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Practical Fishkeeping 07.2018

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HOW TO KEEP STICKLEBACKS AT HOME
15G BAG OF
FLUVAL BUG BITES
WORTH �99
The UK?s best-selling aquatic
Simply
SEAHORSE
Meet the
marine fish
that?ll steal
your heart
SET UP A
RIVERBANK
With our step-by-step
aquascape guide
BORN TO BITE
How to tame the
?nasty? puffer?sh
DERMO DISEASE
What it is and how you
can control it
JULY 2018 �50
Vote!
Have your say
in the 2018
Readers? Poll
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Robust and quiet
To find out more on the all the other products available from the Indoor Aquatics range,
please visit www.oase-livingwater.com
Welcome
THE EXPERTS
STEVE
BAKER
This issue Steve has
been setting up a
riverbank tank, as well as visiting a
custom install tank and learning new
things about sticklebacks on page 12.
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*� is based on purchasing
a print subscription only
The recent genus
name change to Pao
makes puffers sound
like a cartoon fish
but those teeth are
as serious as ever.
CHRIS
SERGEANT
Chris has been
investigating the
cryptic and camouflaged world of the
Weedy scorpionfish. Meet the fish that
walks for its dinner on page 8.
INGRID
ALLAN
New writer and aquatic
retailer Ingrid has been
working around her busy schedule to tell
us everything about Clown loach. Check
it out on page 74.
TIM
SMITH
TRISTAN
LOUGHER
Tristan was given the
green light to tell us all
about seahorses, and oh did he deliver.
Find out about the curious relationships
of these magical fish on page 46.
DR GERALD
BASSLEER
Dr Bassleer has
shared some of his
vast knowledge with us this month in
describing ?Hole in the Head? disease.
Find out more about it on page 68.
Stay in touch
Email us at editorial@
practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
THIS MONTH we?ve been on
the road, refreshing the feel of
the old Shoptours ? remember
those? After a long and
memorable run, we?ve now
found our feet with the
replacement Roadtrip format,
including a few extras like
where to stay over and eat on your travels. It?s all there
from page 98 onwards.
We?ve also added a native feature for this month.
Importing exotic ?sh from around the world is great, but
there are some real gems right on our doorstep ? see
what Steve Baker has to say about sticklebacks on page
12. Ichthyologist Tim Smith returns to us with a piece on
predatory puffer?sh (page 32), while I investigate that
curious disease Dermocystidium on page 70.
Also it?s the return of the Readers? Poll this month, so
get voting for your favourite store for a chance to win
prizes. Find out how to get involved on page 110!
Nathan Hill, Associate Editor
Watch us on youtube.com/
user/practicalfishkeeping
ON THE COVER
Portrait of a Maned
Seahorse, Hippocampus
guttulatus.
Photograph by Andrey
Nekrasov/Alamy.
Why might clove oil
turn out to be the
most important
thing in your
medicine cabinet?
Find out on page 20
SHUTTERSTOCK
Tim has been
watching his fingers
as he investigates the biting world of
predatory freshwater pufferfish. Check
it out on page 32.
Follow us at www.facebook.
com/PFKmag/
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
5
es
JULY
46
40
INSPIRATION
08
32
HIDING IN THE OPEN
Want something different ? a
spectacular single specimen
that makes your tank stand out
from the crowd? Chris Sergeant
sings the praises of the Weedy
scorpion?sh, a colourful,
dramatically camou?aged
predator who?s guaranteed to
hog the aquarium limelight.
4O
Take a trip back in time and
rediscover the charms of the
humble, indigenous Threespined stickleback.
There?s more to cat?sh than
Corydoras. Steve Baker takes
a look at the peaceful little cat
species that are ideal for small
community set-ups.
6
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Meet the ?nasty? Puffer?sh.
These guys aren?t for the
fainthearted, says Tim Smith,
but lovers of predatory
freshwater ?sh will be bowled
over by their awesome power ?
or fearful of their bites!
46
74
Editor?s
Pi k
HOW TO CREATE A
ROCKY LAKE SHORE
Build an African-inspired
blackwater set-up complete
with roots and tannins ? ours
made the perfect new home
for some smashing little
Nanochromis transvestitus.
GOING NATIVE!
LITTLE BIG CATS
PUGNACIOUS PUFFERS
DANCING HORSES
Is there a ?sh in the sea quite
as extraordinary, engaging and
enigmatic as the seahorse,
where the males ?birth? the
young, and prehensile tails grip
strands of seaweed?
favourite article
this issue ?
?Pugnacious
puffers?.
CLOWNING AROUND
Packed with personality, Clown
loach are the gentle giants
of our hobby and an all-time
favourite, says Ingrid Allan. If
you?ve the space to keep them,
dive in ? these stripey stalwarts
won?t let you down.
0
FLOATING ON AIR
86
ANGELS DELIGHT
92
THE TIGER STREAM
PAGE 32
Inspirational eye-candy: the
sleek designer tank that looks
like it?s ?oating in the dark.
Angel?sh possess instant
?must-have? appeal for many
marine aquarists, but what?s
the right one for you?
The Tiger hillstream loach
thrives in a tank with strong
?ow. Richard Baker describes
how to keep them happy.
5
THINGS
YOU WILL
LEARN IN
THIS ISSUE
1
Wher
in th
huma
body
hav
h
4
How to put your
ed y r
3
Which plants
you can grow
successfully in low
light conditions
w
t
t
w
s
5
How to tell when
your fish has
hole in the head!
08
32
day excursion where they visit
a retailer in a quaint town, a
Koi specialist in a garden, and
two wonderful all-round stores.
NEWS & VIEWS
10
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Why silent coral reefs are a
turn-off for juvenile ?sh, new
guidelines for protecting wrasse
and how Brown ghost knife?sh
communicate.
20
ETHICAL DEBATE
28
LETTERS
AND ABUSED
106 USED
Fluval Bug Bites, the new
range of insect-derived food
from Hagen, gets a solid
thumbs-up from our panel.
Plus assorted treatments for
the ?shy medicine cabinet from
eSHa, Virkon and Cloverleaf.
Could you ? and when should
you ? euthanase a ?sh in your
care? We discuss the ways, the
means and the ethics.
POLL 2018
110 READERS?
Vote for your favourite UK
Sturisoma egg stealing, plus
one aquarist?s account of
bending the rules for success.
aquatics shop ? and enter our
fabulous prize draw.
74
Practical
Fishkeeping
delivered to
your digital
device
57
FISHKEEPING ANSWERS
64
FISHKEEPING
KNOW-HOW
PAGE 54
PFK?s crack team of aquatics
experts are on hand to answer
all your questions. This month:
tanks and TV sets, Sulawesi
shrimp, the lifespan of an
angel?sh and lots more.
Step-by-step guide to creating
a garden stream. Plus diseases
under the spotlight ? how to
cope with Hole in the Head
and deal with Dermocystidium.
MONTH
109 NEXT
Pike cichlids to keep at home,
plus breeding pencil?sh.
REGULARS
GEAR & REVIEWS
98
ROAD TRIP
This month Nathan and Steve
descend on Dorset for a two-
54
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Enjoy six months of Practical
Fishkeeping from just � ?
and never miss an issue.
114 TAILPIECE
Where have all the hobbyists
gone? Truth be told, reckons
editor Nathan, they never really
went away?
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
7
FASCINATING FISH
Weedy scorpionfish
HI
in the
Weedy scorpionfish are in no rush.
Waddling about for a meal, and
packed with venom, they make for
a spectacular species tank.
NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY
8
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Chris works in
conservation
research and
regularly writes
for aquarium
publications.
I
The sedentary lifestyle of these
scorpion?sh means that they don?t
require intricate live rock
monuments or cave networks to
thrive, and won?t spend their time
hidden from view. Instead, they sit
out on the substrate and rely on
their camou?age to hide in plain
sight. A few simple rocky structures
and plenty of open expanses of
sand will suf?ce for an aquascape;
minimalism helps draw attention to
the ?sh, rather than the surroundings.
The beauty of Weedy scorpion?sh
is the sheer variety. Deep purples
and pinks through to striking reds
and yellows means that regardless
what colour their background, they
have a shade to match. They have
deep, laterally compressed bodies
and eyes set high up.
For camou?age, R. frondosa have
chosen a different tactic to other
scorpion?sh. Rather than resembling
algae-covered rocks, they?ve
followed a colourful macro-algae
route, sporting spectacular plumes
and appendages around their head,
jaws and body.
For many benthic predators,
swimming seems to be a last resort
and Weedy scorpion?sh are no
different. The element of surprise is
key when hunting down here, as any
quick or sudden movements may
give the game away, particularly
when your prey is faster than you.
Predominantly an ambush hunter,
once their prey comes close enough,
that cavernous mouth expands
and inhales, sucking in the
unfortunate quarry. When patience
is lacking, R. frondosa will slowly
crawl or hop over the sand towards
their target, using pelvic and
pectoral ?ns and gently swaying
from side to side, mimicking algae
moving in the current.
Life in the slow lane does come
with a few drawbacks, and in time
they become shrouded in algae and
encrusting organisms. To combat
this, Weedy scorpion?sh regularly
shed their entire cuticles. You?ll spot
this in an aquarium, where they will
often take up a position in strong
?ow when a shed is due. Cloudy eyes
preceding this are normal and no
cause for panic. Their venomous
capabilities can be, though ? a
potentially painful reminder that
these ?sh are paid-up members of
the Scorpaenidae family. Always take
great care during tank maintenance
and seek medical assistance in the
event of an accident.
If you?re on the hunt for a one-off,
non-community but perfect
showpiece ?sh, Rhinopias frondosa
is one species more than happy to
take centre stage.
SHUTTERSTOCK
CHRIS
SERGEANT
N A trade that?s full of species
exuding colour and charisma,
aquarists can be forgiven for
wanting something different
? a showpiece specimen that
makes their tank stand out
and everyone around sit up
and take notice.
Enter the Weedy scorpion?sh,
Rhinopias frondosa, found throughout
the Indo-Paci?c. Described as the
?holy grail? for divers and aquarists
alike; in terms of uniqueness and
behaviour, you will be hard pushed
to ?nd a better alternative.
Assuming you can locate one,
that is.
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics
RESEARCH
TANK HACKERS
CYBER HEIST
HALTED
THE SILENCE
OF THE SEAS
xxxxxxxx
Study suggests young reef ?sh don?t like quiet neighbourhoods.
T
HE DEGRADATION of parts
of the Great Barrier Reef in
Australia and the resultant lack
of noise means it is failing to attract
young ?sh, a study carried out by
international scientists led by Exeter
University has found.
Juvenile ?sh use the ?coral reef
orchestra? of sound generated by a
vibrant, healthy reef and its diverse
inhabitants to choose and locate
good habitat, but a quietening of
this chorus in the last ?ve years,
due to coral bleaching and multiple
cyclones, means these areas are
10
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
attracting 40% fewer ?sh.
Lead author and marine biologist
Tim Gordon says: ?It?s heartbreaking to hear. The usual pops,
chirps, snaps and chatters of
countless ?sh and invertebrates
have disappeared.?
Co-author of the study Harry
Harding says: ?If ?sh aren?t hearing
their way home anymore, that could
be bad news for the reefs. Fish play
critical roles on coral reefs, grazing
away harmful algae and allowing
coral to grow. A reef without ?sh is
a reef that?s in trouble.?
FACT
Over 1,500
species of fish
call the Great
Barrier Reef
home.
In something akin to a Hollywood
B-movie mash-up of ?Ocean?s Eleven?
and ?Finding Nemo?, a Las Vegas casino?s
database of clients was hacked via its
aquarium. The marine tank had been set
up in the lobby to make an impressive
entrance, but instead made the perfect
way in for cyber criminals.
To keep an eye on the tank?s
inhabitants, an internet-linked monitor
had been installed to oversee water
quality and temperature and allow
remote feeding. However, this handy
hi-tech device provided just the opening
the hackers were looking for, because
despite the casino?s IT network having
impressive levels of cyber security, the
aquarium kit was wide open.
Luckily for the owners, they?d just
employed a new security company called
Darktrace. Its software spotted that
10 GB of data was being sent off-site to
a remote server in Finland, and traced
the security breach back to the
aquarium?s thermometer.
A Las Vegas
casino?s database
of clients was
hacked via its
aquarium
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEWS
Aquatic News
SOLAR-POWERED
SEA SLUG
BLOODWORM ALLERGIES
It turns out that some folks are not just allergic to
the popular fish food bloodworm, but hyperallergic.
Of those that react to bloodworm, the symptoms
present themselves as itchy skin (72% of affected
people), itchy eyes (62%), red eyes (60%),
swollen eyes (47%), runny nose (37%), sneezing
(35%), hives (24%) and breathing difficulties or
asthma (24%).
Scientists have found the sea slug
Elysia chlorotica has a unique way of
feeding on algae. It sucks up the
algal plastids (the tiny ?solar panels?
algae use to photosynthesise),
stores them in its gut lining,
then uses them to provide
its own food from
sunlight.
POOLE POOL THEFT
Five carp, which the owners estimate are worth
�0 each, were stolen from a garden in Poole,
Dorset on April 30, says the Bournemouth Echo.
Pond fish are regularly targeted by thieves who
believe any large Koi is worth big bucks. However,
it?s unlikely most pond fish are worth more than
a few pounds apiece, as only those Koi of known
provenance and pedigree attract high prices.
WELFARE
LANGUAGE
A Red-bellied
piranha ? not for
flushing.
Shock in the sewer
A member of staff at a sewage
treatment works in Chichester, West
Sussex, got a nasty surprise when
they discovered a Piranha in the
system. Sadly for the Piranha ? but
to the relief of the Southern Water
employee ? the ?sh was already
dead, having either been ?ushed
post-mortem, or fatally discovering
the water conditions in a UK sewer
are far removed from those in the
Amazon basin.
Releasing ?sh into the wild is an
offence, and while a Piranha is
unlikely to survive long in UK
temperatures, it could pass on
disease or parasites to native ?sh.
Fishkeepers also have a duty of care
to their pets under the Animal
MORE INFO
Find out more about how to
dispose of dead fish responsibly
on the PFK website: tinyurl.com/
yb4b4oer
PROTECTING WRASSE
The Scottish Parliament has announced
new guidelines to protect wild
populations of wrasse. While wrasse
(typically Ballan wrasse, Labrus bergylta,
and Goldsinny wrasse, Ctenolabrus
rupestris) are not targeted as a food
species, in recent years they have been
caught for use as a natural pest control
in salmon farms. The wrasse remove
and eat fish lice on the salmon that
would otherwise have required
pesticide treatment.
Due to the popularity of this apparently
greener alternative, however, concerns
have been raised about the effect the
practice is having on wild wrasse
populations, with one wrasse required for
every 25 salmon. While some progress
has been made in farming wrasse,
the farmed fish make up less than 10%
of the
estima
fish needed in 2016.
At present the guidelines are
voluntary, and will set the allowable
sizes at which wrasse can be collected,
how they?re trapped and a requirement
to record catches. It will also outline the
closure of some sites during the fish?s
spawning season.
SHUTTERSTOCK
GUIDELINES
Welfare Act, which states we need
to provide, among other things, a
suitable environment and protection
from pain, suffering, injury and
disease.
In a statement, Southern Water
reminded customers that the ?Three
Ps? that should go down your toilet
are pee, poo and paper ? certainly
not Piranha.
Scientists studying the Brown ghost
knife?sh, Apteronotus rostratus, have
discovered more about how they use weak
electrical signals to communicate. Much
research has been undertaken using captive
?sh, but this time researchers focused on
the more dif?cult job of monitoring
interactions between wild ?sh. They did this
using a 4m square grid placed into a stream
in the species? native Panama.
Earlier work had found that each ?sh had
its own unique frequency ??ngerprint?, with
males being higher than females, and this
allowed the team to estimate movements
and positions of individual ?sh in the murky
water. Among other behaviours, the
scientists were able to record complex
electrical courting ?conversations?.
Of particular interest was that the signals
used were much weaker or of higher
frequency than those of captive ?sh,
possibly due to the restricted space in
aquaria. It?s hoped this work will offer new
insights into nervous systems.
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
CONVERSATION PIECE
FACT
Ballan wrasse
are protogynous
hermaphrodites ? all
start life as females,
with larger fish
changing to males
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 11
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Three-spined stickleback
GOING
NATIVE!
Take a trip back to your childhood and rediscover the diversity
and charm of the humble, indigenous stickleback.
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
12
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
This childhood
favourite has
both colour
and interesting
behaviour.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 13
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Three-spined stickleback
W
HEN WE see
the likes of
Venezuelan ?sh
explorer Ivan
Mikolji doing
some amazing
research work
and visiting
breathtaking exotic locations, it?s
easy to feel envious and hard done
by. He sends us images of some
stunning ?sh ? some new species,
some old favourites ? and then there
are the biotope pictures that make
me melt slightly.
You may ?nd it hard to draw
comparisons, but we have it all here
in the UK too. You may need to
force a little romance, maybe block
out the noise of a nearby road or
two, but if you immerse yourself in
the British countryside on a sunny
day you could gain a lot of energy
and enthusiasm from our local
aquatic ?ora and fauna.
You may not have the wetsuit, the
snorkel or the underwater camera to
explore native rivers and lakes to
check out our larger ?sh, but take
things back to basics, don a pair of
wellies or waders, grab a net and a
bucket (or a plastic tank), and get
out there for the day. I don?t know,
but I wouldn?t mind betting Ivan has
been in a similar situation, maybe
many years ago.
Home-grown habitats
First love
Investigate our smaller streams and
If you?re familiar with sticklebacks,
ditches and you?ll ?nd a wealth of
you love sticklebacks. And if you
different habitats, including
don?t love them, it?s probably because
semi-fast ?owing chalky sections,
you don?t know enough about them!
sunken logs and overhanging trees
They appeal to me because I love
dipping their branches in the water;
predators of all sizes. They appeal
even slow-moving streams with
to some because the male?s red
built-up leaf litter and a
belly and the re?ective
sandy substrate.
golds and greens of his
Our ?ora is diverse
breeding dress are
and fascinating.
stunning, while others
Willow moss is
?nd their quirky
The saltwater stickleback?s
commonly found.
behaviour appealing
back spines and bony side
We have Ranunculus
? they really do have
plates provide essential
and Myriophyllum
something for
armour against fish and
species and all sorts
everyone.
bird predators.
besides. You?ll witness
The common name,
interesting insect larvae,
Three-spined stickleback,
curious crustaceans and marvellous
seems a tad brittle for our
molluscs ? and then there?s the ?sh.
Gasterosteus aculeatus; sometimes
Minnows in breeding condition are
they are found with just two spines,
prettier than you could ever imagine sometimes with four, but most often
if you?ve only ever seen them
with three. They?re highly adaptable
wearing their dull brown out?ts, and
to water conditions, and inhabit
stone loach from the Nemacheilidae
fresh, brackish and marine
family have many similarities to the
environments where they feed on a
Nemachelius loaches you might ?nd
wide range of planktonic creatures,
in tropical sales tanks.
insect larvae, crustaceans and
The ?sh that steals the show in
worms, plus fallen insects plucked
these sorts of habitats is one we
from the water?s surface. Given a
should all know about; a ?sh that
chance they?ll eat small fry as well.
takes many of us back to our
Their scienti?c name refers to
childhoods and those long summer
anatomy all round: the Greek
days messing about in brooks and
?gaster? meaning stomach, ?osteon?
ditches ? it?s the stickleback.
meaning bone, while the species
name, aculeatus, means spiny.
Sticklebacks are members of the
Gasterosteiformes order, which
includes some interesting characters
such as seahorses, pipe?sh, razor?sh
and trumpet?sh, plus the fabulous
Leafy sea dragon.
LEFT: Well built
for a predatory
lifestyle ? big
eyes, fins
positioned for
bursts of speed
and a strong,
serrated jaw.
FACTFILE
THREE-SPINED STICKLEBACK
6Scientific name: Gasterosteus aculeatus
6Pronunciation: Gas-tare-oss-tee-uss ack-you-lee-tus
6Size: Freshwater to 8cm, marine to 11cm
6Origin: Temperate and circumarctic zones of the northern
hemisphere
6Habitat: Slower-moving streams, ditches, ponds and lakes
6Tank size: 60x30x30cm for two fish
6Water requirements: 10-25癏, 6.8-8.5 pH
6Temperature: 4-20癈
6Temperament: Waspish, territorial during
breeding season
6Feeding: Mostly frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: Not commonly
available, but should be easy enough to
order; around �3 each
JACQUES PORTAL
54 l+
14
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY
A male in full
colour collects
willow moss for
the nest.
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Three-spined stickleback
SHUTTERSTOCK
Where do they live?
Courtship & reproduction
Stickleback courtship is as
interesting as it is intricate. The
spawning period runs from early
spring to summer and starts with the
male creating a hollow nest. He
collects twigs and plant matter,
which he sticks together with spiggin,
an adhesive protein produced by the
kidney. The ?nished product looks
like a mound of ?brous waste on the
substrate; it?s a well-camou?aged
nursery that?s defended with vigour
? when spawning, sticklebacks are
very territorial.
When the male has ?nished
building, he turns his attention to
enticing a female, which he does
with a courtship dance ? zig-zagging
and displaying his red throat and
belly. When a female is receptive,
the male points to the nest entrance
by positioning himself over the nest
and head-standing as if to direct her
in. Once the female has entered the
nest and deposited her eggs she is
chased away and the male proceeds
to fertilise them.
There is no monogamy with these
sticklebacks; the male may entice
another female to his nest to repeat
ABOVE LEFT:
An illustration of
the Three-spined
stickleback
nesting.
BELOW: Home
inspiration ? a
native biotope
for sticklebacks.
JACQUES PORTAL
The freshwater and saltwater
three-spines are quite different ?sh.
The average size for freshwater
specimens is around 4-6cm,
although the largest one seen in the
UK measured 7.4cm and weighed in
at 12 grams ? caught with rod and
line by Craig Birchall in 2014.
Saltwater specimens grow larger,
up to 11cm, with pronounced bony
plates covering their ?anks. Marine
G. aculeatus migrate to breed in tidal
pools, lowland lakes, and freshwater
wetlands; this puts far more stress
on their bodies, and many of them
die after breeding and rearing their
young. Freshwater forms tend to be
more permanent residents and can
rear multiple new generations over
one breeding season, and maybe
over several years.
The Three-spined stickleback can be
found throughout the British mainland
because no point is too far distant from the
coast. Looking at a world distribution map
shows they stick to coastal regions in the
circumarctic and temperate zone of the
northern hemisphere. Areas include the
USA, Canada, southern Greenland, Iceland,
Europe, Turkey, Syria, northern Africa,
Russia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea
and China. This widespread distribution
has only been possible because of the ?sh?s
ability to inhabit the marine environment.
In a marine situation, G. aculeatus is
also found near the coast, with juveniles
often found alongside ?oating mats
of seaweed. They?re quite common in
estuaries, where they generally hug the
bank and live among vegetation and
branches with a muddy substrate.
In freshwater, they inhabit a range
of small habitats from stony-banked,
town-side ditches to heavily vegetated
countryside streams, often preferring a
muddy or sandy substrate.
16
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
the process, and a female may
deposit eggs in several nests during
the spawning period. Each time a
female lays a batch there may be a
few hundred eggs deposited, all of
which are cared for by the male. He
sits inside the nest fanning with his
?ns to agitate the water around the
eggs, increasing the oxygen available
to his developing offspring.
The eggs hatch after seven to eight
days and the fry stay in the nest until
their yolk sacs are absorbed, then
venture out to ?nd planktonic food.
They grow quickly and begin to
consume small worms, aquatic
insects, crustaceans and tiny ?sh ?
even indulging in a little cannibalism
as they eat the eggs and fry of their
own species. Often families or
groups of genetically similar ?sh will
hold together as a shoal with quite a
complex social hierarchy.
Feeding & temperature
ALAMY
Nesting material is
bound together with
spiggin, produced
in the kidney.
They appeal to some because the male?s
red belly and the re?ective golds and greens of
his breeding dress are stunning
A female
stretches her
predatory jaws.
MP&C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
Sticklebacks are an easy proposition
for captive care ? their adaptability
in inhabiting a wide range of
environments makes them hardy to
change, you don?t need any heating,
and you don?t need a big tank.
The trickiest part of keeping this
wonderful little ?sh is feeding and
keeping the temperature low. Most
shop-bought stock won?t accept
?ake foods, and even less so
granules or pellets, so it?s essentially
frozen foods you?ll rely on for daily
feeds, with live foods offered as an
occasional treat. In time, you may
get them to accept ?ake foods, but
pick one with a high protein content
ideal for carnivores, such as those
aimed at most Tanganyikan cichlids.
Temperature-wise, you can?t let
them get too hot ? 20癈 is the limit,
with studies showing their preferred
temperature range is as low as
4-8癈, so you?ll need either a cool
room with a shaded corner for
year-round care, or to run a chiller
on the tank. If temperatures rise too
high, the ?sh will have issues with
low oxygen levels initially, so watch
out for gasping at the water?s surface.
Of course, sticklebacks can be kept
in a pond as well as in an aquarium.
Ideally the pond would be in shade
(at least mostly) and well-aerated
during the summer months. In a
mature pond, there will probably be
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 17
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Three-spined stickleback
chalk-lined streams in 8癒H, 20癎H
with a pH of 8.5, as well as in
spring-fed streams of 5癒H, 9癎H
and a pH of 7.0.
If you intend to mix sticklebacks
with native invertebrates, there are
good choices and bad ones.
Water requirements
Ones to avoid are those likely
Dechlorinated tap water
to prey on ?sh, such as
will be ?ne unless you
diving beetles,
live in an ultra-soft
dragon?y larvae
water area of the
and even water
If you want to incorporate
UK. If you do,
boatmen.
plants in your set-up, avoid
then a few
Smaller
adding Stagnalis snails as
minerals will
invertebrates are
they munch too much
need adding. I would
likely to be eaten by
greenery.
aim for medium-hard
the sticklebacks, but
water with a pH of just
snails are a good addition
over neutral ? something like
to the tank. Ramshorns and
6癒H, 12癎H and a pH of
common Stagnalis snails are
around 7.5 would be ideal, but as
available from aquatics shops and
G. aculeatus are such adaptable ?sh,
are likely to be found in most mature
deviating from this a little either
ponds too. Ramshorns are the better
way won?t present them with any
option if your tank contains plants as
issues. In my native Cambridgeshire
Ramshorns only tend to eat plants if
I can ?nd sticklebacks living in
there?s nothing else to consume.
ALAMY
natural foods available, but
supplementing with frozen foods
may be necessary. Sticklebacks
don?t mix well with others, and are
likely to be out-competed by all
traditional pond ?sh.
18
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
PICK
OF THE
PLANTS
Keep it British. The water-gardening
fraternity is conscientious about
the spread of non-indigenous plants,
so when buying pond plants, look
out for a Union Jack or similar
on the label to denote that it?s
native to Britain.
WATER VIOLET
Hottonia palustris
has an almost
fern-like look to
its leaves.
ALAMY
HORNWORT
Ceratophylum
demersum
is commonly
sold as an
oxygenating
plant.
WATER
CROWFOOT
Ranunculus
aquatilis is
not so easy to
find in shops.
ABOVE: Blue
eyes and body
markings
contrast
wonderfully with
the red of the
male?s throat.
NPL
Sticklebacks may take us back to our
childhoods, but times have changed.
Years ago, we could just net some
?sh from a stream, grab a few rocks,
bits of wood and maybe some of
the sandy substrate, and set up a
tank. Now, due to the pressures on
natural habitats and wildlife, by law
we are unable to do any of this. As
well as ?ora and fauna, rocks, gravel,
sand and fallen wood must not be
removed from public areas. If these
items are to be taken from private
property you must have the
landowner?s permission.
For the collection of the ?sh you
have two options. First, you can buy
them from aquatics shops. Not
everywhere stocks them, but most
shops should be able to order them.
Second, if you?re a ?sherman and
have a valid rod licence you are
allowed to remove two rod and
line-caught specimens per ?shing
trip. Again, if this is on private
property you must have the
permission of the landowner, and if
you catch them in a net, it?s not
allowed. In any case, it won?t be
easy ? to catch sticklebacks with rod
and line you?ll need to use extremely
small hooks and something like
bloodworm as bait.
LEFT: Avoid
adding
threatening
wildlife like this
dragon?y larvae.
CURLED PONDWEED
Potamogeton crispus has
substantial leaves with
crinkled edges. It?s not
too common in shops for
some reason.
MARES TAIL
Hippuris vulgaris has
a fluffy, fine leaf form
underwater and a
structural form above.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Legal collection
FROG BIT
Hydrocharis
morsus
should be
fairly easy
to come
across.
YELLOW WATER LILY
Nuphar lutea is
a large plant for
a tank, but if its
surface leaves are
regularly cut back,
leaving just the
aquatic leaves, it
could work nicely.
WILLOW MOSS
Fontinalis
antipyretica
is a large?leaved?
moss that
can be grown
underwater or
above in damp
conditions.
SPIKED MILFOIL
Myriophyllum
spicatum is a very
fine-leaved plant
that looks similar
to tropical green
Myriophyllum
mattogrossense.
COMMON
STARWORT
Callitriche
stagnalis is quite
a delicate, smallleaved stem plant
with a vibrant
green colour.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 19
OPINION
NATHAN HILL & STEVE BAKER
When we choose to keep animals, we take responsibility for
every aspect of their welfare. Nathan and Steve discuss when,
and how, you should terminate a ?sh?s life?
W
hat are your
boundaries for the
destruction of a ?sh in
your tank? Would you
kill an old ?sh? A sick
one? Cull excessive
fry? We?re interested
to know what you
would consider an acceptable situation
to end the life of a ?sh in your care.
SB: Every situation has its own intricacies.
If I have the ability to isolate a sick ?sh, then
I would euthanase it when I feel it won?t
improve ? if tissue is still infected after
prolonged treatment for example, or if it has
a condition like dropsy that?s rarely curable.
If I don?t have isolation facilities, I will
euthanase a ?sh early to protect tankmates.
I wouldn?t kill an old ?sh unless it was sick.
I?d kill deformed fry, but
have never had the
need to cull excessive
numbers of fry.
hobby/industry doesn?t need an extra 1,000
young Pacu in it?
SB: Yes. I?d suggest to someone that they cull
a brood of Pacu. I wouldn?t enjoy it, but I?d
do it myself if I couldn?t ?nd a realistic party
to take them (for example, if a public
aquarium wanted them). I would rather cull
them than not be able to provide them with a
decent home.
I?ve also been really surprised to see sick
?sh return to health, but it?s normally been a
terribly infected ?sh that surprisingly
responded well to treatment, or new
shipments where a bag of ?sh looked dead
but 90% of them are swimming come the
morning. I?ve not often come across a ?sh
that gets worse during treatment, then
suddenly comes good (unless the wrong
treatment was used in the ?rst instance).
If I have an ill ?sh in an
isolation tank, it generally
won?t get euthanased ? it will
either recover or die of the
issue. I see that as right
because that?s how we treat
our own.
Where there is
a chance of
recovery I find
myself in a tough
place, especially if
I think the fish is
suffering
JACQUES PORTAL
NH: With diseased ?sh,
the problem for me has
always been deciding
?when? a ?sh is too far
gone to pull back. I?ve
seen some ?sh in a
diabolical state that
would have people
immediately reaching
for their net, yet those ?sh have made a
full recovery ? or as near to one as possible,
with a few scars. Diseases like KHV are a
no-brainer, as there is simply no cure, but
where there is a chance of recovery I ?nd
myself in a tough place, especially if I think
the ?sh is suffering.
As a hypothetical, could you ever cull
healthy fry? Or, rather, would you suggest
culling to someone who has just accidentally
spawned, say, Pacu or some other dif?cult,
undesired species? I?m pretty con?dent
that a case could surely be made that the
20
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
NH: OK, so let?s get to the
squeamish part. How would
you advocate humanely
killing a ?sh? What?s your
dispatch method of choice?
My own might be seen as too
graphic for some folk to deal with, but I?m
interested to know how you?d go about it.
SB: Generally I would mix a lethal dose of
clove oil in a bowl of tank water with an
airstone or two. I have had situations when
I haven?t had all my gear with me, and I
resorted to putting a knife through a carp?s
brain ? not fun by any means, but quick
and effective.
You?ve given a word of warning to the
squeamish, so what does your method
involve?
NH: For me, the fastest method of humane
dispatch is blunt trauma to the head, ideally
followed by ?pithing?. By blunt trauma, I mean
a catastrophic knock to the head, causing
immediate concussion or, better still, outright
brain destruction. Much in the same way as
anglers use a wooden ?priest? to kill ?sh. The
?pithing? part involves destroying the brain
after you?ve rendered the ?sh unconscious.
In lab conditions, that involves a thin piece of
wire placed into the brain cavity after the ?sh
has been knocked out, and destroying the
brain that way.
I should add, some people think that
decapitation is enough to kill a ?sh outright,
but this isn?t always so. There?s good reason
to believe th
conscious fo
been detach
event of de
take place t
The thing
you render
otherwise y
SB: There?s
in that meth
aquarists w
your recom
?shkeepers
the trauma/
NH: Clove
Although I d
mix it up in
with water f
tank, then a
?sh to it.
I used to a
recommend
anaesthetic
the popular
out a little while back that it causes a stress
response in some ?sh, or at the very least it
causes a stress response and aversion in
Zebra danios in lab conditions.
I should add, there is now a lot of anecdotal
feedback about how clove oil shouldn?t be
used with anabantoid ?sh like gouramis or
Siamese ?ghters, which actually makes a lot
of sense. Regardless of how well mixed the
clove oil is, it will always form a layer on the
water?s surface. Unfortunately for
anabantoids, that?s exactly where they go to
breathe air, which means they?ll cover their
gills and labyrinth organ with the stuff. I?m
not sure everyone knows what clove oil is like
when it gets into, say, an eye, but I sure as
heck wouldn?t want that stuff inside my
breathing apparatus.
Which makes me have to ask, what would
be the way you would never dispatch a ?sh?
I know there are some terrible methods
advised online.
SB: I have used Phenoxytol and MS222 ? for
anaesthetic, not euthanasia ? when they were
legal, but I noticed some ?sh ?shock? when
coming round from the anaesthetic.
The worst one of all I would say is ?ushing.
Not only is it a stressful way for a ?sh to die
but it stands a chance (if a slim one) of
introducing alien wildlife to our waters too.
In my younger years, I would freeze a ?sh in
ter. It makes sense to
d animal would just
d to us being in
een sure enough of
ed clove oil instead
ng needs handling with
The of?cial stance is
al species up to 5cm in
be placed in water
2-4癈, but that they
t be allowed to make
with any ice. Any colder
risk the ?sh forming ice
in the body, which will
ain. However, the cold
ethod is contested, and
searchers suspect that
will not cause complete
a. In any case, freezing
over 5cm is a complete
der any circumstance.
st techniques I?ve heard
the spine (which
he ?sh unconscious),
suffocation, use of Alka Seltzer to create
carbon dioxide (how much more painful can
you get?) and even dropping in boiling water.
So we?re agreed that clove oil is the best
method for aquarists who don?t want to
chance blunt trauma?
SB: Yep, we?re agreed on that. Suffocation ?
just leaving a ?sh out of water ? is just a
horrendous way of ending a ?sh?s life.
Clove oil is cheap, easily acquired and easy
to use. The only real trick to using clove oil is
getting it to mix with the water ? in a bag,
shake it well before adding the ?sh, and in a
bowl, heavily agitate the mixture. That?s why
I use airstones, to help keep it well mixed.
Do you have an opinion on euthanasia that you would like to share or perhaps
a topic you would like to see discussed? If so, you can find us at
www.facebook.com/pfkmag or email editorial@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
INSET: Clove oil
is a humane way
to dispatch
most fish.
TROPICAL
NEIL HEPWORTH
Dwarf catfish
Up close, Moth
catfish are
stunning.
22
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Little
BIG
CATS
There?s more to catfish than Corydoras.
Check out these friendly feline
alternatives for smaller layouts.
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 23
TROPICAL
W
ITH ALL the
bright, active,
freshwater ?sh
with fancy
markings that
inhabit Earth?s
lakes and rivers
? and can be
found in aquatics shops all over the
country ? it?s a wonder that boring,
hidden-away brown ?sh ever get a
look in. Yet there?s a massive
following for cryptic, curious
cat?shes the world over, and I for
one am ?rmly in that camp.
Cats galore
Cat?sh ? the planet?s second most
diverse vertebrate group ? include
some absolute behemoths. The
largest is the Mekong Cat?sh,
growing from 30cm to just shy of
3m and weighing in at 293kg ? not
one for the aquarium then.
When it comes to species more
suited to captive life, there are
hundreds of options. While
Red-tailed cat?sh might appeal to
monster ?sh fans with a 4m tropical
pond, there are countless
Synodontis species and Pimelodidae
for those with a more modest
200-400 l tank, plus a plethora of
suckermouth cats for tanks of all
sizes. But when it comes to
traditional cat?sh for the average
community tank, there aren?t many
options outside the massive range
of Corydoras cats.
Research a little further, or visit a
few specialist shops, and you?ll ?nd
mini monsters out there that are
perfectly suited to something like
a 70 l community set-up. I?m
brushing past the likes of Corydoras
and Otocinclus for this feature;
they already get plenty of air time
and are not what I?d consider
?classic? cat?sh. To me, traditional
cat?sh traits include a face full of
whiskers, a fat head, and a longish
and ?exible body.
I also don?t mind the fact that
cat?sh sometimes (though by no
means always) hide themselves
away for days on end. In fact, one
of the main attractions for me is
that I don?t see my cat?sh every
time I look in the tank, so it?s always
a real treat when I do see them!
Hunkering down
SHUTTERSTOCK
Dwarf cat?sh
That brings me to my ?rst two
points about keeping these wee
beasties: they like cover, and they
don?t like direct, bright lighting.
That?s not to say you have to keep
them in a dark, dingy tank ? just not
a bright, sparse set-up. With some
form of cover as a cave and lighting
broken up by plants ? whether live,
fake or even ?oating plants ? these
cat?sh will be more than happy just
chilling at the bottom. Likewise, they
will love a dull setting with lots of
woodwork, leaf litter and tanninstained water ? that?s a more natural
setting for most cat?sh of this ilk.
Cat?sh are quite easy to cater for
on the water parameters front ? ?ve
of our selected ?sh over the page
are happy to live in pH levels just
tipping either side of neutral, and
they?re very easy to feed. One of the
simplest aspects of keeping nearly
ABOVE: A wild
cat?sh bounty!
BELOW LEFT:
A classic
community
needs a classy
cat?sh.
Traditional catfish traits include a face full of whiskers, a fat head,
24
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
This phrase is used so often it assumes
we all know, but newcomers to the hobby
can get confused as there?s rarely an
explanation offered.
Essentially, a community ?sh is an
peacefuly middle-of-the-road ?sh.
Water parameter-wise, it needs no particular
care and can live in a mixed community of
?sh without any behavioural issues like
?n-nipping or territorial tendencies.
There are small community ?sh and large
community ?sh, but the two are often best
kept separate as even the most placid large
?sh can intimidate much smaller ?sh, and
the rule of ?If it ?ts inside their mouth, they
may eat it? stands true.
NEIL HEPWORTH
SHUTTERSTOCK
What?s a community ?sh?
SHUTTERSTOCK
CAVE LIVING
Clay caves are a
favourite with cat?sh
specialists ? purposebuilt, understated and
in a range of sizes to
suit the species you?re
keeping.
The right-shaped piece of wood with a
hollow or a contour that forms a
cave when laid down is a very
natural setting for a small cat?sh
to make a home?
?or use a stack of wood.
Plants can be attached to the
wood if you want it to look less constructed.
Lots of different rocks can be used to
build a cave. They can be siliconed
together if necessary ? just make sure
the rock isn?t calcareous before use.
and food is left uneaten
the richness can soon
sour water quality, and
you feed too much and
cat?sh eats it all, it?s common for
them to gorge themselves. This
doesn?t often cause lasting harm,
but harm is possible so it?s not a
good thing ? plus you?re unlikely to
see them again for quite some time
while they hole up and digest it.
There are lots of plastic or resin
ornaments available for aquariums,
as well as purpose-made caves, but anything
smooth with a few holes in will do the job.
UNIPAC
any cat?sh is feeding ? they have
monstrous appetites and some of
the best scent-detectors of the
aquatic world; when they?re hungry,
they eat whatever they can ?nd.
Cat?sh foods are generally quick
to sink and rather oily ? something
many cat?sh require of their diet
? but it also makes the food easy to
hone in on. Two things to be wary
of here ? if you feed too generously
Leaf litter and large seed pods give
great cover for smaller cat?sh, offeri
myriad little pathways for them to po
in and out of and forage from.
and a longish and flexible body
Mystus cats are
active shoalers.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 25
TROPICAL
Dwarf catfish
FACTFILE
TWO SPOT MYSTUS
6Scientific name: Mystus bimaculatus
6
Pronunciation: Miss-tus bye-mac-yoular-tus
6Size: 6.5cm
6Origin: Only from Sumatra, Indonesia
6Habitat: Peat swamps
6Tank size: 45x30x30cm
6Water requirements: 4.0-7.0 pH, 0-12癏
6Temperature: 23-28癈
6Temperament: Peaceful
6Feeding: Sinking dried foods, frozen and live
6Availability and cost: Quite common, around �
You?re more likely to see them out and active if
you keep several together. In nature they?re
found in blackwater peaty swamps alongside
rasboras, Glass cat?sh and gourami. Natural pH
levels are very low, but M. bimaculatus is an
adaptable ?sh and does well at a neutral pH too.
NEIL HEPWORTH
40 l+
FACTFILE
WASP CATFISH
40 l+
The Wasp is known to eat dried foods, but it can
take some time to wean onto them. Initially you?ll
need to offer frozen and livefoods, but even when
dried food is accepted, it?s still best to feed frozen
foods regularly. This cat only occurs in the
Salween River basin, and is best kept with small
?sh like Boraras, Microdevario and Celestichthys.
NEIL HEPWORTH
6Scientific name: Akysis vespa
6Pronunciation: Ak-ee-sis ves-pah
6Size: 2.5-3cm
6Origin: Myanmar and Thailand
6Habitat: Fast-?owing streams and rivers
6
Tank size: 45x30x30cm for several ?sh
6Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH, 5-18癏
6Temperature: 18-23癈
6Temperament: Peaceful, even with tiny ?sh
6Feeding: Primarily frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: Quite rare; around �
FACTFILE
OIL CATFISH
6Scientific name: Centromochlus perugiae
6
Pronunciation: Sent-row-mock-lus
pear-roo-jee-aye
6Size: 6cm
6Origin: Peru and Equador
6Habitat: Quick-?owing streams and rivers
6Tank size: 45x30x30cm for a small group
6Water requirements: 5.0-8.0 pH, 1-25癏
6Temperature: 24-30癈
6Temperament: Peaceful and shy
6Feeding: Sinking pellets, frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: You?ll have to search for them, around �
The Oil cat?sh is often found near the shores of
quick-?owing waters with a sandy substrate and
no vegetation. C. perugiae like to force themselves
into tight crevices in rocks or wood. They will
rarely eat with the light on, so feed them in
darkness or under a red light to observe them.
26
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
JJPHOTO.DK
40 l+
FACTFILE
SOUTH AMERICAN BUMBLEBEE CAT
Scientific name: Microglanis iheringi
Pronunciation: Micro-glan-iss aye-herr-ing-ee
Size: 7cm
Origin: Turmero River basin, Venezuela
Habitat: Quick-?owing waters with rock
and gravel
Tank size: 45x30x30cm for three
Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH, 5-15癏
Temperature: 22-26癈
Temperament: Peaceful
Feeding: Sinking dried foods, small frozen and live.
Availability and cost: Quite rare; around �10
JJPHOTO.DK
40 l+
ot to be confused with the Asian bumblebee cat,
Pseudomystus siamensis, which reaches 15cm and
eats most community ?sh ? take care as the South
American looks similar when small. M. iheringi is
not a shoaling species, but it?s a social cat with its
own kind and generally non-aggressive.
FACTFILE
MOTH CATFISH
Scientific name: Hara jerdoni
Pronunciation: Hara jerr-don-eye
Size: 3cm
Origin: India and Bangladesh
Habitat: Slow-moving streams, small
ivers with sandy substrate
Tank size: 30x30x30cm for three
Water requirements: 5.5-7.5 pH, 4 to 12癏
Temperature: 20-25癈
Temperament: Peaceful
Feeding: Sinking granules, pellets, live and frozen foods
Availability and cost: Quite easy to ?nd; around �each
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
27 l+
his Asian cat has beautifully intricate detail in its
mou?age, and ?laments that look like the edges
decaying leaves. It?s best suited to a soft, sandy
substrate and likes to shelter under leaf litter or
seed pods. Keep Moth cats with small community
?sh; avoid active bottom feeders, who disturb them.
FACTFILE
W CATFISH
ame: Hyalobagrus flavus
on: Hi-ya-low-bag-russ ?ah-vus
40 l+
NEIL HEPWORTH
atra and Borneo
inage systems and river basins
5x30x30cm for four to ?ve
irements: 5.5-7.0 pH, 5-12癏
re: 21-26癈
ent: Peaceful
ow-sinking dried foods, frozen and live foods
and cost: Quite common; around �
ow is an active swimmer that?s diurnal,
es to avoid direct, bright light. Heavily
planted tanks or ?oating plants keep Shadow cats
happy, but leave some open swimming space. In
the wild they form large shoals and are more active
if kept in groups in aquaria. They mix well with
rasboras, small barbs, tetras and other dwarf cats.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 27
Your letters, your thoughts and
your experiences shared.
I've been a (silent) Practical
Fishkeeping subscriber for a number
of years, and a one tank (180 l), one
pond (6,300 l) ?shkeeper for about
13 years. I am not fanatical nor
brilliant, but consider my aquatic
charges as part of the family.
I follow the basics (I?m an avid
reader of all aquatic husbandry) and
everyone looks good and lasts well,
with only one disaster after
introducing a couple of Dwarf
gourami without quarantine.
This took out the gourami, my
harlequins, neon tetra and all but
one of a Corydoras population ?
lesson learned!
Years ago, I had a Betta splendens
in my of?ce at work and
subsequently had a 17 l tank in the
attic. (He lasted four years; got a
lump on his side so I asked the vet
what to do and he recommended
clove oil. The end result still gives
me nightmares ? please run a piece
on this for labyrinth species).
Prior to this, as a child, our family
had a gold?sh ?tank? (more like glass
battery housing) inhabited by two
gold?sh ? won at the fair ? for at
least 15 years, probably longer.
I used to ?exercise? these poor souls
in the bath while I religiously
scrubbed every inch of their tank
each Saturday. Substrate, air, no
SACHA PROSSER
LEARNING LESSONS &
CYCLING STORIES
?lter: I could cry for what
I ignorantly subjected those
?sh to each and every week of
their lives.
I was gold?sh monitor at my
school too, so that poor little
blighter was sloshed into a bucket of
water regular as clockwork. He had
his tank ?Vimmed? (Ed?s note: Vim
was a popular type of aggressive,
household cleaning product) and
then re?lled with good old tap water.
Anyway, horror stories parked ? I?m
scarred but please let this go as it's
Leer of
the Month
ABOVE: ?Peaky?
looking anything
but.
BELOW: Sacha?s
17 l set-up
constructed on
a prayer.
SACHA PROSSER
TANK COMMUNITY
Letters
Win
FISHSCIENCE AQUARIUM FOOD
The writer of our Letter of the month will win a 250ml pot of their
choice from this quality range of Fish Science food, which uses
natural ingredients. Email: editorial@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
28
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
in the past ? and as long as I live,
nobody I have any contact with will
ever again subject a ?sh to that.
I write because I now subscribe to
an initial ?shless cycle with an
extended ?sh-in cycle period.
I found myself in the unenviable
position of either leaving a ?ghter in
untenable conditions in a garden
centre, or buying him and bringing
him home to no set-up at all. It was
a life or death situation as the shop
owner told us he was going to get rid
of this one survivor to make room for
more aesthetically pleasing stock.
After being told that we could take
the ?sh for � and would get our
money back in the next 24 hours if
he didn't survive, we arrived home,
got the 17 l tank out of the attic,
?lled it with water from our existing
tank and introduced him. He sat on
the bottom for a few days, developed
?n rot, was subjected to salt only for
it to clear and come back again and
again. Happily, after 10 months, all
is well.
Write to us at Practical Fishkeeping, Bauer Media, Media House,
Lynchwood Business Park, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE2 6EA
Email us at editorial@
practical?shkeeping.co.uk
WE ASKED...
Community tank or biotope
set-up? Which do you prefer?
Follow us at www.facebook.
com/PFKmag
� COMMUNITY TANK
� BIOTOPE SET-UP
YOU SAID...
Farlowella
? surrogate
mothers?
52%
52%
COMMUNITY WINS!
NATHAN HILL
48%
My point is, as much as I concur
with you guys about the cycling
period as discussed in your ethical
debate in the May issue, there are
times when you just have to do what
you have to do. As long as you
understand the basics of what is
happening, you can still make a new
tank work if you absolutely have to.
Going by the book is great, but
should there not be room for
common sense too?
P.S. I?m working on hubby to get
?Peakey? the Betta a bigger tank.
The more he reads from your mag
? ?ltration speci?cally ? the closer
we get!
Keep up the good work.
Sacha Prosser, via email
THE CURIOUS CASE OF
THE EGG THEFT
I have a South American species
tank containing a breeding pair of
Sturisoma and a single large male
Farlowella. A month or so ago the
Sturisoma courted and the female
laid her eggs on the front aquarium
glass as she has done about six
times before, but the Farlowella
hassled the male Sturisoma away
and sat covering the eggs for about
two weeks, unfertilised. The eggs
eventually disappeared.
This week the Sturisoma pair went
through the motions again, but
oddly the female laid two
sets of eggs in two different
areas of the front glass. The
male Sturisoma is covering his
fertilised eggs and the Farlowella is
guarding a small cluster of
unfertilised eggs. I watched her lay
both patches of eggs, one lot for
each ?sh. Has anyone else
experienced this?
Ted Westhead, email
NATHAN REPLIES: Certainly not
something I?ve come across, Ted.
Have any other readers had
experiences with this kind of curious
Sturisoma/Farlowella crossover?
Let us know.
TECHNICAL FAULT
LOW-MAINTENANCE TANKS
I just wanted to say how much I?m enjoying the new-look
Practical Fishkeeping. I subscribe to the e-version of the
magazine and the only slight ?wrinkle? I?ve noticed is that
when I switch to ?text view?, some of the words get jumbled
up, and text that would appear in smaller boxes in the print
version ends up in the middle of the main text. I?m not sure if this is a problem
with Google Play or something your technical team would deal with.
I would also like to make a suggestion for a feature. There are a lot of excellent
YouTube channels run by people who really know their stuff and it would be great
to see a feature on them, similar to ?Me and My Tank?.
Gaina Cowley, email
I've always wanted to have an
aquarium, and after a false start
with a biOrb, I?ve had a 125 l tank
for the past year. I've done the
classic ??rst tank? by buying one that
came with all the appropriate kit
(cabinet, heater, internal ?lter and
so on) and have male guppies,
Hengel?s rasbora and Amano
shrimp. Subscribing to PFK, I?ve
learned so much and am totally in
love with the hobby.
I?m now at the point of considering
what to do next with my tank.
I guess most start thinking of
upgrading to a bigger tank, tackling
a biotope, maybe a breeding project
NATHAN REPLIES: I?ve spoken to our tech guys, and they can?t replicate the fault
with any of our devices, but we?re looking into it. As for YouTube, watch this space.
There are plenty of aquarists whose tanks we really like the look of right now!
?
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 29
NATHAN REPLIES: Sounds like a
challenge, Sarah, but we?re not
averse to those here. Let me see
what I can track down, then I?ll get
one of our team on the case for you!
TOM?S TIGER BARBS
I?ve been reading PFK since
September 2016, and I?ve loved
every issue! I have two quite small
tanks set up, one of them being
a 15 l tank, and the other 20 l.
In the 15 l tank, I have four very
small Tiger barbs. In the other, three
very small guppies, and two small
Emperor tetras. In my opinion, Tiger
barbs are one of the most fantastic
?sh; I just love their consistent
stripes and red-tipped mouths and
?ns. I would love to see an article on
these ?sh in your magazine!
Also, I would like to ask you what
you think the best food for
Emperor tetras is, as I'm struggling
to ?nd the right food to give them.
Thanks!
Tom Haydon (age 11), email
ABOVE: Tiger
barbs often get
a bad rep.
GORGEOUS GOURAMI
I have a 81 l planted community
tank that has been set up for a good
few years now. I have a female
Three spot gourami and as a result
have fallen in love with gouramis.
I am endeavouring to set up a
Sparkling gourami biotope tank and
I would really love to see an article
on these beautiful ?sh to learn more
about them and get people
interested in gouramis.
Also, I just wanted to ask why the
?Tank community? and ?Me and my
tank? bits of the magazine have
disappeared? I really enjoyed seeing
everyone else?s tanks and ?sh, and
I?m sure other people miss that too.
Finn Murray, email
BELOW:
Sparkling
gourami ? great
for a biotope.
NATHAN HILL
or a more challenging ?sh. But I?m
wondering how can I make this
even easier? You see, I?ve a chronic
illness/disability that means I?m
housebound, sometimes bedbound.
My tank is in my bedroom and
although maintenance day is
challenging health-wise, I don?t
want to become a ?shkeeper
without a tank.
Nathan Hill wrote a ?Tailpiece? in
May 2017 that really struck a chord,
and has stayed with me since. In it
he spoke of the dif?culties illness
can cause when trying to keep a
tank. And I?m hoping you might
revisit this idea?
My suggestion (or possibly
desperate plea!) is, can you do a
feature on a tank set-up that looks
amazing, yet is low maintenance?
Can you design a complete tank with
plants that will be happy without a
CO2 diffuser or liquid carbon, and
thrive under a basic LED light? A
tank with ?sh that will be content to
live in treated tap water (hard and
with nitrates!) without the demands
list to rival a Hollywood starlet? A
tank that doesn?t scream ?beginner?
and will run smoothly on a weekly or
fortnightly partial water change?
Just to make quite clear, I'm not
talking about a lazy tank where
essential maintenance is skipped
and the ?sh neglected. But maybe
one of the PFK team would be
interested in the challenge of
creating a streamlined and simple
tank that could be every bit as
beautiful as the usual stunners that
grace your pages. It certainly would
be different!
Sarah Hill, email
SHUTTERSTOCK
Letters
NATHAN REPLIES: Your wish is our
command, Tom. We?ll knock
heads together and see when
we can ?t in a Tiger feature
over the coming months
for you. As for feeding,
give the Bug Bites that
come on the cover of this mag
(assuming you have a print copy)
a whirl. I reckon they?ll get on just
?ne with them!
NATHAN REPLIES: Oh me too, Finn!
I love all the tiny Anabantid ?sh,
and sparklers are a ?rm favourite.
I?ll see what we can do for you.
As for ?Tank community?, it
was gobbled up as part of
the redesign, but I was
planning on giving it
space in ?Letters? instead.
But it turns out we?re getting
so many letters that we can?t ?t it
in right now. Rest assured, when
things quieten down, it?ll be back?
STARTING WITH CLUE 5 GUESS THE FISH USING AS FEW CLUES AS POSSIBLE
5
This fish was first discovered by
Charles Darwin during his famous
five-year voyage on the Beagle between
1831 and 1836.
4
The first time it was bred in aquaria
was way, way back in 1878, in a
Paris tank by aquarist Pierre Carbonnier.
Since then it has been successfully
farmed and is easy to spawn.
3
While gorgeous wild specimens
are still occasionally imported
from Buenos Aires, Argentina, most
of the fish now on sale are farmed
in Singapore.
2
At previous times in its past, it has
been called Corydoras marmoratus
and Corydoras maculatus. For a while,
it was even classed as Callichthys.
1
Alternative common names include
the Blue leopard corydoras and
Mottled corydoras, but in the UK we
have know it as a common species.
(Answer on tailpiece)
30
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
COMMON
SPECIES
SUBJECT TO
INJECTION AND
DIPPING
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
6 Albino corydoras
6 Glass fish, Parambassis sp.
6 Parrot cichlids
6 Black widow tetra
6 Giant gourami
WHAT?S WRONG WITH INJECTED FISH?
Fish can be arti?cially coloured in a couple of ways ?
Fish have their mucous layers stripped, before
dunking in concentrated dyes stains them with arti?cially
bright colours.
6 Fish are dyed all over including the gills, causing
respiration issues.
6 Ink in the body can have serious effects on organ function.
6 Stripping away mucus leaves ?sh open to bacteria and
parasites.
Fish are stabbed with a needle, and dyes injected.
They may have patterns or words tattooed on the body.
6 Against ?sh body sizes, needles are huge. Imagine your
armbeing injected with a pencil for a comparison.
6 Injection sites are access points for infections.
6 Needles are not cleaned or sterilised, risking infection.
6 Chemical embolisms from injection can cause fatalities.
6 Injecting causes granulomas, tumours and cauli?ower
like growths.
6 The dyes cause in?ammation of skin and muscle tissues.
6 Injecting requires rough handing which is highly stressful.
or
Are they legal?
It IS illegal to dye a ?sh through
dipping or injection in the UK, but
NOT illegal to import or sell them.
Almost all dyed ?sh are commercially
produced in the far east, and
imported directly.
What can you do?
Ask if retailers have joined up
to the Practical Fishkeeping
Dyed Fish Campaign. Started
in 1996, the campaign asks
retailers to pledge not to sell
any dyed ?sh. If you see some
on sale, raise your concerns
with store owners. Because
dyed ?sh aren?t always
advertised as such, staff may
genuinely not know they are
stocking them! Your voice can
help make the difference!
TROPICAL
Carnivorous pufferfish
Pugnacious
puffers
They lurk, they hide, and they bite hard.
If you want the ultimate in unusual
carnivores, there?s no choice other
than a ?nasty? pufferfish.
BEN LEE, AMIIDAE.COM
TIM SMITH
A South African
ichthyologist and
oddball enthusiast,
Tim has worked with
fish for 15 years in
different situations.
32
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
HAIRY PUFFER
SPECIES INFO
The Hairy puffer gets its
name from the protrusions
sprouting all over its body.
In its Mekong habitat,
this keeps it hidden.
6Scientific name: Pao Baileyi
6Pronunciation: Pay-oh bay-lee-eye
6Size: Around 12cm
6Origin: Asian, from the Mekong basin
6Habitat: Rocky areas with rapid flow
6Tank size: 80x30x30cm
6Water requirements: Easy going, 6.0-8.0 pH, hardness 4-20癏
6Temperature: 22-26癈
6Temperament: Extremely aggressive, keep singly
6Feeding: Fresh and frozen meaty foods such
as prawn and fish
6Availability and cost:
Rare; from � or so
72 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 33
TROPICAL
Carnivorous pufferfish
O
H, THE puffers.
Basically round, wet,
beaked versions of
puppies. For years,
?shkeepers have
enjoyed the
personality and
oddity offered by
this oddball group. We encounter a
multitude of species in the hobby,
from those as small as the pea-sized
Dwarf puffer, up to the truly
thunderous 75cm Tetraodon mbu,
the tankbusting Giant puffer?sh.
But what if there was more to this
group? The thorns to the rose, you
might say? Well, that?s where the
?nasty puffers? come in and boy, do
they carry that name with pride.
Fishes for true puffer a?cionados,
these seemingly grumpy wet pets
are unfortunately known for their
attitude ?rst, and their fascinating
lifestyles second.
Double trouble
These ?sh can be split up into two
groups ? African and Asian. What
brings them together? Quite simply,
they are ambush predators, and
while there?s some variation on this
theme, the results are always the
same, in an order that rarely
deviates from lunge, chomp, repeat.
The Asian branch of the nasty
puffers were once in the catch-all
genus of Tetraodon, but were
relatively recently moved into a new
genus, Pao, taken from the name
given to them by local people.
Although the Pao genus currently
houses 13 species, you?re only
likely to come across four or ?ve of
these in the hobby. Among them
perhaps the most common are the
Arrowhead puffer (Pao suvatti),
Fang?s puffer (P. cochinchinensis),
Humpback puffer (P. palembangensis),
and Abe puffer (P. abei). Others, like
Arrowhead puffer,
Pao suvattii.
NEIL HEPWORTH
The Mbu puffer
is a classic
tankbuster.
34
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Lazy days
Caring for these puffers is relatively
straightforward. As per their ambush
predator status, they don?t expend
energy unless they really need to,
and may only make a move on a
food item if it?s fairly close to them.
So with this inherent lack of activity,
surely a large tank would be a waste
of space, especially if you?re only
housing a single specimen?
Well, yes and no. Yes, because you
can get away with a slightly smaller
tank than you might otherwise need
for a ?sh of equal size, although
you?ll still have to provide enough
room for it to move around and ?nd
new ambush spots. But what?s
important is the volume of water
needed to act as a buffer for the
puffer?s messy eating habits. There?s
no hard and fast rule about tank size,
but the smaller species, like Pao
cochinchinensis and P. abei, could be
The Humpback puffer
won?t win many
beauty contests.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 35
ALAMY
ALAMY
the Hairy puffer (P. bailey) and the
Target puffer (P. leiurus), are also
seen from time to time, and have
similar husbandry requirements.
While there are a handful of
African puffers that would fall into
the ?nasty puffer? category, only one
pops up in the trade with some
regularity ? the Congo puffer,
Tetraodon miurus. Also seen on
occasion is T. duboisi, allegedly the
rarest puffer in the hobby, but it
always carries a hefty price tag.
Given that they share similar
habits and lifestyles to the Asian
puffers, it comes as no surprise
that Tetraodon species share a
similar body shape to their eastern
cousins. The African puffers,
however, are not especially closely
related to Pao or other Asian
puffer?shes, and have seemingly
come up with their nasty little
habits all by themselves?
TROPICAL
Carnivorous puffer?sh
as your puffer will help its attempts
housed alone in a 60 l aquarium.
Larger species will need at least 80 l, at camou?age.
and more if you?re intending to
house multiple specimens.
Keep it clean
Unlike some other puffer?shes, all
Keep nitrogenous wastes as low as
the ?sh here are 100% freshwater,
possible ? the tank should be cycled
and an optimal set-up for long-term
with zero ammonia and nitrite. Plan
care should try to mimic their
water changes around feeding times,
habitat as far as possible.
so you can clean up any meaty
For most Asian species, this
pieces or shells left in the
would be slow-?owing rivers
aftermath.
or large pools with a
Ideally change 30-50% of
muddy or sandy
the water per week.
substrate.
I prefer a split
Plants aren?t
schedule, with a
Don?t allow the puffer to
essential, but
water change
associate your fingers with
puffers will
soon after a big
feeding time, as this can
appreciate
feed, and another
lead to biting.
shadier spots in
a few days later
which to lurk. Proli?c
once everything?s
diggers, such as P. suvattii
been processed.
and T. miurus, may uproot
Keep ?lter ?ows quite light
any plants in their preferred
? puffers won?t appreciate
spots, so you might be better off
?ghting a whirlpool, although most
with plants that can be attached to
will be ?ne with a low ?ow
the hardscape.
throughout the tank that would help
Some decor may encourage
prevent detritus build-up. A big ?lter
natural behaviours. P. suvatti and
with slow ?ow is key.
P. palembangensis have been known
Of the puffers included in this
to sit under leaves or try to pass
article, only the Congo puffer
themselves off as rocks in their
occurs in faster-?owing water,
predacious games of hide-and-seek.
and even then they?re known to
Indian almond leaves and some
bury themselves and keep out of
smooth rocks about the same size
the current.
SPECIES INFO
An avid digger, the
Arrowhead puffer needs a
soft, deep substrate in
order to accommodate
this behaviour.
36
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
W
So
onto dead foods? With patience! The key to
success is to ensure it?s hungry before you
try. Don?t starve your pet outright, but give it
a few days (up to a week) after the last
meal. Your puffer should never appear as if
it?s losing weight during weaning.
You?ll need tongs or similar to hold the
?prey?, but the trick is to be consistent with
whichever tool you use. This way, your ?sh
will be accustomed to this item entering the
tank, and associate it with feeding time.
Use the tool to move the food around. You
don?t need hyper-realism, but a few twitches
will go a long way towards convincing your
puffer it?s something worth investigating.
If it won?t quite take the bait, try using the
above procedure in conjunction with adding
live prey items, but not as many as would
normally ?ll your puffer?s belly.
Mussel, lan, shrimp, prawn or crab leg
have maximum meal appeal. Most people
are ?ne with using tongs even after their
puffer has adapted to a frozen diet, but you
can take it one step further by using them
to bring the food into the tank, allowing the
?sh to see it, then dropping it. It might take
a few attempts, but eventually your puffer
will recognise the food entering the tank
without needing to be tricked into eating.
SPECIES INFO
Known for its aggression
towards people in its native
waters. Take care when
performing routine
maintenance or
handling.
ALAMY
Fang?s puffer
is a rare sight
in stores.
Any diet needs to include something
hard-shelled as puffers have perpetually
growing teeth that need to be worn
down. In extreme cases, veterinary
intervention may be required
Puffer pantry
NEIL HEPWORTH
Arrowhead puffers
come in several
colour morphs.
This group?s love of live food is
something to consider before you
even think about keeping them.
While some puffer?sh can be
weaned onto frozen foods, others
will be really dif?cult about it.
Some species adapt more readily to
a frozen diet than others, but
patience is a must ? especially since
you?re dealing with a ?sh that can
happily go for extended periods of
time without food. In the interests of
your pet not starving to death, you
may need to feed your puffer live
food, at least initially. The good
news is that large snails, ghost
shrimps, crabs and large worms are
usually consumed with gusto.
Any puffer?sh diet needs to
include something hard-shelled as
puffers have perpetually growing
teeth that need to be worn down.
In extreme cases, veterinary
intervention may be required if the
teeth grow to the point that the ?sh
FACTFILE
FANG?S PUFFER
6Scientific name: Pao cochinchinensis
6Pronunciation: Pay-oh kok-in-chin-en-sis
6Size: Up to 10cm (closer to 7.5cm in captivity)
6Origin: Mekong and Chao Phraya Rivers, South-east Asia
6Habitat: Muddy and rocky riverbeds and ponds
6Tank size: 75x30cm
6Water requirements: Acidic to neutral, soft to slightly hard water;
6.5-7.5 pH, 8-15癏
6Temperature: 24-28癈
6Temperament: Extremely aggressive, house singly
6Feeding: Equally happy feeding on ?sh,
crustaceans or
molluscs
6Availability and cost:
Very rare; � or more
would be reasonable
67 l+
FACTFILE
ARROWHEAD PUFFER
6Scientific name: Pao suvattii
6Pronunciation: Pay-oh soo-vat-ee-eye
6Size: 10-15cm in captivity
6Origin: Lower Mekong, South-east Asia
6Habitat: Muddy and rocky riverbeds
6Tank size: 75x30cm
6Water requirements: Acidic to neutral soft water, 6.5-7.5 pH,
5-12癏
6Temperature: 22-26癈
6Temperament: Extremely aggressive, house singly
6Feeding: Piscivorous in nature, but will take
invertebrates in
captivity
6Availability and cost:
Rare; starting around
� for a young ?sh
67 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 37
TROPICAL
Carnivorous pufferfish
can no longer open its mouth
suf?ciently to feed.
Keep feeding minimal. With such a
lazy lifestyle, these ?sh simply don?t
need the extra energy input, and it
reduces the amount of waste
produced. While the ?sh are young,
two to three large feedings per week
is ?ne; adults only need to gorge
themselves once or twice a week.
Size isn?t necessarily a limitation in
terms of food choices. Small food
items will be taken whole. Larger
meals (and tankmates) will be taken
apart piece by piece in a horrifying
manner ? I?ve witnessed this with a
puffer and a ?sh three times his size!
The moral of the story is tankmates
are a de?nite no-go.
Well, with one small exception.
The Congo puffer aside, these ?sh
seem to get along just ?ne with
others of their own kind, provided
they?re given enough tank space,
structures to break sightlines and
de?ne territories, and a ?shkeeper
prepared to step in should things
turn ugly. When such events do
occur, they?re generally territorial
spats that may leave both winner
and loser with a few cuts, scrapes
and torn ?ns.
Try to mimic their habitat
? slow-flowing rivers or large
pools with a muddy or
sandy substrate
Puffer production
Triggering a spawn is best done by
more frequent feeding alongside
FACTFILE
Typical ?owing,
rocky habitat.
Congo puffers
may be the
?bitiest? of all.
JJPHOTO.DK
SPECIES INFO
Found in areas of much
higher flow than its Asian
counterparts, but it?s not
necessary to replicate
this in the
aquarium.
ALAMY
CONGO PUFFER
6Scientific name: Tetraodon miurus
6Pronunciation: Tet-ray-oh-don
me-urr-us
6Size: 15cm
6Origin: Congo River, Africa
6Habitat: Fast-flowing rivers and
streams over mud and sand
6Tank size: 75x30cm
6Water requirements: Neutral and
hard, 7.0 pH, 10-15癏
6Temperature: 24-28癈
6Temperament: Extremely aggressive,
house singly.
6Feeding: Primarily piscivorous, but
also takes crustaceans and molluscs
6Availability and cost: Rare; from
around �, but colourful types may
cost more
67 l+
SPECIES INFO
Pets with personality
All in all, these pugnacious puffers
would make an ideal candidate for a
biotope species tank, where your
?sh could develop into a true wet
pet with personality and predatory
performances to boot.
Humpback
puffer living up
to its name.
SHUTTERSTOCK
SPECIES INFO
Unlike other Pao, this fish
isn?t inclined to bury itself in
the substrate, but it does
love to nestle between
pebbles and
leaves.
JJPHOTO.DK
increased water changes. Choice of
spawning substrate varies between
species ? a hard and ?at surface for
P. palembangensis, cave spawning for
P. cochinchinensis, where the eggs
and subsequent non-swimming
larvae will remain.
Among Pao, it seems the male
is the designated parent, guarding
the eggs and probably the fry as
well. He will display aggression
towards the female if a suitable
distance isn?t maintained, so it
may be wise to remove the female
from the tank. Alternatively, transfer
the eggs elsewhere, which should
see the male puffer returning to
normal behaviours.
Egg hatching takes place within
a week or two, depending on
temperature and species, and the
fry begin feeding after two to three
days. First foods need to be pretty
small ? rotifers are ideal ? but within
a week or so you can move them
onto the larger crustaceans like baby
brine shrimp and smaller Cyclops,
and then on to progressively
larger invertebrates.
Not necessarily a common
species, Abe?s puffer is
known to be a bit more
active than other
members of the
genus.
Abe?s puffer
is lighter than
many.
FACTFILE
FACTFILE
ABE?S PUFFER
HUMPBACK PUFFER
6Scientific name: Pao abei
6Pronunciation: Pay-oh ay-bye
6Size: 10cm
6Origin: Mekong and Chao Phraya Rivers, South-east
Asia
6Habitat: Muddy and sandy ponds, streams and rivers
6Tank size: 60x30cm
6Water requirements: Acidic to neutral, soft to
slightly hard water; 6.0-7.5
pH, 6-15癏
6Temperature: 23-27癈
6Temperament: Extremely
aggressive, house singly
6Feeding: More molluscivorous
than its relatives, but will take
other foods
6Availability and cost: Very rare
find; expect to pay � upwards
6Scientific name: Pao palembangensis
6Pronunciation: Pay-oh pal-em-bang-gen-sis
6Size: Up to 20cm, usually a little less in aquaria
6Origin: South-east Asia
6
Habitat: Slow streams, rivers and ponds over mud
and sand
6Tank size: 120x30cm
6
Water requirements: Neutral, soft to moderately
hard water; 7.0 pH, 7-18癏
6Temperature: 24-27癈
6
Temperament: Extremely
aggressive, house singly
6
Feeding: Prefers fish
and crustaceans over
molluscs
6
Availability and cost: Rare;
prices start in the �
region
54 l+
108 l+
STEP-BY-STEP
Blackwater habitat
A little bit of tannin
goes
how to create a
Rocky lake shore
Build a blackwater set-up inspired by a
tranquil lake in West Africa ? the perfect
new home for some super little cichlids.
WORDS: STEVE BAKER; PHOTOS: NEIL HEPWORTH
41
STEP-BY-STEP
Blackwater habitat
T
HE INSPIRATION for
this set-up came from a
?sh I?ve loved for many
years. On a recent road
trip to north-west
England, we stumbled
across some small,
wild specimens of
Nanochromis tranvestitus and I just
wanted to give them a home. They
made the journey from Aqualife
Leyland back to my home in
Cambridge in an insulated box with
no issues, settled smartly into their
isolation tank, and began picking off
frozen foods from the start.
I wanted a natural setting for these
lovely little cichlids, but I wasn?t too
concerned about a true biotope
setting. A quick look online at
seriously?sh.com gave me enough
fuel to build an idea?
Rocky road
N. transvestitus comes from a rocky,
blackwater lake in western Africa ?
Lake Mai-Ndombe in the west of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I?ve set up a fair number of
blackwater tanks before, but they?ve
always had either wood or leaf litter
I can?t imagine
there are many
lakes or rivers in
the world that don?t
have some form of
grass adorning
their banks
The inspiration
? Nanochromis
transvestitus.
as the main feature ? even if there
was the odd piece of slate or two
? so the idea of a rocky blackwater
setting grabbed my attention.
I already had a load of nice river
cobbles from a previous tank. I also
have a number of African One-lined
tetra, Nannaethiops Unitaeniatus, and
as they come from the same country
and enjoy the same settings as
Nanochromis transvestitus, it was hard
to think of a reason not to team
them up.
So, we?ve got the ?sh, the rocks
and the blackwater conditions, all
we?re missing is some suitable
plants. Natural blackwater
environments harbour little in the
African tetras
are often stocky.
FACTFILE
WEST AFRICAN DWARF CICHLID
6Scientific name: Nanochromis transvestitus
6Pronunciation: Nan-oh-chrow-miss trans-vest-eye-tuss
6Size: Male 7cm, female 6cm
6Origin: Lake Mai-Ndombe, Democratic Republic of the Congo
6Habitat: Prefers rocky areas of the lake, where the substrate is
sandy
6Tank size: 60x30x30cm minimum for one pair
6Water requirements: 4.0-7.0 pH, 3-12癏
6Temperature: 24-27癈
6Temperament: Peaceful and mixes well
with small tetras and so on. Aggressive
towards conspecifics and other cichlids
6Feeding: Small granules, flake, frozen and
live foods
6Availability and cost: Not common, but
phone around and you should find them;
around �
54 l+
FACTFILE
AFRICAN ONE-LINED TETRA
6Scientific name: Nannaethiops unitaeniatus
6Pronunciation: Nan-nah-ee-thee-ops uni-tee-nee-ah-tuss
6Size: Males to 4.5cm, females to 6.5cm
6
Origin: Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the
Congo
6
Habitat: Clearwater and blackwater
streams, small rivers, lakes and ponds
6
Tank size: 60x30x30cm for a group of six
6Water requirements: 6.5-7.5 pH, 5-12癏
6Temperature: 22-26癈
6Temperament: Peaceful shoaling species
6
Feeding: Flake, granules, frozen and live
foods
6
Availability and cost: Not too common;
around �75
54 l+
42
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
How to build the lake shore
1
The evening before building the main display, I stuck the replica rockwork
to the base of the tank with several evenly spaced blobs of silicone.
3
I carry on building up the layers of rockwork, bearing in mind that I need
to create roughly level platforms for the plant baskets to fit in behind
the rocks. More plastic egg crate goes at the back to protect the glass
from rock edges.
5
I add some white quartz gravel (6mm) around the rockwork, filling some of
the gaps to make it look like a solid ?bank?. The last touch of hardscape is
some thin, twisted hazel twigs to suggest roots coming through. I finish
off the substrate with some medium-grain pale sand in front of the rocks.
2
I lay down some plastic egg crate to protect the base glass from pressure
points where the real rocks are going to be built up at the back. Using the
replica rock as the foremost point, I start to build up the rockwork with the
heavier, more substantial rocks at the base.
4
I slot the plants into position in their baskets. For more malleability,
you can repot them in flexible baskets or old tights/leggings/socks.
With the plants in place, I finish the rockwork around them, topping
the plant baskets with small pebbles and gravel.
6
Now it?s time to get things wet. I use an old fish bag so that the substrate
doesn?t get pushed around. Filled with water, I can now turn on the filter
and heater, then finish off the rockwork with a few small pebbles to help
blend it in around the base.
STEP-BY-STEP
Blackwater habitat
way of plant life, but with the pond
season kicking in and an opentopped tank at my disposal, it would
have been rude not to make use of
some emerging marginal plants.
A quick visit to Amwell Aquatics in
nearby Soham saw me coming
away with three marginal plants
(two types) that were just right for
the job. Grasses are universal, after
all; I can?t imagine there are many
lakes or rivers in the world that
don?t have some form of grass
adorning their banks.
N. transvestitus
has unique
markings.
Danger, landfall!
So that?s all the ingredients
sorted, now it?s just a case
land erosion within the
For a finishing touch, add
of how to mix them up
glass walls, so I either
some homemade blackwater
and get them wet.
needed to secure the rocks
extract to tint the water. It?s
To be able to use the
to one another with silicone
made from boiling
marginal plants, I needed to
(at least the lower, supporting
native alder
build up the rockwork to support
rocks) or build some sort of
cones.
them at a suitable height. My
retaining wall.
concern was that if I built this up
In the end, the answer I came up
too steeply with loose rocks, there
wasn?t exactly ?me?. As a rule, I don?t
might be a rather worrying sudden
like fake things, but I happened to
have a ?breglass replica rock made
by Unipac that I?d used before with
river rocks to good effect. With a ?at
base, it lent itself perfectly to being
siliconed to the tank?s base to act as
a well-camou?aged retaining wall.
My new Nanochromis transvestitus
and their tetra tankmates have
settled in brilliantly ? it?s the perfect
new home for some super little ?sh.
I wanted a natural setting for these lovely little cichlids,
but I wasn?t too concerned about a true biotope setting
Open-top
tanks allow for
emergent plants.
We Recommend...
ALAMY
NATHAN HILL
Four more fish that would thrive in a blackwater set-up....
FACTFILE
FACTFILE
NORMAN?S LAMPEYE
6Scientific name: Enteromius fasciolatus
6Pronunciation: Ent-err-oh-me-uss fash-ee-oh-lah-tuss
6Size: To around 6cm
6
Origin: Central southern Africa, including Zaire,
Zimbabwe and the Congo basin.
6
Habitat: Variable, though often found in blackwater, or
habitats with dense vegetation
6
Tank size: 80x30x30cm for a group of six
6Water requirements: 5.0-6.5 pH, 1-12癏
6Temperature: 20-26癈
6Temperament: Peaceful shoaling species
6
Feeding: Flake, granules, frozen and live foods
6
Availability and cost: Not too common; around �99
6Scientific name: Poropanchax normani
6Pronunciation: Poor-oh-pan-chax nor-man-eye
6Size: To around 4cm
6Origin: Diverse across Africa, including Senegal, Sierra
Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Sudan and more
6Habitat: Small rivers and brooks, often associated with
planting and leaf litter
6Tank size: 60x30x30cm
6Water requirements: 6.5-7.2 pH, 5-12癏
6Temperature: 22-26癈
6Temperament: Peaceful shoaling species
6Feeding: Flake, granules, frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: Not too common; around �50
54 l+
NATHAN HILL
72 l+
SHUTTERSTOCK
AFRICAN BANDED BARB
FACTFILE
FACTFILE
BIG-EYE SYNO
REEDFISH
6Scientific name: Synodontis contracta
6Pronunciation: Sigh-no-don-tiss con-trak-ta
6Size: Up to 7.5cm
6
Origin: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
6
Habitat: Found in small ponds, slow ?owing streams
and brooks
6
Tank size: 60x30x30cm
6Water requirements: 6.2-7.2 pH, 5-12癏
6Temperature: 22-27癈
6Temperament: Peaceful shoaling species, will thrive
when kept in large shoals
6
Feeding: Sinking granules, frozen and live foods
6
Availability and cost: Not too common; from around �
6Scientific name: Erpetoicthys calabaricus
6Pronunciation: Err-pet-oh-ick-thidd cal-a-bar-ick-uss
6Size: Can reach up to 90cm long
6Origin: Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equitorial Guinea,
Benin and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
6Habitat: Ponds and streams in slow and heavily planted
waters
6Tank size: 180x60x60cm for an adult
6Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH, 5-20癏
6Temperature: 23-30癈
6Temperament: Will eat small tankmates
6Feeding: Tablets, pellets, frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: Quite common; from around �
54 l+
650 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 45
MARINE
Seahorses
Danci
Horses
TRISTAN
LOUGHER
Extraordinary, enigmatic, the
stuff of myth and folklore?
it?s easy to fall in love with the
magical seahorse.
ALAMY
Tristan is an aquatic
author who has
worked on various
research projects.
His day job is at
Cheshire Aquatics.
46
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SEAHORSE FACTS
The hippocampus in the
human brain is named
after the scientific name
for seahorses because it
looks like one!
100m
0.5m
2 The footprint
of a female
seahorse?s territory.
2 The footprint of a male
seahorse?s territory.
Male seahorses give ?birth? to the
young instead of females.
Seahorses have the
fastest-evolving genome
of any fish.
Seahorses have been found living as close to
home as the Thames estuary.
35-70
times
per
second
The rate at which the dorsal fin flaps
when seahorses swim.
1500
The maximum number
of eggs a female
seahorse may deposit in
a male?s pouch.
The oldest seahorse fossils found date back
13 million years.
150
million ? the number of
seahorses caught each year
for Chinese traditional
medicine.
30-50
The number of times a day that
a seahorse needs to eat to make
up for not having a stomach.
148
149
150
151
152
150cm per hour ? maximum speed of the
Dwarf seahorse, the slowest swimming fish in
the world.
Like chameleons, seahorses?
eyes work independently ?
they can look forwards and
backwards at the same time!
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 47
NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY
Seahorses have
many unique traits
among the fish
fraternity.
MARINE
Seahorses
Systems for seahorses
You can?t just buy a seahorse or two
and place them in an e
marine aquarium. The
characteristics ? they a
swimmers, enjoy gripp
holdfasts with their
prehensile tails, and fe
slowly and methodical
mean they need a hom
designed to meet their
speci?c needs. And, of
course, don?t forget the
are marine ?sh with
correspondingly high
demands for water qua
The simplest aquaria
seahorses consist of la
sponge-based ?lters th
offer substantial biolog
and mechanical ?ltrati
are driven by air to red
risk of localised water
sucking the slow-movi
weak-swimming seaho
onto them. Decor is lim
to a selection of holdfa
and the tank has a bare
glass ?oor. This way,
uneaten food can be
easily siphoned up and
the lack of substrate he
keep frozen food on th
move. Such a plain-loo
48
PRACTICAL FISHKEE
NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY
I
S THERE a ?sh in the sea
that?s as immediately engaging
as a seahorse? They have a
reputation for being dif?cult
and demanding to keep, but
most specimens available in
the trade have only ever
known aquarium life, and
much more is now understood
about their care and requirements.
Seahorses of the genus
Hippocampus are unmistakable with
their upright swimming position,
elegant appearance and prehensile
tails. They?re closely related to the
pipe?sh ? all are members of the
family Syngnathidae ? with the
seahorses found in a sub-family
called the Hippocampinae.
In 2016 the genus Hippocampus
was revised from around 55 species
to 41. Since then two more ? the
Beibu Bay seahorse, H. casscsio, and
the Korean seahorse, H. haema
? have been formally described,
bringing the number of species to 43.
set-up wouldn?t win any prizes for
appearance, but it does work.
Many aquarists, however, prefer a
more naturalistic-looking system.
For me, the best seahorse aquaria
have large volumes of water to
improve stability, but the actual
aquarium containing the seahorses
can be relatively small. In fact, having
a modestly sized main aquarium can
be an advantage, making it easier for
the seahorses to ?nd their food with
less going to waste and potentially
affecting water quality. The problem
with small aquaria is balancing the
labour-saving, water-quality
enhancing kit they need with enough
room for the ?sh. The ideal solution
is therefore an aquarium with a sump.
AquaOne MiniReef?s 90 and 120
and the Signature 450 by TMC are a
couple of ?off the shelf? aquaria
where the sump volume represents
a signi?cant percentage of the
whole system. It means there?s
plenty of space for useful kit such as
protein skimmers, heaters (which
can cause injury to seahorses),
mechanical ?lters and biological
can be marine-safe
ms for the
o hold on to
tails, such as
lerpa spp.
r even
plants.
Wave pumps
are often
necessary to
p prevent the
etritus in the
keep food
ussier
at like a little
prey? when
morsels.
oid pumps
urnovers
cted inlets.
t strong
ay be sucked
hardware,
us damage.
n-up crew
build-up of
uneaten food,
tors are
seahorses
needs to be
Seahorses are
affectionate fish.
INSET LEFT:
Seahorses like
to anchor to
holdfasts.
INSET RIGHT:
Dwarf red leg
hermit crab.
NEIL HEPWORTH
allowed to sit on the bottom of the
aquarium for a few minutes while
the ?sh feed. So large Lysmata spp.
shrimp like the cleaner shrimp,
L. amboinensis, are usually a bad idea
as they hoover up food immediately
and you have to add more to ensure
the seahorses get their share, with
poor consequences for water quality.
Instead, less mobile cleaner-uppers,
such as snails from Trochus, Turbo
and Astraea genera, are a better
choice as they only eat algae.
Large crustaceans are best
avoided, but smaller
species such as Dwarf
red leg hermit
crabs, Paguristes
cadenati, will
?nd uneaten
food and graze on
algae. Where sand or
gravel is used as a
substrate, the sand-sifting
conch Conomurex luhuanus can
help stop algae, such as diatoms,
from coating the grains of sand.
Another useful ally is the little mud
snail from the Philippines, Reticunassa
crenulicostatus. It?s excellent at
hunting down uneaten food and
helps keep sand beds aerated with its
burrowing behaviour. Its diminutive
size (up to 10mm shell length)
means it can?t cover the ground too
quickly so the seahorses have plenty
of time to ?nd their food.
ALAMY
Hippocampus was the ?rst genus of marine ?sh included in
Appendix II of CITES (The Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna). This means
seahorses are not necessarily thought to be in danger of
imminent extinction, but may become increasingly threatened
unless their trade is closely controlled. This was mainly due
to concerns surrounding collection for the aquarium
trade, the traditional Chinese medicine
market and as dried curios for tourists.
The CITES listing doesn?t mean you
need a licence to own seahorses,
or that they?re banned in the UK.
With those born and raised in the
UK, there?s no bureaucracy at all as
no international borders have been
crossed. The vast majority of seahorses
available in the UK hobby originate here
or from mainland Europe.
Fish tankmates for seahorses need
to be carefully chosen. Fast, greedy
?sh ? which is most marine ?sh ?
are usually entirely unsuitable, but
species that feed as slowly and
methodically as seahorses can make
for excellent inclusions. Pipe?sh,
smaller dragonets (Synchiropus spp)
and several species of goby would
be worth a look, so long as their
demands can be met without
compromising the environment
created for the seahorses.
When it comes to corals
and other sessile
invertebrates, there
are two essential
criteria to
consider ? what
harm could the
seahorses do to
the corals, and what
harm could the corals do
to the ?sh?
Corals to be avoided then, are
those with strong stings, such as
bubble corals, Plerogyra spp, and
Euphyllia spp ? hammer, frogspawn
and torch corals. Anemones are a
de?nite no-no, particularly the
carpet species (Stichodactyla spp)
with their powerful stinging tentacles.
On the other hand, seahorses may
damage delicate corals like Sea
whips and Sea fans (Gorgonians), by
wrapping their tails around them.
It?s also worth considering that most
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 49
SHUTTERSTOCK
Why are seahorses listed in CITES?
MARINE
Seahorses
Historically, feeding was the factor
that determined whether an aquarist
could successfully keep a seahorse
for more than a short time. Live
foods were often given, particularly
brine shrimp, but these weren?t
nutritionally suf?cient long term.
Luckily, most captive-bred seahorses
readily accept frozen diets, and chief
Sexing & courtship
Male seahorses are typical of
Syngnathidae in that they?re
responsible for the carrying and
incubation of the eggs. They possess
a pouch positioned where the
ventral ?n is located in females, and
A male releases
young from his
brood pouch.
Males of certain species
are happy to dump their
partner in favour of larger
individuals capable of
depositing larger clutches of
eggs within his pouch
ALAMY
A male?s abdomen
swells, holding up
to 1,500 young.
50
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
Feeding
among these is Mysis shrimp. I give
20 Mysis feeds for every alternative
feed, but I do like to offer enriched
brine shrimp every now and then so
they get some variety. Spraying
supplements directly onto the Mysis
to enrich it works well too. Once
settled, individuals will often swim
up into open water to feed on Mysis.
Feed the seahorses at least twice a
day and watch to make sure all
individuals are taking food.
this is the easiest way to tell the
sexes apart. There are also subtle
anatomical differences in most
species, including the shape of the
coronet ? the crown-like structure
on the top of the seahorse?s head.
The female deposits a clutch of
eggs that the male fertilises and
carries until they hatch. The fry are
then released en masse. Gestation
periods depend on temperature and
species, and males of species that
have been studied carry the eggs of
a single female. During the gestation
period, the male?s pouch often
becomes distended and swol
This is particularly prominen
appropriately named Pot-bell
seahorse, H. abdominalis.
One seahorse myth that ha
been exploded is that they?re
monogamous. In studies in th
wild of the Australian seahor
H. whitei, monogamy was
seen through part of a
breeding season. But
subsequently, studies have
shown that males of certain
BELOW:
Seahorses look
very different
from your
average fish!
ALAMY
popular corals require adequate
illumination, whereas seahorses
prefer things more subdued. Stronger
lighting can also lead to a greater
risk of nuisance algae in the tank,
which can grow on the seahorses
themselves. In short, while keeping
Hippocampus with corals isn?t
impossible, it?s easier not to bother.
NEIL HEPWORTH
What should I look for?
When shopping for seahorses, their
rigid exoskeleton can make determining
condition a little tricky, but healthy, wellnourished individuals often appear rather
fat in the ?chest? area, whereas underfed
specimens look a bit pinched.
Ensure you see seahorses feeding before
purchase, and check for any signs of white
discolouration. This can indicate protozoan
parasites, which are often accompanied by
bacterial infections such as Vibrio.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Seahorses may
irritate branching
corals.
are happy to dump their partner in
favour of larger individuals capable
of depositing larger clutches of eggs
within his pouch, so he gets a bigger
return on his investment. However,
the monogamy myth still persists in
much of the mainstream media.
Shoals of foals
When pairs are kept in aquaria under
favourable conditions, spawning is
almost guaranteed, but rearing
seahorses is not for the faint-hearted.
Some aquarists ?nd the seahorse fry
so adorable they cannot bear any
losses as they grow out, and would
rather keep same-sex groups and
avoid spawning altogether, than deal
with the loss of a brood.
First attempts at raising the supercute fry are rarely successful, but
when you have time to prepare ? for
example, when the swollen pouch of
the brood-carrying male is noticed
? you stand a much better chance.
Success often depends on the
cleanliness of the grow-out system,
the provision of nutritious foodstuffs
throughout the early weeks, and the
size of fry. Some species, such as
H. fuscus, H. capensis and H. comes,
have smaller batches (seven to 350) of
larger fry (10-15mm) in comparison
with, for example, H. reidi which may
produce up to 1,500 fry measuring
around 7mm ? not a huge difference
in size on paper, but it means H. reidi
needs food as small as live rotifers.
Rearing seahorse fry centres
around maintaining excellent water
quality, a clean environment, and
offering increasingly large food
items as they grow. Remove uneaten
food regularly and use this as an
opportunity for a partial water
change. Raising the fry of this iconic
marine ?sh can be labour intensive
until a routine is developed, but the
sense of satisfaction is immense.
If you?re serious about rearing fry,
then speak to those who have been
successful, and do as much research
about your species as you can.
When you take time to really look
at a seahorse, it?s clear just how
bizarre and uniquely specialised they
are. Provide a system sympathetic
to their idiosyncrasies and you?ll ?nd
this magical ?sh is really not all that
dif?cult to keep.
NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY
Even the
less wellcamouflaged
seahorses blend
in well with their
surroundings.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 51
MARINE
Seahorses
Yelow seahorse
6Scientific name: Hippocampus kuda
6Where found: Widespread in the tropical Indo-Pacific
6Size potential: 12cm
6
Minimum aquarium volume: 60-90 l, provided good water
quality can be maintained
6Availability and cost: Excellent; �-75
The yellow seahorse is aptly named as many individuals are
indeed yellow. However, their colouration does depend on their
environment, and a rich chocolate brown to black is not
uncommon. Kuda are fantastic seahorses and we?re lucky in the
UK to have access to some of the highest-quality captive-bred
individuals in the world.
Short snout seahorse
6Scientific name: Hippocampus hippocampus
6
Where found: British Isles, Mediterranean
and south to tropical eastern Atlantic
6Size potential: 12cm
6
Minimum aquarium volume:
60 l, provided excellent water
quality can be maintained
6
Availability and cost: Sporadic
but reasonable; �-75
One of two species of seahorse
found in the British Isles, but
don?t even attempt to collect this
?sh yourself; seek out captive-bred
individuals instead. It?s a relative newcomer to the
UK hobby. The pronounced spine above the eye of
females is a nice feature that separates it from
similar species.
Tiger tail seahorse
6Scientific name: Hippocampus comes
6Where found: South-east Asia; Malaysia to the Philippines
6Size potential: 12cm
6Minimum aquarium volume: 60-90 l
6Availability and cost: Slightly sporadic but
reasonable; �-75
A slender, elegant beauty, imported in
large numbers in the past and exploited
widely for the Chinese medicine trade,
particularly from the Philippines.
Captive-bred individuals accept frozen
diets readily. Its lifespan is typical for
seahorses of this size ? at least two to
three years, given good husbandry.
52
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ny
fic name: Hippocampus fuscus
e found: Western Indian Ocean
potential: 8-12cm
nimum aquarium volume: 60-90 l
Availability and cost: Slightly sporadic but reasonable; �-75
One alternative name for H. fuscus is the ?drab seahorse?
which is rather unfair; although the commonest colour for
this species is brown, it?s still a beautiful ?sh. Like its
larger relative H. kuda, with which it?s often confused, it
can also be vivid yellow. The Sea pony is e smallest of
the species pictured here, but its youngsters are relatively
large when ?rst expelled from
?s a good
choice for a ?rst seahors
Slender seahorse
6Scientific name: Hippocampus reidi
6Where found: Subtropical and tropical Atlantic
6Size potential: 17.5cm
6Minimum aquarium volume: 90 l
6
Availability and cost: Reasonable (especially for captive-bred);
�-300+ depending on size, colouration and provenance
Long-snout seahorse
Scientific name: Hippocampus guttulatus
6
6Where found: Eastern Atlantic
6Size potential: 12.5cm
6Minimum aquarium volume: 60-90 l
6
Availability and cost: Very difficult to find on
sale; price will be subject to availability
One of the largest species available in the hobby,
the Slender seahorse was particularly sought
after due to the beautiful colours of individuals
imported from Brazilian waters. Red, pinks and
oranges made them stunning to behold but, as
with many seahorses, pigmentation can
change and the majority defaulted
to a still-attractive bright
yellow, with contrasting
white saddles across their
backs. Most captive-bred
H. reidi display this same
colouration and
patterning.
The second species that?s found around
the British Isles is also found along the east
Atlantic coast of Europe, south to Morocco and
Senegal, and in the Mediterranean from Italy, Malta
and Croatia to Greece and Cyprus.
Colours range from reddish-brown through to
greenish-yellow depending on the associated
vegetation. One for British divers to enjoy viewing.
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ADVICE
Answers
Got a ?shkeeping question? PFK?s crack team of aquatics experts
are on hand to answer whatever you need to know...
questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
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THE EXPERTS
BOB
MEHEN
Carp are potentially
large and can be
destructive to plants.
POND
Is answering all your
community questions
and explains why siting an aquarium
under a TV set is a bad idea on page 59.
GEORGE
FARMER
Is answering all your
planting questions and
looks at reasons why plants might not
survive and thrive on page 61.
NATHAN
HILL
Is answering all your
goldfish questions and
looks at whether a Koi can be added to
d f ldfish on page 57.
Is answering all your
equipment questions
and showing how to maintain the flow
of your filters on page 62/63.
NEALE
MONKS
Is answering all your
freshwater questions
and looks at Sulawesi shrimp on page
58 and introducing tetras on page 60.
DAVID
WOLFENDEN
Is answering all your
marine fish questions,
and looks at how to introduce a bubbletip anenome to your tank on page 62.
Can I add a Koi to this pond?
Single colour Koi varieties are indeed bolder
than many ?sh, though my experiences with
Ogons suggest they can be quite shy still.
A Chagoi or a Soragoi would be a better option
if inspiring courage is your aim.
Note also that Koi are more ?mouth-on?
with their surroundings. Plants in pots
are prone to being uprooted, and
once settled the Koi could easily
become a ?shooter?, racing up
to get food before its
If goldfish are very weary,
gold?sh neighbours do,
NATHAN SAYS: The
check for signs of predators. Oil
and eventually (actually,
depth is certainly good
on the water can be a sign
quickly) outgrowing them.
for Koi, though I wonder
As a closing thought,
if the length and width will
of a heron visiting
remember that timid gold?sh
be suf?cient for long-term
your pond.
aren?t always a bad thing,
care. At their maximum, Koi do
depending on what they?re wary of.
grow large, to the tune of 90cm (3ft)
Having kept a few ponds myself, I note
or so, although such examples are rare.
it?s always the gung-ho ?sh that are the ?rst
On the size front, you?d want to play it by
to disappear into the paws of cats, or down a
eye and if some years down the line it looks as
heron?s beak.
if the Koi is outgrowing the pond, it probably is.
Can I keep a single Koi in my pond with my
gold?sh? The pond measures 9x7ft and is
4ft deep. I would like a Chagoi or an Ogon.
My gold?sh are quite timid, despite having
plenty of shade from the water lilies, and
I?ve been told that single-coloured Koi
can get very tame. I?m hoping this
might encourage the goldies out a
bit more.
TOBY WHITTAKER, EMAIL
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NEIL HEPWORTH
STEVE
BAKER
?
Every question we receive gets a reply from our
experts. Include as much information as you
can about your set-up. Photos are useful, too. 57
ADVICE
Answers
TROPICAL
How do I keep Sulawesi shrimp?
I?m a big fan of shrimp and have kept
different kinds of Cherry shrimp in dedicated
systems, plus Amano shrimp in the past. I
would like to keep Sulawesi shrimp such as
Caridina dennerli, but have been told they
can be quite tricky.
How do I best set up an aquarium for
success with them? What?s an easy species
to start with?
BEN C, EMAILHAPMAN, HERTFORDSHIRE
NEALE SAYS: There are quite a few Sulawesi
shrimp, including the popular Cardinal
shrimp, Caridina dennerli. They are indeed
considered to be quite dif?cult to keep. Part
of this is down to the fact they come from
one particular environment, Lake Matano,
where the water is comparatively warm
(around 28?C), very clear, not particularly
hard (around 5?H), but with a distinctly basic
pH (around 8.0 pH). Above all, the waters are
nutrient poor, meaning that nitrate levels are
much lower than in the average aquarium
(below 10mg/l nitrate). While some aquarists
may well have that sort of water out of the tap
(and can simply use regular water changes to
Question of
the Month
The size of the aquarium isn?t critical, but
keep nitrate levels low), for most aquarists,
something around 50 l/11 gal is probably
plain tap water won?t be an option.
about right for a large group if you want them
For long-term success, the best results
to breed freely. I?ve found shrimps ?jumpy? at
come from starting with demineralised water
times, and prefer to keep them in covered
(such as RO water) or rainwater. Commercial
tanks, but you might get away with an
?Sulawesi? salts are available and will
open-topped tank if there?s plenty of
turn demineralised water or rainwater
?oating vegetation.
into an excellent facsimile of
I?m not sure any of the
your Sulawesi shrimps?
Sulawesi shrimps really
natural habitat.
counts as a beginner?s
Beyond water chemistry
Collect rainwater in a
species, though the
and quality, these
Blue-leg Poso shrimp,
shrimps aren?t much
drinking water-safe water butt.
Caridina caerulea, is a
different from your
Filter it through activated
bit more accommodating
standard Cherry shrimps
carbon for a few
than the Cardinal, so is
in terms of care. A
probably the pick of the
single-species set-up is best if
hours before
bunch. If you?ve had success
you want to avoid hybridisation,
use.
with not just Cherry shrimps, but
as the Cardinal shrimp at least
also the more delicate East Asian
breeds quite readily when properly
species like bee shrimps, then you
maintained. Plenty of plants, a sandy
shouldn?t ?nd this Sulawesi shrimp especially
substrate, and a brisk but not turbulent water
dif?cult. Once you?ve got to grips with its
?ow will all be helpful, and when it comes to
needs, it might be combined with Cardinal
feeding, you could use algae wafers alongside
shrimps (though hybridisation is a risk) or any
commercial shrimp foods and expect good
other small, inoffensive shrimp or snail.
growth rates and colouration.
TETRA PRIZE
NEIL HEPWORTH
BEN wins a box of Tetra goodies:
100ml TetraMin and TetraPro Colour foods,
Holiday Food, Pleco Algae Wafers,
FunTips Tablets, 100ml SafeStart,
EasyBalance and AquaSafe water treatments
and Tetra Test 6 in 1.
58
EVERYTHING YOU NEED
FOR HEALTHY FISH
Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers,
Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough,
PE2 6EA. Email us at questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
Cardinal
shrimp
are highly
attractive
but tricky
to keep.
TROPICAL
Will the TV affect my tank?
The Blue-leg Poso
shrimp is the
hardiest of the
Sulawesi shrimp.
SHUTTERSTOCK
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
BOB SAYS: Correct siting of a
tank is always important and, as
you?ve found, there are plenty of
things to take into consideration
beyond aesthetics. Too much
light can cause algal issues, but
it seems unlikely that daylight
?ltering through blinds is a
major cause. You mention the
tank has been moved recently
and this might have disturbed
the biological balance and
allowed algae to bloom. This
may well settle over the next
few months.
You don?t mention how long
your tank lights are on for, but
as long as the room isn?t
completely blacked out and
you don?t have live plants, then
you could consider only having
the lights on for viewing and
feeding ? perhaps just for a
couple of hours in the evening.
This should prevent most
nuisance algae.
Siting your tank under a TV is
probably not the best idea.
While you?re correct that the
light generated isn?t likely to
adversely affect the ?sh, the
sound from the TV ? especially
deep bass notes ? may well do.
Fish are extremely sensitive to
loud noises, picking up the tiny
changes in water pressure they
cause through their lateral line.
This can send them into sudden
panic, crashing into the glass
and decor, or simply leave them
with elevated stress levels,
which in turn can make them
more prone to disease.
Avoid siting
your tank below
the TV set.
SHUTTERSTOCK
I have a Fluval Vicenza tank,
holding around 150 l/33 gal,
housing approximately 20
Malawi cichlids. We?ve moved
house and it?s now placed near
a window. It has blinds but they
still let light in and algae grows
a lot quicker than before.
We?re thinking of moving the
tank to the dining room, but it
will only be able to go
underneath a wall-mounted TV.
The tank has a black plastic
cover, so the light from the TV
shouldn?t affect the ?sh directly
but I?m worried about the
sound. What do you think?
NILESH, EMAIL
?
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59
Which tetras can I add to this set-up?
Cardinal tetra ?
colour without
nipping.
I?m setting up a new 120 l/26 gal Juwel
tank that?s well stocked with plants. So
far, I have ?ve male guppies, four Skunk
corys and three Blue dwarf gouramis.
I would like to introduce one or two
species of tetra and would be keen to
learn which, and how many, would be
most suitable for my community.
COLIN ADAM, EMAIL
NEALE SAYS: Since you?re keeping
guppies, which need at least moderately
hard water, I?m assumimg your water
chemistry is around 10-15?H, pH 7.5. If
it?s harder than that, relatively few tetras
will genuinely do well, but in moderately
hard water with only a basic pH there
are several species worth considering.
We also have to consider that some of
the most gentle ?sh will be attracted
to nipping the fancy, colouful tail?ns
of guppies.
Let?s kick off with probably the best
default tetra out there, the X-Ray tetra,
Pristella maxillaris. This species is very
pretty, completely peaceful and handles
a broad range of water chemistry values.
Maximum length is about 4cm, and
while both sexes look the same at ?rst
glance, the females tend to be a little
bigger and stockier than the males, as is
often the case with characins. Besides
the standard form, there?s an albino
variant available. As its common name
suggests, it?s basically transparent, but
60
with bright patches of white, black and
yellow on the dorsal and anal ?ns, and
a distinctly reddish tinge to the tail ?n.
Cardinal tetra, Paracheirodon axelrodi,
are very peaceful ?sh. Wild ?sh will not
fare well in harder conditions but
farmed ?sh are far more adaptable with
water chemistry. They are esspecially
bright and good at shoaling giving that
classic tetra character.
Also consider other shoaling ?sh.
Many Rasbora and Microrasbora are
better behaved than tetras tend to be,
so ?sh like the classic Harlequin
rasbora could be ideal tankmates for
your guppies. Their copper to orange
coloration is charming and the bold
black marking makes them stand out
and they are suited to a pH of just
above neutral.
The White Cloud Mountain Minnow
(WCMM), Tanichthys albonubes, are
also a tetra-like ?sh which are more
suitable for keeping alongside your
guppies. there is a ?gold? colour variant
commonly available too which might
stand out more and they are happy to
be mixed. A smaller cousin, the
Vietnamese White Cloud Mountain
Minnow, Tanichthys micagemmae.
Their markings may look subtle in the
shop but once they settle the red in
their ?ns brightens and when they
display to each other they put on a
lovely show.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED
FOR HEALTHY FISH
ALAMY
TROPICAL
Small groups of male guppies can
be aggressive to one another with
stronger fish asserting dominance
over weaker ones. Keeping
eight or more helps reduce
targeted attacks.
We recommend...
The Cherry barb, Puntius titteya would also be a
great addition to Colin?s tank, and is great fun to
keep. Sexual dimorphism is strong ? the males
being cherry red, the females more lemon yellow
? but within batches of ?sh you?ll often see a fair
degree of variation; some males being more
orangey than red, while some females might be
more metallic green than yellow.
In any event, this species is another that needs
to be kept in groups, but with males that interact
with each other in a more territorial way than we
might expect from schooling ?sh.
Although small and elegant in looks, it?s a
durable species that behaves well in community
tanks, and shouldn?t be tarred with the ??n
nipper? brush sometimes applied to other barbs.
Cherries don?t
deserve the
?Barb stigma?.
Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers,
Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough,
PE2 6EA. Email us at questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
ADVICE
Answers
PLANTS
TROPICAL
Why do my plants die?
Have the barbs eaten
their tankmates?
I have a 178 l/40 gal community
tank stocked with Harlequins,
Neon tetra, Zebra danios, Gold
barbs and guppies.
All has been well for some
time, but recently one of the
guppies and a Neon have
completely vanished. Do you
think the Gold barbs have eaten
them? They?re the biggest ?sh in
the tank. I?m really puzzled as
they?re given up to three small
meals a day.
BOB NASH, EMAIL
and even Upside-down cat?sh.
On the other hand, there?s
usually evidence that guppies are
being nipped ? in the form of
raggedy ?ns ? long before the
poor guppy actually succumbs
to its wounds. So if your Gold
barbs were chasing and nipping
the guppies, I expect you would
have seen the signs weeks before
the situation got completely out
of hand.
When ?sh suddenly vanish, it?s
more likely that they?ve either
jumped out of the tank or
become lodged somewhere in the
decor. Even small ?sh will take a
few days to decay, assuming
there are no ?sh in the tank big
enough to eat the corpse whole.
So de?nitely scour the tank,
taking special care to look among
the roots of plants and
underneath stones. For some
reason, dead ?sh always seem to
get stuck in the least convenient
part of the tank, and if you don?t
remove their bodies, water
quality could take a hit.
You are feeding your ?sh more
than enough to keep them
healthy, so if cannibalism was
the explanation here, it certainly
wasn?t motivated by hunger!
GEORGE SAYS: Without more information about your system,
it?s dif?cult to be very speci?c in my advice. However, if
you?re adding a good quality liquid fertiliser and CO2, I think
it?s possible that your lighting may not be up to the job of
growing your chosen plants. If this is the case, I would advise
you to either upgrade your lighting or stick to low light
tolerant plants such as Anubias, Bucephalandra,
Cryptocoryne and various mosses. Easy stem plants include
Hygrophila polysperma and Rotala sp. ?Green?. You might
also succeed with Ludwigia palustris, which is one of the few
red plants that can stay red in
low lighting.
Also, try dosing your fertiliser
every day, and if you?re heavily
planted, consider adding
Tropica Specialised fertiliser
instead of Tropica Premium.
GEORGE FARMER
Anubias
GEORGE FARMER
NEALE SAYS: The Gold barb,
Barbodes semifasciolatus, is
usually pretty good, though being
a subtropical species it isn?t the
best choice for standard
community tanks. It certainly
shouldn?t be kept above 25?C,
and conditions a couple of
degrees cooler, similar to those
enjoyed by Neons, Zebra danios
and most Corydoras cat?sh, will
actually suit it best.
While Gold barbs normally
ignore active tankmates, fancy
guppies might well be too much
of a temptation. Indeed, a wide
range of normally ?good? ?sh will
have a go at fancy guppies,
including angels, danios, Betta
I have a 64 l/14 gal tank and my plants survive only a few
months before dying. I have good water ?ow, and add liquid
fertiliser weekly and CO2 gas daily, using Tropica products.
Please could you advise me on plants I will be able to grow?
CHRIS KAYE, EMAIL
Bucephalandra
When ?sh suddenly vanish, it?s
more likely they?ve jumped out or
become lodged somewhere
Cryptocoryne Becketti
TROPICA
Hygrophila polysperma
ALAMY
Even wellmannered ?sh
can be tempted
to nip guppies.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Red Ludwigia
NEIL HEPWORTH
NEIL HEPWORTH
Java fern
Java moss
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WATER TEST APP, DOWNLOAD HERE:
61
MARINE
Can I add an anemone to my tank?
I have a 500 l/110 gal marine tank
containing mainly SPS corals, set up for
about a year. Fish in the tank are two
tank-bred clown?sh, a Pyjama wrasse,
two Fire?sh, a Flame angel, a Mandarin
and a Yellow tang. I also have a Blood
shrimp and the usual hermit crab/snail
clean-up crew.
I would like to add an anemone ?
probably a bubble-tip as I understand
they?re the hardiest for an aquarium. Is
there anything I need to consider when
acclimatising it to the tank? Will it pose
a risk to any of my livestock?
The tank has LED lighting and is live
rock ?ltered, but also has a nitrate
reactor, a carbon reactor and a protein
skimmer housed in a sump, which adds
an extra 150 l or so to the system.
PHIL WALSH, EMAIL
Clowns
appreciate
anemones.
DAVE SAYS: A lot of anemone species
do poorly in mixed reef aquariums as
they can be extremely demanding in
terms of water quality, ?ow and lighting
? plus some, such as carpet anemones,
can be extremely aggressive. The
Bubble-tip anemone, Entacmaea
quadricolor, however, is less
challenging, and is the go-to
Bubble-tip anemones occasionally species if you?re looking to keep
multiply by binary ?ssion, where an anemone in your aquarium.
All anemones require a mature
the animal splits down the
system
(yours is a year old, so
middle. This may be either
?ne in that regard) and Bubblebecause it?s well fed, or as
tips do require a fair bit of space
a response to stress.
? they can reach 30cm/12in across,
but your tank should have ample room.
ALAMY
ADVICE
Answers
Various colour morphs are available,
from relatively drab browns to stunning
reds (often known as rose anemones);
occasionally greens are available too.
Aquacultured specimens are the best
choice. Whichever colour you choose,
the same rules apply for acclimation,
placement and care. Choose a brightly
lit spot, but acclimate the anemone
carefully to the tank?s water parameters,
ramping down the lighting initially
before building it up over a few days so
the anemone becomes accustomed to
it. Just like corals, anemones can suffer
from ?light shock? if given too high an
intensity immediately after introduction.
The space provided for the anemone
should have a suitable amount of rocky
substrate with crevices on which the
animal can attach (reducing ?ow for a
couple of hours or so initially can help it
attach safely). Although bubble-tips are
not the most aggressive anemones, be
sure there are no corals in the vicinity
as they can sting. Once attached,
moderate to strong (preferably chaotic)
?ow will be required. With luck, the
anemone will stay put, but they can
wander. If it does take a walk, don?t try
to remove it from the substrate as it?s
easy to damage the animal, but watch
out for it stinging corals as it moves.
Bubble-tips have occasionally been
known to capture ?sh, but it?s not very
common, and if you?re lucky your
clowns will take up residence in the
anemone. Feed the anemone every few
days on meaty frozen foods or pellets.
EQUIPMENT
My filter flow has slowed ? what do I do?
2
1
Here we look at how to use Tetra?s Tetratec
internal filter. First, turn the filter off at the plug
or remove the plug from the socket and take it
out of the aquarium.
62
EVERYTHING YOU NEED
FOR HEALTHY FISH
3
This is an easy filter to use when you need to
get at the impeller. Simply remove the impeller
casing from the top of the filter to expose the
impeller blades.
The impeller is magnetic and the blades are
small, so grab a pair of tweezers or small
pliers to help. Clean the impeller and the
chamber, then rebuild and replace.
Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers,
Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough,
PE2 6EA. Email us at questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
PLANTS
MARINE
Why is this
plant attracting
algae?
What?s the lifespan of my angel?sh?
My Bicolor angel?sh is 15 years old. He has survived two house moves and three tank
moves, each tank getting larger. I?m wondering exactly what the lifespan of this ?sh is?
After all this time I?ll be somewhat upset when he does eventually go.
KEVIN JACQUES, EMAIL
I have a well-planted 200 l/44 gal
tropical tank, set up since last October.
I do a weekly 20% water change and
add 4ml of Easy Life liquid carbon
fertiliser per day. The lighting is on for
10 hours a day. Recently the Amazon
sword plant has developed black algae.
What do you suggest I do?
CHARLES WALKER, EMAIL
DAVE SAYS: There are wildly differing accounts in the available literature regarding the
lifespan of the Bicolor angel, Centropyge bicolor, and Centropyge dwarf angels in general.
To give an idea of the range we?re talking, lifespans of between ?ve and 15 years are
suggested. It?s dif?cult to suggest a de?nitive maximum lifespan here, because individual
animals are different (which is re?ected to an extent in the range of maximum ages given)
but this seems to be a reasonable range based on experience with the ?sh. A 1986 study of
Bicolor angel mortality on reefs in Queensland, Australia, calculated a possible maximum of
13 years, based on data from prior years.
Of course, the maximum lifespan between wild ?sh and captive individuals can vary ?
captive ?sh may live longer than their counterparts in the wild ? but it?s good going to have
one of these ?sh living for 15 years, so you?re obviously taking great care of this animal. All
I can say is keep looking after him as well as you already are, and keep enjoying him.
GEORGE SAYS: The fertiliser you are
adding is only a source of carbon and
contains none of the macro or
micronutrients your plants require. Try
adding a comprehensive liquid fertiliser
daily. Start off with 5ml per day and
gauge the results.
You don?t mention any other plants
you have. If you only have the Amazon
sword, then algae will be more likely, as
there may not be suf?cient plant
biomass to compete with it. Think of
nuisance algae and plants always in
battle with one another. The more plants
you have and the healthier they are, the
less algae has a chance to proliferate.
I would also consider changing a
little more water. This helps to dilute
organic wastes that can otherwise
trigger algae growth. This is particularly
important in aquariums with a relatively
high ?sh load.
ALAMY
Lifespans are dif?cult
to de?ne but 15 years
is very good going.
1
Here we look at how to use the Eheim pickup
internal filter. As before, first turn the filter off at
the plug or remove the plug from the socket and
take it out of the aquarium.
STEVE SAYS: This is quite common and
generally the issue is a lack of maintenance
around the impeller. Each ?lter is different,
but impellers should be cleaned every month or two.
2
As with many filters, the main media chamber
must be removed to expose the impeller. This
particular filter removes the impeller with the
main body for easy access.
3
Remove the impeller from the spindle, being
careful not to lose washers or bungs. Clean the
impeller and the chamber before replacing the
impeller and putting the filter back together.
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JACQUES PORTAL
My internal ?lter is only three months old. When I clean the sponge,
the ?ow speeds up a little but it?s far slower now than when I ?rst
bought it. Surely it shouldn?t do this after only a couple of months?
ALAN JOHN, ESSEX
63
ADVICE
Know-how
As well as a stand-alone
feature, a garden stream can be
combined with a pond, or
even link two ponds.
BUILD A
stream
dreams
OF
Odd-shaped outdoor space? Fancy something
between ponds? An enchanting silvery stream may
be just what your garden needs?
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
A
STREAM IS a very
?exible proposition
for the garden ? it
can twist and turn
around tree trunks,
run through planted
borders, or edge a
patio. It can be a
rocky, natural-looking, quick-?owing
brook, or a contemporary, squaredoff design with polished stones and
sharp edging. Stepping stones or
small bridges add interest and
improve access around the garden.
There are just three requirements
for a stream: ?rst, there must be a
drop in elevation from start to ?nish;
second, a sump of some sort at the
bottom to collect the water; and
third, a pump to push the water
back to the start. Of course, you?ll
also need a waterproof membrane
of some sort and the most
convenient material is pond liner (a
long thin offcut is ideal
stream), plus an under
garden has a natural slope, ?rst
grab some stakes or lengths of
garden cane, a ball of string, a spirit
level and a marker pen.
Dig for glory
1
Lie the string down to create a
path you?re happy with, then
push in the stakes at intervals.
2
Starting at the top of the stream,
mark a point near the base of
the stake. Place your spirit level
beside the mark and, with it level,
mark the next stake. Repeat this all
the way down the stream.
3
Next, wrap the string around
each stake, on the marks (use
sticky tape to keep it in place),
and you?ll have a level line to
compare with your garden?s
natural ground level.
4
You can now measure any point
BOB MEHEN
Stake it out
Before you even think
buying materials, you
need to plan. If you ca
easily see whether you
building up the ground at the top of
the stream, digging down towards
the bottom, or a bit of both.
s
Once you know how the ground
slopes, you can start digging. If
you?re after a contemporary looking
stream, then generally a level base
and straight sides are the order of
the day. If you want something
more naturalistic, you can dig a
narrow, deeper stretch in one place,
and a wider, shallower part in
another. Some sections can be
levelled so there?s a constant ?bowl?
of water; others could fall more
abruptly to create rippling water
or even a mid-stream waterfall.
When deciding on the depth,
you need to think about the ?nal
look. If you want water ?owing
through cobbles, keep it
shallow ? any more than
8-10cm of water and you?ll be
?lling it with umpteen bags of
expensive rocks from the
garden centre. On the other
hand, if you want a
ADVICE
Know-how
How can I hide the liner?
plant positioned here and there,
you need enough depth for the pot
to sit in, plus a few stones on top
? so 10-20cm; deeper still for a
pygmy water lily or similar (anything
up to 50cm).
If you?re going for the natural look,
the only way it can go wrong is if a
section slopes the wrong way ? the
more higgledy-piggledy you make
it, the more characterful it will be.
Exposed liner can look unsightly until planting matures (and during winter),
but there are ways to cover it. Try painting exposed areas with something like
terrarium sealing paint; use some brown pigment and add wood or coconut
?bres while the paint?s still wet. This looks very effective and can even
encourage creeping growth and moss to grip to the area.
Practical measures
Every stream needs a sump so that
when the pump is turned off and
the stream drains (some parts will,
some may not), it will be collected
in the sump. This doesn?t
necessarily mean a pond ? it can be
a pebble pool or an area with no
open water ? but you?ll need access
for pump cleaning.
Once you?ve dug your stream with
all the twists, turns and undulations
you want, it?s time to lay the
underlay, then the liner. Before you
secure the liner, run the hose for a
short while to check whether water
builds up too much in one area. If
you need to make any adjustments,
or fancy adding a lip or similar,
now?s the time.
Once you?re happy, secure the
edges of the liner, position the
pump and pipe, then ?ll the stream
and turn on the pump. Now you can
get creative with the landscaping,
placing rocks, pebbles and plants
where you?d like them (remember to
check the plant?s preference for
position, ?nal height and so on).
And there you have it ? an
attractive feature that will
encourage wildlife to your garden
and encourage you to spend more
time sitting, watching and dreaming.
If you?re going
for the natural
look, the only way
it can go wrong is
if a section slopes
the wrong way
66
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALL IMAGES: STEVE BAKER
PAINT
When the liner is in position,
you?ll see which bits are
likely to be exposed, so this
is the time to get the paint
brush into action.
LINER
When laying the liner you
don?t need to panic about
neat creases as they will be
covered by rocks and stone.
FEATURES
Streams can be incorporated
with other features ? here
the water ?ows from a wall
feature to stream to pond.
Inspiration
Landscaper?s foam can
be used to influence the flow,
encouraging water to go
around a rock rather
than under it.
THE NEAT STREAM
For a modern look, build
a contained stream,
perfect for small spaces.
WATERFALL
Layers can be dug or rocks
positioned to give small falls
along the stream.
ALL: SHUTTERSTOCK
PLANTING
Marsh plants love shallow
streams and merge well with
waterside planting.
For tidiness ? and for
protection ? the pipe from
the pump can be laid
underneath the liner,
from end to
end.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 67
ADVICE
Know-how
Coping with
in the head
Your ?sh need this like a, well, hole in the head? Here?s the lowdown
on what it is, who?s affected and what you can do about it.
WORDS: DR GERALD BASSLEER
SHUTTERSTOCK
What does it look like?
It causes erosion of the lateral line
network over the head of the ?sh,
resulting in ?cratering? of the skin,
with open, white holes.
A similar condition, known as
head and lateral line erosion
(HLLE), affects a wider area of the
?sh, running down each ?ank and
following the lateral line. This
second condition seems to be more
a
environmental
an a pathogen.
g has been proven
our, become dark,
ecome listless
les appear.
s it come
out. A ?sh
been
cted for
and kept
e may
enly
elop it.
marine
set-ups, carbon- and phosphateremoving media have been
implicated, as has stray voltage in
water, but none of these have
been con?rmed.
How is it spread?
If Spironucleus is the culprit, then the
suggestion is it can transfer from
parent to offspring, or from infected
?sh to uninfected ?sh, perhaps
through eating infected faeces.
There are a few predisposing
factors noted with the disease,
including poorly functioning
intestine action, with an associated
poor uptake of vitamin B12;
overexposure to antibiotics such as
metronidazole; feeding with
contaminated live food; poor water
quality, stress and overcrowding;
small or poorly managed ?ltration;
permanent use of carbon ?ltering
(which eliminates some trace
elements and minerals) or
permanent ozone use; an absence
of a healthy diet (especially poorly
sourced live foods); and primary
bacterial infections like
Mycobacterium, or secondary
infections following an immune
system disorder.
dose, and note that you can?t use
this with cartilaginous ?sh. Raising
the temperature 3癈 (to a maximum
of 30癈) may help in some cases.
Probiotic foods will help recovery
especially garlic (fresh) coa
pellets before feeding. Lapa
herbal tea) in food may als
control intestinal parasites,
foods heavy in Chlorella al
vitamin B12 help to repair
lateral line. Lapacho is curr
available in Bio?sh Food L
by Aquarium M黱ster.
Treatment without addre
underlying cause seems to
useless, and even after
infections have been cured
?sh may remain scarred fo
the remainder of its life.
Will it kill?
Deaths through HITH
seem to be indirect rather
than direct, and ?sh with
the condition tend to
deteriorate over weeks or
months until secondary inf
and exhaustion overcome
victim. A heavy and untrea
infection will eventually kil
directly, however.
How do I treat it?
How can I reduce the risk?
Treatment requires a 48-hour
course of metronidazole, dosed
between 500-750mg per 100 litres
of water ? but this drug is
prescription only, so you?d need to
see a vet. Medications you can get
hold of to try mainly involve
2-Amino-5-nitrothiazole, which is
found in the products Hexamor
from Aquarium M黱ster, and JBL?s
Spirohexol. Follow the prescribed
Feed a vitamin-rich diet, avoid
unnecessary medications, ensure
optimal water chemistry and
quality, carefully source live foods,
ensure high-quality ?ltration, and
forego carbon ?ltering if possible.
Avoid purchasing any ?sh
showing even suspected signs of
early infection, and avoid buying
?sh from tanks where the infection
is known to have been present.
RIGHT: Typical
HITH on a Ram
cichlid.
LEFT: HLLE on
a marine tang.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
H
OLE IN the head,
or HITH, is an
infection that seems
associated with the
parasitic ?agellate
Spironucleus.
In freshwater,
cichlids are the
worst affected, and it?s almost
always adult ?sh that succumb.
Oscars, Uaru, Discus, angel?sh and
Geophagus are often hit hardest. In
saltwater, tangs seem to be the
most susceptible, through angel?sh
may also show signs.
HOLE IN THE HEAD
Starting as just a couple of
small pits or craters in the
head, the condition will start
to erupt at multiple points
and may even begin to
travel down the lateral line.
Treating at this early stage is
vital for success.
Making your own nutrientdense frozen foods is a great
way of ensuring that cichlids
get the vitamins they
need to avoid
HLLE.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 69
ADVICE
Know-how
DEALING WITH
DERMOCYSTIDIUM
This mysterious ?white blob? disease affects a number of
species and can be fatal. Here?s what you need to know?
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
NEIL HEPWORTH
HAT IS it?
It?s a disease
that affects ?sh
which has long
been hard to
identify ? it has
previously been
classed as a
fungus, but is now considered an
opisthokont, which is somewhere
between a fungus and an animal.
One source suggests that the culprit
in home aquaria is the species
Dermocystidium salmonis.
The disease is sometimes given
the incorrect name ?Dermosporidia?.
Which fish are affected?
There are currently 18 different
known species of Dermo, most of
which seem to affect eels, carp,
70
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
perch, salmon, sticklebacks and
pike, as well as certain marine
species. In the home aquarium, the
most commonly infected ?sh seems
to be Cardinal tetra, but Emperor
tetra, Neon tetra and Rummey nose
tetra have all been reported carrying
the disease. There is a report of
wild-caught Trichomycterus cat?sh
with an outbreak, too.
this and think it?s a nematode worm.
The ?sh?s condition may seriously
deteriorate, with tattered ?ns and
secondary infections. Infected ?sh
tend to isolate themselves away as
the disease manifests; they become
lethargic and may stop feeding.
Some ?sh may have no symptoms
beyond the pronounced blob.
Outbreaks can occur anywhere on
the ?sh?s body.
What does it look like?
In the early stages, there may be few
symptoms beyond a slight bump in
the ?sh?s skin. As it develops, these
bumps become larger and look like
clear blobs on the body. As the
infection takes hold, the blob may
reach 6mm or so, and develop a
long, white ?snake-like? coil inside ?
a common misdiagnosis is to see
Where does it come from?
The vectors aren?t fully understood,
but it?s likeliest to come in with an
already infected ?sh ? although
we?re not sure about that.
How is it spread?
The white coil that develops inside
the Dermo ?blob? is a string of
SHUTTERSTOCK
tetra are targets.
OBVIOUS LUMPS
Blobs like jelly can appear clear initially,
fast developing a white ?string? inside them.
At this stage, the pathogen may drop off and
release millions of spores.
How do I treat it?
You don?t. Currently there?s no
known treatment for
Dermocystidium, and so to manage
it, you?ll need a quarantine tank in
which to place the affected ?sh
while you wait for the cyst to
rupture. You will want to follow up
an infection with a combination of
salt (as long as the ?sh is tolerant)
and antibacterial medications such
as Myxazin or JBL Ekto bac.
Ensure that you don?t spread the
disease by using different nets and
equipment on each tank you own.
Will it kill?
Sometimes it does kill ?sh, although
the mechanism isn?t entirely
understood, and it may be that the
slightly weakened ?sh is actually
succumbing to other environmental
factors in the tank ? these may have
been what compromised the ?sh in
the ?rst place, allowing the infection
to take hold.
Usually, the ?sh will carry the
blob until it ruptures, and in the
absence of any secondary infection
make a good recovery.
How can I reduce the risk of
getting it?
The obvious solution is to avoid the
target species ? the overwhelming
majority of cases in UK aquaria
involve Cardinal tetra. But, as with
any ?sh you buy, check them
thoroughly beforehand and avoid
ABOVE: A
Cardinal tetra
with an early
stage infection.
BELOW:
Emperor tetra
are susceptible.
SHUTTERSTOCK
millions of spores. When the blob
ruptures, it releases these spores
into the water. It is not known if the
spores can infect a healthy ?sh, and
it?s suspected that cuts are the entry
point for infection ? Dermo grows
initially between the inner and outer
layer of skin on a ?sh.
The disease can spread from tank
to tank through contaminated
water, nets and other equipment.
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SPECIES SHOWCASE
Clown loach
CLOWNING
AROUND
T
RIGHT:
Definitive
markings, bold
colours and a
peaceful, playful
demeanour.
INGRID
ALLAN
A freelance writer
with a day job in
aquatic retail, Ingrid
is a huge fan of
anabantoids and
biotopes.
74
HERE REMAINS, even
in this golden age of
conservation and
animal welfare laws, a
dozen or so species
omnipresent in pet
shops up and down the
country, despite their
large adult size and advanced care
requirements. I doubt I even need to
name them ? you?re probably
picturing the likes of Silver sharks,
Kissing gourami, Common plecos
and Feather?n cat?sh.
The Clown loach, Chromobotia
macracanthus, is arguably a
standout among this motley crew.
No retailer, from specialised to
mainstream, is complete without
them. And yet its lifestyle, character
and basic needs can remain virtually
unknown, even to those who have
ve kept them for years.
Unlike other tankbusters, the
Clown loach is no menace to a
community. It rarely uproots plants,
it will not eat smaller ?sh and it?s
relatively simple to care for if its
size and sensitivity to treatments
are taken into account. All you
need to know is how to see them
at their best.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The lives of Clown loaches beyond
our home aquariums have remained
a mystery for a long time. We know
they inhabit the inland rivers of
Sumatra and Borneo and that, due
to their tolerance of a wide range of
water parameters, these habitats
vary throughout the year. Aside
from a few scattered accounts,
which have never been veri?ed,
their enigmatic breeding patterns
have never been fully explained.
Wild populations are also split into
two genetically distinct groups that
we know shared a common
ancestor some 9 million years ago
? a population split that led to
different patterns and adult sizes.
Wild collections ? especially larger
?sh ? are now very restricted, but
the popularity of the Clown loach
shows no sign of waning.
Commercial breeders use hormone
treatments to produce enough
young Clown loaches to meet an
ever-increasing demand.
Every so often, a ?sh without the
classic three-bar pattern turns up; its
wonky spot or saddle leading Clown
loach enthusiasts to affectionately
refer to it as an ?oddball?. It isn?t
always clear though whether these
are wild-caught ?sh from different
river systems where patterns vary,
or genetic anomalies which crop up
from the sheer volume of loaches
being produced.
several habitats. Wild clowns are
found in anything from fast-?owing
6.5 to 7.0 pH rivers, to calm
blackwater streams where pH dips
as low as 5.0. Throughout the
year they endure temperatures
from 23 to 30癈, but in the home
aquarium they?re happy at anything
in between.
Clown loach are a biotope
enthusiast?s dream. Importantly,
you need a suitably large footprint
? at least 180x60cm, though
120x60cm would be suf?cient for
growing on young ?sh. Then you
have options?
If you fancy a torrid, whitewater
species-only set-up, and you?re not
scared of wave-makers, you?re in
luck. Just ?ll your tank with large
rounded stones, mix some ?ne
gravel in with silver sand, then sit
back and watch your clowns
somersaulting in the current.
If you prefer blackwater basins the
colour of strong tea, and a canopy
of submerged roots, you?re still in
luck. Clown loaches are naturally
inquisitive and love nothing more
than snuf?ing about in piles of
leaf litter. Though clowns may
nibble the leaves of delicate plants
? these omnivores need their
?ve-a-day ? thick sprigs of
Cryptocoryne and Java fern will
go largely untouched. Floating
or emergent plants provide
additional cover.
Habitat
One mystery that?s easily solved is
their relatively wide-ranging pH and
temperature tolerances. These are
seasonal ?sh with a migratory
pattern that takes them through
Compatibility
Clown loaches adopt a live-andlet-swim approach to most ?sh.
However, kept singly they may
pester or attempt to shoal with other
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
These gentle giant loaches
are long-standing favourites,
and if your tank is big
enough you?d be silly
not to keep some
Sumatran Clown loach have
red or orange pelvic ?ns, while
Kalimantan loaches have
black on their pelvic
?ns too.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 75
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Clown loach
species ? most often those that look
co-habiting with Pearl, Snakeskin,
like them. If they?re desperate
Three-spot and Moonlight gourami,
enough for company though,
but I?ve also seen adults sharing
anything with ?ns will do.
8-9ft tanks with large predators.
The only exception to their
If biotopes aren?t your thing
agreeable disposition seems to be
though, it doesn?t matter. While
cat?sh ? be cautious when housing
I don?t recommend buying
them together. Squabbles are rare
clowns for snail control (as some
but things can, and do,
?shkeepers have done), there is a
occasionally turn ugly.
place for them in any large
Botiid loaches are highly
community. Large cichlids
intelligent with a
usually ignore them
carefully honed
(unless spawning),
?language? and
cryptic predators
Keep your numbers up.
dominance
won?t intimidate
A lonely clown will waste away
hierarchy
them and they?ll
without company. Start with
? you?ll likely
happily share a
at least five fish,
hear your loaches
slice of courgette
clicking to each other
with your plec
preferably
from outside the tank.
collection.
more.
Alas, cat?sh do not speak
Clown loach will
this language and a frustrated
frequently ?shadow? each other
clown may resort to nipping if this
? smaller clowns will cosy up and
seemingly dim, armoured roadmirror the movements of a larger
block won?t move out of his way.
one. A shoal of clowns will usually
In a ?owing set-up, clowns house
be led by a dominant female, and
well alongside a range of
she will ensure everyone knows
Melanotaenia rainbow?sh species.
their place. However, unlike many
In slower-moving tanks, large shoals other species, you can add more
of glass cat?sh, Kryptopterus bicirrhis, individuals to the group as you go
look fantastic ? they?re another shy
along. Small clowns are quite happy
oddball native to Sumatra and, like
to follow larger ones and are rarely
clowns, will appreciate low light
bullied by them.
levels and frequent frozen foods.
Slow growth means we rarely see
Large ?communitope? aquariums
an adult Clown loach in captivity;
are great fun, and the incredible
a ?ve-year-old may only be 15-18cm
biodiversity of south-east Asia
long and they have the potential to
means there?s much to choose
reach over twice that. Yet nothing
from. I?ve seen clowns peacefully
beats the sight of the enormous
Clown loach are unfussy
feeders but require a
good mixture of meaty
and vegetable foods.
lumbering matriarch going about her
business followed by half a dozen
smaller members of her retinue.
Disease woes
FACTFILE
Mature fish have
a far broader
body shape.
CLOWN LOACH
6Scientific name: Chromobotia macracanthus
6Pronunciation: Crow-mow-bow-tee-ah mack-rah-can-thuss
6Size: Wild fish reported to 40cm
6Origin: Sumatra, Kalimantan
6Habitat: Rivers and streams that change seasonally. May be slow,
warm and highly acidic, or cooler and closer to neutral
6Tank size: 180x60x60cm
6Water requirements: Soft and acidic to neutral; 5.0-7.0 pH,
Hardness 2-12癏
6Temperature: 23-30癈
6Temperament: Peaceful, gregarious
6Feeding: Omnivores that need vegetable
matter in the diet. Flakes, pellets, wafers
and tablets, plus frozen bloodworm,
Daphnia, mussel, cockle, prawn. Also fresh
green foods, such as courgette
6Availability and cost: Widespread; starting
around �for tiny juveniles. Cost often
reflects size and quality
ALAMY
650 l+
76
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Beyond their large size, Clown loach
have another potential Achilles? heel.
Alhough not completely scaleless, as
was once believed, they have only a
very ?ne coating of tiny scales on
their ?anks and none on their heads.
This leaves them susceptible to
diseases, most notably white spot,
the scourge of new and
inexperienced aquarists.
Clown loach spend the majority of
their time rooting around on the
base of the tank, making them a
prime target for white spot parasites.
After dropping from the host ?sh,
Ichyophthirius multifilis spores land in
the substrate before multiplying and
launching themselves in every
direction, with bottom dwellers like
loaches tending to be the nearest
targets. Most off-the-shelf white
spot treatments work well, but given
Are they snail
controllers?
SHUTTERSTOCK
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
Clown loach are often
marketed as ?snail
control? for aquaria. This
outdated notion ignores
the underlying causes
of snails ? overfeeding
and poor aquarium
hygiene. Before you buy
clowns as a lazy option,
remember that a snailinfested tank is likely
to be exactly the kind
of polluted, poor water
quality environment
that could kill these
delicate ?sh shortly after
introduction.
the Clown loach?s sensitive skin,
should always be used at halfstrength. Vacuum the substrate
during and after treatment,
removing any remaining ich directly.
When buying Clown loach, avoid
any appearing thin or malnourished.
New imports sometimes carry
internal infections that can cause
them to look thin to skeletal, no
matter how much they eat.
In terms of feeding, Clown loach are
unfussy omnivores who will happily
consume anything offered. If you
see delicate stem plants looking
slightly chewed, then satiate
appetites with fresh veg ? courgette,
spinach, carrot, red pepper and tiny
portions of potato will all be readily
accepted. However, a growing loach
needs meaty foods and protein-rich
sinking pellets.
You can simulate natural feeding
behaviours by burying live
bloodworm, tubifex or glassworm in
HRISTO HRISTOV
Food for thought
Differences in markings may
be due to intensive breeding
or regional variants.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 77
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Clown loach
the sand ? if you have spiny eels or
long-snouted corys, they?ll soon join
in the feeding frenzy. Larger Clown
loach take mussel, river shrimp,
lance?sh and smelt, though there
are plenty of complete pellet foods
that will do the same job if frozen
isn?t your thing.
Sleeping beauties
One odd phenomenon is the ?lying
down? behaviour of clowns. You
begin to panic, you reach for the
water-test kit, you shed many tears
Clown loach are
always more
active and playful
as a group.
78
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
for your prized ?sh, then you go to
However familiar you think we
net them out and they scuttle off
are with the species, they can really
immediately, none the worse for
surprise you. My own clowns
the ordeal except that they?re
still fool me every time they
probably wondering why
decide to take a ?nap?
Intestinal parasites can be
you woke them up. They
(you never completely
resolved by using a combination of
all seem to do it and we?re
get used to it), and many
Fenbendazole (dog wormer)
all fooled. The behaviour
?shkeepers old and new
adhered to granular
makes little sense ? do they
are rediscovering their funny
food with cod
sleep while playing dead so a
little quirks.
liver oil.
passing predator will leave them
With a 20-year or more lifespan
alone in favour of fresher prey?
(the oldest individuals I?ve come
It seems unlikely as they?d still be an
across were nearly 40!) and a size to
easy meal to anyone hungry enough.
match their enormous personalities,
Retractable spikes
make netting and
handling an issue.
HRISTO HRISTOV
these ?sh are quite a commitment.
However, their easy-going
temperament and ability to co-exist
with almost anything makes them an
easy enough proposition.
If you?ve got the space, don?t
bypass that poor, confused Clown
loach shoaling among the Tiger
barbs in a sale tank. If your aquarium
is big enough, take him home, get
him plenty of pals and I guarantee
he?ll reward you, even if it?s just by
looping the loop whenever frozen
bloodworm is offered.
Keeping Clown loach in too
small a tank will result in
deformed, excessively
fat fish.
What?s with the startling spikes?
Formidable defences can make handling clowns dif?cult.
If you try to net one, you?ll soon see it expose a set of sharp
spikes that are usually concealed beneath its eyes. A young
clown may be caught with a net, taking care that it doesn?t
entangle itself, but transporting a 30cm-long clown with
spikes like rose thorns creates a much bigger challenge.
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
Sensitive barbels
can detect food
buried under the
substrate.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 79
INSPIRATION
Floating aquarium
For those who like a fish tank that blends with and complements their
modern interior design style, here?s a bit of inspirational eye candy.
ALAMY
WORDS: STEVE BAKER; PHOTOS: NEIL HEPWORTH
80
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The design
from Aquarium
Architecture
really suits the
living space.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 81
INSPIRATION
Floating aquarium
T
HIS FABULOUS
??oating? ?sh tank was
designed and installed
by Aquarium
Architecture, a
London-based
multinational business
specialising in luxury
custom tank design, installation
and maintenance.
The set-up is the ?rst of its kind,
being supported entirely by glass.
That may sound simple to the
layman but considering the
properties and practicalities of glass
for this use tells a different story.
The design came about when a
client asked for a tank that, in the
evenings, would look as if it was
?oating. He?d been inspired by diving
FACTFILE
FRONTOSA CICHLID
6Scientific name: Cyphotilapia frontosa
6
Pronunciation: Sigh-foe-til-ah-pee-ah
fron-toe-sah
6Size: 22-25cm
6Origin: Northern Lake Tanganyika
6
Habitat: Mostly among boulders with
open substrate, 15-70m depth
6Tank size: 150x60x60cm or similar
6
Water requirements: 8.0-9.0 pH,
20-45癏
6Temperature: 23-27癈
6
Temperament: Relatively peaceful with
larger fish
6
Feeding: Pellets, sticks, large frozen
foods and live river shrimp
6
Availability and cost: Quite common;
� upwards
540 l+
Adult male
Frontosa develop
pronounced
head humps.
82
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
with ?sh during his travels to South
Africa and wanted to keep large,
marine-looking ?sh without the high
maintenance or running costs.
Aquarium Architecture?s designer
and structural engineer collaborated
to come up with a way of making
this unique design a practical
possibility. Using CAD (computeraided design) software to give the
customer a visual idea of the plan,
and give the installation crew full
information on the layout (including
power supply, drain sites and so on)
the ?oating tank began to take shape.
The inherent issue to overcome
was the rigidity and brittleness of
glass. No matter how chunky a
wooden stand or cabinet, there?s
plenty of forgiving softness in wood.
Even with metal-framed stands
there?s some degree of ?ex; but not
in glass. If glass is forced to ?ex, it
breaks, like an aquarium on an
uneven surface. Not only does this
mean the precision of the build is
vital, but it also means any sag in
the ?ooring would be unacceptable.
The tank is situated on a ?rst ?oor,
above business prem
the weight alone (1 ton of water plus
the weight of the glass) the ?oor
needed reinforcing, but it was also
hugely important for this support to
be ?at and super-stable for the
integrity of the glass stand.
Fortunately, at the same time as the
tank build there was renovation
work taking place on the ground
?oor so access wasn?t an issue.
With the glass stand in place it?s
not a good idea to put glass on glass.
A mid-layer was needed but a
traditional foam pad would look
unsightly. With reassurance from the
ABOVE: The
cube shape
allows viewing
from three sides.
RIGHT: By day
the tank is
an attractive
centrepiece, by
night an aquatic
illusion.
AQUARIUM ARCHITECTURE
The design came about when a client asked for a tank
that, in the evenings, would look as if it was floating
FACTFILE
MALAWI DOLPHIN
6Scientific name: Cyrtocara moorii
6Pronunciation: Cert-oh-car-ah
more-ee-eye
6Size: 25cm
6Origin: Lake Malawi
6Habitat: Sandy, shallow areas
6Tank size: 150x45x45cm
6
Water requirements: 7.5-8.8 pH,
10-25癏
6Temperature: 25-28癈
6Temperament: Mostly peaceful
6
Feeding: Sinking pellets, frozen Mysis,
krill and other meaty foods
6
Availability and cost: Quite common;
from �
The Dolphin looks
like a bruiser but
these looks are
deceptive.
300 l+
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 83
INSPIRATION
Floating aquarium
2mm sheet of acrylic was used,
offering little in the way of
cushioning but breaking the tension
between the two glass surfaces and
staying reasonably well hidden.
The illusion of a stand-alone tank
with no equipment is down to the
efforts to hide the pipework. The
tank is drilled at the top of the rear
glass to avoid up-and-over pipes; the
pipes then hug the back of the stairs
and lead to a kitchen unit where it
links to a large Eheim thermo ?lter,
taking away the need for a separate
heater. Due to the many ridged 90�
elbows needed to follow the stairs, a
fair amount of ?ow is understandably
lost from the external ?lter. To
compensate for this, the ?ow in the
tank is boosted by a serious
powerhead capable of up to 17,000
litres per hour and with a magnetic
quiet drive (which keeps the power
cable out of the tank and tidy).
Water changes and maintenance is
carried out by Aquarium Architecture
monthly, as stipulated by the client.
Part of the design brief for many of
the company?s creations is that
maintenance should be quick,
simple and non-invasive.
For this incredible ?oating tank
just tap water is used, with the
addition of both Seachem Prime
and Seachem Stability.
The decor is a mixture of Red
Jasper rock by Unipac, Sumatran
wood and coral gravel for substrate.
84
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
OSCAR
6Scientific name: Astronotus ocellatus
6
Pronunciation: Astro-note-us os-e-late-us
6Size: 25-35cm
6
Origin: Widely distributed throughout
the Amazon region
6
Habitat: Shallow areas of slow-moving
waters to still-forested areas
6Tank size: 150x60x60cm for one adult
6
Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH,
4-15癏
6Temperature: 20-28癈
6
Temperament: Boisterous and
territorial
6
Feeding: Pellets, sticks, large frozen
foods and river shrimps
6
Availability and cost: Common; from
�
500 l+
MORE INFO
To find out more about
custom-built tanks from
ABOVE: Keeping
Aquarium Architecture visit
it hidden, the
filter heats too.
aquariumarchitecture.com or
tel. 020 777 12345.
LEFT: The Radion ?
a serious light unit.
Tank Spec
Tidy pipework is
of the upmost
importance.
Tank manufacturer: Seashell Aquariums
Tank glass: 12mm optiwhite with mitred corners
Tank base: Double thickness (under and in)
Background: Black PVB mid-layer, 2x 8mm glass
Cushioning: 2mm acrylic sheet
Stand manufacturer: Independent glazier
Stand glass: Double thickness of 12mm low iron
Volume: 1000 l
Filtration: Eheim Professional 3 thermo 12000XLT
Lighting: Ecotech Marine Radion XR30
Powerhead: EcoTech Marine Vortech MP40
FACTFILE
An eclectic mix,
but it works.
Pearscale
cichlids have
stunning
markings.
PEARLSCALE CICHLID
6Scientific name: Herichthys carpintis
6Pronunciation: Her-ik-thiss carp-in-tis
6Size: 30cms
6Origin: North Mexico
6Habitat: Lagoons of Panuco drainage
6Tank size: 120x45x45
6Water requirements: Neutral pH 7.0,
8-12癏
6Temperature: 24-26癈
6Temperament: Territorial, mix with similar
size and larger fish.
6Feeding: Cichlid pellets, large frozen
foods and live river shrimp
6Availability and cost: not common, �-25
240 l+
MARINE
Angelfish
ANGELS
DELIGHT
There aren?t many marine tanks around without an angel?sh
of some kind, but which one is right for your set-up?
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
M
ALAMY
ARINE ANGELFISH are popular the
world over. The same bright colours
and intricate markings that catch
the eye of holidaymakers equally
attract us aquarists. Some angelfish
are well suited to a reef tank, while
others can cause havoc, pulling
apart corals and having unrefined
social skills. Some require corals and sponges in their
diet, making captive care ill-advised.
Many non-reef suitable angels can be kept in fishonly tanks (with or without live rock) but some need
vast tanks. Research into each species is essential
before a rash purchase causes an ongoing headache.
When mixing angelfish with other fish, the general
rule is to avoid similar colours, patterns and feeding
habits. Dwarf angels often mix well with firefish, small
blennies and gobies, clowns and damsels. Larger
angels in fish-only tanks usually get on well with
hawkfish, larger blennies and gobies, wrasses and
Anthias. Mixing angels and surgeonfish often results in
early scuffles that generally peter out within a few
days. However, if the angel and surgeonfish are both
bright yellow, the fighting may well continue.
A Koran or
Semicircle
angelfish ?
Pomacanthus
semicirculatus.
86
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Dwarf angels are protogynous
hermaphrodites, meaning that
they all start life as females
and can then change to
male if the opportunity
arises.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 87
MARINE
Angelfish
POMACANTHUS
The largest angel?sh, Pomacanthus sp. have a juvenile
colour phase, with many looking quite similar to each
other, but wildly different to the adults of their species.
They?re unsuitable for reef systems as they eat many
invertebrates and sponges. Some SPS and noxious soft
corals can be tried, but each ?sh has its own tastes.
They demand high ?ow and top water quality, and with
the members growing from 28 to 60cm, you?ll need a giant
tank. Diet should include frozen foods such as brine
shrimp and Mysis, Krill, mussels, prawns, spirulina and
Majestic angelfish
Pomacanthus navarchus
BOTH: ALAMY
The smallest of the genus, it begins the colour transition to adu
markings at around 7cms and grows to 28cm. It?s a shy ?sh tha
needs shelter, and may suffer feeding issues if introduced t
tank with bold, established ?sh. Found throughout th
Australian Archipelago and the western edge of M
A tank of 500 l should be considered the minimum
Juv.
face angelfish
Pomacanthus xanthometopon
At 38cm you?ll need a tank of at least 600 l to keep an adult.
P. xanthometopon originate from the Indo-Paci?c and inhabit
areas of rich coral growth around channels, lagoons and outer
reef slopes. They?re less aggressive than most large angels, but
they?re also less hardy. Individuals under 20cm are said to
settle to captive life better than larger specimens.
Juv.
Emperor angelfish
BOTH: SHUTTERSTOCK
Pomacanthus imperator
Found in the Indian and Paci?c Oceans, from the Red
Sea to Hawaii and the Austral Islands, it reaches an adult
size of 40cm. Known to become semi-aggressive in
aquaria ? small peaceful ?sh will often be harassed.
Smaller 10-12cm specimens adapt to tank life best and
juvenile colours will change at a similar size. Emperors
require a tank over 650 l in adulthood.
Juv.
French angelfish
Juv.
ALAMY / SHUTTERSTOCK
Pomacanthus paru
88
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The French Angel?sh likes being clean ? it spends more time at cleaning
stations than other ?sh in the wild and tank keepers have veri?ed this when
introducing a cleaner wrasse. Found in the western and eastern Atlantic
Ocean, they inhabit shallow reefs, often in pairs. Full size is 40cm; a single
adult ?sh should be given a 650 l tank ? bigger still for a pair.
HOLACANTHUS
Holacanthus species reach adult sizes from 20 to 45cm.
With only seven family members in the genus, you don?t
see many Holacanthus in the shops.
Keeping requirements are near identical to Pomacanthus
angels, but these species require three to four feeds daily,
and demand strong ?ltration and regular water changes.
They display different colouration and patterning as
juveniles compared to adults like other large angel?sh.
Qu頽 angelfish
HUTTERSTOCK
Holacanthus ciliaris
The Queen angel grows to 45cm and
demands very high water quality and a tank
of around 1,000 l. It?s highly susceptible to
incorrect water parameters and will suffer if
the diet is incomplete. It has a wide
distribution, and is found in the Caribbean
Sea and Western Atlantic ranging from
Juv.
ng angelfish
acanthus passe
rdy ?sh but also
r substantial, s
males having
hes 35cm an
s are found
ulf of Californ
PYGOPLITES
The Regal angel is the only spe
colours are lost earlier than th
6-7cm. It inhabits lagoons and
coral growth and doesn?t stray
Regal angelfish
ALAMY / SHUTTERSTOCK
Pygoplites diacanthus
Juveniles display an eye-spot to th
of the dorsal ?n that fades into littl
as the ?sh matures. It grows to 25c
requires a tank of 500 l, preferably
This is a dif?cult large angel to ke
Individuals from the Red Sea, Cora
Maldives, Tahiti and Fiji ship bette
those from the Indo-Paci?c.
ore aggressive, so it?s best kept alongside
s King angels are easy to sex,
le displays yellow. It
ng ?ltration.
d lower
MARINE
Angelfish
CHAETODONTOPLUS
A varied family with 15 currently valid members ranging
in size from 8.6cm to 35cm. They?re generally found away
from reefs at depths of 20m plus, in silty habitats.
Chaetodontoplus species are not easily collected for the
trade so we don?t see them available regularly.
Family distribution is restricted to the western Paci?c
where they eat small molluscs and crustaceans, and graze
on microalgae, ?lamentous algae, and diatoms.
They?re also prone to nipping at stony and soft corals
Vermiculated angelfish
SHUTTERSTOCK
Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus
The most commonly seen of the family but still quite rare. Reaches 18
and requires a tank of at least 450 l to supply it with grazing surfaces
hiding places. Some adapt quickly to captivity, yet others are extreme
shy, refuse to eat and slowly starve. Semi-aggressive but mostly gets
along with other ?sh ? even th
0 l.
Bluespoed angelfish
SHUTTERSTOCK
haetodontoplus caeruleopunctatus
ndemic to the Philippine Archipelago, the Bluespotted angel is an excellent
owser of ?lamentous algae ? offer spirulina ?akes or nori regularly. During
climation, offer multiple daily feeds, then once or twice per day
erwards. It?s said to be the most peaceful of an already peaceful family, so
houldn?t be mixed with boisterous or imposing tankmates.
APOLEMICHTHYS
A family of some of the hardiest mid-sized angel?sh,
varying from 15 to 30cm. All require large tanks to supply
enough live rock surfaces for grazing and hiding, while
offering ample open swimming space. Aquaria should be
well matured, so natural foods can be scavenged while
they acclimatise. The visual differences between juveniles
and adults are subtler than in the larger angel?sh Th
are nine species, but few are seen re
Bandit angelfish
oldflake angelfish
olemichthys xanthopunctatus
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
Apolemichthys arcuatus
A striking but challenging ?sh, speci?cally with feeding. In nature it feed
on sponges, algae, hydroids and ?sh eggs ? in the aquarium try frozen
Krill and Mysis shrimp, ?sh eggs, vitamin-forti?ed shrimp and dried algae
plus live rock grazing. It reaches 18cm and should be kept in a tank of
500 l. Inhabits the Hawaiian and Johnston islands in the Paci?c at a depth
of 12-50m. Will nip at sessile invertebrates, including corals and sponges.
90
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
hile semi-aggressive to other ?sh, the Gold?ake is known as one of the
er angels for the reef tank. Tends not to pick at sessile invertebrates,
treat with caution. It reaches 25cm and needs a tank around 650 l.
und in the Central-Western Paci?c Ocean around many islands at
65m depth. It inhabits deep channels and lagoons, outer reef slopes
d drop-offs. Juveniles prefer deeper waters, being found at 30m.
CENTROPYGE
This is the most commonly seen family on sale ? it?s also
the largest, with 35 currently valid members. Centropyge
species are the most suitable angels to be kept in aquaria
due to their small size ranging from 5.5cm to 19cm.
They tend to mix well, even with very small ?sh like
gobies and blennies, and can be kept alongside most corals
and small in ertebrates though the ma nibble
Flame angelfish
SHUTTERSTOCK
Centropyge loriculus
Bold, bright colouring has made this ?sh the most popular d
angel, but it?s not the most suitable reef inhabitant as it can
stony and soft corals, plus tubeworms and clam mantles. It?s
added to well-established tanks and added last as, once sett
can become semi-aggressive to new introductions. At 15cm
size, it will need a 260 l tank. Keep copper levels below 0.15
g f
SHUTTERSTOCK
Centropyge flavissima
At 14cm full size, this bright yellow angel?sh requires at least 250 l. It?s
likely to give LPS corals a hard time and other vivid yellow tankmates
will become the target of aggression too. Although meaty foods are
required, offer it more spirulina and seaweed foods than other angels.
Juveniles display a black eye-spot edged by electric blue on their ?anks.
Coral beauty angelfish
Hardy and peaceful, this is probably the most suitable
angel for a reef tank. Colours vary by origin ? some are
all blue, others show orange, while a few show yellow
and even white on their ?anks. It?s as intelligent as the
larger angel?sh, and becomes territorial if kept in smaller
tanks. It reaches 10cm and needs a 200 l aquarium.
Bicolor angelfish
Centropyge bicolor
ALAMY
SHUTTERSTOCK
Centropyge bispinosa
Although a popular variety of angel?sh, the Bicolor is
the least reef-friendly Centropyge. Young specimens will
adapt to an aquarium diet more easily than larger ?sh
which might only eat some algae, but will often prefer
corals, tunicates, sponges and worms. It?s likely to nip
the mantles of clams too. The Bicolor reaches 15cm
and needs a 260 l aquarium.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 91
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Hillstream loach
The
TIGER
STREAM
The Tiger hillstream loach thrives best in a
dedicated tank with strong flow and good food
supplies. Here?s how to create yours?
RICHARD
BAKER
Despite being
retired, Richard
finds time to
scuba dive, fish
and maintain his
aquariums.
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 93
JIM EAMES
Hillstream loach
need more than
just the average
aquarium set-up.
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Hillstream loach
There are 14 species in the
genus Sewellia. Until 2012
the species was placed within
the family Balitoridae, but
is now within the
Gastromyzontidae.
ABOVE:
The name
lineolata refers
to the markings
through the
middle of the
body.
INSET: Tunze
powerheads suit
this set-up.
94
HE TIGER hillstream
loach, Sewellia
lineolata, is probably
the most attractive of
the hillstream loaches.
Found in rocky, upland
Vietnamese streams
of fast-?owing cool
waters, saturated with dissolved
oxygen and low in nutrients, it
has very exacting environmental
requirements.
There are 14 species in the genus
Sewellia. All are ?attened dorsoventrally, and have modi?ed
pectoral and pelvic ?ns that enable
them to clamp onto rocks.
S. lineolata is golden-yellow or
green in colour, overlain with
intricate black markings. They have
been reported at up to 6cm long,
although I?ve never seen them quite
this large myself. Other common
names include Reticulated hillstream
loach, Vietnamese hillstream loach
and the retailer?s favourite ? the
Gold ring butter?y loach.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Setting up
To keep a Tiger you need to
replicate the fast ?ows of mountain
streams and rivers. One way to do
this is a river tank manifold ? two or
more powerheads at one end of the
aquarium, sponge ?lters at the
other, all connected by
pipework that runs under
the substrate. Narrow
pipework is easiest to
conceal, while
large pipework
provides better
?ow rate.
From my
experience, an
aquarium 30cm wide,
with a water depth of
20cm, requires a total ?ow of
at least 2,000 litres per hour. This
is quite a gentle ?ow by river
aquarium standards, and allows for
?sh less well adapted to fast water
to be kept. For an aquarium
containing only Sewellia, this could
be doubled.
River manifolds do not result in
ideal laminar ?ow conditions. With
any ?ne particles suspended in the
water, numerous eddies can be
identi?ed, plus some reverse ?ow at
the aquarium edges. Note also that
while the ?ow directly in front of
the pumps is extremely fast, the
velocity reduces rapidly with
distance. At the far end
of my tank, the ?ow is
a fraction of that at
the pumps. For
this, reason
I consider an
aquarium of
120cm to be the
maximum length for a
manifold like this.
For a manifold, you want
impeller-driven powerheads.
These were traditionally used to
power under-gravel ?lters in
freshwater aquaria, and provide
circulation in marine aquaria. Alas,
under-gravel ?lters have gone out of
fashion, and most marine ?ow
NATHAN HILL
SHUTTERSTOCK
pumps available nowadays are of
the propeller type ? wholly
unsuitable for a river tank manifold.
For my set-up, I run two Tunze
Turbelle e-jet 1005, each with a
?ow-rate of 1,100 l/h, at a power
consumption of 9W. These are
supported solely by river tank
manifold pipework that provides a
rigid support, and signi?cantly
reduces noise. With a bigger budget,
controllable rate pumps become
an option.
The foam ?lters are Hozelock
Green Machine 18000 ?lter foam
cartridge, which measures
30x10x10cm. The 33mm bore in the
foam is compatible with 32mm
pipework, and the coarse grade of
foam ensures no loss of ?ow. The
cartridge is cut in two to provide
two ?lters 15cm in height.
Dissolved oxygen
Hillstream loach require high levels
of dissolved oxygen. Some pumps
may be able to run a venturi system
to provide increased aertion, though
I opted for a Tetra APS 300 airpump
(300 l/h). To stop it being a visual
blemish, the airstone is hidden
under a rock directly in front of
the powerheads.
With Sewellia, it?s important to
keep the temperature suf?ciently
low to achieve the highest possible
dissolved oxygen levels ? as water
temperature goes up, its ability to
hold dissolved oxygen decreases.
Note, however, that biological
activity in the ?lter reduces at
low temperatures.
After some trial and error, the
lowest temperature at which my ?sh
were displaying normal behaviour
was 23癈. Because S. lineolata will
rest on all and any surfaces, it?s
essential to cover heaters to prevent
burns. Careful consideration should
also be given to aquarium siting.
Rooms with a south- or west-facing
aspect may become too hot.
Algae growth
Hillstream loach feed on aufwuchs
? microscopic invertebrates and
algae combined. You need strong
lighting to sustain this growth, and
I opted for a 30W Fluval Aquasky
LED with a basic Fluval LED Lamp
Timer. To mimic the Sewellia?s native
Vietnamese daily cycle, I set the day
length to 11 hours. The only
problem with this set up is that the
Fluval timer reverts to midnight in
the event of a power cut, so when
power is restored the aquarium
remains in darkness.
For an ongoing food source, some
FACTFILE
HILLSTREAM TIGER LOACH
6Scientific name: Sewellia lineolata
6Pronounciation: Seh-well-ee-ah lin-ee-oh-lart-ah
6Origin: Vietnam
6Habitat: Rocky upland streams
6Size: Up to 6cm
6Tank size: 90x30cm footprint for six ?sh
6Water requirements: 6.5-7.5 pH,
saturated dissolved oxygen, high ?ow rate
6Temp: 21-25癈
6Feeding: Strong lighting will encourage
natural algal growth. Supplement with an
aufwuchs substitute
6
Availability and cost: Readily available;
�to �each
54 l+
?shkeepers place stones in an
outdoor pond in full sunlight, and
add them to the aquarium to ensure
a constant supply. I?ve found
Repashy Soilent Green, formulated
to replicate aufwuchs, to be the most
effective supplementary food. It?s
supplied in powder form, and mixed
with boiling water to produce a gel.
Once made, it has a storage life of
only two weeks when refrigerated,
so I make very small quantities at a
time ? just a 4mm thick layer in a
9cm diameter Tupperware
container. Offering a 4x4cm piece of
the gel daily, combined with the
natural food found in the aquarium,
seems adequate for eight ?sh.
ABOVE: Tiger
loach rest on
rocks, plants
and ornaments
to take a break
from the flow.
Looking the part
It is rare to see a convincing river
aquarium; many of those in books
or videos are too fussy, with
complicated rockwork, branches,
and too much vegetation. Since
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 95
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Hillstream loach
Sewellia species inhabit the upper
reaches of rivers, where the
substrate is either smooth bedrock,
large loose rocks or gravel, I decided
to take inspiration from the upland
streams in the West Country where
I live. I noticed two things: that
aquatic vegetation is sparse, and
that the loose rocks are irregular in
shape, though they do have rounded
edges. This means the round
cobbles on sale in aquatics centres
aren?t really suitable.
Sand can be blown around by high
?ows, so I chose 3mm pea gravel as
my base layer; ?rst adding a layer of
pebbles before covering both
pebbles and pipework with the
gravel. Next came slab-shaped rocks
with rounded edges, until most of
the gravel was obscured. Then I
added more rocks randomly to
create a number of caves in which
the ?sh could hide.
Although these rocks were initially
quite bare, they?ve grown a
discernible coating of vegetation
since being placed in the aquarium.
Long and low
tanks are great
for building
hillstream
biotopes.
Most of this is algae, including a red
calcareous algae type, but some
moss-like vegetation has also grown.
A choice of simple plants to
highlight the strong ?ow were Dwarf
Sagittaria, Sagittaria subulata,
planted in two small clumps in pots.
After careful consideration, I
decided to make no attempt to hide
the pumps and ?lters as it would
have been almost impossible to
disguise them effectively.
Stocking & spawning
After cycling the aquarium for a
month, I initially bought only four
?sh due to worries about how much
natural food the algae-covered rocks
in the aquarium could provide. The
Tigers were reclusive, with only one
or two ?sh being on show at any one
time. After buying another four, the
aquarium is livelier.
If you like constant movement in
your tank, then S. lineolata is not the
?sh for you. They split their time
between resting ? hiding under
rocks, or stuck to the aquarium glass
BELOW:
This side
is normally
gripping the
rockwork.
ALAMY
They were reclusive, with only one
or two ?sh being on show at any
one time. After buying another four,
the aquarium is livelier
Old school
powerheads are
ideal to use with
river manifold
pipework.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Sewellia tussle
over territory
and food.
96
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
? or grazing on rocks. At feeding
time, they don?t respond the way
most other ?sh do. When food is
dropped into the aquarium, they
show no reaction, and appear to ?nd
it only by chance, rather than
homing in on it through any senses.
Tigers tend to be defensive about
the rock they are feeding upon, and
indulge in pushing, tail slapping, and
topping, where one ?sh drops on top
of another. Sometimes a ?sh will
escape from another by darting
along the length of the aquarium,
either upstream or downstream.
Despite their unusual shape they are
extremely fast. Interestingly, they are
diurnal, with most of the activity
taking place in the afternoon and
evening ? I?ve never seen any
activity at night.
I decided not to add any additional
species to the aquarium, for two
reasons. One was to maintain high
The tank under
construction.
It's a good idea to fit sliding
glass covers to your aquarium.
Tigers can 'climb' glass and
are reputed to be able
to jump out of
tanks.
ALL: JIM EAMES
Long periods of light
will encourage the
growth of natural food.
suggested that a rise in temperature
of a few degrees, followed by a
cooler water change, is the trigger to
induce spawning.
It would seem highly desirable to
breed this species. It is listed as
vulnerable by the International
Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) because of a 30% decline
between 2000 and 2010 due to
collection, silting from deforestation,
and dam construction.
Intricate markings
break up the outline
and help camouflage
these loaches.
Easy care
This is a low maintenance aquarium.
I carry out a 25% water change
once a month, using water aerated
for 24 hours, and rinse one of the
sponge filters in the discharged
water. The second filter is rinsed at
the next water change. A nitrate test
is carried out monthly to confirm
levels are below 10ppm. Pump
internals are cleaned annually.
ALAMY
levels of water quality. The other
was that I hoped the S. lineolata
would breed, and other species
might prey upon the eggs or fry.
The Tiger hillstream loach displays
sexual dimorphism ? males and
females have a different appearance;
the most obvious being that in the
male, the leading edge of the
pectoral fin joins the body at almost
a right angle, whereas in the female,
it joins at a shallower angle. I have a
mix of sexes in the aquarium, but
after six months there has been no
breeding, although I have seen
preliminary courtship behaviour.
A handful of aquarists have been
successful in breeding S. lineolata,
however. Courtship consists of the
male carrying out fluttering displays
and chasing the female. Eventually
the pair rise off the substrate,
pectoral fins entwined, before eggs
and milt are released. It has been
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 97
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
DTRIP
r t
This month we visit the South coast in
glorious sunshine and descend on a diverse
collection of aquatics shops in Dorset.
TOTAL JOURNEY TIME: 13 HRS 10 MINS. MILES: 583
Maidenhead
Aquatics @ Galton
BJ?s Koi
Fishcove Aquatics
98
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
West Dorset
Aquatics
VISIT 1
Fishcove Aquatics
9th May
STEVE BAKER: With the weather off
to a good start the timer started
ticking on our roadtrip clock as we
left Peterborough at 7am in a hire
car. Google picked out a route that
avoided the M25, almost missing
any motorway, and as the driver I
was happy for that ? less chance of
boredom kicking in.
With a quick stop-off on the way
to grab hot drinks, we reached the
Dorset border around 11am and
made our way into Wimborne for
our ?rst visit of the day ? meeting
Duncan and Amie Jones at Fishcove
Aquatics. One thing we didn?t
expect on a midweek morning was
having to hunt so hard for a parking
place. The shop is in the town
centre so there?s no parking really
close by, but we found a spot at a
place called Allenview carpark,
which gave us an eight-minute
amble to stretch our legs, taking in
a small section of the river Allen.
Fishcove Aquatics is a pleasing
story of a small independent
business doing quite well for itself.
It?s been trading for around three
years and moved to the present,
larger premises about a year ago.
As Duncan ran me through the
ethos of the business and his
thoughts on the hobby and industry,
he said all the right stuff.
The livestock selection might not
set hearts racing straight away but
Young Kyathit
danio.
you?ll see some rare(ish) favorites
like Redline rasbora, Trigonopoma
pauciperforatum, Clown rasbora,
Rasbora kalochroma, and some
Chocolate gourami, Sphaerichthys
osphromenoides, in ?ne condition
As I looked round the tanks I
an apology on the grounds that
some of the newest ?sh were
off sale while they settled in
over several days. I?d much
rather see that than know
new stock goes out before it?s
ready. The overall health of
the ?sh offered was very good,
there were no irresponsible ?sh
ABOVE: Fishcove
Aquatics in
Wimborne town
centre.
BELOW: Owner
Duncan Jones.
the tanks and the
shop is signed up to
the Big Fish
Campaign.
This is a shop that
serves the local
community of
aquarists well, while
at the same time
honing in on the
aquascaping market.
Three display tanks
show different
approaches to
aquascaping with a blackwater
set-up taking pride of place.
?Scaping products ?ll the shelves
along with Kessil lighting, glass
pipework, a range of botanicals and
in vitro plants, plus a good selection
of substrates (displayed in the
ock tanks) and wood.
he next stage for the shop is to
offer more blackwater-inspired
?sh ? Duncan says acid-loving
?sh like Apistogramma will be
likely to make an appearance
in the future. Plus, there?ll be
a new shrimp sales system
oming soon, planned to hold
varieties of shrimp.
Fishcove Aquatics at
a glance
Address: 3 Kings Court, High Street,
Wimbourne, Dorset BH21 1HS
Telephone: 01202 883065
Website: ?shcove.co.uk
Number of tanks: 73 including 32 Betta tanks
Opening hours: Mon 10am-4pm, Tues-Fri
9:30am-5pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm
Parking: Town car parks; be prepared for a little
bit of a walk
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SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
ROADTRIP
A month of specialists
Just one of
Fishcove?s ace
?ghting ?sh.
NATHAN HILL: Parking aside ?
there were times I didn?t think we?d
ever ?nd a spot ? Fishcove Aquatics
is nestled in a lovely little market
town, and that means it?s heaving
with tourists. Allocate yourself a
little strolling time, because it is
highly unlikely you?ll ?nd a parking
space within a minute?s walk.
The blackwater theme, well
supported by the botanicals on sale,
gives people here a chance at trying
out a whole new look in their tanks.
The ?sh were clean and healthy,
though maybe a little tame for my
tastes, and the available hardscape
was really on point. In fact, the
whole store was very decoration
heavy, from natural woods
strategically placed all over, to
Hugo Kamishi plastic plants and
ornaments on racks behind the
counter. If you like Seachem, you?re
in luck, as it?s stocked heavily.
Spend a minute going through the
?sh in the Betta rack. Not everyone
is a fan of these small tanks, even
during the temporary housing they?re
designed for, but even if you don?t,
you?ll have to agree that the quality
of the ?sh inside them is impressive.
There are some nice Betta bargains
to be had for under a tenner, too.
I thought the plants were lightly
stocked, but the timing of our visit
would be to blame here. What
was available, though, was good
enough ? aside from a cheeky
houseplant peeking out at me from
the selection.
As long as you?re not actively
searching for oddballs, marines or
pond ?sh, this place will see you
right. For me it?s a 7/10 and I?d
certainly shop here.
Fascinating ?sh ? Mustard gas ?ghter
Scienti?c name: Betta splendens
Origin: Central Thailand
Habitat: Sluggish waters ? swamps, ditches, streams and ponds
Size: 6-7cm
Temperature: 23-27癈
Water: Naturally soft, 5-7pH, ornamental strains not fussy 6-8 pH
Feeding: Small pellets, granuals and small frozen food
Temperament: Mixed; individuals may be feisty or quite calm
Price: �
Tight, but
well-used space
at Fishcove.
VISIT 2
BJ?s Koi
Brian?s personal pond
holds some gems.
9th May
SB: A quick wander round
Wimborne?s shops led us to a lovely
Italian-inspired cafe ? The Cantina,
on Church Street, which served us
up a tasty ?atbread lunch and we
set off from Wimbourne with a
smile. (Ed?s note: Time it so you can
stick around for lunch in the town
as there?s a good choice of eateries.
If you?re in no rush, it?s worth a
stroll around the sights here too;
there are plenty of little stores and
boutiques to visit.)
The second ?sh shop of the day
was a 25-minute drive away in
Bournemouth and a place for the
Koi specialist to get excited about.
We contacted Brian a
Koi not really knowing
what to expect. The
website looked
appealing, it?s the
season for Koi and
pond stuff, and we
do like specialist
little outlets so we
organised a visit.
We didn?t expect to
so impressed. The business is
in the back garden of Brian?s home,
which will immediately conjure up
the wrong image in most people?s
minds. We briskly walked through
the dry goods shop to get to
the Koi, but I had an idea of how
comprehensive the dry goods were
by the fact that there?s a whole room
for pipework ?ttings. Later, we
looked more closely to ?nd a great
many high-quality products ? it
seems Brian has his ?nger on the
pulse when it comes to Koi goods
and we left with some promising
products for our ?Used and abused?
gear pages.
The ?rst two vats of Koi were newly
imported ?sh settling in, but they
already looked lively and colourful,
and as we continued, there were
more and more vats. BJ?s Koi deals
with Japanese ?sh and had a wide
range of sizes and varieties when we
visited. After seeing the vats of
?sh, Brian showed
is two large ponds ?
ne containing larger
Koi for sale, the
other for his
personal collection
and for growing-on.
All the ponds and
vats are over-?ltered
ng a combination of
automated EA Nexus
?lters, UV clari?ers, bead
?lters and ?baccy showers?. The
BJ?s Koi
at a glance
Address: 371 Kinson Road, Bournemouth,
Dorset BH10 5HF
Telephone: 01202 770204; mobile: 07973
264338
Website: bjskoi.co.uk
Number of vats: 11 Koi vats, two gold?sh vats,
two 6,000 gallon show ponds
Areas of specialisation: Japanese Koi
Opening hours: By appointment
Parking: Roadside residential, very easy
Young Japanese
?sh showing
promise.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 101
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
ROADTRIP
A month of specialists
pictures should tell you as much
about the clarity of the water and
the quality of the ?sh.
Just to warn you if you visit, Brian
also has a mail order (non-?shy)
business nearby trading under the
?BJ? name, and if you look for BJ?s
Koi on Google maps you might be
taken there (as we were) rather than
to Kinson Road where the ?sh are.
NH: So, we turned up at the wrong
place to start with, to be greeted by
a lady surrounded by dreamcatchers
? standard error in the satnav age.
When we eventually found BJ?s, I
was worried it was going to be a
bedroom retailer based on a glance
from the roadside. When Brian took
us down to the store, I was pretty
?abbergasted. Stocking levels of dry
goods are high, real high, with lots
of bits I?ve never seen before. I
splashed out on all kinds of products
while I was here.
Also, I?ve never seen so many
?ttings, valves and accessories for
ponds under one roof, and I?ve
visited manufacturers! Quality pond
brand names lurk everywhere in the
comprehensively stocked dry goods
area, from well-known names like
Evolution Aqua and Super?sh, to
more obscure (but excellent) brands
like Takazumi and Virkon, with
allsorts in between. Whatever you
need ? liners, Koi measuring vats,
drains, medicine cabinet staples
(this is one of maybe two places I?ve
ever seen that stocks Orahesive
powder ? an ulcer essential I swear
by), foods, biostarters and boosters,
nets? whatever. It?s all here in
perhaps the most comprehensive
small pond shop in the country.
The ?sh were great, and BJ?s is a
place that seems to have yet another
room tucked behind each room you
enter ? it goes on and on! I was
particularly taken by a gorgeous
Shiro (black and white) Koi in one of
Brian?s display ponds, but if I was
actively buying ?sh, I?d have easily
lost a chunk of my afternoon here
going through the young ?sh on sale.
There were just so many, and of
such high calibre. For me, this is a
solid 10/10 if you?re after Koi
products for a decent-sized pond.
A 6,000g pond holds
larger Koi for sale.
Some high
quality Koi
growing out.
Plastic dolphins
at the Oceana
Cumberland
Hotel, with its
night-time
Ibiza-style bar.
102 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SB: For our overnight stay we
headed to the Oceana Cumberland
Hotel on Bournemouth?s sea front.
Even on a Wednesday night, there
was a fair amount going on in town.
I was introduced to Wagamama,
Nathan and I found we were quite
well matched at pool, and we
rounded off the evening with a
couple of drinks at the hotel bar.
The hotel is themed; the font
used on the signage reminds me
of the ?lm ?Bugsy Malone? and
the breakfast hall looked like a
1930s function venue. All very
characterful and comfy and we
had a good night?s stay.
VISIT 3
Maidenhead Aquatics @Galton
10th May
After breakfast we set off to visit a
new branch of Maidenhead Aquatics
at Galton. This shop was opened in
November last year so it?s just
settling into its ?rst pond season.
If you?re a water gardening fan or
simply looking for pond plants,
you?d do well to visit this shop; the
guy ordering and caring for the
plants comes from a horticultural
background and it shows.
Galton is a relatively small store for
a Maidenhead but it has a lot to
offer. All the necessary dry goods are
available; pond ?sh, coldwater,
temperate, tropical, marine ?sh and
invertebrates are all here, and the
trops are clearly a size or two up
from those found in most shops.
None of them looked small, weak or
skinny, but certain ?sh like Tiger
There?s a good
selection of
healthy pond
plants.
barbs, platies, mollies, danios and
more were nice and chunky and well
worth the small extra cost.
NH: I?ve stayed in a lot of hotels,
and this one was odd. As Steve says,
it was themed. Plastic dolphins
around an Ibiza-style swimming pool
kind of themed.
However, Bournemouth seafront
makes it a great midway point for a
roadtrip stopover in Dorset. You?re
a short jaunt from the town?s
restaurants and pubs, where you can
discuss your ?shy ?nds of the day
with your travelling companions (or
strangers, if you prefer). If you want
to make a night of it, pick one of the
sea front hotels, as we did. If you
want to save pennies, there are
plenty of cheaper B&B options away
Koi making the
most of their
viewing dome.
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Galton
at a glance
Address: Wyevale Garden Centre, 24 Wareham
Road, Owermoigne, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8BY
Telephone: 01305 853501
Website: ?shkeeper.co.uk/store/galton
Number of tanks: 92 tropical, 31 marine,
12 temperate, 12 coldwater and eight ponds.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun
10.30am-4.30pm
Parking: Garden centre car park
Speckled or Spotted
hawk?sh have lots of
character.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 103
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
ROADTRIP
A month of specialists
A maturing male
Apistogramma
hongsloi.
Fascinating fish ?
Apistogramma hongsloi
Pattern-rich
Pyjama cardinal.
Scientific name: Apistogramma hongsloi
Origin: Colombia and Venezuela
Habitat: River basins, tributaries and still waters
Size: Females to 4.5cm, males to 6cm
Temperature: 24-28癈
Water: Soft and acidic, 5.5-7.0 pH, hardness
4-15癏
Feeding: Offer granulated cichlid diets, frozen
black and white mosquito larvae and Daphnia
Temperament: Generally peaceful, territorial
during courtship and brood care
Price: �+ per pair
from the city centre and sea front.
As for this little Maidenhead, I
loved it ? de?nitely up there as one
of my favourites. The stocking had
some livestock treats at every turn.
The Betta ? not the usual B.
splendens ? were lovely, there were
charming little Apistogramma, and
even the staple stuff like guppies
seemed a real cut above the norm.
Sometimes you get that ?feel? when
a store?s ?sh are especially well
looked after, and that feeling was
strong here. Everything was plump
for starters, and the size of some of
the ?sh on sale was more than
respectable ? they may have carried
the largest Harlequin rasbora I?ve
seen in my life.
This store even managed to strike
the perfect balance between marine,
freshwater, tropical and pond, where
104 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
usually I ?nd a store tends to excel
in one area while the others lag
behind slightly. Here, the marines
and pond ?sh were all punching at
the same weight, making this a
strong store indeed.
Staff are friendly and chatty, the
pond plants were second to none,
and there was a mountain of
sundries to keep any hobbyist going
for the next decade. Don?t expect
the craziest oddballs, or extreme
breeding and keeping projects, but
rest assured that whatever you buy
will be as healthy as it gets.
In true Maidenhead style, tanks
and cabinets feature large, but this
site was really heaving on the dry
goods front in general. Size for size,
it has to be one of the more densely
stocked branches I?ve visited. A
solid 8/10 for me.
The Purple
firefish looked
good.
Plenty of dry goods
on the shelves
VISIT 4
West Dorset Aquatics
10th May
A very wellestablished
business
Chalk gobies,
Valenciennea
sexguttata.
The sloped-front tanks
make viewing easier.
safe, West Dorset Aquatics has
SB: The last visit on the list was to
Aqualife
Leyland
dabbled in
a few less-than-common
a well-established, independent,
?sh
?
I
spotted
family-run shop ? West Dorset
at a glance an unusual puffer,
some lovely rainbow?sh and Mystus
Aquatics, which is soon to celebrate
cat?sh, among others.
its 30th anniversary. Nathan knows
The marine section is a lovely
this store but it was my ?rst visit,
touch, and although it isn?t huge it?s
and the ?rst thing to catch my eye
well stocked and well balanced ?
was the angle of the tanks ? the
plenty to buy regardless of the type
front glass of the bottom tanks is
of marine set-up you keep. I just
angled backwards, which really
helps you see ?sh on the base of the can?t help but think the site would
bene?t from enlargement. It always
tank and towards the back. The top
feels so? restrained here.
tanks are angled forwards,
Like the livestock buyer
which in fairness doesn?t
has a thousand more
make much difference
ideas of things to
to seeing ?sh but it
keep but lacks the
certainly stands out.
space for it all.
When we visit
Speaking of space,
there are three
make sure you have
regular customers in
a wriggle about the
the shop; the
very narrow dry goods
atmosphere is great
aisles. If you?re in a
and there?s an obvious
wheelchair, then they?ll be
rapport between staff and
too tight, and if you?re a little bit
customers. The tanks were clean,
claustrophobic then they might not
the ?sh were healthy looking and
be too comfy for you, but there are
the selection was good ? that goes
plenty of well-presented dry goods
for both the freshwater and the
scattered throughout them.
marine tanks.
I just wish the owners would
With all the history and knowledge
embrace the space they have out
behind the counter here, this is the
back. What appears at ?rst glance
kind of place I could spend a whole
to be a storage area has some
day talking ?shkeeping, but we?re
outrageous potential if only they?d
well aware it?s a fair drive home, so
turn it into a full-on pond section.
we make a start on the four-hour
journey back to Cambridgeshire
after two good days away.
INSET: A
waspish Dragon
pufferfish.
NH: It?s been a few years since I
was last down here, but the ?sh
house is just as I recall it, with the
unique slope-fronted tanks. I?m glad
to see the range of ?sh is still
nicely eclectic too. Rather
than playing it entirely
West Dorset Aquatics
at a glance
Address: 108 Littlemoor Road, Preston,
Weymouth, Dorset DT3 6AD
Telephone: 01305 835250
Website: westdorsetaquatics.co.uk
Number of tanks: 120 plus 9 pond vats
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun
10.30am-4.30pm
Parking: Shop car park to the front
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 105
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
GEAR
USED &
ABUSED
Want to know how the goods on sale really perform? We put them
through their paces so you can sort the good from the bad...
FLUVAL BUG BITES
Tested by staffers Steve Baker and Nathan Hill.
Tested by readers Su D, Jan C, Emily C, Martin H,
Reece B, Heather B.
Duration: One month
RRPs: Tropical formula granules �99 for 45g,
�.99 for 125g; Goldfish formula granules �99 for
45g, �.99 for 125g; Cichlid formula �99 for 45g,
�.99 for 125g; Colour enhancing formula �49 for
45g, �.99 for 125g; Bottom feeder formula �99 for
45g, �.99 for 130g.
More info: uk.hagen.com
Nathan Hill says: ?Bug Bites? is a
new line of food produced by Hagen
that features insect meal as its main
ingredient. Speci?cally, black soldier
?y larvae, which is fast proving to
be a wholly sustainable way of
providing quality protein for the ?sh
in your life.
Other ingredients include salmon,
peas and potato, among many more.
Protein levels vary between 32% for
the gold?sh and cat?sh foods, up to
45% for the colour enhancer, with
the cichlid and tropical formulas
sitting at 40% each.
What I love most? The smell. I test
most foods with my nose straight
106 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
away, and this has that lovely mix of
?green and earthy? aromas, along
with the undercurrent of ?sh. Adore!
Su says: They?re uneven, about
1.5mm in size, perfect for my
Red-line torpedo barbs and Giant
danios. The ?sh absolutely LOVED
this food. Every feed was eagerly
anticipated and keenly received.
Their previous diet included a
?colour? food, but a month of feeding
this and their colours are still superb
? in fact I?m sure the danios are
looking even brighter than normal.
The granules don?t hang around
long enough to pollute and all my
Bug Bites is
launching with
1/3rd off of the
RRP, so stock up
while it?s on offer!
water parameters have stayed stable
since using them. I will be buying
more just as soon as I can ?nd it,
along with the smaller-sized granules
to try on my tetra tank!
Jan says: This was so palatable that
there was no problem with leftovers
? it maintained its form and was
eaten within a couple of hours with
no noticeable clouding.
My Paracyprichromis nigripinnis
are eager to eat it. Over the four
weeks I fed nothing else, and by the
end they were showing breeding
behaviour. I also noticed less waste.
I was pleased to ?nd that as well
as being made up of insects, the
rest of the ingredients are of a
premium nature. I?m genuinely
pleased with the Fluval Bug Bites
Cichlid Formula and will continue to
feed it in the future.
Emily says: At ?rst, I was really
impressed by this food; it seemed to
be snapped up by my community.
Once in the water, an ?oil-like? slick
burst from the granules, but this
seemed to have no adverse effects
other than visually.
However, within a week the ?sh
were no longer showing as much
interest as they had previously. Then
two and a half weeks in, I noticed a
massive change in the ?shes?
colouration ? they were looking
duller and were losing their block
colours. I decided to discontinue
using the food.
Martin says: It tends to sink quite
quickly, and as it?s quite hard, the
small ?sh seem to struggle to eat it.
I ?nd it good for my Corydoras.
and it was a great conditioning food.
My cichlids, hybrids and cat?sh
weren?t very entertained by it
though. It?s very hard and requires a
long soak of about 10-15 minutes
to even slightly soften it up. It
also left an oily residue on
the surface of the water in
every aquarium.
Heather says: It took the
small ?sh a few days to get
used to it. The Crystal pearl
danios never seemed overly keen on
it, but all the other ?sh were
? we tried it in all our tanks
and the Apistogramma,
rainbow?sh, tetras and
even my Severum
cichlid seemed to really
go for it as an extra snack.
I?ll certainly keep using it as a
complementary food to give some
variety as it?s completely different to
everything else.
Steve Baker says: I?ve been using
Bug Bites on a range of ?sh and
almost all of them have accepted
straightaway.
ed small granule Tropical
with rasboras, barbs,
Your fr�
gift on the
cover
TROPICAL
FORMULA FOR
SMALL FISH
Ideal for tetras
and livebearers,
small barbs and
rasboras
BOTTOM FEEDER
FORMULA
Perfect for
Corydoras catfish
and loaches
GOLDFISH
FORMULA
Perfect for all
small to mediumsized varieties of
goldfish
loaches, halfbeaks, killi?sh and
tetras. In another two tanks, I?ve
been feeding a mixture of Cichlid
Formula and Colour Enhancing
Formula to larger tetras, Congo
cichlids, Red ?ags, Amazon
puffer and cat?sh.
All my ?sh have kept
good body shape, activity
and colour. There was no
clouding in the water, no
residual colour tinting the
tanks, and any build-up of surface
oils was only equal to that of the
food I?d previously used.
I can?t honestly say I?ve seen
any improvement in growth,
colour or vitality in my
?sh, but then I was
already using a different
high-quality food before
starting to use this one.
I really like insect protein rather
than ?sh protein ? it?s more in tune
with the natural diet of ?sh and, in
theory, should be digested better.
In the last two days of the test,
I noticed the very ?rst batch of fry
from my Congo cichlids. I can?t say
that the Bug Bites are solely
responsible, but feeding it obviously
hasn?t hurt!
TROPICAL FORMULA
FOR MEDIUM TO
LARGE FISH
Ideal for larger
barbs and tetras,
and medium sized
community fish
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 107
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
GEAR FIRST LOOK
A handful of medications we?re excited about this month?
ESHA GDEX, ALX AND NDX
First look: Nathan Hill
Prices: gdex �99 for 20ml; ndx �.99 for 20ml; alx �.99 for 20ml
More info: eshalabs.eu
Three for the medicine cupboard right here.
eSHa gdex is a praziquantel-based treatment
against ?ukes and tapeworms. The active
ingredient is outstanding at controlling the
likes of Gyrodactylus, but at the same time it
is tolerated by a range of plants, shrimp and
?lter bacteria. Combine it with some eSHa
Hexamita and you?ve got an all-round disease
control for wild-import cichlids like Discus.
eSHa ndx is levamisole-based (for many
years we weren?t allowed this) and it?s pretty
much the best thing there is for treating
roundworm ? in our ?shes? case the usual
problem worm is Camallanus, especially in
wild-caught cichlids, though this?ll also be one
to consider for emaciated Clown loach.
eSHa alx is one for the gold?sh fanciers.
With the active ingredient lufenuron (actually
intended as a ?ea treatment for dogs), this
stuff obliterates the likes of Argulus and
anchor worm. Just remove ANY shrimps or
cray?sh before you use this, as it?ll show no
mercy. It?s temperature sensitive with a longer
treatment duration at below 17癈.
VERDICT
True, � is a big spend just for
a medicine cupboard filler, but if
you?re keeping wild-import fish,
or susceptible cichlids, then you?ll
want this lot on hand.
EASE OF USE:
FEATURES:
VALUE:
OVERALL
悙�
悙悙�
悙悙
悙悙
VIRKON AQUATIC TABLETS
Firstlook: Nathan Hill
Price: �.99 for 50 tablets
More info: virkon.com
Here?s one to handle with extreme care. It?s also one to
hope you?ll never have to use. Virkon Aquatic tablets are
designed to disinfect ? to really disinfect. Used correctly,
they?re effective against Rhabdoviruses, Herpesviruses,
Togaviruses, Aeromonas bacteria, Pseudomonas
bacteria, Vibrio and many more.
The packaging comes with a lot of warnings, because
this stuff is harsh. To use it ? which you?d do if you had
to clean up after a complete disease disaster before
starting over again ? you dissolve one tablet in 500ml of
water, then wet all contaminated surfaces with it before
leaving for 10 minutes and then rinsing off. When using
it, gloves, goggles and protective clothing (including face
protection) are all advised.
This is a product very much for the hardcore aquarist,
especially one with a ?sh house subject to high hygiene
protocols. But if you?re ever unfortunate enough to get
such a virulent disease that you need to start over, then
this will reset everything beforehand.
108 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
CLOVERLEAF
ABSOLUTE
PARASITE+
First look: Nathan Hill
Prices: From �.99 for 250g
More info: cloverleaf.uk.net
I?d call this stuff the disease
nuke. Rather than targeting
individual diseases, Absolute
Parasite+ does what its name
suggests and pretty much goes
after the lot, all at once. Active
ingredients are levamisole,
?ubendazole, cyromazine and
di?ubenzuron, so there are a
LOT of bases covered here.
Among the diseases it claims to
be effective against are skin and
gill ?ukes, costia, chilodonella,
Trichodina, white spot and even
Hexamita, as well as bigger
things like anchor worms,
Argulus and leeches. It kind of
goes without saying that any
shrimps and snails in your tank
will be obliterated by it too.
It?s a powder, and is dosed by
weight at a
rate of 1g
per 50 l.
It comes in
three sizes
? 250g,
500g and
1kg bags.
Best thing
about it? Used
correctly, it
won?t hurt
?lters.
VERDICT
Don?t get this stuff on a whim.
Ensure you know what you?re doing
and that you?ve had experience
with harsh disinfectants before,
because if you get this one wrong
it will hospitalise you.
Whoever decided to stick all these
things together in one bag deserves
a hug. It?s just a shame we had to
wait so long to leave behind the
?abrasive? medications we used to
use to treat these conditions.
EASE OF USE:
FEATURES:
VALUE:
OVERALL:
EASE OF USE:
FEATURES:
VALUE:
OVERALL:
悙�
悙悙�
悙悙�
悙悙
悙悙�
悙悙�
悙悙�
悙悙�
NEXT
MONTH
In the August iue
On Sale
CONTACT US
Practical Fishkeeping,
Bauer Media, Media House,
Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA
Email: editorial@bauermedia.co.uk
If you or someone you know are aged between 16
and 24 and are interested in work experience
opportunities at Practical Fishkeeping
go to www.gothinkbig.co.uk
July
4th
2018
EDITORIAL
Phone 01733 468000
Group Editor Ben Hawkins
Associate Editor Nathan Hill
Staff Writer Steve Baker
Art Editor Katie Wilkinson
Production Editor Gill Shaw
Editorial Assistant Nicki Manning
Perfectly pike!
ADVERTISING
Phone 01733 468000
Email james.belding@bauermedia.co.uk
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Key Accounts Stephen Tanner
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MARKETING
Phone 01733 468329
Direct Marketing Julie Spires
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Deputy Newstrade Marketing Manager
Samantha Tomblin
The lives of Pike cichlids
in the wild and at home
PRODUCTION
Phone 01733 468000
Print Production Manager Richard Woolley
Advertising Production Nicholas Greenwood
Printing Wyndeham Heron
Distribution Frontline
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For subscription or back issue queries please contact
CDS Global on Bauer@subscription.co.uk
Phone from the UK on 01858 438884.
Phone from overseas on +44 (0)1858 438884
6 Alternative pond fish
6 Breeding Nannostomus
6 Be a better catfish keeper
6 Making aquarium foods
BAUER CONSUMER MEDIA
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CEO Paul Keenan
Regulars
ALAMY
6Equipment Used & Abused
6Aquatic News roundup
6Fishkeeping Answers
6Roadtrip
INSIDE INTERZOO
Our roving reporter
at this year?s
biggest trade show
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WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 109
READERS? POLL
READERS?
POLL 2018
Vote for your favourite store in our Readers? Poll
? and you could win a great prize from Fluval!
H
ERE IT is ? the highly
anticipated Reader?s Poll.
Every year, Practical
Fishkeeping asks you to
vote for your favourite
aquatics stores up and
down the land ? and just
for getting involved, you
could win an outstanding prize!
Aquatics stores around the UK and
Ireland are often the unsung heroes of the
industry. Not only do they strive to offer the
best advice possible, but they work
tirelessly over long hours to keep their
livestock in perfect shape ? they even share
your grief if you have a ?shy disaster at
home. Running an aquatics store can often
feel like a thankless task, so the Readers?
Poll is a way of letting your favourite
retailers know you care.
for the best store in one region. This should
The Readers? Poll matters to stores ? for
be the region where your favourite store is
some, there?s no higher praise than the
located if it?s in a different area to you.
success of winning. If you?ve visited a
From there, you just need to leave your
previous winner, you?ll see they have
name and contact details to be in with
their certi?cates proudly on display.
a chance of winning one of the
The Poll is entirely democratic
excellent Fluval prizes.
? one person, one vote. And it
relies on you to make it
Share pics and stories
What could you win?
happen! It matters not
of your favourite shops on
Without your votes,
whether you?re voting
our Facebook page.
there?d be no Readers?
for a new store or old,
Poll! So, by way of a thank
big or small, mainstream
#pfkreaderspoll
you, we automatically put your
or specialist. Each vote is
details into a prize draw where
counted equally, so this really is
our sponsor Rolf C. Hagen has
your chance to have your say.
donated a selection of superb Fluval
How to vote
products ? see opposite page for details!
Simply go to the PFK website at pfkmag.
Entries must arrive before September 26th
com/shops. After ?lling out a couple of
2018, and the results of the prize draw will
generic categories, you?ll be asked to vote
be announced later in the year.
TERMS & CONDITIONS
RULES: The business that receives the
most votes for each category will be
declared the winner of that category,
followed by a runner-up in each. The 40
retailers (or websites where applicable)
with the highest numbers of votes will also
be listed alphabetically in a PFK Top 40
Shops ranking.
6Retailers, their staff and families are not
eligible to vote. Votes believed to be spurious will be disqualified. Voting is open to
UK and Ireland residents only. All published
results are final, and no correspondence
will be entered into by the promoters of the
Readers? Poll.
6One vote per reader. Vote online at
pfkmag.com/shops. Multiple votes are
110 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
not allowed.
6Prize winners will be notified by post.
There is no cash alternative.
6All entries will be placed into a prize
draw. The first name drawn will win the
Fluval Flex aquarium set, the second name
drawn will win the Fluval U4 filter, and the
third name drawn will win the Fluval Prism
spotlight. The following 10 names drawn
will each win one of the runner-up prizes.
If for any reason beyond the promoter?s
control it is not possible to provide the
stated prizes, the promoter reserves the
right to offer an alternative prize of no less
value. The promoter?s choice of alternative
prizes is final. No entries can be returned,
no cash alternative given and no corre-
spondence will be entered into.
6The promoter accepts no responsibility
for resultant loss or damage to persons or
properties (other than death or personal
injury due to negligence of the promoter
or their agents) as a result of these prizes
being awarded. Prizes will be dispatched
28 days after the closing date.
6We and our partners reserve the right
to feature the names, photographs and
locations of the winners in any future
promotional activity.
6Details of the winners will be available
towards the end of the year by sending a
stamped, self-addressed envelope to
Practical Fishkeeping, Bauer Media,
Lynchwood, Peterborough PE2 6EA.
WHAT YOU COULD WIN!
RUNNERS-UP
WE ALSO HAVE 10
PRIZES OF FLUVAL
FOOD PRODUCT
PACKAGES!
FLUVAL FLEX 57 L AQUARIUM SET
RRP �9.99
The Fluval Flex not only offers bold,
contemporary styling with its distinctive
curved front, but is also equipped with
powerful multi-stage filtration and brilliant
LED lighting that allows you to customise
several settings via remote control.
KEY FEATURES:
6 7500K LED lamp supports plant
growth and enhances fish colours.
6Fully adjustable White + RGB LEDs for
endless colour blends.
6FLEXPad remote can also control fun
special effects.
6Powerful three-stage filtration for
superior water quality.
6Oversized mechanical (foam), chemic
(carbon) and biological (Biomax)
media included.
6Multi-directional dual outputs for
customised water flow.
6Hidden rear filter compartment.
6Stylish honeycomb wrap conceals wat
line and sides of rear compartment.
6Easy feed top cover opening.
6For freshwater use only.
1ST
PRIZE
FLUVAL U4 UNDERWATER FILTER
FLUVAL PRISM UNDERWATER SPOTLIGHT
RRP �.99
RRP �.99
With outstanding three-stage filtration, increased water
movement and vital aeration, the Fluval U4 stays at
the cutting edge of internal canister filter design.
Add excitement to your aquatic habitat with the Fluval Prism
Underwater Spotlight. This remote-controlled, high-output spotlight
LED allows you to create up to 80 multicolour lighting options,
including special effects and weather effects.
KEY FEATURES:
6 Sleek design.
6 Easy grip water control paddle.
6 Redesigned media cartridge
traps more waste.
6 Designed for aquaria
up to 240 l.
6 Use as a primary
filter in smaller
aquaria, or a
supplementary filter
in larger set-ups.
6 Place horizontally for
shallow tanks, tanks
with low water levels,
or to create a
decorative tank
waterfall feature.
6 Position vertically to
create currents or
customised flow
patterns.
6 Flip-top lid allows for
quick and easy
access to filter
cartridge for
maintenance.
6 Biomax biological
filter media included.
6 Ideal in freshwater
and saltwater
environments.
KEY FEATURES
2ND
PRIZE
6 For freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
6 Remote-controlled, high-output spotlight LED.
6 Create up to 80 multicolour lighting options, including
special effects.
6 Brings out the nocturnal swimming instinct in your fish
6 Fully submersible.
6 Made from hi-tech ceramic for superior quality and durability.
3RD
PRIZE
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 111
LINCOLNSHIRE
14
The Aquatic Store
Really does have it all!
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
QUAT
SA
I
CS
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
LINC
BRISTOL
LINCOLNSHIRE
Hanger1 ? Strubby Air?eld
Woodthorpe ? Nr Alford ? LN13 0DD
01507 451000
EAST YORKSHIRE
Hedon Road ? Burstwick
East Yorks ? HU12 9HA
01482 898800
SOUTH YORKSHIRE
Great North Rd
Doncaster ? DN10 6AB
01302 711639
To all our customers ? thank you for your support with the PFK Awards
LARGE SELECTION OF
? Aquariums
? Fibreglass ponds
? Working Water
Features
? Waterfall Display
? Pumps
HUGE SELECTION OF
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Pond Fish
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Water Fish
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lincsaquatics-lincolnshire
CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Come & feed our friendly ?sh
? Discounted Pond Liners
? Lighting
? Food
? Ro-Water
? Tropical & MarineMix
? Treatments
All fish are packed to travel anywhere in the UK
lincsaquatics-eastyorkshire
lincsaquatics-southyorkshire
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
CLASSIFIED To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
LONDON
Tropical
Marine
Cold Water
Open 7 days a week 01954 214530
www.nuttyaboutpets.co.uk sales@nuttyaboutpets.co.uk
175 St Neots, Hardwick, Cambridge, CB23 7QJ
RS ONLY
RETA IL SHOPPE
r all your
Thank you fo 1967!
e
support sinc
, London, E2
l Green Road 0 77292444
220 Bethna
02
x:
5356 Fa
Tel: 020 7739
G TIMES
AY: CLOSED
? TUES, WED &
FRI 10.30-6.00
? SAT 10.00-6.00
? SUN 10.00-2.0
0
ww.wholesaletropicalsaq
uat
ics.co.uk
The Fish Bowl Ltd
COUNTY DURHAM
LEICESTERSHIRE
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
Retailer of
the year
North East
The only true aquatic Superstore, with over 250 stock tanks
specializing in community, rare and unusual cold water, tropical
and marine fish inverts and corals. Largest range of aquariums,
dry goods, frozen and live foods and Tropical plants.
Fish Alive
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.thefishbowlltd.com
email: thefishbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
Opening hours weekdays 10.00 - 18.00, Saturdays 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays 10.00 - 16.00, Closed on Wednesdays
Units 10 & 11, Dragonville Retail Park, Durham DH1 2YB
Phone and fax: 0191 3843590
?UK Top Aquatic Retailer 2001?
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
LANCASHIRE
AQUATICS
CENTRE
Over 250 tanks stocked
with Top Quality Fish and a
Huge dry goods section!
Tel: 01772 623497
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Large selection of Tropicals, Marine, Corals
and other livestock
Quality Liverock always in stock
Call us (0116) 274 34 26
All major brands stocked | Pond equipment available
www.clearwateraquatics.co.uk
www.aquahome.co.uk
Huge range of
livestock in more
than 600 tanks!
TROPICAL - MARINE - POND & COLDWATER - REPTILES
Six-time winner of top UK aquatic retailer
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
Within Avant Gardens, (Opposite Leyland Golf
Club) Wigan Road, Leyland, PR25 5XW
Readers?poll
2017
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Readers?poll
2017
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Tel: 01773 861255 Marine direct: 01773 811044 Reptile direct: 01773 811499
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
SCOTLAND
KENT
ABACUS AQUATICS
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
Now open on Sundays
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 8DJ
020 8302 8000 / enquiries@abacusaquatics.co.uk
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
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
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SIMPLY RIP TIP
AND STIR
POND DIRECTORY
OPINION
NATHAN HILL
Where have the hobbyists gone?
Has the demographic of ?shkeeping
changed from what it used to be?
And if it has, is that even a bad
thing? Maybe it?s evolution...
It?s a fair question. Hobbyists as I identify
them have either dwindled or hidden away.
But then I might have a rose-tinted, overly
romantic memory of hobbyists through the
?shkeeping ages.
The thing is, ?hobby? has a pretty vague
de?nition. Typically, it?ll be something like
?an interest pursued for leisure and
relaxation, but not as an occupation? or
similar. Which really means that anyone
who keeps ?sh for leisure reasons is a
Oscars were
once a ?must
have? ?sh.
114 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Going in hard
I guess what folks are really asking me is,
?Where are the hardcore hobbyists of the
old days?? which is a little more precise.
When I started this hobby, the goal
seemed to be complete immersion ? it was
an aspiration to keep everything.
Fishkeepers weren?t so much divided into
genres. Rather, everyone just kept
everything. If a person went to a store
looking to buy a Clown?sh, it was a safe bet
that he (it was a lot more male-oriented in
the ?80s) also had a pond with gold?sh and
Koi, an African cichlid tank, some Neon
tetra somewhere and a pet Oscar.
But there was also a pioneering side of the
hobby decades ago. Aquarists were keen to
obtain the unknown. They wanted ?sh that
had never been kept, that nobody really
knew much about. It was a great unknown.
NATHAN HILL
What?s a hobby?
Times a?changing...
hobbyist, and there are actually millions of
us. So that would be the clinical answer I?d
give my interrogators if pressed.
I sometimes wonder if the hobby guides
the industry or vice-versa. Are the ?sh we
see on sale a re?ection of what hobbyists
want, or are they the selection that retailers
want to sell?
Availability has a lot to do with hobby
immersion. It?s all well and good setting up
the perfect biotope for a rare cat?sh you
have your heart set on, but if stores won?t
or can?t get it for you, it?s all for nothing.
But have we also progressed as a hobby
and maybe found our limits? I recall the
seat of the pants, ?y by wire kind of
?shkeeping in the early ?90s, and it was
around 5% knowledge and 95% total
gamble. Lots of ?sh died because people
couldn?t care for them.
We know a lot more now about water
quality and chemistry than we ever have
done. We know what ?sh need. We know
how to feed and treat them for a high
success rate. Perhaps the absence of
?hardcore? hobbyists is re?ective of the fact
that such risks don?t need to be taken
anymore. I mean, who wants to take on a
challenge with a high probability of failure
when a store worker can now direct you to
an almost ?fail-free? ?sh?
And here?s another thing. In that early
gold rush of ?shkeeping, when everyone
wanted to keep everything (present
company included), we did keep a lot of
everything. We were the ?rst to keep and
spawn hundreds ? thousands ? of species.
We went there, did it, and now, frankly,
there isn?t quite the selection of ?never been
kept? ?sh that there was then, and certainly
not as readily available.
Hardcore hobbyists are still out there. We
just pay more for our ?sh now and have a
smaller selection to choose from.
Guess the fish answer from page 30: Peppered catfish, Corydoras paleatus.
S
O, WHERE have the
hobbyists gone? I?ve been
asked this exact question on
a few occasions now by
other hobbyists, retailers,
and even a couple of
journalists. The perception,
it seems, is that they have
emigrated. They?ve either dropped the
hobby altogether, or they?ve morphed into
?something else?.
Nathan Hill
is Practical
Fishkeeping
magazine?s
associate editor,
biotope fancier,
aquascape
dabbler and
part-time amateur
skateboarder.
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owser of ?lamentous algae ? offer spirulina ?akes or nori regularly. During
climation, offer multiple daily feeds, then once or twice per day
erwards. It?s said to be the most peaceful of an already peaceful family, so
houldn?t be mixed with boisterous or imposing tankmates.
APOLEMICHTHYS
A family of some of the hardiest mid-sized angel?sh,
varying from 15 to 30cm. All require large tanks to supply
enough live rock surfaces for grazing and hiding, while
offering ample open swimming space. Aquaria should be
well matured, so natural foods can be scavenged while
they acclimatise. The visual differences between juveniles
and adults are subtler than in the larger angel?sh Th
are nine species, but few are seen re
Bandit angelfish
oldflake angelfish
olemichthys xanthopunctatus
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
Apolemichthys arcuatus
A striking but challenging ?sh, speci?cally with feeding. In nature it feed
on sponges, algae, hydroids and ?sh eggs ? in the aquarium try frozen
Krill and Mysis shrimp, ?sh eggs, vitamin-forti?ed shrimp and dried algae
plus live rock grazing. It reaches 18cm and should be kept in a tank of
500 l. Inhabits the Hawaiian and Johnston islands in the Paci?c at a depth
of 12-50m. Will nip at sessile invertebrates, including corals and sponges.
90
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
hile semi-aggressive to other ?sh, the Gold?ake is known as one of the
er angels for the reef tank. Tends not to pick at sessile invertebrates,
treat with caution. It reaches 25cm and needs a tank around 650 l.
und in the Central-Western Paci?c Ocean around many islands at
65m depth. It inhabits deep channels and lagoons, outer reef slopes
d drop-offs. Juveniles prefer deeper waters, being found at 30m.
CENTROPYGE
This is the most commonly seen family on sale ? it?s also
the largest, with 35 currently valid members. Centropyge
species are the most suitable angels to be kept in aquaria
due to their small size ranging from 5.5cm to 19cm.
They tend to mix well, even with very small ?sh like
gobies and blennies, and can be kept alongside most corals
and small in ertebrates though the ma nibble
Flame angelfish
SHUTTERSTOCK
Centropyge loriculus
Bold, bright colouring has made this ?sh the most popular d
angel, but it?s not the most suitable reef inhabitant as it can
stony and soft corals, plus tubeworms and clam mantles. It?s
added to well-established tanks and added last as, once sett
can become semi-aggressive to new introductions. At 15cm
size, it will need a 260 l tank. Keep copper levels below 0.15
g f
SHUTTERSTOCK
Centropyge flavissima
At 14cm full size, this bright yellow angel?sh requires at least 250 l. It?s
likely to give LPS corals a hard time and other vivid yellow tankmates
will become the target of aggression too. Although meaty foods are
required, offer it more spirulina and seaweed foods than other angels.
Juveniles display a black eye-spot edged by electric blue on their ?anks.
Coral beauty angelfish
Hardy and peaceful, this is probably the most suitable
angel for a reef tank. Colours vary by origin ? some are
all blue, others show orange, while a few show yellow
and even white on their ?anks. It?s as intelligent as the
larger angel?sh, and becomes territorial if kept in smaller
tanks. It reaches 10cm and needs a 200 l aquarium.
Bicolor angelfish
Centropyge bicolor
ALAMY
SHUTTERSTOCK
Centropyge bispinosa
Although a popular variety of angel?sh, the Bicolor is
the least reef-friendly Centropyge. Young specimens will
adapt to an aquarium diet more easily than larger ?sh
which might only eat some algae, but will often prefer
corals, tunicates, sponges and worms. It?s likely to nip
the mantles of clams too. The Bicolor reaches 15cm
and needs a 260 l aquarium.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 91
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Hillstream loach
The
TIGER
STREAM
The Tiger hillstream loach thrives best in a
dedicated tank with strong flow and good food
supplies. Here?s how to create yours?
RICHARD
BAKER
Despite being
retired, Richard
finds time to
scuba dive, fish
and maintain his
aquariums.
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 93
JIM EAMES
Hillstream loach
need more than
just the average
aquarium set-up.
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Hillstream loach
There are 14 species in the
genus Sewellia. Until 2012
the species was placed within
the family Balitoridae, but
is now within the
Gastromyzontidae.
ABOVE:
The name
lineolata refers
to the markings
through the
middle of the
body.
INSET: Tunze
powerheads suit
this set-up.
94
HE TIGER hillstream
loach, Sewellia
lineolata, is probably
the most attractive of
the hillstream loaches.
Found in rocky, upland
Vietnamese streams
of fast-?owing cool
waters, saturated with dissolved
oxygen and low in nutrients, it
has very exacting environmental
requirements.
There are 14 species in the genus
Sewellia. All are ?attened dorsoventrally, and have modi?ed
pectoral and pelvic ?ns that enable
them to clamp onto rocks.
S. lineolata is golden-yellow or
green in colour, overlain with
intricate black markings. They have
been reported at up to 6cm long,
although I?ve never seen them quite
this large myself. Other common
names include Reticulated hillstream
loach, Vietnamese hillstream loach
and the retailer?s favourite ? the
Gold ring butter?y loach.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Setting up
To keep a Tiger you need to
replicate the fast ?ows of mountain
streams and rivers. One way to do
this is a river tank manifold ? two or
more powerheads at one end of the
aquarium, sponge ?lters at the
other, all connected by
pipework that runs under
the substrate. Narrow
pipework is easiest to
conceal, while
large pipework
provides better
?ow rate.
From my
experience, an
aquarium 30cm wide,
with a water depth of
20cm, requires a total ?ow of
at least 2,000 litres per hour. This
is quite a gentle ?ow by river
aquarium standards, and allows for
?sh less well adapted to fast water
to be kept. For an aquarium
containing only Sewellia, this could
be doubled.
River manifolds do not result in
ideal laminar ?ow conditions. With
any ?ne particles suspended in the
water, numerous eddies can be
identi?ed, plus some reverse ?ow at
the aquarium edges. Note also that
while the ?ow directly in front of
the pumps is extremely fast, the
velocity reduces rapidly with
distance. At the far end
of my tank, the ?ow is
a fraction of that at
the pumps. For
this, reason
I consider an
aquarium of
120cm to be the
maximum length for a
manifold like this.
For a manifold, you want
impeller-driven powerheads.
These were traditionally used to
power under-gravel ?lters in
freshwater aquaria, and provide
circulation in marine aquaria. Alas,
under-gravel ?lters have gone out of
fashion, and most marine ?ow
NATHAN HILL
SHUTTERSTOCK
pumps available nowadays are of
the propeller type ? wholly
unsuitable for a river tank manifold.
For my set-up, I run two Tunze
Turbelle e-jet 1005, each with a
?ow-rate of 1,100 l/h, at a power
consumption of 9W. These are
supported solely by river tank
manifold pipework that provides a
rigid support, and signi?cantly
reduces noise. With a bigger budget,
controllable rate pumps become
an option.
The foam ?lters are Hozelock
Green Machine 18000 ?lter foam
cartridge, which measures
30x10x10cm. The 33mm bore in the
foam is compatible with 32mm
pipework, and the coarse grade of
foam ensures no loss of ?ow. The
cartridge is cut in two to provide
two ?lters 15cm in height.
Dissolved oxygen
Hillstream loach require high levels
of dissolved oxygen. Some pumps
may be able to run a venturi system
to provide increased aertion, though
I opted for a Tetra APS 300 airpump
(300 l/h). To stop it being a visual
blemish, the airstone is hidden
under a rock directly in front of
the powerheads.
With Sewellia, it?s important to
keep the temperature suf?ciently
low to achieve the highest possible
dissolved oxygen levels ? as water
temperature goes up, its ability to
hold dissolved oxygen decreases.
Note, however, that biological
activity in the ?lter reduces at
low temperatures.
After some trial and error, the
lowest temperature at which my ?sh
were displaying normal behaviour
was 23癈. Because S. lineolata will
rest on all and any surfaces, it?s
essential to cover heaters to prevent
burns. Careful consideration should
also be given to aquarium siting.
Rooms with a south- or west-facing
aspect may become too hot.
Algae growth
Hillstream loach feed on aufwuchs
? microscopic invertebrates and
algae combined. You need strong
lighting to sustain this growth, and
I opted for a 30W Fluval Aquasky
LED with a basic Fluval LED Lamp
Timer. To mimic the Sewellia?s native
Vietnamese daily cycle, I set the day
length to 11 hours. The only
problem with this set up is that the
Fluval timer reverts to midnight in
the event of a power cut, so when
power is restored the aquarium
remains in darkness.
For an ongoing food source, some
FACTFILE
HILLSTREAM TIGER LOACH
6Scientific name: Sewellia lineolata
6Pronounciation: Seh-well-ee-ah lin-ee-oh-lart-ah
6Origin: Vietnam
6Habitat: Rocky upland streams
6Size: Up to 6cm
6Tank size: 90x30cm footprint for six ?sh
6Water requirements: 6.5-7.5 pH,
saturated dissolved oxygen, high ?ow rate
6Temp: 21-25癈
6Feeding: Strong lighting will encourage
natural algal growth. Supplement with an
aufwuchs substitute
6
Availability and cost: Readily available;
�to �each
54 l+
?shkeepers place stones in an
outdoor pond in full sunlight, and
add them to the aquarium to ensure
a constant supply. I?ve found
Repashy Soilent Green, formulated
to replicate aufwuchs, to be the most
effective supplementary food. It?s
supplied in powder form, and mixed
with boiling water to produce a gel.
Once made, it has a storage life of
only two weeks when refrigerated,
so I make very small quantities at a
time ? just a 4mm thick layer in a
9cm diameter Tupperware
container. Offering a 4x4cm piece of
the gel daily, combined with the
natural food found in the aquarium,
seems adequate for eight ?sh.
ABOVE: Tiger
loach rest on
rocks, plants
and ornaments
to take a break
from the flow.
Looking the part
It is rare to see a convincing river
aquarium; many of those in books
or videos are too fussy, with
complicated rockwork, branches,
and too much vegetation. Since
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 95
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Hillstream loach
Sewellia species inhabit the upper
reaches of rivers, where the
substrate is either smooth bedrock,
large loose rocks or gravel, I decided
to take inspiration from the upland
streams in the West Country where
I live. I noticed two things: that
aquatic vegetation is sparse, and
that the loose rocks are irregular in
shape, though they do have rounded
edges. This means the round
cobbles on sale in aquatics centres
aren?t really suitable.
Sand can be blown around by high
?ows, so I chose 3mm pea gravel as
my base layer; ?rst adding a layer of
pebbles before covering both
pebbles and pipework with the
gravel. Next came slab-shaped rocks
with rounded edges, until most of
the gravel was obscured. Then I
added more rocks randomly to
create a number of caves in which
the ?sh could hide.
Although these rocks were initially
quite bare, they?ve grown a
discernible coating of vegetation
since being placed in the aquarium.
Long and low
tanks are great
for building
hillstream
biotopes.
Most of this is algae, including a red
calcareous algae type, but some
moss-like vegetation has also grown.
A choice of simple plants to
highlight the strong ?ow were Dwarf
Sagittaria, Sagittaria subulata,
planted in two small clumps in pots.
After careful consideration, I
decided to make no attempt to hide
the pumps and ?lters as it would
have been almost impossible to
disguise them effectively.
Stocking & spawning
After cycling the aquarium for a
month, I initially bought only four
?sh due to worries about how much
natural food the algae-covered rocks
in the aquarium could provide. The
Tigers were reclusive, with only one
or two ?sh being on show at any one
time. After buying another four, the
aquarium is livelier.
If you like constant movement in
your tank, then S. lineolata is not the
?sh for you. They split their time
between resting ? hiding under
rocks, or stuck to the aquarium glass
BELOW:
This side
is normally
gripping the
rockwork.
ALAMY
They were reclusive, with only one
or two ?sh being on show at any
one time. After buying another four,
the aquarium is livelier
Old school
powerheads are
ideal to use with
river manifold
pipework.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Sewellia tussle
over territory
and food.
96
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
? or grazing on rocks. At feeding
time, they don?t respond the way
most other ?sh do. When food is
dropped into the aquarium, they
show no reaction, and appear to ?nd
it only by chance, rather than
homing in on it through any senses.
Tigers tend to be defensive about
the rock they are feeding upon, and
indulge in pushing, tail slapping, and
topping, where one ?sh drops on top
of another. Sometimes a ?sh will
escape from another by darting
along the length of the aquarium,
either upstream or downstream.
Despite their unusual shape they are
extremely fast. Interestingly, they are
diurnal, with most of the activity
taking place in the afternoon and
evening ? I?ve never seen any
activity at night.
I decided not to add any additional
species to the aquarium, for two
reasons. One was to maintain high
The tank under
construction.
It's a good idea to fit sliding
glass covers to your aquarium.
Tigers can 'climb' glass and
are reputed to be able
to jump out of
tanks.
ALL: JIM EAMES
Long periods of light
will encourage the
growth of natural food.
suggested that a rise in temperature
of a few degrees, followed by a
cooler water change, is the trigger to
induce spawning.
It would seem highly desirable to
breed this species. It is listed as
vulnerable by the International
Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) because of a 30% decline
between 2000 and 2010 due to
collection, silting from deforestation,
and dam construction.
Intricate markings
break up the outline
and help camouflage
these loaches.
Easy care
This is a low maintenance aquarium.
I carry out a 25% water change
once a month, using water aerated
for 24 hours, and rinse one of the
sponge filters in the discharged
water. The second filter is rinsed at
the next water change. A nitrate test
is carried out monthly to confirm
levels are below 10ppm. Pump
internals are cleaned annually.
ALAMY
levels of water quality. The other
was that I hoped the S. lineolata
would breed, and other species
might prey upon the eggs or fry.
The Tiger hillstream loach displays
sexual dimorphism ? males and
females have a different appearance;
the most obvious being that in the
male, the leading edge of the
pectoral fin joins the body at almost
a right angle, whereas in the female,
it joins at a shallower angle. I have a
mix of sexes in the aquarium, but
after six months there has been no
breeding, although I have seen
preliminary courtship behaviour.
A handful of aquarists have been
successful in breeding S. lineolata,
however. Courtship consists of the
male carrying out fluttering displays
and chasing the female. Eventually
the pair rise off the substrate,
pectoral fins entwined, before eggs
and milt are released. It has been
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 97
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
DTRIP
r t
This month we visit the South coast in
glorious sunshine and descend on a diverse
collection of aquatics shops in Dorset.
TOTAL JOURNEY TIME: 13 HRS 10 MINS. MILES: 583
Maidenhead
Aquatics @ Galton
BJ?s Koi
Fishcove Aquatics
98
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
West Dorset
Aquatics
VISIT 1
Fishcove Aquatics
9th May
STEVE BAKER: With the weather off
to a good start the timer started
ticking on our roadtrip clock as we
left Peterborough at 7am in a hire
car. Google picked out a route that
avoided the M25, almost missing
any motorway, and as the driver I
was happy for that ? less chance of
boredom kicking in.
With a quick stop-off on the way
to grab hot drinks, we reached the
Dorset border around 11am and
made our way into Wimborne for
our ?rst visit of the day ? meeting
Duncan and Amie Jones at Fishcove
Aquatics. One thing we didn?t
expect on a midweek morning was
having to hunt so hard for a parking
place. The shop is in the town
centre so there?s no parking really
close by, but we found a spot at a
place called Allenview carpark,
which gave us an eight-minute
amble to stretch our legs, taking in
a small section of the river Allen.
Fishcove Aquatics is a pleasing
story of a small independent
business doing quite well for itself.
It?s been trading for around three
years and moved to the present,
larger premises about a year ago.
As Duncan ran me through the
ethos of the business and his
thoughts on the hobby and industry,
he said all the right stuff.
The livestock selection might not
set hearts racing straight away but
Young Kyathit
danio.
you?ll see some rare(ish) favorites
like Redline rasbora, Trigonopoma
pauciperforatum, Clown rasbora,
Rasbora kalochroma, and some
Chocolate gourami, Sphaerichthys
osphromenoides, in ?ne condition
As I looked round the tanks I
an apology on the grounds that
some of the newest ?sh were
off sale while they settled in
over several days. I?d much
rather see that than know
new stock goes out before it?s
ready. The overall health of
the ?sh offered was very good,
there were no irresponsible ?sh
ABOVE: Fishcove
Aquatics in
Wimborne town
centre.
BELOW: Owner
Duncan Jones.
the tanks and the
shop is signed up to
the Big Fish
Campaign.
This is a shop that
serves the local
community of
aquarists well, while
at the same time
honing in on the
aquascaping market.
Three display tanks
show different
approaches to
aquascaping with a blackwater
set-up taking pride of place.
?Scaping products ?ll the shelves
along with Kessil lighting, glass
pipework, a range of botanicals and
in vitro plants, plus a good selection
of substrates (displayed in the
ock tanks) and wood.
he next stage for the shop is to
offer more blackwater-inspired
?sh ? Duncan says acid-loving
?sh like Apistogramma will be
likely to make an appearance
in the future. Plus, there?ll be
a new shrimp sales system
oming soon, planned to hold
varieties of shrimp.
Fishcove Aquatics at
a glance
Address: 3 Kings Court, High Street,
Wimbourne, Dorset BH21 1HS
Telephone: 01202 883065
Website: ?shcove.co.uk
Number of tanks: 73 including 32 Betta tanks
Opening hours: Mon 10am-4pm, Tues-Fri
9:30am-5pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm
Parking: Town car parks; be prepared for a little
bit of a walk
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 99
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
ROADTRIP
A month of specialists
Just one of
Fishcove?s ace
?ghting ?sh.
NATHAN HILL: Parking aside ?
there were times I didn?t think we?d
ever ?nd a spot ? Fishcove Aquatics
is nestled in a lovely little market
town, and that means it?s heaving
with tourists. Allocate yourself a
little strolling time, because it is
highly unlikely you?ll ?nd a parking
space within a minute?s walk.
The blackwater theme, well
supported by the botanicals on sale,
gives people here a chance at trying
out a whole new look in their tanks.
The ?sh were clean and healthy,
though maybe a little tame for my
tastes, and the available hardscape
was really on point. In fact, the
whole store was very decoration
heavy, from natural woods
strategically placed all over, to
Hugo Kamishi plastic plants and
ornaments on racks behind the
counter. If you like Seachem, you?re
in luck, as it?s stocked heavily.
Spend a minute going through the
?sh in the Betta rack. Not everyone
is a fan of these small tanks, even
during the temporary housing they?re
designed for, but even if you don?t,
you?ll have to agree that the quality
of the ?sh inside them is impressive.
There are some nice Betta bargains
to be had for under a tenner, too.
I thought the plants were lightly
stocked, but the timing of our visit
would be to blame here. What
was available, though, was good
enough ? aside from a cheeky
houseplant peeking out at me from
the selection.
As long as you?re not actively
searching for oddballs, marines or
pond ?sh, this place will see you
right. For me it?s a 7/10 and I?d
certainly shop here.
Fascinating ?sh ? Mustard gas ?ghter
Scienti?c name: Betta splendens
Origin: Central Thailand
Habitat: Sluggish waters ? swamps, ditches, streams and ponds
Size: 6-7cm
Temperature: 23-27癈
Water: Naturally soft, 5-7pH, ornamental strains not fussy 6-8 pH
Feeding: Small pellets, granuals and small frozen food
Temperament: Mixed; individuals may be feisty or quite calm
Price: �
Tight, but
well-used space
at Fishcove.
VISIT 2
BJ?s Koi
Brian?s personal pond
holds some gems.
9th May
SB: A quick wander round
Wimborne?s shops led us to a lovely
Italian-inspired cafe ? The Cantina,
on Church Street, which served us
up a tasty ?atbread lunch and we
set off from Wimbourne with a
smile. (Ed?s note: Time it so you can
stick around for lunch in the town
as there?s a good choice of eateries.
If you?re in no rush, it?s worth a
stroll around the sights here too;
there are plenty of little stores and
boutiques to visit.)
The second ?sh shop of the day
was a 25-minute drive away in
Bournemouth and a place for the
Koi specialist to get excited about.
We contacted Brian a
Koi not really knowing
what to expect. The
website looked
appealing, it?s the
season for Koi and
pond stuff, and we
do like specialist
little outlets so we
organised a visit.
We didn?t expect to
so impressed. The business is
in the back garden of Brian?s home,
which will immediately conjure up
the wrong image in most people?s
minds. We briskly walked through
the dry goods shop to get to
the Koi, but I had an idea of how
comprehensive the dry goods were
by the fact that there?s a whole room
for pipework ?ttings. Later, we
looked more closely to ?nd a great
many high-quality products ? it
seems Brian has his ?nger on the
pulse when it comes to Koi goods
and we left with some promising
products for our ?Used and abused?
gear pages.
The ?rst two vats of Koi were newly
imported ?sh settling in, but they
already looked lively and colourful,
and as we continued, there were
more and more vats. BJ?s Koi deals
with Japanese ?sh and had a wide
range of sizes and varieties when we
visited. After seeing the vats of
?sh, Brian showed
is two large ponds ?
ne containing larger
Koi for sale, the
other for his
personal collection
and for growing-on.
All the ponds and
vats are over-?ltered
ng a combination of
automated EA Nexus
?lters, UV clari?ers, bead
?lters and ?baccy showers?. The
BJ?s Koi
at a glance
Address: 371 Kinson Road, Bournemouth,
Dorset BH10 5HF
Telephone: 01202 770204; mobile: 07973
264338
Website: bjskoi.co.uk
Number of vats: 11 Koi vats, two gold?sh vats,
two 6,000 gallon show ponds
Areas of specialisation: Japanese Koi
Opening hours: By appointment
Parking: Roadside residential, very easy
Young Japanese
?sh showing
promise.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 101
SHOPS & EQUIPMENT
ROADTRIP
A month of specialists
pictures should tell you as much
about the clarity of the water and
the quality of the ?sh.
Just to warn you if you visit, Brian
also has a mail order (non-?shy)
business nearby trading under the
?BJ? name, and if you look for BJ?s
Koi on Google maps you might be
taken there (as we were) rather than
to Kinson Road where the ?sh are.
NH: So, we turned up at the wrong
place to sta
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