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Practical Fishkeeping Spring 2018

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Spring 2018 �50
BUYER?S
GUIDE
38
POND
PUMPS
TESTED
EXPLORE THE
MORICHALES
With Ivan Mikolji
Wonderful
Whiptails
PARROT
CICHLIDS
Glorious
Glassfish
The ultimate
1
peaceful
catfish
Is there a place
for hybrid fish?
The species you
can see through
Ultra-Gloss
Bronze
Ultra-Gloss
Copper
Ultra-Gloss
Black
Ultra-Gloss
White
Ultra-Gloss
Plum
Ultra-Gloss
Japanese Pear
Ultra-Gloss
Metallic Black
Ultra-Gloss
Metallic Anthracite
Super-Matt
Anthracite
Super-Matt
Cream
Super-Matt
Grey
Jade
Raw Concrete
Grey
Royal Oak
Natural
Natural
Halifax Oak
Tobacco
Halifax Oak
Aquarium Accessories
What your fish need to be happy
? UVC clarifiers ensure clear, bacteria-free aquarium water
through UVC radiation - ideal for preventing diseases.
ClearTronic UVC is also great for eliminating algae and cloudy
water - ensuring your aquarium is, and stays, clear.
? Aquarium heaters ensure a constant water temperature,
keeping your fish in optimal health. HeatUp is available from
25w to 300w and is perfect for submerged use.
? Automatic feeders ensure your fish are getting a regular supply
of food, even when you are not at home. The FishGuard
automatic feeder supplies fish with up to 12 feed doses daily and
protects the food from moisture.
To find out more on the all the other accessories available from the
Indoor Aquatics range, please visit www.oase-livingwater.com
Welcome
Learn from
the best
CHRIS SERGEANT is a
keen diver, researcher
and regular PFK
contributor. This month
he excites us with his
take on the fascinating
and quirky Sea moths
on page 8.
GABOR HORVATH is
PFKs product tester
who is used to
improvising and
assessing hardware. He
compares 38 pond
pumps against each
other on page 96.
AD KONINGS is an
ichthyologist and living
legend for his extensive
work with cichlids. He
describes Tropheus
duboisi for us on page
40.
COLIN DUNLOP is a
lifelong hobbyist turned
ecologist, with a history
in zoos and the aquatic
trade. He tells us all
about his river project
on page 48.
www.practicalfishkeeping.co.
This month has been busy. Perhaps the
busiest we have ever been. Visually, we?ve
tried to set the bar high, and we sincerely hope
you approve. We think we?re seeing in Spring
with our prettiest PFK to date.
This month is a real journey. We start you of
with Chris Sergeant?s take on a wonderful
marine oddity (p.8). Field explorer Ivan
Mikolji carries you through the morichales
(p.14). Steve Baker tells you why you need
Whiptail cat?sh (p.26), while new contributor Mark Beeston makes
an explosive debut with his wonderful take on Anthias (p.40).
We have community oddities. Neal Monks gives you reasons to love
Glass?sh (p.70), while Bob Mehen shows you how to ?ll that vacant
ceiling area of your aquarium (p.84). Planning a pond this year? You?ll
want a ?ick through Gabor Horvath?s comprehensive test of 38 pond
pumps that are currently on the market (p.96).
This month we also see the return of cichlid legend Ad Konings
(p.90). We asked him to write all about one of our favourites ?
Tropheus duboisi ? and he didn?t disappoint.
We also introduce our Parrot cichlid debate on page 24. Over the
coming year we?ll be tackling a range of topics in this style, with staf
writer Steve Baker and myself taking opposing sides on subjects that
will be close to any aquarist?s heart.
Here?s hoping you enjoy reading this month?s issue as much as we?ve
enjoyed compiling it!
Get 6 months
of PFK for
just �*
See page 34
14 Ivan Mikolji shows us his
underwater world.
26 Take a closer look at
Whiptails.
40 Mark Beeston gets to
grips with Anthias.
Get more PFK!
Like us on Facebook.com
Follow us @PFKmagazine
Watch us on youtube.com/
user/practicalfishkeeping
5
Sprin
Cover image: Jane Gould/Alamy
14
ON THE COVER
14
24
EXPLORE THE MORICHALES
Ivan Mikolji treks around tropical
South America in search of the
?sh-friendly moriche palm tree.
PARROT CICHLID DEBATE
Nathan Hill and Steve Baker
discuss the ethical dilemmas
surrounding cross-bred hybrids
and ask the question, is it ever
okay to mess with nature?
26
WONDERFUL WHIPTAILS
40
EMBRACE ANTHIAS
70
GLORIOUS GLASSFISH
76
HOW TO KEEP BOXFISH
96
POND PUMPS TESTED
6
A favourite among discerning
suckermouth cat?sh fans,
Whiptails are diverse in their
looks, lifestyle, diets and
breeding strategies.
40
Mark Beeston looks at the harem
etiquette of brightly coloured
Anthias, and argues that giving
them space is the secret to
pacifying aggressive males.
Transparent, tropical and
perfectly adapted to their natural
habitat, Glass?sh deserve a place
in your tank. Neale Monks raises
a glass to this fascinating ?sh.
They may be cute as babies, but
box?sh can reach 45cm and often
catch aquarists unawares. Tristan
Lougher explains why having the
right setup is essential.
This month?s big buyer?s guide
takes an in-depth look at the best
fountain-only, combo and solidhandling ?lter pumps, and ofers
up a few expert tips.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
76
26
96
KNOW-HOW
8
FLIGHT OF THE SEA MOTH
When you?re named after a
mythical winged horse and have
legs and a beak, you?d better be a
bit special. Chris Sergeant takes a
closer look at this seabed marvel.
48
55
84
90
08
UP THE RIVER
Colin Dunlop?s incredible new
aquarium takes inspiration from
wild streams. Find out how he
built and ?scaped it from scratch.
FISHKEEPING ANSWERS
Internal parasites, Clown loach
breeding, nano reefs and more.
LIFE AT THE TOP
Bob Mehen turns his attention to
the upper layers of his tank and
looks at the species most likely
to occupy the uppermost levels.
48
TANGANYIKA?S OLDEST
HAPLOCHROMINE
Tangled networks of caves and
crevices provide one particularly
stunning cichlid with the perfect
territory to thrive. Ad Konings
takes a closer look.
REGULAR FAVOURITES
10
23
104
70
108
114
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Changes to ?sh selling laws and
Snakeheads safe from Euro ban.
TANK COMMUNITY
Letters, photos and social media
chatter from the wider PFK world.
NEW GEAR
Eheim tank, Waterlife pond salt
and Colombo marine treatments.
84
SHOPTOUR
The PFK team visits aquatics
shops in Essex and Cambridge.
TAILPIECE
Is this the best issue of PFK
ever? Nathan seems pretty sure!
PLUS
38
53
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Discover the magical world of
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90
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
7
FASCINATING FISH
Sea Moth
Flight of the
SEA
MOTHS
Named after the mythical
Pegasus, these armoured
walking fish are worth
a closer look.
MAIN: The oddest
?sh you?ll see.
INSET: Prized as
museum oddities.
CHRIS
SERGEANT
ALAMY
Chris works in
conservation
research and
regularly writes
for aquarium
publications.
8
HE SEA-BEDS of the
Indo-Paci?c are a far
cry from the hustle
and bustle of reef
life. Punctuated with
rocks and
interspersed with
seagrass beds,
they?re unlikely to capture the
attention of even the most fervent
marine aquascaper. Yet these barren
andscapes play home to some real
ocean oddities and the Pegasus sea
moth sits ?rmly atop that list.
While beaks, legs and wings are
usually associated with birds, when
you?re named after the wingedhorse offspring of Medusa, chances
are you look a bit different to the
average ?sh.
A casual glance gives the
impression of a long-lost seahorse
or pipe?sh cousin, but sygnathids
they are not. Instead, they are
Gasterosteiformes, more closely
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
related to sticklebacks, and can split
into six distinct species, all within
the family Pegasidae.
The ?rst thing that strikes you are
the wings. These are splayed
pectoral ?ns, held out horizontally,
similar to Sea robins or Gurnards.
Rather than using them to glide
above the waves to escape would-be
predators, these ?ns aid balance
and walking on the sea bed. Males
aren?t averse to ?ashing the
coloured ?n margins when disturbed.
To appreciate their walking ability,
you need to ?ip them over and
examine their undercarriage. In the
absence of a swim bladder, they
prefer to stroll rather than swim. The
difference, though, is Sea moths
appear to have legs and know how
to use them. Modi?ed pelvic ?ns,
barely more than a ?n ray and spine
joined together, allow them to
scuttle about the sea bed. Olympic
sprinters they are not, but this
method of perambulation allows
them to negotiate their habitat with
ease and, if they feel threatened, the
wings fold back, and the now
streamlined Sea moth jets off to
safer pastures.
The torso is covered in thick, bony
plates. They might look fragile, but
this hidden armoury ensures they
When you are named after the
winged-horse offspring of Medusa,
chances are you look a bit different to
the average fish
SHUTTERSTOCK
are well protected. While many ?sh
shed their scales, or employ cleaners
to rid them of algae and parasites,
Sea moths do things differently.
They moult their armoured exterior
as a whole, shaking themselves free
from it with a leap into the water
column.
Fast forward to the head end, and
their elongated, beak-like rostrum
enables them to suck micro-prey
from the surface of the sand.
Their carapaces are mottled
shades of yellows and browns,
allowing them to blend perfectly into
the background. Spot one Sea moth
and there?s a good chance another
will follow, as these monogamous
couples do everything together.
If you are lucky enough to come
across one, either while diving or
within the trade, chances are you are
looking at the Short dragon?sh,
Eurypegasus draconis, although
Longtail sea moths, Pegasus volitans,
spring up on occasion. Having said
that, even professional taxonomists
need a hand at times, with the
newest species Pegasus tetrabelos
described in 2016 after DNA
barcoding revealed some P. volitans
were not as they ?rst appeared.
While Sea moths might look like
a gene-splicing experiment
gone wrong,
they are highly
sought ? but not from
aquarists alone. Their dried
bodies are a regular feature in the
Chinese medicine trade, ingredients
in supposed cures for coughs and
diarrhoea. The IUCN Red List has
them as data de?cient, meaning
more research is needed ? and
quickly ? to determine the extent of
these harvesting threats.
Sea moths ? one to ?le ?rmly
under oddball.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
9
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics.
LEGISLATION
Proposed regulations could
affect private ?sh sales
PAULINE DAVEY
Delegates meet to discuss the
hobby?s future.
On 7th February DEFRA, OATA and multiple
hobbyist group representatives met to mull over
proposed changes to Section 1 of the pet shop
licensing legislation. Currently, regulation is
being widened to cover not just pet shops (as is
currently the case with a pet shop licence), but all
commercial activities with pets ? including
grooming and animal exhibitions. The update to
the licensing is aimed far wider than just at pet
shops, so the emphasis on ?shop? will change to
an emphasis on ?vending? or the sale of pets for a
margin of pro?t. From a day-to-day perspective,
most of those affected would be the likes of
unregulated online sellers who currently pro?t
from ?sh sales on platforms such as ebay, while
avoiding the requirements of licensing.
As with lots of legislative guidelines, there is an
element of how the document is perceived, and
especially important is the way it?s perceived by
local agents. DEFRA has previously stated that
hobbyists are not ?captured? under the new
regulations, but some aspects of the wording are
so broad that a nefarious inspector could use
them to prohibit activities that are currently
commonplace ? such as selling off excess fry at
club meetings.
The new proposals look to license people
making money off the back of dealing with
10
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
livestock, but who don?t currently fall under the
catchment of needing a pet shop licence. Under
the new proposals, underground importers, back
garden breeders and ebay sellers will need to
adhere to same rules as shops (though not
necessarily public safety issues unless the public
are visiting their facility). This is not aimed at
infrequent sales of a small number of fry or excess
stock by a private individual for pleasure.
The update to Section 1 also looks to increase
the minimum care levels and facilities for
livestock. There is also a push to make the licence
more affordable by renewing less frequently than
once a year.
One potentially tangled area could be that
anyone to whom Section 1 applies might also
need to abide by Section 2. Section 2 denies the
licence holder the ability to sell livestock away
from the licensed premises. It should be added
that Section 2 is not due for review for ?ve years,
so if this turns out to be the case, then any
recti?cation is at least half a decade away.
In real terms, this means a hobbyist who breeds
and sells for a small pro?t may not be able to sell
lots at a local club auction ? potentially a huge
loss for hobbyist groups that already struggle to
raise numbers for their meetings.
Much of the new framework relies on whether
or not a person makes a pro?t from their
activities, and this may turn out to be a decisive
factor in who the new legislation does and does
not apply to.
From a hobbyist perspective, it?s not easy to
make much pro?t from breeding ?sh at hobby
level. A lot of ?sh have low ?nancial value, while it
simultaneously costs a signi?cant amount to run
multiple tanks or to build and run a ?sh house.
All building, purchasing, feeding, electric
consumption, water use and even petrol for
journeys picking up or delivering ?sh could, in
theory, be offset against any pro?t made on ?sh
sales. Anyone worried about being caught up in
licensing would do well to keep their books in
order, and retain receipts for whatever you
purchase.
Another grey area is where there is crossover
? for example, a person who owns retail premises
as a ?sh trader, but also breeds and sells ?sh from
their own private collection. This requires
clari?cation. Another consideration for licensing
includes whether or not your ?sh are for
education, study or scienti?c advancement ? if
so, then you are deemed out of the new
proposals? scope.
At the time of writing, nothing has been
con?rmed and discussions remain ongoing.
NO BAN!
Channa reprieve con?rmed!
Snakehead fans will be happy,
for 2018 at lest.
NEIL HEPWORTH
A few more details have emerged of the
reprieve given to the Channa genus after
recent suggestions of a Europe-wide ban.
After an original proposal to ban Channa
was set in motion by representatives in
Spain (which has a climate that may be
conducive to the establishment of feral
populations if some should be released),
OATA, combined with the European Pet
Organisation and Ornamental Fish
International, submitted a detailed analysis
of Spain?s assessment, identifying many
?aws within it. The thrust of this analysis was
that only one species, Channa argus, was
appropriate for Europe-wide listing. Channa
argus is currently already banned from
importation within the UK, while other
species are subject to individual licensing
laws in Scotland.
Subsequently, the EU has stated that it will
not add any new species to the 2018 EU
regulations (ergo any possible ban on
Channa would be impossible this year), and
is addressing the way in which risk
assessments are undertaken.
Subsequently, Spain has been advised to
come back to the table with species-speci?c
proposals as opposed to genus-wide ban
requests, although it is recognised that in
some cases a genus-wide ban may still be
appropriate.
OATA states that it is likely that fresh
proposals will be made over the course of this
year, but that these would not be listed until
2019 at the earliest. As the UK is leaving the EU
that year, any further EU in?uence on the UK
would be subject to the transitional
arrangements at that time ? and currently we
have no idea what they are!
As well as Channa, a stay of execution was
given to the three plant species listed by the
EU as potential invasive risks, and so
Gymnocoronis spilanthoides (Senegal tea
plant), Salvinia molesta (Salvinia), and Pistia
stratiotes (Water lettuce) may now still be
traded throughout 2018.
DISCOVERIES
EVENTS
Killifish spring auction
Juripari cichlids are
widespread.
ALAMY
SHUTTERSTOCK
Get some Killi?sh
bargains.
New Satanoperca described
The British Killi?sh Association West London group is holding an
auction on Sunday 8th April. Attendees should make their way to
The Scout Hall, next to St Peter?s Church, St Peter?s Road, West
Molesey, Surrey KT8 2QE.
Killi?sh auctioning begins at midday, and starts by being split
into two groups (Red and Blue) followed later by the auction of any
other ?sh. Booking-in commences at 10:45am. The group requests
that no more than three lots of the same population of ?sh from
any one person be presented, and that only pairs or groups of ?sh
are brought. There will be an odds and ends table on the day for
single or same-sex ?sh, as well as live food cultures. Note that
there is a 10% commission on auctions.
Entrance fee on the door is � For more details contact Steve
Collins on 0208 5687711.
There is a mythological creature in Brazilian folklore known as Curupira that
protects the forest and its inhabitants, punishing those who hunt for pleasure,
kill breeding females or kill defenseless juveniles.
The name of this mythical creature has been given to a newly described
species of Satanoperca from the Rio Madeira Basin in Brazil. Satanoperca
curupira has been placed in the S. jurupari grouping and is very close to
Satanoperca jurupari itself in that they inhabit rivers simultaneously.
The distribution of S. jurupari is widespread in the Amazon basin but the
newly described S. curupira seems to be more restricted, known from the
Madeira basin, occurring in the main channel of the Rio Madeira, in several
tributaries draining the Brazilian shield, Rio Roosevelt and the Rio S鉵 Luis.
S. curupira is distinguished by marking characteristics: 3-7 dark-brown
oblique stripes from the eye and an irregular pattern of dark-brown stripes on
the check and operculum.
Scale counts, fin ray counts and patterning all lead to this new species
being included in the S. jurupari group.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 11
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics.
DISCOVERIES
Dr Alex Ploeg remembered with new cichlid species
MARCELO KRAUSE
Crenichlia ploegi in its
natural habitat.
Crenicichla ploegi is a newly described Pike
cichlid from Mato Grosso, Brazil. It?s now one
of 23 species in the C. saxatilis group, one of
the groups that was created by late
ichthyologist Dr Alex Ploeg.
Ploeg died alongside his wife and son in the
Malaysian Airlines attack in Ukraine in 2014,
and has now been honoured with the naming
of this new species. Dr Ploeg?s PhD thesis
dealt with taxonomic revisions, biogeography
and biological history of the Crenicichla genus,
he also published papers on systematics of the
genus from 1986 to 1991. 18 of his 23 described
species are still considered valid.
C. ploegi is known both from the upper Rio
Paraguai basin and from tributaries of the upper
Rio Juruena. They are found mostly in clearwater
streams and mid-sized rivers with moderate to
fast ?ow, mostly shaded by forest growth and
with rocky bottoms. Type locality is an exception,
CORRECTIONS
NATHAN HILL
Parking available
at this store.
Corrections and clarifications.
In the April 2018 issue, we reported in our Shoptour feature that there
was no parking provided next to the store at Crowders Aquatics. This
turns out to be incorrect and we have been informed that there are in
fact two parking spaces to the front of the premises, as well as one
further parking space directly behind the store. We apologise for any
confusion this may have caused.
12
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
being a large river pool more than 100m wide.
Crenicichla ploegi爄s identi?ed from others in
the C. saxatilis group by the presence of dark
spots and dense, irregular lines on the snout,
between the eyes and on top of the head in
adults, and by a dark lateral band present in
both juveniles and adults. It is hypothesised
that juvenile markings from within the C.
saxatilis group are retained to adulthood in C.
ploegi.
PRODUCTS
Aquaforest releases freshwater range
Aquaforest, already well
known for its range of marine
supplements, has now
branched out into a range of
freshwater supplements.
Among the range are
specialist plant fertilisers,
?sh and water treatments,
and substrates.
For plant keepers, eight
fertilisers in the range
include Iron, Potassium, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Macro elements and
Micro elements. There?s also a speci?c Red Plant Booster, as well as
Aquaforest?s own ofering of a glutaraldehyde ?Liquid Carbon? supplement.
The substrates are divided between the base-layer AF Natural Substrate
and the covering AF Lava Soil to go over the top of it. AF Lava Soil also
works as a standalone product.
Among the water care range are AF Water Conditioner (dechlorinator)
and Mineral Salt speci?cally aimed at RO users. There are also Carbon and
Zeolite available for external ?lter users, and a single medication in the
form of AF Purify.
All products are being distributed in the UK by Evolution Aqua. For more
information, visit aquaforest.eu or evolutionaqua.com
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CRUDE
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HABITAT
Morichales
Explorer Ivan Mikolji reminisces over a leap of
faith he took into a fertile, tropical paradise.
ALL PHOTOS: IVAN MIKOLJI
IVAN MIKOLJI
ALAMY
Founder of the Fish
from Venezuela
Foundation, Ivan is
a world-renowned
field explorer and
photographer.
14
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Revealing Venezuela?s
sun-dappled streams.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 15
HABITAT
Morichales
G
EORGE FEAR and
I drove down a
narrow dirt road,
north-west of the
Paragua River, in
the Venezuelan
state of Bol韛ar.
We were scouting
the area for new underwater
videography locations. Back then, in
2006, I wasn?t yet working in
underwater photography.
Listening to Hank Williams Sr.?s
country tunes, we drove for what
seemed like many hours without
seeing another car or human.
Suddenly, we were met with a guard
post featuring a barrier arm gate,
which stretched across the road.
We were perplexed to see such a
structure in the middle of nowhere
and, as we approached, a person
came to greet us, signalling us to
stop.
On realising that we were strangers
and ?tourists?, the man seemed to be
even more perplexed than us. We
drove closer to him and asked if we
could pass, explaining what we were
doing in the area. He explained that
this was a private hacienda, called
Hato La Vergare馻, so he couldn?t
let us pass. Instead, he suggested we
head towards a clear-water morichal
or stream that we had already driven
by.
?Turn around, drive for one
kilometre and keep looking to the
right. You won?t miss it, but be
careful ? an anaconda lives in that
morichal,? he said.
We drove back and, as promised,
about 400 metres from the road, lay
the morichal.
?Morichales? is the common name
given to a group of Mauritia flexuosa
palm trees. Moriche palm trees,
which are called ?Canangucho? in
Colombia and ?Aguaje? in Peru, are
widespread across tropical South
America. A trait that makes moriche
palms so special is their high
tolerance of wet environments or,
more crucially, their low tolerance
of dry environments.
These palm trees need year-round
hydration to thrive, so they are great
indicators of the presence of water.
For example, you could drive for
hours across a dry savannah safe in
Small fish use the moriche palm
roots, fallen palm branches and aquatic
vegetation as hideouts
16
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
LEFT: Green neons
dart in the shallows.
BELOW: Moriche
palm trees are
ubiquitous on the
skyline.
the knowledge that, if you see a
moriche palm, you will ?nd water.
These palms signal the tropical,
South American version of an
African desert oasis.
We left the dirt road, drove through
the savannah and hid the truck
behind some trees, leaving us only
two hundred metres from the small
morichal. The landscape was ?at,
with lots of tall grass.
We decided to pack up our gear
and walk to the morichal, but what
we thought was a ?eld of plain, tall
grasses wound up being a ?eld of
wetland sawgrass.
George was wearing shorts. After a
short walk his legs looked like those
of a zebra; although instead of black
and white, they were red and white!
I was wearing jeans, but no socks, so
fortunately only my ankles were
sliced by the unforgiving plants. We
stopped momentarily to reassess the
idea of visiting the morichal ? we
didn?t even know if it had clear or
running water at all.
Looking around, we saw no other
morichales, rivers or creeks. This
one did not even seem to have any
water exit drainage and it was short,
at maybe 150 metres in length. The
idea of ?nding an isolated habitat,
which might hold unique species of
?sh or plants, convinced us to keep
going, despite the razor-sharp
sawgrass.
Remote, wild aquariums
Morichales are not ?xed geological
structures per se. Rather, they are
springs, creeks or rivers that are
populated with moriche palm trees.
A river can also have ?morichal
sections?, where the moriche palms
are thriving, and still be called a
regular river elsewhere, where there
are no palm trees to be found.
Springs which do not over?ow to
become a stream or river create
interesting small morichales, which
are short and isolated.
In the banks and shallow areas you
can ?nd small tropical ?sh such as
Dwarf cichlids, Cardinal tetra, Pencil
and Hatchet ?sh. Small ?sh use the
moriche palm roots, fallen palm
branches and aquatic vegetation as
hideouts.
In waist-deep waters, medium,
more pelagic and predatory ?sh,
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 17
HABITAT
Morichales
such as Peacock bass,
As if the tall sawgrass
Piranhas and
was not dif?cult
Acestrorhynchus,
enough, our path
might be
soon became
found. When a
infested with a
morichal is very
long shrub, known
wide and deeper
locally as ?Echa pa
than ?ve or six metres,
tras?.
The English
Ludwigia
you might ?nd large
translation is ?go backwards
plant
cat?sh and larger ?sh such as
vine?, but they are commonly
Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)
called Catclaw mimosa or
and Payara (Hydrolycus
?wait-a-minute? plants. These thin
scomberoides).
and long shrubs are ?lled with sharp
I have never seen these large ?sh
hook-shaped spines from beginning
venture into the shallow parts where to end.
the rivers are born. The result is that
Once you get tangled or caught by
shallow morichales, with clear water, one or many of these vines there
come to resemble incredible, natural are some steps you must follow:
?wild aquariums.?
Firstly, say ?Ouch!? due to the pain,
Tall, robust
Moriche palms
line the banks.
Freshwater
plants colonise
the sand.
Ivan finds
hockystick
pencilfish,
Nannostomus
eques in this
Morichales.
Moriche
debris rots very
slowly and
through the
years, and all
this organic
detritus starts to
build up making
a thick layer of
acidic decaying
matter
then stop, analyse the situation and
start pulling out the vines backwards
(you will never get them off if you
pull them forward). After pulling off
all of the vines, you will be left with
hundreds of these little hook-like
spines in your skin or in your
clothes.
It?s worth mentioning that most of
the morichales I?ve explored have
had many similar traits; most of
them are spring-fed, which works in
favour of most living organisms, as
they remain wet in the dry season.
In swampy, shallow areas where the
water current is very slow, they
grow in great numbers and draw
very close together. In deeper, faster
?owing streams, they are con?ned
to the river banks.
Acestrorhynchus
microlepis patrol
the open water.
Moriche palms are very robust and decompose as it drifts down river.
shed great amounts of large leafs,
Its scaly skin, which resembles the
fruit, seeds and spikes into the
scales of a ?sh or a dragon?s egg,
immediate surrounding habitat.
opens and the fruit absorbs water,
Moriche debris rots very slowly and
making it sink.
through the years, and all this
The fruit is quite impenetrable to
organic detritus starts to build up
smaller ?sh before swelling, and
making a thick layer of acidic
only larger Pacu and Myleus can
decaying matter. The reddish-brown break through its hard, scaly skin.
fruit of the moriche is used by
indigenous people as a food
Diving into the unknown
source. Its pulp is used to
George?s legs looked pretty
make jam and it gives a
bad by this point, but he
distinctive tangy
tolerated the pain well
?avour when mixed
and kept on going.
with water into a
We ?nally made
drink. The fruit
it to the edge of
is also a food
the Morichal
source to many
and, to our
freshwater ?sh,
delight, it had water.
many of which you
We looked out from the
Palm fruit
might never assume feed
Morichal?s edge, which to
on fruit. These fruit-eating ?sh
our surprise was not at
are Piranhas from the
ground level but almost nine feet
Pristobrycon and Pygopristis genus,
under us, below a small vertical cliffSilver dollars, Pacu and cichlids,
like bank. The water looked clear,
such as Flag cichlids, Banded
but ?lled with ?ne hair algae which
cichlids and Dwarf cichlids. The
covered the surface, making it
moriche fruit ?oats when it falls
impossible to see how deep the
from the palm tree and starts to
water was and what was below it.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 19
HABITAT
Morichales
All we could see was about a
half-metre into the crystal-clear
water before the algae intruded. On
the bright side, though, there were
many fish!
We analysed the situation and
decided that the only way to get
down to the water was by jumping
from the cliff and falling for three
metres. You may think this sounds
like fun and was no great distance,
but there was no way of knowing if
the water was a half-metre or 15m
deep, or if there was a large
anaconda or crocodile waiting
beneath the algae. What worried me
the most was a vertical piece of
wood, with a fine point, waiting to
stab me as I landed.
I decided that finding some
isolated new fish species was worth
taking these risks and I jumped in.
Once I splashed into the water,
George asked if I was standing or
swimming. I relayed that the water
was almost shoulder-deep, which
seemed to be all the information he
needed and he soon landed next to
me.
Again, we analysed the situation
and soon realised that we could not
move much around due to the large
amount of algae, plus the banks
were 3 metres from the already
shoulder-deep water. How were we
going to get out of this morichal?
Moriche palms
populate springs,
creeks or rivers.
Morichales are one of the most wonderful ecosystems I have
explored. They thrive with life from top to bottom
A tranquil
Morichale in
full-flow.
WET
SEASON
20
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Spring-fed, so
able to survive
arid months.
DRY
SEASON
ALAMY
ABOVE: The white-throated toucans live in the
tree canopy in the wettest part of the forest.
Well-camouflaged
Motoro stingray.
We wondered who could help us;
our best bet seemed to be the man
at the guard post, but he was too far
away. We had also hidden the car, so
he, or anyone else, would never
know we were there.
George decided to collect fish with
his fish net while we came up with
an idea. He is a true fish guy! I
started to get a little worried as my
imagination took over, and I began
to feel like anaconda and crocodile
were touching my feet, which made
me forget about turning on the
video camera and getting some
footage.
George, on the other hand, was
showing me some sort of Tetra he
had caught, which he had quickly
baptised the Tiger Hyphessobrycon,
saying he had never seen anything
like it before. He kept on catching
fish with his net and placing them in
the small plastic bag. He was
incredibly happy and smiling from
ear-to-ear.
I could not believe he was not
worried about attracting some sort
of piranha, or other animal, with all
the blood that was seeping out from
the hundreds of cuts on his legs,
which he could not see due to the
massive amount of filament algae.
Discovering rare fish
I have never found medium or large
rocks in these habitats. The benthic
sediments are mostly composed of
thin, white silica sand mixed with
plant litter. In spots where the
moriche palm trees are spaced out
and lots of sunshine hits the water,
large amounts of freshwater plants
colonise the sand.
It is common to find large patches
of short green Eleocharis, which
appear to be like underwater lawns.
In deeper areas, diverse types of
Ludwigia create an underwater
jungle and, in some places, filament
algae grows in excessive amounts.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk 21
HABITAT
Morichales
Some of the rarest fish I have found
in morichales are the Dwarf Cichlid
Apistogramma nororientalis,
Freshwater Needlefish
Potamorrhaphis guianensis and
Parotocinclus eppleyi. There are also
some of the most popular aquarium
fish inhabiting morichales, such as
Neon tetra, Rummy-nosed tetra,
Motoro stingray and Twig-Catfish.
After a couple of minutes (which
seemed like hours), George was
done collecting fish. We decided that
I would submerge myself into the
algae, George would climb on my
back and then stand on my
shoulders. The plan worked. As I
came up out of the water, and stood
up with George on my shoulders, he
successfully held on to a tree root
near the top of the cliff and got to
the top. He then looked for a long
branch and pulled me up. I still
thank him for not leaving me in that
3m-deep ditch.
In my opinion, morichales are one
of the most wonderful ecosystems I
have explored. They thrive with life,
from top to bottom. Above, in the
moriche palm trees, innumerable
toucan, parrot and colourful birds
fill the air with their incredible songs.
In the middle, you can find many
species of beautiful orchid that cling
precariously to the palm trunks.
Underwater, where most of us
aquarists belong, is the other world
? the flowing one, which sustains all
the rest above.
George and I still cannot
remember what happened to the
Tiger Hyphessobrycon. I only wish I
had taken a picture of it right after
we got out of the morichal, so I
could show it to you.
Acestrorhynchus
falcatus, a sub30cm predator
looking for a meal.
I could not believe he was not worried about
attracting some sort of piranha, or other animal,
with all the blood that was seeping out from the
hundreds of cuts on his legs!
In less shaded
areas plants thrive
in the sun
Dwarf cichlids
thrive amongst
leaf litter.
22
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TREES & PLANTS
Sawgrass and Catclaw
mimosa mingle and
made it hard to get to
the water, while Orchids
cling to the palm trunks.
LEAF LITTER
Fronds fallen from
the Mauritia flexuosa.
Getting hold of these
fronds would be ideal
for many biotopes.
WATER
heavily stained,soft and
acidic due to tannins
leached from fallen
fronds, branches and
tree trunks.
Apistogramma nororientalis ? if
it?s one of the rarest ?sh Ivan has
seen you can be sure it?s a very
rare ?sh indead.
DRIFTWOOD
For shaded spots and
handy hideaways.
Cryptic ?sh utilise them
to hide from predation
and for breeding sites.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 23
OPINION
NATHAN HILL & STEVE BAKER
Parrot cichlids are divisive ?sh. Some hate them, some love
them, and everyone has an opinion on them. PFK?s associate
editor and staff writer sit down to discuss the issues...
L
ET?S go straight in for the
jugular and see how the
conversation evolves from
there. So, starting with the
strongest sentiment,
what?s the single worst
thing about Parrot
cichlids?
SB: It?s what the ?sh represents and what an
acceptance of messing around with cross
breeding leads to. Accepting a man-made
hybrid paves the way to not caring about
bloodlines, survival of the ?ttest or the
animal?s long-term health or ability to survive
stress free. We already see low regard for the
Parrot cichlid in areas such as tattooing and
tail mutilation (albeit not in the UK) but this
doesn?t seem to extend to natural ?sh.
NH: Is cross breeding always bad? Humans
have hybridised many
animals, and not always to
bad effect. Mules, for
example, have longer
lifespans than the horses
that sire them and are
smarter than their donkey
mothers. As for not caring
about bloodlines, I wonder
if this represents a broader
trend of changing ethical
opinions ? I would argue
that the Parrot cichlid is a
symptom rather than a
cause here. If that?s the case, I?d be wary of
holding the ?sh to account for a cultural shift.
Tattooing and mutilation are illegal in the
UK, and for the best part frowned upon by the
majority. I?d add that folks who own Parrots
often love them more like ?higher? pets such
as dogs, while many ?natural? ?sh like tetras
are the ones seen as disposable commodities.
recognise an owner and demand interaction.
What?s the need to make another?
Tattooing and tail removal may well be
banned here, but I worry about how long it
will be banned for ? the more manipulation of
animals that becomes accepted, the more
ethical boundaries will be pushed.
Is cross breeding always a bad thing? No. If
two species meet, mate and produce viable
offspring which survive, then I think it?s ?ne,
natural. But I think bringing two (or more)
species together that would never meet, don?t
produce fertile offspring and carry deformities
that would rule them out for survival in the
wild is a poor choice. And what for? Because
humans want to. Some hybrids will get the
best of both parents, like the mule, but mules
are infertile, which is genetics telling us
they?re still an unsuitable mix.
Do we even know what they are? The
?ippancy toward genetics
worries me when Parrot
cichlid owners don?t even
know their ?shes? lineage.
People vote
with their wallets.
If they truly
disliked parrots
because of welfare
issues, then there?d
be no market
JACQUES PORTAL
SB: I agree; small, shoaling ?sh are often seen
as a number and not an individual. There are
many natural ?sh with higher pet-like qualities
such as Oscars, puffers, eels and more, which
24
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
NH: I?m not sure that
viability is an issue. Many
pampered animals we
keep are sterile (dogs, for
example) so the ability to
breed isn?t prerequisite.
The deformity thing is
indeed an problem, but
Parrot cichlids don?t seem
greatly inconvenienced with their deformities.
And I don?t know how many Parrot cichlid fry
are culled, but I?d wager it?d be around the
same percentage as other mass-farmed ?sh.
Also, could it be said that Parrots are better
suited to aquaria than some ?natural? ?sh?
They don?t require much space, and seem
both robust and interactive. Any ?sh unsuited
to aquaria experiences high mortality and
stress, quite the opposite to most Parrots. But
many ?natural? ?sh such as Clown loach
experience higher short-term mortality rates
and stress.
NATHAN HILL
SB: I don?t buy in to this idea that because
we?ve messed about with some animals, then
it?s ?ne to mess about with others to the same
point too.
Plus, I see a big distinction here, as domestic
dogs are all one species, and line-bred rather
than hybrids. I still don?t like it, just as I don?t
like line breeding in ?sh. Dogs have many
ailments and develop ageing problems
prematurely and, again, just because humans
want them ? greed over welfare.
Deformity wise, I don?t see the Parrots in
tanks at a disadvantage. In an aquarium they
can look comfortable, but I?d be surprised if
the culling wasn?t much higher than a natural
?pureblood? ?sh.
We know the head is deformed in Parrots
and some are likely going to be too deformed
and culled.
The fact they can?t close their mouths
completely means some have breathing
issues and therefore more would be culled or
succumb to problems during transport.
I agree that some other, natural
species are less suited to
aquaria. We have them
because we want
them, not necessarily
because we can
house them well. But
there are many
natural ?sh that are
more suited to
aquarium life than
both Clown loach or
Parrots.
NH: People vote with their
wallets. If they truly disliked
Parrots because of welfare issues,
then there?d be no market. Breeders are
only ?lling a void that the public supports.
I?m ?ying blind on mortality rates and
long-term health issues. All we have is
conjecture. We can say that the ?sh ?should?
have problems courtesy of deformities, but
the ?sh themselves seem (this is anecdotal, as
I can only vouch from those I?ve seen)
oblivious to their ?defects?. They strike me as
resistant to disease and water quality issues
that would hammer other ?sh.
To stick my neck on a chopping block,
Parrots almost seem a better choice for, say, a
120cm boisterous community than a generic
wild-caught, high-stress South American
cichlid that would rather be in a river. Given
the options, surely there?s a case to be made
that Parrots can be the ?least worst? option.
From my experiences, I think the issue with
Parrots boils down to two points. Firstly,
they?re seen as diluting interest in ?real? ?sh,
which threatens the hardcore aquarist ?
there?s a dread at seeing the hobby become
nothing more than a collection of chimeras.
The second point is part of a wider
argument, and depends on which side of the
GM/hybrid fence your prejudices put you.
If you?re anti-GM and against tinkering with
organisms, Parrots are a no. If you?re on the
side where tinkering is just progress, then
I doubt you?ll have a problem with them.
I think that many people?s minds are made up
on this issue before they even know what
the issue is.
SB: Absolutely, there are different camps
out there and I know mine is a hard-lined
attitude where I give much more respect to
nature than I do to the human position.
My view of GM is that if we were
sustainable with our breeding rates as
a species and responsible with
our demands on the planet,
we wouldn?t need to
mess with genetics of
anything, plus nature
wouldn?t be so
pressured by habitat
loss and pollution.
I don?t hate
Parrot?sh, but I do
hate the idea of
people messing
about with genetics
and hybridising purely
for pro?t and for the
enjoyment of other people.
For me it would be far more
righteous to spend our time and energy
exploring ways that we can lower our
detrimental impacts.
And there we?ve run out of space.
Ultimately, it?s hard to pin down any
objective angle that decides whether
Parrot cichlids are inherently good
or bad.
I think it?s pretty safe to say that you,
dear reader, are wise enough to hold
your own opinions on the subject, and
I politely remind you that we have a
letters page devoted to just that kind
of feedback.
Are you for, against, or indifferent to
Parrot cichlids, and what are your
arguments for your position?
Do you have an opinion on Parrot cichlids that you would like to share or
perhaps a topic you would like to see discuissed? If so, you can find us at
www.facebook.com/pfkmag or email editorial@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
INSET: A
typical Parrot
cichlid ? note
the ?deformed?
mouth.
TROPICAL
NATHAN HILL
Catfish
Twig Cats and
wood equal
harmony.
26
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
CRACKING
WHIPS!
Slender, graceful and delicate, the whiptail is the
suckermouth catfish for those with more subtle tastes.
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 27
TROPICAL
Cat?sh
Many whips
There are several groups to consider
in the world of whiptails. The
Rineloricaria genus is the most
commonly found group in shops; the
name combines the Greek word
rhinos, meaning ?nose?, and Latin
lorica, ?cuirass of leather?. These are
the smallest species that are easy to
PHOTOMAX
A
S INDIVIDUALS,
we all have
different tastes and
preferences. Some
people are attracted
to bold, bright
items that just can?t
be ignored ? things
that shout for attention and knock
everything else out of the limelight.
For those people, the world of
suckermouth cat?sh probably starts
and ends with the bustling world of
plecos, from their chunky bodies to
their bold, bright markings. For
those more attracted to subtle
designs, however, there is another
group of suckermouth cat?sh that
will appeal. Whiptail cat?sh?
If you prefer delicate ?nesse to
bold beauty, the whiptails have a lot
to offer. They are diverse in their
looks, lifestyles, diets and breeding
strategies and have a very laid-back
attitude. And, due to their excellent
camou?age capabilities, many are
happy to sit in full view of the
aquarist, oozing their subtle beauty.
ABOVE:
S. festivum
showing off
it?s stunning
?nage with
heavily curved
rays.
BELOW:
R. lanceolata,
males take
paternal
care while
the females
concentrate on
the next brood.
cater for with a modest set up.
Possibly the most common is
Rineloricaria parva, or the common
whiptail. R. parva has a mottled,
sandy-toned body and a compressed
shape, perfectly adjusted for its
natural habitat of leaf litter over
sandy substrates in northern South
America. It?s thought that some
R. parva in shops are hybrids and
these can be identi?ed by a slight
difference in patterning and ?nnage.
Natural specimens only have banded
markings on top ? not underneath ?
and non-hybrids have the ?whip?
?laments on both the upper and
lower edges of the caudal ?n.
There is confusion regarding the
origin of Rineloricaria sp. L010a, the
Red Lizard whiptail. It?s uncertain
whether it?s a naturally occurring
species or not. Some believe the ?sh
available are derived from a true
wild-caught ?sh, possibly from
Paraguay, but there?s no concrete
evidence to support this. Others
believe the Red Lizard is a line-bred
strain of Rineloricaria lanceolata,
while a third theory suggests the
true Red Lizard has been hybridised
with R. lanceolata because the
females are more productive.
Most confusing of all is that the Red
Lizard whiptail breeds true. If line
breeding or hybridising was involved
we?d likely ?nd some throw-back fry
showing body markings of R.
lanceolata but this doesn?t seem to
happen. The offspring hold a
uniform rusty red colouring.
Whether they occur in nature or
not, the industry is supplied with
tank-raised specimens only.
ALAMY
Making babies
28
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Rineloricaria spp. are easy to breed
at home, although fry are quite
demanding to feed initially. Sexing is
easy when mature. The males
develop odontotes (coarse, beardlike hairs) from the head and
pectoral spines. Females are devoid
of these odontotes and, when
conditioned well, are slightly more
rounded in the body.
A breeding tank doesn?t need to be
elaborate for Rineloricaria species ?
just a sandy substrate, a few fake
caves (plastic pipes work well) and a
handful of leaf litter. The adults
should be conditioned on nutritious
green foods like kale and spinach,
plus frozen or live foods such as
bloodworm and Daphnia. Water
should be soft and on the acidic side
of neutral. If they are stubborn, a
50% water change with soft, cool
water should give them the nudge
needed to initiate spawning.
Rineloricaria are cave spawners.
The male will choose his cave and
set about cleaning it until a ripe
female visits. The female deposits her
eggs and leaves the male to fertilise,
guard and fan them. This action
keeps the water moving, and the
water around the eggs well aerated.
After 4-5 days of attention the
eggs will start hatching and within a
further 2-3 days the fry will have
used their yolk sacs and start free
swimming. At this point it?s best to
remove the father (and any other
tankmates) to allow the fry full access
to food. Cucumber, kale and spinach
are ideal, but they need to be soft
enough for the young fry to digest.
Blanching removes too many
nutrients, so just pre-soak in cool
water for a day or two before adding
them. Brine shrimp nauplii and
micro worms are also good food at
this point, as are rocks with natural,
cultured awfwuchs. Food needs to
be constantly available for fry in
early days of their development.
With so much food in play, you?ll
need to keep a keen eye on water
quality and undertake regular, small
water changes.
FACTFILE
COMMON WHIPTAIL
70 l+
JJPHOTO.DK
6Scientific name: Rineloricaria parva
(Rye-nel-or-ee-car-ee-ah par-va)
6Size: 11cm.
6Origin: Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
6
Habitat: Leaf litter over sandy substrates in
clear and sediment rich streams and rivers.
6
Tank size: 75x30x30cm for a small group.
6
Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH,
2-15癏.
6Temperature: 20-25癈.
6Temperament: Very peaceful.
6
Feeding: Sinking algae wafers, fresh
vegetables, live and frozen foods.
6
Availability and cost: Common, from �
FACTFILE
RED LIZARD WHIPTAIL
70 l+
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
6Scientific name: Rineloricaria sp. L010a
(Rye-nel-or-ee-car-ee-ah)
6Size: 11cm.
6Origin: Unknown, possibly Paraguay.
6Tank size: 75x30x30cm for a small group.
6
Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH,
2-15癏.
6Temperature: 24-29癈.
6Temperament: Very peacefu.l
6
Feeding: Sinking algae wafers, fresh
vegetables, live and frozen foods.
6
Availability and cost: Quite common; from
around �.
FACTFILE
6
Scientific name: Rineloricaria lanceolata
(Rye-nel-or-ee-car-ee-ah lahn-see-o-lah-ta)
6Size: 9.5cm.
6Origin: Peru; Brazil.
6
Habitat: Leaf litter over sandy substrates in both clear and
sediment rich streams and rivers.
6Tank size: 60x30x30cm for a pair.
6
Water requirements: 6.0-8.0 pH,
5-20癏.
6Temperature: 25-28癈.
6Temperament: Very peaceful.
6
Feeding: Sinking algae wafers, fresh
vegetables, live and frozen foods.
6
Availability and cost: Not common; from
around � or more.
54 l+
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
WHIPTAIL CATFISH
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 29
TROPICAL
Catfish
Next up are the Royal Whiptails, of
the Sturisoma genus. The Greek word
Sturisoma translates as ?sturgeonbodied? and it?s easy to see the
connection with this group of
whiptails. This group includes larger
specimens than Rineloricaria and has
a similar habitat, but unlike the
peaceful Rineloricaria, the Sturisoma
species can display mildly
aggressive behaviour. This includes
tail wagging at food times to clear
away competition ? something that
can turn into a whole-body waggle
of frustration if tankmates don?t
get the idea.
Apart from this they make a good
introduction to a blackwater,
biotope-style tank or a heavilyplanted clear water aquarium. They
will appreciate some wood here and
there to live in, and need a relatively
wide tank as their heavy scaled,
extended bodies are less ?exible
than they look and require additional
space for turning ? especially if the
tank is heavily populated with plants.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Catfish royalty
Subtle differences
30
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
ROYAL WHIPTAIL
6
Scientific Name: Sturisomatichthys aureus
(Stir-iss-so-mat-ick-thiss or-ee-uss)
6Size: 20cm.
6
Origin: Magdalena, San Jorge and Ceser river basins, Colombia
6
Habitat: Sunken logs and leaf litter over sandy substrates.
6Tank size:120x45x45cm.
6Water requirements: 6.6-7.6 pH, 5-15癏.
6Temperature: 20-26癈.
6Temperament: Peaceful.
6
Feeding: Sinking algae wafers, pellets,
fresh vegetables and occasional
frozen foods.
6
Availability and cost: Quite common;
around � for a very young specimen.
240 l+
RICHARD BARTZ
The common names you will ?nd in
the shops are Royal whiptail or Giant
whiptail but determining an exact
species is a bit of a lottery. There are
subtle differences, but if the ?sh in
the sales tanks are young, then true
identi?cation is almost impossible.
Sturisomatichthys aureus (often
labelled as Sturisoma aruem, Royal
whiptail) is the most common ?sh of
the genus shipped from Colombia.
This species is identi?ed by a slight
curve in the ?rst dorsal ray, though
this curvature is not nearly as severe
as that seen in the ?n edges of
Sturisoma festivum.
All species within the Sturisoma
genus need to have generous levels
of oxygen dissolved in their
aquarium water and their bodies are
well suited to high ?ow conditions.
In terms of feeding they are unfussy,
quickly taking to sinking algae,
omnivore wafers, fresh vegetables
and meaty frozen foods.
Breeding the Sturisoma is a rather
similar affair to the Rineloricaria
genus. The biggest difference is that
these ?sh don?t use a cave ? instead
they use an upright surface, such as
a glass pane of the aquarium itself.
Karma chameleons
NEIL HEPWORTH
ABOVE:
Pseudohemiodon
are dedicated
sand dwellers
BELOW:
Most whiptails
suit both sandy
biotopes and
planted tanks.
Next we?re going to look ?sh that
are loosely termed Chameleon
whiptails (Pseudohemiodon spp.).
These cat?sh are different to the
other whiptails we have seen so far
because they tend to bury
themselves beneath sand and this is
usually how you will encounter
them if you see them in shops.
This trait of burying themselves
makes Chameleons unsuitable for
traditionally planted tanks because
they need plenty of open ?oor
space for hiding and feeding and
are likely to uproot anything you
decide to plant. To get around this
problem, you could consider using
?oating plants or plants that grow
on wood.
Naturally this group will encounter
some leaf litter over sandy
substrates, but go easy on it in a
tank as access to the sand is a
greater priority for them. Their
The Sturisoma
species can display
mildly aggressive
behaviour. This
includes tail wagging
at food times to clear
away competition
natural diet consists mostly of insect
larvae and crustaceans that they
search for under the sand using their
elaborate whiskers.
Coming from water almost devoid
of nutrients means they will be
demanding ?sh for the aquarist.
Water quality needs to be high,
nitrate levels need to be as low as
possible, dissolved oxygen needs to
be high and subdued lighting is
required. This genus is best reserved
for well-experienced ?sh keepers.
Pseudohemiodon species have a
quirky difference from other
whiptails regarding egg care. The
males develop an over-lapped lip
where eggs are gathered up after
spawning and cradled for protection
until they hatch and become
free-swimming. It is rare for
lip-brooders to be bred in aquaria
but it does happen occasionally and
brood care is very similar to that of
the other whiptails we?ve looked at.
FACTFILE
CHAMELEON WHIPTAIL
6
Scientific name: Pseudohemiodon
apithanos (Soo-doh-hem-ee-oh-don
ap-pin-ath-oss)
6
Size: 18cm.
6
Origin: Ecuador and Peru; San Miguel
river basin.
6
Habitat: Slow-flowing rivers with sandy
substrates and leaf litter.
6
Tank size:100x38x45cm
6
Water requirements: 6.4-7.6 pH,
5-15癏.
6
Temperature: 26-28癈.
6
Temperament: Very peaceful, even
towards its own type.
6Feeding: Meaty frozen foods, will
readily accept
algae wafers,
sinking tablets,
live and other
frozen foods too.
6
Availability and
cost: Only from
specialist
shops; from �
or more.
160 l+
TROPICAL
Catfish
Branching out
Last up we have Twig cat?sh, the
Farlowella genus is one of the most
cryptic of the whiptails groups. The
name honours the American
botanist William Gibson Farlow
whose studies concentrated on
algae. Rather than sandy substrates,
these ?sh are more at home on
relatively solid surfaces like fallen
tree branches and underwater rocks,
where they can hunt for aufwuchs.
FACTFILE
For the aquarist, this means a tank
TWIG CAT / TWIG WHIPTAIL
should be well mature before any
6Scientific name: Farlowella acus (Far-low-well-lah ay-cuss)
Farlowella species are introduced
6Size: 16cm.
and it?s worth using algae rocks that
6Origin: Now restricted to just a few small rivers that feed into Lake
have been cultured on windowsills
Valencia in northern Venezuela.
until they accept prepared algal
6Habitat: Among bamboo and leaf litter over a sandy substrate.
foods. Twig cat?sh are good
6Tank size: 90x30x30cm.
consumers of diatoms and common
6Water requirements: 6.8-7.6 pH, 5-15癏.
6Temperature: 23-26癈.
green algae, more so than other
6Temperament: Very peaceful.
whiptails. They will eventually
6Feeding: Green food pastes, algae wafers,
accept wafers but will accept paste
fresh veg, cultured aufwuchs and
foods like Repashy?s Soilent Green
occasional frozen or life foods.
more easily.
6Availability and cost: Unlikely available.
Again, with this group there is
Highly endangered.
often confusion regarding names.
Many shops will use Farlowella acus
but this is unlikely to be correct
because F. acus is highly endangered
and could easily become extinct
within the next 20 years. In fact, it?s
doubtful that F. acus has ever been
exported for the aquarium trade.
Instead it is likely that Farlowella
vittata is the ?sh you?re
to grow awfwuchs just
actually seeing in the shop
tanks, although Farlowella
place rocks or wood in shallow
mariaelenea is often
containers, cover with water
imported alongside F. vittata
and leave in daylight
because they live alongside
for a week or
each other naturally. F. mariaelenea
two
is subtly different in that it has a
thinner rostrum (or snout) and three
ALAMY
80 l+
FACTFILE
TWIG CAT / TWIG WHIPTAIL
6Scientific name: Farlowella vittata (Far-low-well-lah vee-ta-ta)
6Size: 15cm
6Origin: Orinoco river basin in Colombia and Venezuela.
6
Habitat: Areas of plant growth, leaf litter, twigs and roots along
river banks of streams and rivers.
6Tank size: 90x30x30cm.
6Water requirements: 6.0-7.0 pH, 3-10癏.
6Temperature: 24-27癈.
6Temperament: Very peaceful
6
Feeding: Green food pastes, algae wafers,
fresh vegetables, cultured aufwuchs and
occasional frozen or life foods.
6
Availability and cost: Commonly available;
from around � depending on size.
32
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
IVAN MIKOLJI
80 l+
F. vittata holding
on in fast flow.
What are belly
scutes?
NATHAN HILL
Dwarf
Pencil fish
As you can see, there?s a great variety of whiptails
out there to enjoy, whether you have a 300 l
blackwater biotope set up or an 80 l planted
community tank ? but you do need to be quite
careful with the ?sh you mix in with them. All the
species of whiptail cat?sh are relatively slow to
move and slow to feed and need to be kept with
more delicate feeders.
If mixed with more boisterous, bottom-feeding
?sh like plecos and earth-eating cichlids, the
whiptails are likely to be outcompeted for food
and feel disturbed and annoyed. A much better
scenario would be to keep these ?sh with smaller,
non-nippy tankmates.
The likes of pencil?sh, Nannostomus spp, more
delicate tetra such as Cardinals or Phantoms and
groups of rasboras come to mind as ideal
tankmates, or maybe something else equally
weird and wonderful like some Glass cat?sh,
Kryptopterus vitreolus.
Harliquin rasbora
NATHAN HILL
A scute (or scutum) is a
bony external plate or
scale overlaid with horn,
as on the shell of a turtle,
the skin of crocodilians
and the feet of birds.
Scutes protect the soft,
vulnerable underside of a
whiptail from rocks, twigs
and sand. This is also
something we can use for
identi?cation purposes, to
distinguish Farlowella
vittata from a F.
mariaelenea for example.
We Recommend...
NEIL HEPWORTH
rows of belly scutes, whereas the F.
vittata has two rows. Both F. vittata
and F. mariaelenea have a
substantially longer and thinner
rostrum than that of the endangered
Farlowella acus.
When it comes to breeding
Farlowella, the situation is similar to
that of other whiptails. Farlowella
adopt the same strategy as the
Sturisoma genus in that they will lay
eggs on an upright surface (usually
the glass). The male will then
continuously fan the eggs for six to
10 days, during which time other
females may visit and add to the
existing brood. Once hatched the
young will hang around the
spawning site until their yolk sacs
are used. The onus then shifts to the
aquarist to supply constant amounts
of soft, green foods and to maintain
ideal water conditions to support the
fry?s development.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 33
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TANKCOMMUNITY
The place to share your fish, tanks, letters and photos
DINNERTIME ON THE LEAKY BOAT!
Find our popular ?shkeeping
chatroom at:
www.facebook.com/groups/
PracticalFishKeeping
Lights out...
Gill Came
Does anyone think I?m mad? I
put my tank to bed and wake
it up gradually by reducing/
increasing the white light a
little at a time so that the
occupants aren?t shocked by
sudden light level changes.
David Liptrott
No my lights are designed to
do that automatically, lots of
lights are these days for that
very reason.
Katie-RoseJackson
Nope, I use the sunrise and
sunset modes on my lighting.
GillCame
Thanks for your comments.
Unfortunately my lights
aren?t auto so I?ll just carry on
doing it manually.
+
STAR
letter
ROBERT BUGG
CHAT
Dear Nathan,
The dish with the hole.
Greatly enjoyed your article in
Practical Fishkeeping (Keeping
Otocinclus in the aquarium).
I want to share this little
invention that seems to really
help keep Otos alive and well in
the aquarium. I call it the leaky
boat, and it?s just a plastic deli
container with a 1/8? (3mm)
diameter hole in the lid, ?lled
with green infusoria and ?oated
in the tank. I replenish the
infusoria daily. Otos seem to
love it. I think it reduces the
NO3- problem attendant with
dry food use, and serves as a
continual low-?ow source of
diverse live food. This also
works, of course, for other
algae-eaters, really anyone with
gill rakers and a taste for algae
and protozoa. Here?s an image.
I also have vids.
Nathan replies: Holy heck, Bob,
Hope this was useful.
this is as inspiring as it is cost
Bob
effective ? we love it!
I bet this would work wonders in
Robert L. Bugg, Ph.D.
breeding tanks, to feed up ?ckle fry
Entomologist (yep)
as well. Plus, you?ve got me
thinking about setting up a tank
for rare Otos now!
Well-deserved letter of the
month right here.
Fresh food on leak for
Otos.
JohnMcDonald
I think its good you care that
much for you ?sh.
HolgerHeidt
SHUTTERSTOCK
Don?t think it makes a blind
bit of a diference. I never
bothered in 40+ years of
keeping ?sh and once the ?sh
are used to the lights coming
on at a certain time, you will
not see them dashing around
when the lights come on.
But if you think that it makes
a diference, I am the last to
be criticising you.
ChrisBall
I have my main T5 lights, and
a small LED light unit. the LED
comes on about 15 mins
before the main lights and
goes of shortly after the main
lights come on, then come on
again about 15 mins before the
main lights go out, and remain
on for a further 1.5 hrs until
bed time. This has the desired
efect so they are not so
suddenly exposed to light they also get natural light from
the window during the day
before the light comes on so
really they have enough of a
natural setting from that.
36
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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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
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TANKCOMMUNITY
Responses to our
question ?Where would
you like to go and what
habitat would you like
to see??
SHUTTERSTOCK
Did someone say
Amazon?
Jamie Hendle: Asidethe
dangersofcaimanand
anaconda,wouldhavetobe
thefloodedforestsofthe
Amazonforsheervarietyand
inspiration!Wouldthinkthe
Africanriftlakeswouldbe
amazingtoo.MostofthefishI
keepcomefrommurkyrivers
sonopointdivingthere!
Sonny James Elsden:
Amazonallday!
Marcus Dace: Rainbowfishin
Australia,plentyofplacesto
seetheminFarNorth
Queensland,highly
recommendit!
David Merrill: Amazon.
Chris Green: Divingwith
LeafyandWeedyseadragons.
Everydayforayear.
Stephen M Owen: Lovetogo
totheAmazonbasin.Doesnt
matteraboutthespeciesjust
wanttodivethere.
Pawel Nowak: Lake
Tanganyika.
David Foster: Alreadydidit
lastyear.Amazontoseewild
discusandstingrays.
Amazing!
Finn Murray: Iwouldreally
lovetogototheAmazontosee
allthetetrasandalsogoto
gouramihabitatsinSoutheast
AsiatoseemyThreespot
gourami?s,Dave?s,wild
counterparts.
Tim Armstrong: Lake Inle.
Charlottle Glynn: Lake
Malawi and Lake Tanganyika.
Simon John Hill: Dive in the
Amazon to see the deep water
sponges and accompanying
inhabitants of that ecosystem.
Carl Brownlow: Any stream,
lake or river in the Indo
Pacific isles. Looking for
rainbowfish and loaches.
Michael Berluti: Great
Barrier Reef please.
A fan of paradise
Hi Nathan,
I would like to congratulate Steve Baker on his
excellent article about Paradise ?sh, which I believe
is his ?rst article since joining the staf of PFK.
I?m a big fan of the Paradise ?sh and I currently
own both M. opercularis and M. spechti. I keep 7
spechti in a 4ft tank and 5 opercularis in a 3ft tank
without too much trouble. As Steve stated in the
article, if you choose their tank mates carefully and
give them suicient space, they make excellent
aquarium subjects. The tanks require no additional
heating which is a great bonus. I have also kept the
M. opercularis outdoors in the warmer months
during the last two summers and they have even
spawned while outdoors.
I encourage all ?shkeepers to try them, especially
?rst time ?shkeepers or children. They are much
hardier than Bettas, for example, and much easier to
maintain than messy, fast-growing gold?sh. A single
Paradise ?sh can be kept in a 40-60L tank and
makes a great pet. For more advanced aquarists,
they make a great
breeding project and are
extremely rewarding
and long lived.
I look forward to more
articles from Steven
and I hope to see
Paradise ?sh
becoming ever more
popular.
Kind regards,
Simon Morgan, via email
Nathan replies: Thanks for the feedback, Simon. I
shouted your kind words down into the dungeon
where I keep Steve working relentlessly and he made
many grateful sounding noises. We wholeheartedly
agree with you that Paradise fish make a hardy and
enjoyable alternative to goldfish and Betta, and we
sincerely hope that they?ll get a second wind, with
more appearing in both stores and home tanks!
Are we having a betta day yet?
Hello Everyone,
I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of you two
years ago. A charming chap who took some
cracking photos (Ed?s note ? blushing here). And a
lovely lady who was super nice to chat to. I
remember it being so much fun when you visited
? I was only a sales assistant then but I am now
the manager and would love to invite PFK back.
I was planning to do a Fighting ?sh open day on
April the 4th, showing the best ?ghters we have,
seeing as the two of you fell in love with our
?ghter selection. And I?ll make sure I have a bright
red female in! (Ed?s note ? ooooooh!)
I love the fact the magazine has been focusing
more on the ?bread and butter? species like the
cherry barb. They are so underrated. Not only
because showcasing them is arousing peoples?
interest and aiding sales but because people are
approaching us more educated and wise about
the ?sh they are buying. Thank you so much for
what you do!
Kindest regards,
Emily Portrass
Kings Lynn
Nathan replies: I do indeed remember that
meeting, as well as the fish we saw. I remember the
Fighting fish too, and I still have my images of
them from that day. I would love to see an open
day with a showcase of fighters, and as long as
nothing comes up, I shall pencil in a return with my
camera for the 4th. Any other readers care to join
us? Emily is at Maidenhead Aquatics Kings Lynn,
Dobbies garden centre, Hardwick road, Kings Lynn,
Norfolk, PE30 4WQ.
Where are the goldfish at?
I?m a gold?sh and coldwater ?sh
fancier and my ?anc�s dad is a
tropical ?sh fancier.
I?ve been scouring the internet
for ?sh shows and exhibitions
and ?nding very little info. So, I?m
asking are there any ?sh
exhibitions in the UK that the
public can visit and buy from?
Sincerely,
Spencer Lucas
Nathan replies: Hi Lucas, there
are few goldfish-only events I
know of, and for more details on
them you?ll need to contact either
the NPGS at
northerngoldfishsociety.com, the
BAS at www. bristol-aquarists.
org.uk, or the GSGB at gsgb.co.uk.
There are also several goldfish
open days at Star Fisheries, 94a
Benhill Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1
3RX. You can check their website
at starfisheries.co.uk, or give them
a ring on 0208 9150455 ? all
NATHAN HILL
FROM
FACEBOOK
viewings here are by appointment,
however!
Do readers know of other
goldfish shows around the UK?
Perhaps you host one yourself. If
so, we?d love to hear from you so
we can spread the word!
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 37
?
AMBER WIELAND
MIKE CALNUN
OMirror image.
O Plenty of scope for ?scapes.
Hatchet ?sh are arguably the ultimate surface dwelling community ?sh,
rarely moving from position just under the surface. They are excellent
jumpers though so tight ?tting covers are a must. This re?ective ?sh was
taken by Mike Calnun.
Tiny tanks can be the perfect place to perfect your aquascaping skills
and Amber Wieland?s gorgeous 25 litre tank shows just how good such a
small scape can look when done properly.
O Pining for Plecos?
O Bright red Pike.
If unusual Loricariids are your thing, then
how about this striking Orange Cheek
Pine-cone, (Pseudorinelepis sp. L095)
which belongs to Chris Edwards.
CHRIS EDWARDS
STIRLING BEARDWELL
Young Flag-tailed Prochilodus, (Semaprochilodus
insignis) can be tempting to the unwary but with an
adult length in excess of 40cm/14? then make sure
you have a suitably large tank before taking one on.
This photo was taken by Stirling Beardwell.
O Bright red Pike.
ADAM LANGLEY
Pike Cichlids are a gorgeous group of
predatory South American ?sh that
don?t always get the attention they
deserve in the hobby. This stunning
Atabo Red Pike, (Crenicichla lugubris)
belongs to Adam Langley.
38
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
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MARINE
Anthias
Brightly coloured Anthias may
look like butter wouldn?t melt, but
looks can be deceiving. Jealous
males can be highly aggressive,
so give them plenty of space.
MARK
BEESTON
ALAMY
Displays supervisor
at Blue Reef
Aquarium, Mark has
qualifications in
Marine Biology and
Ecology.
A group of Anthias
is always a stunning
spectacle.
40
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
There are currently 63
species of Pseudanthias
listed on the online
fish database
fishbase.com
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 41
MARINE
Anthias
If a large, dominant male
dies the largest female of
the group will transform
into a male to take his
place.
42
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
illustrates their relationship to
groupers and basses. The genus
we?re interested in are its smaller
cousins, the Pseudanthias.
Confusingly, these are also
commonly referred to as Anthias (or
Sea goldies if you?re American) but
are a much more manageable size,
with most only hitting 15cm/6? for
a large male.
Of these, a handful of species are
commonly available, usually the
relatively hardy Lyretail anthias
(Pseudanthias squamipinnis), while a
bewildering assortment of other
family members pop up from time
to time.
As you can imagine, with so much
variety there is no de?nitive ?one
size ?ts all? recipe for keeping
Pseudanthias in the home aquarium.
There are a few key things they
have in common though.
Not all sweetness and light
The key to success with Anthias is
to understand their wild behaviours
and social structures. Those
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
T
HE TAIL end of 2017
was an exciting time
for ?shkeepers across
the UK as Sir David
Attenborough?s
soothing tones drew
us once again into the
undersea world of
spectacular reefs and bizarre
creatures.
As the camera pans out across a
tropical reef crest, hordes of intense
orange and purple ?sh catch our eye,
glowing in the sunlit water in vivid
contrast to the blues of the sea
behind them, before dashing into the
refuge of a coral head.
These iconic ?sh are the Anthias, a
large and taxonomically complex
family comprising nearly 100
different species and rivalling the
damsels for their success in
colonising reefs worldwide.
The original Anthias anthias
(Linnaeus, 1758) is a 25cm/10?
beast found across the
Mediterranean and subtropical
northern Africa and clearly
P. dispar shows there is
diversity in shape among
Anthias as well as colour.
ALAMY
bright-coloured shoals gracing your
TV screen are not all cooperative.
Instead, these large groups are
made up of multiple individual
harems of six to 10 females, each
jealously guarded by a dominant
male competing for that perfect spot
to be able to feed, escape to safety
when predators approach, and
attract the most mates.
Within each harem the females
also bicker and squabble to maintain
a complex hierarchy, and, if a male
Anthias is successful in luring
another female to his harem, she
may not receive a warm welcome
from the existing alpha female.
Usually the male will position
himself at the head of the group to
best show off and keep an eye on
rivals. Dominant females will group
below him and the smallest juvenile
or subordinate females will be at the
bottom.
Obviously then, to keep an Anthias
harem you?re going to need enough
space for your ?ashy male to parade
around looking gorgeous and
everyone else to keep out of his way
when they need to.
Aggression levels vary from
occasional chasing and jaw-locking
Anthias naturally
congregate in huge
numbers around
wrecks and reefs.
To keep an Anthias
harem you?re going to
need enough space for
your ?ashy male to parade
around looking gorgeous
and everyone else to keep
out of his way.
to outright murder, with some
species more prone to homicide
than others. Larger, more con?dent
species can be kept singly in a
mixed reef and all this drama
avoided, otherwise go for six to
eight females to one male or
four to ?ve females per male
for the diminutive P. tuka.
Add all members of the
group simultaneously, as
too few females will
usually ?nd themselves
more or less constantly
harassed until only a pair
or the lone male remains.
Add too many females and
you may get a surprise:
Pseudanthias are protogynous
hermaphrodites and it?s not
uncommon for a large female to
make the transition to being male
to ?ll the void. While this can
sometimes work out in very large
tanks where they can hold their
own territories, usually two males
of the same Anthias species sharing
a tank won?t have a happy ending.
Similar looking ?sh are also
occasionally regarded as
competitors and chased off, but
generally Anthias cohabit well with
other peaceful to mildly aggressive
tankmates. Wild distribution
overlaps with the similarly behaved
Blue-green Chromis Chromis viridis
and keeping groups of both in the
same aquarium can look stunning.
The display tank should be
furnished with as much live rock as
possible, with plenty of open water
above where the ?sh can hover.
In bare tanks Anthias may refuse to
come out into the open, but provide
them with branching hard corals or
complex rockwork into which they
can retreat when startled and they
will reward you by being visible and
active all day, only disappearing
at night.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 43
MARINE
Anthias
LEFT:
The Hawaiian
P. ventralis.
BELOW LEFT:
P. aurulentus from
Eastern Central
Pacific.
NATIONAL MARINE SANCTURIES
BELOW RIGHT:
Aggression between
dominant males is
widely dispersed in
such large shoals
which just can not
be replicated in all
but the largest of
home aquariums.
44
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
the weakest individual in a captive
group disappearing, followed by the
next one, and the next one. If this
begins to happen, rather than
labelling your larger ?sh as bullies,
consider that either they are being
offered too much food with not
enough water movement, or not
enough food, and are competing for
limited resources.
Speaking of food?
Anthias need a lot of it. In the wild
they experience up to 12 hours of
daylight and will be on the lookout
for food the entire time. Offer a
pinch of ?ake once a day and you?ll
NEIL HEPWORTH
While their hulking cousins, the
groupers, cruise around the reefs
hunting for food, Pseudanthias prefer
to let their food come to them.
Without exception, these ?sh
congregate in hotspots of high
water movement, riding the currents
which continually deliver a stream
of small planktonic food items for
them to snatch from the water
column.
Pseudanthias are so tuned in to
movement when feeding that no
matter how many garlic-soaked
treats you throw at them, they?ll
inevitably ignore them if they?re not
whizzing past their faces at a rate of
knots. Fortunately this isn?t a
problem in most reef aquariums, but
it is something to think about if you
set up a quarantine tank for them.
Add a spare wavemaker and you?ll
have much more success getting
them feeding.
If you want to maintain a group ?
and who doesn?t ? then the
continual expenditure of energy
holding position in fast ?ow is
important here, too. Any Anthias
with excess energy will generally
decide to take it out on other
Anthias that are lower in the social
pecking order. This can often lead to
be lucky if they last six weeks before
starving. Two feeds daily should be
regarded as a minimum ? four is
better. To make things more dif?cult,
Anthias sometimes refuse to feed
entirely when stressed, and live
foods are nearly always needed to
get them eating when this happens.
Fortunately, pelagic copepods and
brine shrimp are now readily
available from your LFS, although
the latter lack much in the way of
nutritional value once they?ve been
sitting in a bag in a refrigerator for a
few days. If you have the time and
space, a couple of brine shrimp
hatcheries can be an advantage.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Let it flow, let it flow
Brine shrimp that are 48 hours old
are an excellent food for small
Anthias, as long as you remember to
feed them an enriching product for
the second day.
Add frozen foods such as Cyclops,
?sh eggs, Artemia, grated Mysis or
even bloodworm alongside the live
stuff and your ?sh should quickly
make the transition to frozen.
Hopefully though, they will already
have been weaned on to non-living
food before you purchase them ?
never buy Anthias unless your LFS
can demonstrate them feeding in the
holding tanks ?rst.
In time, species like P. squamipinnis
will usually take pellets and even
?ake, but don?t expect them to do it
straight away. An ef?cient benthic
goes out the window and they can
clean-up crew to mop up their
be surprisingly hardy, greedy and
leftovers is a good idea, otherwise
long lived.
you may ?nd populations of less
So are they worth all the hassle?
desirable scavengers ? like
Absolutely. Too often we see
bristleworms ? can
beautiful reefs stocked with
Only buy Anthias if you have
explode.
a hodge-podge assortment
seen them feeding in holding
To maintain good water
of individual ?sh while
tanks. Ask your LFS for a
quality with all these
aquarists spend hours
demonstration if
regular feeds, nutrient
researching whether they
you?re unsure
removal via protein skimming or
may or may not be compatible
algal refugiums is essential. The
tank mates.
latter has the added bonus of
Swap out your random menagerie
housing populations of tiny
for a group of eye-catching, active
crustacea which provide a small
and completely reef-safe
amount of supplementary live food
Pseudanthias and suddenly your
to the aquarium. Once the Anthias
aquarium will have the coherent
have made themselves at home,
visual impact you didn?t realise it
however, any reluctance to feed
was missing.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 45
MARINE
Anthias
FACTFILE
LYRETAIL ANTHIAS, WRECKFISH
NEIL HEPWORTH
6Scientific name: Pseudanthias squamipinnis.
6Size: Up to 15cm for a large male, usually smaller. Around 10cm for females.
6Origin: Widespread from the Red Sea and African coast across the Indo-Pacific.
6Habitat: Closely associated
shallow water with powerful
6Aquarium size: 200 l for a s
6Water requirements: 8 to 8
6Temperature: 22-29篊
6Temperament: Moderately a
retreat from the dominant m
6Feeding: Good-quality froze
6Availability and cost: Comm
and colour.
ALAMY
RICARD ZERPE
200 l+
FACTFILE
46
FACTFILE
RESPLENDENT ANTHIAS, LONGFIN ANTHIAS
HUCHT?S ANTHIAS, RED-CHEEK ANTHIAS
6Scientific name: Pseudanthias pulcherrimus.
6Size: 7cm.
6Origin: Indian Ocean, Maldives and West Australia.
6Habitat: Shallow reefs and reef slopes from 10 to 70m depth.
6Aquarium size: 150 l for a single, 250 l+ for a group.
6Water requirements: 8 to 8.4pH, 8 to 12癒H, 1.020 to
1.025 specific gravity.
6Temperature: 23-27癈
6Temperament: Relatively non-aggressive and the
easiest small Anthias to keep, although not as tough as
P. bartlettorum or P. squamipinnis.
6Feeding: Good quality frozen or live foods 2-4 times
daily. Can be tricky when first imported.
6Availability and cost: Less commonly stocked, around
�+.
6Scientific name: Pseudanthias huchtii.
6Size: Up to 12cm.
6Origin: Indo-Pacific from the Philippines to Vanuatu and northern Australia.
6Habitat: Shallow reefs and reef crests, often interacts with P. squamipinnis.
6Aquarium size: 200 l for a single, 500 l for a group.
6Water requirements: 8 to 8.4pH, 8 to 12癒H, 1.020 to
1.025 specific gravity.
6Temperature: 23-27癈
6Temperament: One of the more aggressive Anthias
available, but can work well in mixed species groups in
larger aquaria. Hardy once settled.
6Feeding: Good quality frozen or live foods 2-4 times
daily.
6Availability and cost: Sporadic, from around �+.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
150 l+
200 l+
MP & C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
ALAMY
FACTFILE
FACTFILE
BARTLETT?S ANTHIAS
SUNSET ANTHIAS
6Scientific name: Pseudanthias bartlettorum.
6Size: 10cm.
6Origin: Pacific Ocean, Pulau to the Marshall Islands.
6Habitat: Reef crests in shallow, sunny waters from 4 to 30m depth.
6Aquarium size: 200 l for a singleton, 325 l+ for a group.
6Water requirements: 8 to 8.4pH, 8 to 12癒H, 1.020 to
1.025 specific gravity.
6Temperature: 23-27癈.
6Temperament: Aggression levels vary with the
occasional nasty male. Generally they are at the milder
end of the Anthias spectrum and are also relatively
hardy which perhaps makes them the best choice for
a reef tank. The only drawback is the price.
6Feeding: Good quality frozen or live foods 2-4 times
daily.
6Scientific name: Pseudanthias parvirostris.
6Size: Up to 8cm.
6Origin: Indo-Pacific from Japan to northern Australia.
6Habitat: A deepwater Anthias found below 40m depth hugging the reef slopes or
over rubble substrates.
6Aquarium size: 150 l for one, 300 l+ for a group.
6Water requirements: 8 to 8.4pH, 8 to 12癒H, 1.020 to
1.025 specific gravity.
6Temperature: 23-26癈
6Temperament: Less aggressive, but like many fish
collected from deeper water may be tricky to acclimate
and requires subdued lighting. Easy to keep once settled.
6Feeding: As with all Pseudanthias, offer multiple daily
feeds of good quality live or frozen food.
6Availability and cost: Sporadically available, from �+.
200 l+
150 l+
FACTFILE
PURPLE QUEEN ANTHIAS
6Scientific name: Pseudanthias tuka.
6Size: Reportedly 12cm for an adult male, more likely 9cm max in captivity.
Usually offered at 4-5cm in
6Origin: From the Philippine
6Habitat: Outer reef slopes/r
6Aquarium size: 150 l for a
females in 250l+.
6Water requirements: 8 to
6Temperature: 23-28篊.
6Temperament: P. tuka mai
mannered than other Anthi
tank mates.
6Feeding: Difficult to get fee
initial success. Mixing with
Anthias can observe feedin
6Availability and cost: Often
but purchase with caution.
may be confused with the l
P. pasculus. Usually, the P.
in the dorsal fin, while dors
tends to extend from the fin
body surface. Always ask to
feeding before you buy.
ALAMY
150 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 47
TROPICAL
Readers tank
NONN PANVITONG
Colin Dunlop takes inspiration from wild streams
for his most recent aquarium. He explains why
sometimes it?s best to just go with the ?ow?
48
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The perfect riverdwelling shape.
COLIN
DUNLOP
Colin is a senior
consultant ecologist
with a long history
of working in zoos
and aquatics.
S
OMETIMES IT?S nice
to just turn everything
on its head and try
something totally
different. We are
fortunate that such is
the variety within our
hobby that we can
chop and change within different
styles of ?shkeeping. My ?sh usually
come from blackwater swamps,
ditches and other slow-moving
waters. So, when I made the
decision to set up a fast-?owing
river tank ? as far away from my
usual ?shkeeping style as possible
? it felt somewhat like an epiphany.
The idea for my new setup was
actually very simple ? lots of
turbulent water movement, a shoal
of fast-moving ?sh and a couple of
other interesting species to scoot
about on the substrate. I had no
speci?c plan about which species of
?sh I would keep; however, one
group of ?sh from South-east Asia,
often sold as Hillstream trout, would
?t the bill nicely and was something
I had wanted to keep for a while.
Aquascaping
I used a 120x45x45cm tank, large
enough to allow a decent ?ow of
water and accommodation for the
fast ?sh. The substrate consisted of
children?s play-pit sand, bought from
a discount supermarket, with a few
scattered handfuls of aquarium pea
gravel. I?ve been using these bags of
sand for over 10 years with no issues
and the colour tends to look quite
natural. The pea gravel offers a
more natural substrate with varying
sizes and colours, such as might be
found in a real stream.
My tap water is naturally very soft,
so there is a tendency for the pH to
crash to as low as 3.0 fairly quickly.
While that?s okay for many of my
blackwater ?sh, for this setup I
Place your tank for Opsarius
carefully ? even after several
months they still startle very
easily and dash about
in a frantic
state
FAC TFILE
COMMON NAME
6Scientific name: Opsarius bernatziki
(Op-sarr-ee-uss burn-at-zee-key)
6Origin: Asia, Malay Peninsula
6Size: Up to 9.1cm
6Tank size: At least 120x45cm
6Water requirements: Fast-flowing and
acidic to slightly alkaline: 6.0-7.5 pH
6Temperature: 18-26癈
6Feeding: Flakes, pellets, live and frozen
Daphnia,
bloodworm,
Artemia and
chopped
earthworms
6Availability and
cost: Very rare to
find for sale in the
UK; the last I saw
were � each
250 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 49
TROPICAL
Readers tank
needed about 6-7 pH and soft to
medium hardness of water. So, I
added a few handfuls of dark
aragonite sand to buffer the water
and prevent any pH mishaps.
The main structure of the aquarium
consists of variously sized cobbles
and rocks, either bought from a local
garden centre or collected from my
own garden. If you?re unsure about
the safety of any cobbles you?ve
bought or found, you can put them
in a bucket of water for a few days
and observe if they have any effect
on the water parameters; my
cobbles were given a quick rinse and
placed into the tank. Before this I?d
added about 5-6cm of sand to allow
for some cushioning between the
cobbles and glass. Most plants won?t
appreciate the fast water movement,
so I added height to the decor by
using branches of oak and beech I?d
previously gathered.
Finding the light
In terms of lighting, I wanted
to replicate the river setting as
closely as possible, mimicking the
50
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
naturally occurring shafts of light
oxygenated, clear and free from a
that appear through a canopy of
build-up in organic wastes. Cue the
branches. I achieved this by using
big ?lter and powerheads!
lights that would ordinarily be
A large external ?lter is the best
classed as too small in relation to
choice here, as it has a high turnover
the size of the aquarium, as well as
rate, a large area for biological ?lter
spotlight LED bulbs, which
media and the space for activated
produced dark and light spots, all
carbon to help ensure clear water is
creating a shimmering effect
maintained with no staining.
reminiscent of sunlight on a
I also used a ?wave maker?
river bed. My observations
type of powerhead; which
of wild ?sh in streams
is multi-directional and,
led me to believe
therefore, made it
that most of my
easy to aim the
This style of tank needs
?sh would
stream of water
large, regular water changes.
spend time in
where desired.
I carry out 50% each week
the dappled
This water pump
to ensure water
shade of the banks,
was over-spec for
conditions stay
and so when the shoal
the size of my
moved from a dark to
aquarium and did not
optimal
light area, the effect would
disappoint. The outlet for the
be dramatic, especially for the
external ?lter and the powerhead
highly iridescent Hillstream trout.
are both situated in the tank?s far-left
corner and this produces a circular
Water quality
movement of water.
Fish which come from a fast-?owing
This ?ow means that the shoaling
hillstream habitat are usually very
?sh tend to situate themselves right
intolerant of poor water quality;
in the middle of the tank or towards
their typical natural habitats are well the front, ensuring prime position
ABOVE:
Hierarchies in
shoals can lead
to captivating
behaviour and
displays.
BELOW:
Colin?s great
example of a
communitope:
replicating a
type of habitat
with a mixture
of suited ?sh.
for viewing. I also ensured that the
positioning of the cobbles and
branches created areas of quiet
water where my ?sh can rest and
sleep ? as opposed to living in a
constant ?washing machine-style?
environment.
COLIN DUNLOP
Of far-flung origin
How to feed
I have found the best way to feed these
?sh is little and often ? it?s a balancing
act to ensure that the ?ake doesn?t
immediately get sucked into the powerful
?lter, and that the bottom-dwelling ?sh
get enough food. Sinking tablets can work
well for them if added to the opposite
side of the tank from the ?lter.
COLIN DUNLOP
Hillstream ?sh?s
natural habitats are
well oxygenated,
clear and free from
a build-up in
organic wastes?
cue the big ?lter
and powerheads
The ?sh stock was added gradually
over a few months and it has now
reached my ideal stocking level.
I have a shoal of 12 Opsarius
bernatziki, a Blue hillstream trout
species from northwest Thailand, a
group of six Steatocranus tinanti
slender blockhead cichlids, from the
fast-?owing waters of the Congo,
and two species of loach. I chose a
small group of a Sewellia species
being sold as S. lineolata and a group
of Horseface loaches from the
Acantopsis genus. Of paramount
importance is that all of these ?sh
are rheophilic, preferring ?owing
water that is high in oxygen content
and fairly cool. My tank is
maintained at 20-24癈, with the
cooler temperatures being present at
night and during the winter months.
I have kept Sewellia and S. tinanti in
the past but this tank has really
brought out the best of these ?sh; it?s
clear that they are much more
content in these surroundings.
Each of the species has its own
niche within the tank and they rarely
interact beyond their own kind. The
Opsarius formed a hierarchical shoal
and position themselves front and
centre of the tank facing into the
current. There is a lead male ?sh
that is usually positioned 10cm in
front of the rest of the shoal and
seems to keep the rest of the gang in
line; his position gives him the ?rst
chance to see if anything in the
water column ?oating towards them
is edible. Behind him are two less
dominant males, and these three ?sh
control the others by chasing and
nipping, although no damage is ever
caused. This behaviour, for me, is the
tank?s highlight.
I once made the mistake of adding
six homebred Rainbow shiners,
Notropis chrosomus, to the tank and
their addition upset the whole
balance and hierarchy of the group.
The shiners just didn?t understand
the rules of the shoal and although
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 51
TROPICAL
Readers tank
Where it all began...
My inspiration was taken from my day job as
an ecologist while we were electrofishing a
small, fast-flowing stream. The purpose of the
work was a rescue mission to catch and move
any fish we found in a section of a stream
where the watercourse was being diverted
due to a flood prevention scheme.
I was captivated by the water movement
through the riffles and eddies and wanted to
see if this was possible to recreate in the
home aquarium.
they were not injured, their presence
seriously altered the behaviour of
the Opsarius. When I eventually
made the decision to remove them,
order was very quickly restored.
The Steatocranus usually perch
themselves on a high vantage point
within the tank, keeping a lookout
for intruders and feeding time. They
move about in the tank in a way
reminiscent of gobies, hopping
along the substrate due to their
greatly reduced swimbladders. They
often chase each other but these
pursuits are very short lived and I?ve
never seen any harm caused as a
result. I?ve recently seen a female
with a small group of fry, but I think
the chances of any young surviving
will be slim. The Horseface loaches
are usually always visible sitting on
top of the sand, but can often be
found buried within it, with only
their pointed snouts visible. This
species may eventually get too large
for the tank but I?ve not yet been able
to get an accurate identi?cation.
The Sewellia are absolutely in their
element in this tank and their ability
to use their entire under-surface as a
suction device for holding on in fast
currents is truly on display. They
can even be found right at the outlet
of the water pumps.
FAC TFILE
COMMON NAME
6Scientific name: Sewellia lineolata
(Soo-well-ee-ah lin-ee-oh-lah-ta)
6Origin: Asia: China, Vietnam, Cambodia
6Size: Up to 5.7cm
6Tank Size: At least 75x30x30cm
6Water Requirements: Acidic to neutral:
6.0-7.5 pH
6Temperature: 20-24癈
6Feeding: Algae and aufwuchs-covered rocks
should be supplied, along with algae wafers and tablets, frozen
greenfood mixes and dried algae sheets
6Availability and cost: Relatively common (check coldwater sections
of stores); prices start at around �50
COLIN DUNLOP
COLIN DUNLOP
COLIN DUNLOP
70 l+
FAC TFILE
FAC TFILE
COMMON NAME
COMMON NAME
6Scientific name: Steatocranus tinanti (Stee-at-oh-craynuss tin-ant-eye)
6Origin: Africa: Pool Malepo and The Democratic Republic
of Congo, the lower Congo River
6Size: Up to 13cm
6Tank Size: 90x38x30cm
6Water requirements: Freshwater; acidic to slightly
alkaline; 6.0-8.9 pH
6Temperature: 25癈-27癈
6Feeding: Will accept dried pellets or flakes, but these should be supplemented
with regular feedings of live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, Daphnia
and Artemia
6Availability and cost: Uncommon finds; start at around �50 each
6Scientific name: Acantopsis choirorhynchos
(Ay-can-top-sis kye-row-rink-kos)
6Origin: Asia: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaya,
Indonesia, Borneo and Vietnam. From the Chao Phraya and
Mekong river basins
6Size: Up to 30cm
6Tank size: 120x45x45cm
6Water requirements: Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline;
6.0-8.0 pH
6Temperature: 16-24癈
6Feeding: Sinking pellets and granules, live and frozen Daphnia, bloodworm
and Artemia
6Availability and cost: Relatively common, starting at �99
100 l+
52
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
240 l+
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One reader?s
fabulous reef
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L IF E . . .W HE R E ? S
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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.
It?s important to diagnose
before treating.
TROPICAL
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 Aquatics.
BOB MEHEN
has been keeping fish
since the 1970s and
has a particular passion
for catfish. He helps to
moderate the PFK
website forum and
excels at advising and
guiding new keepers.
I have just restocked my 120 l/27 gal aquarium
with 12 Dwarf puffers, but from reading online,
it would seem that at least a couple may be
carrying internal parasites. There are currently
no signs of a problem, however I think it may be
best to medicate. Should I treat the water or the
food? And what product do you recommend?
SCOTT, EMAIL
GEORGE FARMER
is a world-renowned
aquascaper. He
co-founded the UK
Aquatic Plant Society
and now works as a
freelance aquatic
specialist.
A
NATHAN HILL
is PFK?s associate editor.
He?s worked as a public
aquarist, managed
a number of aquatic
stores and has
lectured in aquatics.
JEREMY GAY
has kept fish most of
his life. He?s managed
an award-winning
store and is a former
PFK editor. He?s now
Evolution Aqua?s
business development
manager.
NEALE MONKS
has kept fish for over
20 years. He has
authored a number of
fishkeeping books and
has a particular passion
for brackish species.
Pre-emptive treating of wild-caught ?sh is
sometimes worthwhile, but often
unnecessary if quarantining passes without
problems. Some aquarists carry out deworming
? medications based on praziquantel being the
easiest to obtain and use, though not necessarily
the most efective. It?s fairly commonly done with
high-value ?sh known to be prone to worm
problems, such as Discus and Clown loaches.
The use of antibiotics such as metronidazole is
not something British aquarists can do easily, as
these medications are, rightly, controlled by vets.
The common cure-alls you see in aquarium
shops are far less efective, and in some cases
may do more harm than good. Pufers, for
example, are notably intolerant of formalin and
copper-based medications.
The thing to remember about wild ?sh is that
while they may well be carrying parasites of
some sort, if the ?sh is otherwise in good health,
these pose little or no harm. In fact, some
experienced aquarists have argued that even
farmed ?sh will be bought carrying parasites
such as Hexamita, and where these cause
sickness it?s often more about the ?sh being
stressed than the parasites themselves. Given a
balanced diet, good water quality, and an
aquarium that doesn?t expose the ?sh to bullying
or other sources of stress, the ?sh?s own immune
system will keep parasites in check.
Medicines pose risks because they are poisons
at some fundamental level. Some aquarists are
in the habit of randomly adding medicines ?just
in case? something might go wrong. The problem
is that very few of us are trained vets, so we don?t
really understand what we?re doing. If ?sh exhibit
symptoms, we can at least compare them against
what we read in books, and choose a medicine to
treat that complaint. But ?internal parasites?
covers a whole range of pathogens, including
bacteria, segmented worms, ciliate protozoans
and more. Each would need a diferent medicine,
and unless you?re a vet who has performed some
sort of investigation, there?s no way to know. Of
course, should red worms start wriggling out of
the ?sh?s anus, you?d be justi?ed in suspecting
Camallanus worms and choosing something
known to treat these, but if your ?sh are
symptom-free, whatever medication you choose
will basically be a shot in the dark.
If you are treating something speci?c, such as
Hexamita or Camallanus, medicated food is
often better. This should get the medicine into
the ?sh without it being diluted too quickly in the
tank. More to the point, you can ensure it gets to
the sick ?sh without being wasted on the healthy
ones. The problem is that the correct dosage is
usually dependent on size ? you need a certain
amount per gramme of the ?sh?s body mass ?
and it can be diicult to estimate a ?sh?s weight.
NEALE MONKS
Send your questions to us at: Fishkeeping Answers, Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood,
Peterborough, PE2 6EA, or email them to us on questions@practical?shkeeping.co.uk
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NEIL HEPWORTH
Q. Should I treat these ?sh for
internal parasites?
?
Fishkeeping Answers
TROPICAL
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
Q. How do I set up
to breed Clown
loaches?
Most Clown loaches
have been farmed using
arti?cial hormones.
I would like to keep a group of Clown
loaches in an aquarium that is large
enough for them to exhibit natural
behaviour and maybe even breed. So I
would be looking at a group of eight or
more, I believe.
I have recently been offered a 2.4m
ex-shop display tank at a very reasonable
price and I am wondering whether this
would be large enough, and also how I
should decorate and ?lter it to best suit
their needs. Would they be best in a tank
on their own or can I keep something else
with them? What?s the best diet please?
Also, do you have any advice on moving
the somewhat hefty tank?
JOSEPH GREAVES, EMAIL
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treatments and Tetra Test 6 in 1.
Assuming this aquarium measures
240x90x90cm, which translates into
2026 l/448 gal, it should easily provide an
excellent home for a group of Clown loaches.
If the price is right, I?d de?nitely consider this
a worthwhile investment.
You are correct that Clowns enjoy being in
large groups, and certainly six or more is
usually recommended. Breeding is a bit less
certain though. The specimens seen in shops
are either wild-caught or, probably more
commonly these days, farmed using a process
that involves arti?cial hormones. Obviously,
that?s not an option at home.
When it comes to home aquaria, the very few
breeding reports are inconsistent, with no
clear-cut method being yet identi?ed. We
don?t really know at what age or size they
reach sexual maturity, and while identifying
males and females is usually pinned on the
chunky shape of the females and longer tail ?n
lobes on the males, there?s no way to know if
these supposed diferences are actually
correct given we hardly ever see them
breeding. If you get a group though, you
should be fairly certain of getting specimens
of each sex, and you can let the ?sh ?gure out
for themselves which sex is which!
With regards to feeding, clown loaches are
more omnivorous than often supposed. While
they de?nitely enjoy snails, seafood, frozen
invertebrates and sinking cat?sh pellets,
they?ll also take fruit and vegetables of various
kinds. I?ve seen specimens go for grapes,
melon, courgette and peas ? really, it?s worth
trying out anything you might ofer more
obviously herbivorous ?sh to see if your
Clowns will go for it. Sometimes starving them
A
Everything you need for healthy fish
56
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
a bit can help, so feel free to skip feeding
them for a day or two before ofering them a
vegetarian alternative to their usual meaty
fare. A well-rounded diet that covers all the
essential food groups will ensure good
health and, potentially, sexually mature
adults more willing to spawn in captivity.
Used aquaria do pose some challenges.
For a start, whereas brand new aquaria
come carefully packed with polystyrene
and plastic braces to prevent damage, a
secondhand aquarium will most likely be
transported as it is, which means you run
the risk of the the glass getting chipped
during transit. And any sort of twisting
while the tank is being moved may pull the
aquarium sealant away from the glass.
While replacing old sealant isn?t diicult,
and it can be cost efective to replace entire
panes of glass, obviously you need to do
both these things with the tank empty,
which means there?s no point buying your
Clown loaches until you?re 100% sure the
aquarium has survived its journey intact.
Given the sheer size of it, I would advise
testing it somewhere a leak won?t cause
too much damage, such as a garage or shed.
If your aquarium shop friends routinely
deliver and install aquaria, they may be able
to help you avoid some of these problems.
If you?re working without such help though,
it?s crucial the aquarium is well supported
from below at all times, and that when it is
being moved, the people at each end take
great care not to twist the tank ? something
easily done when you?re carrying it round a
corner or loading and unloading the van.
NEALE MONKS
TROPICAL
Q. What do I need for these surface-swimming
oddballs?
Please could you give me some
information on keeping African
butter?y?sh? Also, what?s best in terms of
African-themed tankmates? Are
butter?y?sh inclined to jump? I was
considering an open-topped tank with
?oating plants, but if they are prone to
taking a leap I may have to rethink.
MR K CLARKE, SURREY
African butter?y?sh, Pantodon
buchholzi, are notorious jumpers, so
the tank really must be covered. Floating
plants may help inhibit this, and avoiding
nippy tankmates should reduce their
inclination to jump further still, but I?d be
wary. It only takes someone to turn the
lights on suddenly or accidentally bang the
tank to spook them, and before you know it,
you?re hunting for a missing ?sh.
Although these ?sh are predators, and will
consume any tankmates small enough to be
swallowed whole, they are essentially
peaceful ?sh and work well in community
tanks. If you were going for an Africanthemed tank, then things like climbing perch
and upside-down cat?sh are obvious
choices. Among the climbing perches, you
would want to avoid the smallest species of
Microctenopoma and the more aggressive
species of Ctenopoma, but that still leaves
some real gems including the ever-popular
Leopard bush?sh Ctenopoma acutirostre and
the underrated Blue-banded climbing perch
Microctenopoma fasciolatum.
If these don?t appeal, consider the more
docile West African dwarf cichlids, including
any of the lovely Pelvicachromis species
widely known as Kribs. While African tetras
aren?t as well known as their South American
kin, the Congo tetra is certainly an option.
The African red-eyed tetra, Arnoldichthys
Butter?ies
are known for
jumping.
spilopterus, might also be worth a shot.
Some aquarists have found these ?sh work
best when kept with bottom feeders such as
Senegal bichirs; the idea being that this
avoids competition at feeding time as African
butter?y?sh are rather slow feeders. Really,
the main thing is to avoid bite-sized or nippy
tankmates, and anything likely to compete
for food, swimming space or territory at the
top of the tank, all of which they cannot bear.
In other regards, African butter?y?sh are
moderately demanding but not diicult to
keep. Their water should be relatively warm
(25-28?C is ideal) and not too hard (around
2-12?H, but slightly harder water will be
tolerated). Water quality must be good, but
NEIL HEPWORTH
Good for community
tanks with midsized ?sh.
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HRISTO HRISTOV
A
they are not strong swimmers, so avoid
turbulent currents. Lots of ?oating
vegetation is important, whether ?oating
plants or simply tall species allowed to cover
the surface with their leaves. Lighting should
be subdued, at least under the vegetation.
The real challenge is getting these ?sh to
feed. Live foods are preferred ? wingless fruit
?ies being particularly popular ? but other
insects up to the size of small crickets are
readily accepted. They?ll take more traditional
foods too, including good-quality ?ake, but
they don?t compete well with other ?sh.
African butter?y?sh essentially only snap at
food immediately around their head, and no
more than a couple of centimetres below the
surface. Once food has sunk below that depth
it?s usually ignored, which is why keeping
some sort of bottom feeder with your African
butter?y?sh can make a lot of sense.
Do note that African Butter?y?sh are
territorial. Males and females can be told
apart by the shape of the trailing edge of anal
?n ? straight on females, curving outwards
on males. Allow a square foot of surface area
to each specimen, though you may ?nd
some ?sh buddy up and share shady corners
without antagonism. They are de?nitely
worth keeping in groups though, and can be
bred in captivity, though the fry are very
small and require infusoria and brine shrimp
nauplii as their ?rst food, which makes them
a bit more of a challenge than some.
NEALE MONKS
Tetra UK
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?
Fishkeeping Answers
Smaller Goby species
will be suitable for a
60 l tank.
Nano tanks are very
limiting for ?sh but
there are options.
ALAMY
ALAMY
MARINE
Q. What can I keep in this nano reef?
Please could you give me some ideas of ?sh
I could keep in a 60 l TMC reef set-up? I?m
keeping LPS corals and I also have a couple
of reef hermits and a Peppermint shrimp,
which I rarely see. The tank has a tile-type
light so there is a small gap all the way
around the top. I did add a Black goby but
it managed to jump out so I?m worried
about what else to add.
GEOFF HOLLAND, PORTSMOUTH
The TMC 60 l nanos are really neat
little tanks ? they?re great for smaller
corals plus shrimps and other small mobile
invertebrates, but the small size of the
system does limit the choice for ?sh
stocking. As you?ve said, there is a gap
running around the edge of these tanks
which you can?t do much about without
afecting the aesthetics of the tank so there?s
always a danger that ?sh can jump out.
Some are more prone to jumping than
others, but it?s a risk with anything you add.
A
To be honest, many folks view these very
small tanks as pretty much invert-only zones;
even the smaller clown?sh species aren?t a
good choice for the long term, and wrasses
and dwarf angels tend to be too large, active
and/or territorial to do well.
However, it is possible to keep some
smaller ?sh. Gobies really are where it?s at
here, as the group ofers some tiny, peaceful
specimens which are ideally suited to the
smaller tank. An ideal species is the Okinawa
goby, Gobiodon okinawae, which is a striking
yellow coloration and has bags of
personality; best of all, it only reaches
around 3cm in length!
There?s probably enough room to keep a
small Stonogobiops species, and these
can be paired with a pistol shrimp in a
fascinating symbiotic partnership. A single
S. yasha with an Alpheus pistol shrimp can
be a real centrepiece. The shrimp digs and
maintains a burrow that both animals live in;
the goby acts as lookout. Bear in mind that
the substrate should be tailored to the
shrimp?s need to burrow, so a deep bed of
mixed sand, coral gravel and rubble to a
depth of 10cm.
Apart from gobies, assessors are another
good bet. These hardy ?sh can be very
colourful and active ? but in a tank of this
size, you should only keep one individual as
they can be aggressive with members of
their own kind if space is limited. The Yellow
assessor, Assessor flavissimus, from the
Western Paci?c is regularly available, and
tops out at 5cm, making it perfect for the
smaller minireef.
There are also some tiny blennies worth
considering ? again, these can have lots of
personality and comedy looks. Many
blennies get too large, so do research any
species before purchasing. For a tank of
this size, a Two spot blenny, Ecsenius
bimaculatus, would be a good choice. These
peaceful ?sh reach a maximum of 5cm.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
TROPICAL
I have a group of young Betta simplex
that are now starting to show breeding
behaviour. I plan on separating a pair
from the main display in to a 10 l
breeding tank. My question is what litre
per minute air pump should I aim for
with a breeding tank of this size? I
obviously want something that will help
keep the water clean but won?t be too
overpowering for the fry.
MATT H, EMAIL
A
Such a small tank with such delicate
fry will need a very low-powered
pump ? some of the new tiny ?stick
pumps such as the APS-Nano (wh
?best buy? in the ?tanks up to 25 l?
category in a recent PFK review) w
be the obvious choice. It is possibl
buy valves to put in the airline betw
the pump and air-stone to further
output but this can put extra press
the pump causing it to wear quicke
Many breeders don?t bother with
?ltration, relying instead on small,
regular water changes to keep the
water clean.
BOB MEHEN
Everything you need for healthy fish
58
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
GABOR HORVATH
Q. What size of air pump is best for tanks with tiny fry?
TEMPERATE
Q. How can I make everything rosy for barbs?
Could you tell me how many Rosy barbs it
would be possible for me to keep in my
90x30x30cm aquarium? I have a Fluval
106 external ?lter installed and the
temperature is about 24癈. I would also
like to keep a couple of Peppered corys.
Would these be compatible?
with the barbs. However, I would recommend
some places to hide and plenty of plants in
case the barbs get boisterous. The corys do
need company of their own kind though, so
I?d advise you to look at stocking ?ve as a
minimum ? but really, the more the merrier!
Puntius titteya, or the gorgeous Odessa barb,
Pethia padamya. Their smaller adult size
means you could stock at least twice as
many of these as the Rosy barbs, making a
more impressive display.
The Peppered corys are another great
temperate choice and should get along well
BOB MEHEN
ELAINE TURPIN, EMAIL
Rosy barbs get suprisingly
large, Odessa barbs could
be a better option.
Rosy barbs, Pethia conchonius, are an
excellent choice for temperate
aquariums ofering many of the features that
attract people to gold?sh, but without the
huge adult size. This being said they are still
reasonably large ?sh with some varieties
reaching 10cm so they need plenty of room
to ?ourish.
Your tank is only just big enough to keep a
small group of these boisterous ?sh, perhaps
the maximum I?d recommend would be ?ve.
Temperature wise, at 24癈 your tank is at the
top of their tolerance so I would recommend
dropping it down a couple of degrees. It
might be worth considering one of the other
barb species that like similar conditions but
grow to a smaller size ? maybe Cherry barbs,
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
A
TROPICAL
ALAMY
X-ray tetra make great
community ?sh.
Q. How can I set up for X-ray tetras?
I am rather taken with the little X-ray tetra,
Pristella maxillaris, and I?d like to keep
some in a 60x30x30cm set-up.
Please could you advise me on the
best number to keep, ideal water
conditions and compatible tankmates
from the same part of the world?
JACK FRANCIS, EMAIL
X-ray tetras have a hardy nature
as well as an attractive pattern and
colouration, making them very popular ?sh
A
in the hobby. Your 60x30x30cm tank is just
big enough to house a small group of 10 of
these ?sh.
X-ray tetra have a wide distribution in their
native South America, being found in
Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana and
northern Brazil.
Many of the species of ?sh that live
alongside them in the wild are not suitable
due to their size in comparison to that of
your tank, while others are predatory and
would see the tetras as a delicious bufet,
rather than tankmates.
However, there are several species of
Corydoras that live in the same areas as the
X-ray tetras of which the delicately spotted
Corydoras melanistius and the ubiquitous
Bronze cat?sh, C. aeneus are probably the
most commonly available.
A group of ?ve of either of these ?sh
would be perfectly at home with the tetras
given a sandy substrate and some cover in
the form of wood and plants. If you are
lucky, then a similar-sized group of rarer
Little cory, Corydoras nanus would also be
good companions.
Little X-Ray tetras are extremely adaptable
in terms of water chemistry, but aim for
soft water, with a pH of 7 or just below, and
both they and the cat?sh should be ?ne.
Temperature-wise, 25癈 is a good ?t for all
of these ?sh.
BOB MEHEN
Expert aquarium care with our digital water test app, download here:
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Fishkeeping Answers
TROPICAL
Q. What?s the best option for
a child?s bedroom tank?
My daughters want a ?sh tank and have
spent time doing lots of research but we
want to make sure we buy something that
the ?sh will survive in and will be suitable.
We are thinking of temperate ?sh as we
have been told they are the easiest to keep.
What size tank should we buy? My
daughter has looked at 60 l/13 gal tanks
? we doubt we can have one any bigger as
she plans to keep it in her bedroom.
My next question is what style of tank to
buy? From what we?ve read it seems a
rectangle is the best shape.
HELEN NASH, EMAIL
It sounds as if you're going about
looking for your ?rst tank the best way;
plenty of research before taking the plunge.
Too many people leap head?rst into the
hobby only to end up disillusioned as ?sh
become ill and their new owners struggle
with unsuitable stock and equipment.
A 60 l/13 gal tank is an ideal ?rst aquarium
in terms of volume, and a tank with a
rectangular ?oor-plan is always a good
choice as it ofers the greatest surface area
and amount of room for the ?sh to swim in.
Aesthetically they often look better too, and
you can create a pleasant, balanced
'aquascape' more easily than in a taller, thin
tank or a round ?bowl?. Smaller ?nano? tanks
(less that 25 l) are tempting but their
diminutive size means they greatly restrict
stock choices and can be tricky to keep
balanced in terms of water chemistry.
With regards to which type of ?sh to stock
I would always recommend tropical
freshwater ?sh for newcomers. This ofers
the greatest choice of small, colourful
species ideal for your proposed size of tank,
and the only extra equipment you'll need
compared to temperate ?sh is a heaterstat,
which shouldn?t cost more than � (many
?all-in? aquarium kits will come with one).
There is a huge range of aquariums
available now and, like most things, a wide
variation in quality ? from budget brands
under �0 ?all in?, to high-end, top-of-therange ?designer? tanks costing several times
that. Have a look online and at several
diferent aquatic specialists and see what
you like the look of. All tanks sold in the UK
should reach relevant EU safety standards,
but generally, you get what you pay for.
To carry on your research, I would
recommend you look into ??shless cycling?
before you set up the new tank. It really is
the best way to get your tank up and
running ready for its ?rst residents.
A
Lemon tetra
Neon tetra
Platy
Zebra danio
Everything you need for healthy fish
60 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
ALAMY
ALAMY
Harlequin rasbora
ALAMY
BOB MEHEN
Bronze cat?sh
TROPICAL
TROPICAL
Q. Which are the best dwarf cichlids
to breed?
I have a 60 l/13 gal aquarium in which I
would very much like to keep and breed a
dwarf cichlid of some kind. What would
you recommend? I have been keeping ?sh
for about six years but I have never tried
breeding cichlids, so any advice and ideas
you can give would be welcome. Also,
would I need dither ?sh?
LOUISE HAYES, EMAIL
You have lots of dwarf cichlid breeding
project options. For ease of keeping,
breeding and availability I would go for
Kribensis, Pelvicachromis pulcher, or any of
A
their cousins from the Pelvicachromis
genus. Smaller still are the Apistogramma,
and both A. cacatuoides and A. agassizi are
straightforward to breed.
If you have hard water then consider
Tanganyika cichlids like Brichardi, now
known as Neolamprologus pulcher, or the
fascinating shell-dwelling cichlids like N.
ocellatus, brevis or multifasciatus.
Consider also Laetacara curviceps, or
Nannacara anomala, which don?t need as
soft water as the Apistogramma, and are
happy in pH neutral conditions.
Could you suggest a slightly larger
cichlid that I could keep in a 150cm
tank with rainbows, Harlequins and
Cardinal tetras. It mustn?t eat plants as
I have lots of them in this tank. I was
considering Severums but I was told
they would eat the plants.
CRAIG, EMAIL
A larger, plant-friendly, Cardinal
tetra-friendly cichlid is a tricky one.
Severums, Uaru and Mesonauta will all
eat plants. Angel?sh are plant friendly,
but adults could eat small Cardinals. The
Cupid cichlid, Biotodoma cupido is a
happy medium, being plant friendly and,
I would say, Cardinal tetra friendly, but
avoid extremes in size diference.
Or what about Discus? They are easier
to keep these days and tick both boxes.
Keyhole cichlids, Cleithracara maronii,
can reach 10cm+ if left to grow, and
would make a cheap, widely available
alternative. Adult Bolivian rams,
Mikrogeophagus altispinosa, are things
of beauty, and you could have two pairs
in a 150cm planted tank.
A
JEREMY GAY
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
There are lots of Dwarf
cichlid options for
breeding projects.
TROPICAL
Q. What larger
?feature cichlids?
can I add?
JEREMY GAY
Q. Why is my plec digging?
I am sending a photo of what I believe is a male plec, which I?ve had since
December 2016. He is around 10cm in length. My established and well-planted
aquarium holds 100 l/22 gal, heated to 22癈 and ?ltered by a Fluval 206 external.
Last August I added another (slightly smaller) plec, believed to be a female.
Over the last six weeks, the male has developed a nocturnal habit of burrowing
in the gravel, generally towards or at the front of the aquarium, under plant roots
or rocks, or just producing a series of mounds of gravel. What is he doing? It has
become a daily chore to put my display straight and cover any exposed plant roots.
DAVID TUCKER, EMAIL
Your plec appears to be a male Bristlenose cat?sh (Ancistrus sp.) and looks in
?ne fettle from the photo. If your second ?sh is basically a smaller version of
this one, only without the magni?cent bristles, then there?s a good chance it is a
female. The behaviour you mention is typical of many plecs, which seem to like to
do a bit of aquatic redesign when given the chance.
You don?t mention whether your ?sh has any caves, pipes or hollow logs to hide
in. It may be that now he is mature he is attempting to create a suitable place to
raise a family. Male Ancistrus typically entice the female ?sh into a suitably private
?cave? where the eggs will be laid. The female leaves and the male protects the eggs
and fry until they are free swimming. His excavations may just be frustrated attempts
to make a ?des res?, so I would try adding some sections of pipe (purpose-made
?breeding caves? are also available) to see if this reduces his nocturnal excavations.
BOB MEHEN
DAVID TUCKER
A
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Fishkeeping Answers
TROPICAL
Q. Can I mix these two cichlids?
I have a Rio 180 aquarium and would like to keep a Jack Dempsey
and a Parrot cichlid. Would this be okay while there still juveniles
or should I upgrade to a Rio 240 now? How many should I keep
and what else could I put with them?
NEIL BENNO, EMAIL
Parrot cichlids tend to
mix well with similar
sized ?sh.
A Jack Dempsey and Parrot cichlid would be ?ne together,
but given the adult size of 20cm for both of these ?sh, you
would be better of starting them in the larger 240 l/53 gal tank. In
my experience Jack Dempsey cichlids are really nervous when
young, so would appreciate other ?sh there in order to bring them
out and make them display their colours.
For a quieter life, avoid any more cichlids and instead go for
medium sized L-no cat?sh, medium sized Synodontis species,
Spotted hoplos, Megalechis thoracata, or the Striped Raphael
cat?sh, Platydoras armatulus. For midwater you could go for Silver
dollars, Metynnis argenteus, adult Red rainbow?sh, Glossolepis
incisus or adult Filament barbs, Dawkinsia filamentosa.
If cichlids are de?nitely your thing, consider Green and Gold
severums, Heros efasciatus, Blue acaras, Andinoacara pulcher, or
more Parrot cichlids. If you want more Jack Dempseys then I
would add similarly sized juveniles now, and decorate the tank
with plenty of territories and bolt-holes. All cichlids will mix with
each other much better if added as juveniles so they grow up
together. It?s when you add adult cichlids to any established
cichlid community that the problems will start.
JEREMY GAY
NEIL HEPWORTH
It?s best to have a tank
that caters for adult
sizes from the off.
Everything you need for healthy fish
62
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SHUTTERSTOCK
A
MARINE
There are four types of
fox faces traded to keep
in aquariums.
I would like to add a foxface to my 600 l/132 gal ?sh-only
aquarium. However, on researching them I?ve found that there is
actually more than one species. Which of these would be better
suited to a tank of this size?
JOE AGNEW, EMAIL
There are four aquarium species commonly sold as ?foxfaces?.
The ?true? Foxface, Siganus vulpinus, from the Western Paci?c;
the Blackspot foxface S. unimaculatus, also from the Western Paci?c;
the Red foxface, S. magnificus, from the Indian Ocean, and the Fiji
foxface, S. uspi, which comes ? as you might expect by the name ?
from Fiji. This last one is also the most expensive to buy.
Their requirements are all pretty similar, and they will reach around
20cm or so. You?ll probably only have room for one individual ?
A
NEIL HEPWORTH
Q. Which foxface is best for my tank?
mixing two or more can result in aggression.
One often-overlooked aspect of the dietary needs of these ?sh is
their requirement for algae. Supplementary feeding on nori and other
algal foods (in addition to fresh and frozen meaty fare such as Krill
and Mysis) will be necessary to keep your foxface healthy.
Foxfaces tend to keep themselves to themselves, so they?ll ?t in with
most semi-aggressive tankmates. They?re reasonably hardy, but can
be prone to bacterial infections if water quality takes a dip or other
stressors, such as temperature ?uctuations, occur.
Avoid handling foxfaces as they are venomous. If you need to catch
the ?sh, instead of using a net, try to use a small bucket to eliminate
the possibility of those venom-tipped ?n rays from becoming stuck.
Never pick one up with your bare hands.
DAVE WOLFENDEN
SHUTTERSTOCJK
All four are very similar
?sh to keep.
Expert aquarium care with our digital water test app, download here:
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Improve your Fishkeeping
Quality,
not clar
Good water quality is vital for
our ?sh?s wellbeing, but that
doesn?t mean the same as
crystal clear.
SHUTTERSTOCK
WORDS: DAVE HULSE,
TECHNICAL CONSULTANT AT TETRA
Clear water is great for viewing,
but not always what the fish want.
?Water quality? is a description of the physical
and chemical properties of the water. Diferent
?sh have diferent environmental requirements
and so good water quality for one species
could be dreadful for another.
Water quality changes over time. ?Natural?
pollutants include ammonia, nitrite, nitrate
and phosphate? all compounds released from
natural processes in the pond or aquarium,
such as ?sh metabolism. ?Unnatural? pollutants
could include substances added by man, such
as chlorine in tap water or nasties like heavy
metals and pesticides.
Crystal clear?
The human eye is not a chemical test kit. Two
water samples ? one perfect for ?shkeeping,
the other with too much ammonia or nitrite
(toxic ?sh wastes) or an incorrect pH level ?
can look identical.
It is essential to use test kits to determine
the quality and measure the properties of the
water. For most hobbyists, water
chemical testing kits and test
strips, are the only way to
measure and determine overall
water quality. There is no
substitute for regular testing.
Signs of trouble
The behaviour and physiology
of our ?sh can tell us much
about water quality. The most
common example is the
behaviour of ?sh in water of low
dissolved oxygen (DO). When
the DO level drops below that
preferred by a ?sh they begin to
ventilate their gills at a faster
and deeper rate, and frequently
move up to the surface where
the oxygen level should be
higher.
Many tropical freshwater ?sh
have evolved organs to allow
them to breathe air, and will use
this special ability if DO levels
fall. A good example is a
Corydoras cat?sh, which darts
up to the water surface to take a
quick gulp of air if the DO level
is slightly too low. When the air
is swallowed, a highly
vascularised area of the gut
allows the uptake of oxygen into
the blood.
A ?sh gasping at the surface
isn?t a unique sign of low DO
levels. Many other parameters
and pollutants can lead to gill
damage that hinders the ?sh?s
ability to uptake oxygen by
gasping, even when the DO level
is adequate for healthy ?sh.
Other signs of poor water
quality include algae or blanket
Advertising feature
growth, then there are serious implications for
the water quality.
Excessive algal growth can cause
?uctuations in DO, carbon dioxide and pH
levels in the pond, which have serious
consequences for ?sh health. Liquid additives,
such as Tetra?s Pond AlgoRem, can be efective
at targeting both ?oating and pond algae.
Aquarists all have their preferences in terms
of water clarity, and with the ?ltration
technology available today it?s possible to
both maintain terri?cally clear water and
provide refuges where our ?sh feel at ease.
What?s paramount is the water quality; ?sh
have their set preferences dictated by
evolution and we owe it to them to check the
water always stays within their boundaries.
Murky water causes faster
growth in some ?sh.
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
is so cloudy. Knife?sh and Elephant-noses
have adapted means of navigating in
murky water and locating food
through the use of electric ?elds
emitted from their body.
Murky water isn?t all bad, but it
depends on the source. Murkiness
due to mineral particles like clays
causes no real issues and mimics
the ?sh?s natural environment.
Murkiness due to green algae is a
diferent matter.
The ?pea soup? pond is never an
attractive feature in the garden, but while a
small amount of algae causes few problems
for ?sh, if the algae population blooms
and the pond becomes choked with
Corydoras often ?gulp? for air
at the surface.
Muddying the waters
Given a choice, would our ?sh choose clear
water? I suspect not. Many ?sh, such as
gold?sh or carp, prefer the cover provided by
murky water as it hides them from predators.
Carp also show better growth rates in murky
water than clear.
Many ?sh such as cat?sh have superb senses
of taste, touch and smell to ?nd food, but their
eyes have feeble vision as the water they live in
XXXXXXXX
weed, which is an indication of an excess of
plant nutrients in the system, most notably
nitrates or phosphates. Some of this can be
prevented by using products such as Tetra
PhosphateMinus.
Surface foam can indicate excess organic
material in the system, probably due to
overstocking or overfeeding. It?s also a sign
the ?lter system is underperforming.
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
nd rich background in aquatics, Dave brings a
ealth of experience to support Tetra and its
ustomers.
Improve your Fishkeeping
NEIL HEPWORTH
A slumbering
pond needs a
gentle wake up.
Waking your pond up
from winter?s slumber
As we welcome the warmer months there is plenty of spring
cleaning to be done in and around the pond.
The most important organism in any closed,
aquatic environment is desirable bacteria.
Heterotrophic and nitrifying bacteria form the
backbone for a balanced system and therefore
water quality and ultimately ?sh health
During winter these vital
bacteria dwindle in number
due to temperature
reduction and a decrease in
the ?sh waste they feed on.
Below 4癈 these bene?cial
bacteria start to die of, but
this often goes pretty much
unnoticed because the rest
the environment is quite
dormant anyway.
So, your ?rst job is to tend
the ?lter. A simple clean-ou
66
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
with pond water is going to help shift any
built-up sediment that could otherwise choke
biological activity.
Our bacteria like clean, well aerated water
with nitrogen compounds to munch
and don?t appreciate physical
ste clogging up their high
rface area homes and making it
rder for them to obtain oxygen.
Don?t be tempted to use the
ose just because it?s easy ? the
hlorine will kill of any healthy
bacteria that may have returned.
Seeing as the eiciency of the
ump is directly connected to
?lter performance, let?s also
include a once-over for that
too.
Rather than just a rinse, take the opportunity
to open up the casing and clean the impeller
and the impeller chamber. Also check the area
for damage.
The time to be most concerned about
bacterial activity is when the pond starts to
wake up ? when we start feeding the ?sh
again.
You should introduce a low protein ?sh food
(wheat germ) once the water temperature rises
to 8癈, but bear in mind that between 4癈 and
8癈 there is very little waste being produced
and therefore very little to re-activate the ?lter
bacteria.
In other words, the quality of the water is
likely to deteriorate if you start feeding the ?sh
daily all of a sudden, and your ?sh are far from
full health as it is.
Basics
When you do start feeding your ?sh you?ll be
faced with two options. Firstly, you can
balance the amount of food being introduced
with the performance of the ?lter, adding very
small quantities of food every other or third
day and monitoring water quality with test
kits, slowly increasing the frequency of feeds
as your ?lter bacteria multiply.
Alternatively, you can balance the
performance of the ?lter against the quantity
of the food you want to add, forcing the
maturity of the ?lter by adding bacteriaboosting products. This will allow you to feed
the ?sh more frequently but you?ll still need to
monitor the water quality closely and maintain
the balance well.
Spring clean the dirt
The next step to take is to hoover the pond.
Hoovering any leaves up that have found their
way to the bottom of the pond and any other
organic sediment will help two-fold. Not only
will it remove a large source of waste that
would otherwise compete for ?lter attention
with ?sh waste, but it will also keep mineral
levels correct.
Rotting leaves release tannic acid and pond
?sh don?t like an acidic environment. To
remedy this further you could also add a clay
like montmorillonite to boost vital mineral
content and support ?sh health and vitality.
Just remember to use a dechlorinating liquid
or ?lter your tap water though a dechlorinating
pod when topping the pond up after hoovering.
At this time of year, it?s also worth freshening
up your UV bulb(s) if you have any. If changed
during months when the sun is gaining
momentum the bulb should last for a whole
year. It?s also good practice to replace the
?o?-rings or at least coat them in silicone
grease or Vaseline to prolong their life.
Get your plants potted
With equipment checked and refreshed,
built-up waste removed and ?lter performance
being monitored, it?s time to turn your
attention to plants and general cleanliness
around the pond.
I like to leave last year?s growth on the plants
until I?m con?dent there will be no more frosts
because the old growth will protect new early
shoots. Be careful not to cut too far down too
as you?ll take the top of new growth if you?re
overzealous.
If any plants are in need of repotting or
spitting, now?s not a bad time to do it. It will
refresh the nutrients available to the roots so
that new growth can be strong and healthy. If
repotting isn?t necessary it?s a good idea to
insert a feed stick into the plant basket.
These slowly release nutrients to revitalize the
compost and feed plants for up to a year.
Wake up time for a pond also
means wake up time for the
many parasites in there too. In the
parasite/immune system balance,
parasites usually get a head start on
fish, so be vigilant for the outbreak of
disease. Springtime is the time to make
sure all your medications are up to date,
so look at expiration and replace any
that need it.
A good staple to have for springtime is
a topical treatment kit such as the one
shown by Kusuri. This will be invaluable
in the high-risk outbreak of ulcers which
require treating at first sight.
TIP
Hoovering
the pond is a
Springtime chore.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 67
IAN JUBB
Ease into feeding
Tablets for lilies are available and probably
more important because Lilies require so
many nutrients and will reward you with
colourful ?owers throughout the season if well
feed and mature.
If you turn of your waterfall over the winter it
will need a good wash before turning back on.
The trick here is not to wash leaves, mosses
and muck into the pond ? pond hoovers can
help here a lot, allowing you to loosen up
built-up mess and then hoover it away.
Failing that, holding a dustpan at the ?nal lip
of the waterfall and brushing waste down
normally can do a decent job. If lots of algae
has infested the waterfall, a generous
sprinkling of salt can do wonders. Leave it for
10-20 minutes before brushing with a stif
brush and rinsing.
Salt can also be handy for paving around the
pond that may have become slippery with
algae. Always try to brush any soil away from
the pond to avoid clouding the water and
adding unnecessary organic waste, but a small
amount of salt isn?t going to hurt if it is
accidentally washed into the pond.
Most essential throughout the entire spring
period is regular testing. Monitor ammonia,
nitrite and nitrate as well as following the pH,
to ensure that maturation is taking place in the
?lter. If it isn?t, it?s likely that immune systems
will fray and diseases will take hold.
ALAMY
Improve your Fishkeeping
REPOTTING A PLANT
1
Line a suitable sized aquatic planting
basket with hessian. This will stop soil
leaking out.
2
Carefully remove the plant from its
existing pot. Some pot bound plants may
need their roots cut to allow this.
Add pond suitable soil (not garden soil) to
the basket, ?lling a few centimetres from
the top.
4
5
6
Pat down the pond soil in to the basket,
ensuring the plant is fully encased.
68
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Use aquarium or pond (lime free) gravel
to layer over the soil. This will keep it in
place.
3
Trim away any remaining hessian to tidy
up the pot. Job done!
MP & C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
COMMON SPECIES
SUBJECT TO
INJECTION AND DIPPING
O Albino corydoras
O Glass ?sh, Parambassis sp.
O Parrot cichlids
O Black widow tetra
O Giant gourami
WHAT?S WRONG WITH INJECTED FISH?
Fish can be arti?cially coloured in a couple of ways ? Dipping or Injecting
DIPPING: Fish have mucous layers stripped, before being dunked
in concentrated dyes that stain them with arti?cially bright colours.
`Fish are dyed all over including the gills, causing respiration issues.
`Ink in the body can have serious effects on organ function.
`Stripping away mucus leaves ?sh open to bacteria and parasites.
INJECTING: Fish are stabbed with a needle, and dyes are injected.
They may have patterns or words tattooed on the body.
`Against ?sh body sizes, needles are huge. Imagine your arm being
injected with a pencil for a comparison.
`Injection sites are access points for infections.
`Needles are not cleaned or sterilised, risking infection.
`Chemical embolisms from injection can cause fatalities.
`Injecting causes granulomas, tumours and cauli?ower-like growths.
`The dyes cause in?ammation of skin and muscle tissues.
`Injecting requires rough handing, which is highly stressful.
ARE THEY LEGAL?
It IS illegal to dye a ?sh through
dipping or injection in the UK, but
NOT illegal to import or sell them.
Almost all dyed ?sh are commercially
produced in the Far East, and
imported directly.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ask if retailers have joined up to
the Practical Fishkeeping Dyed Fish
Campaign. Started in 1996, the
campaign asks retailers to pledge not
to爏ell any dyed ?sh.
If you see some on sale, raise your
concerns with store owners. Because
dyed ?sh aren?t always advertised as
such, staf may genuinely not know they
are stocking them!
Your voice can help make a diference!
TROPICAL
Glassfish
HEAR
OF GLAS
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEALE
MONKS
We raise a glass to tropical, transparent fish
and argue for their crystal-clear place in
your aquarium.
Neal has authored
many books on
fishkeeping. His
particular passion
is for brackish water
species.
70
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
ASIAN GLASS CATFISH
6Scientific name: Kryptopterus
vitreolus.
6Origin: India, though similar species
are found in Burma and South-east
Asia.
6Size: 6?7cm is typical, occasionally a
little bigger.
6Diet: Likes small live foods such as
brine shrimp and Daphnia best, but
will consume good-quality flake food
as well.
6Water chemistry: Adaptable, but not
too hard: 1 to 12?dH, pH 6.5 to 7 is
ideal.
6Maintenance: This catfish is highly
social and must be kept in a group,
preferably of at least five specimens.
The glass catfish,
Kryptopterus vitreolus
is a clear favourite.
100 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 71
TROPICAL
I
ndian Glass?sh (Parambassis
ranga) are probably the bestknown transparent ?sh in
the hobby, but there are
many others as well. In the
right aquarium, all these ?sh
have the ability to add a
special something that even
the most vibrant tetra or barb
cannot compete with.
Given that ?sh live in a transparent
world, the fact that Glass?sh are all
but invisible in their natural habitat
is obviously a useful adaptation.
They can sneak up on their prey
unnoticed and, just as usefully, can
avoid being seen by larger predators,
who hunt by sight.
Clearly superior
But just how does a creature made
of ?esh and bone ? just like any
other ?sh ? manage to make itself
so crystal-clear? Part of the answer
is simple; these are usually small ?sh
with little to no colour pigment in
their skin. Despite what you might
think, most ?sh tissues, including
muscle and skin, are in fact
SHUTTERSTOCK
Glassfish
translucent rather than opaque.
Try holding a slice of smoked
salmon up to the light. You?ll see it
begin to almost glow as some of the
rays manage to penetrate through.
Of course, the thicker the tissue,
the more light is blocked, so by
default it?s only very small ?sh that
normally appear to be transparent.
Just look at any ?sh fry to see that,
bar their eyes and bones, they are
almost always transparent to some
degree. In such tiny juvenile ?sh, it?s
really only speckles of pigment in
the skin and the denser tissues, like
bone, that easily block light. This
transparency provides a vital
camou?age at this especially
vulnerable stage in a ?sh?s life cycle.
Part of the answer, therefore, is
that transparent ?sh retain some
traits we associate with ?sh fry ?
namely thin bodies, delicate bones
and a lack of skin pigments ? which
together allow some of the light to
pass through. Indeed, in
evolutionary terms, some glassy ?sh
are simply fry that never grew up;
reaching sexual maturity while still
This transparency
provides a vital camouflage
for juvenile fish at an
especially vulnerable stage in
their life cycle
ABOVE: Delicate
bones and minimal
skin pigmentation in
glassfish.
very small. This is exactly the
situation with Danionella, a genus of
Danio-like minnows that reach adult
status at barely 1cm in length, never
gaining either the pigmentation or
the complete skeletons of their
larger cousins.
Indian glass?sh, however, are a lot
larger than Danionella, so this alone
cannot be the answer. A baby Danio
scaled up to the size of a glass?sh
wouldn?t be transparent. Why?
Because, as we?ve said, a thicker
ALAMY
Glassfish, blending
in beautifully.
72
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
When animals evolve into new
species by retaining the
characteristics of their juvenile
forms into the sexually mature
adult state, biologists call
this neoteny.
Pareutropius
buffei, only happy
in a shoal.
chunk of muscle or skin will block
much more light than a thin sliver.
It turns out that Indian glass?sh
have taken things a step further by
modifying their muscle cells. They
are arranged in just the right way to
allow light waves to pass through
more easily!
Parambassis
ranga is sheer in
appearance and
satisfying to keep.
FACTFILE
FACTFILE
AFRICAN GLASS CATFISH
INDIAN GLASSFISH
6Scientific name: Pareutropius buffei.
6Origin: West Africa, including Benin and Nigeria.
6Size: 7?8cm is typical.
6Diet: Not fussy; small live and frozen foods
preferably but good-quality flake and micro pellets
work too.
6Water chemistry: Adaptable,
but avoid extremes; 5 to
15?dH, pH 6.5 to 7.5.
6Maintenance: Like the Asian
and Indian species, this is a
very gregarious, actively
schooling species that does
badly when kept alone.
6
Scientific name: Parambassis ranga, though P.
siamensis and P. lala are probably imported too.
6
Origin: India, though, as noted there are some very
similar South-east Asian species in the trade.
6Size: 4?7cm depending on the species.
6
Diet: Will take all sorts of
small live and frozen foods
including brine shrimps,
bloodworms and shrimp
meat.
6
Water chemistry: Will adapt to
most conditions, including
slightly brackish water.
6
Maintenance: Best kept in a
group of at least five.
100 l+
90 l+
SHUTTERSTOCK
Evolution is an exercise in
compromise though, and glass?sh
do lose out in two important ways.
The absence of pigment in the skin
means that ultra-violet light can
damage their cells more easily, and
so transparent ?sh, including
glass?sh, must avoid shallow,
brightly-lit environments where
that?s a major risk.
Indeed, to avoid this problem
entirely the majority of glassy ?sh
tend to inhabit dark habitats, such as
caves, or else choose to be most
active at night.
Their transparent muscles also
work a little less ef?ciently than the
muscles of non-transparent ?sh.
So, while Indian glass?sh are active
?sh and can move quickly when
they have to, they prefer still or
sluggish waters where constant
swimming isn?t necessary. Much the
same holds true for most other
glassy ?sh as well.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Glass half-empty?
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 73
TROPICAL
Glass?sh
H E L P F U L A DV I C E
FACTFILE
Lymphocystis
GLASS KNIFEFISH
A disease associated with Indian glassfish is lymphocystis, a rare
example of a viral infection. It?s normally revealed by the
appearance of textured growths on a fish?s skin, sometimes
described as having the appearance of cauliflower.
Thankfully, lymphocystis is rarely fatal unless the growths obstruct
important body parts and, given time, may clear up by itself ?
although this can take months or even years. Unfortunately, when
it comes to this infection, it really is a waiting game as, currently,
there are no known treatments.
Scientists have studied lymphocystis extensively, and in the wild it
seems to be commonest where the water or substrate has become
polluted, suggesting it is most likely
related to environmental stress. Good
water quality, stable water chemistry a
a varied diet can all help your glassfis
stay in good health.
6Scientific name: Eigenmannia virescens.
6Origin: Widespread across the Orinoco and Amazon basins of
South America.
6Size: 30cm is typical, though wild specimens can reach over
40cm in length!
6Diet: Consumes insect larvae in the wild, and similar live or
frozen foods are preferred in captivity,
though some specimens will take
good-quality flake and pellets.
6Water chemistry: Not fussy, but avoid
very hard water; 1 to 15?dH, pH 6 to 7.5
recommended.
6Maintenance: Keep at least five to six
specimens, ideally more. The tank should
be deep, dark and well-filtered, with plenty
of hiding places to go around.
SHUTTERSTOCK
300 l+
Dyed glass?sh or ?disco
?sh? ? one to avoid!
Sadly, where some see beauty, others see a
blank canvas. In the case of the Indian
glass?sh this has meant the injection of
?uorescent paints into the skin and
muscles, creating what are sometimes
called ?Disco ?sh?.
Some have argued that this is no worse
than getting a tattoo, but the balance of
evidence seems to be that dyed ?sh are
more prone to diseases than the natural
kind and, whatever the health issues, the
process itself has to be very stressful for the
?sh involved.
Dyed ?sh are only rarely seen in UK shops
these days ? not least in part due to a
campaign by PFK to educate hobbyists and
retailers ? but if you do see them on sale,
please don?t buy them.
Introduce Glass Knifefish
to large systems of 100 ga
or more, offering them
space they need
thrive.
Transparent
fish, including
fish, must avoid
hallow, brightly-lit
environments
74
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
MOUNTAIN CRYSTAL
TETRA
NEIL HEPWORTH
6Scientific name: Protocheirodon pi.
Caption,
caprion,
6Origin:
South
America, including Peru,
caption
Brazil and Bolivia.
6Size: Up to 4cm.
6Diet: Finely-powdered flake food as well
as tiny live foods, such as daphnia.
6Water chemistry: Prefers soft, slightly
acidic conditions; 1 to 15?dH, pH 6 to 7.5.
6Maintenance: Peaceful, schooling species
that can be bullied by larger tank mates.
Best kept as a large group in a quiet,
planted tank with subdued lighting.
60 l+
FACTFILE
X-RAY TETRA
NEIL HEPWORTH
6Scientific name: Pristella maxillaris.
6Origin: Coastal streams of South America
including Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.
6Size: Up to 5cm.
6Diet: Flake food plus all the usual frozen
foods.
6Water chemistry: Very adaptable; 2 to
25?dH, pH 6 to 8.
6Maintenance: A classic tetra for
beginners thanks to its hardiness and
very peaceful personality.
70 l+
FACTFILE
PYGMY GLASS DANIO
30 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 75
NEIL HEPWORTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
WHAT MAKES ME DIFFICULT TO KEEP?
Glass Knifefish and Pgymy Glass Danio can be more
challenging to keep because they enjoy plenty of
company and tailor-made tanks. Think deep and dark for the Glass
Knifefish, and ?private retreat? for the precious Pygmy Glass Danio.
6Scientific name: Danionella translucida.
6Origin: Burma.
6Size: Around 1cm, making it among the
smallest freshwater fish known!
6Diet: Finely-powdered flake foods can be
used, alongside very small live or frozen
foods such as brine shrimp nauplii.
6Water chemistry: Aim for 2 to 12?dH, pH
6.5 to 7.5, while keeping the temperature
around 20?C.
6Maintenance: Intensely social, so keep in
a large group, certainly at least 10
specimens but the more the better. Given
its tiny size, this is a species best kept in
its own aquarium.
MARINE
Boxfish
BOX
CLEVER
Cute as a button and dinky as a dice,
baby boxfish lure in many an aquarist.
But do you have the right set up for a
cumbersome fish that can reach 45cm?
ALAMY
TRISTAN
LOUGHER
Tristan is an aquatic
author who has
worked on various
research projects.
His day job is at
Cheshire Aquatics.
76
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEIL HEPWORTH
BOXFISH STATS
8
There are eight kno
species in the genu
Ostracion.
45
50
ALAMY
The depth in metres the Longhorn
cowfish boxfish swims at in the ocean..
-4
22
SHUTTERSTOCK
The number of
centimetres this chap
Average years the
boxfish family lives
for in an aquarium
0
Temp C
pH
8
to 25.5癋
temperature range
with an alkaline pH
of 8.1 to 8.4 is ideal.
7
6
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
16
5
4
SHUTTERSTOCK
150
It might set you back
this many of your hardearned #� to own one.
ALAMY
5
minutes is all it
takes for the
poison (pahutoxin)
or more litres of
water to live.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 77
ALAMY
2-4
350
Number of females
a male mates with
to breed.
MARINE
Boxfish
After release,
pahutoxin harms
exposed fish
within as little as
three minutes.
Death can occur in
as few as five
to venture into subtropical zones.
Box?sh perform agile manoeuvres,
including 180� turns without forward
motion. It?s all thanks to a tail acting
like a rudder and pectoral ?ns
providing propulsion.
Toxic shocks
Box?sh have a geometric shape; the
result of fused bony plates (known
as dermal plates) that surround the
body. This gives them a hard
carapace that many predators ?nd
hard to swallow.
If this wasn?t enough to keep them
safe, they excrete a detergent-like
chemical toxin called pahutoxin
when stressed. After release,
pahutoxin (formerly known as
ostracitoxin) harms exposed ?sh
within as little as three minutes.
Death can occur in as few as ?ve.
Interestingly, O. meleagris exhibits
heightened resistance to pahutoxin
whereas other box?sh are just as
susceptible to it as other ?sh, which
will not recover even when placed
into toxin-free water.
Effects on invertebrates vary. It
can have a narcotic effect on corals
and anemones, where they appear
sedated, but deaths are rare.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Ostracion is a genus of the family
Ostraciidae, itself one of the
subdivisions of the
Tetraodontiformes; the order that
contains ?le?sh, Monacanthidae,
Trigger?sh, Balistidae, and puffer?sh,
Tetraodontidae, among others.
Ostraciids include Atlantic trunk?sh,
Lactophrys and Acanthostracion, and
cow?sh, Lactoria spp, together with
monotypic genera such as
Paracanthostracion, represented by
a single species, P. lindsayi, endemic
to New Zealand.
There are eight known species in
the genus Ostracion. Some have a
huge geographical range, while
others are limited to one or two
remote islands. A Japanese species,
O. immaculatus inhabits temperate
waters and other species are known
NATISYTHEN
SHUTTERSTOCK
Basics
SHUTTERSTOCK
A
DDING A FISH to
a marine aquarium
can involve a
certain amount of
risk. Is the aquarium
suitable for its
requirements?
Will the new ?sh
introduce disease? Will it be bullied
by the existing residents? These are
all important considerations for
marine aquarists.
Risks always exist, but through
sensible stocking and sundry goods
like UV sterilisers, these can be
minimised. Yet there are a handful
of ?sh for which the best
precautions can still be followed and
they still represent a risk ? despite
being relatively placid. These
include some of the most appealing
and beautiful ?sh in the hobby, the
box?sh of the genus Ostracion.
Weird
but true
The shape of a
female boxfish,
Ostracion
meleagris, once
inspired
Mercedes Benz to
design a concept
car, the Bionic, as
it was thought to
offer stability.
Unfortunately for
Mercedes, it
subsequently
appears that the
boxfish?s
inflexible form
actually cre t
78
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Availability
Box?sh availability can be sporadic.
Some, such as paired Ostracion
meleagris are much sought after,
with the better pairs often sourced
Feeding and competition
The natural diet of box?sh is best
described as omnivorous; algae
makes up a large chunk of their
intake but they will also consume
polychaete worms, crustaceans,
molluscs and even small ?sh. They?ll
ignore most corals, stony and soft,
large polyp or small polyp, but your
free-living shrimp and clean-up crew
may not be so lucky. Offering dried
seaweed on a clip is a good way of
satiating the perpetual appetites of
these ?sh but offer regular feedings
with a diverse array of frozen and
dried diets in the long term.
ALAMY
from Hawaii. This is home to the
beautiful subspecies O. meleagris
camurum, but they are never seen in
large numbers.
The yellow box?sh is more
frequently seen but availability is hit
and miss. The small, sugar lumpsized juveniles are simply too cute to
be resisted by many marine
aquarists. Alas, they can often prove
too irresistible for their own good.
ALAMY
Pahutoxin is a surfactant and one
way to remove it is through protein
skimming. A quality skimmer is
mandatory for an aquarium
containing Ostraciids. It doesn?t
eliminate the risk of poisonings
occurring but it may possibly help to
reduce the impact on the aquarium.
Chemical absorption media also
has use in systems containing
box?sh. Carbon is the minimum but
sophisticated ion exchange resins
such as Seachem?s Purigen might
help to remove toxins.
I have been lucky not to
experience a poisoning when
keeping box?sh, but I have known
of situations where box?sh have
been incorrectly blamed for ?sh
deaths. Unfortunately, poor
husbandry is often overlooked in
favour of less damning explanations.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 79
MARINE
Boxfish
SHUTTERSTOCK
quieter. As they grow they become
Tanks and tankmates
Before acquiring a juvenile box?sh
stronger swimmers but even so they
the ?rst consideration should be
prefer lagoons and sheltered reef
providing a long-term home. These
zones. Their sturdy skeleton and
are potentially large ?sh. The male
poisonous properties make them an
yellow box?sh, O. cubicus, reaches
unappealing meal for predators and
45cm in nature. Not all individuals
so rapid movement is less necessary.
will achieve this and females are
In an aquarium, they can tame
smaller, but I?ve seen enough 35cm
easily but their lack of swimming
specimens to know that they have a
power can make them poor
great size potential and will
competitors for food at
require a system of at least
mealtimes. Ensure you see
650 l in order to thrive.
them feeding, rather than
The best aquaria for
assume that they are.
box?sh are those set
up speci?cally for
Due to the ridgid square
box?sh. Suitably
shape it?s hard to know if a box
placid tankmates
?sh is feeding well. When
should be
purchasing make
included that allow
sure you see it
the box?sh time to feed
feeding.
and are unlikely to harass
or stress them. Note that
box?sh have suf?cient appeal to
warrant a system all to themselves.
Manoeuvrable they may be, strong
swimmers they are not ? particularly
when small. They cannot withstand
strong localised water currents
associated with pumps, outlets and
powerheads and can end up being
pulled into strainers. This may be
avoided by using large weir combs
and using stream-type wave pumps
rather than powerheads. Better still,
use controllable wave pumps that
have a phase where the power reduces
signi?cantly for a time, meaning any
trapped ?sh can release itself.
Juvenile box?sh are cryptic, often
residing in caves, crevices and inside
corals such as branched Acropora
spp. where the water movement is
80
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
ALAMY
The Spotted Trunkfish has
been known to kill predators
as large as Nurse Sharks
if it is ingested.
Juvenile boxfish are
cryptic, often residing
in caves, crevices and
inside corals.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Members of the genus Ostracion
show different degrees of sexual
dimorphism when mature. Females
are smaller and squarer in body
shape and may be a completely
different colour to the males.
Most species follow this rule,
including the yellow box?sh, but in
this species larger males may also
develop a ?horn? which is absent in
the female. While the female O.
cubicus retains a yellow body with
dark spots (sometimes including
some white), the male develops
grey-blue pigments on the head and
at the base of the ?ns.
A box for you
The rigid exoskeleton of the box?sh
makes assessing its condition tricky.
You simply can?t tell whether a ?sh
is skinny or not. Given the issues
surrounding the toxin release by a
stressed box?sh, aquarists should
seek out specimens that have been
in the country for extended periods
and have had the chance to
recover from the rigour of
collection and shipping.
They should be seen
feeding, ideally on pellet
or ?ake diets, but frozen
foods will do for most. If
they are kept with constant
access to dried alga such as nori
then better still. Bear in mind that
the tiny 1-2cm individuals have
small mouths that can struggle with
large food items. Correspondingly
sized morsels should be offered.
If you are happy enough to make a
purchase, take the ?sh straight home
and acclimate it in as close to
darkness as possible to help reduce
ABOVE: Haddon?s
carpet anemone,
(Stichodactyla
haddoni) is one to
avoid with Boxfish.
ALAMY
Sexual dimorphism
SHUTTERSTOCK
Although box?sh can be thought
of as generally (but not 100%) coral
safe, they should not be kept with
any sessile invertebrates with a
strong sting. For example, carpet
anemones (Stichodactyla spp) are
unsuitable additions to aquaria
containing box?sh for this reason;
the ?sh simply aren?t strong enough
to swim out of the grip of the
stinging tentacles. Larger species of
shrimp such as Stenopus may
predate small Ostracion spp. given
the opportunity.
stress and observe it closely
afterwards. This is not a ?sh to
acclimate before going out for the
evening.
Assuming we put aside the fact
they can poison an entire aquarium,
box?sh are beautiful, unusual,
interesting, colourful and some
are available for a reasonable
price. The question for
marine aquarists has to be
whether they are prepared
to accept the risks of tank
poisoning that are inherent with
members of the genus Ostracion.
It would certainly be wise to
box?sh-proof your aquarium before
thinking about stocking one. If you
can do this and stock an unstressed,
well-settled individual that feeds
enthusiastically on a variety of
foodstuffs then there?s a good
chance you will have success with
these fascinating ?sh.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 81
MARINE
Boxfish
ALAMY
Ye?ow Boxfish
6Scientific name: Ostracion cubicus
6Where found: Tropical and subtropical
Indo-Pacific.
6Minimum aquarium volume: 650 l.
(Possibly smaller for a female in a
species aquarium).
6Availability: Good.
6Size potential: 30-45cm.
6Cost: �-75.
The sight of an aquarium full of dicesized yellow box?sh excitedly bobbing
about is enough to test the resolve of
even the most sensible and pragmatic of
aquarists. They are intelligent and
quirky, and therefore appeal to marine
aquarists on so many levels. O. cubicus is
the least expensive species in the genus
and their affordability makes them
vulnerable to a spontaneous purchase.
ALAMY
Reticulate Boxfish
6Scientific name: Ostracion solorensis.
6Where found: Tropical Western Pacific and Christmas
Island in the Indian Ocean.
6Minimum aquarium volume: 350 l, but ideally larger.
6Availability: Reasonable.
6Size potential: 12-13cm.
6Cost: �-75.
82
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Yellow box?sh are full of character and
will become tame like trigger?sh and
puffers but you simply can?t lose sight of
their prodigious growth and the everpresent danger of their potential for
toxin release. Fortunately, individuals
that are well recovered from shipping
don?t seem to stress easily unless subject
to poor water quality, bullying or other
life-threatening situations.
Arguably the box?sh best suited to the average marine aquarist.
With a modest adult size below 15cm a fully-grown male will suit
a system of 350 l or so. Mature males are seldom imported and
even juveniles are often overlooked in favour of more obviously
colourful members of this genus. However, those with a little
patience prepared to seek out a pair will be rewarded with a
fantastic and incredibly beautiful ?sh for a fraction of the price of
a pair of O. meleagris.
ALAMY
Whitley?s Boxfish
6Scientific name: Ostracion whitleyi.
6
Where found: Pacific Ocean; Polynesia
to Hawaii.
6Minimum aquarium volume: 450 l.
6
Availability: Rarely seen but offered by
Hawaiian exporters.
6Size potential: 15 cm.
6Cost: �-100 or more.
Shown here is a female O. whitleyi. Males are a stunning deep blue
with black-margined paler blue stripes on their flanks and white
spots on their dorsal surface. The fact that they are exported
through Hawaii means their collection and care is pretty much as
good as it gets before shipping, but that does not make them
immune to stress. Where available they are likely to command high
prices, although size and sex will have an influence on their cost.
BEWARE
Pahutoxin has a haemolytic
effect, rupturing red blood
cells through fishes? gills. It?s
of no harm to humans unless
injested or contacting
open wounds.
ALAMY
Black Boxfish
6Scientific name: Ostracion meleagris.
6Where found: Tropical Indo-Pacific. Two subspecies exist.
including O. meleagris clippertonense from the Eastern Pacific.
6Minimum aquarium volume: 500 l (possibly smaller in a species
aquarium).
6Availability: Sporadic.
6Size potential: 12-13cm.
6Cost: �-150 or more.
Both sexes are highly attractive and occasionally imported as
male-female pairs. Stress issues aside, this species is renowned for a
reluctance to feed. Live river shrimp may be useful here, as would
be adding a pair before more boisterous fish species such as tangs
join the aquarium. Better still, stock them into a species aquarium.
Always offer dried algae such as nori on a seaweed clip.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 83
Filling the upper layers of a tank
is a fishkeeper?s nightmare.
Bob Mehen looks at the options.
BOB MEHEN
ALAMY
An aquarist since
the ?70s, Bob is a
moderator of the PFK
chat room and has a
special passion for
catfish.
84
VERY
ENVIRONMENT
offers a plethora of
niches to be
occupied by the
species best adapted
to them, and this is
abundantly clear to
anyone who spends even a short
time watching the ?sh we keep in
our aquaria. Some ?sh, the majority
of cat?sh for instance, spend their
time as close to the substrate as
possible, with only the occasional
dalliance with the upper levels of
the tank. Others seem content to
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
patrol the fertile mid-waters, seldom
deviating either up or down unless
an obvious, safe food source is
apparent. Some, however, have
evolved and adapted over millennia
to utilise the dynamic circumstances
the uppermost levels offer.
The surface of any piece of water is
a place of opportunity, an interface
between two worlds which offers the
chance to bene?t from both. The
struggling motion of careless insects,
trapped by the deceptively powerful
surface tension is certain to attract
the interest of hungry bystanders, as
is the regular ?plop? of falling fruits,
seeds and leaves. Many ?sh have
evolved to take advantage of this
abundance, but this is a two-way
relationship. Predators lurk above
and below to take advantage of
smaller or less cautious creatures.
The surface is fraught with danger.
While good aquarium husbandry
should remove the risk of predation,
surface-dwelling ?sh are much
sought after to help ?ll a tank?s levels
and allow maximum stocking,
without all the ?sh crowding together
in one zone. While many ?sh utilise
the full tank, some ?sh really do
prefer to spend their days on top.
Jumping death-wish
A common problem with surface
dwelling aquarium ?sh is keeping
them inside the aquarium. I?m not
talking in terms of ?tank-busting? size
or water chemistry, but rather that
the majority seem hell-bent on
exiting the safe, wet embrace of your
tanks waters for a brief and generally
fatal dalliance with the dusty recess
behind the average aquarium.
This apparent death-wish can be
explained by the naturally twitchy
nature of species evolved to take
advantage of this transitional surface
zone.
The surface of any piece of water is a place of
opportunity, an interface between two worlds
which offers the chance to benefit from both
When a sudden, grizzly end can
come from every direction it doesn?t
pay to hesitate. Few of these ?sh will,
with an energetic, powerful leap
being their ?rst response to most
unwanted stimuli. In your average
pond, lake, stream or river this will
give them a ?ghting chance of
evading predation, throwing
would-be predators off the scent as
they perform a handy disappearing
trick before returning to the waters a
confusingly safe distance away from
trouble. Sadly, few of us possess
tanks of a scale to allow such feats of
athleticism to be safely exhibited, so
measures should be put in place to
prevent leaps of faith needing divine
Above: A Platinum
intervention to succeed. The most
halfbeak lingers at
obvious course of action is a
the surface.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 85
TROPICAL
Surface Dwellers
with varying regularity include the
tight-?tting cover. Seemingly, many
Common hatchet ?sh (Gasteropelecus
jumpy ?sh have the ability to leap
sternicla), Spotted hatchet?sh
straight through the only available
gap, usually the one you, the aquarist, (Gasteropelecus maculatus), Silver
hatchet?sh (Gasteropelecus levis),
have dismissed as too small to need
Spot?n hatchet?sh, (Thoracocharax
plugging. You have been warned.
stellatus), Giant hatchet?sh
If Fort Knox type physical security
(Thoracocharax securis) and the Dwarf
is not your style and you crave
open-topped tanks, or if the sound of hatchet?sh (Carnegiella schereri).
All are various degrees of silver in
?ighty ?sh bouncing off the cover
appearance, with the two
glass every time you pass by is too
Thoracocharax species being
much to bear, then consider a
mirror-bright and
generous covering of
deeper-bodied than
?oating plants. It?s
their Gastropelecus
remarkable the
cousins. Ranging in
calming effect of a
Butterfly fish can ?feel? prey
size from the Giant,
bit of natural
wriggling on the water even if at around 9cm, to
greenery can have
they can?t see it. Handy in
the diminutive
on both the ?sh and
the dead of night!
Dwarf, with an adult
the tank owner. A safe
size of 2.5cm, there?s a
bolt-hole amongst the
Hatchet to ?t most tanks.
trailing roots of something
These are one of the ?ightiest
like Salvinia natans cannot be
?sh. They will jump, and often that
overstated.
means jumping in to trouble.
Wild-caught hatchets can be
Freshwater hatchetfish
delicate when newly-arrived, so get
Perhaps the most commonly seen
the water quality spot on and keep a
and most popular surface dwellers
close eye, and quarantine new ?sh
are freshwater hatchet?sh from the
where possible to ensure they are in
Gasteropelecidae family. What many
tip-top condition before adding them
newer hobbyists don?t realise is there
to your display. Go for as large a
are several species regularly to be
group as you can ?t and an absolute
seen on offer in better shops.
minimum of ?ve. Generally quick to
Arguably the most prevalent is the
adapt to suitably-sized dried ?oating
Marbled hatchet?sh (Carnegiella
strigata). These gorgeous little ?sh are foods, Hatchets still appreciate treats
closer to their natural diet. Consider
marked with chocolate-brown
occasional wingless Drosophila (Fruit
marbling and reach 3.5cm in size.
?ies), which are often available from
They make ?ne community citizens
reptile shops.
in quieter tanks. Other species seen
Note the black
mark on the
dorsal fin.
These are one
of the ?ightiest ?sh.
They will jump and
??y? into trouble
Perhaps the
most common
hatchet.
FACTFILE
MARBLED HATCHETFISH
NEIL HEPWORTH
6Scientific name: Carnegiella strigata
6Origin: Amazon basin: including Brazil,
Colombia, Peru, Suriname and Guyana
? leading to speculation that there
may be several species.
6Size: 3.5cm in aquariums.
6Tank size: Minimum 75x30x30cm.
6Water requirements: Soft water
preferred, 5.0-7.5 pH.
6Temperature: 24-28癈.
6Cost: Around �each.
86
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
70 l+
FACTFILE
SPOTFIN HATCHETFISH
6Scientific name: Thoracocharax
stellatus
6Origin: South America: Brazil, Peru,
Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia,
Paraguay, and Argentina.
6Size: 7.5cm.
6Tank size: At least 120x30x30cm.
6Water requirements: Soft water
preferred, 5-7.5 pH .
6Temperature: 20-28癈.
6Cost: Around �each.
108 l+
FACTFILE
DWARF HATCHETFISH
ALAMY
6Scientific name: Carnegiella schereri
6Origin: Amazon basin: Peru and Brazil.
6Size: Generally 2.5cm.
6Tank size: At least 60x30x30cm.
6Water requirements: Soft water
preferred, 5-7 pH.
6Temperature: 22-28癈.
6Cost: �each on average.
54 l+
Pantodon buchholzi is a weird looking
?sh! Named ?Butter?y? after its huge
pectoral ?ns that spread like gigantic
wings (especially when viewed from
above) it can leap to escape
predators or snatch ?ying insects.
These ?ns also help camou?age the
?sh, which with its mottled brown
colouration, could be mistaken for a
dead, ?oating leaf.
Largely sedentary, these ?sh only
spring into life if spooked or for food.
They are generally peaceful to all but
their own kind, so are best kept singly
unless you have a large tank.
Trailing ?ns can attract unwanted
attention from some ?sh, so keep
Butter?ies away from ?sh with nippy
reputations.
Subdued lighting is preferred and
areas of lush ?oating plants can offer
the security of shade and shelter.
Originating in slow-moving or still
waters, these ?sh will tolerate only
the gentlest ?ow rates.
JJPHOTO.DK
African butterflies
The Dwarf hatchet
reaches just 2.5cm.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 87
TROPICAL
Surface Dwellers
The ?wrestling? behaviour usually takes place between rival males,
A well whiskered
?barb?.
JJPHOTO.DK
Striped Killifish
FACTFILE
FACTFILE
GOLDEN WONDER
METALLIC FLYING BARB
6Scientific name: Aplocheilus lineatus
6Origin: India and Sri Lanka
6Size: Fast growing and capable of reaching 10cm.
6Tank size: 90x30x30cm at
least.
6Water requirements: Very
adaptable with reports of the
fish surviving in brackish
conditions in the wild. Aim for
6-7.5 pH with moderately
hard water.
6Temperature: Around 25癈.
6Cost: From �each
6Scientific name: Esomus metallicus
6Origin: Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand,
Myanmar and Malaysia.
6Size: 7cm.
6Tank size: Starting from
90x30x30cm.
6Water requirements: 6-7
pH, soft to moderately hard
water. Fares poorly in any
tank with low oxygen levels
so ensure ample turnover.
6Temperature: 20-27癈.
6Cost: �each on average.
80 l+
Metallic flying barb
80 l+
ALAMY
Pretty, but
predatory.
88
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Sold as the Golden wonder panchax,
these will live for several years if
maintained correctly. Their adult size
and predatory nature can surprise
the unwary aquarist ? they?ll eat any
tank-mates that ?t inside their wide
mouths. Choose companions of a
similar size and with deep bodies.
With suitably-sized sidekicks,
they?re a colourful and active
aquarium ?sh and enthusiastically
aware of their owners ? especially at
feeding time! Often sold in pairs,
larger groups can be kept together if
given suf?cient space.
These long, slender ?sh are powerful
jumpers, with a dorsal ?n set well
back towards a deeply-forked tail,
combined with large pectoral ?ns.
Calling them barbs is a misnomer, as
these ?sh are more closely related to
danios and rasboras.
They are a good match for many
aquarium staples, but only an
occasional import. Their shining,
silver sides are complemented by a
black and bronze-gold stripe, running
from nose to tail, and ?owing
whiskers.
Flying barbs are busy, dynamic ?sh,
constantly on patrol for morsels that
drop onto the water?s surface. Like so
many of these top-dwellers they
don?t appreciate strong ?ow and in
the wild they are known to migrate
into rice paddies, ditches and ?ooded
areas to avoid the excessive ?ow in
the rainy season.
While they are unlikely to swim
together in a tight group, you?ll see
them at their best in numbers, where
FACTFILE
WRESTLING HALFBEAK
6Scientific name: Dermogenys pusilla
6Origin: Asia: India, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam,
Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
6Size: Males 5cm, females 7cm.
6Tank size: 60x30x30cm at least.
6Water requirements: 7-8 pH, moderately
hard to hard water. Can be maintained in
brackish conditions or hard freshwater, but
avoid swings in chemistry ? stability is key
for long term success.
6Cost: In the region of �each.
as they lock jaws in a trial of strength
they will develop a pecking order.
Interactions are fascinating, as they
spar for rank amongst their company.
Wrestling halfbeak
When the term ?livebearer? is bandied
around in ?shkeeping, showy
Guppies and vibrant Platies might
spring to mind. Giving birth to live
young is not unique, with a wealth of
live-bearing species beyond these
aquarium staples. The Wrestling
halfbeak (Dermogenys pusilla) is an
occasional import worth watching.
These tiny, freshwater relatives of
predatory marine needle?sh and gars
top out at little more than a few
centimetres long. Like their big
cousins they share a hugely
ABOVE:
extended, static lower jaw, which is
genuinely struggle to take food from
Halfbeaks live
several times longer than their
anywhere but the water?s surface.
up to their
mobile upper one and ?nishes in a
In the wild they feed largely on
names.
point. Males grow to around 5cm
insects and as the ?sh in shops are
and females nudge 7cm. These
wild caught they can be tricky to
males have an adapted anal ?n,
wean onto dried, prepared aquarium
which is used in breeding in a similar
foods. The lower jaw can easily be
way to the Guppy?s gonopodium.
damaged in transit or from
Generally silver, males sport
panicked dashes against the
orangey-yellow ?ns with a
glass, so be careful when
African butterfly fish will eat
distinctive red blotch at the
catching or moving them
any fish small enough to fit in
start of the dorsal. The
and give them plenty of
their capacious mouths, so
?wrestling? behaviour
?oating plant cover.
usually takes place between
They can be bred, but many
choose tank-mates
rival males, as they lock jaws in a
people
report dif?culties with
very carefully.
trial of strength ? males and
still-born young. If successful then
females occasionally lock jaws when
don?t expect to be overrun with
courting. The unusual shape of their
halfbeaks. Brood size is often just a
mouth and jaws means they
handful of fry.
The Butterfly
fish is an odd
looker.
FA
BUTTER
NEIL HEPWORTH
6Scientific n
6Origin: West
6Size: 12cm.
6Tank size: 90x30x30cm at least.
6Water requirements: Soft to
moderately hard water, 6 to 7.5 pH.
6Temperature: 23-30癈.
6Cost: Around �.
80 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 89
NATHAN HILL
54 l+
TROPICAL
NATHAN HILL
Cichlids
90
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TANGANYIKA?S OLDEST
HAPLOCHROMINE
Tropheus duboisi
Living over rocks provides ample opportunities for
caves and territories. One stunning Tanganyikan
cichlid makes the most of a stony existence.
A
AD KONINGS
A young T. duboisi
showing his algaestripping teeth.
Ad Konings is an
ichthyologist and
author known for
his comprehensive
research on African
rift lake cichlids.
T MOST locations
around Lake
Tanganyika the
rocky habitat is
situated on a
moderately-sloping
shore and patches
of sand are usually
visible among the rocks. The rocks
in this habitat are piled on top of
each other, forming a complicated
network of caves and crevices.
The ?aufwuchs? ? a matrix
consisting of long strands of green
algae attached to the rock surface,
intertwined with short strands of
blue-green algae, and populated
with diatoms and invertebrates ? is
virtually free of sediment, which
allows the algae to ?ourish, in some
places forming thick green mats.
Because there is a great abundance
of food, competition for living space
is high, and only the strongest and
most aggressive species are able to
secure a territory.
There is no rocky coast in the lake
which does not harbour a Tropheus
species, a genus of cichlid of which
there are at least nine known species.
The oldest member of this genus is
Tropheus duboisi, which is also the
least aggressive member of the
genus. Adults, therefore, are rarely
seen in the upper ?ve metres of the
rocky habitat.
Territorial issues
Unlike many other Haplochromine
cichlid, Tropheus females possess
a feeding territory and are fully
involved in territorial and social
interactions. Both sexes of T. duboisi
have non-overlapping but adjoining
feeding territories, such that, in
principle, all rocky substrates are
covered with non-overlapping
territories. The size of each territory
is directly related to the size of
the owner and have been found to
range from 0.2 to more than 5m2.
Individuals spend over 90 per cent
of the day in their own territory.
Territory size also depends on the
total area of available rock surface
and the associated abundance of
algae. When abundant blue-green
algae are available, the feeding
territories are rather small, ranging
between 0.2 and 1.2m2, while in
other places with a diminished
availability of algae, territories can
measure up to 8m2.
Territories are defended mainly
against conspeci?cs, but sometimes
also against other herbivores.
Territorial disputes almost always
take place at the boundaries and
almost always between neighbours.
The attacker is always the larger
individual. His or her approach is
often followed by the submissive
behavior of the opponent, which
normally quivers its tail while
assuming a head-up position and
often exposing its belly ? a very
vulnerable part of the ?sh ? towards
the dominant individual.
A territory is valued by its owner
for the availability of food, and those
with a three-dimensional structure
in the form of protruding rocks,
which increase the total surface area
for feeding, are the most coveted.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 91
TROPICAL
Cichlids
AD KONINGS
Once she releases her fry, the
mouthbrooding female resumes
the defense of her territory. Her fry
wander free and will often
migrate to shallower,
food-rich water.
Tropheus have high
concentrations of
stomach acids with
a very low pH for
digesting algae.
TAUTVYDAS PANGONIS
The highest
density of
T.duboisi is seen
at eight metres.
FACTFILE
WHITE-SPOTTED CICHLID
6Scientific name: Tropheus duboisi (Trow-fee-uss doo-bwah-zee)
6Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa.
6Habitat: Shallow rocky habitat, usually
6-10m deep.
6Size: Usually to 12cm.
6Tank size: Minimum 120 x 30cm footprint.
6Water requirements: Extremely hard and
alkaline: 8.2 to 9.2pH, hardness 16 to 30癏.
6Temperature: 23-27癈.
6Temperament: Aggressive, territorial.
6Availability and cost: Farmed fish common,
starting at �99 for juveniles. Wild regional
variants may cost considerably more.
200 l+
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Territory owners are aware of the
quality of the various feeding
grounds in their neighbourhood
and will move to a better site
whenever the opportunity arises.
The depth distribution of T. duboisi,
which is always found sympatric
with at least one other member of
the Tropheus genus, ranges from ?ve
to 30 metres, with the highest
population density found at about
eight metres.
In Pemba (along the Congo
shoreline), where Tropheus sp. ?black?
(Orange Moori) and T. duboisi are
found sympatric, T. duboisi occupies
deeper, sediment-rich regions and is
most abundant between 6 and 10
metres, occuring to a depth of about
30 metres.
At Luagala Point (along the
Tanzania shoreline), T. duboisi
lives in deeper parts of the habitat
while the prime, shallower regions
are inhabited by Tropheus annectens
and T. sp. ?black? (Double-spot
Moori).
A taste for aufwuchs
Although vertebrates have dif?culty
digesting higher plant cells because
of the indigestible cellulose they
contain (and which gives these
plants their rigidity), matters are
different when it comes to algae,
where the amount of cellulose in the
cell walls is much lower or absent.
This does not mean that algae are
easily digestible, but it is possible
for some algae, in particular the
blue-green algae (cyanobacteria),
to be digested by herbivorous
species with high concentrations
of very low pH stomach acids.
Herbivores in Lake Tanganyika have
such capabilities and lush algae are,
therefore, in high demand with
virtually all of these cichlids.
The outer teeth of Tropheus
species are bicuspid and set close
together, forming a tightly-packed
row with which the ?sh can grasp
individual algal strands, which are
then severed from the substrate by
biting, by swinging the head
sideways, or, most often, by pushing
backwards or upwards away from
the substrate while holding tight to
the strands. The pectoral ?ns are
particularly large and give the ?sh
considerable thrust when ?pushing
off?, probably with enough force to
sever the algal strands. The lips of
Tropheus are thin and the oral teeth
situated close to the outer edges of
the jaws, so that it can crop the very
short strands of blue-green algae.
Stomach analysis by Kohda &
Yanagisawa (1992) revealed that
besides algae, sand is present in all
Tropheus species, but that the gut
contents of T. duboisi revealed a
greater amount of inorganic matter
than those of T. sp. ?black? at the
same habitat at Pemba, Congo.
T. duboisi, therefore, appears to be
better adapted to obtain algae from
the sediment-covered rocks in the
deeper, sediment-richer areas.
The lack of competition from
T. sp. ?black? (and from most other
herbivores) in deeper water means it
has more food available and a better
chance of establishing territories in
deeper areas. The best territories ?
those containing the highest density
of blue-green algae ? are held by the
largest individuals, usually males.
The smaller females have to make
do with less favorable territories.
mouthbrooding strategy ? they
appear to be sequentially
monogamous. This means that all
the eggs of a female?s brood are
sired by a single male, which is not
usually the case with most other
maternal mouthbrooders, where a
brood is usually sired by three or
more males.
The size of a male?s territory
determines his mating success, and
his physical size is less important.
It appears that females select mates
mainly for the size and quality of a
male?s territory and not so much for
his size and coloration ? although,
naturally, these characteristics are
involved in the possession of an
advantageous territory.
All territorial males receive visiting
females, usually from neighbouring
territories, including those with
inferior territories. Females regularly
assess neighbouring males?
SHUTTERSTOCK
All territorial
males receive visiting
females, usually from
neighboring territories, including
those with seemingly inferior
territories
T. duboisi,
are abundant
in Lake
Tanganyika.
Driven towards extinction
?T. duboisi is an attractive cichlid and has
been a mainstay in the hobby during the last
40 years. Unfortunately, high demand for
wild-caught specimens has brought the most
popular variant, the so-called ?Maswa
duboisi?, to the brink of extinction. In
September 2017, I found, together with
three other divers, less than 10 adult
individuals during ?ve separate dives. This
came in the same areas where, 20 years
earlier, a collecting team of a Zambian
exporter was able to catch more than 1,000
Maswa Duboisi in four days. Now it is up to
dedicated aquarists to keep this variant alive
? because in the lake there are no more!?
The sexes of T. duboisi are virtually
indistinguishable regarding their
colour pattern. In ?standard?
maternal mouthbrooders
(haplochromines) the male has an
attractive coloration, which he uses
to advertise and entice females to
his spawning site, while the female
has a subdued or camou?age
coloration to give her protection.
In Tropheus, it appears that several
species, including T. duboisi, have a
different and interesting maternal
AD KONINGS
Breeding duboisi
Juvenile duboisi
have spotted
markings
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 93
TROPICAL
Cichlids
territories by visiting for several
minutes at a time before retreating.
Soon (three months or more)
females have gained a good
knowledge of their surroundings,
helping them decide when to spawn.
In T. duboisi, females temporarily
leave their territories to spawn with
a male on his terrain. Mouthbrooding
females return to their feeding
territories and actively defend them.
For 5 to 6 days the female stays
almost motionless in her retreat.
Once the larvae inside her mouth
hatch she browses for algae on
which to feed her young and
increases her daily feeding rate.
After the release of the fry, the
female resumes the defense of her
feeding territory.
Clutch size in T. duboisi is rarely
more than 10 eggs and the average
ALAMY
The rocks in this
habitat are piled on top of
each other, forming a
complicated network of
caves and crevices
94
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
brooding period is 31 days. Under
favorable conditions T. duboisi can
produce four broods per year.
T. duboisi at home
Tropheus are territorial and territory
size is dependent on the availability
of food. Most wild territories are
much larger than can be normally
provided for in an aquarium. In the
confines of an aquarium, T. duboisi
adapts to the limited space and to
the abundance of food given.
A male will occupy a territory,
maybe with aggression. Females will
only become territorial if there are
no males in the aquarium. Since
territorial males need some objects
to mark the boundaries of their
territory, it is desirable to place a
few heaps of rocks in such a way
that none of them have rocks in
common. Each male will choose
one pile and regard it as its territory.
If there is one continuous rocky reef
in your tank, only the strongest male
will claim the whole reef while the
others will succumb to his attacks.
Each male needs a territory of
about 75cm in diameter. Depending
on the size of the aquarium, only a
few males can be kept in harmony
with each other. The quantity of
females or juvenile males is not
important, since they are not
territorial in the aquarium. It is
better to have at least twice as many
females as males.
It is possible to keep some other
species together with the breeding
colony, but they should be smaller or
at least subordinate to the T. duboisi.
Examples include: Neolamprologus
pulcher and Julidochromis species.
One of the most im
in the well-being of
food you offer. The s
good brand of flake or pellet food.
Ones that contain spirulina are
recommended for T. duboisi, but
others are also good. All artificial
foods contain a high percentage of
proteins, so a little amount suffices
for a daily meal. Adult T. duboisi
should be fed only once a day and
normally with just as much as can
be eaten in a minute.
Mouthbrooding females can be
kept together with the group or
isolated in separate tanks. Left on
her own, she will release her fry at
the right time, which is about 4 to 5
weeks after spawning. The female
can return to the breeding colony,
which is best done at night when all
the fish are asleep.
TROPHEUS DUBOISI
DISTRIBUTION MAP
1
1. Pemba (Bemba or Cape Munene)
D.R.Congo
2. Muguruka, Burundi
3. Gombe, Kigoma, and Cape Bangwe,
Tanzania
4. Maswa, Cape Kabogo (Mkuyu) and
Halembe Tanzania
5. Katumba Point, Karilani island, and
Luagala Point, Tanzania
2
3
3
5
5
4
2
5
Every rocky
coast harbours
a Tropheus
species.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 95
Buyer?s guide
The
B
pond
Our in-depth look at what?s on the market and
e competition.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: GABOR HORVATH
96
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
A
fter decades of keeping ?sh in
aquaria you might think you?ve
seen it all. You might be able to
recite the optimal water
parameters for hundreds of tropical species
or calculate the optimal ?ow in a reef tank,
but when it comes to setting up your ?rst
pond you?ll be baled. Although the
fundamental operation of a pond isn?t that
dissimilar to an indoor tank, you?re dealing
with larger water volumes in a largely
uncontrollable environment. Fortunately,
there?s an abundance of relevant equipment
on the market, designed to keep your pond
healthy and aesthetically pleasing. We?ve
tested a range of pumps to help you select
the best one.
Getting it right
When you ?rst enter the pond section of
any garden centre you will be amazed by
the variety of pumps on offer ? there are
pumps for every situation and every size of
pond. Basic fountain pumps have only one
function: to shoot a jet of water up in a way
that will please the eye. They come in many
sizes, from the tiny 400lph (litres per hour)
bowl sprinklers to the 10,000lph industrial
fountains. You will also usually ?nd an
accompanying selection of spray heads,
allowing you to create the effect you like the
most. But beside this aesthetic value,
fountains can also help with pond
maintenance because the splashing
increases the contact area between water
and air, improving oxygenation levels.
The problem with any fountain is that
the spray head can easily clog in dirty water.
Some of the pumps come with a pre-?lter
sponge to avoid this, but they?ll still require
frequent cleaning, even in lightly stocked
ponds. In ponds with a heavy bioload,
placing the fountain pump on a stone will
keep it away from the bottom and reduce
the chance of debris entering the system.
Fountain pumps can project up to 150cm
high, but if you want to go higher, or add a
waterfall or a ?lter, then you will require a
bigger pump. Some of the multi-use pumps
have a combined fountain and ?lter outlet,
but their solids-handling capacity is often
limited. They can be good for a moderately-
stocked gold?sh pond, but if koi is your
choice you will need a dedicated ?lter pump
able to shift large (up to 8mm) pieces of
debris. These pumps can also support
sizeable waterfalls ? in fact, top industrial
grade pumps can push water up over 10m.
The pumps covered in this guide (able to
provide waterfalls 3m high) are more than
adequate for a home pond.
Your ?rst step is to think about the type
of pond you have (or want). Small, natural
ponds without ?sh require only very
limited ? if any ? ?ltration, and a fountain
or small waterfall is usually more than
enough to keep the water well oxygenated.
If you wish to keep ?sh, you?ll need to use
some ?ltration.
For ponds of up to 6,000 l you can use
combined ?lter pumps, which suck dirty
water through ?lter media and pump the
clean water back via a fountain head or
small waterfall. Very often these all-in-one
?lters have a built-in UV light as well to
?ght unwelcome green algae. In heavilystocked ponds they?ll require very frequent,
even weekly cleaning, as the ?lter sponge
will clog quickly.
While the majority of pond pumps must
be submerged (wet use), there are some
which can be used in-line (dry use), similar
to the indoor sump pumps. As these pumps
can be positioned outside of the pond, their
maintenance is much easier. Just make
sure they are still under the water level!
Calculating size
Once you have decided which type of
pump(s) you need it?s time to think about
the size. For a fountain feature, you?ll need
around 300-1,700 l of water per hour at the
spray head. The exact amount will depend
upon the outlet diameter of the fountain
pump. Waterfalls need around 1,000lph for
every 10cm width for an average ?ow. The
required pump size can be calculated based
on these ?gures. For example, for a 70cm
high fountain and a 30cm wide waterfall at
the same height through a 19mm outlet, you
would need a pump able to deliver a
minimum of 1,000lph+(3x1000lph),
meaning 4,000lph. You should add about
20% extra for losses, so the ideal choice in
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 97
The BIG
pond pump test
this case would be a 4,400lph (at 70cm
height) pump, like the Blagdon 5500.
Selecting a filter pump is a bit more
complicated. As a starting point, you?ll need
to calculate the volume of your pond. It?s an
easy task in the case of pre-moulded plastic
ones, as their volume is usually given by the
manufacturers. If your pond is round,
measure its radius, then use the formula:
radius x radius x 3.14 x depth x 1000 = total
volume in litres. In ponds of other shapes,
use: average length x average width x
average depth x 1000 = total volume in
litres. Please note that all measurements
should be in metres. In moderately-stocked
ponds you will need a pump that?s capable
of pushing this volume through the filter
every two hours. Higher stock levels will
require a quicker turnover. Don?t forget to
consider the required pumping height,
which is measured between the water level
in the pond and the highest point the pump
should lift the water up to. If you are using
the outlet of a pressure filter to feed a
waterfall, positioned above the filter, then
the lift head is the height of the waterfall. In
this case you don?t need much extra
performance, as the waterfall uses the
water fed through the pressure filter. If you
want to operate a waterfall separately from
a filter, then you will need to add the flow
rates for the two functions together. For
example, for a moderately-stocked 5,000 l
pond with an open top box filter and a
separate 30cm wide waterfall, both at 50cm
above water level, you?ll need a pump with
2,500lph (half of the pond volume) for the
filter, plus 3x1000lph=3000lph for the
waterfall. If you add around 30% extra
(1,650lph) for the losses at the tubing and
fittings it will bring your total to over
7,000lph (at 50cm lift height). Based on
outflow charts, a pump like the Laguna
MaxFlow 7600 or the Newa Cascata adv
8000 would fit the bill perfectly. If in doubt,
always buy a filter pump one size bigger, as
the extra performance can be handy when
the filter gets dirty.
Electricity consumption is also an
important factor. If you plan to run your
filter pump all year round, every 10W
increase will mean an extra � per annum.
98
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
HOW WERE THEY TESTED?
We?ve repeated the method used in a
previous PFK sump pump test to measure
the real output of the pond pumps.
Comparable to their indoor relatives, the
pond pumps came without pipes. To
ensure optimum performance, diferent
diameter pipes were used, ranging from
13mm to 25mm. A rainwater barrel served
as a base for the tests and a 10 l (for the
fountain pumps) and a 30 l (for the ?lter
pumps) calibrated ?sh-tank was the
measuring device. All the pumps were
fully submerged at 40cm and were run for
10 minutes before commencing each test
to ensure that any pre-existing air
bubbles had had the chance to dissipate.
The pipes were also ?xed to a pole to
reduce drag. We measured how long it
took the pumps to push 10 or 30 l to the
required height. We took averages from
the results (all tests were repeated three
times) and rounded the ?gures to the
nearest ten. You can ?nd a summary of
these results in the following tables.
TOP TIP
Fountain-only
pumps
Raise fountain
pumps on to blocks or
plastic pots in ponds with
sediment. This will stop
the sponge pre-filters
from blocking up and
impacting flow
rates.
This section covers pumps
designed to supply water for
attractive fountains. Their
performance was optimised to
pump water up to the usual
60-120cm fountain height.
SUPERFISH
The smallest fountain pump on our test was
the SuperFish Pond Flow Eco 600. Although
it could run a ?lter, due to the ?ow rate it?s
only recommended for modest sized (up to
500 l) ponds.
NEWA
The Newa Fontana adv pumps were the only
fountain pumps on our test ofering in-line
application. They ofer sleek design and a
good performance.
LAGUNA
The Laguna Fountain range contains a set of
ll b ilt
hi h
b th
powerful and eicient ? what?s not to like?
BLAGDON
The Blagdon pumps are very popular among
garden pond owners and renowned for their
reliability. The latest series ofers versatile
fountain options and a solid performance, as
well as very informative packaging.
AQUAGARDEN
The AquaGarden Water Movement fountain
pumps are part of an extensive garden
product range from Maidenhead Aquatics.
They performed well ? a very reliable option.
PONDXPERT
The odd one of the bunch was the Pondxpert
SolarShower 800. As the name suggests it?s
powered by solar panels, but also has a
Li-ion backup battery. During the test we
struggled to access the amount of sunshine
it needed to run at full strength, but it?s still a
useful option for those not wanting to run
armoured cables across their garden.
Pump
Qmax
Hmax
0m
0.5m
1m
1.5m
2m
Extras
Energy
consumption
Warranty
Price
Pond Flow
Eco 600
600
1.2m
580
360
110
-
-
One fountain
nozzle
8W
2yrs
�.99
Fountain
700
720
0.9m
710
450
20
-
-
2 fountain heads
10W
2yrs
�.99
Solar
Shower 800
800
2m
720
560
400
190
-
LED lights
9W
1yr
�.99
Fontana adv
800
800
1.3m
790
590
310
20
-
3 fountain heads,
wet/dry
9W
3yrs
�.75
Blagdon
900
900
2m
880
760
570
340
100
3 fountain heads
18W
3yrs
�.49
Aqua
Garden
1200
970
2m
900
780
580
350
100
3 fountain heads
18W
3yrs
�.99
Blagdon
1600
1600
1.8m
1540
1290
880
390
-
3 fountain heads
24W
3yrs
�.99
Fountain
2000
1800
2m
1760
1410
1020
510
20
2 fountain heads
30W
2yrs
�2.99
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 99
The BIG
pond pump test
Combined fountain and filter pumps
This group contains stronger fountain pumps (over 2,000lph). They
ofer divided ?ow capabilities, enabling them to run a waterfall or
smaller ?lter alongside the main feature. Despite inbuilt precautions to
avoid clogging, they can?t handle solids well. For this reason, they?re
not really suitable as the main ?lter pump for dirty ponds.
PONDXPERT
Although the build quality is not
outstanding, the Pondxpert Fountasia 2000
ofers good value for money. It?s a sensible
choice for cost-conscious pond keepers with
moderately stocked ponds.
ALL POND SOLUTIONS
The All Pond Solutions FPP-3500F pump is a
low energy option with a low price to match.
It can be used as a combined pump or
standalone ?lter pump.
CLOVERLEAF
The CQB-4003 is an afordable fountain
pump from Coverleaf. Although the
packaging looks a bit dated and the pump
feels plasticky the performance was quite
solid.
LOTUS
The Lotus Maximus Evo 4000 boosts an
Airmix sytem, which sucks in additional air
through a venturi intake. A great advancedlevel fountain pump.
PONDTEAM
The Pondteam Superjet 5000 was designed
to supply high and large fountains, and it
does so with ease. A very powerful and well
built option.
LAGUNA
The Laguna PowerJet range combines
excellent build quality with competitive
performance. Eicient and powerful although
a bit pricey.
BLAGDON
The large Blagdon 5500 fountain pumps will
give you everything you want: ?ve fountain
heads, reliability and lots of power. A valid
option despite their high electricity
consumption.
AQUAGARDEN
The AquaGarden 6750 ofers the choice of
?ve fountain heads and has enough power to
run a sizeable waterfall or ?lter at the same
time. Great value for money.
EHEIM
The EHEIM Play has high grade plastic and
ofers a top quality performance to match.
TOP TIP
Keep any pipework
as short as possible.
Additional lengths of
hosing create frictional
loss which can cause a
surprising drop in flow.
100 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
AQUAJET
The Aquajet PFN Eco 8000 is a very
well-designed pump, combining high ?ow
rate with ridiculously low power
consumption. The dry application option
makes it even more versatile.
Pump
Qmax Hmax
0m
0.5m
1m
1.5m
2m
2.5m
Extras
Energy
consumption
Warranty
Price
Fountasia
2000
2000
2.5m
1890
1670
1340
930
460
-
2 fountain heads
35W
2yrs
�.99
PowerJet
2200
2200
1.8m
2100
1750
1220
570
-
-
2 fountain heads
32W
5yrs
�9.99
Fontana Adv
3000
3000
2.9m
2980
2740
2360
1960
1470
980
3 fountain heads,
wet/dry
55W
3yrs
�2.67
EHEIM Play
3500
3500
2.95m
3500
3260
2960
2560
1930
1180
3 fountain heads
55W
7yrs
�9.00
FPP-3500F
3500
2.5m
3410
3160
2640
2060
1260
50
fountain kit
42W
1yr
�.99
CQB-4003
3800
2.8m
3710
3420
3110
2620
1910
1080
2 fountain heads
55W
2yrs
�.00
Maximus
EVO 4000
3850
3m
3760
3630
3350
2870
2240
1410
Air mix system, 2
fountain heads
50W
3yrs
�.99
Superjet
5000
5000
3.6m
4960
4770
4280
3580
2820
2190
3 fountain heads
98W
3yrs
�9.00
PowerJet
5000
5000
3.3m
4920
4720
4140
3400
2620
1850
2 fountain heads
65W
5yrs
�2.99
Blagdon
5500
5360
3.3m
5270
4620
4040
3430
2610
1720
5 fountain heads
100W
3yrs
�2.99
Aqua
Garden
6750
6750
4m
6530
5960
5390
4750
3960
3220
5 fountain heads
135W
3yrs
�9.99
Aquajet pfn
eco 8000
7500
4.5m
7380
7200
6900
6420
5770
4940
Fountain head set,
wet/dry
52W
2yrs
�0.00
PowerJet
9000
9000
3.7m
8860
8440
7730
6850
5880
4780
2 fountain heads
80W
5yrs
�3.99
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 101
The BIG
pond pump test
Solid-handling filter pumps
If you have a pond with lots of livestock, these are the pumps for you.
They will remove unwanted muck and feed it to your external ?lter.
LAGUNA
Every Laguna MaxFlow ?lter pump ofers two
level suction, ensuring optimal sludge
removal. Build quality and solid-handling
performance are excellent.
LOTUS
The Lotus Olympus Pro 5000 has high
energy consumption but provides a steady
?ow even at higher lifting levels. A good
choice if your ?lter is high up.
Pump
Qmax Hmax
VELDA
The Green Line 5000 is part of Velda?s
extensive pond range. It?s one of the biggest
pumps on our test and ofers a large intake
surface area ? perfect for ponds with a huge
amount of debris.
PONDXPERT
The PondXpert Ultra Flow 5300 pairs
ultra-low energy consumption with a good
?ow rate and an option to attach a satellite
water intake.
0m
0.5m
1m
1.5m
2m
2.5m
Extras
Energy
consumption
Solid
handling
Warranty
Price
2 level
suction
55W
6mm
5yrs
�6.99
MaxFlow
4000
4000
2m
3930
3240
2250
1220
20
Olympus
Pro 5000
4938
3.7m
4860
4590
4230
3820
3150
2510
110W
6mm
3yrs
�9.99
Green Line
5000
5000
3.5m
4930
4440
3790
3090
2290
1660
40W
6mm
2yrs
�4.99
Ultra Flow
5300
5300
3.3m
5210
4770
4170
3470
2580
1640
Optional
extra
inlet
30W
8mm
3yrs
�9.99
Cascata adv
6000
6000
3.6m
5910
5490
4960
4180
3380
2620
wet/dry
70W
8mm
3yrs
�3.48
Aquaforce
6000
6000
3.5m
5940
5520
5010
4230
3440
2730
wet/dry
65W
10mm
3yrs
�6.99
Aqua Garden 6250
6250
3.5m
6180
5580
4690
3760
2950
2020
Sludge
removal
mode
105W
8mm
3yrs
�9.99
EHEIM Flow
6500
6500
3.6m
6460
5920
5380
4650
3730
2890
70W
8mm
7yrs
�9.99
MaxFlow
7600
7600
3.5m
7470
7110
6420
5570
4620
3640
2 level
suction
75W
8mm
5yrs
�7.99
Cascata adv
8000
8000
4.5m
7960
7390
6830
6080
5340
4460
wet/dry
86W
8mm
3yrs
�4.29
AquaECO-8000
8000
5.6m
7870
7670
7330
7010
6430
5730
70W
8mm
2yrs
�.99
MaxFlow
9000
9000
3.7m
8890
8440
7830
7040
6100
5030
2 level
suction
80W
8mm
5yrs
�3.99
Pond Eco
Plus RC
10000
9200
5.8m
9160
9020
8790
8500
8080
7520
Remote
control,
wet/dry
68W
6mm
2yrs
�9.95
Superflow
Techno Pro
10000
9200
5m
9260
9080
8830
8430
7930
7300
Flow
controller
85W
8mm
3yrs
�9.00
CFP-10000 10000
5m
9920
9440
8850
8270
7640
6870
155W
6mm
2yrs
�.00
102 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TOP TIP
If planning a
waterfall, install the
piping underneath it. This
way, you won?t have to
worry about trying to
hide lengths of hose
with plants and
rocks.
NEWA
The Cascata Adv pumps from Newa have a
distinctive appearance and can be installed
inside or outside of your pond. An excellent
performer, versatile, reliable and afordable.
HOZELOCK
The Hozelock Aquaforce 6000 is a brilliant
pump and can be used with small or large
?sh. With a fry protection cage and a
solid-handling capability of up to 10mm, it?s
sure to serve you well.
AQUAGARDEN
The AquaGarden 6250 is another great pump
made by Blagdon. Its special sludge removal
mode enables you to maintain your pond
with ease.
EHEIM
The EHEIM Flow 6500 has a modern, high
performance engine and comes with a seven
year warranty.
ALL POND SOLUTIONS
Despite being one of the cheapest ?lter
pumps on our test, the AllPondSolutions
AquaECO-8000 outperformed many of its
more expensive competitors. A perfect entry
level pump.
SUPERFISH
The Super?sh Pond Eco Plus RC 10000 is a
pump for the undecided. If you don?t know
your exact pond volume or the size of the
waterfall you want to install, this is the pump
for you. The remote control gives you great
?exibility when adjusting your ?ow and
power consumption levels.
p
hungry motor, yet the performance is
somehow lower than expected. Nevertheless
it can serve you well in large but lightlystocked ponds.
PONDTEAM
Pondteam?s Super?ow Techno Pro 10000 is a
true pro-level, solid-handling pump. The
packaging, pump and controller all ooze
quality.
All-in-one pumps
Both pumps in this category can ?lter your water, treat algae problems
with UV light and run eye-catching water features.
HOZELOCK
The Hozelock EasyClear 6000 performs well
and is both solidly built and easy to clean. A
great all-in-one for smaller, under 5,000 l
ponds.
Pump
Qmax Hmax
LAGUNA
The Laguna Powerclear Multi 7000 has
plenty of oomph and is able to cope with
lightly-stocked ponds up to 7,000 l.
0m
0.5m
1m
1.5m
2m
2.5m
Extras
Energy
consumption
Warranty
Price
EasyClear
6000
1700
1.8m
1560
1310
890
390
-
-
UV, 3 fountain
heads, foam ?lter
40W
3yrs
�9.99
Powerclear
Multi 7000
2700
2.4m
2520
2470
2200
1730
1020
80
UV, 3 fountain
heads, foam ?lter
39W
3yrs
�9.99
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 103
PFKNew
r
The latest ?shkeeping products tried and tested
FIRST UNBOXING
Ehei
uastar
Nano Marine Tank
Let me start here by saying that
I?ve been a long-term fan of
Eheim. In the 80s and 90s,
Eheim gear was the luxury
high-end kind of equipment that
I coveted but only ever owned as
a rare treat. From time to time
something secondhand or an
older model on clearance would
come home with me, and take
pride of place in one of my many
set ups.
After so many years of
adulation, out of the box I?m
disappointed with Eheim?s
latest nano offering. It?s a shame,
as they?ve had a great run of new
hardware of late. I was recently
in love with the ruggedness of
their circulation pumps, and I?ve
been spending an unhealthy
amount of time looking at the
Proxima and Vivaline range of
tanks and cabinets online.
What don?t I like? It?s so darn
?imsy, that?s what. I like my
tanks rugged, and my hardware
gutsy, and here I feel like I?m
getting neither.
The tank is okay. Nothing
spectacular but okay.
Dimensions of 60x30x35cm
give it an overall volume of 63 l.
A standard silicone job (that?s
104 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
not a touch on the precision
sealing of some modern tank
is acceptable. The plastic trim
on which the tank sits, less so
The tank ?ts in to it loosely,
allowing for a little slipping
about. Worse, it isn?t in any w
attached. I like my ?oating ba
assemblies to at least be
connected to the tank.
The hood and top trim falls
into the same trap. A plastic
collar slips over the top,
covering all edges. On the back,
a holder slots in to retain the
protein skimmer and pin down
a light. Then the ?ip-top hood
goes on top of that, with the
skimmer poking up through a
pre-cut partition.
My issue with the lid is that it?s
as light as a feather. If a cable
inside presses against it (and
they always seem to ?nd a way
to ?nudge? things), then it lifts
up.
The hardware underwhelms
me a bit. Maybe I?ve been
overindulged the last few years.
I?m sure that on a basic level, the
medley of gear that?s included
will sustain a perfectly
reasonable, no-frills minimarine set up. If you want it
unheated, that is. No heater
comes in this package.
What you do get is an Eheim
streamON 1800 circulation
pump, a miniUP internal
canister, a 100lph air pump and
air-driven skimmer, a
thermometer and two 12W LED
?hybrids?.
The streamON is the best out
of this. It?s a punchy little pump
that?ll keep water churning over.
Pulsing Xenia and Green star
polyps will have a ?eld day with
it.
The miniUP internal canister
is pretty weak. Physically it?s
tiny, which leads me to believe
that Eheim are aiming this at
the ?lots of live rock for
?ltration? market. Nothing
wrong with that, I guess.
The LEDs are predictably high
Kelvin, clean white tinged with
blue and, at a combined 24W
output, should cater for plenty
of coral types. I?ve been
pleasantly surprised by the
growth gained on a lot of these
?generic?-type LED strips. On
the downside, there?s no
controllability. It?s lighting on,
or off. That?s your lot.
The protein skimmer is the
weakest part of the package for
me. It?s air driven, hence the
100lph separate air pump. At a
distant it looks good, then you
touch it and things drop out. It
took me a couple of minutes to
work out that setting the skim
level had to be performed blind
? you ?ddle with the pump and
hope for the best.
As a whole package (assuming
that want a basic marine layout
? a couple of softies, some live
rock, a couple of shrimps and a
goby. If you fancy using it for
SPS or LPS? you?re a braver
person than I am.
Oh, and there?s a cable issue.
Two lights, one pump, one ?lter,
and an airpump mean that you
need no less than ?ve available
sockets (six when you add the
heater) to run it. That?s not
necessarily a bad thing, but it
does look like one heck of a
jumble back there once it?s set
up.
This package will cost you
(based on current online
marketplace prices) �9.99 to
buy, which is considerably more
than the price I had in my head
when I was unboxing it.
Verdict
3/
5
It?s the ?rst piece of
Eheim kit in a while that
I?m not chomping at the bit
to set up at home. In its
defence, I don?t think I?m
the target audience for this
tank.
O Ease of use: 3/5
O Features: 3/5
O Value for money: 2/5
O Overall: 3/5
Price: Indications suggest
a retail price around
�9.99
More info: www.eheim.
com/en_GB
ODUCT NEWS
Fritz marine products
Given that things are warming up, I can segue nicely into a quick
overview of pond salt. various claims about its salt, which we can
look at in turn.
?Low levels of salt in ponds are recommended for the uptake of
oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) across the gills.
Stress can result in a reduction of these electrolytes and the ?shes?
ability to get rid of CO2 and ammonium (NH4).?
In a ?sh sufering stress, electrolytes are indeed lost, impacting
not just CO2 and ammonium regulation, but a whole host of
physiological processes.
?Salt will also help to block nitrite uptake through the gills in
situations where the ?lter has failed, overfeeding has occurred, or in
new ponds?
The interaction at the chloride cells in a ?sh?s gills favours sodium
chloride over nitrite. The best thing is that you only need a really
low level of salt to produce this, around 1g per 10 litres.
?Recent research suggests nitrate uptake in freshwater ?sh is also
lowered in the presence of salt.?
Not so recent, but also yes. However, note that adding salt is not a
satisfactory alternative to managing nitrate in a pond.
?Salt, enhances the production of ?shes? body mucus. Mucus
shedding is a natural way of ?ghting disease for ?sh.?
Also yes, but this is dosage related. There is a downside to this in
some cases, which I?ll explain in the next point.
?Many parasites and pathogens do not like the addition of salt to
water. Salt will also cleanse wounds.?
Quite right, but this is where dosage is essential. Adding salt into
your pond willy-nilly at the ?rst sign of illness could make things
worse. For example, some ?ukes are not only unafected at salt
levels of 3g/l or so, but they actually thrive in the increased mucous
produced by ?sh at this level. However, dosed at the correct level for
the parasite you?re treating, salt is highly efective. The same applies
to ?wound cleaning? which I assume is a reader-friendly way of
saying that pathogenic bacteria can be suppressed at the right
dosage of salt.
?Salt reduces the point at which pond water freezes in winter.?
Yeah, but not that much.
?Low levels of salt are also bene?cial to ?lter bacteria, enhancing
?ltration efficiency.?
This claim is new to me, so I?ll be looking in to it. Salt does increase
conductivity, which is associated with ?lter efficiency, but I?m
undecided until I see more evidence.
The dose rate given on PondSal is 1g/l and so a 10kg bag at that
level will treat a 10,000 litre (2,000 gal) pond. Note that if treating
speci?c illnesses, the dosage may need to increase to 3g/l (or in the
case of some pathogens, as high as 7 or 8g/l).
Waterlife rightly point out that the salt shouldn?t be used in
conjunction with zeolite media, which uses salt as a recharging
chemical. Basically, if you add salt to a pond with zeolite, then the
zeolite will start releasing some ammonia.
Waterlife also explains that ? and this is an important point ? you
shouldn?t add a full dose of salt to a pond that is already salted at
some level. Salt doesn?t evaporate, and so repeated doses will
gradually elevate the levels to those that will harm or even kill ?sh.
Waterlife?s PondSal is available in a 10kg bag. The instructions for
use are easy to follow, and the price at launch is �.60, which is
around the same as I would pay for a 10kg bag of water softener salt.
For more info, visit www.waterlife-aquatics.com
may not know the
e, but Fritz have a
history behind them.
American brand was
?rst company to
eer commerciale cultivation of
fying bacteria over
ears ago; currently
he largest producer
of fresh and saltwater
strains of nitrifying
bacteria. Its chemical
and biological products
are used by zoos, public
aquarium exhibits, aquaculture professionals and home aquarium
hobbyists worldwide.
Fritz products now have a UK distributor so expect to start seeing
these products in the shops.
On the label spiel and on the website, Fritz emphasises the
cleanliness of its products, only using the highest-purity ingredients,
and says they contain no unmeasured and unnecessary ions or
metal.
Directions for dosage involve testing aquarium parameters ?rst to
see what needs rectifying, and then adding an approriate dose to ?ll
in that gap.
Some people used to more simpli?ed product directions may think
Fritz products sound awkward to use, but these are accurate
directions for keeping a successful marine tank, rather than
simple-sounding but inefective dosing regimes.
The calcium/bufer system parts 1 & 2 and liquid magnesium work
hand-in-hand together. Directions on part 1 & 2 tell the user to ?rst
check magnesium levels and adjust if needed with liquid
magnesium as an imbalance here could result in chemical
precipitation of calcium carbonate.
Part 1 is added to raise alkalinity, part 2 to boost calcium.
Zyme monster 460 is a concentrated formulation of saltwaterspeci?c strains of sludge-removing bacteria. It?s aimed at keepers of
larger, messy ?sh like pufers, lion ?sh, eels and so on, and states
that it will greatly reduce aquarium care including gravel vacuuming
and water changes, as well as prolonging ?lter media life.
Fritz ProAquatics Carbon-AP is a high-quality 4mm activated
carbon pellet for use in marine or freshwater systems. It showed its
electrical charge when it came to the photo shoot ? pouring it into a
small pile had pellets repelling each other all over the place!
It states a high adsorption capacity and that it won?t leach
phosphates like lower-quality carbon products can.
High quality natural ingredients are used to create Fritz
ProAquatics Reef Pro Mix salt. This mix is nitrate-, phosphate- and
ammonia-free and includes all of the necessary major and minor
elements of natural sea water, enhanced calcium, magnesium and
potassium levels and enhanced bufer levels. Fritz points out that it
reaches a stable pH shortly after mixing and that a uniform particle
size minimises salt strati?cation when mixing.
All of these products are made within the Fritz company, not
outsourced, so quality control can be more stringent. It also makes
smaller batches compared to some other manufacturers, so quality
is more easily monitored and your product comes with a batch
identi?cation for traceability.
This is far from the full range ofered by Fritz, so for more
information on all its products check out the website.
VERDICT: Well, it looks good, it sounds good, but I?m going to ?nd
out if it tastes good.
For now, I withhold judgement as we?ve not tested it thoroighly, but
I aim to use these products on a future tank when I may give an
update on their use and results.
PRICES: To be con?rmed in the UK.
MORE INFO: www.fritzaquatics.com
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 105
PFKNewGear
FIRST SIGHT
FEEDING TUBES
These tubes are made for
use with ?oating foods;
they?re like a feeding ring
for a pond, but smaller
scale and nicely ?nished.
Two diameters are
available ? 50mm and
70mm ? both of which suit
mounting on to either a
horizontal bracing bar or
the vertical glass of an
open-topped tank.
Red Starfish
acrylic
products
Red Star?sh produces many specialist
acrylic marine products, so here?s a small
selection of them. We have more
following in coming issues. I?ve pushed,
pulled and twisted them, and they?re
clearly well-made and well ?nished.
FEEDING PIPETTES
When you have corals at the
bottom of your tank that
need speci?c care and
targeted feeding, you don?t
want to have to plunge your
arm in the tank every
evening, not just for your
annoyance but also to
avoid contaminants from
your skin. Instead you can
use these far-reaching
pipettes. They are 8mm in
diameter, 35cm and 55cm in
length, and come with the
option of two diferent soft
nozzles with either a 1.5mm
or 3mm outlet.
CRAB BOX
If you have pesky crabs or
a small ?sh you want to
move into an isolation
tank, this box could help
you get hold of them safely
and relatively stress free.
There are three diferent
methods of trapping; two
of which can be shut of
when not needed so as not
to aid escape.
PRICES: Feeding pipettes 35 and 55cm around
�99, Crab box around �.99, Coral viewer around
�.99, Feeding tube 50mm around �99, 70mm
around �99.
WEBSITE: www.redstar?sh-aquarium.com, for UK
enquiries visit aquaticsexpressdistributionltd.co.uk
OBSERVATION MIRROR/ CORAL VIEWER
Curiously called a mirror (maybe something was lost in translation?),
here?s a chance to look in detail at your corals ? or anything else you
might want to see in an aquarium). I?ve used larger versions in Koi
ponds and was surprised how useful they can be.
Placing the cup on the water?s surface removes surface movement and
lighting glare from distorting your view. Then drop in the magnifying
lens for a 5x zoom and you can inspect away to your heart?s content.
PRODUCT NEWS
Colombo marine treatments
New from Dutch ?rm Colombo are
two treatments against external
parasites for marine tanks. Both
treatments are aimed at clearing up
Marine ciliate parasites such as
whitespot ? Cryptocaryon, Uronema,
Brooklynella, Marine velvet ?
Oodinium and others.
The diference between them is the
presence of inverts. Cobrasal is not
for use with invertebrates (copper
sulfate is present) whereas Femsal is
suitable for inverts. In the literature,
106 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
the advice is basically if you can
catch your ?sh, put them in a
quarantine tank and treat with
Cobrasal then you should; this is the
preferred method. If that?s not
possible then use Femsal direct to
the reef tank (but clams must be
temporarily removed during the
treatment schedule).
The user manuals inside the box
are informative and helpful, pointing
out diagnosis of the parasite
infections listed above, calculating
volume and full instructions for
before, after and during use of the
medication.
VERDICT: We haven?t used the
medication at this point but
everything on the outside tallies up
well. I have previously used Colomb
pond medication to good efect and
would be happy to use these
treatments in a marine aquarium.
PRICE: Both Cobrasal and Femsal
are �.49 for 500ml bottles
MORE INFO: www.colombo.nl
TOP of the
SHOPS!
Top shops
Scotland
North
East
Northern
Ireland
THE ROLL OF HONOUR
Retailer of the Year
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Charterhouse
Aquatics, London
TOP 40
(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
North
West
Yorkshire &
Humberside
Republic
of Ireland
Wales
Online Retailer of the
Year
East
West
Midlands
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
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
Catfish 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 @
Cardif
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
107 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
P
hoptour
This month takes us to shops in Essex and Cambridge.
Hardwick
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: STEVE BAKER AND NATHAN HILL
FishFishFish
Address: Waterside, Butts
Green, Clavering, Essex.
CB11 4RT
Telephone: 01799550943
Website: www.?sh-?sh-?sh.
com
Opening hours: Mon-closed,
Tue 10am-4pm, Wed 10am12noon, Thurs-Sun 10am-4pm.
(Reduced during a current
expansion, opening hours will
be extended on completion.)
What is it?
FishFishFish is a small,
up-to-date aquatics shop in a
place where you wouldn?t just
stumble on it. They supply a
wide range of aquariums,
equipment, consumables and
spares. They also supply
quality pond ?lters, pumps and
a full complement of other
pond equipment and
accessories.
The team have a combined
history of 50 years of
?shkeeping. The shop has been
up-and-running for 6 years now
and is currently being
expanded, mostly to hold more
pond products and to expand
the range of aquariums in store.
High points
FishFishFish?s staf pride
themselves on engaging with
their customers and have a
large customer base. They?ve
even worked with a local school
to install an aquarium and
integrating ?shkeeping in to the
schools? science, geography
and math lessons with hopes of
doing the same with other local
schools in the future.
All the products in store have
been used here so you can ask
for details and these guys can
tell you from experience.
In the ?sh house the tanks
and the water strike you as
highly clean and ?sh health is
good. The tanks aren?t heaving
with ?sh which is a conscious
decision to keep cleanliness,
water quality and ?sh health
high. The choice of livestock is
a mixture of community species
and what I call ?pet? ?sh ? larger,
individual ?sh with big
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
108 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
personalities like Oscars, Parrot
cichlids and Girafe cat?sh which
were all present on our visit.
There?s a good choice of
loaches, with several you don?t
see often. Suckermouth cat?sh
are well represented with
Otocinclus, several whiptail
species, and a choice of pretty
little plecs.
They produce their own, detailed
setup guide and there?s a loyalty
scheme ofering discounts on all
items, plus special ofers from
time to time on plants, frozen
foods etc.
The layout is rather
different, the tanks are
nice and clean.
Low points
This shop isn?t the easiest to get
to. Look on the map and there
isn?t a major road or much in the
way of civilization for quite a few
miles.
If you?re making the journey
hunting for rare or particularly
odd ?sh your choices will be
limited. There was an Eel-tailed
banjo cat and some less
commonly seen Dianema cat?sh
but not much for the oddball fan.
Recently they have stopped
selling marine ?sh and inverts,
largely due to sustainability
issues surrounding the collection
of marine livestock.
Interesting tetras
- Hemigrammus
hyanuary.
Verdict
If you make the journey to visit
FishFishFish you?ll be warmly
greeted (by dogs as well as
owners), treated to good service
and I?m sure you?ll leave happy.
We visited too early in the year to
see any pond ?sh stocks but from
the vats in position outside I
imagine ponds are well catered
for. This is a shop that gives a
good reason to wind your way
through some country roads.
There?s a good loach
selection
What stood out
? Twig whiptail
�.00
? Porthole cat?sh
�.00
? Red?n tiger loach
�25
? Long?n tetra
�70
? Chinese golden zebra loach �.00
? Upside-down cat?sh
�70
? Reed?sh
�50
? Red and white parrot ?sh
�.00
? Giraffe cat?sh
�.50
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
Clavering
A stunning Corydoras
schwartzi type, maybe
CW28.
Lots of tested dry
goods are packed in.
There are a few
oddballs about.
Upside-down cats are
always a favorite.
Star rating
Tropical fish
Discus
Cichlids
Catfish
Oddballs
Indoor plants
Pond plants
Koi
Pond fish
Fancies
Indoor coldwater
Marine fish
Marine inverts
Indoor dry
Pond dry
Freshwater inverts
Labelling
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
OS
OS
OS
NS
NS
NS
NS
11111
OS
11111
11111
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 109
PFKShoptour
Nutty about pets
Address: 175 St. Neots Road, Hardwick,
Cambridge, CB23 7QJ
Telephone: 01954 214 530
Website: www.nuttyaboutpets.co.uk
Opening hours: Mon - Fri 9-7, Sat 9-5,
Sun 10-4
? quite an attractive, instant feature for a
beginners marine tank.
The visit is helped by ample parking and an
award winning (for several consecutive years)
caf� next door.
What is it?
The selection of livestock is quite basic and
there are a few ?sh that may cause a frown,
such as Silver sharks, Balloon mollies, lots of
Sail?n plecs, Yellow goat ?sh and Spotted
grunts. The livestock has a similar feel to a
typical store from 15 years ago. However, this
is a new business and it?s highly probable that
some of these ?sh were leftovers from the
previous tenants.
Nutty about pets is a new business that
sits on a site that used to be known as the
Coral cave (among other pet businesses).
There have been changes and they are in a
period of transition currently. One major
change is a large cut in the number of
livestock sale tanks, though the number of
disused or part empty tanks in the store?s
previous format means they are ofering
similar variety now but in a condensed
number of tanks.
High points
Walk through the parent pet store to the
back of the building and you come to a
long, well-lit corridor-style aquatics
department which is well presented and
tidy. To your left you see the selection of
aquariums on ofer, catering for a wide
range of budgets and a good variety of
sizes. The dry goods shelves have a good
selection of tank equipment and some
hardscape oferings.
Turn to your right and you see a wall of
livestock tanks starting with 13 coldwater,
leading to 127 tropical tanks that take you
around the corner to another 44 marine
tanks, 2 coral trays and the plant system.
Healthy, bushy plants ?lled the system on
our visit, and at good prices with a full
complement of plant care products
displayed alongside.
There?s a nice, big display of marine
equipment and additives and a fridge with
specialist phytoplankton-type foods as
well as a good selection of marine and
tropical live foods. The tropical tanks have
a wide range of beginner ?sh with common
tetras, livebearers and other community
species.
There are aspirational ?sh for the
beginner such as Ram cichlids and there?s
a nice selection of Malawi cichlids too.
Something that did stand out were ?coral
gardens?, large, single pieces of rock with
several soft coral species covering them
What stood out
? Purple emperor tetra
? Corydoras arcuatus
? Leprocanthicus galaxis
? XL Black widow tetra
? Blue rainbowfish
? Honey gourami
? Flame angel
? Princess anthias
? Yellow boxfish
? Coral garden (lrg)
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
110 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
�50
�25
�.50
�95
�95
�95
�.99
�.49
�.99
�9.00
Low points
Verdict
It?s hard to make a judgement in this early
stage as Nutty About Pets is a new business
which is replacing a well-established one. It?ll
take a while for the shop to get its own
personality and right now there are many
decisions still to be ?nalised about where and
how to present pond ?sh, plants and products
for the season.
Some temperate
species on offer.
Star rating
Tropical ?sh
Discus
Cichlids
Cat?sh
Oddballs
Indoor plants
Pond plants
Koi
Pond ?sh
Fancies
Indoor coldwater
Marine ?sh
Marine inverts
Indoor dry
Pond dry
Freshwater inverts
Labelling
11111
11111
11111
11111
NS
11111
OS
OS
OS
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
OS
NS
11111
A good selection of dry
goods from basics to
specialised gear.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
Some nice Peacock
cichlids about.
Plenty of community
staples.
There?s a selection of
community cichlids.
Coral gardens are
interesting.
In the blue corner...
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 111
LONDON
BRISTOL
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
RS ONLY
14
The Aquatic Store
Really does have it all!
RETA IL SHOPPE
G TIMES
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
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
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
The Fish Bowl Ltd
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.thefishbowlltd.com
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
Tropical
Marine
Cold Water
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
Open 7 days a week 01954 214530
www.nuttyaboutpets.co.uk sales@nuttyaboutpets.co.uk
175 St Neots, Hardwick, Cambridge, CB23 7QJ
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Huge range of
livestock in more
than 600 tanks!
TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
Readers?poll
2017
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.
www.leicesteraquatics.com
Six-time winner of top UK aquatic retailer
Leicester Aquatics
Tel: 01773 861255 Marine direct: 01773 811044 Reptile direct: 01773 811499
Fish Alive
Opening hours weekdays 10.00 - 18.00, Saturdays 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays 10.00 - 16.00, Closed on Wednesdays
0116 2709 610
Units 10 & 11, Dragonville Retail Park, Durham DH1 2YB
Phone and fax: 0191 3843590
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Readers?poll
2017
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
SCOTLAND
KENT
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
ABACUS AQUATICS
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
With over 1000 aquariums full of tropical, marine and cold water fish
Huge range of aquariums, aquarium furniture and equipment at discount prices
Unit B/G, 207 Strathmartine Road, Dundee, Scotland, DD3 8PH
01382 832000 www.tropicalfish-scotland.com
Now open on Sundays
ACCESSORIES & PARTS
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
GOLD
LABEL
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Classified To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
email: thefishbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
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
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Features
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HUGE SELECTION OF
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lincsaquatics-lincolnshire
Come & feed our friendly ?sh
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All fish are packed to travel anywhere in the UK
lincsaquatics-eastyorkshire
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112
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AQUASCAPE FISH IMPORTS
Tropical & Coldwater Live Fish Wholesalers
Unusuals inc Rays, Turtles, Crabs, Shrimps, Lobsters
Established 1973
55 John Street, Porthcawl, CF36 3AY
Tel: 01656 784646
DAILY NATIONWIDE DELIVERIES
CALL NOW FOR FREE monthly TRADE lists
8QLTXH 縑K ODEHOOLQJ V\VWHP
Tel: 0121 331 1212
Fax: 0121 331 1414
ZZZDTXDVFDSHFRXN
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sales@aquascape.co.uk
MISCELLANOUS
FOR SALE
BUSINESS FOR SALE
Aquarium, reptile and pet shop
business for sale in Manchester area.
([FHOOHQWSUR?WVURRPWRH[SDQG
owners relocating.
Contact
INTERNET
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P L A N T E D AQ UA R I U M S P E C I A L I S TS
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01480 450572 info@aquariumgardens.co.uk
NATIONWIDE DISTRIBUTORS
Barlows Aquatic Trading
AQUARIUM MANUFACTURERS..supplying direct to the public at trade prices
HiVcYVgY h^oZh [gdb hidX`
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Ring: 01254 388815
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e mail: barlowsaquatics@aol.com
or call in and see us at:
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www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
is full of information and practical
advice on how to see, photograph
and enjoy the birds around you.
You?ll learn about
the huge variety of
species you can see
in your garden and
further a?eld
On sale every month in
all good newsagents
Subscribe today at
www.greatmagazines.
k/b
113
OPINION
NATHAN HILL
I was dreading this first tailpiece
after our redesign, but the reality is
everything is turning out great. To
blow my own trumpet, this might be
one of our best issues ever.
S
ORRY, BUT not sorry. In the
back of my mind, when I
started this issue, I was
worried that Tailpiece would
end up as a rambling apology
for the many experiments we
tried that didn?t quite work.
But that never happened.
Everything went well, and holy heck, I am
excited about the new look magazine. Flick
back through and have a peek at the superb
work that?s gone in to the design and
layouts. I?ve watched our designer bouncing
back and forth with ideas, trying out new
things, and ?ne tuning until we?ve ended up
with what you see.
All about the pace
Did you notice that things are more relaxed
in this issue? You might remember that old
features in the former style were often
compressed. Pages had so many words on
them that at times it was like we were
trying to overwhelm you.
Nathan Hill
is Practical
Fishkeeping
magazine?s
associate editor,
biotope fancier,
aquascape
dabbler and
part-time amateur
skateboarder.
Well, that?s not a thing from here on. We
looked at how we could get the information
we needed compressed down in to
annotations, tips, nice bite-sized chunks.
There?s still the in-depth copy for those of
us (like myself) who like the longer read.
had only just passed, and we started the
year playing catch-up) we?ve ?nally had the
chance to sit down and work out some of
the feautires we want to include ? some
that have been on my radar for ages, but
I?ve never had the time to pursue.
Picking a favourite
More fishes
Normally when I go through the mag,
there?s one thing that stands out for me as
head and shoulders above the rest. This
month, I?m so overjoyed with so much that
trying to pin down one de?nitive ?winner?
just isn?t working. I loved the Ivan Mikolji
piece, but I also loved new contributor
Mark Beeston?s Anthias feature just as
much. Then there were those glorious
box?sh. Lots of wow.
You?ll pardon me if I don?t expose my
forward planning lists, but my goal for this
coming year is to cover the many ?sh that
you want to see. It?s always been a ?ne
balance ? it?s a ?ne balance in any specialist
mag ? to provide enough of the right
content for all genres of interest.
Now I think of it, with every passing issue
it has become harder to cater to everyone.
Back in the 80s, and 90s, you had
??shkeepers? as a catch all, and there wasn?t
much specialisation beyond African lake
tanks, and marine keepers (almost
exclusively ?sh-only).
Nowadays, pick a niche of a niche of a
niche and somewhere there?ll be a
collective devoted to them. Straight up, I
just put it to the test. I went online to ?nd a
group dedicated to Bumblebee gobies. I
found one with four members.
With so much diversi?cation, it?s hard to
please all of you all of the time, but by jove
I?m trying here.
More inbound
As you likely know already, we were
recently joined by Steven Baker. After a
?ustered ?rst month (yeah, there was a
crossover from old editor to new, Christmas
Through Ivan?s
eyes.
114 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
IVAN MIKOLJI
Your input
One thing I miss from the old, old days of
yore is reams of reader letters. We struck
gold this month with Bob?s Otocinclus
slow-feeder. But I?ll wager that each and
every one of you has a ?hack? that you
employ. Thing is, we?d love to hear about it.
Write me a postcard, send me an email. If it
works, we?ll run it on the letters page.
Remember, there are prizes involved.
POND
Great new pack design.
Proud winners of
Find out
season
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We have over 160 stores throughout the UK, staffed by
�`纈`�v�妹>蘨>`�i`}i>Liw�ii玦烂�
Find a store near you today or visit ?UJMGGRGTEQWM
nded mainly
against conspeci?cs, but sometimes
also against other herbivores.
Territorial disputes almost always
take place at the boundaries and
almost always between neighbours.
The attacker is always the larger
individual. His or her approach is
often followed by the submissive
behavior of the opponent, which
normally quivers its tail while
assuming a head-up position and
often exposing its belly ? a very
vulnerable part of the ?sh ? towards
the dominant individual.
A territory is valued by its owner
for the availability of food, and those
with a three-dimensional structure
in the form of protruding rocks,
which increase the total surface area
for feeding, are the most coveted.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 91
TROPICAL
Cichlids
AD KONINGS
Once she releases her fry, the
mouthbrooding female resumes
the defense of her territory. Her fry
wander free and will often
migrate to shallower,
food-rich water.
Tropheus have high
concentrations of
stomach acids with
a very low pH for
digesting algae.
TAUTVYDAS PANGONIS
The highest
density of
T.duboisi is seen
at eight metres.
FACTFILE
WHITE-SPOTTED CICHLID
6Scientific name: Tropheus duboisi (Trow-fee-uss doo-bwah-zee)
6Origin: Lake Tanganyika, Africa.
6Habitat: Shallow rocky habitat, usually
6-10m deep.
6Size: Usually to 12cm.
6Tank size: Minimum 120 x 30cm footprint.
6Water requirements: Extremely hard and
alkaline: 8.2 to 9.2pH, hardness 16 to 30癏.
6Temperature: 23-27癈.
6Temperament: Aggressive, territorial.
6Availability and cost: Farmed fish common,
starting at �99 for juveniles. Wild regional
variants may cost considerably more.
200 l+
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Territory owners are aware of the
quality of the various feeding
grounds in their neighbourhood
and will move to a better site
whenever the opportunity arises.
The depth distribution of T. duboisi,
which is always found sympatric
with at least one other member of
the Tropheus genus, ranges from ?ve
to 30 metres, with the highest
population density found at about
eight metres.
In Pemba (along the Congo
shoreline), where Tropheus sp. ?black?
(Orange Moori) and T. duboisi are
found sympatric, T. duboisi occupies
deeper, sediment-rich regions and is
most abundant between 6 and 10
metres, occuring to a depth of about
30 metres.
At Luagala Point (along the
Tanzania shoreline), T. duboisi
lives in deeper parts of the habitat
while the prime, shallower regions
are inhabited by Tropheus annectens
and T. sp. ?black? (Double-spot
Moori).
A taste for aufwuchs
Although vertebrates have dif?culty
digesting higher plant cells because
of the indigestible cellulose they
contain (and which gives these
plants their rigidity), matters are
different when it comes to algae,
where the amount of cellulose in the
cell walls is much lower or absent.
This does not mean that algae are
easily digestible, but it is possible
for some algae, in particular the
blue-green algae (cyanobacteria),
to be digested by herbivorous
species with high concentrations
of very low pH stomach acids.
Herbivores in Lake Tanganyika have
such capabilities and lush algae are,
therefore, in high demand with
virtually all of these cichlids.
The outer teeth of Tropheus
species are bicuspid and set close
together, forming a tightly-packed
row with which the ?sh can grasp
individual algal strands, which are
then severed from the substrate by
biting, by swinging the head
sideways, or, most often, by pushing
backwards or upwards away from
the substrate while holding tight to
the strands. The pectoral ?ns are
particularly large and give the ?sh
considerable thrust when ?pushing
off?, probably with enough force to
sever the algal strands. The lips of
Tropheus are thin and the oral teeth
situated close to the outer edges of
the jaws, so that it can crop the very
short strands of blue-green algae.
Stomach analysis by Kohda &
Yanagisawa (1992) revealed that
besides algae, sand is present in all
Tropheus species, but that the gut
contents of T. duboisi revealed a
greater amount of inorganic matter
than those of T. sp. ?black? at the
same habitat at Pemba, Congo.
T. duboisi, therefore, appears to be
better adapted to obtain algae from
the sediment-covered rocks in the
deeper, sediment-richer areas.
The lack of competition from
T. sp. ?black? (and from most other
herbivores) in deeper water means it
has more food available and a better
chance of establishing territories in
deeper areas. The best territories ?
those containing the highest density
of blue-green algae ? are held by the
largest individuals, usually males.
The smaller females have to make
do with less favorable territories.
mouthbrooding strategy ? they
appear to be sequentially
monogamous. This means that all
the eggs of a female?s brood are
sired by a single male, which is not
usually the case with most other
maternal mouthbrooders, where a
brood is usually sired by three or
more males.
The size of a male?s territory
determines his mating success, and
his physical size is less important.
It appears that females select mates
mainly for the size and quality of a
male?s territory and not so much for
his size and coloration ? although,
naturally, these characteristics are
involved in the possession of an
advantageous territory.
All territorial males receive visiting
females, usually from neighbouring
territories, including those with
inferior territories. Females
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