home is ?citizen
science? of the best sort, collecting data that
will help scientists to build up the big picture.
What I suggest you focus on is controlling
the other variables, so that you perform
what?s called a ?fair test?. In other words, try
to keep everything the same except the
variable you?re changing ? the food-giver.
These snakeheads certainly
seem to be reacting to the
presence of their owner...
LETTER OF THE MONTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
Finn Murray 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
88
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
POND
Gold?sh will often actively
?beg? for food when a
human approaches.
Q. How big
should I make
my vegetable
?lter?
SHUTTERSTOCK
I have a 4,000 gal garden pond which is
?ltered through a Nexus 210 ?lter, and
has a skimmer running to a Kockney
Koi three bay and vortex ?lter box.
The pond contains a mixture of Koi
and gold?sh.
I would like to build a vegetable ?lter
to run off the other ?lters but am not
sure how big I would have to make this
in order for it to be bene?cial to the
water quality. Please could you offer
some advice?
Have everyone move at the same speed,
hold their faces close to the tank for the
same amount of time and at the same
distance, maybe even put on a dressing
gown or something so you all look like
you?re wearing the same thing. The only
thing you change is who gives them food. I
guess you?d need to do this for a while, at
least a week or two, and then see what
happens. Basically, what you?re doing is
changing just a single variable ? who offers
food ? and making sure the ?sh have a
chance to learn who?s who. Crucially, it
avoids the problem mentioned earlier that
the ?sh might be learning about the
behaviour of the food-giver rather than his
or her face.
It may well be that face-recognition is
something that occurs patchily in the group
of animals we call ?sh, some of them having
the skill, and some of them not. So, persist
with your experiment, and if you can, let us
know how things turn out!
NEALE MONKS
DAVE FLOWERS, EMAIL
The size of the vegetable ?lter you
build is entirely up to you. It looks as
though you have the biological ?ltration
side of things already taken care of, so
I?m guessing that you?re considering the
addition of a vegetable ?lter to mop up
nitrates and phosphates and help
naturally to ?ght off algae..?
I?d consider anything upwards of
60cm/24in square (and that?s planted)
as a decent sized vegetable ?lter, but if
you have sufficient space you could
go for something of 90cm/36in square
or larger.
If it makes things easier and you have
room, one of the black preformed pond
vats at 6 x 4ft would make a great
vegetable ?lter as well as increasing your
pond volume slightly.
The key with a vegetable ?lter is to
plant it with fast-growing oxygenators,
marginal and ?oating plants. Then
remove the excess plant growth to
permanently remove all those nutrients
that the plants have locked inside them.
This will also encourage lots of new
plant growth, resulting in more
nutrient uptake.
A
JEREMY GAY
Julidochrom
is have bee
n shown
to recognis
e the faces
of their
own family
members.
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www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
A vegetable ?lter will
help deal with nitrates
and phosphates.
Tetra UK
89
Fishkeeping Answers
Fuzzy dwarf lion?sh are
quite short-lived, but
have a high fecundity.
Q. Can I keep some mini lions?
Is it possible to keep Fuzzy dwarf lion?sh
in pairs in an aquarium? If so, is there
anything I need to bear in mind? How do I
sex them and what size of tank would be
preferable?
MIKE SCOTT, EMAIL
Lion?sh might not be the ?rst species
we think of when considering marine
?sh pairs for the aquarium, but they can and
do spawn in captivity, so keeping a pair of
Fuzzy dwarf lion?sh, Dendrochirus
brachypterus, is perfectly possible.
The challenge is to obtain a pair, and due
to the lack of obvious external
characteristics in the smaller individuals
more commonly imported for the hobby,
this invariably involves acquiring two or
three and growing them on together in the
hope that you have at least one male and
one female. Even when pairs are achieved
they spend little time together, apart from
during courtship and spawning.
These are quite short-lived lion?sh, with
around three years being the average.
However, their short lifespans are offset by a
high fecundity, which is achieved by
specialisations to the ovaries of the f
emale, enabling her to be readying another
batch of eggs when one is ready for
imminent release. So, if you can get a pair,
expect regular production of gelatinous
egg masses.
A tank of around 200 l could easily house
a pair of these ?sh in the long-term, as they
A
are not very active unless it?s feeding time.
This isn?t an aggressive species towards
tank mates, but males may be intolerant of
same-sex individuals in the same aquarium,
particularly if the tank is relatively small. The
greatest issue is their ability to swallow tank
mates, notably ?sh and shrimp, up to half
their own size or more. Keeping them well fed
reduces this risk substantially.
The Fuzzy dwarf lion?sh has venomous
spines, but these should not cause too many
issues unless you happen to be allergic to
the venom. It hurts, but it?s bee-sting levels
of pain ? and in those instances where it
does occur, it?s usually the aquarist who?s to
blame. TRISTAN LOUGHER
Males may be intolerant
of same-sex individuals
in the aquarium.
SHUTTERSTOCK
ALAMY
MARINE
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
90
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
SHUTTERSTOCK
Q. How do I make rainwater safe?
Most rainwater bene?ts
from the addition of
buffering chemicals.
A few months ago I decided to have a shot at breeding my ?sh.
Unfortunately, after using rainwater to replace the water I?d
removed, I suffered a series of deaths. I?ve done many water
changes over the intervening weeks to bring everything back to
safe levels, but it has taken a while. How do I detoxify rainwater to
use in aquaria so this doesn?t occur again?
Your guttering should
be clear of decaying
leaves and other debris.
NATHANIEL BULLOCK, EMAIL
Rainwater is a viable substitute for reverse-osmosis or
demineralised water, but it isn?t quite pure water. It certainly
shouldn?t be used ?as is? for any aquarium. There are two issues to
consider. The ?rst is that rainwater (or RO, or demineralised water)
contains no buffering chemicals. This means the background
acidi?cation that occurs in most aquaria will quickly cause the pH of
the system to plummet. Normally aquarists will add some sort of
buffer (often called Discus Salts) to the water to prevent this. By
adding the buffer you create something more akin to the soft, acidic
water that you?d ?nd in the Amazon or Congo.
Alternatively, if you only need moderately soft water (say, around
10?dH, pH 7.5) then mixing rainwater with hard, alkaline tap water at
a ratio of around 50:50 should create those sorts of water conditions
without any additional expense. Simply by halving the amount of
general and carbonate hardness in the bucket you?ve created water
that?s soft enough for nominally soft-water community ?sh to thrive
and for the more adaptable of them to happily breed.
The second issue with rainwater is that it can pick up toxic
chemicals at various stages. Airborne pollution can be a problem if
you live in an urban or industrial area.
Chemicals used to treat
certain types of roo?ng can
be another source of trouble,
primarily ?at roofs and other
types where sealants of
various kinds need to be
used to keep the roof
watertight. Ordinary slate
and brick roofs should be
?ne though.
Some plant leaves contain
poisons, but there?s also the
risk that any herbicides used
in the garden end up in the
rainwater, should leaves be
blown into the gutters and
then get washed into the
Ensure your water butt is
water butt.
drinking water safe ? and
NEALE MONKS
SHUTTERSTOCK
A
Rainwater dos and don?ts
DO use a drinking water-safe water butt.
DON?T collect water from any roofs other than those
incorporating non-toxic roo?ng materials ? slates and brick
tiles being the obvious examples.
DO keep your guttering clean, and empty out the butt
regularly. The less decaying muck in the system, the better!
SHUTTERSTOCK
DO ?lter the water through activated carbon to remove any
remaining chemicals in the rainwater. Get an internal
canister ?lter, load it with carbon, and leave it running in a
large covered bucket of rainwater before use. A ?lter rated at
480 lph (like the Eheim Aquaball 60) will ?turn the water
over? in a ?ve-gal bucket about 21 times in an hour. That
should provide ample opportunity for fresh carbon to work
its magic!
DO add water conditioner to all new water, even if half or
more of it is rainwater. Good quality water conditioners will
not only neutralise ammonia (which will be produced by
decaying leaves or even dead animals in the water butt) but
also render heavy metals safe too, thereby adding another
level of protection.
DON?T use rainwater ?as is?. If you prefer not to mix it with
tap water, some sort of Discus buffer will be necessary,
simply to provide the stable pH necessary for healthy ?sh.
clean it out regularly.
Expert aquarium care with our digital water test app, download here:
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
91
Fishkeeping Answers
TROPICAL
NEIL HEPWORTH
Q. Why are my Dwarf
gourami dying?
My 170 l tank was set up at the beginning of
September. It has a gravel substrate, rocks,
bogwood and some plants at the back. I am
running it at 25癈, 7.2?7.6pH, a hardness of
about 8癏 and nitrate and other parameters
all in acceptable regions. I change 10% of
the water weekly.
I introduced both blue and red Dwarf
gouramis. They came from different
suppliers ? the blues about two weeks
after the tank was set up and the reds in the
middle of October. Although they seemed
happy for the ?rst few weeks, the blues
started to decline and all of them died over
a six-week period.
The reds seem ?ne at the moment but I?m
worried that something in the environment
caused the ?rst group of blues to die.
Tank mates are a small Angel, ?ve Golden
barbs, six Cherry barbs, 12 Neon, eight
Emperor tetras, ?ve corys and a 15cm/6in
Sail?n plec. Can you please advise?
TIM JENKINSON, EMAIL
You don?t mention how many Dwarf
gourami you added, but it sounds as
though you introduced several of each
variety. Despite their size, Dwarf gourami,
A
Trichogaster lalius, can be quite aggressive
to one another, especially the males, and are
usually best kept as mixed sex pairs. You
could have a dominant red male that has
harassed the blues enough to cause them to
either become ill or fail to compete for
sufficient food.
Another possibility is ?Dwarf gourami
Iridovirus?, a rather nasty viral infection that
has decimated stocks of these ?sh and made
them a less straightforward community
choice than they used to be. Some seem to
have a natural immunity to this disease and
it may be that the blue variants didn?t have
this immunity but the red ones do.
A ?nal thing worth mentioning is your stock
level, which is high for a 170 l tank, especially
when the adult sizes of some of your ?sh are
taken into account. The Sail?n plec,
Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps, can grow to
45cm, so you will need to rehome it unless
you are considering a much larger tank.
This high a stock level in a relatively new
tank could mean your ?lter is struggling to
cope, which may be another contributing
factor to the dead gouramis. They are also a
relatively shy, subdued species and might be
being stressed by the sheer number of tank
mates, especially the more boisterous ones.
My advice would be to closely monitor your
water and to carry out larger water changes
of 25% weekly if possible. Don?t add any
more ?sh and keep a close eye on those you
do have, particularly the gourami.
BOB MEHEN
NEIL HEPWORTH
Despite their small size,
male Dwarf gourami can be
aggressive to one another.
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
Tank cycling is far easier if
you already have a mature
?lter or three...
Q. What is the safest way
to cycle a tank quickly?
NEIL HEPWORTH
I would imagine that many people who read your magazine are
serious ?shkeepers who often need to s
such, it would be good to get a clear ide
cycle a tank quickly. There are so many p
so much con?icting information out the
the fastest and safest way to cycle a tan
RICHARD, EMAIL
There are many ways to cycle a tank
take differing amounts of time. This
number of factors, aside from the source
bacteria; things like water chemistry and
play a critical role.
Adding mature media from another tan
the best and quickest ways of achieving a
If you have enough media (be careful not
much or you may cause a ?mini-cycle? in t
mature tank) then there is no reason why
stock sensibly small numbers of ?sh almo
immediately. If you can?t take the actual m
squeezing some mature foam media into
up tank and allowing the ?lter to clear thi
get the bacterial population established r
quickly. You will need to add an ammonia
feed this bacteria and get things balanced
add the ?rst ?sh, which may take anythin
week to a month.
A
TROPICAL
Q. What can I keep
with these tetras?
ucts are increasingly effective (unlike some of
ancestors) and many claim to allow instant
nstructions are followed correctly.
from a mature tank will have little effect by
will contain very little of the bacteria required
Adding ?sh food to an empty tank will
to cycle a tank; the bene?cial bacteria will ?nd
he tank in due course and multiply using the
od for sustenance.
this classic method of ?shless cycling then
controllable, measured source of ammonia such
mmonia solution or Waterlife ?Biomature? is
ethods will need careful, close monitoring with
ke sure that they are progressing as expected,
nstant? of them needing close scrutiny as
at risk should anything go wrong.
Black widow tetras
are a robust and
hardy species.
I have a 35 l planted aquarium housing two Black widow
tetras. Please could you tell me what other ?sh I could add to
this set-up?
The Black widow tetra, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, is a
hardy, generally peaceful, chunky tetra species that grows
to around 6cm and is ideal for newcomers or those wanting
something more robust than smaller species such as Cardinals
or Neons. Like so many tetra species, they do best when kept in
numbers ? ideally six at the very least ? and unfortunately,
here is where you have a problem. Your tank is simply too small
for a group of this size; something at least double your tank?s
volume with appropriate dimensions to allow these active ?sh
to move around is required.
My advice would be if, at all possible, to rehome the two
tetras (many shops will be happy to do this if they are healthy)
and to re-stock the tank with something more size-appropriate.
If you like tetras then have a look at the Ember tetra,
Hyphessobrycon amandae, a truly tiny species which at no
more than 2cm would easily allow you to stock a nice group of
ten or so in your tank.
NEIL HEPWORTH
JOHN COOPER, EMAIL
A
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NEIL HEPWORTH
Ember tetras can be
stocked in small tanks.
Tetra UK
93
Fishkeeping Answers
Prior planning makes
upsizing reef tanks a
painless experience.
NEIL HEPWORTH
MARINE
Q. How do I move my reef tank?
I have a 100 l reef tank with corals, ?sh, crabs, shrimp and live rock.
I?m upsizing the tank to a 200 l version with more live rock, an
oversized skimmer and a Fluval 406. Are there any pitfalls I should
be aware of to ensure a stress-free move for the inhabitants?
PETER ALKER, EMAIL
This should be a very straightforward operation; the key is
planning everything out in advance. It?s going to be a lot easier
if you can set the new tank up in a different spot to the original; if
you?re putting the new tank in the same place, you?ll have a bit more
juggling to do, and the livestock will need to be placed in suitable
containers while everything is shifted around. In any case, get plenty
of buckets, hoses, nets and all the other equipment you?ll need to
hand, and have as much salt water mixed up in advance as possible.
If the new tank is already in place, get this
?lled and as much of the equipment installed
and working as possible. If not, just get
everything ready so you can set it up with the
minimum of fuss.
Begin stripping the old tank down by ?rst
removing the ?sh and corals. These should be
kept in buckets, food-safe plastic containers or
polystyrene ?sh boxes with aeration. Keep the
containers covered to reduce stress and prevent
the ?sh from jumping. Next, start taking out the
live rock; for a brief period, this can be simply
kept damp, but again, it?s possible to maintain
it in water if strong aeration is provided ? it?s
your call.
Remove the sand either by syphoning or
netting it out of the old tank. This can be kept
damp in a bucket. If you?re moving the new tank
into the old one?s position, you can do this and
?ll it with mature, preheated saltwater and
connect the equipment.
NEIL HEPWORTH
A
Either way, you?re now in a position to stock the new system. Check
the temperature and salinity ? try to match these to the original tank
water to minimise the acclimation time. Begin by adding the live rock,
then the sand; it?s best to place the rock ?rst, as this is more stable on
the aquarium?s base than placing it on top of sand.
The water may become a little cloudy while you?re setting up, so
allow the tank to settle for a short while. Acclimate the livestock
brie?y; if you?ve matched the salinity and temperature to within
a part per thousand or so, and a couple of degrees, just 10?15
minutes with acclimation with the new system water should be
perfectly adequate.
Finally, keep the lights off for the ?rst few hours to minimise stress
to the livestock.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
Place the rock on the
base of the tank before
adding the sand. This will
make it more stable.
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
94
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
Q. What happened to my Neon?
The fading colours on the Neon tetra sounds like textbook
?Neon tetra disease?, although in all fairness, this name may well
apply to a Columnaris-like bacterial infection as often as it does the
?true? Neon tetra disease parasite, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis. In
either case, there?s no treatment, and euthanasia is generally the
best option.
Let?s tackle the true version of the disease ?rst. The classic
symptoms are loss of colour, withdrawal from the school, weakness,
and eventually death. While associated with Neons and other small
tetras in particular, a wide range of other ?sh have been reported to
occasionally suffer from it, including danios and angel?sh. Given that
A
Pleistopho
is highly c
want to pr
gy
q
g
evidence that transmission can occur via cannibalism, and a dead or
dying ?sh in your aquarium will certainly be viewed as a potential
meal by the other ?sh. Hence removal and euthanasia is best.
The ?false? version of the disease is believed to be caused by the
same bacterium species, Flavobacterium columnare, implicated in
the well-known disease misleadingly called Mouth fungus (or
Columnaris). There are medications available for treating Mouth
fungus, but the problem here is that by the time the Neon exhibits
symptoms it is already so riddled with the bacterium that its internal
organs are unlikely to respond well to standard medications.
Healthy ?sh in good environmental conditions generally resist
Columnaris without too much trouble, so let?s recap what Neons
need in order to thrive. They?re low-end tropical ?sh, so something
between 22?25癈 suits them best. A low hardness of 1?10癏 is ideal,
though slightly harder water might be tolerated without problems.
Keep pH in the range of 6?7.5 if possible. Neons are shy, gentle ?sh
and want a quiet, shady tank with similar-sized tank mates. The
bigger the group, the better your chances of success. But be ruthless
about removing sickly individuals, and never buy Neons from tanks
containing specimens displaying signs of Neon tetra disease.
NEALE MONKS
PHOTOMA
I have a 100 l freshwater tank, stocked with Neon tetras, Endlers
and two Nerite snails, and planted with Java fern and Anubias.
Water parameters are ?ne, and until the other day I?d had no
deaths since setting up the tank in February.
Over the course of a week, one of my eight Neons had started to
lose colour, and stopped shoaling with the others. I also noticed it
was not breathing normally. The tetra was feeding, but that was its
only normal behaviour ? for the last two days it was hanging out
at the top of the tank with the Endlers. I woke up this morning and
it was nowhere to be found. I think it may have died, before being
eaten by tank mates. What do you think happened?
ALEXANDER MARCOS, EMAIL
Neons show
loss should ing colour
be removed
.
PHOTOMAX
Neons thrive best in
large groups.
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Tetra UK
95
Buyer?s guide
The BIG
air pump test
We compare 32 aquarium air pumps over a range
of tank sizes, with some surprising results?
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GABOR HORVATH
E
very ?shkeeper should own an
airpump. These practical and often
inexpensive bits of kit can do far more
than just run an airstone or open and
close that treasure chest ? they could save the
lives of your ?sh in an emergency.
While air isn?t something we necessarily
associate with ?sh, they do need oxygen. Although
some of them are able to take it directly from the
atmosphere, the majority rely on their gills to
extract dissolved oxygen from the surrounding
water. Water?s maximum O2 ?storage capacity?
depends on the temperature ? cold water can
hold more of this valuable gas.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Increasing the oxygen
96
In aquarium conditions the oxygen level is usually
well below the saturation point, as the various
biological and chemical processes are
continuously consuming it. Plants can replenish
some of the oxygen, but most of it comes from the
atmosphere, through the surface of the water. It?s
generally advised to create some sort of surface
agitation to increase the contact area between air
and water, to improve the efficiency of the above
process. It?s worth mentioning that the same
movement helps with the removal of CO2 as well
? very useful in the general aquarium, but
unwanted in a plant-heavy aquascape.
What if more dissolved oxygen is needed, but the
surface area of the water in your tank can?t be
increased any further? Well, you still can enlarge
the ?contact area? by pumping air into the water to
create bubbles. This has two advantages. Firstly,
each of those tiny pearls has their own surface
area upon which ? while they are rising in the
tank ? a level of oxygen exchange takes place.
Secondly, the rising bubbles cause surface
agitation, which in turn increases the contact area
between water and atmosphere. Even a small air
stone can signi?cantly increase the amount of
dissolved oxygen and prove extremely helpful in
emergency situations such as poisoning, disease
treatments or during heatwaves. Safe to say, every
aquarist should have at least one air pump on
standby.
Besides simply aerating the water, air pumps can
ful?l a series of other important roles, and needn?t
just be left on the bench awaiting their turn. They
can run sponge ?lters and other air-driven
devices, including protein skimmers. They can be
used to create soft currents to prevent dead spots;
to operate Artemia-hatcheries; to create
decorative air curtain effects; or even to open and
close that plastic treasure chest or clam!
It isn?t complicated to build a complete airsupply system, one which is easily expandable and
safe to use, with no electric cables dangling down.
Plus, the initial costs are low ? all you need is
the right-sized pump, a central air pipe with
taps, and a few metres of air line to reach
every aquarium.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
97
The BIG
airpump test
IR PUMP DOS AND DON?TS
hoos ng your pump
If you don?t have a ?sh house
(yet) you can still make good use
of an air pump. Just make sure
you choose one that?s the right
size for your needs.
OBased on my own experiments,
for gentle aeration and moderate
currents you would need to plan
for around 40?120 l of air, per
hour, per air stone, depending on
the size of your tank. With a
single bubbler running for
decoration or moderate aeration
purposes in a small (up to 50 l)
tank, a pump of 40?80 lph
capacity will suffice.
OFor aquariums up to 100 l you
would need 100?200 lph pumps.
If you have even bigger tanks, use
either a bigger air stone or
several爏maller ones.
OShould you plan to add an
air-driven ?lter, the situation gets
more complicated. Based on my
own tests a double sponge ?lter
needs 50?85 lph to operate
efficiently, reaching the maximum
?ow rate at the top end of that
range. Jet-lift requires lots of air,
so if you run one or more of those,
you really need a bee?er pump.
My DIY version needs 90?120 lph
for optimal operation, but pushes
through twice as much water as
the regular air-powered ?lter.
OOnce you have calculated the
quantity of air needed, add at
least 30% (there is always some
loss at the valves, junctions or air
stones) and you will have the
right-sized pump.
OIf you have several tanks, it?s
usually more economical to run
one or two powerful pumps
instead of numerous smaller
ones. In my ?sh house I use two
slightly oversized air pumps
connected to one system. Should
one fail, the other would be able
to operate the ?lters (at a lower
?ow rate) until the fault is�xed.
DON?T use the air pump inside the ?sh tank. They are not meant
o be submerged!
DO place the air pump above the water level to avoid water
ack?ow, which may occur in the case of an electricity shortage. If
ou have no other choice, then at least use a one-way ?ow valve to
revent accidents.
DO keep a spare diaphragm set to hand. They have a habit of
iling when the shops are closed, so buying a few in advance can
e a lifesaver... quite literally!
DO have a smaller air pump on standby. You never know when
ou might need it. Think about medication, quarantine or
oisoning.
DO get a slightly bigger air pump than you think you may need.
?s good to have some extra air sometimes (well, always).
O DON?T switch off the air pumps at night, especially if you are
running air-driven ?lters. By doing so you might kill the useful
bacteria in your ?lter media.
O DO replace the air stones regularly. They get clogged-up over
time, which negatively affects their performance.
O DON?T throw away your air pump if the performance drops
signi?cantly. Often it?s only the diaphragm or the valve that needs
replacing ? which is much cheaper than buying a new pump!
OYou should also take into
consideration the depth of
water to which the air has to be
pumped. The deeper you go,
the lower the amount of air the
pump can deliver, as it needs to
?ght against the pressure of the
water column. Remember that
the maximum air?ow indicated
on the box is usually measured
at the top of the water column.
Sometimes the packaging will
tell you the maximum depth as
well, but this is not related to
the maximum capacity in any
way at all
Other manufacturers give the
maximum pressure instead,
indicated in MPa, mbar or psi.
It?s easy to calculate the
maximum depth from this
?gure, provided you know that
0.01MPa = 100mbar = 1.45psi is
needed to push the air down to
1m under the surface. Therefore,
a device with a 125mbar
maximum pressure can reach
1.25m depth. Most of the pumps
can cope with tanks of average
height relatively easily, but
choose wisely if you want to go
deeper than 50cm.
TOP TIP
98
to the 150 l/min ?hurrica
makers? that are able to
dozens of aquariums.
Other types of pump include those based on air
compression. If you?ve ever had a ?at tyre on your
bike then you?ll be familiar with a bicycle pump. By
moving the lever up and down the small piston in
the cylinder presses the air out through the valve.
Air compressor pumps work in a very similar way.
They are usually highly efficient devices, capable of
churning out large volumes ? often exceeding 100
l/minute of air. These pumps are frequently used in
Koi ponds or aquaculture (and in ?sh houses) due
to their relatively low cost and compact size, but for
the average home aquarium they would be overkill
and way too noisy.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Types of air pump
The pumps featured in this review are diaphragm
pumps. These utilise the theory behind the
operation of toilet pumps. However, instead of dirty
water, they push out air through a one-way valve by
resonating one or more rubber ?bells? or
membranes. As there?s not much friction ? the
diaphragm is moved electromagnetically ? the
only noise comes from the humming of the
magnetic coils and the resonance of the ?exible
plastic parts. They are affordable and require
almost no maintenance (except for regular cleaning
of any air intake ?lters), so it?s no surprise that they
are so popular. Diaphragm pumps come in several
sizes and con?gurations, from tiny, single-outlet 25
l/hour ?whisperers?, suitable for nano tanks, right up
Check the T-junctions
and air valves in your
system regularly, especially
when using transparent
air lines. They can become
clogged, sometimes
completely blocking
the air?ow.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
HOW THE AIRPUMPS WERE TESTED
hose ? connected to a pump
? under the opening.
When the decreasing water
level ? pushed out by the
pumped-in air ? reached the
top mark, I started my
stopwatch. When the water
level reached the one-litre mark,
I noted the time. From this it
was a simple calculation to
arrive at the air output, in litres
per hour.
The test worked well
Outputs were
(the measured amount
measured at
was very close to the
several depths.
?gure indicated on the
box), so I prepared a
more advanced test to
measure the outputs at
different depths.
I cut off a piece of
drainpipe which was 3cm
shorter than the water
depth in the butt. This
ensured that the top was
submerged, allowing me
to move the upside-down
measuring bottle above it
without issue.
Four 5mm diameter
holes were drilled at 2cm,
22cm, 47cm and 72cm
intervals from the top.
I cut the top off a plastic bottle
and poured in some water. I
marked the water level, topped it
up with exactly one litre of water
and made another mark.
I ?lled up the measuring bottle
and lifted it out upside down,
until only a small part of the
neck remained submerged.
Then, while holding it with one
hand, I moved the end of the air
A plastic bottle was used
to gauge the basic air
output of the pumps.
Then I connected four equal
lengths of air hose to the pipe
by pushing them through
the holes.
The bottom end was weighted
down so that it stood vertically
in the water. The air pumps were
then connected to the system
and their performances tested at
the different depths.
The timing was repeated three
times at every level and an
average result taken.
For the tests of the dual
output pumps, four more holes
were drilled at the same depths
as the others, and the airline
lengths were also the same. In
their case the combined
output of the two outlets is
indicated in the comparison
table overleaf.
BEST BUYS
Tanks up to 180 l
Tanks from 200?400 l
Tanks over 400 l
Newa Wind NW22
Fluval Q series pumps
Tetra APS 400
Tanks up to 60 l
Tanks up to 25 l
Tanks up to 100 l
Tetra APS 50
AllPondSolutions AP-Nano
AquaEl Miniboost
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
99
The BIG
airpump test
THE RESULTS
Some of the pumps performed way below their expected level, while
others exceeded it by quite a margin. Interestingly, the
underperformance mainly occurred with the larger, 200-500 lph
output pumps of several brands. This seems to support the
experiences of many of my ?shkeeping friends; when it comes to air
pumps, there can be signi?cant discrepancies between batches.
O The Newa Wind pumps provide good output for very low electricity
consumption. The actual measured air?ow of the ?rst three of the family
was quite close to or even above the nominal value, but the performance
of the NW3 was highly disappointing. This could be a one-off stumble,
and on the whole these pumps were good, especially the NW22, which
was my favourite in the range.
O All three Interpet air pumps
tested were designed for nano or
small tanks, so don?t expect too
much from them. They are good for
decorative bubbles, but the
smallest of the line-up may
struggle with just one air stone.
The APMini would be my pick
of the bunch.
O The other Italian brand in the test
caused no surprises. The SICCE
pumps delivered a steady ?ow of air.
These were solid performers, so
de?nitely worthy of consideration.
O The AllPond Solutions
APS-Nano, as the name suggests, is
another pump for tiny tanks, with a
measured 27 lph output. This pump
is extremely quiet, so could be used
for that small tank next to your bed.
O The Aqua One Air O2
Pods catch the eye with their
unique design. They look like
Bluetooth speakers, so would
easily blend into the
contemporary environment.
Luckily, they?re quiet as well,
so won?t interfere with your
music. A quirky air pump with
a solid performance.
O The AquaEl Miniboost really
punches above its weight, producing a
surprisingly large amount of air from
extremely low electricity usage. Ideal
for moderately-sized tanks.
O The measured performance
of the EHEIM Air Pump 100 was
slightly below the expected level,
especially considering the
relatively high wattage it uses.
O The smallest AquaNova product
? the NA-100 ? was the weakest
performer in the test, producing only
20% of the expected output. The ?ow
control on the largest NA-450 didn?t
work at all. The NA-200 is the safest
bet of this trio, and a good budget buy
for tanks of up to 150 l.
O On testing the SuperFish Air-Flow1,
I had to check twice to ensure I?d read the
stopwatch right ? but this pump really
did produce 60% more air than expected.
This performance and the included free
diaphragm makes it excellent value for
money. Highly recommended.
O The Aqua Air pumps from
Maidenhead Aquatics could be the
twin brothers of the above pump
? they even come with the same
branded spare diaphragms. So, no
wonder the performance was also
almost identical. An affordable and
wise choice for those on a budget.
O One of the biggest surprises of the
test was the poor performance of the
larger JBL ProSilent air pumps. While
the small a50 was right on the money,
the a200 and a400 really disappointed
with their low outputs. They look
beautiful though?
O With the futuristic-looking Tetra APS
range, the APS 150 and APS 300 pumps were
slightly off the scale, while the results of the
APS 100 and APS 400 were on a par with, or
slightly above, the competitors. The star of
the line-up is the APS 50, the best
performing 50 lph pump here by a mile.
100
O The Fluval Q Series pumps,
produced huge amounts of air
and quite literally blew away
most of the competition. They
may not be the smallest or the
most economical in terms of
electricity consumption, but
these are de?nitely the ones to
buy if you need reliable and
constant power.
Contacts
O Tetra: tetra-?sh.com
O Fluval: uk.hagen.com
O All Pond Solutions:
allpondsolutions.co.uk
O Aqua Nova: novaeuro.com
O Maidenhead Aquatics:
?shkeeper.co.uk
O Eheim: eheim.com
O Super?sh: aquadistri.com
O Interpet: interpet.co.uk
O Newa: newa.it/en/
O Sicce: sicce.com
O Aquael: aquael.pol/en/
O JBL: jbl.de/en/
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
HOW THE PUMPS COMPARED
* Please note that the Fluval factory maximum ?ow ?gures are measured at 45cm depth.
PUMP
FACTORY
MAX. LPH
5cm
25cm
50cm
75cm
MEASURED AT
5CM/NOMINAL
EXTRAS
WATTAGE
PRICE
RRP
AllPond Solutions
APS-Nano
27
24
19
15
10
88%
Free air hose and
air stone
0.9W
�.00
Interpet NeoAir
45
35
27
18
9
78%
1.5W
�.99
Tetra APS 50
50
85
76
69
58
171%
Free control valve
2W
�.90
JBL ProSilent a50
50
56
47
42
32
112%
Free air hose and
air stone
3W
�.79
Interpet APMini
60
68
60
50
43
113%
SICCE Airlight 1000
60
56
45
26
8
93%
Interpet AVMini
75
48
43
42
39
63%
Free air hose
and air stone
Newa Wind NW1
90
85
61
41
18
95%
Free air hose
and air stone
2W
�.99
Aqua Air air-pump 1
96
161
146
109
81
167%
Spare diaphragm
2W
�.99
SuperFish Air-Flow1
96
156
133
113
92
162%
Spare diaphragms
�
2W
�.99
EHEIM Air Pump 100
100
92
80
64
56
92%
3.5W
�.00
AquaNova NA-100
100
24
20
12
7
24%
2.5W
�.99
Tetra APS 100
100
94
85
79
68
94%
2.4W
�.05
AquaEl Miniboost
100
119
99
83
63
119%
1.8W
�99
Aqua One Air O2 Pod
100
100
94
84
64
51
94%
Free air hose
2.5
�.99
Newa Wind NW2
110
108
99
82
65
99%
Free air hose
and air stone
2W
�.99
Fluval Q0.5
120*
184
179
173
167
144%*
4.5W
�.44
Tetra APS 150
150
105
102
96
85
70%
3.1W
�.65
AquaNova NA-200
200
186
164
145
89
93%
2.7W
�.49
Newa Wind NW22
200
238
202
164
133
119%
Free air hose
and air stone
2.5W
�.77
Newa Wind NW3
200
164
156
143
118
82%
Free air hose
and air stone
3.5W
�.99
SICCE Airlight 3300
200
224
188
164
138
112%
4W
�.99
JBL ProSilent a200
200
75
68
60
53
38%
Free air hose
and air stone
3.4W
�.45
Fluval Q2
216*
313
281
245
195
113%*
Repair kit �-15
4.5W
�.70
Fluval Q1
240*
275
267
254
243
106%*
4.5W
�.29
Aqua Air air-pump 2
240
249
198
154
121
104%
Spare diaphragms
4W
�.99
Aqua One Air O2 Pod
240
240
214
212
183
148
89%
Tetra APS 300
300
259
248
228
222
86%
Free control valves
4.5W
�.60
AquaNova NA-450
400
222
184
155
140
56%
3.8W
�.99
Tetra APS 400
400
383
367
340
292
96%
Free control valves
Spares kit: �9
4.5W
�.00
JBL ProSilent a400
400
197
177
151
125
49%
Free air hose
and air stone
5.5W
�.95
Aqua Air air-pump 4
600
506
394
307
230
84%
Spare diaphragms
8W
�.99
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
�.99
1.8W
Free control valve
Free control valve
�.99
�.49
101
PFKNewGear
Nathan Hill reviews the latest ?shkeeping products.
Seneye Magnetic Holder Pro
I love reviews where I can be brief. Pretty much everything you
need to know about this Seneye holding device is right up there in
the name.
What you need to know:
O It?s actually really smart.
O It?ll hold through glass up to 16mm with ease.
O Makes your tank look 70% more futuristic.
O Considerably less annoying than the sucker version ?
I used to love coming in to the room and seeing my Seneye
swinging about in the water, like a bear?s arm ?shing
for salmon.
O Seneye slips in and out perfectly.
O Not the cheapest thing out there.
At �.99, this is a product that?s
probably pitched at the more image
conscious reefkeeper or planted tank
aquascaper, but if looks are your thing, then
get involved.
I?d probably go the extra mile and keep
cleaning it of any encrusting algae in a reef
aquarium, but that?s just me.
Price: �.99 (Seneye device not included).
More info: seneye.com
Zoo Med Floating Betta Log
Zoo Med is de?nitely taking a lead in weird products. A while
back I reviewed the Zoo Med Leaf Hammock, which, while
appearing to be quirky-on-the-brink-of-bonkers, turns out to be
a massively selling great product. Now it?s the turn of a log.
The ?rst thing ? the only thing, perhaps ? that marks this out
from any other resin decor you might see on sale is that it ?oats.
Usually the exact opposite of what we want our decor to do, this
rounded, brown and alarmingly unconvincing hoop of ?wood?
bobs about on the surface.
Thing is, Betta LOVE these things. Well, Betta splendens
males do, at least. I can?t vouch for other species.
Much in the same way that cats can?t help
themselves from climbing in to boxes
wherever they see them, give a Fighting
?sh male something to claim as a
territory near the surface, and he?ll
take it. If you think about it, it makes
sense. An obligatory air-breathing
?sh, which feeds from the surface,
breeds at the surface, and spends
most of its life at the surface is
going to bene?t from shelter at?
the surface.
To stop the thing careening
around the tank like a raft
down whitewater rapids, you
want to have very little surface
movement or ?ow in your tank.
102
If you happen to have a community tank and ?ow is unavoidable,
then maybe use a little thread to anchor it to something.
To top it all off, there?s even a hole in the top of this thing, so the
Betta needn?t even leave the log to breathe. Moreover, he needn?t
move outside to feed, as you can sprinkle food straight on top of
him. Better still, he can use the log as a base of operations for
spawning, building a bubblenest in the aperture on top, to
hold eggs.
Yeah, it?s odd, and if I?m honest I could make something
similar with a piece of cork broken in to bits, and some
superglue. If I wanted to be really basic, I?d just hack some
drainpipe apart and stick a bit of polystyrene to it. But for
what is currently a wide-open market, Zoo Med has the
best-looking offering.
You want the downside? Even if you?ve got a
little water movement, and the tank is
somewhere within audible range
when you?re trying to sleep,
you?d best be looking forward
to that ?dink, dink, dink? sound
as it gently bashes the side
panes all night.
If you?re a Fighter keeper, you?ll
really like these things. It?s not
huge either, at 7 x 7 x 9cm in size.
Price: Around �.
More info: zoomed.com
CTICAL FISHKEEPING
Aquarium Systems Mega M
A simple, straightforward range of products that work out
tremendous value for money. Mega Media comes in three
different grades of (predictably) small, medium and large.
Each comes as a 500g portion, which doesn?t sound much but
when it?s in front of you it?s huge. The packages are as long as my
gangly arm, and at over six feet tall, I?m hardly short-limbed.
The media is synthetic, and is tough to the touch. Unlike some
media I?ve handled, this stuff feels substantial. It has some
integrity, you can pull it and shape it like Play-Doh. I can get a
handful of the large media, for example, and tear it up into 20
small bits. Then I scoop them all up into a ball, grind them
together and they form a whole again. I?m not used to that. I?m
used to media that pulls apart at the ?rst bit of rough housing.
The bene?t of that? It means I can vigorously clean the stuff
and re-use it, and that?s a claim that Aquarium Systems is
making here. Once soiled, I can beast this stuff in hot water, blast
it with a hose, do all I can to get it clean again, and it?ll be good for
a second run. Not that I need to re-use it, of course. I?m only
running a couple of 60cm tanks right now. There?s enough
media here to see me through to 2025, I reckon.
Being inert, there?s no chance of alteration of water chemistry,
and it doesn?t leach anything, making it suitable for freshwater
and marine use. If you?ve got a big marine sump, you?ll be able to
?ll it to your heart?s content ? if that?s your approach. If you run
external canisters on freshwater set ups, you?ll be set for years if
you buy a pack of each size.
As a bonus, the large media makes a really good spawning
substrate
alternati
Probably
hiding pl
fry, too.
Excelle
?lter me
sort of th
Price: 50
medium
More info: aquariumsystems.fr
Aquarium Systems
A la Carte Reefmist food
You know how you sometimes buy a bag of crisps, and when you open it there?s about 1cm of
crisp down right at the bottom of the bag, and you literally need to get wrist deep just to pull one
out? That?s what this stuff is like. 30g is not a big amount in a packet of this size. In a bag over
20cm tall (opened) my food barely gets up to 3.5cm on the ruler I?m jamming in to it.
So what?s in it? Not a clue. The packaging claims micro and macro algae, phyto and
zooplankton, and yeast, but doesn?t specify anything else. It has a real spirulina smell, so your
guess is as good as mine. What I can say for sure is that it?s 40% protein, 10% fat, and 12% ?bre.
In reality? It looks a lot like the stuff I?m left with after I?ve gone hammer and tongs on a handful
of ?ake food with my pestle and mortar. There are occasional ?ecks in it, something white that
hasn?t crushed down in the manufacture stage ? I?ve no idea if that?s deliberate or not.
The pack comes with a pouch of silica gel inside to keep this powder really dry. Despite that,
mine is heavily clumped together, though it separates easily enough with a little pinching. You?ll
want to keep this pouch locked tight between uses if you don?t want it to spoil.
It?s aimed at a range of marine organisms: anemones, stony and soft corals, ?sh, fanworms,
clams, sponges, copepods, rotifers ? you get the idea. It also suggests on the packaging that it
can be used to enrich frozen foods, without specifying how exactly.
Day to day use involves adding a quarter teaspoon per 80 l volume daily.
There?s also a curious claim that ?ReefMits (sic) activates also the nitrifying and denitrifying
bacteria?s.? (sic) As both a writer and ?shkeeper, I don?t know what troubles me more there.
Anyway, it could be amazing. As I haven?t got a reef tank running at present, I can?t put it to
the test personally, and feedback from actual users seems scant. It?s also quite pricey for 30g
of food, so it had better have some amazing ingredients in there.
Price: �.99 for 30g
More info: aquariumsystems.fr
103
PFKNewGear
NATURAL DECOR
returns!
It must have been around this time last year I received my ?rst
batch of Tannin botanicals, and since then, I?ve been preaching the
bene?ts to anyone who?ll stay still long enough to listen. Maybe I?m
coming at it through tinted glasses (see what I did?) because I?m
already a convert, but when this new consignment turned up I
couldn?t hold down my delight.
For those new to Tannin goods, the packages arrive in ?ne form.
The little touches help. Opening the box, the ?rst thing I see is a
sticker on the inside ? ?tint the world?. Your mood is lifted before
you?ve pulled out the ?rst bag.
Whatever you order, it comes in individual
clearly labelled, and with the wonderful caut
human consumption! Do not ingest! Thanks
about to scoff a load, washed down with a gla
In each order you get a hessian bag, which i
before. I thought it was something to soak th
the amusement of Tannin owner Scott Fellm
perfectly plausible theory for my error ? we
suggested (Tannin is based in the USA). I have to confess, that?s
probably right. Give me something that needs soaking, and a little
hessian bag, and I?m ?lling in the gaps?
Tannin?s product diversity is a million worlds away from the
leaves you?ll pick up off the ground, or the huge sheets of Catappa
offered in many stores. In fact, to make that point, I?m not even
going to mention a leaf. This review will be for pods alone!
Note that the prices given are for products alone and don?t
incorporate freight from America.
bDried Casulo pods
Okay, ?rst up, don?t bother Googling any of the
real identities remain a trade secret, so the nam
freshly invented all the way.
Casulo pods look a lot like big, fat, pea pods. T
and hollow, and out of the packet they?re rigid a
shoes and ?oat like a lifeboat. Soak ?em for a lo
an hour simmering at least ? and they soften u
bb
?Bl dd
k?
i t
d b
EEPING
`Dried Estalo pods
Remember the ?lm ?Dune? with folks running about in the desert,
and giant worms leaping about eating people? These pods look
exactly like the business ends of those worms.
They need a long boil to get them to sink (45 minutes
upwards) and even then they?ll leach some
acid out in to the tank. Which is great!
From a functional perspective, they
don?t really do much. They?re too tiny
for ?sh and shrimps to hide in. From
an aesthetic perspective, they are
great. Combine them with some
Snapping Lampala pods, and a bed of
leaves, and they make everything look a
lot more uniform. If you?ve dabbled
with bigger pods before, you?ll know
n, look a bit
These things
on, making the
s.
o amazing as
ano or pico set-up.
? Ten.
).
_Dried Snapping Lampada pods
Looking like miniature dried pears that have torn straight up the middle,
I had to stop (almost slap) a co-worker who explained they hadn?t
opened up fully and was about to crack one like a pistachio nut.
These are absolute rotters to get sinking (mine, anyway), but well
worth the near hour or so you?ll spend simmering them to get them to
stay down. In rainforest regions, seed pods like these make up a big
chunk of the scattered debris, so they look very much in place. Leaching
seems minimal, so don?t expect a wine-red tank after adding a handful
(besides which, you?ll lose much tannin during the simmering stage).
Size wise, mine range from about 4cm up to about 7.5cm.
O Package quantity ? Six.
O Price $5.00 (Around �75).
Tannin?s product diversity
is a million worlds away
from the leaves you?d pick
up off the ground, or the
Catappa offered in stores.
aDried Sino Xicara pods
Far and away, the most ?forced? product in the Tannin range, these have a clean-cut opening that
makes them look less natural than most. Apparently, these are pretty big in the frog world, and I
can see why they?ve not been embraced too much by the aquarium world. For one, they don?t sink.
Boil them all you like, they?ll keep on ?oating. You know what I do? Glue a stone to one side, then
hide the stone just under the substrate.
Bene?ts? Despite the clean cut, they look pretty cool. And they make awesome caves for smaller
cave spawners. Got some cute little Betta species you need a natural cavern for? Right here.
O Package quantity ? Three
OPrice $8 (Around �.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
105
P
Shoptour
This month takes us to shops in Dublin and Wembley.
Dublin
Wembley
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER AND NATHAN HILL
Seahorse Aquariums
Address: Unit 3 St Joan?s
Industrial Estate, Turnpike
Road, Ballymount, Dublin 22,
Ireland.
Telephone: +353 1 459 5650.
Website: www.
seahorseaquariums.com
Opening hours: Mon?Wed and
Fri?Sat 9.30am?6pm; Thurs
9.30am?8pm; Sun 11am?6pm.
What is it?
Seahorse Aquariums is a large,
well-established retailer based
in Dublin, Ireland. Its owner
and marine biologist, Kealan,
has a background in seahorse
conversation, hence the name.
It stocks a huge range of
freshwater and marine ?sh,
inverts, aquarium plants and
dry goods. The shop also has
its own laboratory for
diagnosing ?sh ailments,
custom-building aquarium
factory, breeding facilities, two
quarantine facilities, a
dedicated staff training and
meeting room, and some of the
best quality ?sh and displays
you?re ever likely to see. It has a
sister store in Galway and
between the two stores
employs 20 staff.
High points
You?re greeted on entry by an
incredible L-shaped reef that?s
probably one of the ?nest in
Europe. I?ve seen my fair share
of reef displays and this was
something else. Each member
of staff is clearly passionate
and an expert in their own ?eld,
from aquascaping to breeding
?sh, high-end reef to marine
biology. Every part of the hobby
is very well catered for whether
you?re an absolute beginner or
seasoned pro. The shop is
clean, well-presented with
some inspirational displays
covering most genres of
?shkeeping.
A clever addition is the
second ?oor full of dry displays
in a makeshift living room,
which demonstrates how
aquariums can ?t into your own
living space. Seahorse employs
highly skilled and passionate
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
106
Crosshatch trigger.
?sh breeder, Ioan Micu, who
supplies many of the shop?s rarer
?sh at highly competitive prices.
Low points
It?s almost impossible to pick any
fault. Set aside plenty of time to
visit the shop. I wish I had two
days there, such was the sheer
quantity of great livestock and
inspirational displays.
Pondkeepers will have to look
elsewhere for livestock.
Verdict
I?ve visited a lot of shops all over
the world in my time and this has
to be my favourite so far. There?s
something for everyone. I
challenge you not to be impressed
by this shop or its staff. Forget the
Guinness Storehouse when you
visit Dublin. This should be any
?shkeeper?s number one priority!
Mantis shrimp.
Star rating
Tropical ?sh
11111
Discus
11111
Cichlids
11111
Cat?sh
11111
Oddballs
11111
Indoor plants
11111
Pond plants
NS
Koi
NS
Pond ?sh
NS
Fancies
11111
Indoor coldwater 11111
Marine ?sh
11111
Marine inverts
11111
Indoor dry
11111
Pond dry
11111
Freshwater inverts 11111
Labelling
11111
What stood out
(prices in Euros)
G Iguana tetra ?9.99
G Orange oto ?9.99
G XL discus ?199.99
G Blue Stiphodon goby ?7.99
G Green laser cory ?39.99
G Lemon orange Bolivian tetra ?4.99
G Wild diamond tetra ?7.99
G Freshwater moray eel ?150
G Green peacock mantis shrimp ?85
G Crosshatch trigger?sh ?2,500 pair
G Flame dwarf parrot ?sh ?550
G Pot-bellied seahorse ?750
Iguana tetra.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Magni?cent tank
displays abound here.
Stiphodon gobies.
Diamond tetra.
Tube anemone.
Pot-bellied seahorse.
Flame parrot cichlid.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
107
PFKShoptour
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wembley
Address: The Greenhouse,
Chilcot Nursery, Birchen Grove,
Wembley, NW9 8RY.
Telephone: 0208 2003545.
Website: ?shkeeper.co.uk
Opening hours: Mon to Sat
9am?5:30pm; Sun 11am?5pm.
Low points
This is a long-established
Maidenhead Aquatics branch
that has evolved into a real
catch-all superstore of
aquatics, set over a huge
indoor footprint. It?s a large one,
for sure.
A couple of young ?big boys? lurk
about in one or two tanks
(Hydrocynus Tiger ?sh, Sorubim
shovelnoses).
Some marine inverts seemed a
little staid and pass� in the face of
modern trends for exciting zoas
and exorbitant frags. The pond
side, by virtue of being indoors,
looked sparse because it was
winter at the time of our visit.
Oh, and there was Dracaena
on sale in the plant vats. Fear
not, I swore at the manager for
that one...
High points
Verdict
Different staff members cover
different areas, and these guys
are passionate about what they
do, so speak to them. Ask them
if any of the ?sh on sale were
formerly theirs ? one guy in
particular here is a breeding
wizard, while a few of the nicer
?sh spotted, when I asked,
turned out to be ?sh that the
staff had nurtured at home
themselves.
The tropical range is spread
over several banks, conveniently
(but informally) organised into
sections of ?community?,
?community with caution?, and
?specialist?. There?s a cracking
selection of Angel?sh, and
Stendker Discus looking at their
peak, and a smattering of wild
and unusual imports really lifts
the tropical house. Cat?sh and
cichlid fans will have lots to
choose from.
Be sure to check out the
display turtles, too.
The balance here is wonderful. I
could send a newcomer with as
much enthusiasm as I?d send an
expert aquarist. This Wembley
branch has been around long
enough to explore what does and
doesn?t work, and wise enough to
play to its strengths while
discarding any weak lines.
Dry goods, trops, marines,
coldwater, whatever ? it?s all
thoroughly represented.
What is it?
What stood out:
G Stendker Pigeon blood
Discus �
G Amazon blue Angel?sh
�.95
G L200 Green phantom
�
G Dwarf Pangasius �95
G Redhook Myleus (big!)
�.95
G Brochis multiradiatus
(big!) �
G Barbus fasciolatus
�95
G Geophagus megasema
�.50
G Anomalochromis
thomasi �95
G Yellow tang �
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
108
Brochis multiradiatus.
Pseudeutropius cat?sh.
Star rating
Tropical ?sh
11111
Discus
11111
Cichlids
11111
Cat?sh
11111
Oddballs
11111
Indoor plants
11111
Pond plants
OS
Koi
OS
Pond ?sh
OS
Fancies
11111
Indoor coldwater 11111
Marine ?sh
11111
Marine inverts
11111
Indoor dry
11111
Pond dry
11111
Freshwater inverts 11111
Labelling
11111
There are plenty
of dry goods in
all areas.
Cherry shrimp.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Barbus fasciolatus.
All sectors of the hobby are
catered for, with individual
staff having their own
specialist areas.
Anomalochromis
thomasi.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
There?s a great balance
of ?sh in this big,
established store.
Green phantom plec.
109
TOP of the
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
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
East
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.
Discus Retailer of the Year
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
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 arch issue of
On sale January 17th 2018
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
CHERRY PICKING
The stunning little Cherry barb is our
?sh of the month. Discover the appeal
of this long-term community favourite.
SHIFTERS AND SIFTERS
We spotlight the bottom dwelling marine
?sh and invertebrates often added as
substrate cleaners in the reef tank.
Are they really as bene?cial as we think?
NEIL HEPWORTH
ALAMY
NEIL HEPWORTH
GLOWING EMBERS
Pretty, polite and perfectly proportioned ?
the ?ery orange Ember tetra graces
aquariums across the globe. Find out how
to keep them in yours.
LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG!
We look at some of the most under-rated
community cat?sh out there.
Plus
O The wacky world of Victorian aquariums O Readers? tanks O Coral warfare
O New gear reviews O Step-by-step guides O Your questions answered by our experts
111
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
BRISTOL
LONDON
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
14
The Aquatic Store
Really does have it all!
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
COUNTY DURHAM
LEICESTERSHIRE
Retailer of
the year
North East
The only true aquatic Superstore, with over 250 stock tanks
specializing in community, rare and unusual cold water, tropical
and marine fish inverts and corals. Largest range of aquariums,
dry goods, frozen and live foods and Tropical plants.
Fish Alive
www.leicesteraquatics.com
Leicester Aquatics
Opening hours weekdays 10.00 - 18.00, Saturdays 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays 10.00 - 16.00, Closed on Wednesdays
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
0116 2709 610
Units 10 & 11, Dragonville Retail Park, Durham DH1 2YB
Phone and fax: 0191 3843590
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.the?shbowlltd.com
KENT
email: the?shbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
ABACUS AQUATICS
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
Now open on Sundays
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 8DJ
020 8302 8000 / enquiries@abacusaquatics.co.uk
Huge range of
livestock in more
than 600 tanks!
TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
Six-time winner of top UK aquatic retailer
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
LINCOLNSHIRE
Readers?poll
2017
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Readers?poll
2017
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Tel: 01773 861255 Marine direct: 01773 811044 Reptile direct: 01773 811499
LINC
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
QUAT
SA
I
CS
Classi?ed To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
The Fish Bowl Ltd
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
YORKSHIRE
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.
www.denbykoiponds.co.uk
01773 863991/07773186198
sales@denbykoiponds.co.uk
SHEFFIELD?S LARGEST
AQUATIC CENTRE
Rare breeds - Discus, L-number Plecs etc
Over 150 aquariums and ponds
Tropical, Coldwater & Pond
2700 Litre Malawi section
0114 231 0225
www.shef?eldaquatics.co.uk
SCOTLAND
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
LONDON
112
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
RS ONLY
RETA IL SHOPPE
r all your
Thank you fo 1967!
e
support sinc
, London, E2
l Green Road 0 77292444
220 Bethna
02
x:
5356 Fa
Tel: 020 7739
G TIMES
AY: CLOSED
? TUES, WED &
FRI 10.30-6.00
? SAT 10.00-6.00
? SUN 10.00-2.0
0
ww.wholesaletropicalsaq
uat
ics.co.uk
To advertise in the Practical Fishkeeping
classi?ed section please contact
James Belding on 01733 366410 or
email: James.Belding@bauermedia.co.uk
FOR SALE
Don?t miss the
next issue of
BUSINESS FOR SALE
AQUARIUM RENTAL &
SERVICE BUSINESS
Northwest area covered currently.
10 years accounts available.
No storage required - vehicle included.
Only 10 days per month required.
O TE8YVRSZIV KVSWW TVS絏
www.aquarist-classi?eds.co.uk
On sale 17th Jan
�,000
Call Jason 07703068545
NATIONWIDE DISTRIBUTORS
Barlows Aquatic Trading
INTERNET
www.
INTERNET
AQUARIUM MANUFACTURERS..supplying direct to the public at trade prices
.co.uk
T:01254 208245
EVERYTHING FOR THE AQUARIUM,
PONDS AND REPTILES, TOP BRANDS
AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES.
EBO
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
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
WHOLESALERS
1000?S OF PRODUCTS IN STOCK
FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH
FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY ON
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Fluke-Solve
TM
Established 1973
55 John Street, Porthcawl, CF36 3AY
Tel: 01656 784646
www.aquariumgardens.co.uk
01480 450572 info@aquariumgardens.co.uk
AQUASCAPE FISH IMPORTS
The simple solution for skin
?ukes, gill ?ukes & tapeworms
Easy and effective
Fish Treatment Ltd.
www.?sh-treatment.co.uk
New 50g Sachet
Tropical & Coldwater Live Fish Wholesalers
Unusuals inc Rays, Turtles, Crabs, Shrimps, Lobsters
DAILY NATIONWIDE DELIVERIES
CALL NOW FOR FREE monthly TRADE lists
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Fax: 0121 331 1414
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113
To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
P L A N T E D AQ UA R I U M S P E C I A L I S TS
MISCELLANOUS
NAOMI BRAISBY
Tailpiece
with Nathan Hill
?
The poor ?sh house manager might be there until the small hours,
working in almost no light, trying to identify pale ?sh in bags with no
markings, and that?s assuming the ?sh sent were even the ones ordered.
R
emember that old TV
programme where the main
prize was a trolley dash in a
huge supermarket, and frenzied
consumers would ransack the aisles for all
they could get their grubby mitts on?
Well, that?s me every time I go to the ?sh
wholesaler Neil Hardy Aquatica with a
camera. Things get pretty wild in there.
I?m blatantly boasting here, as Neil
Hardy?s doors are not open to the general
public. It?s the place where your local
retailers get a lot of their oddballs, so it?s
always a safe bet I?ll get to shoot a lot of stuff
I?ve not seen in a while. I?m fortunate
enough to have a long friendship with
Jason, one of the chaps working there, so I
can go pretty much whenever.
The thing with livestock wholesalers is that
every time I visit I?m reminded of the
arduous working conditions behind the
scenes. Right now, it?s likely you?re com?ly
sat at home. Your tank might be sat to one
side, whirring away with your gorgeous
selection of tropical ?sh (and I bet it all
looks lovely, too). Your ?sh suppliers are
probably not sitting quite so com?ly.
Weeks before you bought them, the ?sh in
your tank might have rocked up to a store
sometime around 11pm, after delays at
airports and traffic jams on the road. The
poor ?sh house manager might be there
until the small hours, working in almost no
light, trying to identify pale ?sh in bags with
no markings whatsoever ? and that?s
assuming the ?sh sent were even the ones
ordered (things are frequently substituted).
Then that same manager enjoyed the
delights of trudging home afterwards,
exhausted, for a late supper and a little sleep
before turning up at 8.30am for another full
day (some aquatic staff are known to
?overlook? the 11?hour gap required
between working full-time shifts, which is
why some look so tired and haggard
midweek).
Indoor downpour
Your ?sh might have come from a
wholesaler, with densely-packed ?sh
houses where the air temperature hangs
around the high-twenties or low-thirties,
and the humidity is so high that as
114
Climbing a stepladder to photograph
these mudskippers almost resulted
in heat exhaustion.
NATHAN HILL
Arduous working conditions
?
condensation hits the ceiling it falls back in
a constant indoor downpour.
At Neil Hardy?s, as I collect ?sh for
photographs (see Fish in the Shops on page
18 for a little of what I found) I experience
the heat and humidity ?rst-hand. Climbing
up a stepladder to get hands-on with some
mudskippers, the temperature is like a ?st. I
cling to the ladder and panic as I think I?m
about to ?ake out. ?Jesus Christ,? I wail to
nobody and everybody. ?I?m DYING here.
I?ve just been sick in my mouth.?
To make matters worse, as I work I get a
huge splash of water right in the face, from a
tank of ?sh fresh out of Africa ? one thing I
had hoped to avoid. Thanks, Congochromis.
Really helpful. Several hours later when I
get home I throw up. After a night of
stomach cramps, I wake up and wonder if
it?s just a stomach bug or whether I should
Google ?amoebic dysentery.? I was only there
for one day. For the staff who work at ?sh
wholesalers, those are often normal
conditions.
But what about a step further back,
pre-wholesaler, when the ?sh are still
at the collection stage? Surely it can?t get
any worse?
Too dangerous?
Well, yeah, it really can. When you have ?sh
coming from places like the Democratic
Republic of Congo, where life is cheap and
child soldiers roam the jungles, happy to
shoot ?rst and ask questions later, it can get
a lot worse. Whenever I ask about the lives
of collectors over there, the response is
frequently ?Yeah, they packed it in because
it got too dangerous.? I?d pack it in too, if I?d
been shot at.
In fact, with all of that in mind, paying
out �or so for an unusual Congolese
tetra comes across as a bit of a steal. A small
price for the amount of late nights,
sweating (and possibly vomiting) involved.
And frankly, if I was heading out into a
jungle where there was a high chance a
teenager was going to shoot me with an
AK47, or at best rob me of my mobile phone,
I?d say �to the ?shkeeper was an
absolute bargain.
The supply chain for ?sh is a lot more
complex than it ?rst appears, something I
think we should all be thankful for. One day,
it might make a fascinating feature for me
to track a ?sh all the way back to source,
recording each stage as a journalist. The
catch is, I only get as far as the wholesaler
before I complain like a stubborn toddler
and throw up. Maybe not, then.
Nathan Hill is Practical Fishkeeping?s features editor,
biotope addict and amateur photographer, and has
a weak constitution and poor resistance to tropical
temperatures.
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ll of them died over
a six-week period.
The reds seem ?ne at the moment but I?m
worried that something in the environment
caused the ?rst group of blues to die.
Tank mates are a small Angel, ?ve Golden
barbs, six Cherry barbs, 12 Neon, eight
Emperor tetras, ?ve corys and a 15cm/6in
Sail?n plec. Can you please advise?
TIM JENKINSON, EMAIL
You don?t mention how many Dwarf
gourami you added, but it sounds as
though you introduced several of each
variety. Despite their size, Dwarf gourami,
A
Trichogaster lalius, can be quite aggressive
to one another, especially the males, and are
usually best kept as mixed sex pairs. You
could have a dominant red male that has
harassed the blues enough to cause them to
either become ill or fail to compete for
sufficient food.
Another possibility is ?Dwarf gourami
Iridovirus?, a rather nasty viral infection that
has decimated stocks of these ?sh and made
them a less straightforward community
choice than they used to be. Some seem to
have a natural immunity to this disease and
it may be that the blue variants didn?t have
this immunity but the red ones do.
A ?nal thing worth mentioning is your stock
level, which is high for a 170 l tank, especially
when the adult sizes of some of your ?sh are
taken into account. The Sail?n plec,
Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps, can grow to
45cm, so you will need to rehome it unless
you are considering a much larger tank.
This high a stock level in a relatively new
tank could mean your ?lter is struggling to
cope, which may be another contributing
factor to the dead gouramis. They are also a
relatively shy, subdued species and might be
being stressed by the sheer number of tank
mates, especially the more boisterous ones.
My advice would be to closely monitor your
water and to carry out larger water changes
of 25% weekly if possible. Don?t add any
more ?sh and keep a close eye on those you
do have, particularly the gourami.
BOB MEHEN
NEIL HEPWORTH
Despite their small size,
male Dwarf gourami can be
aggressive to one another.
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
Tank cycling is far easier if
you already have a mature
?lter or three...
Q. What is the safest way
to cycle a tank quickly?
NEIL HEPWORTH
I would imagine that many people who read your magazine are
serious ?shkeepers who often need to s
such, it would be good to get a clear ide
cycle a tank quickly. There are so many p
so much con?icting information out the
the fastest and safest way to cycle a tan
RICHARD, EMAIL
There are many ways to cycle a tank
take differing amounts of time. This
number of factors, aside from the source
bacteria; things like water chemistry and
play a critical role.
Adding mature media from another tan
the best and quickest ways of achieving a
If you have enough media (be careful not
much or you may cause a ?mini-cycle? in t
mature tank) then there is no reason why
stock sensibly small numbers of ?sh almo
immediately. If you can?t take the actual m
squeezing some mature foam media into
up tank and allowing the ?lter to clear thi
get the bacterial population established r
quickly. You will need to add an ammonia
feed this bacteria and get things balanced
add the ?rst ?sh, which may take anythin
week to a month.
A
TROPICAL
Q. What can I keep
with these tetras?
ucts are increasingly effective (unlike some of
ancestors) and many claim to allow instant
nstructions are followed correctly.
from a mature tank will have little effect by
will contain very little of the bacteria required
Adding ?sh food to an empty tank will
to cycle a tank; the bene?cial bacteria will ?nd
he tank in due course and multiply using the
od for sustenance.
this classic method of ?shless cycling then
controllable, measured source of ammonia such
mmonia solution or Waterlife ?Biomature? is
ethods will need careful, close monitoring with
ke sure that they are progressing as expected,
nstant? of them needing close scrutiny as
at risk should anything go wrong.
Black widow tetras
are a robust and
hardy species.
I have a 35 l planted aquarium housing two Black widow
tetras. Please could you tell me what other ?sh I could add to
this set-up?
The Black widow tetra, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, is a
hardy, generally peaceful, chunky tetra species that grows
to around 6cm and is ideal for newcomers or those wanting
something more robust than smaller species such as Cardinals
or Neons. Like so many tetra species, they do best when kept in
numbers ? ideally six at the very least ? and unfortunately,
here is where you have a problem. Your tank is simply too small
for a group of this size; something at least double your tank?s
volume with appropriate dimensions to allow these active ?sh
to move around is required.
My advice would be if, at all possible, to rehome the two
tetras (many shops will be happy to do this if they are healthy)
and to re-stock the tank with something more size-appropriate.
If you like tetras then have a look at the Ember tetra,
Hyphessobrycon amandae, a truly tiny species which at no
more than 2cm would easily allow you to stock a nice group of
ten or so in your tank.
NEIL HEPWORTH
JOHN COOPER, EMAIL
A
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NEIL HEPWORTH
Ember tetras can be
stocked in small tanks.
Tetra UK
93
Fishkeeping Answers
Prior planning makes
upsizing reef tanks a
painless experience.
NEIL HEPWORTH
MARINE
Q. How do I move my reef tank?
I have a 100 l reef tank with corals, ?sh, crabs, shrimp and live rock.
I?m upsizing the tank to a 200 l version with more live rock, an
oversized skimmer and a Fluval 406. Are there any pitfalls I should
be aware of to ensure a stress-free move for the inhabitants?
PETER ALKER, EMAIL
This should be a very straightforward operation; the key is
planning everything out in advance. It?s going to be a lot easier
if you can set the new tank up in a different spot to the original; if
you?re putting the new tank in the same place, you?ll have a bit more
juggling to do, and the livestock will need to be placed in suitable
containers while everything is shifted around. In any case, get plenty
of buckets, hoses, nets and all the other equipment you?ll need to
hand, and have as much salt water mixed up in advance as possible.
If the new tank is already in place, get this
?lled and as much of the equipment installed
and working as possible. If not, just get
everything ready so you can set it up with the
minimum of fuss.
Begin stripping the old tank down by ?rst
removing the ?sh and corals. These should be
kept in buckets, food-safe plastic containers or
polystyrene ?sh boxes with aeration. Keep the
containers covered to reduce stress and prevent
the ?sh from jumping. Next, start taking out the
live rock; for a brief period, this can be simply
kept damp, but again, it?s possible to maintain
it in water if strong aeration is provided ? it?s
your call.
Remove the sand either by syphoning or
netting it out of the old tank. This can be kept
damp in a bucket. If you?re moving the new tank
into the old one?s position, you can do this and
?ll it with mature, preheated saltwater and
connect the equipment.
NEIL HEPWORTH
A
Either way, you?re now in a position to stock the new system. Check
the temperature and salinity ? try to match these to the original tank
water to minimise the acclimation time. Begin by adding the live rock,
then the sand; it?s best to place the rock ?rst, as this is more stable on
the aquarium?s base than placing it on top of sand.
The water may become a little cloudy while you?re setting up, so
allow the tank to settle for a short while. Acclimate the livestock
brie?y; if you?ve matched the salinity and temperature to within
a part per thousand or so, and a couple of degrees, just 10?15
minutes with acclimation with the new system water should be
perfectly adequate.
Finally, keep the lights off for the ?rst few hours to minimise stress
to the livestock.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
Place the rock on the
base of the tank before
adding the sand. This will
make it more stable.
Everything you need for healthy ?sh
94
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TROPICAL
Q. What happened to my Neon?
The fading colours on the Neon tetra sounds like textbook
?Neon tetra disease?, although in all fairness, this name may well
apply to a Columnaris-like bacterial infection as often as it does the
?true? Neon tetra disease parasite, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis. In
either case, there?s no treatment, and euthanasia is generally the
best option.
Let?s tackle the true version of the disease ?rst. The classic
symptoms are loss of colour, withdrawal from the school, weakness,
and eventually death. While associated with Neons and other small
tetras in particular, a wide range of other ?sh have been reported to
occasionally suffer from it, including danios and angel?sh. Given that
A
Pleistopho
is highly c
want to pr
gy
q
g
evidence that transmission can occur via cannibalism, and a dead or
dying ?sh in your aquarium will certainly be viewed as a potential
meal by the other ?sh. Hence removal and euthanasia is best.
The ?false? version of the disease is believed to be caused by the
same bacterium species, Flavobacterium columnare, implicated in
the well-known disease misleadingly called Mouth fungus (or
Columnaris). There are medications available for treating Mouth
fungus, but the problem here is that by the time the Neon exhibits
symptoms it is already so riddled with the bacterium that its internal
organs are unlikely to respond well to standard medications.
Healthy ?sh in good environmental conditions generally resist
Columnaris without too much trouble, so let?s recap what Neons
need in order to thrive. They?re low-end tropical ?sh, so something
between 22?25癈 suits them best. A low hardness of 1?10癏 is ideal,
though slightly harder water might be tolerated without problems.
Keep pH in the range of 6?7.5 if possible. Neons are shy, gentle ?sh
and want a quiet, shady tank with similar-sized tank mates. The
bigger the group, the better your chances of success. But be ruthless
about removing sickly individuals, and never buy Neons from tanks
containing specimens displaying signs of Neon tetra disease.
NEALE MONKS
PHOTOMA
I have a 100 l freshwater tank, stocked with Neon tetras, Endlers
and two Nerite snails, and planted with Java fern and Anubias.
Water parameters are ?ne, and until the other day I?d had no
deaths since setting up the tank in February.
Over the course of a week, one of my eight Neons had started to
lose colour, and stopped shoaling with the others. I also noticed it
was not breathing normally. The tetra was feeding, but that was its
only normal behaviour ? for the last two days it was hanging out
at the top of the tank with the Endlers. I woke up this morning and
it was nowhere to be found. I think it may have died, before being
eaten by tank mates. What do you think happened?
ALEXANDER MARCOS, EMAIL
Neons show
loss should ing colour
be removed
.
PHOTOMAX
Neons thrive best in
large groups.
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Tetra UK
95
Buyer?s guide
The BIG
air pump test
We compare 32 aquarium air pumps over a range
of tank sizes, with some surprising results?
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GABOR HORVATH
E
very ?shkeeper should own an
airpump. These practical and often
inexpensive bits of kit can do far more
than just run an airstone or open and
close that treasure chest ? they could save the
lives of your ?sh in an emergency.
While air isn?t something we necessarily
associate with ?sh, they do need oxygen. Although
some of them are able to take it directly from the
atmosphere, the majority rely on their gills to
extract dissolved oxygen from the surrounding
water. Water?s maximum O2 ?storage capacity?
depends on the temperature ? cold water can
hold more of this valuable gas.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Increasing the oxygen
96
In aquarium conditions the oxygen level is usually
well below the saturation point, as the various
biological and chemical processes are
continuously consuming it. Plants can replenish
some of the oxygen, but most of it comes from the
atmosphere, through the surface of the water. It?s
generally advised to create some sort of surface
agitation to increase the contact area between air
and water, to improve the efficiency of the above
process. It?s worth mentioning that the same
movement helps with the removal of CO2 as well
? very useful in the general aquarium, but
unwanted in a plant-heavy aquascape.
What if more dissolved oxygen is needed, but the
surface area of the water in your tank can?t be
increased any further? Well, you still can enlarge
the ?contact area? by pumping air into the water to
create bubbles. This has two advantages. Firstly,
each of those tiny pearls has their own surface
area upon which ? while they are rising in the
tank ? a level of oxygen exchange takes place.
Secondly, the rising bubbles cause surface
agitation, which in turn increases the contact area
between water and atmosphere. Even a small air
stone can signi?cantly increase the amount of
dissolved oxygen and prove extremely helpful in
emergency situations such as poisoning, disease
treatments or during heatwaves. Safe to say, every
aquarist should have at least one air pump on
standby.
Besides simply aerating the water, air pumps can
ful?l a series of other important roles, and needn?t
just be left on the bench awaiting their turn. They
can run sponge ?lters and other air-driven
devices, including protein skimmers. They can be
used to create soft currents to prevent dead spots;
to operate Artemia-hatcheries; to create
decorative air curtain effects; or even to open and
close that plastic treasure chest or clam!
It isn?t complicated to build a complete airsupply system, one which is easily expandable and
safe to use, with no electric cables dangling down.
Plus, the initial costs are low ? all you need is
the right-sized pump, a central air pipe with
taps, and a few metres of air line to reach
every aquarium.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
97
The BIG
airpump test
IR PUMP DOS AND DON?TS
hoos ng your pump
If you don?t have a ?sh house
(yet) you can still make good use
of an air pump. Just make sure
you choose one that?s the right
size for your needs.
OBased on my own experiments,
for gentle aeration and moderate
currents you would need to plan
for around 40?120 l of air, per
hour, per air stone, depending on
the size of your tank. With a
single bubbler running for
decoration or moderate aeration
purposes in a small (up to 50 l)
tank, a pump of 40?80 lph
capacity will suffice.
OFor aquariums up to 100 l you
would need 100?200 lph pumps.
If you have even bigger tanks, use
either a bigger air stone or
several爏maller ones.
OShould you plan to add an
air-driven ?lter, the situation gets
more complicated. Based on my
own tests a double sponge ?lter
needs 50?85 lph to operate
efficiently, reaching the maximum
?ow rate at the top end of that
range. Jet-lift requires lots of air,
so if you run one or more of those,
you really need a bee?er pump.
My DIY version needs 90?120 lph
for optimal operation, but pushes
through twice as much water as
the regular air-powered ?lter.
OOnce you have calculated the
quantity of air needed, add at
least 30% (there is always some
loss at the valves, junctions or air
stones) and you will have the
right-sized pump.
OIf you have several tanks, it?s
usually more economical to run
one or two powerful pumps
instead of numerous smaller
ones. In my ?sh house I use two
slightly oversized air pumps
connected to one system. Should
one fail, the other would be able
to operate the ?lters (at a lower
?ow rate) until the fault is�xed.
DON?T use the air pump inside the ?sh tank. They are not meant
o be submerged!
DO place the air pump above the water level to avoid water
ack?ow, which may occur in the case of an electricity shortage. If
ou have no other choice, then at least use a one-way ?ow valve to
revent accidents.
DO keep a spare diaphragm set to hand. They have a habit of
iling when the shops are closed, so buying a few in advance can
e a lifesaver... quite literally!
DO have a smaller air pump on standby. You never know when
ou might need it. Think about medication, quarantine or
oisoning.
DO get a slightly bigger air pump than you think you may need.
?s good to have some extra air sometimes (well, always).
O DON?T switch off the air pumps at night, especially if you are
running air-driven ?lters. By doing so you might kill the useful
bacteria in your ?lter media.
O DO replace the air stones regularly. They get clogged-up over
time, which negatively affects their performance.
O DON?T throw away your air pump if the performance drops
signi?cantly. Often it?s only the diaphragm or the valve that needs
replacing ? which is much cheaper than buying a new pump!
OYou should also take into
consideration the depth of
water to which the air has to be
pumped. The deeper you go,
the lower the amount of air the
pump can deliver, as it needs to
?ght against the pressure of the
water column. Remember that
the maximum air?ow indicated
on the box is usually measured
at the top of the water column.
Sometimes the packaging will
tell you the maximum depth as
well, but this is not related to
the maximum capacity in any
way at all
Other manufacturers give the
maximum pressure instead,
indicated in MPa, mbar or psi.
It?s easy to calculate the
maximum depth from this
?gure, provided you know that
0.01MPa = 100mbar = 1.45psi is
needed to push the air down to
1m under the surface. Therefore,
a device with a 125mbar
maximum pressure can reach
1.25m depth. Most of the pumps
can cope with tanks of average
height relatively easily, but
choose wisely if you want to go
deeper than 50cm.
TOP TIP
98
to the 150 l/min ?hurrica
makers? that are able to
dozens of aquariums.
Other types of pump include those based on air
compression. If you?ve ever had a ?at tyre on your
bike then you?ll be familiar with a bicycle pump. By
moving the lever up and down the small piston in
the cylinder presses the air out through the valve.
Air compressor pumps work in a very similar way.
They are usually highly efficient devices, capable of
churning out large volumes ? often exceeding 100
l/minute of air. These pumps are frequently used in
Koi ponds or aquaculture (and in ?sh houses) due
to their relatively low cost and compact size, but for
the average home aquarium they would be overkill
and way too noisy.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Types of air pump
The pumps featured in this review are diaphragm
pumps. These utilise the theory behind the
operation of toilet pumps. However, instead of dirty
water, they push out air through a one-way valve by
resonating one or more rubber ?bells? or
membranes. As there?s not much friction ? the
diaphragm is moved electromagnetically ? the
only noise comes from the humming of the
magnetic coils and the resonance of the ?exible
plastic parts. They are affordable and require
almost no maintenance (except for regular cleaning
of any air intake ?lters), so it?s no surprise that they
are so popular. Diaphragm pumps come in several
sizes and con?gurations, from tiny, single-outlet 25
l/hour ?whisperers?, suitable for nano tanks, right up
Check the T-junctions
and air valves in your
system regularly, especially
when using transparent
air lines. They can become
clogged, sometimes
completely blocking
the air?ow.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
HOW THE AIRPUMPS WERE TESTED
hose ? connected to a pump
? under the opening.
When the decreasing water
level ? pushed out by the
pumped-in air ? reached the
top mark, I started my
stopwatch. When the water
level reached the one-litre mark,
I noted the time. From this it
was a simple calculation to
arrive at the air output, in litres
per hour.
The test worked well
Outputs were
(the measured amount
measured at
was very close to the
several depths.
?gure indicated on the
box), so I prepared a
more advanced test to
measure the outputs at
different depths.
I cut off a piece of
drainpipe which was 3cm
shorter than the water
depth in the butt. This
ensured that the top was
submerged, allowing me
to move the upside-down
measuring bottle above it
without issue.
Four 5mm diameter
holes were drilled at 2cm,
22cm, 47cm and 72cm
intervals from the top.
I cut the top off a plastic bottle
and poured in some water. I
marked the water level, topped it
up with exactly one litre of water
and made another mark.
I ?lled up the measuring bottle
and lifted it out upside down,
until only a small part of the
neck remained submerged.
Then, while holding it with one
hand, I moved the end of the air
A plastic bottle was used
to gauge the basic air
output of the pumps.
Then I connected four equal
lengths of air hose to the pipe
by pushing them through
the holes.
The bottom end was weighted
down so that it stood vertically
in the water. The air pumps were
then connected to the system
and their performances tested at
the different depths.
The timing was repeated three
times at every level and an
average result taken.
For the tests of the dual
output pumps, four more holes
were drilled at the same depths
as the others, and the airline
lengths were also the same. In
their case the combined
output of the two outlets is
indicated in the comparison
table overleaf.
BEST BUYS
Tanks up to 180 l
Tanks from 200?400 l
Tanks over 400 l
Newa Wind NW22
Fluval Q series pumps
Tetra APS 400
Tanks up to 60 l
Tanks up to 25 l
Tanks up to 100 l
Tetra APS 50
AllPondSolutions AP-Nano
AquaEl Miniboost
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
99
The BIG
airpump test
THE RESULTS
Some of the pumps performed way below their expected level, while
others exceeded it by quite a margin. Interestingly, the
underperformance mainly occurred with the larger, 200-500 lph
output pumps of several brands. This seems to support the
experiences of many of my ?shkeeping friends; when it comes to air
pumps, there can be signi?cant discrepancies between batches.
O The Newa Wind pumps provide good output for very low electricity
consumption. The actual measured air?ow of the ?rst three of the family
was quite close to or even above the nominal value, but the performance
of the NW3 was highly disappointing. This could be a one-off stumble,
and on the whole these pumps were good, especially the NW22, which
was my favourite in the range.
O All three Interpet air pumps
tested were designed for nano or
small tanks, so don?t expect too
much from them. They are good for
decorative bubbles, but the
smallest of the line-up may
struggle with just one air stone.
The APMini would be my pick
of the bunch.
O The other Italian brand in the test
caused no surprises. The SICCE
pumps delivered a steady ?ow of air.
These were solid performers, so
de?nitely worthy of consideration.
O The AllPond Solutions
APS-Nano, as the name suggests, is
another pump for tiny tanks, with a
measured 27 lph output. This pump
is extremely quiet, so could be used
for that small tank next to your bed.
O The Aqua One Air O2
Pods catch the eye with their
unique design. They look like
Bluetooth speakers, so would
easily blend into the
contemporary environment.
Luckily, they?re quiet as well,
so won?t interfere with your
music. A quirky air pump with
a solid performance.
O The AquaEl Miniboost really
punches above its weight, producing a
surprisingly large amount of air from
extremely low electricity usage. Ideal
for moderately-sized tanks.
O The measured performance
of the EHEIM Air Pump 100 was
slightly below the expected level,
especially considering the
relatively high wattage it uses.
O The smallest AquaNova product
? the NA-100 ? was the weakest
performer in the test, producing only
20% of the expected output. The ?ow
control on the largest NA-450 didn?t
work at all. The NA-200 is the safest
bet of this trio, and a good budget buy
for tanks of up to 150 l.
O On testing the SuperFish Air-Flow1,
I had to check twice to ensure I?d read the
stopwatch right ? but this pump really
did produce 60% more air than expected.
This performance and the included free
diaphragm makes it excellent value for
money. Highly recommended.
O The Aqua Air pumps from
Maidenhead Aquatics could be the
twin brothers of the above pump
? they even come with the same
branded spare diaphragms. So, no
wonder the performance was also
almost identical. An affordable and
wise choice for those on a budget.
O One of the biggest surprises of the
test was the poor performance of the
larger JBL ProSilent air pumps. While
the small a50 was right on the money,
the a200 and a400 really disappointed
with their low outputs. They look
beautiful though?
O With the futuristic-looking Tetra APS
range, the APS 150 and APS 300 pumps were
slightly off the scale, while the results of the
APS 100 and APS 400 were on a par with, or
slightly above, the competitors. The star of
the line-up is the APS 50, the best
performing 50 lph pump here by a mile.
100
O The Fluval Q Series pumps,
produced huge amounts of air
and quite literally blew away
most of the competition. They
may not be the smallest or the
most economical in terms of
electricity consumption, but
these are de?nitely the ones to
buy if you need reliable and
constant power.
Contacts
O Tetra: tetra-?sh.com
O Fluval: uk.hagen.com
O All Pond Solutions:
allpondsolutions.co.uk
O Aqua Nova: novaeuro.com
O Maidenhead Aquatics:
?shkeeper.co.uk
O Eheim: eheim.com
O Super?sh: aquadistri.com
O Interpet: interpet.co.uk
O Newa: newa.it/en/
O Sicce: sicce.com
O Aquael: aquael.pol/en/
O JBL: jbl.de/en/
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
HOW THE PUMPS COMPARED
* Please note that the Fluval factory maximum ?ow ?gures are measured at 45cm depth.
PUMP
FACTORY
MAX. LPH
5cm
25cm
50cm
75cm
MEASURED AT
5CM/NOMINAL
EXTRAS
WATTAGE
PRICE
RRP
AllPond Solutions
APS-Nano
27
24
19
15
10
88%
Free air hose and
air stone
0.9W
�.00
Interpet NeoAir
45
35
27
18
9
78%
1.5W
�.99
Tetra APS 50
50
85
76
69
58
171%
Free control valve
2W
�.90
JBL ProSilent a50
50
56
47
42
32
112%
Free air hose and
air stone
3W
�.79
Interpet APMini
60
68
60
50
43
113%
SICCE Airlight 1000
60
56
45
26
8
93%
Interpet AVMini
75
48
43
42
39
63%
Free air hose
and air stone
Newa Wind NW1
90
85
61
41
18
95%
Free air hose
and air stone
2W
�.99
Aqua Air air-pump 1
96
161
146
109
81
167%
Spare diaphragm
2W
�.99
SuperFish Air-Flow1
96
156
133
113
92
162%
Spare diaphragms
�
2W
�.99
EHEIM Air Pump 100
100
92
80
64
56
92%
3.5W
�.00
AquaNova NA-100
100
24
20
12
7
24%
2.5W
�.99
Tetra APS 100
100
94
85
79
68
94%
2.4W
�.05
AquaEl Miniboost
100
119
99
83
63
119%
1.8W
�99
Aqua One Air O2 Pod
100
100
94
84
64
51
94%
Free air hose
2.5
�.99
Newa Wind NW2
110
108
99
82
65
99%
Free air hose
and air stone
2W
�.99
Fluval Q0.5
120*
184
179
173
167
144%*
4.5W
�.44
Tetra APS 150
150
105
102
96
85
70%
3.1W
�.65
AquaNova NA-200
200
186
164
145
89
93%
2.7W
�.49
Newa Wind NW22
200
238
202
164
133
119%
Free air hose
and air stone
2.5W
�.77
Newa Wind NW3
200
164
156
143
118
82%
Free air hose
and air stone
3.5W
�.99
SICCE Airlight 3300
200
224
188
164
138
112%
4W
�.99
JBL ProSilent a200
200
75
68
60
53
38%
Free air hose
and air stone
3.4W
�.45
Fluval Q2
216*
313
281
245
195
113%*
Repair kit �-15
4.5W
�.70
Fluval Q1
240*
275
267
254
243
106%*
4.5W
�.29
Aqua Air air-pump 2
240
249
198
154
121
104%
Spare diaphragms
4W
�.99
Aqua One Air O2 Pod
240
240
214
212
183
148
89%
Tetra APS 300
300
259
248
228
222
86%
Free control valves
4.5W
�.60
AquaNova NA-450
400
222
184
155
140
56%
3.8W
�.99
Tetra APS 400
400
383
367
340
292
96%
Free control valves
Spares kit: �9
4.5W
�.00
JBL ProSilent a400
400
197
177
151
125
49%
Free air hose
and air stone
5.5W
�.95
Aqua Air air-pump 4
600
506
394
307
230
84%
Spare diaphragms
8W
�.99
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
�.99
1.8W
Free control valve
Free control valve
�.99
�.49
101
PFKNewGear
Nathan Hill reviews the latest ?shkeeping products.
Seneye Magnetic Holder Pro
I love reviews where I can be brief. Pretty much everything you
need to know about this Seneye holding device is right up there in
the name.
What you need to know:
O It?s actually really smart.
O It?ll hold through glass up to 16mm with ease.
O Makes your tank look 70% more futuristic.
O Considerably less annoying than the sucker version ?
I used to love coming in to the room and seeing my Seneye
swinging about in the water, like a bear?s arm ?shing
for salmon.
O Seneye slips in and out perfectly.
O Not the cheapest thing out there.
At �.99, this is a product that?s
probably pitched at the more image
conscious reefkeeper or planted tank
aquascaper, but if looks are your thing, then
get involved.
I?d probably go the extra mile and keep
cleaning it of any encrusting algae in a reef
aquarium, but that?s just me.
Price: �.99 (Seneye device not included).
More info: seneye.com
Zoo Med Floating Betta Log
Zoo Med is de?nitely taking a lead in weird products. A while
back I reviewed the Zoo Med Leaf Hammock, which, while
appearing to be quirky-on-the-brink-of-bonkers, turns out to be
a massively selling great product. Now it?s the turn of a log.
The ?rst thing ? the only thing, perhaps ? that marks this out
from any other resin decor you might see on sale is that it ?oats.
Usually the exact opposite of what we want our decor to do, this
rounded, brown and alarmingly unconvincing hoop of ?wood?
bobs about on the surface.
Thing is, Betta LOVE these things. Well, Betta splendens
males do, at least. I can?t vouch for other species.
Much in the same way that cats can?t help
themselves from climbing in to boxes
wherever they see them, give a Fighting
?sh male something to claim as a
territory near the surface, and he?ll
take it. If you think about it, it makes
sense. An obligatory air-breathing
?sh, which feeds from the surface,
breeds at the surface, and spends
most of its life at the surface is
going to bene?t from shelter at?
the surface.
To stop the thing careening
around the tank like a raft
down whitewater rapids, you
want to have very little surface
movement or ?ow in your tank.
102
If you happen to have a community tank and ?ow is unavoidable,
then maybe use a little thread to anchor it to something.
To top it all off, there?s even a hole in the top of this thing, so the
Betta needn?t even leave the log to breathe. Moreover, he needn?t
move outside to feed, as you can sprinkle food straight on top of
him. Better still, he can use the log as a base of operations for
spawning, building a bubblenest in the aperture on top, to
hold eggs.
Yeah, it?s odd, and if I?m honest I could make something
similar with a piece of cork broken in to bits, and some
superglue. If I wanted to be really basic, I?d just hack some
drainpipe apart and stick a bit of polystyrene to it. But for
what is currently a wide-open market, Zoo Med has the
best-looking offering.
You want the downside? Even if you?ve got a
little water movement, and the tank is
somewhere within audible range
when you?re trying to sleep,
you?d best be looking forward
to that ?dink, dink, dink? sound
as it gently bashes the side
panes all night.
If you?re a Fighter keeper, you?ll
really like these things. It?s not
huge either, at 7 x 7 x 9cm in size.
Price: Around �.
More info: zoomed.com
CTICAL FISHKEEPING
Aquarium Systems Mega M
A simple, straightforward range of products that work out
tremendous value for money. Mega Media comes in three
different grades of (predictably) small, medium and large.
Each comes as a 500g portion, which doesn?t sound much but
when it?s in front of you it?s huge. The packages are as long as my
gangly arm, and at over six feet tall, I?m hardly short-limbed.
The media is synthetic, and is tough to the touch. Unlike some
media I?ve handled, this stuff feels substantial. It has some
integrity, you can pull it and shape it like Play-Doh. I can get a
handful of the large media, for example, and tear it up into 20
small bits. Then I scoop them all up into a ball, grind them
together and they form a whole again. I?m not used to that. I?m
used to media that pulls apart at the ?rst bit of rough housing.
The bene?t of that? It means I can vigorously clean the stuff
and re-use it, and that?s a claim that Aquarium Systems is
making here. Once soiled, I can beast this stuff in hot water, blast
it with a hose, do all I can to get it clean again, and it?ll be good for
a second run. Not that I need to re-use it, of course. I?m only
running a couple of 60cm tanks right now. There?s enough
media here to see me through to 2025, I reckon.
Being inert, there?s no chance of alteration of water chemistry,
and it doesn?t leach anything, making it suitable for freshwater
and marine use. If you?ve got a big marine sump, you?ll be able to
?ll it to your heart?s content ? if that?s your approach. If you run
external canisters on freshwater set ups, you?ll be set for years if
you buy a pack of each size.
As a bonus, the large media makes a really good spawning
substrate
alternati
Probably
hiding pl
fry, too.
Excelle
?lter me
sort of th
Price: 50
medium
More info: aquariumsystems.fr
Aquarium Systems
A la Carte Reefmist food
You know how you sometimes buy a bag of crisps, and when you open it there?s about 1cm of
crisp down right at the bottom of the bag, and you literally need to get wrist deep just to pull one
out? That?s what this stuff is like. 30g is not a big amount in a packet of this size. In a bag over
20cm tall (opened) my food barely gets up to 3.5cm on the ruler I?m jamming in to it.
So what?s in it? Not a clue. The packaging claims micro and macro algae, phyto and
zooplankton, and yeast, but doesn?t specify anything else. It has a real spirulina smell, so your
guess is as good as mine. What I can say for sure is that it?s 40% protein, 10% fat, and 12% ?bre.
In reality? It looks a lot like the stuff I?m left with after I?ve gone hammer and tongs on a handful
of ?ake food with my pestle and mortar. There are occasional ?ecks in it, something white that
hasn?t crushed down in the manufacture stage ? I?ve no idea if that?s deliberate or not.
The pack comes with a pouch of silica gel inside to keep this powder really dry. Despite that,
mine is heavily clumped together, though it separates easily enough with a little pinching. You?ll
want to keep this pouch locked tight between uses if you don?t want it to spoil.
It?s aimed at a range of marine organisms: anemones, stony and soft corals, ?sh, fanworms,
clams, sponges, copepods, rotifers ? you get the idea. It also suggests on the packaging that it
can be used to enrich frozen foods, without specifying how exactly.
Day to day use involves adding a quarter teaspoon per 80 l volume daily.
There?s also a curious claim that ?ReefMits (sic) activates also the nitrifying and denitrifying
bacteria?s.? (sic) As both a writer and ?shkeeper, I don?t know what troubles me more there.
Anyway, it could be amazing. As I haven?t got a reef tank running at present, I can?t put it to
the test personally, and feedback from actual users seems scant. It?s also quite pricey for 30g
of food, so it had better have some amazing ingredients in there.
Price: �.99 for 30g
More info: aquariumsystems.fr
103
PFKNewGear
NATURAL DECOR
returns!
It must have been around this time last year I received my ?rst
batch of Tannin botanicals, and since then, I?ve been preaching the
bene?ts to anyone who?ll stay still long enough to listen. Maybe I?m
coming at it through tinted glasses (see what I did?) because I?m
already a convert, but when this new consignment turned up I
couldn?t hold down my delight.
For those new to Tannin goods, the packages arrive in ?ne form.
The little touches help. Opening the box, the ?rst thing I see is a
sticker on the inside ? ?tint the world?. Your mood is lifted before
you?ve pulled out the ?rst bag.
Whatever you order, it comes in individual
clearly labelled, and with the wonderful caut
human consumption! Do not ingest! Thanks
about to scoff a load, washed down with a gla
In each order you get a hessian bag, which i
before. I thought it was something to soak th
the amusement of Tannin owner Scott Fellm
perfectly plausible theory for my error ? we
suggested (Tannin is based in the USA). I have to confess, that?s
probably right. Give me something that needs soaking, and a little
hessian bag, and I?m ?lling in the gaps?
Tannin?s product diversity is a million worlds away from the
leaves you?ll pick up off the ground, or the huge sheets of Catappa
offered in many stores. In fact, to make that point, I?m not even
going to mention a leaf. This review will be for pods alone!
Note that the prices given are for products alone and don?t
incorporate freight from America.
bDried Casulo pods
Okay, ?rst up, don?t bother Googling any of the
real identities remain a trade secret, so the nam
freshly invented all the way.
Casulo pods look a lot like big, fat, pea pods. T
and hollow, and out of the packet they?re rigid a
shoes and ?oat like a lifeboat. Soak ?em for a lo
an hour simmering at least ? and they soften u
bb
?Bl dd
k?
i t
d b
EEPING
`Dried Estalo pods
Remember the ?lm ?Dune? with folks running about in the desert,
and giant worms leaping about eating people? These pods look
exactly like the business ends of those worms.
They need a long boil to get them to sink (45 minutes
upwards) and even then they?ll leach some
acid out in to the tank. Which is great!
From a functional perspective, they
don?t really do much. They?re too tiny
for ?sh and shrimps to hide in. From
an aesthetic perspective, they are
great. Combine them with some
Snapping Lampala pods, and a bed of
leaves, and they make everything look a
lot more uniform. If you?ve dabbled
with bigger pods before, you?ll know
n, look a bit
These things
on, making the
s.
o amazing as
ano or pico set-up.
? Ten.
).
_Dried Snapping Lampada pods
Looking like miniature dried pears that have torn straight up the middle,
I had to stop (almost slap) a co-worker who explained they hadn?t
opened up fully and was about to crack one like a pistachio nut.
These are absolute rotters to get sinking (mine, anyway), but well
worth the near hour or so you?ll spend simmering them to get them to
stay down. In rainforest regions, seed pods like these make up a big
chunk of the scattered debris, so they look very much in place. Leaching
seems minimal, so don?t expect a wine-red tank after adding a handful
(besides which, you?ll lose much tannin during the simmering stage).
Size wise, mine range from about 4cm up to about 7.5cm.
O Package quantity ? Six.
O Price $5.00 (Around �75).
Tannin?s product diversity
is a million worlds away
from the leaves you?d pick
up off the ground, or the
Catappa offered in stores.
aDried Sino Xicara pods
Far and away, the most ?forced? product in the Tannin range, these have a clean-cut opening that
makes them look less natural than most. Apparently, these are pretty big in the frog world, and I
can see why they?ve not been embraced too much by the aquarium world. For one, they don?t sink.
Boil them all you like, they?ll keep on ?oating. You know what I do? Glue a stone to one side, then
hide the stone just under the substrate.
Bene?ts? Despite the clean cut, they look pretty cool. And they make awesome caves for smaller
cave spawners. Got some cute little Betta species you need a natural cavern for? Right here.
O Package quantity ? Three
OPrice $8 (Around �.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
105
P
Shoptour
This month takes us to shops in Dublin and Wembley.
Dublin
Wembley
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER AND NATHAN HILL
Seahorse Aquariums
Address: Unit 3 St Joan?s
Industrial Estate, Turnpike
Road, Ballymount, Dublin 22,
Ireland.
Telephone: +353 1 459 5650.
Website: www.
seahorseaquariums.com
Opening hours: Mon?Wed and
Fri?Sat 9.30am?6pm; Thurs
9.30am?8pm; Sun 11am?6pm.
What is it?
Seahorse Aquariums is a large,
well-established retailer based
in Dublin, Ireland. Its owner
and marine biologist, Kealan,
has a background in seahorse
conversation, hence the name.
It stocks a huge range of
freshwater and marine ?sh,
inverts, aquarium plants and
dry goods. The shop also has
its own laboratory for
diagnosing ?sh ailments,
custom-building aquarium
factory, breeding facilities, two
quarantine facilities, a
dedicated staff training and
meeting room, and some of the
best quality ?sh and displays
you?re ever likely to see. It has a
sister store in Galway and
between the two stores
employs 20 staff.
High points
You?re greeted on entry by an
incredible L-shaped reef that?s
probably one of the ?nest in
Europe. I?ve seen my fair share
of reef displays and this was
something else. Each member
of staff is clearly passionate
and an expert in their own ?eld,
from aquascaping to breeding
?sh, high-end reef to marine
biology. Every part of the hobby
is very well catered for whether
you?re an absolute beginner or
seasoned pro. The shop is
clean, well-presented with
some inspirational displays
covering most genres of
?shkeeping.
A clever addition is the
second ?oor full of dry displays
in a makeshift living room,
which demonstrates how
aquariums can ?t into your own
living space. Seahorse employs
highly skilled and passionate
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
106
Crosshatch trigger.
?sh breeder, Ioan Micu, who
supplies many of the shop?s rarer
?sh at highly competitive prices.
Low points
It?s almost impossible to pick any
fault. Set aside plenty of time to
visit the shop. I wish I had two
days there, such was the sheer
quantity of great livestock and
inspirational displays.
Pondkeepers will have to look
elsewhere for livestock.
Verdict
I?ve visited a lot of shops all over
the world in my time and this has
to be my favourite so far. There?s
something for everyone. I
challenge you not to be impressed
by this shop or its staff. Forget the
Guinness Storehouse when you
visit Dublin. This should be any
?shkeeper?s number one priority!
Mantis shrimp.
Star rating
Tropical ?sh
11111
Discus
11111
Cichlids
11111
Cat?sh
11111
Oddballs
11111
Indoor plants
11111
Pond plants
NS
Koi
NS
Pond ?sh
NS
Fancies
11111
Indoor coldwater 11111
Marine ?sh
11111
Marine inverts
11111
Indoor dry
11111
Pond dry
11111
Freshwater inverts 11111
Labelling
11111
What stood out
(prices in Euros)
G Iguana tetra ?9.99
G Orange oto ?9.99
G XL discus ?199.99
G Blue Stiphodon goby ?7.99
G Green laser cory ?39.99
G Lemon orange Bolivian tetra ?4.99
G Wild diamond tetra ?7.99
G Freshwater moray eel ?150
G Green peacock mantis shrimp ?85
G Crosshatch trigger?sh ?2,500 pair
G Flame dwarf parrot ?sh ?550
G Pot-bellied seahorse ?750
Iguana tetra.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Magni?cent tank
displays abound here.
Stiphodon gobies.
Diamond tetra.
Tube anemone.
Pot-bellied seahorse.
Flame parrot cichlid.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
107
PFKShoptour
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wembley
Address: The Greenhouse,
Chilcot Nursery, Birchen Grove,
Wembley, NW9 8RY.
Telephone: 0208 2003545.
Website: ?shkeeper.co.uk
Opening hours: Mon to Sat
9am?5:30pm; Sun 11am?5pm.
Low points
This is a long-established
Maidenhead Aquatics branch
that has evolved into a real
catch-all superstore of
aquatics, set over a huge
indoor footprint. It?s a large one,
for sure.
A couple of young ?big boys? lurk
about in one or two tanks
(Hydrocynus Tiger ?sh, Sorubim
shovelnoses).
Some marine inverts seemed a
little staid and pass� in the face of
modern trends for exciting zoas
and exorbitant frags. The pond
side, by virtue of being indoors,
looked sparse because it was
winter at the time of our visit.
Oh, and there was Dracaena
on sale in the plant vats. Fear
not, I swore at the manager for
that one...
High points
Verdict
Different staff members cover
different areas, and these guys
are passionate about what they
do, so speak to them. Ask them
if any of the ?sh on sale were
formerly theirs ? one guy in
particular here is a breeding
wizard, while a few of the nicer
?sh spotted, when I asked,
turned out to be ?sh that the
staff had nurtured at home
themselves.
The tropical range is spread
over several banks, conveniently
(but informally) organised into
sections of ?community?,
?community with caution?, and
?specialist?. There?s a cracking
selection of Angel?sh, and
Stendker Discus looking at their
peak, and a smattering of wild
and unusual imports really lifts
the tropical house. Cat?sh and
cichlid fans will have lots to
choose from.
Be sure to check out the
display turtles, too.
The balance here is wonderful. I
could send a newcomer with as
much enthusiasm as I?d send an
expert aquarist. This Wembley
branch has been around long
enough to explore what does and
doesn?t work, and wise enough to
play to its strengths while
discarding any weak lines.
Dry goods, trops, marines,
coldwater, whatever ? it?s all
thoroughly represented.
What is it?
What stood out:
G Stendker Pigeon blood
Discus �
G Amazon blue Angel?sh
�.95
G L200 Green phantom
�
G Dwarf Pangasius �95
G Redhook Myleus (big!)
�.95
G Brochis multiradiatus
(big!) �
G Barbus fasciolatus
�95
G Geophagus megasema
�.50
G Anomalochromis
thomasi �95
G Yellow tang �
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
108
Brochis multiradiatus.
Pseudeutropius cat?sh.
Star rating
Tropical ?sh
11111
Discus
11111
Cichlids
11111
Cat?sh
11111
Oddballs
11111
Indoor plants
11111
Pond plants
OS
Koi
OS
Pond ?sh
OS
Fancies
11111
Indoor coldwater 11111
Marine ?sh
11111
Marine inverts
11111
Indoor dry
11111
Pond dry
11111
Freshwater inverts 11111
Labelling
11111
There are plenty
of dry goods in
all areas.
Cherry shrimp.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Barbus fasciolatus.
All sectors of the hobby are
catered for, with individual
staff having their own
specialist areas.
Anomalochromis
thomasi.
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
There?s a great balance
of ?sh in this big,
established store.
Green phantom plec.
109
TOP of the
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
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
East
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.
Discus Retailer of the Year
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
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 arch issue of
On sale January 17th 2018
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS.COM
CHERRY PICKING
The stunning little Cherry barb is our
?sh of the month. Discover the appeal
of this long-term community favourite.
SHIFTERS AND SIFTERS
We spotlight the bottom dwelling marine
?sh and invertebrates often added as
substrate cleaners in the reef tank.
Are they really as bene?cial as we think?
NEIL HEPWORTH
ALAMY
NEIL HEPWORTH
GLOWING EMBERS
Pretty, polite and perfectly proportioned ?
the ?ery orange Ember tetra graces
aquariums across the globe. Find out how
to keep them in yours.
LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG!
We look at some of the most under-rated
community cat?sh out there.
Plus
O The wacky world of Victorian aquariums O Readers? tanks O Coral warfare
O New gear reviews O Step-by-step guides O Your questions answered by our experts
111
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
BRISTOL
LONDON
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
14
The Aquatic Store
Really does have it all!
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
COUNTY DURHAM
LEICESTERSHIRE
Retailer of
the year
North East
The only true aquatic Superstore, with over 250 stock tanks
specializing in community, rare and unusual cold water, tropical
and marine fish inverts and corals. Largest range of aquariums,
dry goods, frozen and live foods and Tropical plants.
Fish Alive
www.leicesteraquatics.com
Leicester Aquatics
Opening hours weekdays 10.00 - 18.00, Saturdays 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays 10.00 - 16.00, Closed on Wednesdays
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
0116 2709 610
Units 10 & 11, Dragonville Retail Park, Durham DH1 2YB
Phone and fax: 0191 3843590
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.the?shbowlltd.com
KENT
email: the?shbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
ABACUS AQUATICS
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
Now open on Sundays
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 8DJ
020 8302 8000 / enquiries@abacusaquatics.co.uk
Huge range of
livestock in more
than 600 tanks!
TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
Six-time winner of top UK aquatic retailer
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
LINCOLNSHIRE
Readers?poll
2017
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Readers?poll
2017
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Tel: 01773 861255 Marine direct: 01773 811044 Reptile direct: 01773 811499
LINC
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
QUAT
SA
I
CS
Classi?ed To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
The Fish Bowl Ltd
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
YORKSHIRE
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.
www.denbykoiponds.co.uk
01773 863991/07773186198
sales@denbykoiponds.co.uk
SHEFFIELD?S LARGEST
AQUATIC CENTRE
Rare breeds - Discus, L-number Plecs etc
Over 150 aquariums and ponds
Tropical, Coldwater & Pond
2700 Litre Malawi section
0114 231 0225
www.shef?eldaquatics.co.uk
SCOTLAND
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
LONDON
112
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
RS ONLY
RETA IL SHOPPE
r all your
Thank you fo 1967!
e
support sinc
, London, E2
l Green Road 0 77292444
220 Bethna
02
x:
5356 Fa
Tel: 020 7739
G TIMES
AY: CLOSED
? TUES, WED &
FRI 10.30-6.00
? SAT 10.00-6.00
? SUN 10.00-2.0
0
ww.wholesaletropicalsaq
uat
ics.co.uk
To advertise in the Practical Fishkeeping
classi?ed section please contact
James Belding on 01733 366410 or
email: James.Belding@bauermedia.co.uk
FOR SALE
Don?t miss the
next issue of
BUSINESS FOR SALE
AQUARIUM RENTAL &
SERVICE BUSINESS
Northwest area covered currently.
10 years accounts available.
No storage required - vehicle included.
Only 10 days per month required.
O TE8YVRSZIV KVSWW TVS絏
www.aquarist-classi?eds.co.uk
On sale 17th Jan
�,000
Call J
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