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 OxyMax 100-400 Oxygen for aquariums, plants and fish The OxyMax aerator pumps ensure optimal oxygen supply in your aquarium. With low power consumption, adjustable air flow, and low noise levels, the OxyMax is the perfect partner for your water world. Ɣ Ɣ Ɣ Ɣ Ɣ Ɣ Ɣ Available from 100l/ph to 400 l/ph Flexible installation - can be standing or suspended Air output can be easily adjusted The bubbling pattern can be adjusted on the air diffuser Includes air stones and hose Permanent oxygen supply Robust and quiet To find out more on the all the other products available from the Indoor Aquatics range, please visit www.oase-livingwater.com Welcome THE EXPERTS STEVE BAKER 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 email@example.com 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 JOIN THE PFK COMMUNITY There are four different ways to get in touch with Practical Fishkeeping: Tweet, like us on Facebook, drop us an email, or simply send a good old-fashioned letter: editorial@practicalﬁshkeeping.co.uk twitter.com/PFKmagazine facebook.com. Search Practical Fishkeeping Fishkeeping, Media House, Practical Lynchwood, Peterborough PE2 6EA WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 29 ❯ 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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To take advantage of this fantastic subscription offer all you have to do is either: CALL 01858 43 8884 quote DEAA Discover what makes th EASY TO ACHIEVE AQUASCAPES TO INSPIRE YOU 3 THINK FESTI Keep t gloriously laid back Mesonauta cichlids Cherry BL S Showstopping barbs for your community Why Aussie Doughnuts run rings around other corals FIND OUT PAGE 36ON KR UOG " April 18 Issue 4 £4.50 101 FASCINATING FISH FACTS 8 O tr w m of Issue 3 March 18 £4 50 Banish winter with our breedin project ideas STOP THOSE THAI FLAVOUR S CORAL Reader’s QUARRELS amazing Top tips for a peaceful reef Mekong basin biotope Going large PLUS The reader with How YOU can Step-by-step Build your own rsatile planted Wonderful Whiptails STRAIGHT & Meet the incredible marine pipeﬁsh you’ll want to set up a tank for The ultimate h peaceful catfis OPTION 1 OPTION 2 OPTION 3 PRINT PRINT & DIGITAL DIGITAL £21 by direct debit every 6 months WITHOUT KILLING for your substra HOW TO PUT TH SPARKL BACK IN YOUR TANK Get spawn bl £4 40 December 17 issue 13 OW TO KEEP THEM IN LOVE WITH THE FABULOUS FIVE-B TERS & SHIFTERS: Marine cleaners £23.50 by direct debit every 6 months Debate PARROT CICHLIDS Is there a place for hybrid fish? 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Calls may be monitored or recorded for training purposes. For full terms and conditions please visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk/offer-terms-and-conditions or visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk/PFK YOUR TANK Spring 2018 £4.50 ALL THIS FOR £15.50 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. 3P]L ÄZO MVVK We offer a variety of live fish food. Each pack has the product name printed on the front and on the back you will find the EAN barcode for fast, efficient in-store handling. Everything is packed in the Netherlands to ensure fresh, top quality products the whole year round. We can offer the following live products: Enriched Brine shrimp, Copepods, Daphnia, Glassworm, Mysis, Nauplii, Bloodworm large, Bloodworm small, River shrimps and Tubifex. Most of these items are available in BULK too. HX\H[PJWSHU[Z KY` MVVK -YVaLUÄZOMVVK LHZ`SPML WYVK\J[Z 175+ different species of plants. Available potted and bunched. Also a range of mosses, plants on bogwood and on coconut! 45 different foods for goldfish, tropicals and marines and turtles. Available in 100ml, 250ml and 1000ml pots. Award winning 100 gram blisters in 35 different flavours. 500 and 1000 gram packaging also available and in stock! Distributor of Easy-Life products. Famous for EasyCarbo and ProFito and more plant fertilisers and water treatments. 3P]L ÄZO MVVK • -YVaLU ÄZO MVVK • +Y` MVVK • 9LW[PSL MVVK (X\H[PJ WSHU[Z • 7VUK WSHU[Z • ,HZ`3PML WYVK\J[Z 0031 412 - 639 618 0031 412 - 623 052 firstname.lastname@example.org www.aquadip.com ® The best quality from Holland! Weekly deliveries to the UK for more than 17 years. Con t to f act us you ind sto r loca ck i 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... email@example.com 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 EXPERT AQUARIUM CARE WITH OUR DIGITAL WATER TEST APP, DOWNLOAD HERE: ALAMY Is answering all your planting questions and explains background plants on page 55. ❯ Every question we receive gets a reply from our experts. Include as much information as you can about your set-up. Photos are useful, too. 51 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 EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR HEALTHY FISH Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers, Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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. JOIN US ON FACEBOOK & PINTEREST: TETRA UK MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS Angelfish do get issues with fish pecking or latching onto their sides. 53 ❯ ADVICE 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 FOR HEALTHY FISH Send your questions to: Fishkeeping Answers, Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA. Email us at email@example.com 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 EXPERT AQUARIUM CARE WITH OUR DIGITAL WATER TEST APP, DOWNLOAD HERE: 55 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, Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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. JOIN US ON FACEBOOK & PINTEREST: TETRA UK 57 ADVICE Know-how 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 Know-how 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 WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 61 ADVICE Know-how 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 Do something incredible in 2018 ‘Liberating’ ‘Conidence-inspiring’ ‘Completely changed my life for the better’ ‘The best thing I have ever done’ Register now for the fun, free, lexible challenge that changes lives one step at a time www.walk1000miles.co.uk WWW.PERFECTAQUATICS.CO.UK YhZ/hD^YhZ/hD^YhZ/hD^ ^KDd,/E'&KZsZzKE LEDDY 40 LEDDY 60 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 TVQQPSUTtBEWBODFEX-FEEZ X-FEEZ 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 ŚŽŵĞ ĚĞůŝǀĞƌǇ ƉůĞĂƐĞ ŐŽ ƚŽ ǁǁǁĂůŇƚĚĐŽƵŬďƌĂŶĚĂƋƵĂĞů 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 ADVERTISING FEATURE Fishkee made easy Take your home set-up to a new level with Tetra F OR FISHKEEPING beginners looking to enter the aquatic world with a larger aquarium or for those wanting to expand their aquatic set-up, Tetra’s new 80L Starter Line aquarium could be the perfect solution. Providing great value for money, the 80L Starter Line aquarium comprises a high-quality aquarium with easy installation and low-maintenance features for an impressive talking point in your home. Easy set-up & maintenance Providing you with everything you need for an easy set-up, the 80L Starter Line aquarium comes with TetraMin ﬁsh food, Tetra AquaSafe water conditioner and premium Tetra equipment, including a ﬁlter and lighting. For those looking to build a community aquarium with tropical ﬁsh, the 80L Starter Line aquarium also has a 75W heater – helping you to further expand your ﬁshkeeping experience. The 80L Starter Line aquarium beneﬁts from simple ﬁltration via Tetra’s powerful EasyCrystal Filter, which is easy to use and helps to maintain healthy water quality, while an integrated, modern LED light effectively illuminates the aquarium and promotes healthy plant growth. Thanks to the Tetra Aquatics App, which helps to maintain positive water quality through a water test feature, you can also now set up ﬁlter change reminders to make the process even easier than before. Something to suit all The Tetra Starter Line range now includes 30L, 54L and 80L aquariums to suit all levels of ﬁshkeepers. The 80L aquarium is available with an RRP of £99.99* from a range of independent pet stores. * Pricing is purely indicative and at the sole discretion of the retailer What’s in the box… Kick-start your fishkeeping experience with the 80L Starter Line aquarium. 6 A sturdy 6mm-thick glass aquarium with 80L volume 6 Robust cover with a practical feed and an energy-efficient 10 6 Effective Tetra EasyC replacement cartridge 6 Reliable 75W heater 6 TetraMin complete diet 6 Tetra AquaSafe water con ensure water is safe for fis 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 CONTACT US Practical Fishkeeping, Bauer Media, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA Email: email@example.com If you or someone you know are aged between 16 and 24 and are interested in work experience opportunities at Practical Fishkeeping go to www.gothinkbig.co.uk EDITORIAL Phone 01733 468000 Group Editor Ben Hawkins Associate Editor Nathan Hill Staff Writer Steve Baker Art Editor Katie Wilkinson Editorial Assistant Nicki Manning High-speed cichlids! ADVERTISING Phone 01733 468000 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Group Commercial Director Iain Grundy Key Accounts Stephen Tanner Display Advertising Executive Sue Hunter River dwellers from around the world. 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Our Editorial Complaints Policy (including full details of how to contact us about editorial complaints and IPSO’s contact details) can be found at www.bauermediacomplaints.co.uk. Our e mail address for editorial complaints covered by the Editorial Complaints Policy is email@example.com. WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 110 Y hall see it 4 at boo th 63 7 exce llenc e an d pe Com rformance e cheaper car insurance and yes to our Cheapest Price Guarantee* INTER ZOO 2018 Uneq ualle d in Say yes to... ROP CHN ELLE OLO R G Car insurance as individual as you are Nuremberg Germany May 8 th-11th 0330 022 7406 Ŗ$_bvo@;ubv|o0;-|ou1_;-r;v|omѴbm;1-uķ-moulo|ou0bh;bmvu-m1;to|;$_;]-u-m|;;omѴ -rrѴb;v|o-mm-ѴroѴb1b;v-m7|o|_;0-vb1roѴb1rub1;omѴ$_bvo@;u; 1Ѵ7;v|;Ѵ;r_om;to|-Ŋ ঞomv-m7omѴ-rrѴb;v|or;ul-m;m|u;vb7;m|vbm|_;&ķ; 1Ѵ7bm]|_;_-mm;ѴvѴ-m7v);u;v;u; |_;ub]_||ou;t;v|ruoo=o=ķ-m7-Ѵb7-|;ķ-Ѵ|;um-|;to|;v-v;ѴѴ-vruoo=o=|_;bm=oul-ঞomo ruob7;7|oo0|-bm|_;to|;vŐ;]1oro=7ubbm]Ѵb1;m1;ouঞѴb|0bѴѴő0;=ou;ou]-u-m|;;bv_omŊ ou;7lv|-u71ohbv-|u-7bm]m-l;o=-;uomvl;u;7b-blb|;7_o-u;-m-rrobm|;7 u;ru;v;m|-ঞ;o=(-v|(bvb0bѴb|blb|;7_o-u;-|_oubv;7-m7u;]Ѵ-|;70|_;bm-m1b-Ѵom71| |_oub|m7;uCulu;=;u;m1;ml0;uƔѵѵƖƕƒ H gh mustard.co.uk or call Tech Aq ar m col g Compare car insurance quotes today and see if you can get covered for less 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... 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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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 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T IME T O S T EP OF F T H AT T RE A DMIL L With so many demands from work, home and family, there never seem to be enough hours in the day for you. Why not press pause once in a while, curl up with your favourite magazine and put a little oasis of ‘you’ in your day. HUGE SELECTION OF GOODS, FROM ALL MAJOR BRANDS LOYALTY POINTS SCHEME FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL ORDERS OVER £300. 5 STAR RATED SERVICE AND AFTER SALES FRIENDLY AND PROFESSIONAL ADVICE 1000’S OF PRODUCTS IN STOCK FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY ON ORDERS OVER £50! fb.com/completeaquaticsuk @completeaquatic pinterest.com/aquaticsuk MISCELLANOUS FOR SALE BUSINESS FOR SALE Aquarium, reptile and pet shop business for sale in Manchester area. ([FHOOHQWSURƓWVURRPWRH[SDQG owners relocating. Contact Fluke-Solve TM The simple solution for skin flukes, gill flukes & tapeworms Easy and effective www.blacksbrokers.com Fish Treatment Ltd. www.fish-treatment.co.uk 0161 763 5000 New 50g Sachet To find out more about Press Pause, visit; pauseyourday.co.uk To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410 Aqua Pond Paint :Bonds to Damp Surfaces Without Primer HiVcYVgY h^oZh [gdb hidX` BVYZidbZVhjgZ ;^aigVi^dcheZX^Va^hih###hjbeh!l^Zgh!XdbWh! e^eZ! ejbeh ZiX#### C:L##EaZXdÆdliVc`h!WgZZY^c\XjWZh di]Zg h^oZh A^`Zjh dc ;gZZXdchjaiVi^dcVcYYZh^\c FAC ON NOW E-SHOT AVAI IN CL LABLE EAR 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. NOW AVAILABL E WHITE The All-New FLEX nano aquarium series provides contemporary styling with its distinctive curved front. The tank is also equipped with powerful 3-stage ﬁltration and an infrared remote control that allows you to select between several colours and special effects. WITH FLEXPAD REMOTE CONTROL AVAILABLE IN 2 SIZES 41cm / 16” 35cm / 14” 57 L 33cm 13” 33cm 13” LEARN MORE AT www.fluvalaquatics.com 39cm 15” 39cm 15” Time for a Spring clean... 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