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Practical Fishkeeping 05 2018

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GET THE MOST FROM YOUR RYUKINS
The UK’s best-selling aquatics magazine
COLOURFUL
KILLIFISH
May 2018 £4.50
Breed the brightest
species in the world
DOWNSIZING
TANKBUSTERS
Safe alternatives for six known
saltwater giants
Q&A
TROPICAL, MARINE
AND COLDWATER
QUERIES TACKLED
BY OUR EXPERTS
PONDS FOR ALL
Which style fits your home best?
Marine worms
The good,
the bad and
the beautiful
Ravishing
rainbows
Tai Strietman’s
striking set-up
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To find out more on the all the other products available from the Indoor Aquatics range,
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Welcome
THE EXPERTS
STEVE
BAKER
SUBSCRIBE TO
AND SAVE
UP TO *60%
See page 70
*60% is based on purchasing
a digital & print subscription
Swap out your
oversized marines
on page 68.
This issue Steve has
been busy out on shop
tours and testing gear but what he is
really excited about is killifish. Read all
about it on page 12
JEREMY
GAY
Jeremy has been
embracing his love
for goldfish, and has written about a
revered but misunderstood variety. Read
his take on Ryukins on page 44.
DAVID
WOLFENDEN
We set Dave to task
with writing all about
marine worms, and what a bounty he
came back with. Find out what makes
them so special on page 94.
TAI
STRIETMAN
Tai couldn’t wait to tell
us all about his recent
Threadfin rainbowfish project. We went
around, photographed it, and you can
see the amazing results on page 76.
AD
KONINGS
We’ve been milking Ad
for everything he can
tell us about Tanganyikan cichlids. This
month it’s the ubiquitous Lemon cichlid
in its many colours on page 82.
GEORGE
FARMER
George has been on
the road looking at
even more glamorous tanks in readers’
homes. This month it’s the turn of a
cracking reef set-up on page 88.
Stay in touch
Email us at editorial@
practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
HOW ARE you liking the new
look magazine? I’m guessing
from the string of emails that
I’m getting, and the positive
feedback while out and about,
that you approve of the new
style. I hope so, because we’re
really enjoying redesigning it!
This month I’m excited about killifish – those
wonderful ‘mail order’ packages you can buy as eggs
and hatch at home. Steve Baker has done sterling work
writing them up as our main freshwater fish feature, but
even that wasn’t enough to give him an adequate ‘killie
hit’. Take a peek at what’s swimming in Steve’s step-bystep set-up on page 75 – see if you can’t spot the couple
of killies that came home with him after a shoptour.
Looking forward to longer nights and brighter seasons?
Me too, very much so. That’s why I’ve commissioned a
little ‘pondspiration’ piece for you on page 58. If you’re
not a pondkeeper already, I hope this’ll give you
motivation to start. Enjoy!
Nathan Hill, Associate Editor
Watch us on youtube.com/
user/practicalfishkeeping
ON THE COVER
Fundulopanchax amieti.
Photograph by Peter
Maguire. Check out more of
his awesome work at flickr.
com/photos/petermaguire
Which invertebrates
break off the rear
part of their bodies,
grow new crowns
and become clones
of their parents?
Find out on page 94
Follow us at www.facebook.
com/PFKmag/
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
5
Contents
MAY
94
58
INSPIRATION
08
36
FLAMBOYANT
CUTTLEFISH
How to create a dazzling
‘billabong’ display to show off
those shimmering colours and
flowing fins of rainbowfish to
their best advantage.
Discover how these fabulous
cephalopods live fast, die
young and give dazzling
displays on the sandy floor of
44
12
22
6
COLOURFUL KILLIFISH
If you want bright, the world
of killifish offers a vivid palette
without the limp credit card or
the brain-ache of saltwater.
BIOTOPE FROM
‘DOWN UNDER’
68
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
76
LEMON CICHLIDS
88
OLLIE’S AMAZING REEF
94
EXOTIC WORMS
Editor’s
Pick
FANCY GOLDFISH
Big, bold and bright, Jeremy
Gay explains why Ryukins are
the goldfish to covet.
THE BIG ALTERNATIVES
Want a whopper but no
room for a tank-buster? Then
check out our alternative
beauties more suited to home
aquariums.
FRESHWATER EELS
Usually associated with
coral reefs, one species of
Moray might surprise you by
turning up in your local store’s
freshwater section.
82
WATER POPPIES
Step-by-step: Steve Baker
takes an open-topped tank and
turn it into a planted treasure
for Pencils and killifish.
Read Editor
Nathans favourite
article this issue
- a step-by step
poppy aquarium.
PAGE 76
Why a carefully chosen pair of
mellow yellows make a striking
addition to your aquarium.
Imagine an aquarium so
breathtaking that you build
your house around it. We visit
one reader who did just that!
We take a look at marine
‘wrigglers’ and differentiate
the good from the bad to the
downright gorgeous.
NEWS & VIEWS
10
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Mutant Malawi cichlids
imported into the UK, clownfish
personality research and Tetra/
PFK podcasts to watch.
5
THINGS
YOU WILL
LEARN IN
THIS ISSUE
1
We show you
the best way to
acclimatise fish
to your tank in a
step-by-step in this
month’s all n
advice sectio
4
2
Learn how to
breed different
types of killifish and
get a higher survival
success rate
3
Get to recognise
your pest worms
and how best to
deal with them in
your tank
Can you tell one
Ryukin from
the next? Read our
feature on fancies
to become and ID
68
20
29
33
ETHICAL DEBATE
PFK associate editor Nathan
Hill and staff writer Steve
Baker go head to head over
the thorny subject of ‘fish-in’
cycling.
separator, NorthFin fish food,
Sicce Syncra SDC 7.0 pump.
Plus new product news.
106 SHOPTOUR
The PFK team visit aquatics
TANK COMMUNITY
shops in St Albans and
Leicester.
Your letters, views, photos and
social media chatter from the
PFK world.
REGULARS
ME & MY TANK
34
SUBSCRIBE TO PFK
51
FISHKEEPING ANSWERS
Readers’ aquariums revealed:
Sophie Perret from Scotland
tells us why she loves Bettas,
hoses and being patient!
GEAR & REVIEWS
GEAR
101 NEW
The latest fishkeeping products
tried and tested, including
the Ziss GL-1 Fish & Shrimp
Enjoy 6 months of Practical
Fishkeeping from just £15.50 –
and never miss an issue.
PFK’s crack team of aquatics
experts are on hand to answer
all your questions. This month:
Porcupine puffer set-ups, an
ammonia crisis, pestering
Platies, and DIY leaf decor to
name just a few
5
Whichever type
of pond you
have, we tell you
how to make it
thrive this summer.
44
Practical
Fishkeeping
delivered to
your digital
device
PAGE 34
58
FISHKEEPING
KNOW-HOW
Scratching your head over what
type of pond would suit you
and your outdoor space? We
help you choose and create a
great-looking water feature to
be proud of.
MONTH
110 NEXT
Don’t miss our brilliant 16-page
supplement packed with all
the information, advice and top
tips you need to know about
feeding aquarium fish.
114 TAILPIECE
Let’s put a stop to fishkeeping
trolls on social media and
make this wonderful hobby
of ours welcoming to all –
particularly newcomers, says
Nathan.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
7
INCREDIBLE INVERTS
Flamboyant cuttlefish
PUTT
ON A
The Flamboyant cuttlefish h
of its eight sleeves, and giv
technicolour display on the
SHUTTERSTOCK
L
IVE FAST, die
young’ is a motto
many cephalopods
adhere to, and for
the Flamboyant
cuttlefish, Metasepia
pfefferi, this is no
different. Setting
out on a fast track to maturity, they
face a race against the clock to
reproduce before senescence kicks
in, and with a life expectancy of
just a year, time isn’t on their side.
Their silt-filled, muck homelands
of the Indo-Pacific provide a perfect
refuge from the predator-rich
waters of the coral reef. Camouflage
is key in these open expanses
of nothingness, where a splash
of colour could put the average
inhabitant top of the menu.
The Flamboyant cuttlefish isn’t
your everyday cephalopod. Despite
attaining a maximum length of 8cm,
they think nothing of taking to the
sand for a stroll, decked in their
finest garb, and willingly stand their
ground at the first sign of conflict.
It takes courage to take on threats
far greater in size, but then they do
have a few tricks up one of their
eight sleeves.
At first glance, ‘flamboyant’ seems
an oversight – these nondescript
little cuttles typically come in
a fetching muddy-grey colour. Like
other coleoid cephalopods, though,
they possess chromatophores,
leucophores and iridophores
– a collection of organs beneath the
skin that enable them to alter their
colouration in the blink of an eye.
When disturbed, vivid flashes
8
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
of purples, b
yellows assa
senses, start
would-be pr
What make
light show e
impressive i
the patterns
are not stati
– the waves
colour cons
a multitude
further effec
shape, too, a
papillae to b
If this firew
deter preda
cuttle has an
ploy. It can
clouds of in
water, provi
a smokescre
help it make
its escape.
Another
contributing
their appare
their toxic fl
strut your st
possess the
technicolou
similar to th
octopus, Ha
a brave crea
a meal out o
As well as
Flamboyant
hearts, throu
flows, and a
the oesopha
through the
off, while m
inflate the g
CHRIS
SERGEANT
Chris works in
conservation
research and
regularly writes
for aquarium
publications.
INSET: Fresh eggs are
white, but become
translucent so you can
see the developing
young inside.
ALAMY
MAIN:Flamboyant by
name, these cuttlefish are
gorgeous to look at.
FISHKEEPING NEWS
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics.
NEW IMPORT
First-ever import of
mutant fish!
NEIL HEPWORTH
It may not be pretty but it is
interesting to many.
Lake Malawi fish have their own unique
concoction of genetics. Many people understand
that rift lakes are a bit special when it comes
to the genetic histories of the species they
contain, but most of us know little more than
scratching at the surface. However, fans of Rift
cichlids may well have researched further into
this subject because it’s extremely interesting,
ofering more than just pretty fish in a tank but
also a backstory and an ever-changing scientific
interest to the hobby.
People have dedicated their professional lives
to study the lakes and their inhabitants and
continue to describe changes occurring within
each lake. A new or rare species or variant is
always of major interest to those in the know
and now two special fish have cropped up in
the UK.
Ricky Ward of UK Aquatic Imports, a specialist
Malawi cichlid importer, has taken delivery of
a fish that’s not been seen for many years, that
possibly has never been exported before and
asks more questions about genetics than it
10
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
answers at this point.
The attraction of this fish isn’t skin-deep: look
at the image – it’s not going to set hearts racing
on colours and markings, but to aficionados this
fish represents an intriguing mystery.
Ricky has suggested that this fish is a mutated
Tropheops macropthalmus type from the
Tanzanian coast. He says: “There has been
some suggestion that one may have previously
been caught and exported, but this hasn’t been
clarified just yet. Either way this is a UK first for
Malawi cichlids and one I doubt
will be seen anywhere else
right now.”
African cichlid expert
and PFK contributor
Ad Konings
comments: “I have
seen such a fish,
the Spreinat fish*,
a few times among
various species of
Tropheops. Once we
Teeth give clues to diets and
lifestyles of Malawi species.
No Tropheops
species has the front
loaded, seemingly
unicuspid, teeth that
this ‘mutant’ has.
RESEARCH
Clowns’ behaviour may depend
on the habitat they came from.
Andrew J Green / reef life survey
collected a male specimen with this ‘mutant’
coloration and a day later in the aquarium it had
lost that colour and had reverted back to what
the other males of that species look like. It may
be a mutation, a ‘disease’ or problem with its
melanocytes that plays up whenever the male
gets excited or aggressive.”
Ad further says that this fish “looks like a
hybrid between Tropheops and some other
mbuna, perhaps orange-blotch (OB) Zebra or
OB estherae. Tropheops usually have a much
rounder head.”
Former PFK editor and cichlid expert Jeremy
Gay adds: “I’d say that the fish is a deep-water
fish, hence the big eye and rarity, but it has
clear scraping or combing teeth. There won’t
be algae down there. So, a sponge eater? But
no Tropheops have the front loaded, seemingly
unicuspid, teeth that this ‘mutant’ has.
“If it dies, and gets described, I would say
that it won’t be placed in either Pseudotropheus
or Tropheops. Right now, it looks more like a
Simochromis from Tanganyika!”
Ricky says: “The mutant fish has been a dream
for many wild fish hobbyists for as long as I
remember, not for the colour, to study it. Will
females react to the males as one of their own?
Will the mutant form be passed onto the young?
We’ll have to wait and see in the breeding
program planned for these fish in the UK.
“However, to have received two wild male
mutants collected at the same time and same
reef makes us all wonder that maybe this fish
could be becoming a small population, as to see
just one is such a great rarity.”
* Referring to Andreas Spreinat who published
an image of this fish in his book Lake Malawi
Cichlids from Tanzania, 1996 - Ed.
Does your clownfish lack
personality? It might be normal!
Research in Australia has been carried
out to determine the extent of individual
personalities in clownfish (anemonefish)
species, Amphiprion.
The research involved in-situ analysis of key
personality features – boldness, sociability
and aggression – in Amphiprion mccullochi
and Amphiprion latezonatus.
Behaviour appears to be linked to
environment. A. latezonatus, inhabiting
a relatively stable lagoon environment,
were characterized by uniform behaviour,
while A. mccullochi, subject to a harsher
habitat and with more social flux, showed
variation between individuals – they could
be more sociable, or much bolder, than other
A. mccullochi in their neighbourhood.
The ramifications of this for the fishkeeper is
that if you want a staid, predictable fish, you
should opt for species that come from stable
environments, while if you prefer a wild card,
then go for fish from unstable areas.
O The full research article is the International
Society for Reef Studies’ journal Coral Reefs,
December 2017, Volume 36, Issue 4 (Wong,
M.Y.L., Beasley, A.L., Douglass, T. et al).
PODCASTS
WATCH THE TETRA PODCASTS!
Tetra has teamed up with PFK to ofer a series of
podcasts on fishkeeping topics.
Each month Tetra consultant Dave Hulse will
be running an in-depth feature on the Practical
Fishkeeping website, with an accompanying
podcast. There will be 12 podcasts in all, from
setting up an aquarium, through tailoring fish
diets, preparing ponds for summer, treating
diseases and the importance of water care.
Dave says: “Fishkeeping, like anything, is easy
when you know how. In an increasingly digital
world our podcast series enables fishkeepers to
receive insight on a range of topics while on the
go, whether it’s during their morning commute,
when they are out on a walk or pottering around
the garden.”
O You can catch the podcasts each month on
Soundcloud at http://bit.ly/TetraPFKPodcast1,
while Dave’s Tetra column can be found at
www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
Don’t miss fishcare topics explained from
Tetra’s Dave Hulse online and on podcast.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 11
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Killifish
In pursuit of
COLOUR
Sporting a palette to rival any rainbow, killifish are
often naturally short-lived and temperamental.
But those who embrace them rarely turn back…
PETER MAGUIRE
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
12
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
I
T WORRIES me when
relative novices say “I’m
going to start keeping
marines because the colours
are so much brighter”.
I imagine a lot of spending,
and headaches, then nine
months on they are selling
their whole set-up complete with
a surviving toadstool coral, algaecoated live rock and two clownfish.
Beyond the standard community
tank, freshwater fish have more to
offer than many appreciate. If you
want the challenge then go marine
and enjoy it. But if you want bright,
the world of killifish offers vivid
colour without the limp credit card
or the brain-ache of saltwater.
Killifish and relatives inhabit all
tropical continents, they have a
winning formula in the wild and with
eye-popping colours, modest size,
cheerful character and generally
affordable price tags, they also have
a winning formula for aquariums.
So why isn’t your tank full of killis?
And why isn’t there an abundance of
them in shops?
Feeding killifish
Killifish are micropredators, eating
small insects, larvae and crustaceans.
Their diet should be protein and fat
heavy. Once settled, the common
varieties are easy-going at feeding
time, although it can be a different
story at first. During the first two
days to a week it’s best to offer frozen
foods, ideally those that stay in the
water column – white mosquito
larvae, Daphnia and brineshrimp.
Recently imported killies may
need several days of live foods
before offering frozen. If adult
fish are not used to dried foods
they may shun them forever, so
introduce some as early as possible.
Killifish have either ‘terminal’ or
‘superior’ mouth types. They are
poor at picking food up from the
substrate so fast-sinking foods are
often ignored. Unnoticed food will
go to waste – even bloodworm may
be overlooked when it’s lying still
on the bottom of the aquarium.
So, offer multiple small feeds a day
rather than one larger meal.
Aquarium husbandry
A majority of killifish inhabit soft
and acidic waters, often tannin
stained and shaded by foliage.
I don’t think
I could even
design a more
colourful fish!
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 13
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Killifish
For a rough guide to a biotope we
biotope set-up – just the kind of
would be looking for a dark substrate, bright, clean, colourful aquarium that
ideally soil based (low-nutrient
many aspiring marine keepers are
shrimp soils work best) with a healthy looking for.
amount of leaf litter (including bark
chippings and coconut fibres) and
Posted eggs
not much else.
With killifish, you can buy ‘dry’
Wood can add structure to the
eggs, posted to you by sellers and
tank but I’d lay it flat and build up
enthusiasts from around the world.
substrate behind it for a more
By evolving eggs which can be
natural look. With a dark base,
dried (and sometimes need to
leaf litter and stained water,
be), killifish have been able
an electric-blue and
to inhabit temporary
scarlet-red fish really
bodies of water – and
stands out.
we can use this to
Feeding raw beef heart
The main
our advantage
will keep killifish strong and
challenge here
for ease of
colourful. Use only good
is maintaining
transport!
meat, not ‘tube’ bits,
the carbonate
Hatching the eggs
hardness (KH),
needs only simple
and blitz it in a
especially in a small tank.
equipment, like air-driven
blender
Soft water plus tannic and
sponge filters, and can be
humic acids creates unstable
performed in plastic tubs rather
conditions so I would aim for
than glass tanks. Killifish fry are
around 5°KH upwards – much lower
ready to feed straight away, grow
and pH may fluctuate easily.
quickly, and soon move on to larger
While softwater conditions are
and larger foods.
needed for breeding and egg
development, many killifish are
Compatibility with others
adaptable to harder water conditions. Many killifish enthusiasts keep
Experienced keepers often get great
multiple small tanks with one species
results keeping them in hard, alkaline in each, usually with no other tank
tapwater set-ups, making for a more
mates. I’ve kept them this way and
stable environment.
enjoyed it – and it also helps to avoid
Killifish seem to enjoy clearwater
hybridisation if you want to breed,
planted tanks just as much as a leafy
but it’s not the only way to keep these
ABOVE: Small,
feisty, colourful
and delicate.
lively, determined, fish.
Killifish are feisty, bright, feature fish
and competition with other feature
fish won’t end well. Mixed with dwarf
cichlids the killifish will suffer; mixed
with guppies the guppies will suffer.
Tank mates need to be almost
nondescript and not too characterful,
and also large enough to avoid the
surprisingly wide mouth of a killifish.
For all but the largest species, an
adult Neon tetra is safe but young
Neons may be snapped up by some
larger adult killifish.
BELOW: A
typical killifish
habitat on the
forest floor.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Annual & non-annual lifespan
14
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Killifish can be split into two groups
as far as lifespan is concerned –
annual and non-annual.
West African Nothobranchius and
most South American species, apart
from Rivulus, are ‘annuals’, meaning
they inhabit temporary water bodies
that dry up annually and so the
adults perish, leaving eggs behind
them. They are so adapted to this
shortened life that even when kept
in an aquarium they die young
when compared to most fish.
Temperature has a large influence
on a killifish’s exact lifespan. In
With their vibrant colours, modest size,
cheerful character and generally affordable
price tags, killifish have a winning formula
for the aquarium
warmer conditions, around 26°C,
it may be just six months but keep
them cool, around 22°C, and more
than 12 months is achievable.
‘Non-annuals’ such as Aphyosemion,
Fundulopanchax and Rivulus reside in
more permanent habitats mostly (but
not exclusively and most species’
eggs can be ‘dried’). They have a
longer life than the annuals with two
or three years being the norm, again
being temperature dependent.
These fish jump!
Be aware of the jumping ability
of killifish! In the wild they have
adjusted to living in extremely
small habitats, sometimes just
puddles where a batch of fry can
generate high competition between
themselves as they reach maturity.
Often, less dominant fish need
to move to another body of water
under their own power and the only
way to do that is by hopping and
jumping across forest floor. They will
also jump out of the water to catch
insects above the surface, which
can result in them exiting a tank,
and ending up on the floor. For this
reason they require a close-fitting lid,
Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax
breed quite readily in the aquarium.
They don’t need particularly soft or
acidic water – for best results a pH
of 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal, but instances
of them breeding in a pH of 8.0 isn’t
unheard of.
Add a pair or a male-female-female
trio in something like a 20l tank with
spawning mops around it to simulate
plant life. The temperature should
be 21-24°C and high-protein live
and frozen foods fed to condition the
brood stock.
Killifish lay small amounts of
eggs daily over a week or two and a
healthy batch should result in 4060 fry. The eggs can be collected
from the spawning mops and either
incubated in water or in damp peat/
coconut fibres for transportation –
keep them dark in either situation.
Egg fungus can be an issue when
eggs are kept in water, but a low dose
of methylene blue will help to resolve
that. Daily removal of any white eggs
is needed along with regular, small
water changes.
The developing fry use all the yolk
while in their eggs and are ready
to eat brineshrimp nauplii straight
after hatching. Growth rates are fast
and the young can soon be slowly
conditioned to harder water.
Even with no intervention it’s still
probable that a few odd eggs will
develop and produce some fry in
a ‘permanent’ set-up. With heavy
planting there’s a chance they could
survive to maturity but this leaves
much to luck.
Breeding annuals
Annuals require similar breeding
conditions to non-annual killifish.
The key difference to the tank is the
absence of spawning mops. Instead,
fill a small container (like a plastic
takeaway tub) with pre-soaked peat
or coconut fibres. The adults will use
this to lay eggs in.
For annual species, drying the eggs
is required as they won’t develop in
water. Remove the tub, drain excess
water and store it sealed, damp
and in warmish conditions between
22-25°C for around three months
checking and spaying with water
occasionally.
Re-soak the fibres and, like magic,
you should get baby killifish.
Nothobranchius
guentheri in
a spawning
embrace.
HRISTO HRISTOV
PETER MAGUIRE
Breeding non-annuals
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 15
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Killifish
Other Aphyosemion
A. georgiae; male displaying
courtship pattern
LYRETAIL KILLIFISH.
6
Scientific name: Aphyosemion australe
6
Pronunciation: Af-ee-oh-sem-ee-on
oss-trahl
6Size: Males to 6cm, females to 5cms
6
Origin: Cape Lopez, Gabon and in the
south of Republic of the Congo
6
Habitat: Small permanent water bodies
– swamps, streams
6Tank size: 45x25x25cm
6
Water requirements: 5.5-7.0 pH,
3.0-13°H
6Temperature: 21-32°C
6Temperament: Mostly peaceful
6
Feeding: Flakes, slow-sinking
granules, frozen and live foods
6
Availability and cost: Quite common,
around £15per pair
30 l+
16
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Killifish are
feisty, bright,
feature fish
PETER MAGUIRE
FACTFILE
Lagos red killifish,
A. bitaeniatum
Splendid killifish A.
splendopleure
SHUTTERSTOCK
Aphyosemion
splendopluere
NEIL HEPWORTH
Habitat & distribution
Aphyosemion species come from
western Africa. Hot spot areas
include Gabon, Equatorial Guinea
and Cameroon with many species
coming from this group if countries.
They are also found from Togo to
Chad in the north, southern
Democratic Republic of the Congo
to the south and everywhere in
between these countries.
They live in slow-moving, aged
waters including lowland rainforest
and coastal rainforest streams,
swamps, pools and river basins.
Mostly these habitats are soil
bottomed, shaded by forest growth
and contain lots of leaf litter, wood
and seed pods. Some species live in
savannah streams with soil and sandy
substrates; an odd few species live at
higher altitude in similar situations.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Female golden A. australe
ALAMY
The words ‘aphyos’ and ‘semion’
translate from Greek into ‘small flag’
(or banner), referring to the lyretail
fins of the males.
This is likely the best genus to keep
if you are new to keeping killifish.
Aphyosemion species are adaptable to
a range of water parameters. They
are relatively robust, easy to breed,
non-annual fish, full of the usual
killifish charisma and the most
suitable to mix with other tank mates.
Most of these attributes are also
shared with Fundulopanchax.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Natural
strain
chocolate
Australe.
AQUASAUR
Aphyosemion
Red-striped killi, A. striatum
Young A. volcanum ‘Econdo’
NEIL HEPWORTH
Line-bred
Golden australe
males.
AQUASAUR
This family is huge with 99 species
currently listed on Fishbase.com many of
those are not seen in the ornamental trade
but there’s still healthy selection available
to chose from out there.
A young female
and male F. amieti
sizing each other
up.
annuals living in permanent, larger
habitats, although there are a couple
of annual species – just not ones
you are likely to find in shops.
Habitat & distribution
There are huge similarities between
Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax in
both habitat and distribution.
Habitat descriptions are the same
for both genera, because they both
prefer slow-moving and aged water,
including the odd savannah and
higher-altitude habitats.
Distribution-wise, Fundulopanchax
hug the coastal rainforest much
more and venture inland far less
than Aphyosemion, with coverage
from Ghana through Togo, Benin,
Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial
Guinea – all coastal countries.
Other Fundulopanchax
Curently 29 species are listed on fishbase.
com. the genus has larger individuals such
as F. sjostedti who reach 13cms and very
small species like f. avichang at only
2 6cms
PETER MAGUIRE
Their name comes from two older,
unused genera: ‘fundulus’ is an oldworld primitive genus; ‘panchax’ is
a more modern ‘new-world’ genus
(now divided into Epiplatys and
Aplocheilichthys among others) and
Fundulopanchax was thought to be
an intermediary group.
Visually Fundulopanchax are quite
similar to Aphyosemion. One of
the distinguishing characteristics
of the former is a longer dorsal fin
(with more fin rays) and many of
the species have a slightly larger
body size, but genetically they are
more closely related to the annual
Nothobranchius genus.
In Fundulopanchax we can find
a mixture of habitat and breeding
strategies: most species are non-
F. walkeri
ALAMY
Fundulopanchax
F. gardneri nigerianum
NEIL HEPWORTH
FACTFILE
AMIET’S KILLIFISH.
6Scientific name: Fundulopanchax amieti
6Pronunciation: Fun-dew-low-pan-chax am-ee-et-eye
6Size: 7cm
6Origin: Lower Sanaga system, western Cameroon
6Habitat: Permanent rainforest swamps and
streams
6Tank size: 45x30x30cm
6Water requirements: 5.8-7.2 pH, 2.0-25°H
6Temperature: 22-28°C
6Temperament: Peaceful but will eat
tiny fish
6Feeding: Will accept dried foods but needs
regular frozen or live food
6Availability and cost: You’ll need to search
for this particular species, from £20 a pair
40 l+
PETER MAGUIRE
Mature colours of
a male F. amieti.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 17
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Experienced Nothobranchius
keepers are known to add salt
(1tsp per 25l) to reduce the
risk of velvet disease,
Oodinium
A male, natural
strain of N.
guentheri.
Nothobranchius
Translated from Greek, the words
‘nothos’ and ‘branchia’ mean ‘false
gills’ in relation to the restricted
movement of the gill openings in this
group of killifish, some of which have
been distributed by man to control
mosquito numbers in the attempt
to minimize malaria spread.
The Nothobranchius genus is
devoutly annual, with one member
– N. furzeri – having a captive lifespan
of just 12 weeks, while its eggs
require a five- to seven-month
incubation period. The only shorterlived vertebrate is a marine goby
– Eviota sigillata – with a maximum
lifespan of 59 days.
To get the best out of ‘nothos’, and
to enjoy keeping them for longer than
around a year, it’s a good idea to
breed them. While it’s not particularly
difficult to do, I suspect that a
newcomer might struggle with it so
Nothobranchius are more the domain
of intermediate to experienced
aquarists.
Habitat & distribution
Nothos are widely spread throughout
much of Africa. The largest
concentration of them is in the east
from Sudan to Mozambique, but the
full range covers the entire east coast
from Ethiopia to South Africa and
from Somalia on the east coast
through to Senegal on the west coast.
Other than Ethiopia, the north
African countries are devoid of
Nothobranchius, as are several
countries on the southern west coast.
Home for a notho is a seasonal
pool, swamp, ditch, rain pan or
residual pool in an otherwise dry
stream bed. There are exceptions to
this rule that live in savannah pools
with abundant aquatic plant growth.
For the vast majority, though,
Nothobranchius live in clay-based pools
with built-up leaf litter, murky water
and possibly some lilies and emergent
grasses edging the waterline.
Other Nothobranchius
With 75 species currently valid on fishbase.
Com there’s a good choice but many
variants are now available such as guentheri
red and guentheri blue.
N. rachovii
FACTFILE
REDTAIL NOTHO
6Scientific name: Nothobranchius guentheri
6Pronunciation: Noth-o-brank-e-uss gun-tare-eye
6Size: 5.5cm
6Origin: Endemic to the island of Zanzibar, eastern Tanzania
6Habitat: Temporary streams and pool.
6Tank size: 45x25x25cm
6Water requirements: 6.0-7.0 pH, 4-10°H
6Temperature: 22-25°C
6Temperament: Peaceful
6Feeding: Small frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: You’ll need to search for them, prices round £20 per pair
30 l+
18
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
N. eggersi
ALL: NEIL HEPWORTH
PETER MAGUIRE
Killifish
N. eggersi ‘Bagamoyo’
The temporary waterbody of choice for
this genus is a shallow canal in the
floodplains of river basins across Brazil
FACTFILE
NO COMMON NAME
6Scientific name: Hypsolebias
magnificus
6Pronunciation: Hip-so-lee-be-us
mag-niff-ick-us
6Size: 5cm
6Origin: São Francisco River basin,
Brazil
6Habitat: Temporary, residual pools
6Tank size: 30x30x30cm
6Water requirements: 6.0-7.0 pH,
5-12°H
6Temperature: 22-26°C
6Temperament: Very peaceful
6Feeding: Small frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: A rare find,
around £25 per
Hypsolebias
Other Hypsolebias
There are 34 hypsolebias species now listed
on fishbase.Com. Some are very difficult to
tell apart visually such as magnificus and
carlettoi where a balance of red and blue is
the key difference.
H. carlettoi
HRISTO HRISTOV
This is another group of annual
killifish hailing from South America
rather than Africa.
As annuals, they live a very similar
lifestyle to Nothobranchcius, living in
temporary waterbodies, laying eggs
in decaying matter and mud and
maturing quickly, to be ready to
breed within a few months of
hatching. Physically they look similar
to nothos in bodyshape, but with
larger, more flamboyant fins.
Hypsolebias are considerably harder
to find for sale in aquaria shops than
their African annual counterparts,
although there’s generally not a huge
difference in cost.
25 l+
Habitat & distribution
The temporary waterbody of choice
for this genus is a shallow canal in the
floodplains of river basins across
Brazil, generally with some level of
tannins in the water.
This genus is restricted to Brazil
only but there are many other killifish
genera that inhabit the entirety of the
South American continent.
MORE INFO
NEIL HEPWORTH
PETER MAGUIRE
Hypsolebias
magnificus in
full glory.
H. sp ‘Urucuia’
Many thanks go to experienced
killifish keeper and breeder Paul
Carter for help with this article
(fundulopanchax.weebly.com).
For more killi information,
visit www.bka.org.uk
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 19
OPINION
NATHAN HILL & STEVE BAKER
If you want to get pounced on in an online debate, bring up
‘fish-in cycling’ and watch the sparks fly. We sit down to see if
there’s any hope for a very traditional way of maturing tanks.
F
ish-in cycling is a way
of maturing a tank by
placing fish into it and
allowing them to excrete
waste to kick-start filter
activity. Fishless cycling
uses ammonia to mimic
fish waste and mature a
filter before the fish are added, and is
considered the safer way of setting up.
NH: Give me one good reason why
I shouldn’t cycle a tank with fish in it.
SB: Ammonia is highly toxic to fish,
when fishless cycling a new aquarium we use
ammonia to initiate beneficial bacteria growth
before putting fish in the tank. If you perform
a fish-in cycle instead, the fish are subjected
to physical stress for several weeks.
NH: But what about if
I have an acidic tank?
All the ammonia will be
bound up as harmless
ammonium, so there
wouldn’t be a problem
fish-in cycling.
NH: A small amount of salt will deal with
the toxic effects of nitrite. No ammonia
problem, no nitrite problem. So why can’t
I just do that and add some bacteria from
a bottle?
JACQUES PORTAL
SB: This is simply way of covering up
a problem that shouldn’t be there in the
first place. Plus there are lots of fish that
are physically unable to cope with being in
a salty environment.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SB: There are three main benefits to fishless
tank maturation. Firstly, if the tank owner is
new to keeping fish it allows them to get used
to equipment (mostly test kits) without risk
to fish. Secondly, by allowing a higher level
of ammonia the filter can be fully matured
quicker, allowing faster stocking. Thirdly, done
well, there is no risk to fish health.
NH: Point 1, I don’t challenge. With point 2,
excessive ammonia is known to stall a cycle,
and the division rate of bacteria isn’t sped up
by high amounts. I’d think it’s still possible
to get a fishless cycle wrong. A person may
leave too long a gap between ‘maturing’ their
tank with ammonia and adding their first fish,
meaning any bacteria they
cultured have all gone.
Also, dose rates vary in
fishless cycling methods.
Am I maturing a tank for
five fish or 50? If I mature
it for five but add 50 I’ve
hit another problem.
I know many
aquarists use
bacteria products
and stock their
tanks immediately,
with no ill effects
SB: This would work
for a few days until the
ammonium is converted
into nitrite, which will rise as the ammonium
level falls – then you’re straight back to
having stressed fish.
20
NH: But if I choose a salt-tolerant, acidloving ‘starter’ fish, then there isn’t a problem
to cover. So why should I go fishless?
SB: All guides I have seen
target 4.0ppm for the
ammonia level desired
– too high for fish to endure and low enough
to avoid inhibiting bacterial growth. At this
level, when cycling is complete, you can stock
at least four times the amount you would do
initially for a fishless cycle.
It’s possible for something to go wrong
but it’s also possible for a fish-in cycle to go
wrong – and that seems to be common.
NH: But I’ve also seen numerous cases of
fish-in cycling that have gone right. I once had
to set up a tank for a bag of fish sent to me by
mistake. I added dozens more than I should
have, but with the addition of the bacterial
supplement Bactinettes I experienced no
SB: If adding bacteria keeps all ammonia and
nitrite to low levels then there is no problem.
I haven’t used every bacteria product, but
the ones I have were not the ‘miracle cure’
they allude to be – some had almost no
effect compared to a control tank. You’re a
trained and very experienced aquarist, I bet
you were delicate with feeding and heavy on
water changing while adding the Bactinettes’
live culture. New fishkeepers, however, will
be less aware. I always talk about cycling
thinking about new fish keepers, thinking
experienced aquarists would have access to
live media.
NH: I’d agree, not all supplements do what
they claim to do. Some contain heterotrophic
bacteria and others contain autotrophs.
A fishless cycle (using ammonia and
nothing else) only promotes
autotrophic bacteria growth.
My angle is that a well
managed fish-in cycle,
introducing both types
of bacteria, under
the direction of a
competent aquarist,
could yield a more
complete cycle than
a fishless one. But
yes, a competent
aquarist would likely
have the sense to
‘transplant’ live media from
another filter to speed things
along. You raise an important
point here – feeding. How much of the
new tank syndrome (NTS) phenomenon
do you think rests on the amount of food
a fishkeeper adds, rather than an incomplete
cycle? New aquarists tend to add more food
than needed, especially in the early days.
SB: I think that the amount of food added
makes a huge difference. Let’s say someone
adds twice the amount of food that is
needed: this won’t produce twice the waste,
it’ll be much more. If the right amount
of food is added the fish will assimilate
it and waste what is not used (hopefully
30% max) whereas uneaten food is 100%
waste so overfeeding can be a huge issue. If
overfeeding is a big concern, it surely makes
a pre-matured tank all the more poignant.
NH: Agreed; uneaten food is a menace.
But it’ll be a problem in either a fish-in or
a fishless cycle. Faced with a huge overload
of food, either system is going to crumble
when ammonia levels start to fly. Even
a pre-matured tank can only tolerate a certain
degree of ammonia before the filter bacteria
stalls and everything locks up. I think my
take here is that the elephant in the room
really could be overfeeding through a lack
of experience. Either type of cycle can be
worthless if the fishkeeper adds five times
more food than they need to. I wonder if, as
a hobby, we’ve been so concerned about the
cycling debates that we’ve ignored the wider
issue of feeding competence.
SB: I still think the six-week period, give
or take, of getting used to equipment
and understanding the nitrogen cycle will
start new fishkeepers off in the best way.
I know it’s a hard sell today when people
want, and are accustomed to, instant
results, but people need to be
taught patience as this is a
big part of keeping fish
well. I also think an
overfed tank that has
had some seeding,
no matter how
good, will cope
better than an
overfed tank with
none. In my eyes,
fishless cycling is the
right way and fish-in
cycling is just cutting
corners for the sake
of convenience.
SHUTTERSTOCK
‘cycle’ at all. Many aquarists use bacteria
products and stock their tanks immediately.
If a product works, what’s the problem?
NH: Oh, for sure. For new fishkeepers,
understanding both the nitrogen cycle and
the virtue of patience is essential. I’d advise
caution against the view that ‘this way and
only this way’ is right, however. That’s the
road to dogmatism right there.
Still, on balance, I’d prefer to see fishless
cycles over fish-in cycles any day of the week
– until an even better method of maturation
comes along!
We’re in some agreement here: fishless
cycling is the preferred option for the
new aquarist, and the jury is still out as
to how well bacterial supplements work.
What has been your experience with
either cycling method? Let us know –
our letters page awaits your feedback.
Do you have an opinion on aquarium cycling 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: Learning
to test aquarium
water is an
essential skill.
BRACKISH
Moray eels
Freshwater
misnomer
Usually associated with coral reefs,
one species of Moray might surprise
you by turning up in your local
store’s freshwater section.
22
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
They may often
be sold as true
freshwater fish, but
that’s misleading.
.
FACTFILE
GOLDSPOT MORAY EEL
300 l+
TIM SMITH
An ichthyologist and
oddball aquarist,
Tim has been
involved with fish for
15 years, from retail
to academia.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 23
HRISTO HRISTOV
6Scientific name: Gymnothorax tile.
6Origin: Costals regions of the Indo-West
Pacific, eastern India to the Philippines
and south to Austrailia.
Habitat: Turbid estuaries, rivermoths and
other brackish coastal habitats.
6Size: 40 to 60 cm.
6Tank size: 120x50x50cm at least.
6
Water requirements: 7.5 - 9.0 pH,
1.010 - 1.015 Specific gravity.
6Cost: around £30.
BRACKISH
I
’VE BEEN fortunate enough
in my time as an aquarist to
have cared for a number of
species of moray eel, from
the smaller invertebrate
predators through to some
monstrous piscivores. Despite
their differences, they all
shared a common theme – they
were all reef-dwelling marine fishes.
When, some years ago, my friend
said he’d found some freshwater
morays for me, he had my attention
and, a week later, I had two new
world in 1822, he didn’t wait more
than a sentence to call this species
“an ugly eel”. An unfortunate
introduction – and quite untrue if
you’re biased like I am. Sure, they’re
not ‘pufferfish cute’, but morays
have a degree of elegance that
you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in
this hobby of ours.
Sombre greens for a background,
flecked with small, yellowish-orange
spots may not live up to the fashion
show that is the marine moray
parade, but as my adventures in
HRISTO HROSTOV
Moray eels
HRISTO HROSTOV
Freshwater confusion
Gold marbling
makes this eel
attractive.
This confusion arising from labelling G. tile
as the ‘Freshwater moray’ has led to the
unfortunate practice of selling this species
as if it were a true freshwater inhabitant.
This, in part, may be due to juvenile fish
being captured in freshwater or nearfreshwater environments.
The other part of the story appears to be
a sales gimmick: it’s a lot easier to sell
a fish that, allegedly, can be mixed and
matched with other tropical freshwater
species, rather than one that is more
particular about its water chemistry.
When kept in less-than-suitable salinities,
however, G. tile give up the idea of eating
until conditions are rectified.
peppered with
environments, either
Moray eels are the only
smaller speckles
upstream or out to
fish to project their
of the same
sea, for breeding
pharangeal jaw forward
colour. Given the
purposes, as may
and use it to grab and
expansive range
be the case for other
consume prey
of this species, some
low-salinity moray eels.
degree of variation can
The younger stage of
be expected.
these eels (leptocephalus)
Compared to its marine cousins,
were indicated (1953; Pantulu and
G. tile is dwarfish. While most
Jones) to develop within estuaries,
morays exceed a metre in length,
and adults were known to travel
G. tile stretches out to 60cm
upstream as far as the tidal limit,
maximum, making it more suited to
inferring a close relationship with
most ‘regular’ sized home aquaria.
the limits of the saline environment.
This size is achieved fairly quickly.
It’s known that G. tile is tolerant of
fully marine water, reflected in the
Life cycles explained
estuarine environment it originates
At present, the complete life cycle
from – which widely fluctuates in
of G. tile is not fully understood. In
salinity depending on the tide – as
particular, it’s uncertain whether this well as collection localities from fully
species migrates out of estuarine
marine environments.
In a moray, you have a
living, breathing Houdini act
as a pet. Every effort must be
made to prevent escape
With regard to keeping
Gymnothorax tile in captivity, I would
attempt long-term maintenance in a
marine set-up with adult fish only.
However, brief exposure to saltier
water for younger fishes is not
without its merits, as it’s common
practice for fishkeepers to use
a higher salinity as an external
parasite treatment in place of the
commonly-used copper-based
medications, which do not sit too
well with this species.
ABOVE: A rare
view of a moray
out and about.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 25
BRACKISH
Moray eels
The eel manipulates its body into a knot in order to
generate leverage on otherwise slippery foodstuffs. The head
is forced through the knot, with only the food gripped in the
mouth being pulled away from the larger food piece
TIM SMITH
Accomplished escape artists
Being benthic animals, floor space
should be given more consideration
than other tank measurements.
Ideally, a lone specimen shouldn’t
be kept in anything smaller than a
120x50x50cm tank, with suitably
larger accommodation provided for
multiple animals.
In morays, you have a living,
breathing Houdini act as a pet.
Every effort must be made to
prevent escape: a tight-fitting lid,
glass sliders, secure pipe inlets and
outlets and even a slightly reduced
water level can be the difference
between a wet pet and a very dry
eel on the floor.
G. tile is rarely very active,
spending most of its spare time in a
preferred crevice, cave, root or pipe.
Provide as much cover as possible
to ensure your eels feel comfortable.
For multiple specimens sharing a
tank, this is essential. G. tile won’t
mind sharing a cranny with another
of its kind, but having its own retreat
can help ease tensions that arise.
Secure hard décor well. Exploring
eels can knock over poorly stacked
arrangements. Don’t worry about
your moray disappearing in their
hiding spaces as they will, in true
moray fashion, stick their heads out
into the open, awaiting passing prey.
G. tile have poor eyesight and
prefer a low-light environment.
If lighting is too bright, your
moray may resort to keeping to
a night-time shift; dimmer lighting
encourages daytime activity and
morays will happily feed out in the
open in such conditions.
As with other predatory fishes, an
efficient biological filter is a must.
A strong flow is not important, but
good circulation within the tank can
be handy in preventing ‘dead’ spots,
particularly if a lot of rockwork
or décor has been used to create
the plentiful hiding places that this
species prefers.
26
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In the wild moray eels feed
every few days. Less active
lifestyles allow eels to digest
large meals. It’s best to
follow this feeding
pattern at home
too.
A divers view: morays
are often seen with their
head emerging from a
dark hole.
Feeding captive morays
HRISTO HROSTOV
SHUTTERSTOCK
Never hand-feed your moray! Besides not
wanting your moray to associate your fingers
with food (which can lend to making tank
maintenance a toothy nightmare), moray
bites can inflict serious harm.
If the puncture was not bad enough, the
mouth of the moray, as well as the tank it
inhabits, are incredibly bacteria rich.
Infection is not uncommon after a moray
eel bite, so it is best not to tempt fate just
to impress your dinner guests.
Should it be a particularly woeful Monday,
and your eel does latch on, fear not. In most
cases, it will let go once it gets a taste of
boring human hand steak.
As moray aficionado Phil Purser most
hilariously recommends in his book,
Keeping Moray Eels in
Aquariums, a tot of liquor in
the mouth of the attacker
will ensure that the animal
will let go. While I have
never tried this method, nor
could I recommend it, a
similar treatment for the
victim of the bite would
surely calm the nerves.
In short, wash out the bite
site well with warm, soapy
water, dry and treat the area
with an antiseptic.
The teeth are obvious,
sharp and backwards
facing, ideal for latching
on to prey and fingers.
Morays often
expose their
heads.
JJPHOTO.DK
Beware the bite!
Most captive morays readily adapt
to a frozen food diet and many will
happily feed on ‘dead’ foods from
the get-go.
If your new pet is hesitant,
dangling a piece of food in front
of its lair, on cotton or with reptile
tongs, and jerking it around as if it
were alive may prompt your eel to
strike. Use ‘smelly’ foods like oily
sardine or lancefish and eventually,
the eels will recognise the smell of
food in the water and come to feed
without your puppeteering skills.
This species leans toward a fishy
diet, so should be offered a range:
silversides, lancefish, sardine,
hake, or tilapia are commonly
available from seafood shops and
supermarkets. ‘Softer’ invertebrates
are also devoured with much
gusto, and items like bait squid and
deshelled prawns and shrimp should
be offered on occasion.
Cut food into bite-sized portions.
If anything is too large to consume
in a single bite, your eel might
engage in ‘knotting behaviour’. This
is fascinating to witness, as the eel
manipulates its body into a knot
in order to generate leverage on
otherwise slippery foodstuffs. The
head is forced through the knot, with
only the food gripped in the mouth
being pulled away from the larger
food piece.
Obesity can be a problem in
captive morays, so in the interest
of your pets’ health, as well as
tank water quality, only feed your
eel every other day or three times
a week. Offer just enough food to
notice a slight bulge in the stomach
(right behind the head region).
Other ‘freshwater’ species
G. tile is not alone in its adventures
into less salty waters, as many
species of moray find a home in
estuarine – and even freshwater
– environments. In the aquarium
trade, at least three other species
pop up infrequently, including the
30cm-long Pink-lipped Moray
(Echidna rhodochilus). This one
prefers an invertebrate-based diet,
but can be difficult to convert from
live to frozen foods.
G. polyuranodon is also known as
the ‘freshwater moray’, although
the name in this case holds a bit
more (fresh)water. Known to occur
in a range of salinities, this species
is unique in having adults spending
long periods in freshwater habitats.
Maintain Gymnothorax tile in
water that can truly be called
brackish: the lowest end of the
range I would recommend for it
would be a specific gravity (SG) of
approximately 1.005, near 6.6ppt
(parts per thousand). This may best
suit juveniles and is a comfortable
salinity to aim for if adjusting fish
from a freshwater environment.
For long-term maintenance,
however, an SG between 1.010 and
1.015 (between 13 and 20ppt) best
reflects the brackish origins of this
species. Mild fluctuations between
these values do not appear to bother
Gymnothorax tile and I proudly grew
a duo to a full two feet in adult
length under these conditions.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 27
MP & C PIEDNOIR, AQUAPRESS.COM
COMMON SPECIES
SUBJECT TO
INJECTION AND DIPPING
O Albino corydoras
O Glass fish, Parambassis sp.
O Parrot cichlids
O Black widow tetra
O Giant gourami
WHAT’S WRONG WITH INJECTED FISH?
Fish can be artificially coloured in a couple of ways – Dipping or Injecting
DIPPING: Fish have their mucous layers stripped, before dunking
in concentrated dyes stains them with artificially bright colours.
`Fish are dyed all over including the gills, causing respiration issues.
`Ink in the body can have serious effects on organ function.
`Stripping away mucus leaves fish open to bacteria and parasites.
INJECTING: Fish are stabbed with a needle, and dyes injected.
They may have patterns or words tattooed on the body.
`Against fish body sizes, needles are huge. Imagine your arm being
injected with a pencil for a comparison.
`Injection sites are access points for infections.
`Needles are not cleaned or sterilised, risking infection.
`Chemical embolisms from injection can cause fatalities.
`Injecting causes granulomas, tumours and cauliflower like growths.
`The dyes cause inflammation of skin and muscle tissues.
`Injecting requires rough handing which is highly stressful.
ARE THEY LEGAL?
It IS illegal to dye a fish through
dipping or injection in the UK, but
NOT illegal to import or sell them.
Almost all dyed fish 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 fish.
If you see some on sale, raise your
concerns with store owners. Because
dyed fish aren’t always advertised as
such, staf may genuinely not know they
are stocking them!
Your voice can help make the diference!
TANKCOMMUNITY
The place to share your fish, tanks, letters and photos
Enjoy the show craic!
CHAT
In the Spring 2018 issue of
PFK, reader Spencer Lucas
requested details of goldfish
shows. and exhibitions.
Beyond the shows suggested
by PFK editor Nathan Hill,
every Federation open show
– and many local clubs –
have a goldfish class, often
divided into common and
fancy varieties. Contact the
Federation of British Aquarist
Societies for more information
at www.fbas.co.uk.
In the north of England are
the two open shows organised
by the Yorkshire Association of
Aquarist Societies – visit www.
yorkshireaquaristsociety.co.uk.
The exclusive goldfish shows
are by the four UK goldfish
societies: Bristol Aquarist
Society (BAS), Northern
Goldfish & Pondkeepers
Find the popular fishkeeping
chatroom at facebook.com/
groups/PracticalFishKeeping
Nitrate fixing...
Roger Cutler
Just had a look at
South Stafs Water quality for
my area. Here are just two:
Nitrate 33.6 min - 42.1 max. I
get a regular reading of
40ppm in the tank. PH 6.8
- 7.8 is the same approximate
for tank. Question is, should I
try to remedy the high Nitrate
reading (nitrite 0 in tank)?
Mark Wright
I would personally. Mix
with rainwater (or RO).
Angus Cormac
Thomas
Trelawney-hardy
You could use a nitrate
removing filter media like
Seachem Denitrate or Matrix
(there are many others on the
market) if you don’t want to
lug around RO water. It’s just
another option to keep in
mind.
Society (NGPS), Association
of Midland Goldfish Keepers
(AMGK) and the North East
Goldfish Society (NEGS).
Each society has an open show
and auction of members’ bred
goldfish, with all four combining
to hold the nationwide National
Fancy Goldfish open show.
The only other goldfish club
is the Goldfish Society of Great
Britain (GSGB), who decided not
to join the nationwide group.
The dates and venues of the
societies’ 2018 shows are:
AMGK Saturday 30 June at West
Orchard Church Hall, Coventry
CV36 6FP.
NEGS Sunday 15 July at Redby
Community Centre, Sunderland,
Tyne & Wear SR6 9QU.
BAS Sunday 2nd September
at Hengrove Community Centre,
Hengrove, Bristol BS14 9NX.
NGPS Saturday 15th
September at St Matthews Hall,
Stretford, Manchester M32 9AJ,
GSGB Saturday 29
September at St Paul’s Church
Hall, Woodford Bridge, Essex
IG8 8BS.
The National Fancy Goldfish
open show is on Saturday 6
October at Wyken Community
Centre, Coventry CV2 5PY.
Goldfish keepers can read all
about the fish on the websites
of the five clubs. The NGPS,
for example, has newsletters
online at www.northerngoldfish
society.com. Better still – why
not come and join us!
Good fishkeeping,
David Ford, via email
● Dates/venues correct when
PFK went to press; check with
societies before setting of.
Goldfish – a bigger scene
than you might think!
James Leason
Plants. Plant your tank
heavily, they will suck up the
nitrate. Its all the fertilisers
farmers are starting to put on
the fields washing of in the
rain into the water supply. I
am also south stafs water
(Hopwas supply).
Personally I’d go with RO, or
some kind of nitrate filter
which would require filling up
Jerry cans. RO also allows
you to alter your water
hardness and TDS and a lot
of fish which are soft water
will prefer it. Just remember
to remineralise it.
Roger Cutler
Thanks everyone, will
get some more plants and
check out filters.
NATHAN HILL
Rebecca
Bentley
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TANKCOMMUNITY
+
JAMIE THORPE
STAR
letter
Jamie’s bright orange
Parrot hybrid.
Talking parrots
I was quite stirred reading your debate about
Parrot cichlids in PFK’s Spring 2018 issue.
Before I start with my points, I wish to make it
clear that I’m neither for nor against Parrots
and hybridisation. I also currently own several
parrots and associated hybrids.
I think that the point made about people
voting with their wallets rings true, but we also
have to appreciate that not everyone is going
to suddenly decide not to purchase Parrots
and wipe out the market. So, as aquarists, we
have to accept, even if begrudgingly, that
these fish are here to stay.
Hybridisation and genetic modification (GM)
has been going on for years outside of the
fishkeeping industry. Many people are drawn
to Parrot cichlids due to their ‘quirky
characteristics’, such as their body shape and
colour morph. While some will say this is
unnatural, how many of us are guilty of looking
at pug dogs (with their similar ‘squashed up
faces’) and thinking “those are cute?”
Win FishScience
aquarium food
The writer of our Star Letter 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
30
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
These dogs, just like Parrots, have been bred
to alter their genetics and give those short
snouts and tiny skulls which cause health
issues for the animal. But these animals have
been accepted and are fast becoming one of
the nation’s favourites. Why are Parrot cichlids
deemed repulsive while their flufy equivalent
is revered and adored?
I know this subject was briefly touched upon
in the article as line breeding – line breeding is
essentially inbreeding. Surely inbreeding is
worse than hybridisation? I know which of the
two words personally draws the strongest
emotive reaction for me.
Answering the point around Parrots diluting
interest in ‘real fish’, do you genuinely think
this is the case? I don’t.
Prior to keeping Blood parrots and
hybridised Parrots I had a South American
cichlid set-up. I eventually grew tired of the lip
locking and having to quarantine fish over
territorial disputes. I only kept Blue acara
at that time and they
aren’t even deemed
particularly aggressive.
Although Parrots are
guilty of the occasional
squabble, these are
minimal and, due to their
‘deformities’, they cause
little damage to one
another and any
aggression is shortlived. The best way to
describe them would be
like boisterous teens.
To context this, I
currently own Parrot
hybrids that have been
crossbred with Texas
cichlids, Flowerhorn and Midas cichlids, and
can see the typical colourations of these fish in
my Parrots. This is an aesthetic that I wouldn’t
be able to achieve in my tank with the ‘real
fish’, they’d simply not be compatible. Does
this mean I no longer hold interest in ‘real
fish’? No it doesn’t – it just means I haven’t got
the means to house them all in separate tanks
because I simply don’t have the room.
I don’t believe that the ‘creation’ of the Blood
parrot represents progress, but its happened.
We are now starting to see Parrots emerge on
the market that are capable of closing their
mouths so, in this sense, ‘tinkering’ must
represent progress. Although I will admit, in
my limited experience, that those capable of
closing their mouths display more aggression
than those who can’t.
Can I just clarify at this point that while I’m
not against hybridisation, I’m categorically
against the other means of modification that
fish are subject to. Dyeing and tattooing can
only be deemed as animal cruelty, and the less
said about the horrors that ‘Heart parrots’ are
subjected to, the better. This truly is
profiteering over welfare and is something that
should be banned globally.
When we strip it back, the most rewarding
thing about the fishkeeping hobby is looking
after the fish we keep, interacting with them,
providing the best care we can and, all in all,
sitting back and enjoying our beautiful
set-ups.
Given that the Parrot fish is not going
anywhere anytime soon, then surely we should
accept this and give these fish the best
possible lives rather than berating them. They
may be ‘man-made’, but this doesn’t mean
they don’t deserve the same care, – and I’m
sure even the so-called ‘hardcore aquarists’
can’t dispute that.
Jamie Thorpe, by email
Nathan replies: Huge thanks, Jamie, for your
comprehensive response to our discussion
piece. While I agree with most of the points
you raised, I’d certainly dispute the very last
one. I know of some aquarists who take an
extremely hardline approach to hybrids (or
‘abominations’ as they call them away from
polite company) and would be happy to see
them all gone. While I don’t hold this view
myself, it is worth remembering that these fish
do draw a range of opinions, sometimes
reaching well in to the extremes.
The Texas cich
lid
in this parrot
stands out!
Error alert!
SHUTTERSTOCK
I wanted to draw to your attention to
what appears to be errors in Practical
Fishkeeping’s Spring 2018 issue in the
article ‘Up The River’.
All of the fish factfiles on page 52 simply
say ‘Common name’ as opposed to
displaying the actual common name of
the fish, as other panels do throughout
the rest of the magazine. What happened
there then?
A slice of yellow
heaven.
Ben Turnbull, by email
Nathan replies: Well spotted and thank
you Ben for bringing this unfortunate
oversight to our attention. Thanks to the
other alert readers who noticed it, too.
We think we’re calling it a ‘teething
problem’ at our end – the feature in
question was an early part of our
redesign, which will be even better once
we’ve ironed out the last kinks.
We promise to do better next time, and
it’s pretty safe to say that I’ve been over
every page in this issue many times!
O It’s behind you!
Amano shrimp, (Caridina multidentata)
are one of the most popular freshwater
inverts, especially as they love to eat
algae. These two in Kelly Williams’ tank
seem more interested in wood than the
green stuf, though!
Proud of my Lemons!
I have a 70L tropical community tank which
has been set up since the beginning of
October. It’s my second tank, replacing my
original, too-small 24l tank.
I’ve read PFK since the August 2017 issue
and have enjoyed every issue. Thanks to one
of your writers, George Farmer, I’ve tried my
first aquascape, based on one he did, and this
is now home to Cherry barbs, Lemon tetras,
Otocinclus catfish and a female Bristlenose
catfish named Bernadette.
My Lemon tetras are thriving and have
brightened up in colour so much compared to
when I first got them. I think they’re definitely
underrated, as they liven up really quickly and,
if cared for properly, can rival more popular
species for beauty. Some of my males are now
showing the black bars on their fins.
I’d really like to see an article on these
stunning fish in PFK as they are now my
favourites and I’d like to see people give them
a chance. Even my brother, who doesn’t like
fish, says they look nicer than the other fish.
Esther Clark (age 12), by email
Nathan replies: We’ll see what we can do for
you, Esther! I’ll send out some feelers to my
many top writers and see if any of them fancy
doing a write-up on this gorgeous species.
I’ll happily go on record as being a huge
Lemon tetra fan, too. There’s just something
about that yellow and black combined that
just makes them a standout fish – especially
in a planted set-up.
O Angels of every colour
Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) are
available in an ever-increasing variety
of colours. This Koi variety Angel was
photographed by Joanne Barber.
OSmall but perfectly formed
Apistogramma dwarf cichlids are among
the most popular cichlids in the hobby,
and with beauties like this A. trifasciata in
Kris Dearman’s tank it’s easy to see why.
❯
TANKCOMMUNITY
FROM
FACEBOOK
Responses to our
question ‘What are the
best fish puns you’ve
come across? I’d love
you to let minnow...’
“That’s a moray...”
Geddit?
Catriona Murtagh: Oh, for
cod’s hake.
Gavin Kiely: This isn’t the
plaice to carp on about this.
Good golly miss molly...
everyone floundering about!
Maybe if I mullet over....
Ryan Hunniset: Betta write
this down.
Arraminta Dunkley This
scampi happening.
Jacques Portal: Fins ain’t
wot they used ta beeeeee.
Steven Burns: Algae’t me
coat.
Jan Fishlady: Notmine,but
myfavourite,“Whenyou’re
downbytheseaandaneel
bitesyourkneethat’sa
moray!”
Joel Mitchell: Thesejokes
areeely,eelybad.
Derek Leblanc: Just
flounderingaround.
Joel Mitchell: Whathappens
whenthemarinecleanersget
abittooclose?
Hawrassement.
Joel Mitchell: Uaruwe
doing?
Nicola T. Amanovih: Stop
postingfishpunsjustforthe
halibut.
Keith Watson: You’vegotno
solepostingorfe-ullpunslike
thatandcertainlynotanangel
either.It’sasorrytailandfins
willneverbethesame
althoughyoucanbetsome
willhaveawhaleofatime.
Now,don’tbekoiorshellfish
aboutitbecauseIdon’twant
todiscusitanymoray.
Phillip Mackie: Nevertrust
unlicensedpuns,always
checkthey’reofishal!
Tryingtothinkofmorebutit’s
apaininthebass.
Bill Bain: Notbad,coddo
batter...
32
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
OElectric
dream?
If you’re a fan of
blue fish then you’ll
love Chris Short’s
stunning Electric blue
acara, (Andinoacara
pulcher) a boldly
coloured line-bred
form of this popular
mid-sized cichlid.
OSpot the difference...
The Leopardfish, (Phalloceros
caudimaculatus) is a small, hardy and easyto-breed alternative to the Dalmation molly
that is beginning to appear more regularly
in the hobby. This spotty specimen belongs
to Reece Bloomfield.
O Twinkle, twinkle...
For those who like larger, chunkier cichlids
with real character, the Madagascan species
Paratilapia polleni is worth a look. These
inky-dark fish are marked like a starlit sky as
seen in this pair owned by Diane Hayes.
Me & my
TANK
One of Sophie’s
lovely female Bettas
often on for 10 hours or more, causing a bit of
an algae bloom.
Favourite fish?
● Fishkeeper: Sophie Perrett
● Age: 27
● Occupation. Sales assistant
● Where in the world are you?
North-east Scotland
● How long have you been
Bettas! I often hear the same story of the sad
male kept in a community tank with badly
nipped fins, or of someone who bought a
couple of females that are now terrorising
all their other tank mates. I’ve been there
myself: I had a drab male in my community
tank and he never did much, just sat in the
corner looking all droopy and sad. Five years
later I bought another boy and put him in a
tank on his own, and I realised what a
fantastic little fish they are – full of colour
and personality.
Once you’ve fallen for their charm, one
Betta isn’t enough. Unfortunately, males
can’t be kept together, so it’s quite common
for enthusiasts to get MTS – multiple tank
syndrome! It was then that I decided to keep
a tank full of females as I haven’t got the
space for lots of males.
Ottocinclus help
to clean up.
What’s your dream aquarium?
My Betta ‘sorority’ tank has been a dream of
mine for some time. I’ve had cash flow issues
in the past and I’ve had a lot of help from nice
people in the hobby to get me to where I am
today. I can’t thank them enough.
Advice you’d give newcomers?
Research and ask all the questions; it’s better
to take your time and get it right than have a
tank full of sick fish you no longer want.
Most hobbyists are more than happy to
answer questions and give advice where
possible. With various social media
platforms available it’s easier than ever to get
the information, help or support you need.
Any money-saving tips?
Being patient really pays of – often things go
wrong if you try to rush them. Keeping an eye
on local sales pages helps too; there are often
people closing down their tanks and selling
of various things cheaply.
a fishkeeper? 13 years
Can you describe your tanks?
Planted and natural. I’m not a fan of the
brightly coloured or plastic decor you get in
most stores. My 30l tank has a ’scape I made
from broken slate roof tiles, with dwarf
hairgrass and a Java fern.
My 240l tank is a Walstad-style set-up.
I was extremely nervous about setting it up as
a lot of hobbyists thought I was mad to set up
a system with no mechanical filtration. The
tank has been running since June 2017 and
the only issue I’ve had is that my recent long
work hours mean that the tank lights are
A very naturalistic set-up for
Sophie’s sorority of bettas.
Most challenging fish you’ve kept?
Any time-saving tips?
I believe if you stock correctly and look after
the tank, the fish will look after themselves.
My Bettas have had their moments as they’re
naturally inquisitive, so I’ve had to rescue
a few of my males from behind filters.
Their aggression can be problematic,
especially with the females as they quarrel
among themselves, so you have to keep an
eye out for any injuries. Some of mine have
had a few torn fins, but they usually heal fast.
Get lots of hoses! There’s nothing more
time-consuming or back-breaking than
carrying buckets of water through the house!
Favourite plants?
Right now I’m all about Javas and Anubias.
They’re pretty easy to find in shops and
aren’t too demanding.
What do you wish you’d known
when you started fishkeeping.
Everything! I was only 14 when I started out
in the hobby and didn’t know anyone who
kept fish. The internet wasn’t a thing I used
much and social media didn’t really exist.
Most advice I got was from guys selling the
fish in a local garden centre, and it was
usually bad advice. My early days of fish
keeping were trial and error, and a very
steep learning curve.
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E MARINES WIT
INSPIRATION
Threadfin rainbowfish
Waltzing
THREADFINS
Tai Strietman takes inspiration from the swamps
and billabongs of Australia, to create a dazzling
display for a readily available rainbowfish.
NATHAN HILL
TAI
STRIETMAN
Formerly an aquarist
at ZSL London Zoo,
Tai is a freshwater
habitat specialist.
Biotope aquaria
is his passion.
36
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
With beautiful
long fins, the
Threadfin is
eye-catching.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 37
INSPIRATION
Threadfin rainbowfish
T
O SOME, the word
biotope might conjure
up images of tanninstained, leaf-litter
ridden tanks of dwarf
cichlids, tetras and
catfish. For others, it’s
flow, rocks, and weird
and wonderful loaches. For many
fishkeepers – especially newcomers –
the idea of a biotope is intimidating,
but with a little knowledge, you can
create an enchanting set-up.
My first attempts at biotope
aquaria – a tank that mimics
a specific aquatic habitat from
a particular region or body of
water – were simple affairs of
oak and beech leaves, tangles of
wood, floating plants and a variety
of Amazonian tetras, Pencilfish
and Corydoras.
At the time, I was proud of my
creations, although they weren’t
particularly accurate, with fish from
different river systems, leaf litter
from European trees and plants
that didn’t grow anywhere near the
Amazon basin. Despite that they
looked beautiful and natural and it
made me want to create more.
Since then I’ve set up many
biotope tanks. Some are my own
concepts – a Guyana stream, a Thai
river, a Brazilian flooded meadow.
Others have been copies of tanks
I’ve seen elsewhere; an all-time
favourite being a tank set up by
George Farmer replicating a Lake
Inle habitat from Myanmar.
I copied George’s tank to the
letter in a larger set-up and it was
one of the best and easiest to
maintain I’ve ever had. The fish
were all hardwater lovers, liked
room temperature, ate everything,
behaved themselves and showed
colours and patterns that burst
through the lush vegetation.
That inspired my love of
striking Asian rummynose (Sabwa
resplendens), tiny Emerald dwarf
rasbora (Microrasbora erythromicron)
and the charismatic Inle loach
(Petruichthys brevis). I researched the
habitat further and added a group of
Inle danio (Inclecypris auropurpurea),
which filled the upper levels with
their tiger spots and movement.
I learned an important lesson
while sitting and watching that tank
– biotopes don’t need to be difficult!
Keep it flexible
Maybe we can’t always get the right
plants, but we can find something
pretty close, and still create a
beautiful tank that looks authentic.
In my quest to share my passion
for biotope aquaria and suggest a
set-up that isn’t too big, daunting or
expensive, I started thinking outside
the box. South American biotopes
are awesome, but they’ve been done
to death. Then I thought about the
fish that have become dear to me
over the years, species that really
get me excited, and in my mind’s
eye I saw the beautiful Threadfin
rainbowfish (Iriatherina werneri).
I had the fish, but is it a feasible
set-up? Could the typical fishkeeper
recreate a Northern Australian
habitat with a little research and
effort? The answer is yes!
I wished to replicate a billabong
that had been expanded by the
wet season. Threadfin rainbows
congregate in large groups under lily
pads, but size constraints, and the
fact that I didn’t want to put them
into a world of shadow, meant some
changes would be needed.
My vision was for a tangle of
aquatic plants in shallow, clear water
through which the fish could dart,
hide or display, showing off their
best colour and behaviour.
Equally important is an area for the males to
display in, particularly when they size each other
up with wild spirals and shimmies, flaring their fins
in an ‘I’m more flamboyant than you!’ dance
Female
Threadfins lack
the flowing fins
of males.
38
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Overall the tank
is bright and
refreshing with
lush green hues.
Planting
pleasing green shades that turn
There were several plants I wanted
reddish under good lighting.
to complement the colours of
I also wanted something to
rainbows, which are found
quickly fill out the lower
in northern Australia.
levels, and the answer was
Can’t find Darwin River
The most well-known
Pogostemon stellatus ‘Broad
Ambulia? Try German firm
is Vallisneria nana, an
Leaf’ – a larger and sturdier
Aquasabi for a wide range
elegant, narrow-leafed
variant of the popular stem
of aquatic plants at
plant. It likes hard water,
plant. With green to orange-red
aquasabi.com
gentle flow and it grows
tones and rapid growth it would
rigorously, although it can be slow
provide a soft filler in the lower
to take. It’s no fan of liquid carbon
levels of the tank. I bought several
and tends to melt if subjected to it,
but give it some CO2 injection and
you’ll see fast growth.
Another plant I wished to include
was Vallisneria nana ‘Tiger’. It
produces broader leaves than the
true V. nana and looks more like
the classic V. spiralis. Its long leaves
are spattered with brown flecks,
streaks of red, and the tips can turn
mauve-red.
Both species of Vallisneria add
height to the tank and break up the
open areas, making the fish feel
secure and giving a natural feel.
I was keen to include Darwin River
Ambulia (Limnophila brownii) in my
tank, too. It has soft textures, and
in-vitro pots, so I could cover a large
area with juvenile plants, giving the
impression this was fresh growth in
newly flooded habitat.
I added several stems of Persicaria
praetermissa, found in Australasia
along the banks of waterways and
ponds. It has dark red tones and
leaves like narrow hearts. It benefits
from high lighting and CO2 and will
grow submersed, rising up and out
of the water.
Threadfins come
in a range of
bronze, orange,
red and olivegreen colours.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 39
INSPIRATION
Threadfin rainbowfish
I wanted to include lilies but there
green tangles to shaded leaf litter
are no Australian species available,
shrouded in lily pads. Different
so my initial plan was to add African species exploit these stages. Small
Nymphaea rubra and prune them
fish spawn early and the fry hide
to keep them low, creating the
in the verdant stem plants. As they
illusion that they were just starting
mature, they rise with the expanding
their ascent to the surface. In the
lilies towards the surface where
end I used Brazilian Nymphaea
they can hide under the pads from
gardneriana as their soft orange
predators and pick off insects and
colours would complement the
their larvae. Some species use the
tones of the tank. They also
shade of the lily pads to
stay low-growing and
ambush juveniles of
form a carpet.
smaller fish.
In the wild, I’ve
When the dry
seen how this
season returns,
changes the
There are slight variations pending the lilies die back
habitat. An area
where Threadfins come from. Fish and their leaves
is flooded and an
and stems are
from Cadell River carry a
explosion of stem
absorbed
back into
lyre-shaped tail and have
plants and grasses
the
mud,
feeding
longer and darker fins
quickly fills the
the buried rhizomes
than other types.
shallow, sunlit waters,
and roots, which wait
rich in nutrients from the
for the next year’s rains.
newly flooded terrain. The shallow
This boom and bust cycle is found
waters in the margins, are densely
throughout the tropics, including in
filled with aquatic and sub-aquatic
Northern Australia. Creeks, where
plants, provide fish with protection
lagoons and billabongs have shrunk
from larger predatory fish or birds.
or dried up, appear again, bursting
Slower-growing lilies emerge and
with life. Amphibians and fish move
their rhizomes, dormant in baked
in to take advantage of new food
mud during the dry season, put up
sources, spawning sites and cover
shoots. Eventually, the leaves reach
for fry or tadpoles.
the surface and begin to block out
light, resulting in a die-back of the
Dancing displays
stem plants, which sink back into
Threadfins do best in species tanks,
the substrate and provide nutrients
living only with their own kind.
for the lilies.
They can also do well with other
By the end of the wet season,
small rainbowfish, but they need
the habitat has gone from dense
a calm tank with low flow, plenty
40
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
LEFT: This
Australian
billabong
biotope tank
was pretty easy
to set up.
BELOW: Male
Threadfins
display by flaring
their impressive
fins.
of vegetation and plenty of places
to hide.
Males can be insistent when
displaying, and it’s important to
provide the females with cover they
can escape to for respite from the
males’ amorous intentions.
Equally important is an area for
the males to display in, particularly
when they size each other up with
wild spirals and shimmies, flaring
their fins in an ‘I’m more flamboyant
than you!’ dance.
To prevent females from being
hounded, a ratio of two to three
females to every male works best.
You’ll want at least four males – it’s
when they’re displaying to each
other that their beauty is best
revealed, and what makes them so
fascinating to watch.
There will be dominant males who
are older and larger, too, with bigger
fins – if you keep only a couple of
males, one will likely end up sulking
in a corner.
A group of males ensures
there’s usually a constant battle
for dominance. It’s not unusual to
watch two have a ‘dance-off’ before
stopping to rest, at which point a
third, impudent, male will rush into
the vacant display arena, flashing his
smaller fins in an attempt to dazzle
the indifferent females.
Despite all the energy involved in
displaying, Threadfins are peaceful.
You rarely see a ragged one and,
provided they are kept in sufficient
numbers with the recommended
ratios, they don’t become exhausted
from displaying or being chased.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 41
INSPIRATION
Threadfin rainbowfish
Perfect tankmates
I wanted biotope-correct
companions for my Threadfins,
and another Australasian gem is
available – the delightful Spotted
blue-eye, Pseudomugil gertrudae.
Like Threadfins, they’re found in
Australia from Northern Queensland
up into the Northern Territories and
Arnhem Land, and then across the
Arafura Sea into Papua on both the
Indonesia and New Guinean sides
of the island.
Spotted blue-eyes inhabit slowmoving creeks, pools, billabongs and
flooded habitats, thriving among
dense vegetation. They’ve been
recorded in deeply tannin-stained
waters with low pH, especially in
habitats clogged with leaf litter.
I added two males and three
females in with my five male and
11 female Threadfins. The Blue-eye
males display beautifully, but less
frequently and relentlessly than the
Threadfins and are more inclined
to give the females a break. They
occupy the upper levels of the
tank and contrast nicely with the
Threadfins, who prefer the middle
region of the aquarium. Their soft
yellow colour blends nicely with the
warm oranges, reds and greens of
the display.
Both fish do best in tanks set up
to cater to their needs, and without
boisterous tank mates. Although
energetic, neither species will
compete well with fast and hefty
tetras or bigger Rainbows, and barbs
42
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
will find it hard to resist the long fins
and end up nibbling them. If you
have to add Threadfins and Blueeyes to a community, other small
rainbowfish or smaller tetra
species and rasboras make good
companions.
The plants, with a little research
and online shopping, can be easily
sourced and both species of fish are
regularly available and inexpensive.
If you want to try a biotope that’s
a little different from the South
American, Asian and African
displays often seen, maybe the
shallow margin of an Australian
billabong, with its rich plant life and
engaging inhabitants, is for you?
ABOVE: Those
trails can invite
fin-nipping.
BELOW:
Neocaridina
shrimp scavenge to
help maintainance.
THANKS
The fish were kindly donated
by Maidenhead Aquatics
Scotsdales. A video of the tank
can be viewed at https://
youtu.be/RhGBnJM4k4w
Tank specifications
I kept the temperature in my tank at
a comfortable 24°C (both species can
handle a fairly broad temperature range)
using a Hydor inline heater, and the tank
was maintained at a pH of 6.5 – although
Blue-eyes will be happy as low as 4.5.
The addition of leaf litter and other
botanicals provided texture interest at
lower levels and helped keep the tank soft
and slightly tannin-stained, as would be
typical in your average billabong. Hardness
was maintained between 18-215 ppm.
The tank is only 100l, (90x45x30cm)
and I used a large external filter, capable
of delivering 2500 lph but with the flow
turned right down. A weekly 50% water
change can be easily carried out on such
a small tank.
CO2 injection at two bubbles per second,
daily dosing of TNC fertiliser and using
aquatic plant soil substrate keeps the
plants in good condition. The light unit,
on for eight hours a day, uses four 36W T5
bulbs – two standard daylight and two
‘plant’ bulbs, providing a warm glow that
picks out reds and oranges well.
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st! l
FANCY GOLDFISH
Ryukins
ing ta
dy in
aquaria, the Ryukin is a goldfish to covet.
PHOTOS: NATHAN HILL
A
Japanese-style
Ryukins have a
distinct shape.
LL FANCY goldfish
started off in
China, although
the Ryukin is so
called because the
variety was traded
with the Japanese
and entered via the
Ryukyus – a chain of islands south
of the main island of Japan.
Reference is made to Ryukin in
Japanese publications dating back
to 1825, and by 1908
Shinnosuke Matsubara,
director of the Imperial
Fisheries Institute in Tokyo,
referenced it as one of the
four most popular Japanese
goldfish varieties, along
with the Wakin, Ranchu,
and Oranda.
These days, few if any
Japanese Ryukin come
to the UK; most of
those you see in fish
shops are of Chinese
origin, with Thailand being an
up-and-coming supply source too.
Size
JEREMY GAY
Jeremy Gay is
a former PFK editor,
award-winning
retailer and now
product developer
for Evolution Aqua.
44
Ryukin can attain a body length of
20cm and a body height of about
the same. Combine this with a belly
girth of 7-10cm on an adult fish,
and an adult Ryukin could weigh
a kilogram or more. Some could
grow even larger, and that’s without
fins, so life in small aquariums will
stunt them.
I now believe, although this is
anecdotal, that to obtain maximum
body depth, Ryukin should be
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
kept in deep water. Last year I saw
some single-tail Ryukin (called
Tamasaba) of 5cm body-size placed
into a heated, 4+ft-deep Koi pond
containing large Koi.
They were added in March, fed six
times per day on koi pellets, and by
September they were netted out of
the pond with a body size of 20cm.
That’s in just six months.
It was notable how the body
depth altered dramatically
too. Going in the pond, the
fish had poor body shape
for Ryukin – little to no
hump backs between
the head and dorsal fin,
and slender bodies. By
September they had
steeply arched backs
with prominent
humps and this
I put down to
the depth of
the water.
Aquarium or pond?
Based on that account, are Ryukin
pond fish? If I were to attempt to
house adult fish indoors I would use
an aquarium of at least 120 x 60 x
60cm, preferably taller. But a pond
suits Ryukin in so many ways
– purpose-built, solids-handling
filtration, as much room as they
would ever require and ease of
large-scale water changes by simply
flushing filters to waste.
A heated pond would be paradise
for Ryukin. I’ve kept them outside
for seven years now in a pond, but
I can’t afford to heat it and over that
With a belly
girth of 7-10cm
on an adult fish, an
adult Ryukin could
weigh a kilogram
or more
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 45
FANCY GOLDFISH
Ryukins
Red short-tail ryukin
This thick-set fish has a flat,
almost squared tail, and intensely
red markings.
Japanese red & white ryukin
This variety has a deeper bodyshape and slightly
longer tail than Chinese types.
The most expensive fish
I’ve ever seen were huge, and
on sale in the UK for £3,500.
Yes £3,500!
time I’ve lost probably half my fish,
always in the long, cold seasons.
Being able to bring them inside and
not let them get too cold would
definitely help them.
Feeding
Baby Ryukin should be fed on
newly hatched, live Artemia, moving
on to powdered dry food, and
either frozen or live Daphnia and
bloodworm.
Once at a few cm body size,
combine frozen and live foods with
a staple of small, sinking pellets
aimed specifically at goldfish
varieties to encourage growth and
colour. Sinking pellets will help to
minimise the likelihood of your
fish turning upside down with the
dreaded swim bladder problems
that plague Ryukin and other fancy
goldfish varieties.
46
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
They should be fed several times
a day. If you can’t be around to
do this, invest in an automatic
feeder. Masses of food will mean
masses of fish poo, and goldfish
are messy anyway so you’ll need
effective mechanical and biological
filtration, aeration provided by an
air pump and an airstone for both
fish and filter bacteria to use, and
lots of regular water changes with
dechlorinated water.
Those who keep large fancy
goldfish indoors will come to
recognise the pong the aquarium
sometimes has. Remove as much
solid waste as possible during
maintenance, run carbon in the
filter to help remove odour and use
the smell as an indicator that the
water needs changing, or you’ve
been overfeeding. Froth on the
surface also means a water change
– bubbles should pop on the surface,
not hang around in a slime.
Varieties
The Ryukin is line-bred from of the
original goldfish Carassius auratus.
Characteristics are a humped back,
tall body profile and large belly.
The tail should be twin-lobed and
paired with twin anal fins, although
lower quality, single anal-finned
fish are commonly avilable. Ryukin
body shape is pretty standard. A
good pedigree has the steep back
from head to dorsal fin, although
tail length and shape can vary
enormously.
Japanese fish are known for their
long, flowing tails, but Chinese
Ryukin increasingly have short tails.
Long tails increase surface area and
liability to infection, while short
tails cause head-standing, poor
swimming and susceptibility to the
fish floating upside down. I prefer
a fish with a medium-length tail,
which also aids balance. Shapes vary
from butterfly-shaped tails, through
fantails, broadtails, ribbon tails and
veiltails.
The original fish were metallic
orange, though red and white were
favoured by the Japanese. Calico,
or nacreous, fish came much later
by crossing with other nacreous
varieties.
Find a decent fancy goldfish
supplier and you’ll get to choose
from red, white, red and white,
Calico ryukin
Calico markings were late arrivals
to the Ryukin strain of goldfish.
Breeding
Sakura (a matt red and white), triBreeding Ryukin is relatively
colour, calico, bronze, blue, red and
straightforward. All goldfish are nonblack, and everything in between.
pair-forming egg scatterers, so you
Tri-colours (three coloured fish,
just need a mature female, who has
normally with a mixture of red
become rounder in the belly as the
white and black) command some
eggs inside develop, and a sexually
of the highest prices and, as with
mature male.
any pedigree breed, unusual or
Males are typically more slender
particularly striking fish are the
than females and develop
most sought after. The most
visible white spots on their
expensive fish I’ve ever
gill covers, along with
seen were huge, and
ridges on the leading
on sale in the UK
edge of their
for £3,500. Yes
Spots on gills and pectoral
pectoral fins
£3,500! A really
fins are known as breeding
that can be seen
nice, freshly
tubercles which help grip the
and felt for by
imported fish
female when males
running a wet finger
may be upwards of
push the eggs
and thumb along them.
£500, but thankfully
out.
Ryukin spawning is
the vast majority of small,
triggered by an increase in
common or garden Ryukin
daylight, temperature (20ºC
cost upwards of just £5.
being ideal) and food.
All fish are shipped around the
Fish will often spawn early in the
world in polystyrene boxes, so
morning on a sunny day. The male
the bigger the fish, the fewer you
chases the female and nudges her
can fit in, so the higher their price
belly, which becomes soft to the
becomes to cover that fraction of
touch. In nature, a female C. auratus
the air freight bill. The smart money
is driven into plants where the eggs
is to buy small fish and grow them,
are released; the male releases milt
or pay for two good fish and breed
at the same time. In captivity you
them.
will need either live plants, woollen
spawning mops or spawning mats or
brushes. Having males outnumber
the female by two to one can aid
spawning, as a male each side of the
female will help to force her into the
plants.
For best results the water should
be warm, shallow, clean and still,
apart from some gentle aeration
We Recommend...
Tank mates
Ryukin will mix with their own kind or other fancy
varieties like Fantails, Oranda, Telescope-eyes and
Ranchu. Being big, strong fish, they wouldn’t
even be muscled out at feeding time if mixed
with single-tail varieties like Shubunkin, Common
goldfish and Comets. Weather loach could be
added to tanks containing large fish if you want
some non goldfish, although adult Ryukin will eat
Danios and White Cloud Mountain minnows, and
any of the temperate shrimp varieties.
For an absolutely glorious visual display, it’s best
to keep to goldfish only – or even Ryukin only
– with a contemporary hardscape arrangement
and five same-size, same-colour Ryukin.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 47
FANCY GOLDFISH
Ryukins
from an air-stone. Remove the
parent fish or the egg-laden mops,
and rear separately, starting them
off on newly hatched brine shrimp.
Culling
The subject of culling fish is taboo,
but it needs to be discussed if you
are breeding Ryukin. The process
of culling is to thin out batches of
fry, keeping only the best for further
raising.
The Ryukin you bought will
themselves have been the survivors
of several culls since just a few days
after hatching. But only do what you
are comfortable with; if you want to
raise every single baby fish, you can.
Culling occurs because Ryukin
look a certain way, and goldfish
genetics want to revert the fish to
wild type. This means that not all
Ryukin fry will grow up to look
like Ryukin. Some will have single,
not double tails, others will have
pronounced deformities such as
bent spines, but the main reason for
culling is sheer numbers.
A single mature Ryukin may
produce hundreds, if not thousands,
of eggs in a single spawn. As
hatched fry they will need increasing
amounts of food up to eight times
over a 24-hour period, as well as
extra space and clean, filtered water
as they grow.
Continued on p50
FACTFILE
RYUKIN
6Scientific name: Carassius auratus.
(Ca-ra-see-us or-rah-tuss).
6Size: 20cm.
6Origin: Originally bred in China, but
many modern fish in England now also
come from Thailand.
6
Tank size: 120x60x60cm
6
Water requirements: 7.0-8.5 pH,
10-18°H.
6Temperature: Tolerate 5-28°C but
ideally kept between 18-22°C
6Temperament: Peaceful.
6
Feeding: Sinking goldfish pellets, fresh
vegetables, live and frozen foods.
6
Availability and cost: Very common,
anything from £5 to £3,500.
400 l+
48
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Calico nacreous short-tail ryukin
At adult size, this fish displays the extreme body depth ryukins can possess.
Note the shorter tail, characteristic of Chinese types of ryukin.
Chocolate and gold ryukin
A long-tailed variant in the Japanese style.
Chocolate broadtail ryukin
A recently developed strain with a wide tail
and rich colour.
Red & black ryukin
A more common variety seen on sale, with neither a
short Chinese-style nor long Japanese-style tail.
Red & white broadtail ryukin
Note the matt white of the body on this fish, as
opposed to more common glossy types.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 49
FANCY GOLDFISH
Ryukins
Most enthusiasts simply cannot
afford to buy the amount of
brineshrimp eggs necessary for
thousands of fry, nor do they
want to get up every four hours
throughout the night to feed them.
By cutting numbers down to
hundreds, then tens, it means there’s
more room for the fry to grow, and
more brineshrimp nauplii per fish
when it’s added to the tank, so the
food lasts longer, and sustains the
fry for longer between feeds.
I have bred goldfish many times,
and always tried not to cull any,
but the result is stunted fry that
become months (and ultimately
years) behind on the size they
should be for their age.
Problem solving
The biggest problem you are likely
to encounter with Ryukin is floaty
fish, which I put down to that
Ryukins are best mixed
with other fancy goldfish,
especially other Ryukins.
50
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Find a decent fancy goldfish supplier and you’ll
get to choose from red, white, red and white,
Sakura, tri-colour, calico, bronze, blue, red and
black, and everything in between
and are susceptible to lots of
short, fat body and deformed swim
parasites you can’t see, like flukes.
bladder. Choose ‘balanced’ fish with
I routinely treat for these and have
a medium-sized tail and a not-toolost fish to flukes when I haven’t
squashed body shape.
medicated for them. Ideally, find
Often ‘swim bladder’ is not
a friend with a microscope who
a disease at all and I find only
knows how to take a skin scrape,
limited success by administering
and what to look for.
salt or a specific swim bladder
WANT TO BUY? In terms of water quality,
disease treatment. Diet
large fish plus frequent
can often be the problem,
All the fish here were seen at
feeding equals ammonia,
floating foods and too high
Star Fisheries, Sutton.
a protein levels can lead to
For details and prices, contact and if ammonia isn’t at zero
at all times these fish will get
swim bladder problems.
Star on 0208 9150455,
ill. Blood in the fins of white
Bred for looks, not
or visit the website at
fish is a common indicator
hardiness, Ryukin don’t like
starfisheries.co.uk
that something isn’t right.
prolonged UK winters outside
ADVICE
Answers
Got a fishkeeping question? PFK’s crack team of aquatics experts
are on hand to answer whatever you need to know...
questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
THE EXPERTS
DR PETER
BURGESS
TROPICAL
Is answering all your
disease questions and
looks at a lumpy goldfish on page 55.
Win
The Question of the
Month gets a Tetra
goodie box!
Porcupine
puffers make
perfect personal
pets.
BOB
MEHEN
Is answering all your
community questions
and explains fish bagging on page 57.
GEORGE
FARMER
STEVE
BAKER
Is answering all your
goldfish questions and
looks at a goldfish tub on page 57.
JEREMY
GAY
Is answering all your
cichlid questions and
discusses Kribensis on page 56.
NEALE
MONKS
Is answering all your
freshwater questions
and looks at leaf litter on page 54.
DAVID
WOLFENDEN
Is answering all your
marine fish questions,
and explains how to pet a pufferfish.
What’s the best set-up
for this spiky oddball?
it’s best to keep them as one individual per
tank, but you might want to consider robust
tankmates if space permits – groupers, larger
tangs and triggers are good choices. Because
porcupinefish are messy, greedy feeders you’ll
need to ensure brisk water movement, efficient
mechanical and biological filtration and
aggressive skimming (possibly
DAVE SAYS: The ‘classic’ porcupinefish,
incorporating ozone).
the Longspined porcupine puffer,
While porcupinefish are hardy,
Diodon holocanthus, is brilliant
they’re susceptible to eye
– it’ll rapidly achieve pet status
infections if water quality
and has tons of personality.
takes a dip, so it’s
These fish grow rapidly to
Correct species ID is
important to really go to
quite a size, topping out
essential with porcupine puffers,
town on filtration.
at around 30cm in
as some types grow to be
As far as keeping your
length. They’re chunky,
fish’s teeth in check, this is
too, and have an amazing
whoppers unsuitable
best achieved by offering foods
appetite, so the bioloading on
for home
such as mussels and cockles still
the tank can be considerable.
tanks.
in the shell. This will help to wear the
D. holocanthus needs around
puffer’s fused teeth down (they have a
500l/110 gal as a minimum and
single upper and a single lower tooth which
ideally you’re looking at twice that. They’re
make up a ‘beak’) and should prevent the need
active swimmers, so provide plenty of open
for dental surgery.
space. They are aggressive to conspecifics, so
Please could you tell me what size of tank
I need to keep a Porcupine puffer. I am
thinking of keeping it as the sole fish – just as
a pet. Any tips on what to feed to keep its teeth
short would be welcome.
RYAN, BY EMAIL
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ADVICE
Answers
TROPICAL
How can I stop my Platies pestering my Angels?
NEALE SAYS: It’s debatable whether
Angelfish produce the same nutritious
mucus on their flanks as Discus, the
idea being that Discus have to do so
because there is otherwise so little
plankton in their environment that their
offspring run the risk of starving to
death without such supplemental
nutrition. Angelfish, generally coming
from more productive waters, probably
don’t need this particular adaptation,
whatever their other similarities. But,
even so, Angels do seem to be
vulnerable to attacks by other fish
pecking at their sides, presumably
nibbling away at the mucus on
their flanks.
The usual situation is where the
Angelfish develops bloody sores or
missing scales on their flanks.
Sometimes, aggression between the
Angels gets things started, with them
pecking at one another and opening up
a sore that becomes an easier target
than otherwise intact skin. It can also
be the case that small suckermouth
catfish – most commonly, Otocinclus –
latch onto the Angels and scrape away
at them, just as if they were feeding
on algae.
Either way, the sores become worse
over time, and the weaker the
Angelfish, the more vulnerable it is to
opportunistic attacks by tankmates
keen to make a meal out of their skin,
blood or mucus.
I’ve not seen Platies do this, but
I have seen Mollies ‘having a go’ at
Angelfish in this way, so it’s possible
that this is the situation here.
As to whether this behaviour by the
Platies can be reduced or stopped, one
explanation for why Platies might be
doing this, and indeed other
herbivorous fish such as Mollies and
Otocinclus, is simple hunger. Such fish
evolved to feed more or less constantly
on algae and soft plant material, and
without a source of high-fibre food to
make them feel full, they’re driven to
find alternative sources of nutrition.
Throw a few slices of courgette or
squashed cooked peas in your tank to
TETRA PRIZE
52
see if your Platies will feed on these
instead of your Angels. Algae pellets of
the sort used to feed plecs are good
too, but being more protein-rich they’re
going to put a heavier strain on your
filter so be careful with those. Fresh or
cooked greens contain little to no
protein, so even in large amounts they
won’t do much to affect water
quality, which is helpful.
Otherwise, Platies are
normally good fish in
community tanks, so
what you report is a bit
unusual. Sometimes
they can be aggressive
towards one another, but
they usually ignore dissimilar
species. Nonetheless, if
augmenting their diet doesn’t
dissuade your Platies from taking
potshots at your Angels, I fear you
will have to rehome them.
Throw a few slices of
courgette or squashed cooked
peas in your tank
Platies eat more
veg than most
people think.
ALAMY
NEIL HEPWORTH
Julie 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.
Otocinclus
eat high-fibre
food almost
constantly.
SHUTTERSTOCK
I’ve got a selection of fish in my
200l/44 gal tank who have been
absolutely fine together, including three
Angelfish that I’ve had for four years.
Four weeks ago I added 10 Platies to
the tank and they seemed to get along
with the Angels at first, but then they
started to attack all three – pecking at
them and chasing them constantly.
One of the Angelfish has now died and
the Platies are continuing to peck the
other two.
Can you offer any advice as to why
this is happening and how I can stop
the Platies’ aggressive behaviour? When
I purchased them, I was told they would
be fine with my Angelfish.
JULIE, BY EMAIL
Question of
the Month
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TROPICAL
What’s caused the ammonia
crisis that’s killing our catfish?
which convert toxic ammonia produced
by the fish to the relatively harmless
nitrate. Keeping a small tank for
emergencies in the manner you do is a
good idea, but the filter will not be
mature unless you regularly add small
quantities of ammonia to the tank when
it’s empty of fish to keep the bacteria
fed. Suddenly adding a large population
of fish means that the filter just can’t
cope and the dangerously elevated
ammonia levels and fish deaths you are
experiencing are the inevitable result.
Adding the Aqua-Detox will help to
remove some of the ammonia, but will
not solve the problem of the
immature filter.
My advice would be to carry
out immediate daily 50%
BOB SAYS: It sounds as if
water changes with
your small tank is not
dechlorinated water to
‘cycled’, the process
keep on top of the
whereby you allow
If you have a mature filter
ammonia
the filter to
working well in your main tank,
problem, while
become colonised
the filter starts
with the vital
use media from it to seed
to catch up.
beneficial bacteria
We have a 105l/23 gal tank which is
running just great. We also have a small
28l/6 gal tank which is mainly for
poorly fish, but recently our Bristlenose
catfish bred so I moved 60 babies into
it. The next day I found 10 dead and a
further eight dead the day after that.
Our problem is ammonia – it was 6,
but is now running at 3. We have put
an Aqua-Detox in the filter and I also
put 20g of tonic salt in to see if that
would help get rid of the ammonia.
All the other parameters are low, but
they have been since the tank was set
up around three months ago. How can
I solve this problem?
CHRIS KERRY, BY EMAIL
a smaller tank with
vital bacteria.
Bristlenose
catfish need well
aerated water
with a current
to thrive.
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Angelfish do
get issues with
fish pecking or
latching onto
their sides.
53
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Answers
TROPICAL
GABOR HORVATH
Safe leaves
help provide a
natural habitat
for tank fish.
Is locally collected decor safe to use in my aquarium?
going to collect your own leaves, do so
in a fairly remote location away from
airborne pollution.
I’ve used oak and beech leaves in
my aquarium and my fish were fine.
However, these ‘home-grown’ leaves
didn’t seem to last as long as shopbought Indian almond, turning into
mulch within a few weeks – though the
large Panaque catfish vigorously
foraging about in there may well have
had something to do with that!
We recommend...
JACQUES PORTAL
SHUTTERSTOCK
Native species Oak (bottom left), Beech (below
left) and Hornbeam (bottom right) leaves are
favourites among hobbyists, being known to be
safe. Catappa leaves (below right) from aquatic
shops are clean and safe to use immediately.
ALAMY
in batches so you can remove and
replace those in the aquarium as
necessary. However, there are some
things to consider before getting too
carried away and filling your shed
with foraged foliar treasure.
Store-bought Indian almond leaves
(Catappa) will have been cleaned and
dried, whereas the ones you collect
NEALE SAYS: It’s fine to use fallen
yourself will be in varying states
leaves in your aquarium, providing
of decomposition. They’re also
they don’t contain toxic
likely covered with all sorts
chemicals. You will want
of creepy-crawlies that’ll
leaves that are relatively
need to be removed
robust and sturdy, as
by brushing them
these will take longer
To store collected fallen
off in your
to decay. While
leaves, press them in newspaper
garden, allowing
most varieties will
these bugs and
eventually rot,
to absorb moisture and
spiders to find
choose those that’ll
protect them from
new homes.
take some weeks before
damage.
Furthermore, the
they decompose. Avoid
store-bought leaves will be
anything fresh – no green
known to be free from
leaves – and nothing resinous,
insecticides and herbicides.
such as pine, or potentially
While it’s unlikely that trees in a true
poisonous, like evergreens, and ivy.
woodland will have been sprayed,
People do collect bin bags filled with
leaves collected from gardens or local
dried oak and beech leaves for use in
parks may well have done.
aquaria, storing them in a cool and dry
I can speak from personal experience
place to prevent further decomposition
that herbicides can be acutely toxic to
before the leaves are put in tanks.
aquarium fish, which will exhibit signs
Some people prefer to air-dry their
of poisoning – such as respiratory
leaves in a warm greenhouse or even in
distress – within minutes.
the oven at a low heat.
Pollution from busy roads or factories
If you are able to collect and store
probably isn’t much better, so if you’re
a large quantity of leaves, bag them up
I am confused as to whether it is safe
to use leaves collected from a local
wood in a tropical set-up. What
treatment, if any, do they need to
undergo before beeing introduced to
a tank?
JOHN SEATON, BY EMAIL
SHUTTERSTOCK
54
EVERYTHING YOU NEED
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Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers,
Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough,
PE2 6EA. Email us at questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
COLDWATER
What’s wrong with my goldfish?
I wonder if you can diagnose the
problem with this goldfish? At first it
had the appearance of carp pox and
I expected it to go in due course but
it has persisted for about 18 months.
Recently there have been some
reddened eruptions. The fish feeds
well and does not exhibit any
symptoms of stress.
ALEX LEVACK, BY EMAIL
DR PETER BURGESS SAYS:
From your photos, and due to the
slow development of this condition,
I’m pretty sure your goldfish has
some sort of benign tumour disease.
Skin tumours, such as fibromas, are
not uncommon in goldfish, though
most cases that I have seen were
limited to just one or a few lumpy
masses, whereas your poor fish has
many lumps!
Goldfish (and other types of fish)
can also develop pigment cell
tumours. These include melanomas
(black tumours associated with the
black pigment cells of the skin) and
erythrophoromas (red pigment cell
tumours). You mention the lumps
appear reddish, so an erythrophoroma
could possibly be the cause.
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible
to identify the type or seriousness of
a tumour based on visual
appearances: instead it would be
necessary to remove a piece of
tumour and subject it to special
laboratory tests and microscopy
(which would be expensive and
won’t lead to a cure).
Tumours can arise spontaneously,
and do not indicate poor nutrition,
bad husbandry or any other fault on
the part of the fishkeeper. These
tumours are not infectious so will
not spread to other fish sharing
the aquarium.
Some of these skin tumours are not
Tumors can be removed but they
can’t be treated.
The only defence is offering high
quality, vitamin rich foods to
support the fishes immune
system.
particularly harmful, unless they
inhibit vital areas, such as the gills,
mouth or vent. Some tumours,
however, are lethal. None of them are
curable, though, so chemical or other
remedies simply won’t work.
While your fish remains otherwise
healthy, swims normally and has
a good appetite then do nothing. If it
starts to fail, though, you will have to
consider euthanasia.
Fingers crossed that your fish will
remain okay for many more months!
The
lumps
on Alex’s
goldfish
haven’t
bothered
it so far.
PLANTS
Which plants would be best
for the background in my tank?
I have a 140l community tank with
Harlequins, Cardinal tetras and danios,
plus four Corydoras. I have some
Anubias, moss, Java fern and crypts in
there but I would like to add some easy
plants that will grow quite tall for the
back. Something with a bushy
appearance would be ideal.
I have three T8 tubes and I don’t use
CO2. What would you recommend?
ANNE WILLIS, BY EMAIL
GEORGE SAYS: The easiest and fastest
growing species of bushy stem plant
that would suit your tank include
Hygrophila polysperma (Indian
swampweed, Picture 1) and Limnophila
sessilflora (Ambulia, Picture 4). These
two plants look different to one other so
research them to decide which you like
best – or you could add them both.
Other good choices for your set-up
would include Rotala rotundifolia (dwarf
rotala, Picture 3) and Ludwigia palustris
(Hampshire purslane, Picture 2).
Your aquarium sounds fine for all of
these suggested plants as they all have
low demands for lighting and CO2.
1
2
3
4
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ADVICE
Answers
MARINE
Which fish would best suit my FOWLR set-up?
DAVE SAYS: A FOWLR set-up is ideal
for the types of fish you are choosing,
as it enables you to keep varieties that
you wouldn’t otherwise be able to keep
in a reef due to their habit of eating
corals and other invertebrates.
For butterflies, the Red Sea-endemic
Addis butterflyfish (Chaetodon
semilarvatus) is a superb, if expensive,
choice for a FOWLR as it’s very hardy
and doesn’t fall into the obligate
corallivore (feed only on coral) category
of many of its relatives. It’s a stunning
fish but does get quite large, reaching
20cm in length. You’re probably safe
keeping a single specimen in 400l, but
a pair would need more room.
Klein’s butterflyfish, C. kleinii, an
Indo-Pacific species reaching 15cm in
length, could be a more affordable
choice – and you could certainly try to
establish a pair in this size of tank.
Klein’s are very hardy, too, and adapt
well to captive diets.
Whichever species you decide on,
avoid any which rely either entirely or
partially on a diet of coral polyps.
The larger angels from the genera
Pomacanthus and Holacanthus need
hundreds of litres of water as adults,
and even the medium-sized
Apolemichthys and Chaetodontoplus
species will be quite cramped in 400l,
which could create problems.
Perhaps consider a Swallowtail angel,
Genicanthus spp. A male-female pair of
Ornate angelfish (Genicanthus bellus)
could be an option. They are attractive
fish which grow to around 15cm in
length and feed from the water column.
They’re definitely not as commonly seen
as they deserve to be, and are
something a bit different to the norm.
Establishing a pair is easy as they are
obviously sexually dimorphic; males
have a yellow stripe running down the
grey body, whereas females have black
and blue stripes. If given a mature tank
and plenty of open swimming space,
while still having access to rocky
outcrops to make them feel secure,
these should do well.
A Swallowtail
butterfy female.
Why are these fish so shy?
SHUTTERSTOCK
Kribensis
female.
Kribensis male.
I have two pairs of Kribs in a 60 x
30 x 30cm tank, with flowerpots,
bogwood, rocks and some Anubias.
The pH is 7.6, temperature 24.5°C.
I bought them because I have been
told they were easy to keep and
breed but they just seem to hide all
the time. What am I doing wrong?
They’ve been in the tank for six
weeks and I feed frozen and sinking
foods and do a weekly 20% water
change. Water quality is good with
no signs of any ammonia or nitrite.
ADAM WRIGHT, BY EMAIL
JEREMY SAYS: Kribs are essentially
rock and cave dwelling and will
spend a lot of time in and around
places where they can hide.
Of my pair, the female spends
most of her time under wood, rocks
or a coconut shell cave. This is
normal, and close observations are
SHUTTERSTOCK
56
Addis butterflys
need excellent
water quality.
SHUTTERSTOCK
I recently set up my first marine tank
— a FOWLR system. It holds around
400l/88 gal after the addition of the
rock, has a protein skimmer and lots of
water movement. I am currently
keeping a Flame angel and a Valentini
puffer and I will be adding either a Kole
or Purple tang in due course.
I am putting in new fish at the rate of
one a month and would like to include
a butterflyfish and a larger Angel in this
mix. Any tips on the best choices here?
THOMAS KIRBY, BY EMAIL
EVERYTHING YOU NEED
FOR HEALTHY FISH
that she is being very industrious,
digging, cleaning and nesting. She
will be looking for areas to spawn on
as well as areas close by to move
the fry to once they’ve hatched.
Are your Kribs young fish? There
are many reports of immature males
not knowing what to do, resulting in
frustrated females. Are they
siblings? If so try some new blood,
preferably a large, unrelated male.
And maybe remove one of the pairs.
I wouldn’t have two cichlid pairs in
a tank of that size as it may be
causing underlying stress by way of
the males/females being able to
swap partners on demand. Try just
one pair and see if that works better.
Don’t be tempted to lift the
hideouts your Kribs are in and
inspect. I found eggs last time I did
this: they didn’t hatch and now my
Kribs haven’t spawned since.
Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers,
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PE2 6EA. Email us at questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
MARINE
COLDWATER
How should I acclimatise new fish?
I am confused about whether I need to
acclimatise new fish and for how long. One
local retailer told me I should float the fish bag
and mix the water before I add them to my
tank. Another told me I didn’t have to because
I only live a couple of miles away.
What’s the best way to acclimatise new fish
to my aquarium please? And how long should
I leave the lights off on the tank for? Should
I feed my fish if I have added new stock?
PATRICK REID, ESSEX.
BOB SAYS: When moving fish from one place
to another, acclimatise them before adding
them to their new home (see the steps below).
The retailer who told you not to bother may be
1
Switch off tank lights and cut off the knot at the
top of the fish bag. Roll the top of the bag to
make a collar, enabling it to float in the tank.
JACQUES PORTAL
3
Add a small amount of tank water to the bag
every 10 minutes for around 30 minutes to an
hour so they can slowly adjust to new conditions.
right that your water conditions may be very
similar because you live locally, but this is not
a given – water supply can vary considerably
over a small area depending where it comes
from. At the same time your tank may contain
decor that affects the water chemistry to levels
removed from the source tapwater.
Another factor to take into account is that
a group of fish crammed together in a bag with
only a small amount of water, even for a short
time, will be producing ammonia which can
mean the water chemistry has changed from
that in the large volumes of the shop’s tanks,
as can the temperature.
Healthy new fish will generally be interested
in food after a couple of hours.
2
Float the bag containing the fish in the aquarium
for 10 minutes so the water temperature in the
bag meets the temperature of your tank.
4
Carefully net the fish from the bag and throw the
tainted remaining water away. Leave the light off
for around an hour after they have been released.
TROPICAL
Will my heaters provide enough heat?
My new tank is 96 x 26 x 30in with dual 40mm
outflows to a 60 x 20 x 20in sump. I have two
Schego 600W titanium heaters. Is this sufficient?
DR JAMES KERR, BY EMAIL
NEALE SAYS: Your tank has a capacity of 1550l,
including the sump. The maximum loading of
standard heaters are usually rated to about 100l
per 100W of power, so your two heaters maximum
loading is well below your tank’s size. Avoid having
heaters working flat-out all the time as this
increases failure risk. It’s better to have three or
four smaller heaters, so that if one of the heaters
fails in the ‘on’ position, a small heater can’t
overheat your aquarium, whereas a bigger heater
might. I’d want to add a third heater to the mix.
Will this
tub be big
enough for
goldies?
Could I keep a couple of
goldfish outdoors in a small
90l/20 gal garden tub if
I add a filter?
KEV MURPHY, BY EMAIL
STEVE SAYS: You might
get away with keeping
a couple of very young
goldfish outside in a tub of
this kind for a few months
in late spring or early
summer. In late autumn
and winter, however, due to
the small volume of water it
contains, the temperature
will drop drastically low and
this will harm or even kill
the fish.
To be honest, 90l isn’t big
enough really, given that
goldfish can easily grow to
25cm or more. Goldies are
messy fish, too, and an
undersized canister filter is
unlikely to cope for long.
In fact, once you start to
assess the longer term
needs of these fish, the
extra expense of a larger
residence – such as a
proper pond – presents
itself as a much more
sensible option.
Bear in mind, too, that in
a small tub such as this, a
couple of even very young
goldfish will struggle to find
adequate cover from the
unwanted attentions of a
passing predator, such as a
heron or a cat.
A far better alternative
would be to heavily plant
the tub with suitable, small
pond plants and introduce
some Sticklebacks,
although you’ll still face the
problem of excess cold
weather during winter and
would need to bring them
inside or move them to
a larger receptacle.
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WHICH
POND
SUIT
YOU
PFK helps you choose and
create a great-looking water
feature to be proud of.
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
ALAMY
DIFFICULTY RATING:
EASY
58
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
NATURE
POND
GARDEN
POND
KOI
POND
SHUTTERSTOCK
DIFFICULTY RATING:
MEDIUM
You’ll also often see larger
garden ponds housing colourful
Koi alongside goldfish and Golden
orfe. Or you can use a connected
‘vegetable filter’ on a Koi pond,
which is basically a nature pond
with fast-growing plants (to
remove nutrients from the water).
You can have a lot of fun fusing
types and styles, mixing in
steams, waterfalls and bog
gardens, too.
Creating a pond, given the
amount of space and effort
involved, is not something you’re
going to do often, so although
equipment can be changed it’s
best to take time to think a pond
through before you start digging.
DIFFICULTY RATING:
HARD
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 59
SHUTTERSTOCK
T
HE OPTIONS for
a pond are almost
endless, depending
on the space you
have and the budget
you can run to. It can
be a dug-in liner with
planting around it to
hide and soften the edges, brick
built and raised from the ground
within a patio or simply one
created by recycling an old bath.
The following pages give outlines
of three different styles of pond,
but boundaries can be merged by
mixing them up a bit – for
example, it’s common to see
a garden pond with an area or
connected pool for a nature pond.
ADVICE
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ALAMY
N
e Pond
Nature ponds spark up some
great childhood memories for me.
I remember going pond-dipping
at primary school and catching
the coolest underwater creature
ever – the water scorpion, which
earned me a lot of kudos from
my classmates. That day sealed
my love of everything aquatic,
and many children have similarly
been amazed, captivated and
educated just by a dip of a net
and emptying the content into
a margarine tub.
Naturally, wetlands are some of
the most biologically diverse
habitats in the world, so even
adding just a small nature pond
will encourage lots of extra life
into your garden or back yard.
SHUTTERSTOCK
There are three types of newts
native to the UK. Smooth newts are
your most likely pond inhabitant,
but we also have the Palmate
newt and the rarer Great
Crested newt.
DECOR
Logs and rocks positioned around the pond will give amphibians ideal
dark and damp homes when they aren’t in the water.
60
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
PLANTS
Plants are going to be the
main display and there are
so many options of heights,
styles, leaf and flower colour
to choose from. With no fish
waste in the water, add pond
plant food supplements to
get good, strong growth.
WILDLIFE
Dig the pond in to
allow good access for
amphibians. Raised
ponds or overhanging
patio slabs will make
life harder for frogs and
newts or maybe even
deter them altogether.
SHUTTERSTOCK
POND LINER
A preformed moulded
plastic liner is a
pretty good option for
smaller ponds. These
are reasonably cheap,
strong, easy to transport
and straightforward to
put in the ground.
HARDWARE
Pumps and filters aren’t
in nature ponds but som
want them for water
clarity or a little
movement. An all-inone unit (filter/pump
/UV) slightly raised off
the bottom should fare w
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SHUTTERSTOCK
Garden Pond
A garden pond is a wonderful
place to enjoy in the right
weather – springtime family
barbecues, summer night
get-togethers with friends or a
peaceful afternoon of gardening.
While bright fish swim around
majestically, insects and birds will
be drawn to the water, adding
a vibrancy of life to the garden.
Use a pond hoover 2-4 times
a year to help keep your pond
fresh and tidy; it also limits
a build-up of nutrient
and algae
growth.
62
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SHUTTERSTOCK
FISH WELFARE
Use heron deterrents to protect your
fish. From experience, I have found
a perimeter tripwire or floating plastic
grids to be effective without being
too visually distracting.
Get the right balance of deep water,
marginal and waterside plants and the
pond can look stunning, as well as
inviting lots of wildlife to the garden
LINERS
Generally flexible liners (with
an underlay) are the order of
the day here as they allow
any shape and size of design
and are easily transported.
The downside is that the
more complicated the
design, the more unsightly
folds you’ll end up with. Plus
they are quite easily pierced.
HARDWARE
Pond filters and pumps are required
when it comes to keeping a fish pond
clean and healthy. These also allow
features such as a waterfall, stream
or fountain to be incorporated, run by
the same pump.
Pressurised filt
well on most reg
garden ponds as
are compact, ca
placed and hidd
easily and some
useful quick-cle
facilities. Most
also have an
ultraviolet light
built in to help
prevent waterborne algae grow
PLANTS
Planting in and around
a garden pond makes a large
difference to the overall
effect. Get the right balance
of deep water, marginal and
waterside plants and the
pond can look stunning, as
well as attracting lots of
wildlife to the garden.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 63
ADVICE
Know-how
SHUTTERSTOCK
Koi Pond
FILTRATION
Filtration needs to be on a large scale,
traditionally 10% of the volume, but
modern filtration is more compact,
such as fine mesh drum filters
compared to older filters using sponge.
Efficient automated systems are
costly, but older-style manual cleaning
systems still give good results and are
comparatively inexpensive.
A Koi pond is, well, a different
kettle of fish from a nature pond
or the average garden pond.
This is about catering for the
fish rather than creating an
environment-enhancing feature.
Carp (Koi or not) are potentially
very large fish that produce more
waste than other pond fish, so
they need an accordingly large
size of pond to cater for their
growth. Plus, there is more
demand on associated equipment
to keep things healthy and clean.
Planning is key to a well-built
Koi pond. Pipework can be
a headache, with complicated
filters, bottom drains, surface
skimmers and multiple return
pipes. If you’ve not familiar with
these, ask those with experience.
Getting it right in the first place
first time will save you lots of
hassle and money in the long run.
DRAINAGE
Bottom drains allow good
water flow to the filter,
drawing directly from the
bottom of the pond which,
ideally, is angled to make
sediment roll down to the
drain to keep the base clean.
FISH WELFARE
If the pond is straight edged
down to a depth of a metre
your fish should be safe from
heron attacks. If you have
a shallow area you’ll need to
add protection against fish
being carried off or stabbed
by hungry herons.
64
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
PUMP
Good aeration is essential for
these large fish, particularly
during warm months, and
through low air pressure.
Either a large air disc or
multiple small air-stones
used with a strong air
pump would be ideal.
Koi ponds first became
very popular in Japan in the
1920s. There, Koi represent
wisdom, knowledge,
spirituality, loyalty and
longevity.
PLANTS
It’s tricky to keep plants in
place when it comes to Koi,
because these powerful
fish love to root around in
the baskets and dislodge
them. Unless you have a
defence system thought up,
avoid putting plants in the
main pond – placing them in
header pools and vegetable
filter troughs instead.
SHUTTERSTOCK
SKIMMER
Surface skimmers draw oily proteins,
leaves and any foam into the filtration
system, keeping the surface clean.
STRUCTURE
The best built Koi ponds are made with concrete blocks
(with foundations), a concrete base (over hardcore) then
a fibreglass render to all the surfaces. This way any shape
with a neat finish is achievable and you have a very strong
and durable pond that can be patched if needed. The downside
is the cost, but you are on to a winner if you can fibreglass
it yourself. Flexible liners can still be used, with flanges to
allow watertight pipework outlets.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 65
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LEDDY 75
SPHERE 37 & 45
LEDDY SETS
SPHERE sets consist of a classic spherical tank and a durable cover.
The cover is itted with an eicient overlow ilter equipped with two
iltering baskets. The cover also has an automatic heater and modern
LEDDY TUBE SUNNY light module which provides strong lighting while
using little energy. It is also possible to replace it with a LEDDY TUBE
PLANT module, especially well suited for aquarium plant life.
SETS INCLUDE: aquarium tank with a rectangular front;
a state-of-the-art lid with patented SMART OPEN
opening system which eliminates the need for hinges or
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Leddy Tube lighting module built into the lid
tNBJOUFOBODFGSFFBVUPNBUJDIFBUFStJOUFSOBMöMUFS
SPHERE sets are recommended especially for growing water plants as
well as raising shrimp, crayish, snails and other invertebrate aquarium
species. They are an easy to maintain decorative piece suitable for any
living or oice space.
Sphere 37 - 1913054
Sphere 45 - 1913056
Black
Leddy 40 - 1911590
Leddy 60 - 1911593
Leddy 75 - 1911596
White
Leddy 40 - 1911586
Leddy 60 - 1911580
Leddy 75 - 1911584
Black Leddy 40 (coldwater) - 1911591
HEXA SET 20 & 60
HEXA SET tanks are made of durable glass panels that
are bonded with black silicone. The top of the tank is
protected with a black lid with inbuilt energy-eicient LED
lighting and a low-through ilter based on the reliable
Circulator pump. The ilter, which is integrated into the lid,
does not require additional space.
Includes:
Hexagonal glass tank, bottom frame, lid,
Hexa Set 20 = 3w LED Leddy IP68 lighting,
Hexa Set 60 = LED 6w,
COMFORT ZONE automatic heater,
low-through biological ilter built-in & two ilter baskets.
Hexa Set 20 - 191310
Hexa Set 60 - 191318
To shop online for click & collect into your nearest Aquael stockist or for
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MARINE
Tank-busters
The BIG
alternatives
Want a whopper but
you’ve no room? Don’t
despair! For every tropical
tank-buster there’s an
alternative beauty more
suited to home aquariums.
SHUTTERSTOCK
TRISTAN
LOUGHER
Tristan is an aquatic
author who has
worked on various
research projects.
His day job is at
Cheshire Aquatics.
68
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Lions are lovely, but
do you really have the
space for one?
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 69
MARINE
Tank-busters
F
OR SOME aquarists,
there’s no substitute for
one or more large fish
in the tank. These guys
tend to know their fish
and stock them in
suitably large aquaria.
For others, it’s the
appearance of the juvenile fish that
tempts an impulse buy. Some fish
may have a particular feature we
find fascinating, like the swimming
style of the Sweetlips.
We’re lucky to have such an
incredible diversity of species to
choose from, but if we don’t think
our purchases through, we’ll
encounter serious issues as they
grow and mature. Fortunately, there
are alternatives in smaller-sized fish
that are just as attractive and
fascinating as their larger brethren.
Avoiding tank-busters
The easiest way to avoid a potential
leviathan in your tank is to research
all of your intended purchases.
Maximum fish sizes are widely
available and this, coupled with the
knowledge that most marines aren’t
limited by the size of their aquarium,
should mean that large fish aren’t
taken home in ignorance. Speak to
your retailers – they’re a mine of
fishkeeping information.
There are, however, spontaneous
purchases that take everyone by
surprise. Thousands of species
make their way into our hobby –
some are rare, while others aren’t
usually seen because dealers know
they’re a monster fish in the making.
So if an unfamiliar species turns up
at your local stockist, find out why
you haven’t seen it before, rather
than asking how much it costs.
Tank-buster owners think they’ll
be able to move on their enormous
fish once it has outgrown the
aquarium. But where to? Few
private aquarists can accommodate
them and public aquaria and zoos
have limits on the numbers (and
types) they can house, too.
In the right context – a super-sized
aquarium, or in their natural
environment – tank-busters are
fascinating to observe. It’s not their
fault they end up in aquaria that are
entirely unsuitable for them.
The tank-busters shown here
come with a haphazard bunch of
alternatives. That’s the great thing
about this pastime – even though
aquaria have a finite holding
capacity for livestock, if you can’t
have one species there are always
plenty of other options. Your
alternative fish can be as close as
possible to the original, or quite
different but just as appealing in
other ways.
We have such a wide choice of fish
to choose from in this hobby that it
makes the acquisition of tankbusting species almost unforgivable.
THE BIG ONE
SPECIES & ALTERNATIVES
Map pufferfish
6Scientific name: Arothron mappa
6Size potential: 65cm
6Where found: Indo-Pacific from East Africa to Australia
6Cost: £45-100+
Juvenile Map puffers measuring only a couple of
centimetres appear regularly in the trade. Although
they’re not cheap for their size, they’re attractive
enough to induce a spontaneous purchase now and
then. Their size potential can best be described as
prodigious and they’re really not suitable for any but
the largest aquaria – well over 1000l as a minimum.
Public aquariums are the
best places to house, and
view, tank-busters.
70
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
ALTERNATIVE
SHUTTERSTOCK
Lunare wrasse are
quarrelsome as
well as big!
Black-spoed pufferfish
Lunare wrae
6Scientific name: Thalassoma lunare
6Size potential: 30-45cm
6Where found: Widespread Indo-Pacific and Red Sea to Hawaii
6Cost: £39-75
Lunare wrasse are beautiful, hardy and inexpensive, so
it’s no surprise that they find their way into many marine
aquaria. In a large aquarium with aggressive tankmates,
they can work well. However, these fish become increasingly
pugnacious as they mature – and that’s just the females!
Males are particularly obnoxious towards docile or even
semi-aggressive tankmates and demand a large aquarium of
1000l or more.
Quite a few popular wrasse species are potential tankbusters, although not all will complete the transition from
juvenile to female to male, and so won’t reach the maximum
size recorded for the species. But beware, even females can
outgrow all but the largest aquaria.
6Scientific name: Arothron nigropunctatus
6Size potential: 25-30cm
6Where found: Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Western Pacific
6Cost: £30-200+
The Black-spotted pufferfish has a number of
alternative common names, some of which are
dependant on colouration and patterning. The
genus Arothron is commonly referred to as Dogface
pufferfish for obvious reasons. Provided that they’re
feeding well, they present few problems and prove
hardy in the long term. With a 30cm adult potential
they are hardly tiny fish, but they are the smallest
species in the genus Arothron and are the best
alternatives for puffer enthusiasts enticed by the look
of the Dogfaces and their kin. Stocked with a few
other robust tankmates, they can thrive in aquaria as
small as 450l, provided good filtration is assured as
they can be messy feeders with huge appetites. Prices
with yellow specimens
the highest prices.
ALTERNATIVE
Tail-spot wrae
6Scientific name: Halichoeres melanurus
6Size potential: 12cm
6Where found: Japan to Great Barrier Reef
6Cost: £29-49
SHUTTERSTOCK
Black-spotted pufferfish
are the best alternatives
for puffer enthusiasts.
These are beautiful, rainbowcoloured fish. A member of the genus
Halichoeres they are small to medium-sized wrasse.
H.melanurus is less than half the size of the Lunare wrasse,
with substantially less aggression. It can dominate smaller
fish, but usually integrates well with tangs and other semiboisterous species. There are subtle differences between
individuals from different parts of the Western Pacific, but
it’s thought the best Australian Tail-spot wrasse come from
Australia as they typically feed well and are, arguably, the
most attractive colour morph.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 71
ALAMY
Mappa pufferfish
are only suitable for
1000l+ aquariums.
SHUTTERSTOCK
THE BIG ONE
MARINE
Tank-busters
THE BIG ONE
THE BIG ONE
Spanish hogfish
6Scientific name: Bodianus rufus
6Size potential: 30-40 cm
6Where found: Tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic
from Florida through the Caribbean to Brazil
6Cost: £39-75
Young Spanish hogfish always appeal to aquarists,
but B. rufus is not one of the stunning species
of smaller hogfish that are readily available in
the trade, such as the Red-striped hogfish (B.
sepiacaudus) or Candy hogfish (B. bimaculatus)
that achieve around 12cm maximum and can even
do well in reef aquaria. This is one of the big hogs
that can reach 40cm for a mature male. Females
are smaller and many captive individuals will not
undergo the transition from female to male, but
this is still a substantially-sized and potentially
short-tempered fish.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Lionfish
Large,
venomous
and able to
eat 25cm
fish!
6Scientific name: Pterois volitans
6Size potential: 38cm
6Where found: Tropical (and sub-tropical) Indo-Pacific. Introduced into the Atlantic through
regrettable releases by aquarists
6Cost: £25-75
An iconic species that sometimes has individuals available as small
as 2-3cm, which prove incredibly hard to resist once seen. Specimens
can weigh in at several pounds – a huge fish to accommodate in the
average home marine aquarium and one capable of swallowing fish up
to two-thirds its own length.
Clearfin lionfish
6Scientific name: Pterois radiata
6Size potential: 20cm
6Where found: Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Western Pacific
6Cost: £39-75
ALAMY
Arguably prettier than P. volitans, the clearfin lionfish is often known
as the Radiata lion. It’s significantly smaller than P. volitans, but be
careful when selecting one as some don’t ship well. Check whether
a specimen is feeding before purchase – this will reveal a well-settled
fish. Feed on frozen diets, preferably. Mysis is a good choice for
smaller individuals, but larger specimens may need live foods to tempt
them. River shrimp are increasingly available and few healthy lionfish
can resist them for long.
The Twin
Spot Wrasse,
great in the
aquarium
once settled.
ALAMY
More suited to
aquaria, dwarf
lionfish are huge
characters.
72
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ALAMY
ALTERNATIVE
Angelfish are large,
belligerent and need
huge tanks.
Twin spot wrae
6Scientific name: Oxycheilinus bimaculatus
6Size potential: 12-15cm
6
Where found: Widespread in the Tropical Indo-Pacific.
6Cost: £29-49
Rather than choose one of the smaller
species of Bodianus as an alternative,
I’ve picked one of the lesser-known
wrasse that can make an excellent
addition to more sedate fish-only
systems, and even reef aquaria with
Semicircle angelfish
THE BIG ONE
6Scientific name: Pomacanthus semicirculatus
6Size potential: 35cm
6Where found: Indian Ocean, Maldives, Western Pacific
6Cost: £25-45
s last pair of fish because
a particular blend of
rresistible to aquarists. It’s
and blue that we see so
but rarely elsewhere.
Angelfish make superb
aquarists stock them
or their belligerence
gelfish is one of
e at a relatively low price
a juvenile, but it has a particularly
ize potential and a love-it-or-hate-it adult
uration.
care. The twin spot wrasse has variable
colours and patterns, but most of those
imported for the hobby tend to be very
attractive. With a modest size potential
and initially shy disposition, they can
prove as interesting to watch as they
are beautiful. Ensure specimens are
feeding well before purchase, and
don’t necessarily expect to see a lot of
them when they’re first introduced to
the aquarium, as they tend to hug the
rockwork and observe what’s going on
both inside and out. Once settled and
into a feeding routine, they are more on
display than not, and make a fabulous
addition to your tank.
Blue-striped doyback
6Scientific name: Pseudochromis springeri
6Size potential: 6-7cm
6Where found: Red Sea
6Cost: £27-40
The Spanish
hogfish can
reach 40cm.
ALAMY
ALTERNATIVE
ALTERNATIVE
Large character and
large presence in a
small package.
This alternative to the juvenile Angelfish
couldn’t really be more different in terms
of size potential and aquarium behaviour,
but they share a predominantly black body with
blue markings. Small, coral safe, often available as
tank-raised specimens and with enough personality to
give a pufferfish a run for its money, they are fascinating
fish to observe and care for. They even have a beautiful
swimming style. I’ve heard aquarists comment that
juvenile Angelfish would be perfect if they didn’t grow
or change colour as they age, but this little chap won’t
do either of those things!
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 73
MARINE
Tank-busters
An adult
sweetlips
is pretty
bland.
THE BIG ONE
Clown swtlips
ALTERNATIVE
Marn clownfish
Termed ‘grunts’, sweetlips make
a grunting noise by grinding
their pharyngeal teeth, and
this sound is amplified by
their swim bladder.
6Scientific name: Premnas biaculeatus
6Size potential: 5-17cm
6Where found: Indo-West Pacific
6Cost: £30-75
74
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Similar
markings,
similar
finnage, far
fewer issues.
ALAMY
It took some time to come up with an alternative to
the Clown sweetlips and I had to dissect every aspect
of its appeal before I found one. The sweetlips’
appearance as a juvenile is almost unique and
species that bear resemblance to it are either other
grunts or other potential tank-busters. However,
some of the appeal of the juvenile sweetlips is their
swimming style: an up-and-down movement with slow
and flowing movements of the fins – like Clownfish.
With its large, rounded, paddle-like pectoral fins,
the Maroon clownfish (Spine-cheeked anemonefish)
has a similar shape to sweetlips, with a more modest
size potential. If the natural white or gold-banded
individuals don’t do it for you in the colour and
pattern department, then perhaps one of the captivebred colour morphs might. The Lightning morph is
particularly attractive, and the incredible new Peacekeeper is not entirely dissimilar to the pattern of the
sweetlips – although it will cost you a small fortune.
Maroon clowns can be bought when only a few
centimetres long, and will usually move into their
natural host anemone species, the bubble-tip
(Entacmaea quadricolor), when the two animals are
introduced to each other. They can be territorial, but
in comparison with the potential issues surrounding
the sweetlips, the Maroon is a walk in the park.
ALAMY
6Scientific name: Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
6Size potential: 45-60cm
6Where found: Indian Ocean, Maldives, Western Pacific
6Cost: £25-45
The stunning juvenile pattern, body shape and
behaviour of this species entice many unsuspecting
aquarists into acquiring Clown sweetlips for their
aquarium. It seldom ends well. They can be kept,
growing rapidly, for many months and then they stop
feeding. Or they might refuse to accept anything
except live food from the moment they’re placed into
their new home. This, and the fact that the adult
fish are, by aquarium standards, huge and markedly
different in appearance from the juveniles, should
mean the vast majority of marine aquarists are not
tempted by them, but sadly this isn’t always the case.
It is thought the juvenile, being anything but cryptic
in colouration, could mimic a toxic flatworm in the
same way that another tank-buster, the Redface
batfish (Platax pinnatus) does, both in its appearance
and unconventional swimming technique.
They can be kept,
growing rapidly, for
many months and then
they stop feeding
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WWW.PRACTICALFISHK
STEP-BY-STEP
Water poppies
The Poppy Field
Steve Baker takes an open-topped tank and turns it
into a planted treasure for Pencils and killifish.
NEIL HEPWORTH
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
76
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Alternative
planting for a
stunning effect.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 77
STEP-BY-STEP
U
S FISHKEEPERS are
an odd lot. When
trees dispose of their
shrivelled old leaves
most people see it as
natural at best, some
think it looks messy,
and I guess most
don’t think anything at all.
To most people a flooded field
is a complication, especially if
the land is normally used for
agriculture. For me, (and
I know I’m not alone)
I just want to grab
both, put them
in a glass box
and stare at
them for hours.
Like many of
my set-up ideas, the
inspiration for this tank
comes directly from nature. In
this case a friend and fellow PFK
contributor, Tai Strietman, came
back from one of his many trips to
Brazil armed with piles of photo and
video footage to get me all worked
up. Many of the images and videos
inspire me but the odd one or two
really get under my skin.
Floodplains
The South American Pantanal is
a vast area of the Amazon flood
basin. Much of it is open grassland
used for cattle ranching during the
dry season, but come the rains the
Pantanal is transformed into the
world’s largest tropical wetland area,
extending into Bolivia and Paraguay.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Water poppies
It’s thought to cover a total
170,500 square kilometres, which
is equivalent to Belgium, Holland,
Portugal and Switzerland combined!
Wetlands are one of the most
biologically diverse habitats on earth
and the Pantanal is the largest one,
thought to be home to around 4,700
different animal species – 400 of
which are our favorites, fish.
The grass plains decay
underwater, providing
food for many small
invertebrates. Leaf
litter is washed
down from
higher ground
and seasonal
varieties of
aquatic plants
suddenly bloom with
lush, new growth. One
such plant is a dwarf lily-style
plant (not a true lily), Hydrocleys
nymphoides, commonly known as
the water poppy.
I stumbled across this plant in
my previous job when ordering
‘something different’ for plant
sales, and as soon as it turned up
I recognised it from a photo and
I knew what I wanted to do with it.
One thing that bugs me about
layout in planted tanks is that we
are almost forced to go with taller
plants toward the back and shorter
plants to the front. This looks
somewhat contrived, but if we do it
more naturally and less ‘placed’ then
taller, bushy plants will hide the rest
of what’s in the tank.
Not so in this case. Even in a tank
like an EA Aquascaper with a lot
of visual depth, I could plant the
Hydrocleys from front to back and
still see the rear glass. The fish
feel secure because there is cover
everywhere above and below and I
can always see them – unless they
are taking a moment to rummage
through the leaf litter layer.
I felt the tank would lack variety of
texture with just one plant species,
but I knew I could offset that with
good use of botanicals. Leaf litter
looks great, but a few seedpods
makes it look even better.
Wetlands are one of the
most biologically diverse
habitats on earth and the
Pantanal is the largest one,
home to around 4,700
different animal species
– 400 of which are fish
78
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The leaves are
very buoyant
to get to the
surface quickly.
NATHAN HILL
NATHAN HILL
A lucky find,
these killis aren’t
seen very often.
How to set up your poppy field tank
Our stock tank for step-by-step features
is the EA Aquascaper 600. At 60 x 50 x
35cms it holds just over 100 litres. The filter is
plumbed in place straight away with an inline
external heater in situ. No CO2 is needed as the
leaves will take it from the atmosphere.
I chose a nutrient-rich substrate because
it offers natural colour and a food source
for the Hydrocleys. Beware when using this type
of substrate as it can initially release ammonia
and often absorbs carbonate hardness. So, levels
need monitoring before adding fish.
Because I will be planting the entire tank,
the substrate is evenly levelled all over.
Because of the slightly unusual dimensions of
the tank, the recommended amount of substrate
for a 100l tank only just gave me enough depth
to plant into.
Rolled soil substrates are very light so the
first bit of water needs to be added
carefully to avoid too much clouding. Here I use
a plastic fish bag to baffle and disperse the flow,
but a carrier bag or a plate on the bottom of the
tank will do the same thing equally as well.
With the soil being light, only just being
deep enough, and the plants being rather
floaty (these leaves have a spongy, buoyant
underside to sit on the surface), planting was a
delicate job. Pushing one out of place started a
chain reaction, uprooting one after the other.
Pre-boiled and soaked overnight, the
botanicals were added as the final step.
I tried not to place or position them too much to
keep a natural feel, but some were tweaked to
get a nice angle. Now it’s time to sit back and
watch the plants grow surprisingly quickly.
NATHAN HILL
4
2
5
Botanicals
We were fortunate enough to have several ty
seedpods kicking around from a previous fe
botanicals (plus some leaves I had collected
I looked the seedpods up on tanninaquatics.
each pod originated and set about preparing
ones I had at my disposal.
Although Tannin Aquatics obtain their pro
known to be free of pollution, impurities and
never be too careful and extra preperation is
Boiling botanicals is always advised, helping
impurities and encouraging them to sink. A
soak is also recommended – and this is even
activated carbon is added to the pot.
I was plesantly surprised that a brief boilin
soaking for roughly 20 hours resulted in all t
sinking – I thought they’d be more stubborn
Always go slowly: add a limited quantity of your botanicals to
your aquarium at first, to gauge their impact on your animals.
3
6
NATHAN HILL
1
STEP-BY-STEP
Water poppies
Why I chose these fish
Though I really like this tank, at
I had an idea of some Pantanal
the time of the final photo shoot
inhabitants from the off but plans
there are two things I’m a little bit
changed. Pencilfish are a favourite
disappointed about. Firstly, the
of mine and editor Nathan, and
original image of inspiration
I had some well-settled Dwarf
showed both the
pencils in an existing
Hydrocleys and Water
set-up. They suit a
plantain, a common
biotope so they were
marginal pond
transferred once
The ultra-fast growth of
plant. I really
the tank was
the Hydrocleys demanded lots
would have
matured. While
of fertiliser, plus added
liked just one or
out on a shop
nitrogen and
two of these plants
tour I was won over
phosphorus.
breaking the surface,
by two beautiful little
but it was too early in
South American species,
the year to get hold of some
which are perfectly suited to
(Water plantain is often sold
the conditions offered, and both
in pond sections and my tank was
made me give a small jump of joy or
created at the tail end of winter)
two when I saw them.
Secondly, I would have loved to
Hypsolebias magnificus deserves to
have seen some of the Hydrocleys’
be called the ‘Magnificent Killifish’
flowers. The common moniker of
in my eyes. They are delicate, but
water poppy is derived from the
stunning and both the male and
delicate flower which, while looking
female are confident characters.
nothing like a true lily, otherwise
Common Otocinclus are great, too,
looks very similar to a poppy flower. but rarer family members are better,
I’m sure that given a little longer
in my opinion, as seeing the tiny
some flowers would develop and
Parotocinclus clinging to thin stems is
look beautiful.
simply adorable.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Just a little more time...
I left yellowing
leaves in place
for a natural,
wild look.
Both of these beautiful
fish made me give a small
jump of joy or two
FACTFILE
Dwarf pencils are
curious, lovely little
community fish.
DWARF PENCILFISH
6Scientific name: Nannostomus marginatus
6Pronunciation: Nan-oss-toe-muss mar-gin-ay-tus
6Size: 2.5cm
6Origin: Brazil, Columbia (east), Guyana, Peru (east), Suriname
and Venezuela (east)
6Habitat: Slow-moving tributaries, streams,
swamps and river basins
6Tank size: 45 x 30 x 30cm
6Water requirements: 4.0-7.0 pH, 3-12°H
6Temperature: 22-28°C
6Temperament: Peaceful
6Feeding: Flakes, micro granules, frozen and
live food
6Availability and cost: Common, around £3
NEIL HEPWORTH
40 l+
FACTFILE
Hanging just
above the leaf
litter the killies
fit in well.
NO COMMON NAME
6Scientific name: Hypsolebias magnificus
6Pronunciation: Hip-so-lee-bee-us mag-niff-ick-us
6Size: 5cm
6Origin: São Francisco River basin, Brazil
6Habitat: Temporary, residual pools
6Tank size: 30 x 30 x 30cm
6Water requirements: 6.0-7.0 pH, 5-12°H
6Temperature: 22-26°C
6Temperament: Peaceful
6Feeding: Small frozen and live foods
6Availability and cost: A rare find, around
£25 per pair
80
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
NEIL HEPWORTH
25 l+
Timeline of
plant growth
After a couple of days you’ll
need to carefully cut away
old growth and leaves as
new growth and leaves
burst forth.
DAY 1
DAY 2
DAY 3
DAY 4
FACTFILE
TIGER OTO
DAY 7
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 81
STEVE BAKER
40 l+
NEIL HEPWORTH
This fish is
about 13mm
long, and a
master of
camouflage!
6Scientific name: Parotocinclus sp. (3)
6Pronunciation: Parr-oh-toe-sink-luss
6Size: Unknown, likely around 2.5cm
6Origin: Only known to be collected from Peru
6Habitat: Unknown
6Tank size: 45 x 30 x 30cm
6Water requirements: Unknown
6Temperature: Unknown
6Temperament: Peaceful
6Feeding: Aufwuchs, green paste foods.
Difficult to feed in captivity
6Availability and cost: Rare, around
£20 each.
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Lemon cichlids
WHEN LIFE
GIVES
LEM
Hailing from a world of grey,
a carefully chosen pair of mello
yellows make a striking additio
to your aquarium.
PHOTOS: AD KONINGS
AD KONINGS
Ad Konings is an
ichthyologist and
author known for
his comprehensive
research on African
Rift lakes cichlids.
82
A Lemon, or
Leleupi cichlid,
as we usually
see them.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
T
HE LEMON cichlid,
Neolamprologus leleupi,
is the quintessential
Tanganyika cichlid,
and has been cared
for in aquaria for over
half a century. It’s the
brightest-coloured
of a handful of ‘standard’ cichlids
– some others being Tropheus
duboisi, Neolamprologus pulcher and
Julidochromis transcriptus – which
anyone with an interest in these
cichlids has kept at least once.
As is often the case with popular
cichlid species, N. leleupi is less
common in the wild. There, it occurs
in several colour variants, of which
yellow is the least seen. You might
read that most N. leleupi in the lake
are yellow, but that’s not so; most
are grey and unwanted by the
ornamental fish trade, so they are
rarely exported.
Another falsehood on the internet
is that the pure yellow N. leleupi seen
in the hobby are descendants of
a line-bred strain derived from the
wild form which, allegedly, has a
black snout. Few people have seen
N. leleupi in its natural habitat, but
those who have can tell you that the
‘pure’ yellow form is in the lake and
does not need to be line-bred.
Polychromatism
The yellow N. leleupi is just one
morph of a polychromatic species
that has a much wider distribution in
the lake than just the known yellow
morph populations.
Interestingly, I have so far failed to
find a non-yellow morph at any of
the localities known for yellow morph
N. leleupi, although I have usually
encountered two morphs, a brownblack and a beige-coloured (but not
yellow), at all localities between those
for the pure yellow variants.
The dark/light non-yellow morph
is less conspicuous than its yellow
counterpart, but it does not seem to
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 83
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Lemon cichlids
occur where yellow individuals are
found. This doesn’t mean that the
black/beige morph isn’t present in
these populations, it may simply be
an indication of its low abundance.
The fact that a dusky, as well as a
light, morph (sometimes with yellow
blotches) is found within a single
population is remarkable, but not
unique, among cichlids. In Lake
Tanganyika, polychromatism occurs
in other species as well. Two species
close to N. leleupi – N. mustax and N.
pectoralis – are present in yellow, as
well as in brown-grey morphs.
In Lake Malawi, a cichlid species
with similar behaviour, Labidochromis
caeruleus, also manifests in several
colour variants, but here the yellow,
white and black-and-white barred
forms are geographical variants, and
no population is known where more
than a single morph is found.
The well-known, orange-blotch
(OB) morphs found in several other
Malawi cichlids represent a type of
polychromatism, but are likely caused
by different genes/circumstances
than those found in N. leleupi.
In my opinion, N. leleupi is quite
a variable species with a rather broad
distribution in Lake Tanganyika, but
it’s not found in the southern part of
the lake as is sometimes claimed.
It was probably present in the
paleo-lakes when the water level was
lower than at present. As water levels
rose, the main population became
split up but remained on the west and
east-central coasts of Africa.
In the wild
The Lemon cichlid is usually found
in the recesses of rocky habitat. It
feeds on invertebrates, mainly shrimp
and other crustaceans found in the
aufwuchs (surface growths) on the
rocks, or in the cracks between them.
A foraging individual, and always
solitary, Lemon cichlid cover
a relatively large area of terrain while
searching for food, mouth close
to substrate ready to snap up any
shrimp or other invertebrate startled
by its approach.
Food isn’t abundantly available, so
this may explain N. leleupi’s solitary
behaviour and pugnacious attitude
towards conspecifics in the aquarium,
with only ripe females being tolerated
in a male’s domain.
SHUTTERSTOCK
The Lemon cichlid is usually found
in the recesses of the rocky habitat. It
feeds on invertebrates, mainly shrimp
and other crustaceans found in the
aufwuchs on the rocks
84
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
BELOW:
Tanganyika is
a lake of epic
proportions.
ABOVE: Nonyellow Lemons
are rare in the
hobby.
Eggs are deposited in a female’s
cave, so in a lake a wandering male
may find a ripe female in her cave
and spawn with her.
I have not yet seen breeding pairs
in the lake, but it’s possible that the
male stays with the female until the
young are big enough to face the
outside world on their own.
sexes can be differentiated, a pair
should be selected and the remaining
individuals removed. It’s difficult to
introduce an adult pair into a tank
together. The best way is to first
let the female adjust to the new
environment before placing the male
with her some days later.
Water requirements are as those
for all Tanganyika cichlids – between
25-27°C and alkaline with a pH
In the aquarium
above 7.5. Water conditions and food
N. leleupi can readily be kept in
type influence the intensity of the
a Tanganyika community
yellow colour of the fish, and
aquarium. Only one pair
it may turn a dirty yellow
should be housed
or brown shade when
in the same tank,
the environmental
and avoid keeping
conditions are
Some cichlids are hard to sex, but suboptimal.
N. cylindricus or
venting will help. View the fish’s
N. mustax together
The black
underside. In front of the anal fin snout sometimes
with N. leleupi,
females have one large and
as they look and
seen in aquarium
behave similarly.
specimens is often
one small hole. Males have
N. leleupi is harmless
caused by some
two small holes.
towards other species
sort of stress, perhaps
but can be pugnacious
brought on by incorrect
towards its own. Be sure you have
water parameters or food.
a male and a female – the female is
Wild Lemon cichlids feed on
smaller than the male, but venting
invertebrates found on substrate. In
them will determine the sexes.
aquariums, flake food and pellets
If juveniles are introduced into
are accepted but live or frozen
the aquarium a small group can be
crustaceans, mosquito larvae, or
housed together, but as soon as the
plankton are recommended. To bring
out the yellow – and sometimes
orange – colour, N. leleupi needs to
have Cyclops, Mysis or other food
containing carotene (but not Daphnia
as they cannot digest them well).
In addition to carotene-rich
food, keep N. leleupi in a tank with
moderate, uniform lighting and a
light-coloured substrate, gravel or
sand. Decor-wise, the tank should
contain lots of caves to protect the
female from harassment. Breeding
follows if tanks prove suitable and
a suitable spawning site is present.
In a community aquarium, Lemon
cichlids form a pair during the
breeding period and usually choose
a dark site among the rocks, but
in a breeding tank, a flowerpot or
ceramic cave normally gives the
best results. The pair bond, however,
rarely lasts longer than two weeks.
Aggression during the breeding
period is mostly directed against
fry-eating intruders and conspecifics;
other non-lookalike species are
ignored. Leave eggs or fry in place
for as long as possible, as the male
may become aggressive after they’ve
been removed. If you do want to
take out the eggs or fry to grow
them on separately, the male should
temporarily be removed too.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 85
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Lemon cichlids
Lake distribution
Island have a darker (yellow) body
The first yellow N. leleupi was
colour and yellow fins, but allcollected in the north-western part
yellow individuals are found at these
of the lake at Luhanga in the
localities as well.
Democratic Republic of the
N. leleupi also occurs further
Congo (DRC) and described
south along the Mahale
Bloodworm and other foods
by Max Poll in 1956; two
Mountains range and the
from acidic sources should be
years later individuals from
mountain range between
avoided as they can cause a
this area were exported for
Isonga and Kekese, but the
condition called ‘bloat’
the aquarium trade.
variant that occurs in these
in African
It is sometimes claimed that
locations doesn’t seem to include
cichlids.
the yellow N. leleupi is collected
yellow-coloured individuals; the
at Bemba (Pemba), but the form at
local morphs are either a dark greythis locality is dark grey and yellow
brown or a light silvery-beige colour.
morphs have never been found there.
Along the western shore on Lake
In the mid-1970s Misha Fainzilber
Tanganyika in the DRC, N. leleupi
exported a yellow N. leleupi from the
Tanzanian east coast of the lake.
Differences in
This form was later described as
habitat stops
variants from
a subspecies, Lamprologus leleupi
spreading.
longior, by Wolfgang Staeck from
specimens collected at Cape Kabogo.
The rocky habitats between
Halembe and Maswa along the
Tanzanian shore of the lake are
inhabited by a yellow morph of
N. leleupi, although in small numbers.
Further south, at Katumbi and Bulu
Point, and at Karilani Island, the
yellow morph appears to be more
common and it’s from mostly these
localities that N. leleupi is collected
for the aquarium trade.
Possibly depending on their mood
and/or condition, some fish at
Halembe, Bulu Point, and Karilani
has a rather wide distribution that
ranges between Luhanga in the
north and M’toto in the central part
of the lake. North of Lukuga River
– the lake’s only outlet at Kalemie –
there are only two localities known
where N. leleupi is yellow – Luhanga
and Kilima. All the other localities
in between have a grey/browncoloured form.
South of the Lukuga River, the
shoreline is mostly sandy until you
get to Moba, but at the few patches
of rocky habitat, at Cape Tembwe,
Kitumba and M’toto, I’ve only seen
yellow morphs of N. leleupi.
The purest
yellow Lemons
are a visual
treat.
86
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
REGIONAL VARIANTS
Neolamprologus
leleupi
1
The rocky habitats between
Halembe and Maswa along the
Tanzanian shore of the lake are
inhabited by a yellow morph of
N. leleupi
2
3
7
4
8
9
10
6
11
FACTFILE
LEMON CICHLID
6Scientific name: Neolamprologus leleupi
6Pronunciation: Nee-oh-lam-pro-low-gus lee-loo-pie
6Size: 10cm
6Origin: DRC and Tanzania.
6Habitat: Rocky crevices at 15m depth or more.
6Tank size: 90x30x30cm minimum.
6Water requirements: 7.5-9.0 pH, 12-25°H.
6Temperature: 25-27°C
6Temperament: Territorial, aggressive to
conspecifics.
6Feeding: Slow-sinking cichlid pellets, live
and frozen diets. Offer Cyclops and Mysis to
enhance colours. Avoid Daphnia.
6Availability and cost: Common, starting
around £8 depending on size.
80 l+
1. Luhanga, DRC
2. Cape Karamba, DRC
3. Kilima, DRC
4. Milima Island, DRC
5. Cape Tembwe, DRC
6. M’toto, DRC
7. Halembe, Tanzania
8. Bulu Point, Tanzania
9. Lyamembe, Tanzania
10. Kalugunga, Tanzania
11. Kekese, Tanzania
There are currently 46 known
species of Neolamprologus,
and only one – N. devosi
– occurs outside of
Lake Tanganyika.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 87
READER TANK
Interview / Ollie Kane
OLLIE’S
AMAZING
REEF
Simply stunning. Imagine an
aquarium so breathtaking you
build your house around it…
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: GEORGE FARMER
MEET THE AQUASCAPER
Name: Ollie Kane
Age: 45
Occupation: Krispy Kreme manufacturing
services manager
Time in hobby: 22 years
Favourite fish: Difficult to choose as I love so many, but if I had to
choose it would be Vampire tang for personality and tameness
First fish bred: None
Fish you’d most like to keep: Parrot fish for their beauty
– and they keep the rocks very clean
Favourite coral: Pink Goniopora
88
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
If variety be the
spice of life this is
one hot tank!
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 89
READER TANK
Interview / Ollie Kane
A
QUARIUMS RARELY
leave me speechless
but I was lost for
words when I first
laid eyes on Ollie
Kane’s magnificent
reef. At just 12
months old it’s still
relatively immature for a large reef
aquarium, but the growth and health
of the livestock was mind-blowing.
Ollie actually designed and
built his home around the tank,
which is viewable from three
sides with an adjacent fish
room that houses all
his equipment.
I’ve never
before seen
such a clean
tank with
flawless attention to
detail. Once I got over
how brilliant the whole
design was, I got up close
to the livestock. With a large
fish stocking you’re never short
of attention-grabbing colour and
movement at all levels. It was hard
to pick the best side to view the
aquascape from.
Ollie had used open spaces very
effectively, using the 180 x 120cm
footprint very wisely. I interviewed
Ollie to get a better insight into the
whole system.
How did you get into
reefkeeping?
I’ve always been fascinated with the
diversity of corals and fish. After
keeping coldwater and tropical fish
for six years, the next level was
reefkeeping – and I was addicted.
Can you tell us about your
background in the hobby?
I started keeping marines 15 years
ago. My first tank was about 180l
with just soft corals, and throughout
the years my tanks slowly started to
increase in size.
Like any hobbyist, we all have had
our ups and downs over the years
with trial and error, with tank designs,
equipment, which products to use,
and learning how to keep fish and
coral requirements.
INSET ABOVE: A pufferfish
investigates!
90
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The reason for this tank was
being able to have a bespoke tank
build from Aquarium Connections
and to use the Triton reefkeeping
system. Triton simplifies the process,
requiring fewer water changes. Using
Triton keeps the levels balanced
and the ICP testing helps you
fine-tune your tank to support the
requirements of your corals.
Your tank and equipment are
immaculate, and among the
most pristine I’ve ever
seen. Do you consider
this cleanliness to
be an essential
contribution
to the overall
success of
your system?
The key to the
tank cleanliness is a
meticulous cleaning and
maintenance schedule. Every
week I siphon detritus from my
sump and fish room tank.
The other contributor to water
clarity is the equipment I have – two
Fluval FX6 external filters and a
D-D E200 PowerRoll filter. I also use
bacteria to help keep the water clarity
Ollie’s Naso Tang
is one of seven
surgeonfish in the
main tank.
Most people aim for their
tank to compliment the room
but Ollie built the room to
compliment the tank design.
The house was built around
the tank more or less!
– Vibrant every two weeks and
Prodibio BioDigest every 15 days.
I was able to push the fish load and
water quality by building my own bio
ball reactors. I built three reactors,
which have MarinePure 1.5" Spheres:
each reactor holds a total of 9l of
media. This allows for the fish load
and the ability to feed lots of food.
How old is the tank and did you
have any issues after start-up?
The tank is a year old. I only had
some algae problems and some
cyno [cyanobacteria], but this was
eradicated by using Vibrant.
lighting combination by using the
dimmable ATI units.
You have a wide range of fish.
Do you find they all get on well
together and do any of them
have special requirements?
I’ve always wanted a good fish
load. I wanted some fish that have
a purpose and some just to look
pretty. All the fish seem to get on fine.
Yellow tangs are the only fish that
go a little crazy just before the lights
turn off.
At just 12 month
old this tank looks
much more mature.
You’re using T5 lighting. Any
particular reason why you don’t
use LED or halide?
I really wanted LED, but it was going
to be costly so I opted for T5. I have
two ATI dimmable units over the
tank and an eight-tube combination
for both ATI light units, with three
Aquablue special, two Blue plus,
one Coral plus, one Purple plus and
one Actinic. I’m very happy with the
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 91
READER TANK
Interview / Ollie Kane
BELOW:
Saddle valentini
puffers pack big
character into a
small package.
Are you completely happy with
the aquascape or are you always
looking for improvement?
I’m really happy with the aquascape.
A lesson learnt from the past was to
make sure I provided lots of open
spaces for fish to swim in and places
to hide, and I tried to create a good
flow throughout the tank, without
any dead spots.
I’ve positioned my aquascape to
support the different types of fish
and placement of corals. I wanted
to ensure I had places for corals that
needed high flow with high lighting,
high flow with lower lighting levels,
low flow with high lighting, or low
flow with lower lighting levels and
I believe I’ve achieved this.
You are running the Triton
system without an algae bed.
Can you explain the different
between this and the more
traditional Triton method? Are
there any advantages?
I’m not sure there are any advantages
in which of these Triton methods you
use. They both produce great-looking
tanks, so it’s a personal preference.
My main reason for running this
Triton reefkeeping system was
that instead of having a sump with
algae, I could have extra space for
cultivating corals.
The overall design of the tank is
amazing. Who built it and what
design input did you have?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have
had the opportunity to build my
house from the ground up. The tank
was always going to be the main
focal point, and able to be viewed
from the lounge, snug and hallway.
The house was more or less built
around the tank!
I always had a concept in mind, and
took my design to Vincent Thomas
at Aquarium Connections, who used
CAD to visualize it. The great thing
about going direct to a company that
specialises in bespoke tank builds
is the level of detail and knowledge
they have.
After a few meetings with Vincent,
he knew exactly what I wanted. It
was as if he could read my mind.
MORE INFO
For more ideas or to get
your own bespoke tank
designed like Ollie visit
www.aquariumconnections.co.uk
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
OLLIE’S TANK SPEC
6Aquarium size: Length 1800mm; width
1200mm; height 850mm. Water volume:
2,000l for main aquarium. Sump and fish
room: 1000l
6Lighting: Two dimmable ATI light units
with Aquablue, Blue plus, Purple plus,
Coral plus and Actinic tubes. 10am-10pm
6Circulation: Two TMC 12,000l pumps from
the sump to the main tank; one TMC
12,000lph pump to the fish room tank; two
15,000lph Jecod powerheads
6Sump size: Length: 1600mm; width:
1100mm; height: 400mm
6Protein skimmer: ATB Deluxe
6Additives: Elements added as needed in
accordance with the Triton method.
6Water changes and salt used: Natural
seawater, no added salt used
6Heating/cooling: 3 heaters in the sump;
cooling is by a Teco 6000l chiller
6Rock type: Purchased large pieces of
dried rock
6Substrate type: Used live sand
6WATER PARAMETERS
Specific Gravity: 1.025 - 1.027
Temperature: 24.5 – 26.0°C
pH: 8.1 – 8.4
Alkalinity: 8°KH
Ammonia: (NH3) Undetectable
Nitrite: (NO2) Undetectable
Nitrate: Nitrogen (NO3) < 15 ppm
Phosphate: (PO4) < 0.2 ppm
Calcium: 430 – 450 ppm
Magnesium: 1250 - 1350 ppm
The sump is
kitted out for
growing coral
frags.
What’s in the tank ?
FISH
ANGELS
61 Goldflake
6
3 Copper bands – 1 in
the main tank, 1 in
the sump and 1 in the
fish room system
61 Misbar angel
61 Flame angel
61 Multibar angel
SURGEONFISH
66 Yellow tangs – 4 in
main tank, 1 in the
sump and 1 in the
fish room system
61 Chevron tang
61 Vampire tang
61 Naso lituratus
ANTHIAS
612 Wreck fish
65 Tuka diamond
heads
66 Square anthias
66 Bleeding hearts
61 Fathead sunburst
68 Resplendent
61 Japanese spotted
Aquarium Connections made my
dream tank a reality.
Can you explain your sump and
filter room in more detail?
Due to my previous experience in
keeping marine tanks, my aim was
to simplify the maintenance and how
the system operated and I was able
to achieve exactly this by using the
Triton method.
I always wanted a fish room in the
house, connected directly to the main
tank, to hold accessible equipment
that would make the tank much
easier to maintain.
My fish room has a system for
cultivating corals and accumulating
livestock, plus a sink, freezer,
drainage in the floor, and a place to
hide and gather my thoughts.
Really, I guess I have a man shed in
the house!
What’s the biggest lesson this
tank has taught you?
Through experience, and trial and
error over the years, I finally have a
tank I’m extremely happy with. It’s
a pleasure to maintain and runs like
a Swiss clock.
OTHER
61 Parrot
64 Confit gobies
61 Skeletor moray eel
61 Wolf cardinalfish
61 Pair of clowns
61 Marine betta
61 Longnose hawkfish
61 Arc-eye hawkfish
61 Starry blenny
61 Splendid dottyback
61 Orchid dottyback
61 Saddle valentini
puffer
61 Flame cardinalfish
61 Cleaner wrasse
61 Melanurus fairy
wrasse
61 China wrasse
61 Yellowtail wrasse
61 Dartfish
6
1 Sleeper blue dot
goby
6
1 Pink spotted
watchman goby
6
1 Diamond watchman
goby
IN THE TANK: 76 fish
IN TOTAL: 80 fish
INVERTS
64 Sand-sifting starfish
66 Cleaner shrimp
62 Pincushion sea
urchins
612 Hermit crabs
CORAL LIST
SOFT
6Green Sinularia
6Green toadstool
mushrooms
6A selection of
different mushrooms
6Pulse coral
LPS CORALS
6Many different types
of Goniopora and
Alveopora
6Duncan’s coral
6Echinophyllia
SPS CORALS
6Different types of
Montipora, branching
and plating
6Bali green slimer
6Acropora millepora
6Acropora
microphthalma
6Stylophora
6Pocillopora
ANEMONES
6Rock flower
6Mini Maxi
6Ritteri
One of a dozen
Wreck fish.
A dedicated fish
room, enough
to make most
aquarists envious.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 93
MARINE
Exotic worms
MARINE
WRIGGLERS
Does the idea of having worms in your aquarium fill
you with dread? We take a look at the good, the bad
and the ugly and how to manage them in your tank.
ALAMY
DAVID
WOLFENDEN
Dave is a former
aquatics lecturer
and is curator of
the Blue Planet
aquarium in
Chester.
94
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Feather dusters
make a tempting
meal for many fish
and invertebrates
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 95
MARINE
Exotic worms
T
HERE’S ACTUALLY
a huge variety of
animals referred to as
‘worms’ from diverse
groups including
attractive filter feeders,
highly beneficial
scavengers and
frankly terrifying predators. Here’s
a rundown of some of the most
commonly-encountered ones…
Feather dusters
THE and fanworms
GOOD
Sabellids
SHUTTERSTOCK
They might not look like
it, but feather dusters and fanworms
are annelids, making them relatives
of earthworms. They are often
extremely attractive animals, with
some sporting stunning coloration.
There are two main groups of
interest – sabellids and serpulids
– each with slightly differing
morphologies.
Sabellids’
feathery gills
make the most
stunning ‘living
sculptures’ in
a tank.
Sabellids extend a pair of gill plumes
(radioles) known as the ‘crown’ from
a soft, flexible tube which the worm
constructs from a mixture of sand,
detritus and mucus. The gill plumes
are used in suspension feeding, with
tiny organic particles being trapped,
sorted and either rejected or passed
Serpulids
to the gut thanks to specialised
Serpulids secrete a rigid tube of
structures known as cilia.
calcium carbonate, and prefer hard
Sabellids may arrive as hitchsubstrates such as rock or rubble
hikers on live rock, although
pieces and even the skeleton
it’s also possible to buy
of living corals. It’s quite
them individually –
common to see Porites
members of the
and other stony
genera Sabellastarte
corals festooned
and Bispira are
with multiple
Siphoning flatworms out of the
commonly
serpulids, notably
aquarium can help numbers in
offered. While
horned Christmas
check, and biological control
they can
tree worms
(using arrow crabs or small
reproduce sexually,
(Spirobranchus
wrasse species) is also
the chances of
giganteus). The
worth investigating.
larvae surviving in an
worm may use acid
aquarium are slim.
secretions to aid it getting
However, under the right
a foothold into the coral’s
conditions, sabellids can reproduce
skeleton, and then the tube is
in the aquarium asexually. They do
constructed. The host coral grows
this by breaking off the rear part of
its tissu
the body; this grows a new crown
The g
and becomes a clone of the parent.
used fo
When introducing sabellids, keep
respira
them submerged at all times. If they
morph
are lifted out of the water, air can
are oft
become trapped in their tube which
colour
can cause problems.
making
They are often extremely attractive animals,
with some sporting stunning coloration
96
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
the worms highly sought after by
aquarists. Unlike soft tube-dwelling
sabellids, serpulids have evolved an
operculum, a specialised structure
used to plug the tube’s entrance
when the worm withdraws inside.
Being suspension feeders, both
sabellids and serpulids require fine
particulate foods and suitable water
movement to really thrive.
Modern systems utilising
aggressive skimming may not
provide enough organic matter to
sustain the worms, so additional
feeding of liquid invertebrate foods
may be necessary.
Sabellids benefit from moderate
laminar flow, whereas serpulids are
more tolerant of random, chaotic
water movement.
Lights-out is the best time
to spot peanut worms.
SHUTTERSTOCK
ALAMY
Fanworms
come in a
myriad of vivid
hues, as well as
muted shades
of brown.
for nutrient cycling in the aquarium
and pose no threat to other
inhabitants, so if you happen to find
one don’t be alarmed.
Depending on their lifestyle,
they may be found burrowing in
the substrate, occasionally making
a guest appearance or they may
be burrowed into live rock.
Weird
but True
Spaghetti worms
Colourful
Christmas
tree worms
cluster on
a rock.
Peanut worms
Peanut worms, also known as
sipunculids, are common on the
reef, and can make their way into
the aquarium via live rock. They
are named thanks to their vague
similarity in appearance to a shelled
nut when curled up.
Unsegmented, sipunculids are
unique enough to be assigned their
own phylum: they have a blunt
posterior end, and a pointed anterior
section known as the introvert.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Sabellid feather
dusters
occasionally shed
their gills,
apparently
leaving only the
tube behind. This
may be a sign of
stress due to lack
of feeding but it
could be a
perfectly normal
occurrence.
Although there
may be no visible
sign of the
animal, it’s best
to wait and see if
the worm grows
a new pair of gill
plumes rather
than hastily
disposing of
the tube.
The introvert is the worm’s
business end, and here there may be
tentacles, bristles and hooks which
assist with feeding. Sipunculids vary
in terms of their feeding habits –
some are suspension feeders, others
mop up detritus deposits.
Size can vary, too, from just a few
millimetres long to just under a
metre in length, but most commonly
encountered peanut worms are
around a few centimetres long.
Peanut worms are very beneficial
These polychaete worms (also
known as terebellids) can be
found either in sandy substrates or
crevices within live rock. The worm
uses bristles on its body to hold
itself within its hidey-hole, and the
body is almost never seen.
To feed, the worm sends extremely
long tentacles out, spreading them
across the rocks and sand in search
of food. In some species, the
tentacles may be a metre in length!
When food is located, it’s bundled
with mucus and carried along the
tentacle towards the worm’s mouth
by cilia – almost like a conveyor belt.
Despite their creepy looks,
spaghetti worms shouldn’t be
a cause for alarm in moderate
numbers and are, in fact, excellent
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 97
MARINE
Exotic worms
detritivores. In deep sand beds they
can be numerous and most folks are
happy to accommodate them here
for their role in nutrient processing.
THE
BAD
Flatworms
Platyhelminths are simple
animals which are usually
introduced on live rock or corals.
Many are harmless but, if given the
chance, can overrun a tank.
Some are actively predatory or
parasitic, causing damage to corals.
For example, the red flatworm
(Convolutriloba retrogemma)
can reach plague proportions,
smothering corals and depriving
them of light and food.
Another species of concern,
specifically to SPS coral keepers,
is the Acropora-eating flatworm
(AEFW, Amakusaplana acroporae).
This flatworm feeds on the tissue of
Acropora corals, and it can be a real
pest, causing large-scale mortalities
in severe cases.
The best approach here is
prevention. Screening live rock
and corals for flatworms, plus
quarantining and dipping new
arrivals, can really help but isn’t
guaranteed to prevent introduction.
If flatworms start to become
a problem, remove the most badly
affected corals to isolation for
dipping. Manually blasting them
Sixline wrasse
help to keep
aquariums clear
of flatworms and
bristleworms.
PEST
98
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
As bristleworms tend to become a problem
in tanks with excessive uneaten food and
pockets of accumulated organics, an
important part of their control involves
limiting their food supply – as well as
trapping and removing them.
Reviewing feeding –and cutting down
if necessary – and increasing substrate
maintenance should be considered.
Additionally, it could pay to examine
flow pattern in the tank and make any
necessary adjustments if dead spots
appear to provide regions for mulm to
settle, as these regions comprise an allyou-can-eat buffet for bristleworms.
ALAMY
Use tweezers or wear
gloves to remove
bobbit worms from
your tank.
Pest control methods
SHUTTERSTOCK
In large numbers,
spaghetti worms
are unsightly in
the aquarium.
ALAMY
Many species are
harmless but, if given an
opportunity, they can
overrun a tank
Bristleworms
A colourful
cluster of
fanworms living
among sponges.
of bristleworm, ranging
from tiny harmless detritivores
just a few centimetres in length to
whopping predators reaching well
over 30cm (12in) long.
These polychaetes get a bad rap
in general but many species are
actually beneficial in small numbers,
acting as useful scavengers and
playing a positive role in nutrient
cycling in your tank.
However, bigger species can pose
a threat to corals and fish and,
in large numbers, even the more
benign bristleworms can reach
unmanageable proportions and
become a nuisance by smothering
the tank’s inhabitants, so some
control may be necessary.
Bristleworms are invariably
introduced through live rock.
They can hide away in the many
various nooks and crannies in rock,
so it’s a tall order to minutely screen
all the rock with a view to excluding
them from the aquarium.
In a nutshell, you’ll pretty much
Get nailed by a real
whopper and you’re in
a world of hurt!
PEST
ALAMY
with a turkey baster can help to
ambushed, injected with a venom
dislodge the flatworms.
and consumed. They’re horrifying,
A number of wrasse species are
but true bobbit worms are rare in
ideal for picking off flatworms (they
aquariums since they live in soft
can be given a helping hand through substrates and are rarely collected
manual blasting of the worms to
accidentally.
dislodge them).
However, other eunicid worms
The Sixline wrasse
with similarly predatory
(Pseudocheilinus hexataenia
lifestyles are occasionally
– Indo-Pacific, to
encountered as hitch10cm in length), the
hikers. Having
Canary wrasse
said that, not all
Predatory eunicids are
(Halichoeres
eunicids are
difficult to trap so manual
chrysus
predatory and
removal is pretty much the
– western central
there are smaller
only solution. Take
Pacific, to 10cm)
species which
care not to get
and Melanurus wrasse
appear to be strictly
bitten!
(H. melanurus – western
scavengers – these may
Pacific, also to 10cm) are
be quite common in live rock
all excellent at picking off
and are beneficial.
and eating flatworms as well
Usually, the only signs of
as bristleworms.
a predatory eunicid are missing
fish and/or damaged corals. The
Bobbit worms
worms may have extremely cryptic
The bobbit worm (Eunice
behaviour, although it may be
aphroditois) is nightmare fuel! This
possible to see the five antennae
predatory polychaete grows to
emerging from the substrate or
nearly 3m (10ft) in length, burrowing from within live rock. Removal of
into sand and silty muck substrates
predatory eunicids is tricky, and
with only its sensory tentacles
usually at least a partial strip-down
exposed. Unsuspecting prey are
of the tank is required.
SHUTTERSTOCK
THE There are many species
UGLY
Bristleworms’
bristles cause
a lot of pain if
they lodge in
your skin.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 99
MARINE
have to accept that if you’re keeping
a reef you’re going to encounter
bristleworms at some point.
A moderate number of the more
benign species is actually of benefit
as they’re efficient at finding and
processing waste. Where food is
abundant, however, they can reach
plague proportions, so some form of
control may be necessary – and if
larger predatory species are lurking
in the tank, you’ll most definitely
want to deal with those.
The bristles or setae of the worms
are extremely thin and brittle –
touch one with bare hands and the
setae break off in the skin, causing
irritation, pain and inflammation.
Get nailed by a whopper and you’re
in a world of hurt – even small
Canary wrasse
help to keep
bristleworms
under control.
ones can pack a punch – so
avoid directly handling
bristleworms. Wear gloves
when removing them or
working in areas of the tank
where they may be lurking.
Bristleworms tend to come out at Removing bristleworms
night, so you can check for their This is best achieved
presence when the lights are out, by using baited traps.
Commercially available traps
gauge how abundant they are
are
one option, but most folks
and monitor their impact
opt
for
a DIY approach.
on the tank.
Here’s how:
6 A simple method involves
baiting a sheer (not fishnet) nylon
stocking and simply placing it in
the aquarium. The worms will be
attracted to the bait, but their setae
becoming snagged in the stocking’s
material. Remove the stocking
(being careful not to touch the
worms) and that’s all there is to it.
6 A plastic bottle with the neck cut
off and inverted can form a funnel
shape into which the worms can
enter but not leave. Bait the bottle
with food and leave it out overnight.
6 Alternatively, drill holes into
a bottle, and insert wide drinking
straws into the holes. As before, bait
the bottle and deploy. The idea here
is that the worms move through the
straws to reach the bait and can’t
crawl out.
For either of the former two
methods, make it easy for the
worms to enter the bottle by
arranging rocks or sand to form
ramps which they can crawl up.
Arrow crabs will
eat bristleworms
– but anything
else they can
catch is fair
game as well.
ALAMY
Natural predators
100 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
For biological control, arrow crabs
(Stenorhynchus seticornis) are often
suggested – although these are
fairly indiscriminate in their tastes
so may consume other beneficial
invertebrates. Smaller wrasse, such
as those from the genus Halichoeres,
are a less risky option.
Limiting food supplies in tanks
with excessive uneaten food also
helps to control bristleworms.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Exotic worms
PFKNewGear
The latest fishkeeping products, tried and tested.
FIRST SIGHT
ZISS Gl-1 EZ Fish & Shrimp Separating Box
The new GL-1
breeder box
works a treat.
I’ve tried countless types of
breeding traps during my fishkeeping career – from floating
double-bottoms and hanging
nets to external hang-on
breeder boxes and V-bottom
traps – but the problem with
many of those is the size.
A tiny plastic cage is not
the calming environment an
expecting livebearer mum
deserves, especially fo
my Panda guppie
So I was intrigu
and keen to try, th
EZ GL-1 Fish & S
Separating Box a
AQUA Telford sh
It’s aimed at liv
and the first thin
struck me was th
whole kit feels so
with quality plas
used, and the des
contemporary, w
of practical featu
For a start, the fl
mounting system
which comes wit
both a hanger an
a suction holder,
you an opportun
to use it in almost every tank.
A further useful feature is the
removable fine bottom mesh,
which allows you to use the box
either as a standalone breeding
trap, where the newborns
remain within the box, or as a
breeding unit, where the babies
can swim out to the tank below
and only the female stays.
The GL-1 has its own brilliant
aeration and water circulation
system (you need to connect it
to an air pump, though), which
sucks water through the centre
column from the tank below
and then spreads it over the box.
The water then leaves through
the mesh bottom.
This water flow creates
suction at the four funnelshaped traps, quickly moving
the newborns down to safety.
The same flow helps you to get
food to the fry in the holding
chamber, which is extremely
useful when you have multiple
pregnant females in the box and
you must feed the firstborns.
If you want to access the
juveniles in the holding
chamber, you have two choices:
the first option is to open down
the bottom of the breeding
box and let the youngsters to
swim out; the second is to lift
the funnel trap unit. The issue
is that disconnecting and then
reattaching the airline, which
runs through the middle, is
more complicated than I first
anticipated. However, this is the
only negative I could find with
the box.
After removing the trap,
you can use the ZISS GL-1
separation box as a nursery, an
isolation chamber or even as a
makeshift photo-box.
Reviewed by Gabor Hovarth
The whole
kit feels solid,
with plenty of
practical
features
t
4.5/
5
my experiences,
ended this
ece of kit to
my friends and it
serve them well
o come. It’s worth
ny.
f use: 4.5/5
es: 5/5
for money: 5/5
l score: 4.5/5
Around £25
nfo:
ture.com
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 101
PFKNewGear
NorthFin Premium Fish Food
NorthFin has been on my radar for a while. I first came across it at
a cichlid group event two years ago and started feeding its products
to my Tanganyikan cichlids. When it comes to picking out a food
there’s only two things I care about – ingredients and smell.
Look at the back of the packet and the ingredients must be listed in
largest percentage first (legally), so if you’re feeding an algae eater
you want an algae or vegetable meal listed first; if you’re feeding
a predator, look for fish meal as the primary ingredient.
1 CICHLID FORMULA
O Sizes available: 1mm, 2mm, 3mm
OPack sizes: 100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg, 2.5kg
OMain ingredients: Antarctic krill meal,
omega-3 DHA herring meal, sardine meal,
wheat flour, organic kelp, spirulina, garlic,
astaxanthin, montmorillonite clay.
OProtein: 40% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
1
2 KELP WAFERS FORMULA
OSizes available: 14mm wafer
OPack sizes: 100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg, 2.5kg
OMain ingredients: Organic kelp, whole
Antarctic krill meal, high omega-3 DHA
herring meal, whole sardine meal, wheat
flour, spirulina, garlic, astaxanthin,
montmorillonite clay, vitamin/mineral mix.
OProtein: 33% Fat: 4% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 12%
3 MARINE FORMULA PELLET
OSizes available: 1mm and 2mm
OPack sizes: 20g, 100g, 250g
OMain ingredients: Organic kelp, whole
Antarctic krill meal, high omega-3 herring
meal, whole sardine meal, wheat flour,
spirulina, garlic, astaxanthin,
montmorillonite clay, vitamin/mineral mix.
OProtein: 36% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 12%
6 FRY STARTER POWDER
OSizes available: 250 microns
OPack size: 50g
OOne ingredient: Whole Antarctic krill.
It’s a slow-sinking powder with 48% protein
to help fry develop quick and strong.
OProtein: 48% Fat: 14% Fibre: 2%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
102 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
4
£8.99 – £84.99
2
4 TROPICAL STICKS FORMULA
OSizes available: 3mm x 20mm
OPack sizes: 250g, 500g, 1kg, 2.5kg
OMain ingredients: Omega-3 DHA herring
meal, Antarctic krill meal, whole sardine
meal, wheat flour, organic kelp, spirulina,
garlic, astaxanthin, montmorillonite clay.
OProtein: 43% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
5 BETTA BITS FORMULA
OSizes available: 1mm
OPack sizes: 20g, 100g
OMain ingredients: Antarctic krill meal,
omega-3 DHA herring meal, sardine meal,
wheat flour, organic kelp, spirulina, garlic,
astaxanthin, montmorillonite clay.
OProtein: 45% Fat: 7% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
The quality of ingredients in NorthFin foods is a cut above the
average food on a shelf and include organic kelp, whole Antarctic
krill meal, whole sardine meal, montmorillonite clay (commonly
fed by high-end Koi keepers), garlic, vitamins and minerals.
Open the bag and these foods emit a pretty powerful aroma.
They’re not particularly appetising to my palate, it has to be said,
but they smell intense as opposed to the ‘sawdusty’ smell many
cheaper foods have.
£16.99 – £84.99
5
£8.99 – £84.99
3
£4.99 – £8.99
6
£3.99 – £13.99
£8.99
The real proof of the pudding is what comes out the other end of
the fish after eating this food, and their health and vitality. Within
a week of swapping to a mix of NorthFin Cichlid formula, Veggie
formula and Krill Gold formula (from an average food, not a cheap
food) the waste production of the fish was hugely decreased. This is
because high-quality ingredients are digested and assimilated far
more eiciently and less is dumped out the far end to fill your filters.
Over time the fish became stronger looking – broader, and colours
7
were strong but I
definitely know if
was a result of the
or the fish maturi
– I guess a bit of b
My Amazon puffe
Tropical Sticks to
Reviewed by St
7 COMMUNITY FORMULA
OSizes available: 0.5mm and 1mm
OPack sizes: 20g, 100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg
OMain ingredients: Antarctic krill meal,
omega-3 DHA herring meal, sardine meal,
wheat flour, organic kelp, spirulina, garlic,
astaxanthin, montmorillonite clay.
OProtein: 40% Fat: 7% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
10
£4.99 – £40.99
8
£4.99 – £58.99
9 JUMBO FISH FORMULA
O Sizes available: 4mm, 6mm
O Pack sizes: 250g, 500g, 1kg, 2.5kg
OMain ingredients: Antarctic krill meal,
omega-3 DHA herring meal, whole sardine
meal, wheat flour, organic kelp, spirulina,
garlic, astaxanthin, Montmorillonite clay.
OProtein: 44% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
11
£16.99 – £39.99
9
£8.99 – £84.99
10 KRILL GOLD FORMULA
OSizes available: 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, 6mm
OPack sizes: 20g, 80g, 250g, 500g, 1kg
OMain ingredients: 85% Antarctic krill
meal, wheat flour, organic kelp meal,
spirulina, garlic, astaxanthin, vitamin and
mineral mix.
O Protein: 42% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
11 VEGGIE FORMULA
O Sizes available: 1mm, 2mm, 3mm
O Pack sizes: 100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg, 2.5kg
O Main ingredients: organic kelp,
Antarctic krill meal, omega-3 herring meal,
sardine meal, wheat flour, spirulina, garlic,
astaxanthin, montmorillonite clay.
OProtein: 36% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 12%
12
£16.99 – £84.99
8 AROWANA FORMULA
OSizes available: 3mm x 20mm
OPack sizes: 250g, 500g, 1kg
OMain ingredients: Antarctic krill meal,
omega-3 DHA herring meal, whole sardine
meal, wheat flour, organic kelp, spirulina,
garlic, astaxanthin, montmorillonite clay.
O Protein: 44% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 9%
£6.99 – £13.99
12 GOLDFISH FORMULA
OSizes available: 2mm and 3mm
OPack sizes: 100g, 250g
OMain ingredients: organic kelp, whole
Antarctic krill meal, high omega-3 DHA
herring meal, whole sardine meal, wheat
flour, spirulina, garlic, astaxanthin,
montmorillonite clay, vitamin/mineral mix.
O Protein: 36% Fat: 5% Fibre: 5%
Moisture: 9% Ash: 10%
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 103
PFKNe
SICCE Syncra
Changing water is probably one of the mo
loathed chores of fishkeeping, especially
you have a large tank – like discus keeper
with a massive weekly water change – or
like me, 50 medium-sized aquariums wit
total volume of near 3000 litres.
Instead of continuing to use buckets,
I needed a pretty strong pump. Cue the
new generation SICCE Syncra SDC 7.0,
which is designed for medium to large
professional aquariums.
This remote-controlled and powerful
pump features an extremely efficient DC
low voltage unit, along with Wi-Fi
connectivity, which allows you to control
– “from any part of the world” according
Sicce – via your smartphone. I, however,
no Wi-Fi in my fish-house, so I got a pow
line Wi-Fi extender.
Once the network was set up, installing
the app was straightforward and within five
minutes the pump was up and running.
Flow rate can easily be manipulated using
the dial on the app, so I can set it to the
required level, even when I’m at the other
end of my shed. The pump itself is so strong
that despite using it only at 3%-8% power
for ‘normal’ water replacement, I still had to
add a DIY flow distributor to the end of
the pipe.
Just for fun I tested the maximum 100%
flow (7000lph) and the pump refilled a 100l
tank at 150cm height in less than a minute,
so it’s plenty powerful.
SICCE smart DC pumps isn t the fish-house
owners, like me, unless they keep marines
with a sump or other fish with a central
filtration system, it’s a fabulous circulation
pump with lots of useful features –
including a feeding setting or pause mode.
The speed control allows you to run it at
the optimum flow rate needed for your fish,
while saving you energy, therefore running
costs. There are five pre-set programmes to
imitate waves, currents and lagoonal ripple,
or you can create your own pumping pattern
instead.
Reviewed by Gabor Hovarth
.5/
5
Verdict
SICCE’s Syncra SDC 7.0 pump fulfilled
its promises and will definitely make the
lives of many aquarists much easier.
Having tried and tested it, I can highly
recommend it.
O Ease of use: 5/5
O Features: 5/5
O Value for money: 4.5/5
O Overall score: 4.5/5
O Price: £339.90
O More info: www.sicce.com
PRODUCT NEWS
eaReefPro 600S Cube Aquarium
from Evolution Aqua
Evolution Aqua has released a brand-new eaReefPro 600mm cube
aquarium and cabinet.
The new eaReefPro 600S Cube comes with ultra-clear, low-iron
glass, neat black silicone seals, a pre-fitted foam base mat, black
vinyl wrap background and a black central weir with removable
weir comb.
Within the cabinet is a four chamber ProSump, with twin height
adjustable bales, dedicated refugium and macro algae chamber,
and large reservoir for top-up water.
The eaReefPro 600S Cube is available with any one of 16
hand-built cabinet finishes, each one
silicone sealed to prevent water
ingress, and with both push-open and
soft close door. A home delivery
service is also available via Evolution
Aqua dealers.
FEATURES
O Open top, rimless, braceless design
O 10mm ultra-clear glass on all sides
O Pre-fitted, discrete foam base mat
O Neat black silicone throughout
O Black background as standard
O RRP £849.95
O More info: evolutionaqua.com
104 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The Aquascaper glass pipework sets
The latest additions to Evolution Aqua’s The Aquascaper range are two
new filter pipework sets, available for either 16mm or 12mm diameter
tubing. These glass inlets and outlets provide almost invisible viewing,
while still carrying out the vital job of filtration.
Key to the inlet is the inbuilt floating surface skimmer which selfadjusts to water level height and removes the surface film. This provides
better aesthetics and improves gaseous exchange at the surface while
also removing floating organics.
At the bottom end of the inlet is a unique adjuster, allowing the
direction of flow either through the surface skimmer or bottom
scavenging strainer to be controlled. Water can be sent all through the
bottom of the inlet solely through the surface skimmer, or a
combination of both for top and bottom scavenging of the aquarium.
ORRP £49.95 (12mm) and £59.95 (16mm)
OMore info: evolutionaqua.com
TOP of the
SHOPS!
Top shops
Scotland
North
East
Northern
Ireland
THE ROLL OF HONOUR
Retailer of the Year
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Charterhouse
Aquatics, London
TOP 40
(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
North
West
Yorkshire &
Humberside
Republic
of Ireland
Wales
Online Retailer of the
Year
East
West
Midlands
London
AllPond Solutions
Runner up: Charterhouse Aquatics
South
West
Small Retailer of the Year
Octopus 8 Aquatics, Brough, East Yorkshire
Runner up: Aqua Design Aquatics,
Skegness
East
Midlands
South
East
Shrimp Retailer of the Year
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Runner up: Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
REGIONAL
South east
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Windsor
Runner up: Crowder’s Aquatics, Hampshire
South west
Emperor Tropicals, Devon
Runner up: The Aquatic Store, Bristol
TOP SPECIALISTS
Marine Retailer of the Year
Lincs Aquatics
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Cichlid Retailer of the Year
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Catfish retailer of the Year
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Runner up: Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Discus Retailer of the Year
Wales
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wenvoe
Runner up: Maidenhead Aquatics @
Cardif
London
Charterhouse Aquatics, London
Runner up: Wholesale Tropicals, London
East Midlands
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Abacus Aquatics, Kent
Aqua Design Aquatics, Skegness
Aquahome, Leyland, Lancs.
Aqualife, Leyland, Lancs.
Aquatic Finatic, North Yorkshire
Bow Aquatics, Devon
Carrick Aquatics, Co Monaghan
Charterhouse Aquatics, London
Clearly Aquatics, Co. Down
Crowder’s Aquatics, Hampshire
Cuddra Aquatics, St. Austell, Cornwall
Discovery Aquatics, Dundee
DL Discus, Co. Durham
Emperor Tropicals, Plymouth, Devon
Ferrybridge Aquatics, Wakefield
FishCove Aquatics, Wimborne, Dorset
Fishkeeper Braehead
Fishkeeper Coatbridge
Fishkeeper Inverness
H2O Habitat, Surrey
Innovation Aquatics, Southampton
Lanchester Aquatics, Co. Durham
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Mere Park
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Shirley
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wenvoe
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Windsor
New Concept Aquatics, Bonnybridge
Octopus 8, Brough, East Yorkshire
Pier Aquatics, Wigan, Lancs
Real Reefs, Gloucs.
Riverside Aquaria, West Lothian
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Sweet Knowle Aquatics, Warks.
Tank Terror Aquatics, Cornwall
The Aquatic Store, Bristol
The Waterzoo, Peterborough
TriMar, Cornwall
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Wholesale Tropicals, London
North east
DL Discus, Co. Durham
Runner up: Lanchester Aquatics, Co.
Durham
North West
DL Discus, Co. Durham
Runner up: Devotedly Discus, East Sussex
Plant retailer of the Year
Scotland
East
Emperor Tropicals, Plymouth, Devon
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Discovery Aquatics, Dundee
Runner up: Fishkeeper Inverness
The Waterzoo, Peterborough
Runner up: Amwell Aquatics, Soham
Pond retailer of the Year
Republic of Ireland
Yorks and Humber
Lincs Aquatics, Alford, Lincs.
Runner up: Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin
Runner up: Carrick Aquatics, Co.
Monaghan
Octopus 8, Brough, East Yorkshire
Runner up: Ferrybridge Aquatics,
Wakefield
Northern Ireland
West Midlands
Clearly Aquatics, Co. Down
Runner up: Exotic Aquatics, Belfast
Maidenhead Aquatics @ Mere Park
Runner up: Maidenhead Aquatics @
Shirley
Aquahome Aquatic Centre, Lancs.
Runner up: Pier Aquatics, Wigan
Oddball Retailer of the Year
Wharf Aquatics, Pinxton, Notts.
Runner up: Tank Terror Aquatics,
Cornwall
PFKShoptour
This month takes us to shops in Hertfordshire and Leicester.
Leicester
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: STEVE BAKER AND NATHAN HILL
Maidenhead Aquatics St Albans
Address: North Orbital Road,
St Albans, Hertfordshire
AL2 1DL.
Telephone: 01727 825815
Website: www.fishkeeper.
co.uk/store/st-albans
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am6pm, Sun 10am-4pm
What is it?
Opened in 2005, this is one of
Maidenhead Aquatics’ flagship
stores. It’s the largest of the
Maidenheads and uses the
space to ofer lots of choice
– aquariums, water features,
livestock and gravel is here
in abundance. There are 328
tropical tanks plus 42 small
Betta tanks, 76 marine tanks,
8 coldwater tanks, 48 square
feet of plant-holding tanks and
96 square feet of coral tanks.
Plus there’s a good-sized pond
fish system and 3 large koi
sales vats.
The best of high points goes
to the tropical freshwater fish
selection. We could easily fill a fish
house with some of our favourite
and most-wanted fish here.
With so many tanks, all the
normal, more basic, species are
in situ, plus a large selection of
rift lake cichlids and rarer, wild,
interesting and odd fish.
Low points
We found that the indoor
coldwater fish selection wasn’t
overly inspiring, the large
aquarium plant sales area was
rather average and there wasn’t
a great selection of healthy plants.
Though we enjoyed not seeing
common tank-busters or balloon
fish, some of the rare species did
raise concern – like a large, lone
Serrasalmus geryi.
Overall, we’re nitpicking for low
points since everything else about
the place was “big and exciting”.
High points
Verdict
Straight of a main road, this
store is easy to get to, with a
good-sized car park. Walking
through the front door you
see the size immediately –
a vast, open-plan shop with
a sectioned-of fish house, café
and a children’s play area.
The selection of tanks is large
with all shapes and sizes of oak
tanks and cabinets in-store,
Basic to high-end nanos,
through to large Evolution
Aqua tanks, D+D Reef Pros
and everything in between.
The dry goods selection is full
of options with four types of
external filters ofered, 18 types
of rock and lots of consumable
and spare parts hanging up to
give you just a taste.
It was snowing on our visit
and the pond area wasn’t in
season, but we peeked outside
and were impressed. There’s
a great selection of rocks,
drilled and undrilled from 8in
river cobbles to 4ft-high slate
monoliths. There’s also a good
selection of Japanese stone
ornaments, like lanterns and
dragons, and in season there’ll
be plenty of pond plants, too.
Well worth a trip in our view.
If you’re looking for your first
aquarium set-up there’s so much
choice here that you’re bound to
find the ideal items.
If you’re a seasoned freshwater
hobbyist there’s going to be
something to get your heart
racing and if you’re a marine
keeper they have all you need plus
an 8,000l marine display tank to
drool over.
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
106 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
This is just half of
the fish house.
Aequidens metae - one
of many varieties of
cichlids on offer.
Star rating
Tropical fish
Discus
Cichlids
Catfish
Oddballs
Indoor plants
Pond plants
Koi
Pond fish
Fancies
Indoor coldwater
Marine fish
Marine inverts
Indoor dry
Pond dry
Freshwater inverts
Labelling
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
OS
11111
OS
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
11111
Koi vats lead down
to the coffee shop.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
St Albans
Look to the softwater
system for unusual
plecs.
Most community
classics are
available.
A display tank set up
by George Famer..
A blue-spotted Jawfish
is always going to get
attention.
What stood out
OPorthole rasbora
OBurmese ‘Inlecypris’ rasbora
OChampsochromis caeruleus
OCallochromis macrops
OTetraodon schoutedeni
OChanna sp. meghalaya
OSimpsonichtys nielseni
OLF albino Cherry barb
OGiant otocinclus
OGeophagus megasema
OBartlett’s Anthias
OBlue-spotted jawfish
OMoorish idol
£9.95
£9.95
£35.00
£28.95
£475.00
£135.00
£25 pair
£9.95
£14.95
£24.95
£49.00
£165.00
£82.00
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 107
PFKShoptour
Dreamreef
Address: 1b Keyham Close,
Humberstone, Leicester LE5 1FW
Telephone: 0116 210 8112
Website: www.dreamreef.co.uk
Opening hours: Mon closed, Tue,
Wed, Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri 12noon-5pm,
Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10.30am-3pm
What is it?
Dreamreef is a well-established marine
specialist shop that focuses on selling
corals, reef-suitable fish and all the
equipment and paraphernalia associated
with them.
The shop has been here for 10 years,
following a few successful years selling
corals from home and breeding both
freshwater and marine fish as a living.
Dry goods are available from Dreamreef
online, but not livestock.
to deliver them. Labelling is basic, just a
name and a price, but the owner, John, is no
more than a few metres away from you to ask
about specifics on all aspects of care.
Verdict
If your thing is your reef tank, or if you want
to start one up, then you’ll do well by visiting
Dreamreef. Equally, if you want supplies
for any style of marine tank it wouldn’t be
a wasted visit since knowledge and product
info seems to come free and easy here.
Frags are
always
popular.
High points
The experience and knowledge here is
plain to see, but what’s also obvious is that
Dreamreef keeps up with modern products
and trends. On the shop floor the livestock
takes precedence with some 62 square feet
of coral trays, 26 (mostly largish) fish sales
tanks and live rock tanks.
Look up above the livestock and behind
the counter and you see hordes of products
– equipment, foods, additives, testing
equipment and accessories.
Livestock is sourced from direct imports,
British wholesales and local breeders,
with an estimated 40% of the corals being
cultured – which will slowly increase as the
industry allows – and the clown fish ofered
are bred by the owner.
Over the years the shop has built up
a good customer base and, when new
shipments arrive, customers are notified
of items that will appeal to them, so stock
goes quickly. That said, we visited on a day
before a delivery and there was plenty of
quality stock to choose from.
A striking Purple
scolopsis stood out.
Low points
Like many small specialist shops, it’s not
that easy to find fault with Dreamreef. It’s
easy to pick on size, though, and here we
lack the tanks themselves being stocked.
Tanks are supplied by Dreamreef – you
just need to wait a short while for suppliers
What stood out
● Purple scolopsis
£35.00
● Exquisite Wrasse
£35.00
● Swallowtail angel
£120 pair
● Breeding clowns
£80 pair
● Golden Nugget clowns
£250.00
● Common clowns (3-4cm)
£25.00
● Orange jasmine polyps
£65.00
● Fungia
£40.00
● Acan frags
£25.00-30.00
STAR RATING: Excellent 11111
108 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Star rating
Tropical fish
Discus
Cichlids
Catfish
Oddballs
Indoor plants
Pond plants
Koi
Pond fish
Fancies
Indoor coldwater
Marine fish
Marine inverts
Indoor dry
Pond dry
Freshwater inverts
Labelling
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
NS
11111
11111
11111
NS
NS
11111
There’s plenty of
knowledge and
experience to be
shared.
Good 11111 Average 11111 Below average 11111 Poor 11111 Out of season OS Not stocked NS
One of a pair of
Swallowtail angelfish
on sale.
Soft corals including
zoanthids are well
catered for.
A good choice of
Acropora were
available.
With roughly 62sqft of
coral trays there is a
good selection.
It may be small but it’s
full of goodies.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 109
NEXT
MONTH
In the June iue
May
9th
2018
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TUNZE UK
254a Portland Road
BN3 5QU Hove East Sussex
Phone: +44-1273-700460
www.tunze.com
®
BRISTOL
HERTFORDSHIRE
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
14
The Aquatic Store
Your Complete Fish Shop for:
Coldwater / Koi / Marine
Tropical / Pond Fish
Inverts & much more...
Really does have it all!
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
Hillier Garden Centre
Hemel Hempstead
HP1 3BA
Tropical
Marine
Cold Water
Tel: 01442 244072
info@deepblueaquatic.co.uk
www.deepblueaquatic.co.uk
Open 7 days a week 01954 214530
www.nuttyaboutpets.co.uk sales@nuttyaboutpets.co.uk
175 St Neots, Hardwick, Cambridge, CB23 7QJ
COUNTY DURHAM
LONDON
The Fish Bowl Ltd
LANCASHIRE
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
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
AQUATICS
CENTRE
Tel: 020 7385 6005
www.thefishbowlltd.com
Over 250 tanks stocked
with Top Quality Fish and a
Huge dry goods section!
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
email: thefishbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
Tel: 01772 623497
www.aquahome.co.uk
Within Avant Gardens, (Opposite Leyland Golf
Club) Wigan Road, Leyland, PR25 5XW
KENT
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
LINCOLNSHIRE
LINC
ABACUS AQUATICS
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
QUAT
SA
I
CS
CLASSIFIED To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Now open on Sundays
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
LINCOLNSHIRE
Hanger1 • Strubby Airfield
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
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 8DJ
020 8302 8000 / enquiries@abacusaquatics.co.uk
LARGE SELECTION OF
• Aquariums
• Fibreglass ponds
• Working Water
Features
• Waterfall Display
• Pumps
HUGE SELECTION OF
• Koi & Ornamental
Pond Fish
• Marine Fish & Invertebrates
• Tropical & Fancy Cold
Water Fish
• Pond & Tropical Plants
lincsaquatics-lincolnshire
LONDON
Come & feed our friendly fish
• 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
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
RS ONLY
RETA IL SHOPPE
r all your
Thank you fo 1967!
e
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OPINION
NATHAN HILL
How about we all take a step back,
reassess who we are and what we
do and maybe get off other people’s
cases? Wouldn’t that be a lovely
hobby to be a part of?
He who dares...
There was a time that if you wanted to
provoke a hostile response, you had to
say or do something particularly stupid
or offensive. But in 2018, everyone gets
‘triggered’ by the most innocuous actions.
Point in case. I saw a wonderfully novel
tank layout on social media. It wasn’t to
my taste, but, hey, it was funky, quirky
and a bit different.
Within seconds, the community had
turned on it and the owner, like some
black-and-white horror movie where the
Don’t like
it? Keep it
to yourself.
114 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
It’s nice to be nice...
townsfolk gather to tear apart the local
castle and kill everyone inside. Remarks
ranged from pragmatic (fish may get stuck...
there may be toxins), through needlessly
critical to outright hostile. There’s nothing
to keep people in the hobby quite like
telling them that they should give up
immediately and are terrible fishkeepers.
He who casts the first stone...
Given that social media has a certain
‘openness’ about it, and given that I wanted
to know more about the mindsets of people
commenting in such a hostile manner,
I went profile hopping. Of special interest,
it turned out, were the photo albums. Many
folks still have their earliest photos wide
open to public viewing and among these
I found... novelty tanks! Worse still, those
who shouted the aforesaid tank down the
loudest displayed, among their decadeold photos, tanks of a similarly ‘artificial’
calibre, seemingly without a hint of irony.
Was this a forgotten aspect of their past?
NATHAN HILL
W
HY ON earth do we
always have to jump
down each other’s
throats? I know it’s
not exclusive to
fishkeeping because
I see it everywhere,
but it seems that the
last decade has been an especially toxic
environment to the newcomer.
Nathan Hill
is Practical
Fishkeeping
magazine’s
associate editor,
biotope fancier,
aquascape
dabbler and
part-time amateur
skateboarder.
Fishkeeping is a hobby. It’s what you make
of it. As long as the livestock that you keep
is happy and healthy, then I have no truck
with you.
My face-to-face debates with Steve Baker
(this issue and last issue) have given me a
new perspective on my views. I used to be
more convinced of myself. But there has
been value in playing devil’s advocate, as
I have done this month in trying to defend
fishless cycling. The more I considered my
contrived position, the more I realised that
my old views were stubborn and dogmatic.
Previously, I’d considered my position on
fishless cycling to be infallible.
I think many modern aquarists make
a similar error. They have often learnt,
through trial and error (and maybe through
dead and diseased fish) what works and
what doesn’t. Or, at the least, they know
what did and didn’t work for them, at that
time, in their particular circumstance. But
that doesn’t mean something that they
failed with won’t work for other people in
different circumstances.
Fishkeeping has, for a while now, become
something of a closed paradigm. People
treat this hobby as though it’s a scientific
subject of its own. They impose on others
what is ‘right’ as though any other way of
doing things is borderline criminal.
I repeat: fishkeeping really is a hobby.
We’re in this because we love fish and fish
tanks, and how we express our take on
the hobby is entirely individual. Some of
us want authenticity, while others want
something more lighthearted while still
providing a healthy environment.
There is no set right or wrong way to
keep an ornamental fish beyond alive and
thriving. We’d all do well to remember that.
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