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Practical Fishkeeping 10 2018

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TETRA MICRO
CRISPS
UK ONLY
FREE!
MEET THE BICHIRS THE ANCIENT FISH
THAT LIVED ALONGSIDE DINOSAURS
HOW TO
GROW YOUR
OWN LIVE
FOODS!
The UK?s best-selling aquatics magazine
Celestial pearls
Keep the prettiest
danio money
can buy
FEEDING
PLANTS
How you can
perfect your
plant growth
GLASSFISH BIOTOPE
OCTOBER 2018 �50
One fishkeeper?s layout
for a very unique fish
Set a tank up for amazing Archer?sh,
the only ?sh that can ?shoot? its prey!
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BioCompact 25 & 50
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? Individually adjustable water flow rate
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To find out more on the other products available from
the Oase Indoor Aquatics range, please visit
www.oase-livingwater.com.
Welcome
THE EXPERTS
STEVE
BAKER
SUBSCRIBE TO
FOR ONLY �70
A MONTH*
See page 74
*When you chooses the print option and pay by
direct debit. Minimum term 13 issues.
Polypterus ?
but how is it
pronounced?
As well as squeezing
in a long road
trip to Devon, Steve has been busy
investigating Polypterus and Celestial
pearl danios. See more on page 42.
INGRID
ALLEN
Ingrid has been
immersed in a world of
community oddballs this month. She?s
also been looking at community cichlids
to try at home. Find them on page 22.
TIM
SMITH
Ichthyologist Tim has
come up trumps again
this month with his fabulous take on
those awesome spitters, the archerfish.
Learn all about them on page 24.
TAI
STRIETMAN
Tai has been setting
up a brackish-type
aquarium for the charming, practically
transparent Indian glassfish. Take a
closer look on page 36.
JAMES STARR
MARSHALL
James has been doing
what James does best
? growing aquarium plants. This month
he?s telling us all about the nutrients
they need. Go find it on page 62.
GABOR
HORVATH
Hands-on Gabor has
been sharing how-to
tips from his fish house for us, teaching
us what he knows about live food
cultures. Grow your own on page 68.
OH HECK, did I learn
something this month. I?ve been
in this hobby for a long time.
I?m 42 now, I had my ?rst ?sh at
the age of four, and by the time
I hit my teens my bedroom was
full of tanks. And now, 38 years
later, I ?nd that I?ve been
pronouncing a ?sh name wrong for my whole life.
The ?sh in question? Polypterus. I bet in your head you
just read that as poll-ip-tur-uss, right? It looks the correct
way to say it. But it turns out that the division in
pronunciation is before the ?p?. Not polyp-terus, but
poly-pterus. And ?pterus? has the same Greek origin as
Pterosaur or Pterophyllum (for the angel?sh fans). The ?p?
is silent?
So, all these years, I should have been calling it
?polly-teh-russ?, and now I know. That?s what I love
about this hobby, I just keep on learning things!
Stay in touch
Watch us on youtube.com/
user/practical?shkeeping
Celestial pearl danio,
Danio margaritatus.
Photograph by
Chris Lukhaup.
t
de?
uses
your plan to get
dark spots on their
leaf edges?
Find out on page 62
Nathan Hill, Associate Editor
Email us at editorial@
practical?shkeeping.co.uk
ON THE COVER
Follow us at www.facebook.
com/PFKmag/
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
5
Contents
OCTOBER
42
12
INSPIRATION
08
12
22
24
SIGHT FOR FOUR EYES
Meet Anableps anableps, the
?sh with 40-40 vision who can
see below the surface and
above it at the same time.
A CICHLID FOR
EVERYONE
With over 3,000 species known
to science, there?s a cichlid out
h
i
The remarkable archer?sh
?res droplets of water to shoot
down its prey ? and shoots
straight to our hearts, too.
Read editor
Nathan?s favourite
article this issue
? all about plant
nutrition.
why not check out some of
their more amenable cousins?
82
SAVING THE REEF
88
KINGDOM OF CORALS
PAGE 62
36
AFRICAN HISTORY
Once believed to be the
missing link between ?sh
and amphibians, here?s the
extraordinary tale of ?living
fossil? Polypterus.
SHARP SHOOTERS
42
A TOUCH OF GLASS
Take a peek into the world
of the charming, practically
transparent Indian glass?sh,
and show off its true colours in
a brackish-type tank.
Editor?s
Pick
THE LURE OF
THE ODDBALL
Lovably weird ?sh can be
frustratingly hard to keep, but
A beginners? guide to stony
corals and how to keep them.
NEWS & VIEWS
PRECIOUS PEARLS
The tiny Celestial pearl danio
hit the ?sh world with such a
bang it sparked worries about
the species? survival. Now the
frenzy?s over, it?s time to get to
know these heavenly gems.
How a Bali-based NGO is
helping to protect the delicate
ecosystem of the coral reef.
10
FISHKEEPING NEWS
20
ETHICAL DEBATE
Climate change threat to ?shes?
senses, shark heist foiled, and
a Weever weather warning.
PFK editor Nathan and writer
Steve go head to head on the
subject of online ?sh sales. Is
the shift away from bricks and
mortar stores inevitable ? and
5
THINGS
YOU WILL
LEARN IN
THIS ISSUE
2
1
All about
micronutrients
and macronutrients
and how they
affect your
aquarium
plants
How to culture
your own live
foods such as
blackworm
and
Daphnia
4
3
Which woods are
safe to collect
and use in your
aquarium without
being toxic
How the glorious
archerfish
catches its dinner
and how to set
up the perfect
environment for it
5
The best species
to start with if
you want to keep
stony corals.
88
24
which environment is actually
best for the welfare of ?sh?
32
aquatics shop ? and enter our
free prize draw with Fluval gear
up for grabs.
LETTERS
The Rams who rewrote the
rule book, ?shy reading matter
suggestions, and a call-out for
aquatics shops that refuse to
sell tankbusters.
REGULARS
49
GEAR & REVIEWS
94
ROADTRIP
The PFK team visits four
aquatics shops in Devon.
GEAR GUIDE
104 Product news and buyer?s
58
108 Vote for your favourite UK
PFK?s crack team of aquatics
experts are on hand to answer
your questions. This month:
getting to grips with algae,
identfying a loach, strange
cat?sh behaviour and Tomato
clowns, to name just a few.
KNOW HOW: THE LITTLE
FRESHWATER GLOSSARY
What?s an elasmobranch?
What does sympatric mean?
All is revealed in PFK?s
essential jargon buster.
guides. This month: lighting
options to suit all tanks and
budgets, and a new freshwater
aquarium from Evolution Aqua.
READERS? POLL 2018
FISHKEEPING ANSWERS
62
KNOW HOW: FEEDING
AQUARUM PLANTS
All you ever wanted to know
22
Practical
Fishkeeping
delivered to
your digital
device
about macronutrients,
micronutrients and keeping
your plants in tip-top health.
68
KNOW HOW: BREED
YOUR OWN LIVE FOOD
A step-by-step guide to growing
your own Daphnia, Blackworm,
Artemia and more.
PAGE 74
74
SUBSCRIBE TO PFK
Get Practical Fishkeeping
delivered to your door for only
�70 an issue.
MONTH
103 NEXT
Lovely Leopard bush?sh, Botia,
Nannacara taenia, and the
wonderful world of Otocinclus.
114 TAILPIECE
Nathan reminisces about the
dark, cave-like ?sh shops of old,
and wonders about the ?buzz?
today?s lucky ?shkeepers feel.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
7
FASCINATING FISH
Four-eyed Anableps
Four eyes
SIGHT FOR
Meet the fish with 40-40 vision.
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
Y
OU HEAR the phrase
?livebearer? a lot in
this hobby. To many,
that means a group of
innocuous, brightly
coloured community
?sh particularly loved
by children and those
relatively new to ?shkeeping. But
here?s a livebearer that doesn?t ?t the
usual format one little bit.
Anableps anableps, or the Four-eyed
?sh is a curious creature. It lives
nearly all its life bobbing around on
8
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
the surface in the changeable,
brackish tidal zones of north-eastern
South America, only ducking down
if a tasty morsel is available below.
Like most oddities in nature, it has
evolved to ?ll a particular feeding
niche that others can?t exploit as
effectively without adaptation; in
this case, the strange and prominent
adaptation being four eyes?
Well, OK, not really four eyes, but
this ?sh?s common name does allude
to the eye adaptation that?s enabled it
to ?ll its niche. The iris is effectively
split into two ? the top section being
?at and suitable for looking above
the waterline; the lower section
rounded like a ?normal? ?sh eye so it
can see underwater.
There are plenty of ?sh that swim
close to the water surface and take
advantage of the ?ies and beetles
that land there. And there are a
handful of ?sh that can see above the
waterline well enough to shoot down
arboreal prey or even launch
themselves at it. But the Four-eyed
?sh takes this further. It uses the ebb
ALAMY
to the red macro algae that grows
on the mangrove roots and is said to
be bene?cial to both ?sh and plant.
Gammarus shrimp, snails, mussels
and worms are also considered tasty
morsels by our four-eyed friend.
These curious ?sh are really only
suited to large aquaria, as the females
grow up to 26cm and males to 20cm.
They are also schooling ?sh that
should be kept in a group of at least
six ? 10 or more would be better
still. For six adults you would need a
tank with a minimum footprint of
180x60cm and a depth of 30cm or
more. Realistically they?re best
suited to public aquariums ? and, of
course, their natural habitat.
Above: Life is in
two dimensions
for the Four-eyed
?sh.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK
NEIL HEPWORTH
and ?ow of the tide to its advantage,
regularly jumping out onto muddy
surfaces to snatch terrestrial insects
for a low-tide snack. And it?s been
observed not panicking about being
a ?sh out of water, but lying happily
in the sun for several minutes before
making the effort to push its way back.
Four-eyes can also be seen stalking
their prey, slowly positioning
themselves at the base of exposed
mangrove roots to intercept the small
crabs that climb down the roots.
At high tide the feeding focus shifts
9
Latest news and events from the world of aquatics
RESEARCH
STUDY
CLONING
MYSTERY SOLVED
High carbon dioxide levels found to reduce Sea basses? sense of smell.
Predictions aren?t
good for the ?sh
in our seas.
T
WO RECENT studies looking
into the effects of rising carbon
dioxide levels have shown they
can have a serious impact on the
sensory systems of ?sh.
Heightened carbon dioxide levels
have been shown to raise the acidity
of seawater and now a new study
by researchers from the University
of Exeter has demonstrated that
Sea bass lose up to 50% of their
sense of smell as a result. This
could have a major impact on the
species as smell is vitally important,
both in the bass?s hunting behaviour
and in avoiding predators.
For their study, the scientists
used young, captive Sea bass and
10
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
monitored their behaviour in both
current water conditions, and those
predicted for the end of the 21st
century, by which time carbon
dioxide is thought to be at two
and a half times the level it is now.
Those kept in the heightened levels
were more lethargic and less likely
to notice predators.
Earlier research has already
shown that rising levels of acidity
affect ?shes? nervous systems
and disrupt the way their brains
process information.
Studies carried out elsewhere
have previously shown that rising
ocean acidity levels damage the
hearing of Clown?sh.
OCEAN
BREEZE
The oceans
produce up
to 85% of
the earth?s
oxygen by the
photosythesis
of billions
of tiny
phytoplankton
Researchers from Hokkaido
University, Japan, have got to
the bottom of how some allfemale populations of Weather
or Dojo loaches, Misgurnus
anguillicaudatus, manage to
clone themselves. In a ?normal?,
sexually reproducing ?sh,
reproductive cells that contain
50 chromosomes produce an egg
that contains 25 chromosomes,
needing to double the
chromosomes once.
Using their own advanced,
?uorescent, DNA-marking probe,
the scientists were able to show
that chromosomal material in the
all-female population doubles
twice, so that each egg they
produce already has the required
50 chromosomes and only needs
sperm to activate its development
into embryos.
And that sperm doesn?t even
need to come from a Weather
loach ? the presence of gold?sh
sperm proven to be suf?cient!
MORE INFO
Read the scientific paper at
tinyurl.com/y7htkpsd
SHUTTERSTOCK
Climate change
threatens ?sh senses
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEWS
Aquatic News
LIVING FOSSIL
FISH TRAGEDY
KEEP FISHBASE AFLOAT
Globally renowned resource Fishbase has made a
plea for help after a significant chunk of its annual
funding fell through. The site now has a gap of
around $200,000, and is calling on the kindness of
donors to keep it afloat. Fishbase is one of the most
important assets the fishkeeping community has.
You can donate at fishbase.org/donate/donate.php
A ?sh once thought extinct has been
killed by ingesting a crisp packet. The
Coelacanth was found dead in Indonesia
in August and highlights the problem
with plastics in our oceans. PepsiCo,
owner of the crisp company, said
it wants to use biodegradable
or recyclable packaging
by 2025.
BABY SHARK
A NEW KIND OF FISH TANK
Environmentalists in Lebanon have found a
peaceful use for 10 old tanks retired from
military service. They?ve been sunk 3km off the
Mediterranean coast to form an artificial reef.
Once bedecked with algae, it?s hoped they?ll
become the ideal nursery for fish species, as well
as affording them protection from fishing nets.
UK DROUGHT
Adorable
baby photos?
?Miss Helen? heist foiled
Many visitors to public aquaria
wish they could mimic the displays
they see there at home, but brazen
thieves in Texas went a step further
when they decided to help
themselves to a shark ? with the
aid of a pushchair! The ?sh-loving
felons were captured after CCTV
showed them taking ?Miss Helen?,
a 2ft-long grey Horn shark, from
an open-topped tank at San
Antonio Aquarium, bundling the
?sh in a wet blanket and bucket,
before casually pushing their new
?baby? out of the aquarium.
Fortunately, the thieves? orange
getaway vehicle was easy to trace
and led police to the home of
Anthony Shannon. Inside they
found Miss Helen safe and well in
what appeared to be a smaller-scale
recreation of her normal residence.
She has since been returned to
the aquarium and Mr Shannon
has been charged with theft.
In a twist to the tale, Mr
Shannon claimed that he is an
activist, not a thief, and took the
shark due to welfare concerns,
having previously posed as an
aquarium salt distributor to test
the facility?s water conditions.
When Brighton resident Sue Davis noticed thousands of
goldfish were at risk of death in her local park?s pond
due to the recent drought, she organised a rescue
mission. The pond in Wild Park, Brighton, had dropped
to just a few muddy inches in depth and fish
were dying on the surface or being picked
off by local birds. The rescue team
organised a bucket chain to grab
the ailing fish from their
impending doom and then
redistribute them at
private ponds
throughout the city.
However, a spokesman for
the local council said
permission had not been sought,
and that rescuing the fish was illegal
without a licence from the Environment
Agency due to the risk of spreading disease.
The goldfish themselves arrived in the pond over a
number of years, many being dumped as unwanted
pets, and the council has asked that people rehome any
future surplus goldfish more considerately once the
pond refills to prevent a repeat scenario.
SH
UT
TE
RS
TO
CK
SHUTTERSTOCK
GOLDFISH RESCUE FAILS
TO PLEASE COUNCIL
STUNG!
BUSTED
GRAND THEFT AQUA
Two bungling would-be aquarists
who helped themselves to a free
aquarium failed to get far with their
ill-gotten gains ? or the hobby.
Police of?cers in Niles, Ohio, USA,
were responding to a pet shop?s call
about a stolen ?sh tank when they
drove past two men on a motorbike,
the pillion passenger carrying a
still-boxed aquarium on his lap.
The of?cers turned to follow the
duo, who soon realised they?d been
rumbled. The inept pair parted
company, with the passenger
leaping from the motorbike and
breaking the tank in the process.
The bike rider was found nearby,
behind a house, nervously ?pruning?
a tree with his bare hands.
Both men were arrested and
charged with theft. They have
entered a plea of not guilty.
Weever weather warning
The hot summer weather has brought thousands of
people to Britain?s beaches to cool off. However, this has
led to a spike in Weever ?sh stings, with over 70
reported by the RNLI in Cornwall in a week.
There are two species of Weever found in UK waters:
the Lesser weever, Echiichthys vipera, and the Greater
weever, Trachinus draco, both of which sport venomous
dorsal spines. It?s the Lesser weever that?s largely
responsible for the stings, being a shallow water species.
While the stings can be painful, they?re easily avoided
by wearing a wetsuit and swimming shoes or, if barefoot,
by dragging your feet in the sand as you walk. This usually
scares off the ?sh who only sting when they?re trodden on.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 11
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Polypterus
AFRICAN
HISTORY
Living fossils, or the missing link between fish and
amphibians? Whatever your take, there are many
reasons to admire these steel-hearted predators?
Nature?s
evolutionary
throwback.
ALAMY
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Polypterus
I
N 1802, while Britain was in
the middle of King George
III?s reign and William
Wordsworth?s sonnet
?London? was written,
蓆ienne Geoffroy SaintHilaire was off discovering,
scienti?cally describing and
naming Polypteridae in Africa.
Fossil records show that the ?sh?s
lineage dates back over 65 million
years, and during that time there?s
been little physical change in the
family. Many of the true bony ?sh
of the Cretaceous period had basic
lungs and ganoid scales, just as we
see in modern-day members of
Polypteridae. You might imagine
primitive ?sh like Lung?sh and
Gar?sh would be closely related but
this is not the case ? similar features
and shapes were commonplace, and
there are only two genera included
in the Polypteridae family. These are
separated from similar, primitive ?sh
by the bone structure at the base of
their paired ?ns.
Erpetoichthyes is the ?rst genus of
Polypteridae, upheld by just one
member, E. calabaricus, commonly
known as the Reed or Rope ?sh.
The Reed ?sh is differentiated from
the second genus, Polypterus,
through a lack of pelvic ?ns and a
much longer body.
Members of Polypterus have a
unique biology. First, they have
paired, primitive lungs and these are
not equally sized. One lung runs
nearly the full length of the body,
while the second is substantially
shorter, around one third of the
body length, clearing space for other
vital organs within the body cavity.
Polypterus is also the only known
vertebrate to have lungs, but no
trachea ? its lungs connect to the
oesophagus via vocal folds. As young
?sh, the lungs are not developed,
FACTFILE
ORNATE BICHIR
6Scientific name: Polypterus ornatipinnis
6Pronunciation: Poll-ee-tare-uss or-nat-ee-pin-is
6Size: 60cm maximum, but rarely over 45cm in aquaria
6Origin: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Tanzania
6Habitat: Slow-moving rivers, ponds, marshes and lakes,
including Tanganyika
6Tank size: 180x60cm footprint, 30cm high minimum
6Water requirements: 6.0-8.0 pH, 5-20 癏
6Temperature: 25-27癈
6Availability and cost:
Quite common;
around �-25
325 l+
If there?s such a thing as a pretty Polypterus, the
Ornate bichir is it. It?s by far the most heavily patterned
of the bunch with varying levels of yellow colouration
on the paired ?ns and sometimes on the body. It?s one
of the few species that is tank bred for the industry.
Fish, worms, frogs or rodents, dead
or alive, it doesn?t matter to these
ancient hunters ? as long as it ?ts in
their mouths, it?s food
RIGHT:
Ornate bichir,
an oddball
favourite.
BELOW: You
can see the age
in the design of
this ?sh.
SHUTTERSTOCK
BEN LEE, AMIIDAE.COM
Polypterus must be able to
reach the surface to breath
atmospheric air. If unable to
do this for any reason
they will drown.
and instead, the young of some
species possess external gills that
they lose as they mature, much like
those of certain amphibians, such as
salamanders and axolotis.
In the early 1800s, many naturalists
were unsure whether to regard
Polypterus as a ?sh or an amphibian.
Some even regarded Polypterus as
a living fossil ? the missing link
between ?sh and amphibians that
showed how ?sh ?ns had evolved to
become paired limbs.
Towards the end of the 19th century,
biologists John Samuel Budgett and
Nathan Harrington made repeated
expeditions to Africa in an attempt
to answer the questions Polypterus
raised. But the central African
countries were riven by war, and the
swamps the species inhabit are rich
breeding grounds for malaria-carrying
mosquitos. Harrington, attempting to
?nd Polypterus embroyos, contracted
Nile fever and died before even
reaching his destination. Budgett
made four expeditions to collect
Polypterus and exhibited a live pair to
the Zoological Society in 1899. He
?nally achieved his goal of fertilising
eggs and observing the key stages
How do I
target feed
Polypterus?
METHOD ONE
Feed other ?sh at one
end of the tank, giving
them a few seconds to
get over there before
releasing food for the
Polypterus in a
completely different
area of the tank.
METHOD TWO
As method one, but use
a pipe to protect the
food on the way down
and to direct the food
more speci?cally.
METHOD THREE
Use long-reach tongs to
position pieces of food
right in front of the
desired ?sh, so the
others can?t grab it ?rst.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 15
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Polypterus
of embryonic development in 1903,
but died of blackwater fever shortly
after his return to England, aged 32.
Budgett?s ?ndings were written up
and published by his friend, the
embryologist John Graham Kerr.
In the early 1900s, the zoologist
E S Goodrich drew upon Budgett?s
earlier work and reported that
Polypterus should be placed within
the palaeonisciformes ? the most
primitive of the ray-?nned ?sh.
To date, no viable links to
amphibians have been made.
Many ?ns
FACTFILE
SADDLED BICHIR
6Scientific name: Polypterus endlicheri
6Pronunciation: Poll-ee-tare-uss end-lick-er-eye
6Size: 75cm, but rarely more than 60cm in aquaria
6
Origin: From Mali and Ivory coast in the west, to Chad and the
Central African Republic
6
Habitat: Shallow rivers and marshes, occasionally found in
brackish mangroves
6
Tank size: 210x120cm footprint, 30cm high minimum
6
Water requirements: 6.0-8.0 pH, 5-20癏
6Temperature: 22-27癈
6Availability and cost:
Quite common;
around �+
750 l+
The young of P. endlicheri tend to hold on to their
external gills longer than most species in the genus,
sometimes up to 25cm. Adults are also more
assertive than other Polypterus during feeding time.
A sub-species of the Saddled bichir, P. endlicheri
congicus, grows larger, up to 1m.
FRANK TEIGLER
The family name Polypteridae stems
from observations of the rayed ?ns.
The Greek word ?poly? translates to
?many?, while ?pteron? means ?wing?
or ??n?. So, the family is literally
?many ?ns? and it?s easy to see why.
In nature Polypterus are nocturnal
carnivores that both hunt and
scavenge any animals they can ?nd.
Fish, worms, frogs or rodents, dead
or alive, it doesn?t matter to these
ancient hunters ? as long as it ?ts in
their mouths, it?s food. It?s the same
when keeping Polypterus in aquaria.
Unless suf?cient hiding places are
provided, there will be friction if
they are kept alongside larger ?sh ?
Polypterus like their daytime shelter.
An ideal tank should be strewn with
driftwood, branches, slate caves or
lengths of cut pipe to create hides.
Lighting should be dull and the water
level needn?t be deep. When keeping
them with diurnal ?sh in open water
and stronger lighting, you should
accept that when viewing them in the
These ?sh come into their own
daytime they?ll seem pretty much
when the lights go out though, and
immobilised. With more than one
feeding time is a pleasure, especially
specimen in the tank you might
if you?re a fan of predators.
even see them sitting on top of
Most Polypterus are quite slow
one another as they relax
to get to their food, due to
These fish are naturally able
during the daylight hours.
poor eyesight and a
to ?walk? on their fins from one
Tank-raised specimens
tendency for many owners
water
body
to
the
next.
They
are often more active
to feed them with the lights
jump well too, so fit a
through periods of
glaring. In a mixed tank with
tight lid to your
illumination, while wild-caught
competitive feeders they may
?sh tend to be far more stubborn
need target feeding (see panel, page
tank!
about it. One trick to add to the
15). Once they know where food is,
viewing pleasure (and this works
they generally need very little
with any nocturnal ?sh) is to ?t a
encouragement to eat, and during
small, auxiliary red light to run for a
hours of darkness their superior
short time when the main light is off.
sense of smell will guide them in.
Red light goes largely undetected by
Feeding should be with meaty live
?sh, and especially so by those with
and frozen foods, and high-protein,
poor sight in the ?rst place.
sinking dried foods for carnivores
16
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
MARBLED BICHIR
A typical Bichir
swampy habitat.
160 l+
Also know as the Short?n bichir,
P. palmas is more manageable
than many due to its more
modest size. Accounts of
sightings in Cameroon and the
Democratic Republic of Congo
are likely a confusion for P. polli,
which was previously known as
a subspecies of P. palmas.
SHUTTERSTOCK
FRANK TEIGLER
6Scientific name: Polypterus palmas
6
Pronunciation: Poll-ee-tare-us
pal-mass
6
Size: 35cm, but rarely more than 30cm
in aquaria
6
Origin: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea,
Ivory Coast and Ghana
6
Habitat: Found in slack and shallow
areas of lowland coastal rivers
6
Tank size: 120x45cm footprint, 30cm
high minimum
6
Water requirements: 6.0-7.5 pH,
5-15癏
6Temperature: 25-28癈
6Availability and cost: Quite rare; �+
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Polypterus
FACTFILE
CROSS RIVER BICHIR
6Scientific name: Polypterus teugelsi
6
Pronunciation: Poll-ee-tare-us
tew-gel-see
6Size: 40cm
6
Origin: Only from Cameroon in the
River Cross drainage system
6
Habitat: Shaded, slow-moving forest
streams and rivers ,often with lush
plant growth
6
Tank size: 150x60cm footprint, 30cm
high minimum
6
Water requirements: 7.0-7.5 pH,
1-5癏
6Temperature:25-28癈
6Availability and cost: A rarity; �
270 l+
FACTFILE
SENEGAL BICHIR
6Scientific name: Polypterus senegalus
6Pronunciation: Poll-ee-tare-uss sen-egg-al-uss
6Size: 50cm maximum, but rarely over 35cm in aquaria
6Origin: Widespread over 26 countries in Africa
6
Habitat: Shallow, slow-moving water, swamps, marshes and
freshwater lagoons
6Tank size: 150x60cm footprint, 30cm high minimum
6Water requirements: 6.2-7.8 pH, 5-18癏
6Temperature: 24-28癈
6
Availability and
cost: Common;
around �
270 l+
The Senegal Bichir is the most common
Polypterus to ?nd ? partly because it was initially
easy to collect with its huge range, partly because
it?s the easiest to cater for in terms of size, and
also because it can be commercially bred. Albino
specimens are relatively common.
FRANK TEIGLER
P. teugelsi is more picky than
most of the genus when it
comes to water parameters,
due to a limited distribution and
lack of different habitat types.
Specimens will be wild-caught
?sh, which again limits their
adaptability. Other care is on a
par with the rest of the bichirs.
There are many frozen foods from
the seafood counter you can use ?
prawns, cockles and mussels, plus
slithers of ?sh or whole lance?sh.
Avoid giving them very oily ?sh like
mackerel, simply because it?s more
likely to mess up your tank and
affect water quality. Smaller
specimens will do well on frozen
Mysis shrimp, Krill and bloodworm.
Having mentioned their slow
feeding antics, there are exceptions
to the rule, of course. PFK associate
editor Nathan recalls feeding adult
P. endlicheri that were so ferocious he
was scared by them. (Ed?s note: This
is true; big Polypterus have a bite that
sends water and food ?ying.)
Once settled, they are hardy ?sh in
the aquarium and they adapt to a
range of parameters. Most species
are happy to sit in slightly acidic
softish conditions to slightly alkaline
harder conditions. Some even venture
into brackish conditions in the wild.
Naturally, they all inhabit either
sluggish-moving shallow rivers, or
still waters including marshes and
swamps. With their air-breathing
abilities they can inhabit waters of
very low dissolved oxygen, which
many ?sh simply wouldn?t survive in.
Taking this a step further, they can
hold out in wet mud, and even exist
for long periods out of water as long
as their skin remains damp. They
really are true survivors of
challenging, natural conditions over
many millions of years. I suspect
they?re going to be around for some
considerable time to come.
FRANK TEIGLER
with high levels of oil and fat ?
Hikari Massivore Delite and North?n
Jumbo Fish Formula are both good.
Live foods for these ?sh are scarce
on the ground though. River shrimp
are often too quick-moving and ?sh
are a de?nite no-no due for legal and
moral reasons. Earthworms,
however, are perfect once given a
quick rinse under a running tap.
18
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FACTFILE
ARMOURED BICHIR
6Scientific name: Polypterus delhezi
6Pronunciation: Poll-ee-tare-uss dell-he-zee
6Size: 44cm, but rarely more than 32cm in aquaria
6Origin: Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo
6Habitat: Lakes, streams and flooded basins, often with lush
plant growth
6Tank size: 120x60cm footprint, 30cm high minimum
6Water requirements: 6.0-8.0 pH, 5-20癏
6Temperature: 24-29癈
6Availability and cost: a
slight rarity; �
215 l+
Also known as the Barred bichir, this species is bred
for the hobby with the use of hormones. Many still seen
for sale, however, are wild-caught ?sh, so it?s worth
taking precautions against internal parasites, and
quarantining to safeguard your existing stock.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 19
OPINION
NATHAN HILL & STEVE BAKER
Traditionally, livestock sales have taken place in a retailer?s
?sh house. But increasingly the shift has moved to mail order
purchases. Is that bad, or just another sign of progress?
W
hat kind of fish buyer
are you? Do you prefer
to visit the store where
the fish live, and
choose them yourself,
or are you happy to
place your trust in
someone else to
pick out a fish you would like from a
selection of potentially hundreds? Why
do you buy your fish the way you do?
SB: I?ve never yet bought a ?sh online; all my
?sh purchases have been in the ?esh from
traditional shops. It?s not that I?m totally
against the idea, but I?ve not had the need
and I enjoy going to a shop to see all that?s
on offer. I?d certainly be concerned about
?sh health if I did order ?sh to be delivered,
and I?d rather spend the postage costs on
fuel going to collect my ?sh.
waiting to happen. I can only guess at how
many folks have bought inadvertent ?time
bombs? of disease out of a tank that received
a good slapping two minutes before they
walked into the store.
SB: Yep, I think over-illuminated tanks stress
?sh in most retail tanks, too (though nowhere
near as much as tank slapping), and this is
something else avoided in a warehouse-style
mail order business. But it?s not as if there are
many dedicated, non bricks-and-mortar live
?sh suppliers out there ? most places you
order from are retail shops that also offer mail
order, so there?s still a chance your ?sh is
caught just after a child has slapped a palm
on the tank, and then it still has to run the
gauntlet of the dreaded courier handling.
That?s without even mentioning trusting the
ability of the staff to catch strong, healthy
specimens, or even the
right species...
JACQUES PORTAL
Tank slapping
is as common
an incident in
fish shops as
drunkenness is
in bars...
NH: On balance, there?s a
lot of trust invested with
mail order ?sh, and a lot of
things that could go wrong
along the way. I?ve seen
couriers and how they
handle some boxes ? even
those marked as fragile.
Couriers can also be
delayed, although I?d add
that this could just as easily happen to a
person collecting their own ?sh from a store.
However, there is one thing that a ?closed?
mail order ?sh house wouldn?t experience,
and I?m just going to come out and say that
this can be the blight of brick-build retailers.
It?s the reason I?ve walked away from many
shops without buying ?sh ? kids slapping on
tanks. Despite having signs up everywhere
requesting that parents closely supervise their
children, they are all too often so abysmal at it
that tank slapping is as common an incident
in ?sh shops as drunkenness is in bars.
Slapped tanks means weak immune systems.
Weak immune systems means diseases
NH: Oh, entirely agreed.
In the event of a cash and
carry retailer offering mail
order ?sh, I would be at the
pinnacle of wariness.
I mean, the risk of slapping,
combined with the risk of
rough transit, is just too
much for me. But from the
perspective of a mail order, non cash-andcarry store ? of which I suspect there are
more than you think ? there?s actually a
chance that, in an ideal world, the ?sh could
be healthier than those sold by many cash
and carry retailers.
Take the time needed to upkeep aquaria, for
example. It?s no quick task managing
livestock. And let?s be brutal here ? the
biggest consumer of time is the customer.
From the person who has no idea which light
tube they need, but insists on having a
20-minute conversation about it, to the
person who comes in to speak to the captive
audience of store workers because they?re
we now live in is here to stay, although I do
think that aquatics will be less affected than
other high street retailers for the reason you
already mentioned ? people do like to see
their ?sh in the ?esh before buying. Because
of that, they?ll keep patronising stores.
Besides, isn?t visiting stores part of the
enjoyment of aquatics? I know it is for me.
Either way, I note one of your reservations is
about staff selecting healthy or unhealthy ?sh.
Do you really think that?s an issue these days,
with the level of training and understanding
now generally found in the trade?
SB: The cynic in me says that if mail order
staff aren?t having their time taken up by
customer questions (or sending videos to
con?rm a sale) then fewer people are likely
to be employed, and still there isn?t time for
all jobs to be done thoroughly. (I think it?s
a common trend to employ as few
people as possible in order to
increase pro?ts).
There?s de?nitely a
case to make for
warehouse-style
businesses
supplying ?sh and
I?m sure we?ll see
more of these as
high street stores
continue to close
and internet sales
increase in general.
That said, I still can?t
see me buying from
them over a bricks and
mortar, cash-and-carry retail
shop where I can judge health and
species identi?cation for myself and see if
kids are slapping tanks. Not unless I simply
couldn?t get anything interesting within a
three-hour drive from home.
NH: To be cynical back, I?m not sure I know
of many heavily staffed aquatics stores at all.
An increasingly squeezed market and lack of
staff applying for jobs has left many stores
with a skeleton crew at best. Having visited
mail order facilities and countless bricks and
mortar retailers over the years, I certainly
noticed how much more organised the former
have become, with regard to staf?ng. Nothing
had to be dropped at a moment?s notice to
tend to another task.
But yes, I agree. I think the ?Amazon? culture
NEIL HEPWORTH
feeling lonely, the time of an aquatics retailer
is constantly being trespassed upon. In a site
where the public aren?t allowed, I imagine
?shkeepers could have excellent and
undisturbed regimes of feeding and tank
cleaning, plus more time in the ?sh house to
spot potential problems. That?s not to say that
a cash and carry retailer can?t invest that time,
just that by de?nition they?ll be distracted by
the ?rst person who speaks to them.
As for identifying a ?sh or viewing it before
buying ? is that not now part and parcel of
the process with folks who simply request a
video beforehand? I know I would, and I?d be
awful picky about which ?sh I?d want, too.
SB: Yes. No more than a few weeks back a
friend bought some new ?sh from a shop, only
to get home and ?nd a different ?sh in with
them. In the same week my parents bought
eight Cherry shrimps (for a deal) to get home
and only ?nd seven in the bag. During my
last four years working in retail I didn?t see
one bit of staff training, and I?ve seen many
people start in the industry who were
complete novices, so I?m afraid
I hold very little faith in the
industry as far as training
and managing staff is
concerned.
I feel you?re lucky if
you get served by an
enthusiast who does
all their own research.
This is why I believe
so much in holding
staff long-term, but it
seems low on many
employers? priorities.
NH: I suspect we?ve had wholly
different experiences on this one,
and I?d be keen to see how this was re?ected
when put to a wider vote. But this actually
plays to my hand with regards to a non
cash-and-carry retailer. The last one I met
was very switched on, really knew her stuff.
I?d have been con?dent buying pretty much
anything from her, and the failsafes they had
in place (double checking against invoices by
packers) would ensure that species and
numbers would all be present and correct.
There you go, you?ve sold it to me, my next
set-up will be populated by mail order
livestock only.
I don?t think stores need worry about losing
their livelihoods to online ?sh sales. But I also
think online ?sh will become a bigger part of
the trade in the future, and as long as traders
maintain standards, they should do just ?ne.
Do you have an opinion on buying fish that you would like to share, or perhaps
a topic you would like to see discussed? If so, you can find us at
www.facebook.com/pfkmag or email editorial@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
INSET: In
store or online?
What?s your
choice?
TROPICAL
Cichlids
FACTFILE
SHUTTERSTOCK
FIREMOUTH CICHLID
6Scientific name: Thorichthys meeki
6Size: 12cm
6Water requirements: Neutral to
medium hard, 7.0-8.0 pH
6Availability and price: Quite common;
bout �
A cichlid for everyone
Their reputation precedes them, but
here?s how the casual hobbyist can
enjoy cichlids in their family.
FACTFILE
A freelance writer
with a day job in
aquatics retail,
Ingrid is a huge fan
of anabantoids and
biotopes.
22
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
UMBRELLA CICHLID
6Scientific name: Apistogramma borelli
6Size: 3.5cm
6Water requirements: Soft, acidic,
below 7.0 pH
6Availability and price: Quite common;
from about �
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
INGRID
ALLAN
FACTFILE
6Scientific name: Mesonauta f
6Size: 10cm
6Water requirements: Soft to medium
hard, 6.0-7.5 pH
6Availability and price: Quite common;
from about �
ALAMY
FESTIVE CICHLID
C
ICHLIDS: THE name alone
divides opinion. Perhaps
you recall the beautiful
Apistogramma borelli that
dazzled among the leaves
of your blackwater biotope,
or you shrink back in horror
at the memory of the
bullish convict that obliterated everything
in your childhood aquarium. Cichlids either
unnerve the novice ?shkeeper into passing
them by or, worse still, encourage them ?
with stunning colours and bold, con?dent
personalities ? to take them home and
deposit them in a totally unsuitable tank.
With this in mind most shops do their
best to divert the casual hobbyist from their
cichlid tanks. But recent upswings in the
popularity of certain species have made me
question whether this is the right approach.
I?m just going to come right out and say it
? not all cichlids are bruisers. With over
3,000 species known to science, it?s time for
a commonsense approach. Obviously you
wouldn?t dump a 2ft-long Parachromis in
your community and expect it not to eat
everything in sight, but that doesn?t mean
smaller species like the dainty, peaceful
Festive cichlid, Mesonauta festivus, can?t
have a place among your shoals of tetra. If
Angel?sh and Discus would be readily
accepted into the larger planted set-up, why
not make room for their triangular cousin?
Having unpacked 200 individually bagged
Rams at work, I know their popularity isn?t
waning any time soon. Mikrogeophagus
ramirezi remains beloved of beginners and
seasoned cichlid keepers alike for its
stunning colour and manageable size, but
many in soft water areas who have never
strayed beyond the basics are now
discovering Apistogramma species too.
I?m also delighted to report that after a
decade in decline the Firemouth cichlid,
Thorichthys meeki, is ?nding favour with
those who?d like to venture into cichlid
territory but aren?t quite ready for a 6ft tank
of square-jawed brutes. From what I?ve
seen, recent imports are small but brightly
coloured, bearing no resemblance to the
drab grey ?sh of a few years ago. I?m not
saying they?re ideal community citizens, but
they can work well with larger livebearers,
cat?sh, oddballs, even barbs.
And I won?t rule out the big beasts either.
I was initially crestfallen to see a number of
unwanted Oscars donated once, only for
all ?ve to ?nd new homes within the week.
For those with the space, the larger cichlids
come with bucket-loads of character and
people quickly fall in love with them.
There?s a cichlid out there for everyone,
no matter what their experience level.
Choose wisely and you?ll be rewarded with
a pet as intelligent and interactive as any
four-legged friend.
FACTFILE
6Scientific name: Mikrogeophagus
ramirezi
6Size: 4cm
6Water requirements: Sof idi
below 7.0 pH
6Availability and price: Co
SHUTTERSTOCK
RAM CICHLID
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 23
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Archer?sh
SHARP
SHOOTERS
The incredible archerfish, firing a flying
arrow of water droplets to catch its prey, is
guaranteed to shoot straight to your heart.
ALAMY
TIM SMITH
An ichthyologist and
oddball aquarist,
Tim has been
involved with fish
for 15 years, from
retail to academia.
24
Archer?sh lurk
under the surface
with halfbeaks.
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
The two main species swim
from freshwater conditions
into near full marine
conditions in mangrove
estuaries.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 25
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Archer?sh
I
CAN?T REMEMBER the
?rst time I met a celebrity,
but I can imagine it was quite
like when I met my ?rst
archer?sh. Like actors on the
silver screen, archer?sh star in
countless nature ?lms where
they?re rightfully acclaimed
for their aquatic marksmanship. It
would be years before I?d set up a
tank of my own to showcase this
remarkable behaviour. But it was
well worth the wait.
The two most commonly seen
species ? Toxotes jaculatrix and
Toxotes chatareus ? can be mistaken
for one another, but are easy to tell
apart if you know what to look for.
The Barred archer?sh, T. jaculatrix,
can be identi?ed by the series of
four or ?ve vertical bars across its
?anks, with the bar towards the rear
of the dorsal seamlessly transitioning
from the body onto the ?n.
In the Spotted archer?sh,
T. chatareus, these vertical bars
alternate in size, with the dorsal bar
rarely (if ever) forming a continuous
pigmentation pattern between the
body and ?n; the pigmentation on
the dorsal ?n is an isolated spot. In
young ?sh the bars appear to be very
similar in size, hence the regular
(and understandable) confusion
between this species and T. jaculatrix.
The third member of the archer?sh
trio, the wonderfully named Clouded
archer?sh, is arguably the prettiest
of all. Toxotes blythii is stunning and
the only species of archer?sh to
sport horizontal body lines instead of
vertical ones. Unlike the other two
species, T. blythii can live happily in a
freshwater environment too.
It doesn?t take much
encouragement for an archer?sh to
spray at a live insect. Nearly any
movement by the prey will catch the
archer?s attention, and it won?t be
long before arrows start ?ying
Setting up the shots
As with any tank design, your ?rst
consideration should be space.
Given a moderate adult size in these
?sh ? up to 20cm in T. jaculatrix and
T. chatareus, and about 15cm in T.
blythii ? and their active schooling
behaviour, you?ll need to provide a
decent-sized environment. As they?re
primarily surface-dwelling ?sh,
archers appreciate a greater tank
footprint than volume, so aim for
something around 120-150cm long
and 60cm wide if you want a
reasonably-sized school. Depth isn?t
quite as important, but archers are a
26
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Their shooting
prowess really is
amazing to see.
SHUTTERSTOCK
deeper-bodied ?sh, so you?ll need to
allow for that. For adults, water
about 30-45cm deep will suf?ce, but
if you?re planning on adding other
species, you?ll need a deeper tank.
To see archer?sh behaviour at
its best, you need to create a
paludarium ? an enclosure that has
elements of both the aquatic and
the terrestrial. To what extent
this exhibit is terrestrial is
entirely up to you, but
ensure you leave
adequate room for
the surprising
amount of space
a school of
archer?sh takes up.
Many paludariumtype set-ups incorporate
some form of terrestrial
3D structure as a background,
This gives a sense of depth, as well
as providing additional vertical
habitat. It?s this vertical habitat your
archer?sh will make use of when
eyeing up prey and it needs to have
a rough surface where the ?shes?
invertebrate victims can cling before
being targeted.
As well as saving space, as the
background is only a few centimetres
deep, you can hide all your pipes,
wires and so on behind it too, so
they don?t detract from your set-up?s
natural charm.
Planting for archers
Filters & lighting
In a brackish environment, aquatic
plants aren?t really an option, as few
will tolerate the saline environment.
Terrestrial plants don?t mind so
much though, and they also provide
an ideal perch for your archers? prey.
A number of plants will thrive in a
humid paludarium environment.
Moss is a simple addition, and
some species like Java
moss can be used in
both the aquatic and
terrestrial portions
? it also has a
tolerance for the
low-end brackish
waters some
archer?sh prefer.
Common houseplants
like Devil?s ivy and Pothos
(Epipremnum spp.), ferns
(particularly Nephrolepis spp.), and
bromeliads will all feel at home with
the extra humidity, and either have
shallow roots or can be attached
directly to the 3D background.
Some brackish fans like to take the
?mangrove root? route. This looks
very effective and full of impact,
and can be achieved by using a
variety of driftwood and vines.
Besides allowing for archer target
practice, the submerged root
structures provide somewhere for
your ?sh to retreat to if they wish.
Being predators, archers can put out
a fair amount of waste, so you?ll
need a form of ?ltration that can
cope with that. A sump-type system
won?t work with the reduced water
level without modi?cation, but any
other large ?ltration solution is ?ne.
Canister ?lters are well equipped to
deal with the greater water volume,
and being external, will interfere less
with the aesthetic of your set-up.
FACTFILE
ARCHER
6Scientific name: Toxotes chatareus
6Pronunciation: Toxo-tees chat-ah-re-us
6Size: 40cm
6Origin: Widespread from Pakistan, India,
through mainland Southeast Asia to
Northern Australia, including Sri Lanka,
Philippines and Papua New Guinea
6Tank size: 150x60x45cm minimum
6Water requirements: 7.0-8.0 pH,
20-30癏, SG 1.005-1.015
6Temperature: 25-30癈
6Temperament: Peaceful with large fish
6Feeding: Flake and floating pellets,
frozen and live bloodworm, glassworm
and so on, live fruit flies and crickets
6Availability and cost: Quite common;
from �50
400 l+
ALAMY
SHUTTERSTOCK
Live or dried,
roots and shoots
help to mimic a
natural setting.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 27
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Archer?sh
You don?t need to shy away from
internal ?lters, though. Archers will
enjoy the ?ow a powerhead gives,
provided they don?t get blown away.
Lighting is important. Archers
spend much of their time looking
upwards for food, so while you don?t
want to blind them, you don?t want
them unable to spot their prey either.
Fluorescent or LED tube lighting
work well and also don?t burn too
warmly, so there?s less risk of them
?popping? if a stray watery shot from
your archer hits the bulb. Create
some shady spots around the tank
too, for when your ?sh want to step
away from the action.
Both main species of archer inhabit
brackish, mangrove waterways,
where they may experience both
near-freshwater and completely
marine conditions. Reportedly,
T. chatareus is more tolerant of a
freshwater lifestyle than T. jaculatrix.
With either species, I would opt for
a low-end brackish environment at
?rst ? an SG of 1.005 or about 6.6
ppt ? as many young ?sh are brought
in at low-salinity or freshwater. Over
a period of weeks, with successive
water changes, you can bump up the
salinity by about 0.002 each time.
These ?sh will happily live in water
with an SG between 1.005 and 1.015,
so long as it?s stable and salty.
On the opposite side of the coin,
T. blythii is freshwater to the bone.
The waters it originates from are soft
and it requires an acidic to neutral
pH (6.0-7.2), with temperatures in
the realm of 25-28癈 (77-86癋).
A national
treasure,
celebrated on
stamps.
encouragement for an archer?sh to
spray at a live insect. Nearly any
movement by the prey will catch the
archer?s attention, and it won?t be
long before arrows start ?ying. Their
skills aren?t limited to moving foods,
though ? any item they recognise
as food (and they have excellent
eyesight!) will be water-cannoned.
The tricky part when feeding
archer?sh is securing the food item
to a good spot, but most defrosted
fresh foods will readily stick to the
glass, or can be perched on the
Target practice
The archer?sh?s mighty claim to
fame ? some specimens have been
known to blast a target from 5ft
away ? is not a talent lost to ?sh in
captivity. They acclimate very well
and display natural behaviours soon
after settling in. It doesn?t take much
FACTFILE
BARRED ARCHERFISH
Scientific name: Toxotes jaculatrix
6
6
Pronunciation: Toxo-tees jack-u-lay-trix
6
Size: 30cm
6
Origin: Widespread from India, China, through mainland
Southeast Asia to Northern Australia, including Philippines
and Papua New Guinea.
6
Tank size: 120x60x45cm
6
Water requirements: 7.5-8.0 pH, 20-30癏
6
Temperature: 25-30癈
6
Temperament: Peaceful with large fish
6
Feeding: Flake and floating pellets,
frozen and live bloodworm, glassworm
and so on, live fruit flies and crickets
6
Availability and cost: Uncommon; �50
Right: When
setting up
a specialist
archer?sh tank,
there are just a
few key details
to address.
WATERLINE
For an authentic archer?sh
set-up, you want a de?ned
submerged and emerged
area. Be careful not to lower
the water level too much, as
this will reduce the overall
volume, in turn making it
harder to manage.
325 l+
SHUTTERSTOCK
T. jaculatrix,
the Barred
archer?sh.
28
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
WOOD
When creating a natural setup, try to replicate the look
of mangrove roots creeping
into the water. Red moor root
or Mopani wood can both be
used to good effect here.
terrestrial background or planting.
Younger ?sh are less successful
shooters than adults, which implies
some sort of learning process, rather
than a natural-born talent.
T. blythii displays
horizontal markings.
PLANTS
Create a canopy of foliage
above the tank and this will
become the ?ring range once
you populate it with insects.
Plastic plants will require
less care, and won?t create
any pollution if leaves fall off
and drop into the water.
MARINE ROCK AND SAND
These are usually ?sh from
very hard, alkaline waters,
and the presence of real
wood risks lowering this.
Use marine sands and ocean
rock to help buffer the water,
keeping it hard and stable,
and not acidic.
STEVE HALL
Archer?sh aren?t just one-trick ponies.
Their fame deservedly lies with their
marksmanship, but they have
another talent too. As their prey can
be some distance away, archers can
determine precisely where the prize
will land in the water, so they make
SHUTTERSTOCK
Jump to it
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 29
SPECIES SHOWCASE
Archer?sh
encourage the ?sh to jump once
a start in that direction immediately
they get used to seeing it there.
after ?ring. But there?s always the
Given their remarkable jumping
risk someone else will get there ?rst.
talents, you need to ensure your
This is where jumping comes in.
In a feat only slightly less impressive archers stay well within the tank.
The reduced water level puts some
than the way they shoot down prey,
distance between your pet and a
archers will eject themselves from
dry doom, but a good tank
the water and grab prey from
hood or sliders will help
an overhanging branch.
keep your archer school
Such behaviour can only
intact, and limit their
be elicited with the
party tricks to
right circumstances
Crickets and mealworms
the aquarium.
? archers won?t
are safe and cheap, and
jump too far out of
can be cultured
the water when they
Archer appetites
at
home.
can simply spray their
In the wild, archer?sh
targets, and typically only
spend quite a bit of time
make the leap when prey is
dislodging prey insects from
close to the water?s edge. So your
overhanging trees, but on occasion
set-up needs the ?terrestrial? portion
they like something different. Above
to lead right to the water?s edge to
the water, they?ve been known to
allow the prey items to haplessly
shoot down insects, spiders and
wander to their doom. Alternatively,
even small lizards!
frozen prey items stuck to the glass
Beneath the surface, they?ll happily
near the water?s edge could also
snap up anything that ?ts in their
Archers are
happy to
show natural
behaviour in
captivity.
30
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
As well as being
skilled hunters,
archers are
attractive ?sh.
How many ?sh should
I keep?
ALAMY
In the wild, archer?sh are found in schools
of 10 to 40 individuals, but a smaller
school will suf?ce in an aquarium setting.
I prefer a minimum of ?ve, but if you have
the space, then the more the merrier.
Archers kept in very small groups can
display a range of undesirable behaviours.
I?ve found small schools to be somewhat
timid and retiring, and in groups of two
or three there can be bullying behaviour,
with chasing and nipping. This nastiness
is particularly prevalent where small
specimens are kept with bigger ones,
although in larger-sized schools the
problem is markedly diffused.
Mixed-species schools of archer?sh cause
few problems; they will generally spend
some of the time mingling with the other
species, the rest with their own kind.
mouths ? shrimp, crabs, aquatic
insects and small ?sh are all fair
game, which is something to consider
if you?re thinking of tankmates.
The most commonly available
insects for ?shkeepers are crickets,
mealworms and their adult forms.
Home and garden insects will be
devoured too, but exercise caution.
Avoid brightly coloured bugs and
any invertebrates that might have
been exposed to insecticides.
In general, insects will provide a
good source of protein for your
archer?sh, and their nutritional value
can be greatly enhanced by
gut-loading them with dry ?sh foods
and vitamin-rich vegetables.
In time your archers will happily
consume frozen foods and pellets
too. Crustaceans make up a good
proportion of their prey in the wild,
so try shrimp, prawn or crab meat.
Fish don?t feature heavily in their
natural diet, but being opportunistic
feeders, they?re not likely to reject
any small pieces of ?sh you offer.
SHUTTERSTOCK
ALAMY
In a feat only slightly less impressive than the way they shoot
down prey, archers will eject themselves from the water and
grab prey from an overhanging branch
In nature,
archer?sh
congregate in
large shoals.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 31
FISHSCIENCE AQUARIUM FOOD
The writer of our Letter of the month will win a 250ml pot of their
choice from this quality range of Fish Science food, which uses
natural ingredients. Email: editorial@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
Your letters, your thoughts and
your experiences shared.
PROUD PARENTS
I wanted to write in to PFK to share
my story of hope?
I haven?t been ?shkeeping long.
A year or so ago, my mum took my
then six-year-old daughter to the fair
and they won a gold?sh. The utter
panic of trying to keep it alive in an
uncycled tank led to endless Googling
and learning, and had me thoroughly
addicted. I now have four tanks,
with a ?fth waiting to be set up.
The ?rst time I saw German blue
rams, I fell in love with them.
The iridescent blue scales that
scatter their body, the pinks
and yellows, along with the
varying striking black patterns,
had me captivated. I resisted
the urge and didn?t buy them for
a while. I went away and
researched the species, learning
about their requirements. So many
times during that research I read
how dif?cult Rams are to keep, how
sensitive they are, and how they
often die very quickly after being
introduced to the home aquarium.
Needless to say, I was nervous, but
tentatively purchased my ?rst ?pair?
of Rams from a local ?sh shop. I
was never convinced I?d got a male
and female because they were
young, and so washed-out and pale
from the outset that it was
impossible to tell the sex. I thought I
had everything right for them. My
water comes out of my tap at 5dGH,
3dKH and pH 6.8, my research had
suggested this was pretty suitable,
and my tank had been fully cycled
for a good few months. However,
these poor Rams didn?t live beyond
a week. I was really disheartened by
the fact that the ?hard to keep?
theory had proved to be true.
A few weeks passed. with all other
tank inhabitants thriving and no tank
issues. Despite swearing since the
demise of my last Rams, that I
32
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
2nd brood
1st brood
LOUISE DAVIES
TANK COMMUNITY
Letters
Win
Leer of
the Month
ABOVE: Louise?s
doubly broody
German blue
rams.
would never do it again, I saw a
beautiful true pair in a widely known
UK pet store. They were guarding a
plastic plant, and I thought that was
a sign of happiness and good health.
I couldn?t resist them.
On the way home, my daughter
named them Rex and Ruby. I was
feeling apprehensive, yet determined
to get it right this time. Within two
weeks Rex and Ruby had spawned
and seemed to be thriving. Their
colours were ? and still are ?
amazing, and I wasn?t ?nding them
any harder to keep that my other ?sh.
During my research I?d also read
that German blue rams are
notoriously bad parents, eating
spawn after spawn of eggs. This
didn?t concern me too much, as I
don?t have the set-up or experience
to raise fry. However, this pair proved
my research wrong again! They
began to spawn every 10 days and,
granted, they did consume ?ve
spawns, but the sixth batch of eggs
made it to wigglers, then freeswimming and are now six weeks old
and in their own tank.
In an amazing twist, and yet more
proof against the ?hard to keep? and
?bad parents? theories. I?ve had
further spawns from Rex and Ruby
in those six weeks. I had no spare
tank to put the seventh spawn in, so
unfortunately they had to be left to
their fate; I knew that when the pair
spawned again, they would dispose of
these fry. The thought made me sad,
but there was nothing I could do.
Ten days passed and Ruby?s belly
was swollen and her ovipositor was
protruding. The spawning occurred
that night and within 24 hours
there was a lovely little grey pile of
wigglers in the centre of the
bogwood. But to my absolute
surprise, they had not eaten the
free swimmers of the previous batch.
In fact, quite the opposite ? they
were tending them as normal!
Last night I observed Rex and
Ruby putting their free-swimming fry
?to bed? in the same nest as the
wigglers. I was astounded by this
behaviour as it went against
everything I had read about Rams.
These two have surprised me in so
many ways and, seemingly against
all odds, are now tending two broods
of fry at the same time. Unbelievable,
and a story of hope I thought worth
sharing with the PFK community.
Louise Davies, email
NATHAN SAYS: A story with a happy
ending! I was all smiles by the end
of this, Louise. I love how our ?sh
never play by the ?rules? that the
books say they should!
Email us at editorial@
practical?shkeeping.co.uk
BRACKISH BLUES
I?ve kept ?sh on and off for 22 years
now, and in that time I?ve mainly
had tropical freshwater ?sh, two
marine tanks (one with a selection
of basic corals and a Trachyphyllia
that came in on a piece of live rock
and then refused to die), fancy
gold?sh in the house (I even
spawned my Ryukins on more than
one occasion) and bigger gold?sh in
a 2,000-gallon pond outside.
The next tank I want to set up is
a brackish tank, but I notice this
is the one part of the hobby that
doesn?t seem to have kept up with
the rest. I see loads of new
equipment and techniques for
keeping marine ?sh, like the
low-nutrient set-ups and the Triton
system, and freshwater seems too
have diversi?ed into aquascapes,
biotopes and more. Even gold?sh
strains have moved on considerably
since the time I started.
But the brackish tank seems to be
the one that?s the same now as it
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com/PFKmag
was in 1996. In the few stores
that I can ?nd stocking them, the
selection of brackish ?sh is still the
same. It will be some monos, some
scats, a few archer?sh and maybe
a shark cat?sh.
Is there a reason for this? Is there
something I should know about why
brackish keeping has stayed in the
dark ages? If I set up a tank now,
will I be alone, like some sort of
brackish pioneer?
Duncan Magoohan, via email
NATHAN SAYS: You?ve got me there,
Duncan. I guess that from an
economic perspective, brackish ?sh
have always been against the wall
a bit. For one, there aren?t many
species (and many of those are only
there temporarily), and some of
those get big.
Next, for such a small selection of
?sh, it?s a big ask ? brackish water is
harder to keep than freshwater
(which has an over-representation on
the ?sh side of things) and nowhere
near as exciting colour-wise as
WE ASKED...
Which do you use as your
main food source? Dried foods
like flakes, or frozen and live foods?
� DRIED FOOD
� FROZEN / LIVE FOOD
YOU SAID...
29%
DRIED FOOD WINS!
71%
marine ?sh. Based on those points,
brackish was never going to be a big
market, and if it can?t be monetised,
then nobody is going to pour loads
of effort into technology research
and development.
That?s not to say a potential market
isn?t there. This month we?re holding
a candle for archer?sh, a brackish
staple, and those folks that enjoy the
?slightly salty? set-ups love them as
much as the most reverential
aquascaper loves plants.
Let me know how it pans out. If
you come up with any ways to make
brackish big (and turn a pro?t from
it) then I?ll want in!
BELOW:
Brackish shark
cats ? stunning,
but they get big.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE
FISH BOOKS GONE?
SHUTTERSTOCK
Write to us at Practical Fishkeeping, Bauer Media, Media House,
Lynchwood Business Park, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE2 6EA
I?m of the generation that still
enjoys reading (74 years young)
and the problem I have is that
aquatics shops don?t stock books
any more, except for some outdated
ones they couldn?t even sell in the
?rst place. Dedicated bookstores
only have beginners? books, set for
a very general audience, and I like
to be able to leaf through a book
before buying, so the online stuff
doesn?t interest me.
Can you or your readers please
recommend some titles for me? I?m
?
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 33
interested in freshwater ?sh rather
than saltwater, and have no interest
in ponds or gold?sh. I?m unfussed
about which part of the world the
?sh are from, but I do want words
more than pictures.
Keep up the excellent work with
the magazine.
Terry Hughes, Richmond
NATHAN SAYS: There aren?t a huge
number of new books, I?m afraid
Terry. The best I?ve come across
recently was the ?Field Guide to the
Fishes of the Amazon, Orinoco and
Guianas?, edited by Peter van der
Sleen and James S. Albert. As a
?shy reference, it is absolutely
superb, and not too expensive either.
My personal and long-standing
favourite is the ?Tropical
Fishlopaedia? by Mary Bailey and
Peter Burgess. It?s getting on a bit,
?rst printed in 2002 I think, but it
still leads the way as the most
comprehensive and up-to-date book
on ?sh health and welfare. You can
pick it up for pennies nowadays, and
if you ever bump into Peter and ask
him to sign it for you, he will.
Also, check out ?Tanganyikan
cichlids in the Natural Habitat?,
by Ad Konings. A book based on an
ichthyologist?s lifework studying the
?sh in the lake. Superb.
Lastly, if you prefer a bit more of a
?rst-hand narrative, I heartily
suggest ?A Selection of Freshwater
Fish Biotopes in Mexico?, by Kai
Qvist and Rune Evjeberg. The book
does exactly what it says on the
cover, and does it well.
Follow us at www.facebook.
com/PFKmag
SHOP-BOUGHT LIVE FOODS
I made the mistake of asking a
question on social media, and now
I have a million contradictory
answers and I?m none the wiser.
So, I?ll ask one of your experts instead
and then I can blame you if it all
goes wrong (joking).
Is it safe to feed live foods bought
from a store? I?m wary because in the
past I had a community tank (Blue
gourami, angel?sh, Ancistrus, platies
and Black widow tetra) that was almost
wiped out by whitespot and a bacterial
infection that we never successfully
diagnosed after I fed the tank on
Tubifex worms. Now, admittedly, when
I did that I was already suspicious of
the food as it was in quite dirty water,
but even now that the water in the bags
looks cleaner, I don?t quite feel safe.
Can you put my mind at ease or
should I not bother?
Lauren Duffy, via email
NATHAN SAYS: Okay, I?ll take the rap
for this one. So, ?rst of all, live food
has indeed come a long way ? for the
most part. Reputable suppliers grow
their food in controlled conditions
these days, as opposed to wild
harvesting and hoping for the best and,
on the whole, the majority of live foods
are problem free.
BUT. No live food is ever free of risk.
Different foods have different risk
levels ? Brineshrimp is pretty much
foolproof, Daphnia is usually good,
Tubifex terri?es me (I?m not brave
enough to use it myself).
Which leads me to a rhetorical
question. If you have even the tiniest
doubt, then why use live foods at all?
Quality frozen foods are all irradiated
? nuked ? to kill off any pathogens
before freezing, and their nutritional
pro?les are superb. Because what you?re
offering is dead, you also don?t run the
risk of a few morsels ?developing? into
something else if they don?t all get
eaten. I once tried to feed a young
piranha on a bag of bloodworm, and he
didn?t touch a single one. Next thing I
knew, my house had ?lled with midges,
all hatching out from his tank.
I rarely feed live foods any more. With
prepared foods of such a high standard,
the price of frozen being so much more
economical than live, and with me
having little time to either culture or
prepare my own, I just see no point.
However, if you do still want to try,
Lauren, why not have a look at Gabor?s
tips for growing at home on page 68?
At least this way you?re accountable for
the source, so that takes some of the
unpredictability out of it all!
TOP:
Live foods
always carry
some risk.
RIGHT: Frozen foods
are treated for full security.
SHUTTERSTOCK
TANK COMMUNITY
Letters
Email us at editorial@
practical?shkeeping.co.uk
Write to us at Practical Fishkeeping, Bauer Media, Media House, Lynchwood
Business Park, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE2 6EA
get a tankbuster in to order? Let me
know if you are, and I can get a few
names written up in the next issue
to hopefully help Jane out.
NEIL HEPWORTH
AQUASCAPE ANGST
I?m returning to the hobby after ?ve
years away, living in Thailand, and
I?m a bit confused. When I left, all
the stores were joining arms to stop
selling big ?sh, or tankbusters as
they called them. I even recall the
start of the Big Fish campaign, back
in 2005, and I recall Practical
Fishkeeping getting behind it.
I went to my local store, which is
where I used to shop before I went
away, and they had lots of ?sh that
many would consider way too
large to keep in tanks. There
were migratory South
American cat?sh, a
Lung?sh, some type
of Gar, and what
looked like a
Nile perch
(though it was
unlabelled).
What happened?
I can?t believe that all the
stores started to lose all their
revenue because they were only
selling species that can actually be
kept in tanks. It?s like the stores
have given themselves a trophy for
not stocking Giant gourami and
Pacu, which were all part of the old
Big Fish Campaign, while stocking
NEIL HEPWORTH
ARE BIG FISH BACK?
up on plenty of other giants instead.
More importantly, I?m struggling to
?nd stores near to me that DON?T
have one or two tankbusters on sale
somewhere. So far, I refuse to spend
any money in shops that sell them,
but it?s proving so dif?cult that I
might just not bother.
I guess what I?m saying is that I?m
looking for stores that only sell
smaller ?sh, before I give up. If you
can name a couple of places that do
that, I?d be grateful.
Jane Leddy, email
ABOVE: Things
seem to have
gone sideways
recently with
tankbusters in
the trade.
INSET:
Wayside ? the
now-gone shop
that didn?t
kept giants.
NATHAN SAYS: Well, I
could have done with a
region ideally, Jane,
and my emails
don?t seem to
be getting
picked up, but
maybe you?ll read
this! Anyway, off the top
of my head there were only
a handful of stores that
committed to exclusively stocking
only small species, and sadly the
best of those (Wayside Aquatics in
Essex) has since closed down.
So I?ll leave it to retailers to tell me.
Are you one of the stores that ONLY
stocks small ?sh, and won?t even
As a ?shkeeper for 20 years, I?m
in awe of aquascaped aquariums.
Everything about these carefully
crafted masterpieces fascinates me,
from the exquisite clear tanks,
super high-tech CO2 systems and
zen-like approach to plant choice,
placement and maintenance.
But when I see these aquatic
marvels in print and online, I can?t
help but wonder what happens to
the ?sh once a display has been set
up and photographed? It often
seems to me that the ?sh are an
afterthought, and the main focus is
on how trimmed the plants are, and
how clean the inlet and outlet pipes
can be. An aquarium is a home for
aquatic creatures, but the beautiful
rasboras and tetras all seem to take
a back seat to the glory and praise
heaped on the technical side.
I currently have a 100 l Juwel tank
with Black neon tetras (which have
spawned!), Harlequin rasboras,
Glowlight tetras and a Siamese
?ying fox. My ?sh choice was
inspired by aquascaping but all my
decor is arti?cial as I prefer to spend
time on maintaining water quality for
my ?shes? wellbeing, over showing
off how little iron my glass has.
I?m interested to hear what you and
readers think about this. Keep up the
great work. Loving the new-look mag.
Tyrone Richards, email
NATHAN SAYS: In a nutshell, they
usually keep their ?sh, Tyrone!
However, I too would be interested
in feedback from our readers. How
do you feel about layouts over ?sh,
folks? Write in and let us know.
STARTING WITH CLUE 5 GUESS THE FISH USING AS FEW CLUES AS POSSIBLE
5
This fish is jet black in the body, and
the only other markings are two
white rings that go around the tail.
4
Like others in its family, this fish
uses a massive anal fin that
stretches all the way along the
underside to propel itself.
3
Along with sensitive eyes for night
vision, this fish relies on a sense of
electrodetection to find its way about,
creating an electric field around itself.
2
Often sold as a community fish, and
appealing when young, it can
eventually grow to 50cm or more, and
can prey on smaller tankmates.
1
The scientific name is Apteronotus
albifrons, which roughly translates
as ?missing back fin?, as this fish
doesn?t possess one.
Answer on Tailpiece, page 114.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 35
INSPIRATION
Indian Glass?sh
A touch of
GLASS
The small, unassuming, practically transparent
Indian glassfish needs only a brackish-type set-up
to show off its considerable charms.
TAI
STRIETMAN
Formerly an aquarist
at ZSL London Zoo,
Tai is a freshwater
habitat specialist.
Biotope aquaria
are his passion.
HERE ARE scores of
aquarium set-up ideas
that go through my
mind when I look at
magazines, websites and
documentaries, or think
about habitats I?ve seen
in the wild. Usually,
I lean towards planted or acidic
leaf litter biotopes. I love rushing
hillstream tanks full of gobies or
loaches, or a set-up mimicking the
shallows of a lake with gouramis and
rasboras sheltering under lily pads.
Invariably, these are freshwater
tanks, and despite years of
?shkeeping, mention ?brackish? to me
and I begin to ?dget nervously and
start looking for the exit. Why?
Well, in part, I grew up looking at
brackish tank set-ups that nearly
always contained stunted Banded
archer?sh (Toxotes jaculatrix), some
T
sorry-looking Monos (Monodactylus
sebae) and Scats (Scatophagus argus),
and were planted with? Java fern.
Now I?ve been lucky enough to
visit mangroves on three continents,
and I can tell you, there ain?t no
Java fern there. It might be
convenient that a semi-aquatic plant
which grows along the edges of
freshwater waterfalls and rapids can
handle salt water, but wow, it makes
me uncomfortable to see it in a
brackish tank.
But what really got me when I
started taking the hobby seriously,
was the lack of suitable species for
brackish aquaria. As PFK Staff
writer Steve Baker will readily tell
anyone, there are plenty of great
brackish species, and tank ideas well
worth setting up, but ?nding the ?sh
and getting people interested in
brackish tanks can be a challenge..
TAI STRIETMAN
Transparent from
a distance, but a
close-up shows
some pretty colour.
36
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In the wild, Glassfish will
congregate with the young of
other species among roots
and plants to scout
for food.
TAI STRIETMAN
I?ve been lucky enough
to visit mangroves on three
continents, and I can tell you,
there ain?t no Java fern there
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 37
INSPIRATION
Indian Glass?sh
?Get the dyed versions in, they?re way nicer.? I resisted the
urge to grab the nearby ?Caution Wet Floor? sign and adhere it
at high velocity to said customer?s face
Memory lane
while, I didn?t think it was feasible.
But then I thought, ?Why not cheat??.
Growing up, I was hooked on Peter
What about a brackish set-up that
W Scott?s book ?The Complete
Aquarium?. I was given a copy for my wasn?t brackish at all?
These underhand thoughts were
ninth birthday and I still turn its
water-damaged, salt-stained pages all partly inspired by some almost
ible ?sh in my local aquatics
these years later.
he Indian Glass?sh,
To be frank, it?s very outd
mbassis ranga, is a hard
some of the ?sh combos
ll. Glass?sh are a) seein the ?biotopes? would
through; b) don?t travel
inspire armed rebellion
well; and c) often
among ethical
thrown into shop
?shkeepers now,
tanks with bigger,
and the plants,
boisterous ?sh
?sh and
Glassfish
should
always
be
and just sit there
materials available
kept
in
groups
?
the
(invisibly) terri?ed.
to the author in
bigger, the
1991 clearly weren?t
better.
what they are today. There
Hidden lights
was indeed a brackish tank
P. ranga is remarkably adaptable,
with Java fern, Monos, Scats and
being able to thrive in both fresh
Archer?sh ? but also a brackish tank
and brackish water conditions across
set-up for Mudskippers (Oxudercinae)
a huge range, but it doesn?t like shop
that utterly enthralled me!
tanks. As customers pass the rows of
I always wanted to try to recreate
darting, brightly coloured livebearers,
such a tank but it never happened.
tetras and barbs, it?s unlikely their eye
Recently I was again tempted to try
will be caught by some transparent,
my hand at a brackish tank, but given nervous-looking skinny ?sh.
impending preparations to move to
As I?ve seen in shops from time to
the other side of the world for a
time, it also doesn?t help that staff
38
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
don?t seem to know anything about
them. ?No, they WON?T be ?ne with
your big, overactive Rainbow?sh!?
I?ve wanted to yell more than once.
And the time a customer suggested a
shop ?Get the dyed versions in,
they?re way nicer,? I resisted the urge
to grab the nearby ?Caution Wet
Floor? sign and adhere it at high
velocity to said customer?s face.
Sadly, Glass?sh are sold in large
numbers around the world injected
with coloured dyes ? a practice
particularly common in Asia where,
in parts, the ethics of ?shkeeping are
woefully underdeveloped.
The process of adding dye requires
repeated injections with a hefty
needle and the literature suggests
that most ?sh do not live for very
long afterwards.
Our desire to ?improve? on nature
has led to dyed ?sh, glow-?sh and
(whispers in fear) Parrot cichlids.
When we?re prepared to develop dogs,
our supposed ?best friends?, into
breeds that can?t breathe, have skulls
too small for their brains, or suffer
constant joint pain, it?s not surprising
we treat ?sh with even less regard.
ABOVE: Note
the see-through
bodies.
BELOW:
Glass?sh sitting
under cover of
mangrove roots.
Little charmers
Glass?sh have a certain charm.
The juveniles are downright cute,
especially when they ?ex their ?ns in
mini displays to others, or when they
casually yawn and raise their dorsal
?n at the same time. Adults appear
grumpy, which I approve of. Their
bass-like mouths, set in a permanently
disappointed expression, somehow
endear them to me, and their large
eyes seem to judge you from the
other side of the glass ? and never
seem to like what they see?
So, what do these ?sh need to keep
them happy? Well, principally, plenty
of their own company. These are ?sh
that will swarm through estuarine
habitats, feeding in large shoals at the
mouth of a river, and taking refuge
among the roots of mangrove trees
with thousands of other small ?sh.
They also inhabit smaller inland
streams, coastal waterways, lagoons
and huge, powerful rivers.
They?re found more frequently in
fresh than in brackish water, but their
ability to adapt to either habitat
ensures they can make the best of a
number of food sources and,
ultimately, that makes them a rather
successful species.
Setting up
I discussed the possibility of
borrowing a group for a set-up with
the manager of my local Maidenhead
Aquatics, Max Compton. The
specimens Max had in stock were
very small ? mostly juveniles of not
more than 1cm ? but he promised to
order larger ?sh for the next week
and, true to his word, some heftier
adults of about 3cm or so turned up
the following Tuesday.
I was excited about this because I
love having different-sized ?sh of the
same species in a shoal. In the wild,
it?s unusual to see a shoal of small
?sh all the same size; it?s the variety
of sizes that contributes to the
dynamism of the shoal.
In Brazilian rivers, for example, I?ve
seen that larger tetras will lead the
group, with a few dominant
individuals right at the head, the
majority of mid-sized specimens in
the middle and, all the time, smaller
?sh desperately trying to penetrate
the shoal to avoid being left on the
fringes or at the tail end, where they?re
ABOVE:
Glass?sh in their
natural habitat
among roots.
FACTFILE
INDIAN GLASSFISH
6Scientific name: Parambassis ranga
6Size: 8cm
6Origin: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangaldesh,
Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia
and Japan
6Tank size: 90x30x30cm minimum
6Water requirements: 6.5-8.0 pH, 8-20癏
6Temperature: 22-28癈
6Temperament: Peaceful and shy
6Feeding: Unfussy mid-water: flakes,
granules, frozen and livefoods
6Availability and cost: quite common; �
80 l+
easy prey for piscivores. Their lack of
swimming strength makes this a real
marathon for many young ?sh.
In the aquarium, a mixed-sized
shoal looks more natural and will
demonstrate hierarchical behaviours.
In my tank, while the adults roved
around, the juveniles darted about,
picking through the sand and leaf
litter, or sat in shadow under a
?oating mangrove leaf. Seeing the
adults calm meant they felt free to
explore and search for food.
I wanted to set up a tank that
suggested a shallow, slow-moving
area of mangroves, perhaps a small
lagoon adjacent to an estuarine river,
a calm haven for small ?sh. To do
this, I needed some leaf litter, so my
ever-generous friend Scott Fellman
from Tannin Aquatics sent me a
batch of leaves, mangrove roots and
other botanicals to try out.
I planned to keep my 90x60x30cm
shallow tank simple, with the attention
on the ?sh. At only 160 l, I couldn?t
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 39
INSPIRATION
Indian Glass?sh
have a large group, but it comfortably
accommodated 17 individuals of
mixed sizes. I used ?ne silver sand,
mixed with a little bit of larger gravel,
to create a bright substrate.
Suitable cover
At their edges, muddy mangroves
often meet the open sand of a lagoon
or shallow stream. This is prime real
estate for small ?sh who want to be
near the cover of the mangrove roots,
while still taking advantage of the
food sources the open water provides.
Providing cover for Glass?sh is
crucial, so I let a few twigs, leaves
and seeds ?oat around and these,
together with roots and shaded spots,
made the ?sh feel more secure and
con?dent. A couple of mangrove
roots provided cover on one side,
and I incorporated plenty of leaf
litter, including mangrove leaves,
palm fronds and seed pods, where
40
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
the juvenile ?sh hunted for microfauna. The current was kept to a
minimum as I wanted to imitate the
near-stagnant nature of a mangrove
fringe at low tide.
As a reminder of the human impact
on mangroves, I added a glass jar
? the least offensive pollution I could
think of. The ?sh periodically went
inside, got confused, and then found
their way out. Placing JBL Novo-tabs
in the jar created a comic scene in
which the ?sh all crammed in to feed
in a rush, before ?ling out one by
one, bellies full.
I used four 36w T5 bulbs (two
daylight and two plant-life), an
external Hydor heater set to 25癈,
and a large external cannister rated
for 2500lph but with the ?ow turned
right down. pH was maintained at 7.0
and hardness 8-20癏. I carried out
50% water changes weekly using
dechlorinated tap water.
Where do Glass?sh live?
Their range extends in a belt from Pakistan,
eastwards through Nepal (not many
mangroves there) and India, to Bangladesh,
Myanmar and down to Thailand and
Malaysia. They?ve also been introduced in
Japan. The IUCN lists them as inhabiting
heavily agricultural lowland regions of
Nepal, the rushing rivers and streams of the
high Western Ghats of India, as well as the
brackish Lake Chilka.
They are recorded in the broad and muddy
Ayeyarwaddy and Sittaung drainages of
Myanmar (these guys might have been
swimming under the ?Bridge over the River
Kwai?) and in the heavily forested Salween
basin across Myanmar and Thailand, a
well-known hot-bed of aquarium species.
They are, therefore, a remarkably adaptable
little ?sh and deserving of our attention.
A mixed diet of dried, live and
frozen foods, along with a bit of green
matter, will bring out the colour in
Glass?sh. They are omnivorous and
not very picky, but mine became
rather excited about live brineshrimp.
They also had a go at algae tablets
and ravished a blanched pea. These
?sh are wary of the surface and
prefer to feed at mid and lower levels.
A JBL Novo-tab, stuck to the glass
near the substrate, allowed them to
feed at leisure. The adults tore off
chunks and the juveniles ?itted
around grabbing smaller particles.
Clear strategy
Glass?sh may appear see-through, but
given some love, cover and a decent
diet, all sorts of greens and yellows
will start to appear around the head
and along the lateral line. Shimmers
of iridescence can occur under
decent lighting and with the right
conditions they go from transparent
drabness to precious jewels.
Their transparency, though, is key
to their survival strategy ? in essence,
keep a low pro?le. In small groups,
against the backdrop of open water
or a tangle of roots, they?re hard to
distinguish, and in large shoals, they
seem to overlap, making it very
monsters they need to avoid, and
ABOVE: A
predatory
dif?cult for a predator to pick out an
making sure they are hard to spot is
Crocodile
?sh.
individual to attack.
key to their survival. Apart from their
At low tide, in the slower channels,
transparency, their compressed body
streams and pools of their native
shape helps them disappear and their
habitats, leaf litter and debris are
large eyes give them the best chance
scattered across the substrate. This
of spotting potential dangers.
is where species like the heavily
I would love to set up a largecamou?aged Crocodile ?sh,
scale shallow mangrove tank
In the aquarium, especially
Cymbacephalus beauforti,
for a bigger group, with live
in
a
species
tank
or
with
other
lurk, hidden in the sand,
mangroves ? and possibly
placid
tankmates,
Glassfish
waiting to ambush prey.
even go brackish ? because
become confident
This predator is only likely to
after having these small,
be encountered along the Eastern
unassuming ?sh at home for a
and colour up
coast of Malaysia, but across the
few weeks, they?ve carved quite a
well.
species? range there are many other
space in my aquarist heart.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 41
TROPICAL
Celestial pearl danio
re e
Its markings are out of this world, its
temperament is heavenly, and it hit the
hobby with a big bang. So why on earth
aren?t you keeping Celestial pearl danios?
WORDS: STEVE BAKER
42
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
There?s a lot
going on in
those stunning
CPD markings.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 43
ALAMY
Despite being so tiny, male
Celestial pearls can be extremely
aggressive with each other.
Always watch for bullying
of ?smaller? fish.
TROPICAL
Celestial pearl danio
N
EW FISH are being
found and described
to science, day in,
day out ? especially
when previously
hostile countries
become more peaceful
and explorable.
The reason why you don?t hear
about them so much is because
there are very few funds for the
scientists who are striving to log
them all (much of their work is paid
for by charities, if at all), and also
because many are of little interest to
the ornamental ?shkeeping hobby.
Another reason is a learned fear
for the welfare of any new species
(and its habitat) that may become an
instant hit with ?shkeepers around
the world ? and that comes on the
back of what very nearly happened
upon discovery of this little gem,
the beautiful Celestial pearl danio,
Danio margaritatus.
Too good to be true?
The cautionary tale of the Celestial
pearl danio (commonly known as
the CPD) started in 2006. The ?sh
was ?rst observed in August of
that year in a small, man-made,
spring-fed reservoir at the base of
mountains near Hopong town, east
of Taunggyi in Myanmar, at 1,040m
above sea level. One month later,
images of the ?sh were sent out by
?sh exporter Kamphol Udomritthiruj,
which were initially met with
excitement but after a short while,
scepticism grew. Roughly 1,000
years before, naturalists were
scof?ng at eye-witness drawings of
the Paradise ?sh; now naturalists
were claiming photo-editing
software had been used to proclaim
this ?sh as spurious ? because it
looked too good to be true.
At ?rst it was thought that pictures
of Danio choprai, the Glowlight
danio, and what was then known as
Microrasbora erythromicron, the
Emerald dwarf rasbora, had been
edited with cut-outs of other small
cyprinid species. Udomritthiruj
2cm
A
LEFT: Males
display for
superiority.
ABOVE:
CPDs are best
kept in small
groups.
responded by sending out more
images of the ?sh he dubbed the
Galaxy rasbora. These new photos
not only silenced the sceptics, but
created a wave of ?Galaxy hysteria?.
The industry went mad for them ?
they became the ?in? ?sh for
FACTFILE
CELESTIAL PEARL DANIO
6 Scientific name: Danio margaritatus
6 Pronunciation: Dan-ee-oh marg-ari-tar-tus
6 Size: 2cm
6 Origin: Eastern Myanmar: Shan and south into northern Thailand
6 Habitat: Mostly in shallow, clear, still waters with heavy plant
growth and surrounded by grassland. One population is said to
have been found in ?deep forest?
6 Tank size: 45x30x30cm minimum
6 Water requirements: 6.5-7.8 pH, 5-16癏
6 Temperature: 20-26癈
6 Temperament: Timid, males can be
competitive
6 Feeding: Flake, frozen Cyclops, Daphnia
and black mosquito larvae
6 Availability and cost: Relatively common;
�50-�each
40 l+
hobbyists, a must-have for exporters,
and breeders just had to get their
hands on a batch. The problem this
spawned was very nearly a disaster
for everyone involved. And, most of
all, a disaster for this new species.
Come February 2007, just six
months after the ?sh?s discovery,
images of the small reservoir
showed heavily trampled margins
due to over?shing. It was said so
many ?sh had been taken that it
was close to extinction, and the
Department of Fisheries in
Myanmar of?cially banned exports
from this location and of any new
populations that might be found.
Thankfully, it turned out to be
more of a scare than a factually
based concern, and after an of?cial
survey of the wetlands close to
Hopong uncovered ?ve additional
populations in June 2007 and a
healthy population in the original
reservoir, the export ban was lifted.
The evidence suggested the species
was not under any immediate threat
of over-collection and fortunately
that?s still the case today.
Meanwhile in Europe, the scare
was used to drum up business and
keep prices very high for such a
small ?sh. Some canny sellers pitched
the ?sh to environmentally concerned
buyers as ?the? ?sh to purchase in
groups large enough to breed. This
would save wild populations by
supplying the trade with tank-raised
specimens that would minimise the
need for future imports.
What?s in a name?
Naming the ?sh wasn?t a smooth
affair either. Because of the frenzy to
get it out there and onto the market,
exporters were throwing different
names at it ? the common name of
Galaxy rasbora was taken on board
widely in the UK; others included
Fireworks rasbora and Microrasbora
sp. Galaxy. All of these were
incorrect; the ?sh was not a rasbora,
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 45
TROPICAL
Celestial pearl danio
nor was it even closely related.
Scientists were in agreement ?
this ?sh didn?t ?t into any known
genera. In February 2007, Tyson R
Roberts of the Smithsonian Tropical
Research Institute released his
formal description of the species,
creating a new genus for it.
Danio margaritatus is a descriptive
name; the name Danio comes from
the native language while the
species name translates to ?adorned
with pearls?. Roberts also coined a
new common name for the ?sh,
calling it the Celestial pearl danio,
which is the name we all know it by
now. Either way, galaxy or heavenly,
this ?sh was out of this world and
adored by many.
Over several years, the price of
these ?sh has slowly dropped from
the heady heights of around �
each to a far more accessible �or
so today. The price reduction is
down to a combination of things.
First, it?s not a new ?sh anymore
and, quite simply, the hype is over
and the desire to possess it is much
How to sex CPDs
Males display a steel blue body colour, a
patterned anal ?n and a deep red colour in
the ?ns and underneath the body. Females
have a green metallic background, plain
orange anal ?n and more of an orange
outline to the body and ?ns.
to its feeding and its con?dence; in
an average community tank it would
be on the back foot from day one.
Comparatively big and boisterous
platies would scare D. margaritatus
half to death and quick feeding
tetras, rasboras, danios and barbs
would easily out-compete the
diminutive CPD for food.
Little gem
BELOW:
Displays
from sparring
males can be
mesmerising.
reduced. Second, it turns out that
D. margaritatus is an easy ?sh to
breed, so once the commercial
?sheries got going with it, there was
enough supply to ?ll demand. And
?nally, after many people failed to
keep it in an average community
tank and we realised it needs
particular care in order to thrive, its
market share was dramatically cut.
That?s not to say the Celestial
pearl danio is a dif?cult ?sh to keep
? it?s quite hardy, adaptive to water
parameters, demands little and
breeds easily. The restrictions relate
Because of its tiny size of 2cm, and
its need for either a species-only
tank or to be mixed with similarly
small and timid species, the Celestial
pearl danio became a favourite of
?shkeepers with nano tanks.
Sometimes this doesn?t play out so
well. Being kept in small groups can
highlight competitive behaviour
between males, and though it?s
possible to differentiate the sexes in
mature, settled ?sh, it?s a lot trickier
with newly imported, juvenile ?sh.
Ideally the CPD is best suited to a
small standard tank (or a large nano);
something around 40-70 l, planted
to give the ?sh some con?dence
Roughly 1,000 years before, naturalists were scof?ng at eye-witness
drawings of the Paradise ?sh; now naturalists were claiming photo-editing
software had been used because it looked too good to be true
46
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
We Recommend...
Tankmates
SHUTTERSTOCK
You need to match both size and temperament to
keep Celestial pearl danios happy in the aquarium.
Anything too large and too con?dent could well
upset or out-compete them.
given the nature of daily pH
with places to hide and to break the
?uctuations and evidence of health,
lines of sight in case the males get
Celestial pearl danios can be kept
feisty. A dark substrate (ideally a
happily in a pH range from
nutrient-rich substrate for
6.5-7.8 and in a wide variety
healthier plant growth) suits
of hardness.
these ?sh well too.
Accounts of
D. margaritatus won?t
breeding have noted
just slot into any
a KH (carbonate
tank; it needs this
If you fancy setting up a
hardness) as
particular style
biotope, you?ll need to use
high as 12� on
of set-up to be
Elodea for planting. It
the German scale,
kept well.
proliferates in the
and GH (general
When it comes to
CPD?s
habitat.
hardness) can be
water parameters,
anywhere between 5� and
though, the CPD is not as
16�, so there?s a fair amount
fussy. The pH value in the
of ?exibility in water parameters.
type locality (that is, the ?rst
place the ?sh was found) was not far As ever, though, the stability of
these conditions is important.
from neutral (7.3 to be precise), and
6 Normans lampeyes hang out in the upper half of
the tank and will help to ?ll this area as the CPDs
mostly use the lower half.
6 Corydoras pygmaeus will bring life to the bottom
of the tank. (Pictured above).
SHUTTERSTOCK
CPDs are happy
in bright tanks
as long as there
is plant cover.
6 Microdevario kubotai, Green neon rasbora are
another favourite for nano tanks.
6 Cherry shrimp (pictured above) make great
scavengers and are suited to smaller tanks. You
can buy them in many different colours.
6 Nerite snails (pictured below) also make
good scavengers for small tanks and won?t breed
in freshwater.
ALAMY
All this detail in
a 2cm ?sh!
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ADVICE
Answers
Got a ?shkeeping question? PFK?s crack team of aquatics experts
are on hand to answer whatever you need to know...
questions@practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
Win
The Question of the
Month gets a Tetra
goodie box!
THE EXPERTS
Is answering all your
community aquarium
questions and looks at a catfish?s
bizarre behaviour on page 49, and the
problems posed by a mis-sold loach
species on page 53.
GEORGE
FARMER
Is answering all your
planting questions
and discusses how to begin to combat
a long-standing algae problem in a
reader?s planted community set-up
on page 56.
STEVE
BAKER
Is answering all your
tank maintenance
questions and talks about the ins
and outs of cleaning algae from your
aquarium glass and which tools to use
on page 53.
NEALE
MONKS
Is answering all your
freshwater questions
and discusses keeping guppies in an
unheated aquarium on page 50, and the
possible reasons behind a worrying drop
in a tank?s pH on page 54.
DAVID
WOLFENDEN
Is answering all your
marine fish questions,
and looks at keeping Tomato clownfish
on page 52, and the suitability of
adding a Marine betta to a reader?s
existing reef tank on page 55.
TROPICAL
Why is my catfish acting so strangely?
nocturnal and can bother larger, slow-moving
I recently added a Pimelodus pictus cat?sh to
?sh with their constant night-time activity.
my 200 l/44 gal tropical tank. It seems to have
While single specimens will often survive,
settled in OK, it?s eating well, isn?t aggressive
they really are a social, shoaling species and
towards the other ?sh and isn?t being bullied.
ideally should be kept in groups of six or more.
But it spends a lot of time in one corner of the
I suspect that this is partly to blame for your
tank just swimming up and down against the
?sh?s strange, restless patrolling of the tank
glass. I?ve kept these cat?sh before and
corner. However, to keep a good-sized
have never had one behave like this.
group like this you need a large tank
Any idea why it?s acting this way?
? something with a ?oor plan of
My tank is well planted and is
around 120x30cm minimum,
?ltered by a Fluval 4 and a
but ideally bigger due to
Fluval 3 internal canister
Pimelodid catfish are
their active, fast-moving
?lter. Temperature is
nature and adult size of
26-27癈. I carry out a
susceptible to whitespot. Carefully
12-15cm, depending on
48 l/11 gal water change
check prospective purchases
the type of Pimelodus
every week, adding
and keep water
pictus you have. The bigger
tapwater conditioner to the
spotted Peruvian ?sh is probably
new water. I clean the ?lters
quality top
the more sought after, while the
alternately when the ?ow slows
notch.
smaller spotted Colombian one
down, washing the media in the water
typically grows a little larger.
I siphon from the tank.
You don?t mention exactly how long your
I?d be grateful for any advice you can give.
new cat?sh has been resident in your tank, but
CHAS WALKER, EMAIL
personally I have noticed many cat?sh species
(Corydoras in particular) spend the ?rst few
BOB MEHEN SAYS: Pimelodus pictus are
days or weeks restlessly patrolling the tank
lovely ?sh to keep and do well in community
before eventually settling ? almost as if they?re
tanks as long as there are no ?sh small enough
testing the limits of their new home.
to ?t into their surprisingly capacious mouths.
If your new cat?sh continues to eat and
It?s worth remembering that they are largely
otherwise appears healthy, then I wouldn?t
worry unduly, but do keep a close eye on things
to make sure it isn?t being harassed by any of
its tankmates, as the cat?sh?s ?owing
whiskers can attract unwanted
attention from ?nippy? species.
Pictus cats are
very active,
nocturnal ?sh.
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BOB
MEHEN
?
Every question we receive gets a reply from our
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can about your set-up. Photos are useful, too. 49
ADVICE
Answers
TROPICAL
Can I keep guppies in
a temperate tank?
Question of
the Month
ABOVE:
Intensively
farmed ?fancy?
guppies are not
very hardy and
demand warm
water.
Please could you tell me whether it is
OK to keep guppies in an unheated
aquarium? The tank I have holds
about 60 l/13 gal before substrate,
decoration etc. I live in a centrally
heated apartment and it?s always
pretty warm in here! I don?t intend
to keep any other ?sh in the tank.
Also, is it OK to keep only males?
DILLON NORRIS, COVENTRY
NEALE SAYS: Whether or not you
install an aquarium heater is not as
TETRA PRIZE
recognise here is that
guppies aren?t subtropical
?sh, unlike the Variatus platies
just mentioned. Wild guppies
are very adaptable of course, and
likely do experience short, cool spells
in some of the places where they live.
But the sort of guppy you?ll see in
aquarium shops is usually a highly
selected, often very inbred, fancy form
produced for its bright colours, rather
than overall hardiness. Such guppies
will not handle chilling well, and
shouldn?t be kept below 22-24癈.
Indeed, if you struggle to keep your
specimens healthy ? and many
aquarists do ? then warmer water,
alongside increasing the mineral
content of the water, will help to tip
the odds in your favour.
Bottom line, if your room isn?t at
least, say, 22癈 all year round, then
you?re unlikely to be successful
Australian desert
gobies are
temperate ?sh.
ALAMY
HRISTO HRISTOV
Dillon 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.
important as the temperature of the
water. It?s often the case that in a
centrally heated home, the ambient
room temperature never drops below
18癈, and only gets a few degrees
warmer than that during the summer,
in which case subtropical ?sh species
can be kept perfectly well in a tank
without a heater. Indeed, it?s good
practice to keep subtropical species
this way because cooler winters and
warmer summers substantially
lengthen their lifespans.
You?d be surprised just how many
commonly sold ?tropical? ?sh are
actually subtropicals, including such
widely sold favourites as Variatus
platies, White Cloud Mountain
minnows, Rosy barbs, and the Golden
barb, Barbodes semifasciolatus.
Now, you might be thinking this is
all very well, but what about the
guppies? The important thing to
50
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Some Corydoras are arguably
better kept as subtropicals. The
Bearded cory, Scleromystax
barbatus, will do a lot better in
an unheated, room
temperature tank.
ALAMY
Make sure
scavenged wood
is thoroughly
dried before use,
TROPICAL
Is this wood safe to use?
I?m planning a large-ish Discus community
tank of around 900 l. I?m planning to
house 10 Discus, a shoal of Rummynose
tetras, a herd of Sterbai corys and a few
Starlight plecos (L183).
A former neighbour has three hectares of
chestnut trees and has to do some regular
trimming, so I have access to as much
sweet chestnut wood as I want, including
some fairly large branches. Is it safe to use?
ANDREA PASSANTE, EMAIL
NEALE SAYS: Sweet chestnut should be
safe, assuming it hasn?t been sprayed with
pesticides or herbicides of any sort. Also,
wood should be aged before use, otherwise
the fresh material in newly chopped wood
will decay, promoting the growth of fungi
and bacteria in the aquarium. While not
necessarily toxic, these microbes can be
unsightly at best and, at worst, use up
oxygen so quickly your ?sh become
stressed. Biological decay will inevitably
produce organic acids that will pull the pH
down. In a softwater aquarium, this extra
acidi?cation can cause problems as well.
Note that horse chestnut, as opposed to
sweet chestnut, is not considered safe to
be used in the
aquarium.
Oak, beech, birch, sycamore,
hazel and sweet chestnut are
safe to use in aquaria.
All evergreens and
conifers are
toxic.
Discus are
naturally af?liated
with root wood
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GEORGE FARMER
keeping any
truly tropical
?sh in your
aquarium if it
doesn?t have a
heater installed.
It?s also important
to recognise that 60 l/
13 gal isn?t a huge
volume of water. I?d honestly
recommend at least 75 l/17 gal for
fancy guppies, simply because
they?re a lot less hardy than their
reputation might suggest.
If you?re dead-set on an unheated
tank, something along the lines of
Japanese rice?sh or White Cloud
Mountain minnows would be a better
bet, or even Australian desert gobies
if you can ?nd them ? these colourful
and hardy gobies must be viewed as
a (quite easy) breeding project, given
the short lifespans of these ?sh, even
under optimal conditions.
Finally, yes, male guppies can work
?ne, but try to keep a fair number,
maybe eight or more. In twos or
threes, the dominant male often
becomes a bully. In fact, unless
females outnumber males by two to
one, I?m not convinced mixed sex
guppy groups are particularly nice
places to be for the females, unless
the tank is exceptionally large and
well planted. The males are real
pests, chasing the females about,
and generally making it dif?cult for
them to have much fun!
51
?
ADVICE
Answers
MARINE
Will Tomato clowns suit this aquarium?
Please could you tell me if I can keep a pair of
Tomato clown?sh in a 450 l/100 gal reef
aquarium? I know these ?sh can be a bit territorial
so I don?t intend to have any other ?sh, but I will
want to keep hermits and clean-up crew if
possible. Will my tank be big enough? I don?t want
to keep dif?cult corals, so will they accept a soft
coral of some kind to live in, rather than an
anenome? Any other advice and any possible
pitfalls I need to be aware of would be welcome.
G E KELBY, TAMWORTH
DAVE SAYS: Yes, this is absolutely possible.
Tomato clowns, Amphiprion frenatus, are incredibly
hardy ?sh and a great choice. As you?ve noted,
they can be territorial, but if you?re only looking to
keep a pair with no ?sh tankmates then you can?t
really go wrong. They won?t bother typical clean-up
crew/janitorial invertebrates, and 450 l/100 gal is
plenty of room for a pair (females of this species
reach up to 14cm in length).
Quarantine the ?sh when you get them, as
parasites such as Brooklynella can be an issue
with clown?sh ? the use of prophylactic copper-
based medications is a good idea during quarantine
to help with any potential parasitic infections.
You can either acquire an established pair, or buy
two juveniles and allow one to become the
dominant female. Once settled in, feed regularly
with a varied diet, and supplement the food
frequently to keep the ?sh in tip-top condition.
Tomato clowns (like many other clown?sh
species) will often host in soft or stony corals
instead of an anemone ? and they don?t even need
a host to thrive, in fact. However, there?s something
special about seeing clown?sh living in a host.
Almost all host anemones are very demanding,
requiring specialised systems, but there?s one
species that is worth trying. The Bubble-tip
anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor, is relatively
hardy, and would be a natural pairing for Tomato
clowns; they are found in this species on the reef.
Bubble-tips require moderate to bright lighting and
moderate ?ow, and are best placed in a rocky
crevice. They don?t fare well in new systems, so
you?ll need to make sure the system is reasonably
mature, with stable water quality. Aquacultured
specimens are the best option.
Clown?sh will often
host in a soft or stony
coral instead of an
anemone.
TROPICAL
Are they at
risk in this
set-up?
I have a 125 l/27 gal
planted community tank,
which I?ve upgraded to use
a Fluval 306 external ?lter.
It houses a Betta, Galaxy
rasboras, platies, Otos,
shrimp and Assassin snails.
I?ve decided to upgrade to
a Fluval Roma 240, which
also uses a Fluval 306
?lter. So, can I set up the
new tank with new plants
and substrate, as well as
the existing plants, decor,
?lter and Fluval E200W
heater from my current
tank, and bypass the need
for a ?shless cycle? Will the
new tank undergo a mini
cycle? If it does, other than
water changes, what can I
do to lower the ammonia?
CASS, EMAIL
ALAMY
BOB SAYS: Adding your
existing, mature ?lter to the
new tank is an excellent
idea and will remove the
need to undertake a full
?shless cycle to ready the
new tank for ?sh. However,
as you mention, it?s worth
keeping a close eye on the
water chemistry for a
couple of weeks to make
sure it?s coping. It?s also
worth reducing the feeding
levels to let the whole new
set-up balance itself out.
While most of the
bene?cial bacteria that
help keep our tank water
safe live in the ?lter, some
live in the substrate and on
tank surfaces and these will
be lost when you upgrade.
A dechlorinator such as
Seachem Prime, which
makes ammonia safe for
?sh but leaves it available
for bacteria to feed on, is a
good extra level of security,
alongside water changes.
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TROPICAL
Please could you identify this loach?
BOB SAYS: I?m sorry to tell you that
your photo shows a Sucking loach.
algae once they grow. I?d be concerned
that your Corydoras, being the easiest
targets, will bear the brunt of its
displeasure at having to share its tank,
but the other ?sh may feel its wrath too.
You don?t mention what temperature
you keep your temperate tank at and,
while they are hardy and adaptable,
these loaches are not really suited to
temperatures below 22癈 for anything
but short periods. If at all possible, it?s
probably best to try to rehome the
loach as soon as you can, before it
grows and becomes more aggressive
and harder to move on.
Siamese algae eaters (Crossocheilus
sp.) are generally relatively peaceful
?sh that do best in groups of six or
more and can be effective algae
eaters. Several species are imported
under the common name with most
growing to around 15cm maximum.
Sucking loaches, Gyrinocheilus
aymonieri, confusingly sometimes sold
under the name ?Chinese algae eater?,
are a different proposition altogether.
Growing to a potential size of over
25cm, these are big, grumpy, territorial
?sh that will attempt to dominate most
tanks and soon lose interest in eating
ALAMY
BELOW:
Chinese
algae eaters
grow large
and become
increasingly
territorial.
I bought a loach recently. It was quite
small and it was cheap, but now I?m
worried as I?ve been told it might grow
to 20cm (it?s currently about 8cm).
It?s in my temperate tank with a
mixture of tank buddies, including
Glowlight tetras, Peppered corys, Rosy
barbs and so on. Please can you tell
me whether it?s a Siamese algae eater
and if it will be all right with my other
?sh? There have been no issues as yet.
V AINSWORTH, EMAIL
MAINTENANCE
What?s the best way to clean algae off glass?
It seems everybody I ask uses a different method of cleaning algae
off the glass of their tank ? some people swear by magnets while
others won?t ever use them. Also, the cleaning sponges sold in ?sh
shops are very expensive. Can I just use a cheap sponge from a
supermarket as some people have suggested I do?
JODIE SUGDEN, LEICESTER
2
3
STEVE BAKER
1
STEVE SAYS: I guess there are upsides and downsides with every tool
used for algae cleaning, so people do tend to stick with what they
prefer and what suits their tank. Rounded corners won?t suit blades,
for example. Anything on a stick helps keep hands/contaminants out
of the water, and acrylic or plastic tanks need dedicated tools. If they
don?t contain cleaning agents, then go ahead with the cheap sponges.
Magnets are very useful, with the bonus of
keeping your hands out of the tank, but if they
pick up gravel or sand they can scratch glass.
Sponges are universal ? they work on ?at,
bowed or rounded glass and are available in
differing levels of abrasiveness.
Blades are very good for ?at glass and
stubborn algae, but go careful near the silicone.
A cheap alternative is an old credit card.
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53
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Answers
TROPICAL
Why has my pH crashed?
NEIL HEPWORTH
I have a 130 l tropical aquarium that at
present is very lightly stocked with just a few
Congo tetras and some Tiger and Golden
barbs. I've recently tried to add new stock,
but whatever I've added has quickly died.
Having tested the water, I found the pH had
crashed to about 5.0-5.5 and even after a
series of water changes (some up to 60%)
I can't recover it. I've tested the water going
into the tank and it's pH 7.0. I used to use
RO water but switched back to tapwater a
couple of years ago after a house move.
The tank is decorated with bogwood and
rocks that I've had for years and there are no
live plants. I use an ageing Eheim external
?lter. Any thoughts, please?
NEIL WILLIAMS, WEST MIDLANDS
54
NEALE MONKS SAYS: While pH is an
important factor, it isn?t the only one that
matters when it comes to water chemistry.
Indeed, general hardness and carbonate
hardness are arguably more important, since
they affect the ?sh in more direct ways. If the
general hardness is too high or low, the ?sh
can have problems with osmoregulation, and
getting the carbonate hardness right can be
crucial to maintaining a steady pH, at least in
tanks with medium to high hardness levels.
The fact pH drops suggests a lack of
buffering capacity. Buffering is the chemical
process whereby pH changes are inhibited,
and in ?sh tanks, the usual pH change is
downwards. In other words, left alone, most
aquaria become more acidic because of the
accumulation of decaying wastes and
decomposing plant material. If you?re
?blessed? with the liquid rock of aquarists in
southern England, this acidi?cation is
inhibited by the dissolved calcium carbonate
and other alkaline minerals in the water. All
else being equal, your periodic water changes
will take place long before these naturally
occurring buffers are used up, resulting in a
steady pH level from week to week. It?s not all
rosy of course; the high carbonate hardness
and consequent high pH level are not ideal
for many types of tropical ?sh, but if you?re
keeping, say, livebearers, you?re spared
worrying about water chemistry.
Things are more complicated for aquarists
supplied with water that has a low carbonate
hardness. Note that it?s possible to have water
you?d consider hard, but which is actually low
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in carbonate hardness, because carbonate
hardness and general hardness aren?t the
same thing. This is why you really need to
know your general hardness as well as your
carbonate hardness. If your general hardness
is high, but your carbonate hardness low, then
adding 0.5-1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate
to each 20 l of water will raise the carbonate
hardness substantially, resulting in hard water
that can buffer against pH changes more
effectively. Such water would be ideal for
livebearers, Rift Valley and Central American
cichlids, gold?sh, and other species that
appreciate stable, alkaline water conditions.
Turning now to what we?d call soft water,
that?s water with low general hardness and
low carbonate hardness. The lack of
carbonate hardness means it doesn't buffer
against the pH drops caused by normal
background acidi?cation. So aquarists who
want to keep softwater ?sh have two choices.
The ?rst approach is to understock their tanks
so the background rate of the acidi?cation is
slow enough to be offset through frequent
water changes. The second approach is to use
a commercial pH buffer that ?xes the pH at
6.5 or whatever through the use of a weak
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There?s a lot more to
water stability than
just pH values.
TROPICAL
Please could you tell me whether a
Marine betta would be compatible in my
reef tank? The tank is 120x60x60cm
and has two Clown?sh, a Pyjama wrasse,
a Peppermint shrimp, hermits, and LPS
corals and a few polyps. The tank has
been set up for four months. I plan to get
a tang at a later date and possibly also a
Royal gramma. Will all the stock
be compatible?
LOUIS BRADLEY, EMAIL
DAVE SAYS: The
Marine betta or
Comet, Calloplesiops
If threatened, the Comet mimics the but they are predators
altivelis, is an
amazing ?sh. This
White-mouthed moray eel, hiding and small shrimp and
extremely hardy
?sh can be vulnerable
in a crevice with just its rear end
Indo-Paci?c species
?
so your cleaner
sticking out. The eye spot and
reaches some 20cm
shrimp and perhaps
colouration resemble the
in length, and so needs
even the Clown?sh may
moray?s head.
a fair amount of room.
be at risk. This isn?t
Your tank has a nominal
guaranteed, but it?s certainly
volume of around 430 l/95 gal,
a possibility.
which is ample for a single specimen.
It?s also worth noting that very active,
Comets are very attractive, distinctive
boisterous ?sh can cause the Comet to go
?sh but they tend to be quite shy. They
into hiding, so housing them with certain
need plenty of rocky crevices in which
tangs, for example, can sometimes create
they can lurk, and be aware that they are
issues. On balance, adding a Comet to
more active at night ? especially once
your tank is a risky proposition based on
?rst introduced ? so they may not make
your current and future stocking.
much of an appearance during the day.
Comets are much better off kept in a
As far as compatibility is concerned,
dedicated system (whether ?sh-only or
Comets have been successfully kept in
reef) that is tailored around their needs,
reef systems, but they can be hit-or-miss.
and houses larger, peaceful or semiThey won?t bother corals in the slightest,
aggressive tankmates.
The Comet is a
stunning ?sh, but
best kept in a
dedicated set-up.
ALAMY
acid. Used as instructed, these buffers
are very effective, but they should be
used alongside regular pH tests and
regular water changes. I?d also
recommend keeping the tank as clean
as possible so that there isn?t too much
decaying organic material in the
aquarium or ?lter, even to the extent of
replacing acidic decorative materials
(such as bogwood or peat ?bre) with
chemically inert equivalents (like
ceramic roots and smooth silica sand).
One last thing to check is that you
don?t expose new ?sh to sudden pH
changes. If your retailer maintains ?sh
in medium hard, neutral to slightly
alkaline conditions, then you need to
very gently acclimate new livestock
once you get them home. The old ?drip
method? works well. I use a 5-gallon
bucket into which new ?sh (and their
water) are deposited. I can then add
aquarium water, equivalent to 5-10% of
what was in the ?sh bag, in batches
every 10 minutes or so. As the bucket
?lls, the ?sh are slowly exposed to their
new living conditions.
SHUTTERSTOCK
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ADVICE
Answers
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
Plant growth will
compete against
algae. Fish like
Otocinclus can
help too.
PLANTS
I have been battling an algae issue in
my 120 l/27 gal tank for some time.
It?s currently stocked with a breeding
trio of Apistogramma cacatuoides (one
male and two females), 12 Golden
pencil?sh and eight Bronze corys.
Parameters for the tank are 5ppm
nitrates, 0ppm ammonia and nitrite,
pH 6.4, temperature 25癈, GH7 and
KH6. The lighting is on for six hours
a day and is around 0.6W/l. Filtration
is a Fluval U3 internal with an
airpump running. I?m using Tropica
Complete Substrate, with some Indian
Catappa leaves for the Apistos.
The tank is planted with Vallisneria
tortifolia and V. spiralis, Cryptocoryne
wendtii and C. becketti. There?s also
some ?oating Dwarf lettuce for the
bene?t of the pencil?sh, as the plan
was to have the Vallis grow to the
surface, but that?s not happened yet...
I am currently doing two 20% water
changes a week to make sure that
phosphates are down and I dose liquid
carbon (1.5ml) and liquid fertiliser
(2ml) a day. This has been altered
several times over the last few months
to see if it made a difference to the
problem, but it didn?t. Neither did
changing the substrate a few months
ago, or ripping all the existing plants out
and replanting them with the new
substrate ? the algae returns every time.
I?m convinced that the problem is
actually brown diatoms, as it is covering
the plants but can be easily rubbed off.
There was BBA on the wood, but I
followed a hint from a George Farmer
56
ALAMY
How do I beat this algae problem?
YouTube video to soak it in bleach for a
couple of hours and it hasn?t returned.
The other issue is the fact that the
plants continuously melt when they
have grown to a certain size, and the
Vallis is no longer growing at all.
The ?sh are in perfect health and
are showing breeding behaviour in
the aquarium.
I also have a nano shrimp tank that
uses the same water, yet no fertilisers
and much weaker light, and the plants
are growing fantastically. Please could
someone offer some advice?
RICKY COLES, EMAIL
Above:
Vallisneria
spp. don?t like
liquid carbon
additives.
Below: Bacterial
additives can
help to combat
algae issues.
contributing to your algae issues, as
suffering plants leach chemicals that
can attract algae.
Brown diatoms are usually caused by
a bacterial imbalance in more mature
set-ups. You could try Otocinclus cat?sh
to help clear it up, and add a good
quality bacterial product such as Pure
from Evolution Aqua or the new
Prodibio products.
Consider adding more liquid fertilisers
every day but changing more water ?
50% once a week is a good idea and
adding 5ml of a complete liquid
fertiliser will help ensure the plants
are well fed.
Fundamentally, the best way to
prevent algae is to promote the
healthiest plant growth possible. You
also need a large plant density in order
to defeat algae. Think about algae and
plants being always at battle with one
another. The better the plant growth,
the less the algae growth.
GEORGE SAYS: Sorry to hear about
your algae problems. First, you may
wish to change the Vallis if you?re using
a liquid carbon product ? liquid carbon
is known to cause issues with Vallis and
explains why it?s not growing so well.
The lack of growth here may also be
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Miracle Mud
would suit the
mudskippers
but it?s quite
expensive.
TROPICAL
What substrate is best for mudskippers?
I have been keeping dwarf Periophthalmus
mudskippers for a couple of years and
have just managed to make their tank
tidal. However, I want to make their
environment more natural by changing the
rocks and bogwood for some mud that
they can burrow into. Please can you offer
any suggestions about what I can use?
DERRICK BAKER, EMAIL
NEALE SAYS: There are indeed some
mud-based products in the trade that you
could think about.
Miracle Mud is the most obvious and
is quite highly regarded in marine
aquarium circles. Although it?s designed
for use in marine tanks, the hard, alkaline
water conditions it helps to create aren?t
a problem for brackish water ?shkeepers
(although it would be a poor choice for
a freshwater system). While it helps to
optimise water chemistry, Miracle Mud
also creates the right environment for
the denitrifying bacteria that turn
dissolved nitrate ions into nitrogen gas.
This helps to improve water quality in
marine systems, where high nitrate levels
are especially undesirable.
The only real downside to Miracle Mud is
that it must be installed in a very
particular way. There needs to be a deep
layer of the mud (around 3-4cm) for the
denitrifying bacteria to become properly
established, and the mud can really only
be added to an empty aquarium, otherwise
it simply creates a cloudy mess!
Once put across the bottom of the tank,
a large glass, perspex or hardboard panel
needs to be put on top of the mud, so
that when the water is added it doesn?t
disturb the mud. Only when the tank is at
least half-?lled can this panel be removed,
then the rest of the water can be carefully
put into the tank, along with any
ornaments or rockwork.
Once packed down, Miracle Mud tends
to stay in place unless deliberately stirred,
but do bear in mind that mudskippers are
inveterate burrowers, so this might be a
problem. Your small mudskippers probably
won?t do too much damage, but it would
be a good idea to make sure the ?lter inlet
was a reasonable distance above the mud
so that it didn?t ?suck in? any particles
lifted into the water column.
While mud products like Miracle Mud
are worth experimenting with, they are
expensive, and your mudskippers won?t be
unhappy if you choose not to use them.
A ?ne coral sand will do for general
digging and foraging, and since
mudskippers spend more time on land
than in the water, it?s really the threedimensional world you create with rocky
reefs, sandbanks, bogwood roots and
empty shells that will most interest them.
Their muddy burrows in the wild serve
a purpose, and if you can provide
suitable alternatives, such as UPVC tubes,
there?s no reason they won?t enjoy using
those instead.
If I were you, I would try a small area of
Miracle Mud placed into a dish or food
container placed in one part of the
aquarium and then suitable camou?aged
with gravel, sand or rocks. See how they
react with this, and how it affects your
?ltration system, before spending too
much money.
ALAMY
LEFT:
Mudskippers
are habitual
burrowers.
Mudskippers spend
more time out of water
than in it, so try to
make their habitat
interesting for them.
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57
Know-how
ADVICE
Freshwater
glossary
The little
Fishkeeping is a vast subject, and packed full of jargon. Here we try to
demystify it by explaining some of the often seen but lesser-known terms.
WORDS: NATHAN HILL
Adsorb: The process of collecting
pollutants on the surface of a
?lter medium.
Adipose fin: The ?eshy ?n without
rays or spines behind the dorsal ?n
in tetras and cat?sh. (1)
Aerobic: In the presence of oxygen
(as in ?lter bacteria).
Allopatric: Species not found in
2
Ammonia: Highly toxic substance
excreted by ?sh and created by
decomposition of organic matter.
Anaerobic: In absence of oxygen
(as in ?lter bacteria).
SHUTTERSTOCK
Acute: Something that happens
suddenly (as in disease or poisoning).
the same areas together in the wild.
Anadromous: Reproduces in
freshwater but the young grow
in saltwater. (2)
Aufwuchs: German term for algae
and the organisms that grow on it,
subsequently used as a food source
by some ?sh.
Aquascape: An aquarium
designed for aesthetic
appeal, usually based on
decorative planting. (3)
Barbel: Sensory whisker around a
?sh?s mouth. (4)
Atrophy: To shrink down,
usually associated with disease.
4
1
3
SHUTTERSTOCK
58
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
BBS: Baby brineshrimps ? a good
food for fry.
NEIL HEPWORTH
Acclimation/Acclimatisation:
Allowing livestock to adjust to new
conditions, typically when
introducing or moving them.
Bioload: The amount of
waste-producing life in your
aquarium ? the combined ?sh,
plants and invertebrates.
9
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
7
SHUTTERSTOCK
NEIL HEPWORTH
5
8
Chloramine: A disinfectant used
in water supplies to stop bacteria.
Dangerous to ?sh and ?lters.
6
10
Chronic: Something that happens
gradually (as in disease or poisoning).
Biotope: A speci?c habitat and the
life it contains. (5)
JACQUES PORTAL
Blackwater: Water with a
concentration of humic and tannic
acid that stains it brown or red. (6)
Brackish: A mixture of salt and
freshwater, such as in an estuary. (7)
Buffer: A chemical added to the
tank to raise the hardness, increase
pH, or both.
Community fish: A species that
will live harmoniously with other
community ?sh. (9)
11
SHUTTERSTOCK
Conspecific: Fish that are all of
the same species.
Catadromous: Reproduces in
saltwater but the young grow
in freshwater.
Chelated: Where metal ions
have been locked up,
chemically.
Often
associated with
plant foods.
Commensalism: The act of two
unrelated creatures living mutually
to the bene?t of one and the
detriment of neither. (8)
Crepuscular: Fish that swim and
feed at dawn and/or dusk. (10)
Culling: Deliberate destruction
of substandard ?sh.
Dimorphism (sexual):
Differences based on sex, such
SHUTTERSTOCK
Circadian: The 24-hour daily cycle.
as colours or size between male
and female.
Diurnal: Active in the daytime.
Dyed fish: Fish that have been
injected with or dipped in dyes to
produce arti?cial colours. (11)
Elasmobranch: A ?sh with a
cartilage skeleton, such as sharks
and rays.
Emerse (of plants): Not in water,
usually for a seasonal plant that
would otherwise be submerged.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 59
ALL: SHUTTERSTOCK
ADVICE
Know-how
14
16
Herbivore: Plant eating. (15)
Epilithic (of plants):
Growing on a rock. (12)
Heterospecific: Fish that are
of different species.
Epiphytic (of plants)
Growing on another plant.
Epithelial: Pertaining to
the skin.
Hybrid: A ?sh that is a cross
of two (or more) different
species, such as Parrot
cichlids and Flowerhorns.
12
Euthanasia: The humane
destruction of a ?sh.
Putting to sleep.
Hypogean: A ?sh that lives
underground, such as Blind cave ?sh.
13
Inbreeding: Sexual reproduction
between two closely related ?sh.
Facultative (often of
bacteria): Able to feed
on something when
abundant, but not
restricted to it.
Ion: An atom (or a collection of
atoms) with an electrical charge.
Flash: When a ?sh
scratches or rubs against
an object.
KH/Carbonate hardness:
The measure of carbonate and
bicarbonate anions in water.
Expressed as 癒H or dKH.
Fluviatile: Pertaining to rivers.
Labyrinth: Accessory
breathing organ in
certain ?sh (mainly
gourami) that
allows them to
breathe
atmospheric
air. (16)
Fry: A baby ?sh. (13)
Genus: A taxonomic rank that
covers a group of closely related
species with a common ancestor.
GH/General hardness: The
measure of certain divalent metal
ions in water, chie?y magnesium
and calcium. Usually expressed as
癏, dGH or 癎H.
Lacustrine: Pertaining
to lakes.
Gibbosity: The hump on the heads
of some ?sh. (14)
15
ALL: SHUTTERSTOCK
Hardness: The measure
of dissolved minerals
water. See GH and KH.
Hardy (in fish): A
species of ?sh that can
tolerate a wide range
of water parameters.
60
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Lateral line: A visible line of
sensory pores running up the ?ank
of a ?sh, which they use to ?feel?
their way about, using changes in
water pressure. (17)
in
Ledipophage: A ?sh that
eats scales.
Livebearer: A ?sh that
produces live offspring, as
opposed to laying eggs.
LPH: Litres per hour, in reference
to ?ow rates.
Milt: Fish sperm.
Moribund: In the state of dying.
Morph: Form or type, such as a
long ?n morph of a normal ?sh.
Mouthbrooder: A ?sh (often a
cichlid) that carries eggs and young
in its mouth after laying them, to
give protection. (18)
Mulm: The organic waste and
sludge that accrues in aquaria.
Naked: A ?sh that has no scales
or armour.
Nauplii: newly hatched crustacea,
usually used to describe baby
Artemia.
17
Necrotic: Dead tissue,
sometimes rotting.
New tank
syndrome:
A tank housing
?sh but unable to
deal biologically with
the waste they produce,
leading to a build-up of
ammonia and nitrite.
Nocturnal: Active through the
night time.
Nomenclature: The scienti?c
naming of organisms. It usually
takes the form of a genus and then
a species name ? for example,
Poecilia reticulata.
Nuchal: The top of the head,
usually in reference to a hump.
18
21
(usually a colour change) in a
water sample.
Operculum: Gill cover.
Reverse osmosis/RO: A method
of purifying water by passing it
through a semi-permeable
membrane. RO is a preferred water
source for sensitive ?sh.
Osmoregulation: The control of
mineral concentration in a ?sh?s
body in relation to the concentration
in the water around it.
20
Pancaking: A rare term
used when a panicking,
?at-sided ?sh skims
along the water?s surface.
JACQUES PORTAL
Omnivore: Eats both plant and
animal matter.
Rheophile: A ?sh that lives in
fast-?owing water.
Runt: A ?sh with a
stunted size.
Pathogen: Any organism
(bacteria, parasite, fungus or
virus) that causes a disease.
Scutes: An armoured
alternative to scales, found
on some cat?sh such as
Hypostomus. (19)
pH: The measure of acidity or
alkalinity, on a scale of 0 to 14, with
0 being purely acid, 14 being purely
base, and 7.0 being neutral. Most
aquarium ?sh live within the 6.0 to
8.4 pH range.
Shimmying: A swaying from
side-to-side while staying in one
place, often displayed by sick ?sh.
Syntopic: Fish and other animals
living together in the same natural
biotope.
Systemic (as of disease):
Affecting the entire body.
Teleost: A ?sh with a bony
skeleton (not a shark or ray). Almost
all aquarium ?sh are teleosts.
Topical: A treatment applied only
to one speci?c area of the ?sh, such
as with an ulcer.
TL/Total length: The length of a
?sh measured from the snout to the
tip of the tail.
Tropical: Referring to a region
between the Tropic of Capricorn and
Tropic of Cancer. Typically (but not
necessarily) characterised by a high
temperature and long daylight cycle.
sp.: Abbreviation for a single species.
Pharyngeal: In the throat, usually
referring to pharyngeal teeth.
spp.: Abbreviation for multiple
species.
Vector (of disease): a carrier,
typically a sick ?sh, but may also be
such as live food.
Photoperiod: The daily duration
of light within an aquarium.
SL/Standard length: The length
of a ?sh, measured from the snout
to the base of the tail.
Venturi: A valve that produces a
stream of bubbles the emit on a
?ow outlet, such as on a powerhead.
Substrate: The layer of sand,
gravel or other substance used on
the base of the aquarium. (20)
Water chemistry: Descriptive of
chemicals in water that alter its
fundamental properties, for
example, pH and hardness.
Piscivore: A ?sh that eats other ?sh.
Poikilothermic: Cold-blooded,
unable to generate bodily heat.
PPM: Parts per million. 1ppm is the
same as 1mg per litre.
Prophylactic: Something that
prevents occurrence of a disease.
Reagent (of water testing):
Chemical used to elicit a reaction
Symbiotic: The act of two
unrelated creatures living mutually
to the bene?t of each other.
19
Sympatric: Species found together
in the same areas in the wild.
Water quality: Level of pollutants
(ammonia and nitrite, for example)
found in water.
White water: Misleading term that
just means water laden with
particulate silt. (21)
Zoonotic: A disease that can spread
from ?sh to human (or vice versa).
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 61
ADVICE
Know-how
Keep aquarium plants happy and healthy by
62
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
understanding their complex nutritional needs.
Plants add so
much to a tank,
so let?s keep
them healthy.
Co-founder of
the Aqueous Art
Movement, James
is an author,
aquascaper and
public speaker.
NEIL HEPWORTH
JAMES STARR
-MARSHALL
ADVICE
Know-how
PERIODIC TABLE OF
A
QUARIUM PLANTS
(submerged
macrophytes) need
food, whether that?s
provided at the roots,
at the leaves or both.
But when it comes to
their exact nutritional
requirements. little has been carried
out in the way of speci?c research.
This is mainly because it?s of no
?nancial reward to do so; they are
not considered to be a viable food
source, and are not as ef?cient as
bog plants (emergent macrophytes)
at processing waste water.
However, there should be enough
crossover data and anecdotal
evidence to build up a picture of
what the plants in your tank like to
eat and why.
Aquarium plant nutrients can be
divided into macronutrients ?
elements that are required in large
quantities ? and micronutrients and
trace elements ? elements and
minerals that are required in small
quantities. In order for a plant to
thrive, it must be provided with
enough of each essential
macronutrient and micronutrient to
cater for the amount of light energy
it is receiving. A lack of any of
these can result in a number of
problems that will eventually lead
to the death of the plant.
So let?s take a look and see what
each nutrient does, and what
happens if it?s not provided.
Research
shows that, unlike
animals, plants
do not develop
deficiencies by
overdosing, so it is
probably worth
providing nutrition
in abundance
64
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
1
5
H
B
Hydrogen
Boron
Hydrogen is found in many organic
compounds and is obviously present
in water itself (H2O). As plants
can utilise the hydrogen in water
this will never be de?cient in an
aquarium plant.
Boron aids the structural
integrity of cell walls.
Symptoms of de?ciency are
impaired reproduction.
15
12
P
Mg
Magnesium
Magnesium helps maintain a plant?s
ionic balance and is often supplied as
Magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) in aquarium
plant fertilisers. It is believed that the ratio
of 3:1 Ca:Mg is an important one. Signs
of de?ciency are yellowing of older leaves
between the veins, giving the leaf a marbled
appearance (interveinal chlorosis).
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is used to turn light
energy into chemical energy as part of
photosynthesis. It?s present in tapwater
as Phosphate (PO4) and often supplied
as Potassium phosphate (KH2PO4) in
fertilisers. Signs of de?ciency are poor
root development and discoloured leaves.
19
K
Macronutrients
The full gamut of essential
macros can be found here.
Further subdivision can be
made in that Carbon, Oxygen
and Hydrogen are considered
non-mineral nutrients.
29
Potassium
Potassium regulates gas exchange and
plants can show an increase in pearling
(production of visible oxygen bubbles on the
leaves) with its addition. It can be supplied
as Potassium sulphate (K2SO4) or as part of
(KNO3) or (KH2PO4) in fertilisers. Symptoms
of de?ciency are impaired reproduction and
discoloured leaves.
30
Cu
Zn
Copper
Zinc
Copper supports enzymatic
processes. De?ciency signs
include brown leaf tips.
Zinc helps to form chlorophyll.
Symptoms of de?ciency
include stunted growth.
MACRONUTRIENTS & MICRONUTRIENTS
7
6
8
N
C
Carbon
Nitrogen
Carbon is the most abundant element in all
living things. It accounts for about 50% of
the dry weight of a plant cell and is needed
to form carbohydrates and proteins. It is
primarily delivered to plants as carbon
dioxide (CO2) during the photoperiod.
Symptoms of de?ciency are arrested growth
and cell death/holes in leaves.
Nitrogen (N) is the next most abundant
element to carbon and is a large
constituent of protein. It is present in
tapwater as Nitrate (NO3) and is often
supplied as Potassium nitrate (KNO3) in
aquarium plant fertilisers. Symptoms of
de?ciency are slow/poor growth.
O
Oxygen
Oxygen is used in the absence of
light for respiration and mostly ?nds
its way into the aquarium water
via surface agitation. Symptoms of
de?ciency are arrested growth and
cell death/holes in leaves.
17
16
S
Sulphur
Sulphur is a part of amino acids,
and aids hydrogen in converting
light energy. Again, tapwater usually
contains plenty but it also gets supplied
by aquarium plant fertilisers as K2SO4,
CaSO4 and MgSO4. Symptoms of
de?ciency include stunted growth.
Micronutrients
Depending on the source there
are said to be between seven
and 15 essential micronutrients.
Here are the seven that seem to
be found in all lists. Tapwater
will contain all of these, but it?s
worth replenishing them
on a regular basis.
Cl
Chlorine
Chlorine helps stabilise the internal
pH balance of a plant cell. Note that it
is not the Chloric acid that we remove
from tapwater for the bene?t of our ?sh.
Instead it is a chloride ion that usually
exists as a salt of something else, such
as Potassium chloride.
25
Mn
20
Ca
Calcium
Calcium aids the delivery of other nutrients
within the plant. Tapwater usually contains
enough calcium to keep a plant supplied
but it can be added in the form of
Calcium sulphate (CaSO4) if you are
using very soft water. Symptoms of
de?ciency include stunted growth and
deformed leaves.
Manganese
Manganese helps in the
formation of chloroplast.
Symptoms of de?ciency are
interveinal chlorosis.
42
Mo
Molybdenum
Molybdenum aids conversion
of Nitrate (NO3) into more
accessible forms.
26
Fe
Iron
Iron is the most essential trace
element for chlorophyll synthesis.
Symptoms of de?ciency
are yellowing of the leaves
(chlorosis).
Key
Macronutrients
Micronutrients
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 65
Micronutrients deficiency stages
BORON
New leaf buds go
brown, die and fall.
Growth is stunted.
PHOSPHORUS
Growth is stunted,
leaves turn dark
blueish-green
initialy. Turns a
purple to black in
extreme cases.
SULPHUR
All growth
becomes pale,
including
veins. Leaf tips
become brown.
MOLYBDENUM
Leaves and veins
become pale.
Brown spots
appear between
veins. Tissue
browns and dies
from the edge of
the leaf.
NITROGEN
Older growth turns
pale green to yellow
from the tip as
nitrogen is removed
for new growth.
New growth is
stunted and weak.
COPPER
New growth
wilts. Stem
tip is weak.
Flesh turns
slightly pink
but not
yellow.
Providing nutrition
Research shows that, unlike
animals, plants do not develop
de?ciencies by overdosing, so it is
probably worth providing nutrition
in abundance, particularly in the
case of micronutrients that only
exist in tiny quantities and quickly
reach total depletion. That?s as long
as it doesn?t adversely affect other
systems ? adding too much CO2,
for instance, will kill your ?sh.
Adding micronutrients in macrosized doses will be toxic in some
cases and even too high a nitrate
level will have an impact on the
health of sensitive ?sh species.
There are a number of established
methods of supplying these
nutrients, such as the Estimative
Index or the ADA system. There are
also a number of soils, substrates and
additives to provide root nutrition.
However, for the purposes of this
article we?ll concentrate on the liquid
fertilisers that can be found at your
local aquatics store.
CALCIUM
Browning starts as
localised spots on the
edge of new growth
eventually turning the
leaf brown and dying.
ZINC
Leaves grow pale,
thin and short.
Brown spots can
form around edges.
POTASSIUM
Browning and
curling starts
from the edge
of the leaf, then
yellowing occurs.
MAGNESIUM
Older leaves
lose colour
from the
outside in,
turning yellow
or white. No
spots. Extreme
cases will see
leaves die and
fall off.
Evolution Aqua ?The
Aquascaper? complete liquid
plant food
This is a one-stop
shop for liquid
plant food. It
contains all
essential macro
and micronutrients
and includes
instructions for
dosing high,
medium and low
energy systems. If convenience is
your thing, this one is for you.
MANGANESE
Yellowing
of the leaf,
sometimes
tan-coloured
spots form
between
green veins.
IRON
Veins may
stay greenish,
but leaves
can become
pale.
KATIE WILKINSON
ADVICE
Know-how
JBL Pro Scape range
This range is comprised of six
bottles: ?Fe+microelements?, which
contains all essential micronutrients,
and then separate bottles of N, P, K
and Mg. There?s
also a bottle of
combined N, P and
K available if you
want to simplify
things a little. This
option is excellent if
you?re a technical
type and like to
experiment to ?nd
the ideal balance for
your system.
JBL Ferropol
This option contains
a full range of
micronutrients but
without any N and P.
Its intended use is in
systems with high
?sh stocks and/or
low plant mass.
There?s also an
environmentally
friendly re?ll pack available for
this product.
Tropica Premium Fertiliser
This product contains all essential
micronutrients, but not N and P.
And again, it?s aimed at
aquariums with high
?sh stocks and/or low
plant mass. I?ve had a
lot of success with
this plant food in my
low-energy set-ups.
Tropica Specialised
Fertiliser
This one has the same
range of micronutrients
as the premium nutrition
as well as all essential
macronutrients. Tropica
recommends dosing is
set in accordance with
plant mass and growth
rates. If you have a
high-energy tank and
convenience is important
this is a great product.
How photosynthesis works
LIGHT ENERGY
WATER
OXYGEN O2
CARBON DIOXIDE CO2
SUGARS
6CO2 + 6H2O
Light energy
Chlorophill
C6H12O6 + 6O2
Seachem Flourish series
Like the JBL Pro Scape range, this
product line consists of separate
bottles, though the arrangement
is slightly different. Flourish
contains all essential micronutrients
and macros (though N and P are
in tiny quantities), and Trace
contains those micronutrients that
need frequent replenishment.
Then there are separate bottles
of N, P, K and Fe. There?s also a
phytohormone supplement called
Advance, which is similar to ADA?s
Green Gain. Advance is said to act
as a booster for healthy plant
growth. Again this is a range for
those who like to experiment.
Tetra PlantaMin and
API Leaf Zone
These products
contain a good range
of micro and
macronutrients
without any N or P.
If you?re looking for
a budget option for
your well-stocked
aquarium with only a
few plants, either of
these will work well.
High ?sh stock or
low ?sh stock? It
makes a difference
when choosing
fertilisers.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 67
Know-how
BREED YOUR OWN
LIVE
FOOD
It?s cheap, it?s easy and it?s a
brilliant way to feed your fish!
GABOR
HOVARTH
A Hungarian
aquarist now living
in the UK, Gabor is a
prolific fish breeder,
project undertaker
and writer.
68
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
L
Feeding a variety of live fare can
also signi?cantly improve the
colours and longevity of ?sh, as
well as serve as the perfect
conditioner for breeding stock.
They have other advantages too.
For a cost-conscious aquarist,
collecting or culturing their own ?sh
food could mean a cheap alternative
to buying commercial products.
Collecting plankton and other
creatures from natural waters
carries dangers, however, and can
introduce parasites, predators or
infections into your tank.
So, the safest way to produce the
required amount of live food you
need is to breed it yourself.
Culturing live food creatures doesn?t
require a big investment or lots of
space. You can use all sorts of
plastic containers, empty ?sh tanks,
water butts or in?atable pools ?
basically anything that can hold the
worms and the water safely. One of
my ?rst Daphnia breeding projects
was set up in a baby?s bath tub!
SHUTTERSTOCK
IVE FOOD has an
important role in the
life of every ?sh. It?s
usually their ?rst food
as a fry, and even adult
?sh love to have small
worms or crustaceans
as healthy snacks.
Although there are frozen foods
available in the shops, sometimes
you really need the movement
produced by live creatures to wake
up the feeding instinct in your ?sh.
Newly hatched babies of several
small-sized species, including
danios, tetras and killi?sh, need
the tiniest of live starter food to
survive their ?rst days, and even
larger fry will bene?t from regular,
nutritious live meals.
It?s not just juveniles you can serve
live dinners to. Wild-caught ?sh are
often fussy eaters, refusing even the
best-quality frozen diet. Often the
?rst food they?ll accept from you in
captivity will be some wriggling
bloodworm or zig-zagging Daphnia.
Green water
Containers like water butts and
old tanks can be hazardous to
children, pets and wildlife, so
cover them safely or build
an escape ramp.
There are all
sorts of reasons
to feed live foods
like Daphnia.
GABOR HOVARTH
Green water is basically a mass of algae and Euglena cells
suspended in water. It?s often used as one of the ?rst foods
of species with the tiniest of fry. If you?ve ever had an algae
bloom in your ?sh tank, you know what to do to produce it.
You need water, nutrients and plenty of light. Just ?nd a
suitable container (a small plastic tank or a glass jar will do),
?ll it with old aquarium water, add some liquid fertiliser, and
place the whole lot on the window sill. Within a couple of
days you should have the perfect ?green stuff? to feed to
those tiny new-born vegetarians in your ?sh tank.
To maintain the production you can add further doses of
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 69
Infusoria
turn cloudy as a result of the
bacteria bloom. The infusoria will
In the aquarium world, the term
eat them and soon begin multiplying.
?infusoria? is the collective name for a
When the water starts to clear it?s a
range of micro-organisms that live in
water, including rotifers, Paramecium, sure sign they?re present, but with a
microscope you can check your
Vorticella and many others. You?ll
?nd them virtually everywhere, from actual stock levels. If you see plenty
of movement in a drop of water, it?s
roadside puddles to your tapwater.
time to start feeding them to your
These single cell organisms are
?sh, using an eye dropper.
essential for kick-starting the growth
Once the water is clear add a few
of newborns of many species, such as
rainbows, Betta or killi?sh. Fortunately drops of milk or yeast to maintain
the culture. Just make sure you don?t
they?re very easy to culture, so no
overfeed, as too much can lead to
aquarist can have an excuse for
an unwanted bacteria bloom
not having some ready when
and the low oxygen level
their ?sh need them.
can suffocate your
My favourite method
infusoria. Warning:
is simple. All you
the resulting smell
need is a 2-litre
The lifespan of an insuforia
can be awful!
PET bottle,
culture is around three months,
This method
some lettuce,
so
start
a
new
culture
every
will result in a
water, and a bit
month to ensure a
mixed colony of
of debris from a
continuous
microorganisms, but if
planted tank. Instead
you?re a purist, you can
of lettuce you can use
supply.
use boiled water instead of
dried banana peel, straw,
tank water, and buy some pure
hay, Liquifry, even dog biscuits.
Paramecium culture instead of the
To prepare the culture, place a
debris to seed your culture.
lettuce leaf in a small bowl and pour
over some hot water. This softens up
the plant tissue, making it more
Microworms
accessible for the various bacteria
Microworms are often overshadowed
that will feed our infusoria. While the by Artemia nauplii as a ?rst fry food,
lettuce soup is cooling, cut off the
but I believe every serious ?sh
top of the plastic bottle and pour in
breeder should have a bowl or two
some aquarium water and debris
of this versatile and easy to culture
rich in decaying plant matter. Add
live food. First, it?s reliable: you?ll
the cooled lettuce juice (including
always have some to feed, even
the leaf) and place the culture in a
when the Artemia hatchery fails for
bright, warm place (about 22-24癈).
some reason (which happens more
Within a day or two the water should often than you might think). Second,
1
2
GABOR HOVARTH
ADVICE
Know-how
Soften a lettuce leaf by blanching it
? place it in hot water until the leaf
loses its shape and becomes limp.
70
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Once it?s cooled, place the water and
lettuce leaf into a small container and
introduce some tank water and waste.
the smallest microworms can be
eaten by fry too tiny to consume
even a freshly hatched Brineshrimp.
Microworms are not real worms,
but nematodes. They come in
different sizes and under many
names. In general, microworm refers
to Panagrellus redivivus, which is the
largest growing of them all, reaching
a whopping 1.5mm in length. The
Walter worm (P. silusioides) is a bit
smaller, topping at 1.2mm. The
smallest of the bunch is the Banana
worm (P. nepenthicola), staying below
1mm. What is common to all three
Panagrellus worms is that they feed
on yeast and bacteria.
You?ll need a tight-?tting container
(ice cream tubs are perfect), some
porridge oats, a bit of yeast and a
starter culture. Wash the container
well and punch a couple of tiny
holes into the lid. Tell your partner
not to worry, the worms can?t escape
through the holes, as they would dry
out and die quickly in the open air.
Without aeration, however, they will
die in the tub as well!
Next, put some oatmeal in the
bottom of the container, making a
layer about 1.5-2cm thick. Pour
ABOVE:
Microworms
make a great,
reliable ?rst food
for tiny fry.
How to make
microworm food
1
In a container, cover 1.5-2cm depth of
porridge oats with boiling water.
2
GABOR HOVARTH
Let the oats cool, then add a sprinkle
of yeast and the microworm culture.
BELOW:
Here?s what a
healthy culture
of microworms
looks like.
boiling water over the oatmeal and
mix well. Some aquarists go for an
almost liquid consistency, but I prefer
it a little thicker. Let the mixture cool,
as the heat will kill your worms if
you add them immediately. If this is
your ?rst microworm breeding set-up,
sprinkle some baking yeast over the
porridge before adding your bought
microworm starter culture. As I use
a few spoonfuls of my old culture as
seed, this contains enough yeast to
kick start the new tub.
Mix in the starter culture well, then
place the container somewhere
out of direct sunlight. Keep it at
room temperature.
Within a week you should be able
to see thousands of tiny worms
crawling up the sides of the tub.
Swipe some off with your ?nger ?
or, if you?re squeamish, a small brush
? and wash it off in your fry tank.
After a few weeks you?ll notice that
the yield drops. That?s the time to
start a new culture and discard the
old one before it gets too smelly.
3
Cut small holes for ventilation,
otherwise the worms will suffocate.
4
Plankton
The most frequently used and easiest
plankton to cultivate is Daphnia, also
known as the water ?ea. There are
several species of Daphnia, but the
most frequently sold are Daphnia
magna and Daphnia pulex. The latter
is slightly smaller, so more suitable
for average-sized ?sh. Regardless of
the size, all of the Daphnia species
have similar breeding requirements.
To set up a culture, ?ll any suitably
sized container with nutrient-rich,
preferably alkaline water that
promotes the growth of the Daphnia?s
favourite foods ? algae and bacteria.
You can even use some of the waste
Put the lid on securely and place out of
direct sunlight, at room temperature.
5
It?s a good idea to label and date your
home-made microworm cultures.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 71
GABOR HOVARTH
ADVICE
Know-how
If you accidentally feed too many Blackworm it may even
colonise your ?sh tank, providing frequent snacks for your ?sh
water from your aquariums. For
indoor cultures, add a gently bubbling
airstone to provide some water
movement and you?re set to go.
Place your container in a bright
place, preferably on a window sill
with some direct sunshine. When
the water in the vessel turns green,
it?s time to add the starter water ?ea
culture you bought from the aquatics
store. Outdoor cultures can be
self-feeding due to the fast-growing
algae, but Daphnia kept indoors will
need extra food and will happily
accept green water, spirulina
powder, liquid fry food, or a mixture
of dry yeast and soy ?our. Don?t
Daphnia ? excellent
?sh food and so
easy to grow.
72
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
overfeed them, so wait till the water
becomes clear again before adding
the next small dose of food. In ideal
conditions they will multiply quickly
and within a couple of weeks you
can begin to use your home-grown
Daphnia in your tanks. All you need
to do is to keep their water clean
with frequent water changes.
Having a Daphnia culture in an
outdoor container or water butt
needs less care, and can also give
you access to a good amount of
black mosquito larvae, which is
keenly taken by almost any ?sh.
Just make sure you harvest the
larvae before they hatch?
Blackworm
Every aquarist will have heard of
the Tubifex worm (Tubifex tubifex).
It?s praised by many, but also
despised by quite a few. Even the
haters must acknowledge its
excellent nutritional value, but
many are too scared of the potential
dangers it can carry and deterred
by the smell of a spoiled Tubifex
culture. If only there was a worm
with all the positive features of the
Tubifex, but without the drawbacks.
Well, there is! The Blackworm
(Lumbriculus variegatus) grows larger
than the Tubifex worm ? my longest
worm was over 5cm ? and has
darker, blackish-red colouring. It
also lives on a much healthier diet,
eating a range of organic debris,
instead of ?sewage sludge? like
Tubifex. Plus Blackworm can be
cultured, even indoors above room
temperature, without fear of the
dreaded rotten smell
If you accidentally
many Blackworm it m
even colonise your ?
tank, providing
frequent snacks for
your ?sh. This
happened in my
Betta macrostoma
tank, where
every substrate
vacuuming resulted
a nice clump of
Blackworm, proving
there was a thriving
population under the
TOP LEFT: Black
mosquito larvae
will frequent
outdoor Daphnia
cultures.
BELOW: A
simple water
butt and an
air pump is all
Daphnia require.
GABOR HOVARTH
RIGHT:
Newly hatched
Artemia are easy
to culture.
soil. And they did it without fouling
the water, as their oxygen
requirements are much, much lower
than the Tubifex?s.
You might wonder why it?s not
more widespread then. The answer
is that Blackworm don?t breed with
the speed of microworms. A culture
I set up in a 16-litre tank provided
just enough Blackworm to condition
three or four breeding pairs of ?sh at
a time. It was a very simple affair,
using decaying brown cardboard
pieces and ?sh ?akes as food, and an
aeration stone to provide currents
and oxygen.
It took a few weeks before I found
some baby worms among the adults,
but afterwards I had a steady, if low,
supply. You can achieve slightly
higher yield if you use fragmentation,
which means cutting up the longer
worms and growing up the resulting
worm pieces.
GABOR HOVARTH
Grindal worm
No live food article is complete
without mentioning one of the best
conditioning foods there is. The
Grindal worm (Enchytraeus buchholzi)
lives in the soil, feeding on
decomposing organic materials. It
can reach 2cm in length, a perfect
food size for many community
?sh. Its high energy content makes
it an ideal food for breeding stock or
newly imported ?sh in poor
condition, but using it as a staple food
can lead to obesity, which in turn
may cause reduced fertility.
As an occasional treat, however, it
contributes greatly to the balanced
diet of every ?sh and setting up and
maintaining a culture is very easy.
First, just eat another tub of ice
cream and wash out the tub. (You
could also use any old plastic
container with a tight-?tting lid,
but what?s the fun in that?)
Grindal worms prefer
darkness, so next cover
the sides with gaffer
tape or similar.
Punch some
holes in the lid,
just as you did
before for the
microworms, but
don?t make the holes too
big, as you want to avoid
fruit-?ies and mites
contaminating your worm culture.
Fill the container half-way with a
wetted substrate of your choice. My
favourite is coconut ?bre, but some
of my friends use Sphagnum moss or
peat with success. Make sure the
substrate is moist, but not saturated
with water ? you only want to keep
the worms hydrated, not drown them.
ALAMY
LEFT:
Blackworm is a
clean alternative
to Tubifex worm.
Place the starter culture on top and
give them some food. Grindal worms
aren?t picky, so you can use a range
of food like oatmeal, bread, ?sh
food or even dog biscuits. The
key, again, is not to overfeed
them, as the leftover food
may become mouldy
and ruin your
culture, so only
feed the amount
they can eat in a
day. Regularly
check the substrate is
damp enough and spray
with water when necessary.
After a few weeks your
culture should be ready to harvest.
To do this, place a piece of plastic
mesh on the surface and place the
worms? food on top of it. As they
gather around the food, just lift the
mesh out and wash the worms into a
glass of water. From there, you can
feed them to your ?sh using a turkey
baster or tweezers.
How to make an Artemia nauplii culture
1
Set up your hatcher somewhere
bright and warm ? inside a
running tank is ideal.
4
Turn off aeration and place a
piece of muslin or fine mesh on
top of the hatcher.
2
3
Fill with salty water at a level of
25ppt (25g marine salt per litre)
and aerate heavily.
5
Add Artemia revolution (eggs
without shells) and maintain
aeration for 24 hours.
6
Remove the hatcher from the
tank and pour the contents
through the mesh.
You now have a harvest of live,
hatched Artemia for your fry.
Feed them immediately!
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 73
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TROP CAL
Oddballs
THE LURE OF THE
ODDBALL
If you?ve always drawn the line at weird, wonderful, but
frustratingly difficult-to-keep fish, think again. Some of their
close cousins could be the fish you never realised you needed.
HERE?S NO surer
conversation starter
for aquarists and
non-aquarists alike
than a really weird ?sh.
Many of us remember
our feeling of surprise
and delight on seeing
some rippling Mormyrid species in
the ?esh for the ?rst time, or
happening upon a enigmatic
freshwater stingray half-buried in
the sand in what we thought was
just another pet shop.
Oddballs make the hobby (and
the wider world of ichthyological
study in general) a more interesting
place, but keeping them can be
fraught with risks. Because just as
we remember the excitement of
that tantalising ?rst encounter, we
probably have our fair share of
horror stories, too ? the Fire eel
whose shrivelled remains were
found behind a seemingly secure
hood; the cute little Mbu puffer that
grew to the size of a Yorkshire
Terrier; and the Silver arowana/
Panchax/Climbing perch that one
night decided to unhinge its jaw like
a monstrous serpent and swallow all
our other ?sh whole?
T
Strange ?sh
Small puffer?sh
can be a winner
for the ?peaceful?
oddball hunter.
A freelance writer
with a day job in
aquatics retail,
Ingrid is a huge fan
of anabantoids and
biotopes.
SHUTTERSTOCK
INGRID
ALLAN
Somewhere along the way, we
began to accept this as a hazard of
the business. After all, if strange ?sh
were easy to keep, they?d be as
popular as guppies. As a result,
many of us gave up on oddballs
after a few failed attempts and
resolved to leave them to the experts.
The three main pitfalls with these
lovably weird species seem to be
their size (many grow to be
enormous, even by monster ?sh
standards), their sensitivity and, in
many cases, the predatory nature
that often accompanies having a
large mouth and a specially adapted
hunting mechanism.
But if I could combine my
background in the trade with a few
hours of research, and come up with
a selection of oddball species that
didn?t tick any of the above boxes,
surely I?d be onto a winner? The
general consensus among my
colleagues was that any list would
be a pretty short list, but I?ve never
been one to duck a challenge.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 77
TROPICAL
Pick and mix
I?d be the ?rst to admit that the lure
of the weird and wonderful can
prove too much for normally
rational ?shkeepers. My ?rst
large-scale tropical tank contained
not only an enormous Polypterus
ornatipinnis ? who is still with me
today ? but also two spiny eels and a
Black ghost knife?sh, Apteronotus
albifrons. My hapless community
tropicals had no idea what to make
of this latter mesmerising newcomer
? half the time they probably
thought it was a ??ag with a mouth?,
as one friend suggested.
A Picasso trigger?sh, a foot-long
?agtail, a Fahaka puffer?sh and
Xander, my beloved Axolotl, have
all gone some way to teaching me
the importance of recognising the
specialist needs of oddballs over
the years, but I?ve also had the
pleasure of keeping a few species
compatible with most bread-andbutter community favourites.
Many ?shkeepers who?ve gazed
longingly at a tank of foraging
Fire eels, wishing they had the space
to keep one, might not realise there
are smaller, more manageable
members of Mastacembelus, the
spiny eel family. The Yellow tail
spiny eel, Mastacembelus aculeatus,
is possibly the smallest ? it grows
to around 10in in the wild, but
averages 6-8in in the home
aquarium. This is a shy, peaceful
and quite colourful ?sh that?s
unlikely to predate anything larger
than an Ember tetra.
Combined with a few larger
tankmates, such as barbs or small
cichlids, its cousin, the equally
peaceful Peacock eel, Macrognathus
siamensis, should also be considered.
With an adult length of just under
30cm and a friendly disposition that
can see it readily hand-feeding once
settled, it?s a real character and can
be comfortably housed in any
community tank upwards of 200 l.
And spiny eels aren?t the only ?sh
we thought were best left to the
experts. Ever tried keeping a
puffer in your community?
The very thought might once
have made me shudder,
with nipped ?ns and tails
the best-case outcome,
Caption,
caprion, caption and total carnage the worst.
We know the score, don?t we?
Green spots and Figure of eights are
brackish; mbus and Fahakas get
enormous. As for hairy puffers,
let?s not even go there. But there are
peaceful, well-behaved puffers
that buck the trend.
The Amazon puffer,
Colomesus asellus, is a
relatively small ?sh that?s
unlikely to exceed 10cm,
and although I wouldn?t keep
one with long-?nned species, for
the most part they leave tankmates
alone. You might need to feed a
varied diet, including occasional
shell?sh to keep their teeth ?led
down, but these ?sh can add a
Dragon gobies ? looks
real wow factor to a planted
can be deceiving.
community tank with very little
extra effort on your part.
IL
NE
TH
OR
PW
HE
Instead, adventurous ?shkeepers
are beginning to opt for large
shoals of Hatchet?sh
Fire eels can
grow into quite
a handful.
Upper waters
Surface-dwelling oddballs can be a
tricky balancing act. While African
butter?y ?sh, Pantodon buchholzi,
Celebes halfbeak, Nomorhamphus
liemi liemi, and any of the cryptic but
FACTFILE
NEIL HEPWORTH
DRAGON GOBY
78
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
6Scientific name: Gobioides
broussonnetii
6Size: Usually 30cm, potentially over
60cm
6Water requirements: Brackish
(partially seawater). Also hard and
alkaline, 7.5-9.0 pH
6Availability and price: Uncommon;
from about �
NEIL HEPWORTH
Oddballs
OPPOSITE
PAGE INSET:
Knight gobies
are an
interesting ?sh
for a brackish
tank.
colourful Panchax species can be
fascinating and fun to keep
(provided you have a tight-?tting
lid), their large mouths make them
unsuitable tankmates for many
small community species.
Instead, adventurous ?shkeepers
are beginning to opt for large shoals
of Hatchet?sh. These range from
the dainty but beautifully patterned
Marbled hatchet, Carnegiella strigata,
to the ?Giant? silver hatchet?sh,
Gasteropelecus pectorosus, which
barely reaches 9cm but will look
phenomenal leaping for wingless
fruit ?ies and freeze-dried shrimp.
There?s also a decent variety of
more unusual anabantoid species
to adorn the upper reaches of the
tank. Sparkling and croaking
gouramis, while not an oddball
per se, can make a nice change
from their more omnipresent
cousins, as can the rarely seen but
unobtrusively lovely Noble gourami,
Ctenops nobilis. However, this is a
delicate individual that needs a
lower pH than most of the other ?sh
mentioned here.
Anabantoids aren?t just limited to
gourami species though. The Ornate
climbing perch, Ctenopoma ansorgii,
is a lesser-known relative that looks
a lot more like a paradise ?sh than
its large, predatory African cousin.
Rarely seen in shops, as it doesn?t
always travel well, it will nevertheless
adapt once settled and hover
cryptically around a planted set-up
in search of tasty morsels.
Freshwater gobies
And if you thought gobies were just
for the reef keepers, think again.
With a cornucopia of charming
freshwater species to choose from,
any aquarist with a decent set of
powerheads is spoiled for choice.
Some of us might only have
come across behemoths like the
60cm Jade sleeper goby, but these
living boulders are far from the
only option. If you?re looking to
spice up a temperate community,
you can?t do much better than a
few White-cheeked gobies,
Rhinogobius duospilus, ?aring their
gills among shoals of minnows and
danio. Though this species has a
wide temperature tolerance, it
prefers a cooler tank, but apart
from a bit of healthy competition
FACTFILE
MARBLE HATCHET
ALAMY
6Scientific name: Carnegiella strigata
6Size: 3.5cm
6Water requirements: Soft, acidic,
below 7.0 pH.
6Availability and price: Quite common;
from about �
Hatchet ?sh are
great surface
?llers.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 79
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
Peacock eels
bring the same joy
as larger eels.
TROPICAL
Oddballs
The ultimate in
cryptic cat?sh.
FACTFILE
BANJO CATFISH
SHUTTERSTOCK
6Scientific name: Bunocephalus coracoideus
6Size: 15cm
6Water requirements: From soft and acidic
to slightly hard and alkaline, 6.0-7.8 pH
6Availability and price: Quite common;
from about �
80
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
A place to hide
Many oddball ?sh may initially seem
shy, so while a large range of
tankmates can be considered, take
care to incorporate ample hiding
places. If your tank is a little on the
small side (40-80 l) but thick with
greenery, why not give a retro
favourite like the Chameleon ?sh,
Badis badis, a go? Cichlid-like in
shape, but not in behaviour, this tiny
gem, along with the Scarlet badis,
Dario dario, may seem shy and sulky
at ?rst, but having kept them with
a wide range of tetra, pencil?sh,
livebearer and gourami species,
I can con?rm they?re easy-going
once they settle.
And Badis aren?t the only oddballs
that love a densely planted
community. The Asian Glass cat?sh,
Kryptopterus vitreolus, can do well
even with larger tankmates. Shoals
of these translucent beauties have
long fascinated beginners and
NEIL HEPWORTH
among rival males, it will get on
pretty well with most tankmates.
Brackish community tanks (sadly
all too rare these days) can be
massively enhanced by the presence
of a Knight goby, Stigmatogobius
sadanunidio ? an attractive little
black and white ?sh that reaches
9cm as an adult, but because of its
large head, chunky body and funny
little eyes, somehow manages to
seem much bigger.
Though it may look like a toothy
beast and the last thing you should
consider mixing with small ?sh, the
Dragon goby, Gobioides broussonnetii,
is actually a peaceful, misunderstood
?lter-feeder that often uses its
pointed teeth to scrape algae off
rocks. It grows to a fair size,
sometimes reaching over 30cm in
the home aquarium, but it?s highly
adaptable, taking brackish,
freshwater and even true marine
environments in its stride.
experts alike. They?re a sociable ?sh,
sensitive to most medications and
requiring meatier foods than the
average tub of tropical ?ake, but
with a little extra research, they can
thrive among all sorts of species.
Deeper-bodied tetra, like Black
phantoms and Bleeding hearts,
make good tankmates, but so do
ABOVE: Black
ghost knife?sh
grow to half a
metre and need
speci?c care.
NEIL HEPWORTH
FACTFILE
NOBLE GOURAMI
6Scientific name: Ctenops nobilis
6Size: 10cm
6Water requirements: Soft, acidic,
below 7.5 pH
6Availability and price: Quite rare; from
about �
extremely peaceful and should be
considered for communities
consisting of larger rainbows, barbs,
cichlids and gourami.
Think outside the box
There can be a tendency among
those weary of the carnage and
turmoil of mixing species that
simply shouldn?t be mixed to ?stick
to what you know? and play it safe.
But if the community staples they?ve
kept for years no longer delight
them, such ?shkeepers may be
tempted to pack in the hobby
altogether. That would be a shame.
So if you?ve yet to experience the
joy of a ?aring White cheek goby or
a group of foraging Horseface
loaches, I urge you to give oddballs
another try. A little research can
yield species that may prove much
more adaptable than you think.
SHUTTERSTOCK
peaceful barbs, smaller cichlids and
many other cat?sh species.
If you like your cat?sh even more
cryptic than that, the extended family
boasts some pretty bizarre ?nds
from the moustached Chameleon
whiptail, Pseudohemiodon apithanos,
to the equally placid Banjo cat?sh,
Bunocephalus coracoideus, which,
despite often being mistaken for a
dead leaf, can suddenly spring to life
and bury itself deep in the substrate
in a matter of seconds.
No discourse on oddballs is
complete without a shout-out to
the fantastically strange Reed?sh,
Erpetoichthys calabaricus ? often
mistaken for an eel, thanks to its
serpentine body. Although these
incredible living fossils have
large-enough mouths when fully
grown to swallow most small
shoaling species, they are actually
ABOVE: Fahaka
puffer?sh are
outright
aggressive,
but Amazon
puffers are more
agreeable.
FACTFILE
WHITE-CHEEKED GOBY
6Scientific name: Rhinogobius
duospilus
6Size: 4.5cm
6Water requirements: Hard and
alkaline, 7.0-8.0 pH
6Availability and price: Quite common;
from about �50
Gobies are full of
character and have
the looks, too.
NEIL HEPWORTH
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 81
CONSERVATION
Marines
82
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Saving the
REEF
Wild-caught or tank-bred ? which should you buy? It?s the
eternal marine fish debate, but in the International Year of
the Reef, LINI, an NGO in Bali, says you can buy both?
Sustaining the oceans will
need multiple approaches.
Jonny has 21 years
of fish experience,
including retail and
an aquaculture
degree.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 83
NPL
JONNY
ARCHER
CONSERVATION
Marines
W
process too, and are still recovering.
Each of these problems is further
damaging the health of the reefs and
by now you may be thinking, ?Well,
I?ll just buy tank-bred ?sh?.
Tank-bred marine ?sh are few in
number. Currently only 6% of species
have been bred in captivity and fewer
still are commercially available.
Unlike the freshwater industry, where
the vast majority of popular species
are tank-bred, more marine species
need to be commercially bred to
make an interesting marine
aquarium. Hypothetically speaking, if
?shkeepers are willing to keep just
these 6% of species, what are the
?shermen supposed to do? They
have families to feed and will be
forced to get another job ? if other
jobs are there to be had. Most
?shermen and their families are
poorly educated, and are likely to be
forced into other labour-intensive
industries involving
deforestation, palm
plantations or
food ?shing, each
of which have
their own
environmental
issues.
So, what?s the
answer? Retrain
the ?shermen to
become ?sh
farmers perhaps?
Well, they tried that
in Southern Bali 30
years ago, teaching the
?shermen to grow shrimps
for the food sector. But to do
this, they cut the mangroves down
to build the shrimp ponds. It was
such good money that shrimp were
intensively farmed to the point where
the ground was poisoned and no
longer any use for production. Worse,
without the mangroves, the land
became desolate and left the island
exposed to the full brunt of natural
disasters like ?oods and tsunamis.
This particular part of aquaculture
history has taught us that some
?shermen don?t make good ?sh
farmers as they view their resources
from a different perspective. Now, 30
years on, the mangroves are growing
back and the shrimp farming
industry is smaller and sustainable.
LINI knows that reef conservation
requires multiple solutions in order to
succeed. Not just science, but political,
sociological, economic and cultural
issues must be brought into play too.
BELOW LEFT:
Banggai
cardinal?sh
live in a very
restricted area.
BELOW RIGHT:
The Cardinals?
breeding project
in action.
Education is the key factor
in conservation. Without it we
would carry on destroying
the reefs without thinking of
the consequences
SHUTTERSTOCK
E KNOW coral
reefs are delicate
ecosystems
under threat
from climate
change, plastics,
over?shing and
now suncream.
As an environmentally concerned
hobbyist, you may be asking which
is more environmentally sustainable
? wild-caught ?sh or tank-bred?
There are many issues with buying
wild-caught marine ?sh. Over?shing
reduces the stability of the reefs as
each species has its own role to play in
the ecosystem. Fish like the Banggai
cardinal?sh, Pterapogon kauderni, for
example, are endemic to central
Sulawesi, Indonesia, and if over?shed
are likely to become extinct. And
increased water temperatures are
causing corals to bleach faster than
ever before; if bleaching continues
there may be no habitat for ?sh left.
Plastics are an enormous problem
because creatures become entangled
or misidentify the plastic as food. And
until the early-2000s, local ?shermen
used cyanide to catch their ?sh.
Although cyanide made catching the
?sh easier, mortality rates were high.
Reefs were severely damaged in the
84
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
BOTH: JONNY ARCHER
Essential education
LATC?s workers have learned more
about reef conservation and
aquaculture, they can then take that
knowledge and pass it on to others.
Education is the key factor in
conservation. Without it we would
carry on destroying the reefs without
thinking of the consequences. For
LINI, education starts with its
visitors, who are given a presentation
by a staff member before being
shown around the facility and
learning about LINI?s objectives.
Visitors then help build their own
LINI is ?nding its way through the
mine?eld by education and training.
It is teaching anyone willing to learn,
from ?shermen and their families to
local communities, companies and
tourists from around the world. The
education programme takes place in
LINI?s aquaculture training centre
(LATC) in Northern Bali, and aims to
tackle the problems of both wildcaught and tank-bred marine ?sh. At
LATC they breed Banggai cardinal?sh
and some species of Clown?sh. After
ABOVE: Farmed
fragged corals
are placed onto
arti?cial reefs.
ABOVE LEFT:
Fragged corals
grow out in
facilities.
What is LINI?
JONNY ARCHER
LINI is the Indonesian term for a line or
connection. LINI the organisation seeks
to establish ?rm and lasting connections
between all stakeholders involved in
coastal resource management.
LINI was established in 2008 by a
small group of dedicated professionals.
It?s one of the few non-pro?t organisations in Indonesia currently working
towards the development of communitybased marine conservation areas to
promote sustainable ?sheries.
6 For more information about LINI and its
work, visit lini.or.id
section of arti?cial reef and are
taught how to frag corals for seeding
the arti?cial structures. Once people
have been informed of an issue and
how to tackle it, they generally want
to take action. No matter how small
these actions are, in the end it all
adds up to a positive change.
During the week, LINI allows any
local child who?s willing to learn
English to participate in lessons.
English is a language that can open
the world beyond Indonesia to them.
In time, they will hopefully have a
?rm-enough grasp that they can read
publications written in English (like
Practical Fishkeeping!), and be able
to discuss reef conservation with
English-speaking visitors.
At weekends LINI sends staff out to
local schools to teach about the
importance of the reefs. In the past,
local people viewed the reef as an
inexhaustible resource, where it didn?t
matter how much they took. Now
they understand about the delicate
ecosystem and the life it supports.
Reducing pressure
Until 2001, cyanide was used to
catch ?sh on the reefs in the Les area
of Northern Bali. Since then, Made
Partiana, a local ?sherman and
member of LINI, has helped train
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 85
CONSERVATION
200 fellow ?shermen in the use of
non-destructive barrier net ?shing,
without the use of cyanide. The reefs
now have the chance to recover.
To reduce the pressures of
over?shing on the natural reef, LINI?s
staff, visitors, and local ?shermen,
have built over 2,000 arti?cial reef
structures, seeded with propagated
corals. Other ?shing communities
have seen the arti?cial reefs? success,
and are building their own structures.
The arti?cial reef is now ?shed by
local ?shermen, relieving pressure on
Bali?s natural reefs.
The island also has a major problem
with plastic. Bali doesn?t have the
infrastructure to deal with all of its
waste, so when the tropical rains hit,
the plastic lying around inland is
washed into the sea, then washed
back ashore with the incoming tides.
Every Sunday, the people of Les
village now do a beach clean-up and
dispose of the region?s litter in a
sustainable manner. They now
understand the negative impact of
plastics and waste on both the
environment and on tourism.
Breeding Banggai
LATC is helping to relieve the
pressure on wild-caught Banggai
cardinal?sh, a popular ?sh in the
aquarium trade because of its pretty
patterns and body shape. Cardinals
can be easily over?shed, but luckily,
being mouth-brooders, they can be
JONNY ARCHER
Marines
on ?nely chopped abalone, enriched
live rotifers and small mosquito
larvae. This range of foods gives a
good variety of nutrition so the ?sh
don?t suffer from sudden shock
syndrome, where the incorrect fatty
acid content can easily cause death.
After six months, the young farmed
?sh are transported to the exporter
Bali CC and then shipped to the UK.
Since June 2015, LINI has exported
roughly 1,470 Banggai cardinal?sh.
easily bred in LATC?s aquarium.
The day at LATC starts at 7am
when the local ?shermen?s wives
come in to prepare chopped abalone
in different sizes for the Banggai
cardinals. Water quality tests are
carried out twice a week, and every
morning the ?lter ?oss is removed
from each system, cleaned and hung
out to dry, then replaced with the
?lter ?oss from the previous day.
The brood stock ?sh are fed three
times a day. Ten minutes after they?re
fed, the bare bottom tanks are
siphoned and the sides wiped down.
The sumps are drained and re?lled
with sea water that has been allowed
to settle for 24 hours beforehand.
Baby Banggai cardinals are not
removed from the father until their
larval stage is complete. They become
juveniles at day 30 and are then fed
JONNY ARCHER
Tank-bred Banggai
cardinals can be found
in aquatics shops now.
86
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
ABOVE: Arti?cial
reefs are the
modern way
of farming the
seas.
BELOW:
Mangroves
protect the
shoreline reefs.
INSET RIGHT:
Palm plantation.
By setting up the LATC, LINI
has not only helped reduce the
?shing pressure on wild Banggai
cardinal?sh in central Sulawesi, but
has also generated a new source of
income and training for people in
northern Bali ? not just the
aquaculture workers, but cooks,
cleaners and gardeners too.
The three greatest challenges LINI
faces are funds, culture and
knowledge. The pro?ts from its
NPL
Banggai breeding programme are
relatively small and so it relies heavily
on grants and donations.
This limitation can be clearly seen
at LATC, where staff would love
to test the water more
frequently. However, a
simple API saltwater
master test kit can
cost three quarters
of a month?s
wages, so they
currently rely on
donations from
companies like
Maidenhead Aquatics and
Fishkeeper Scotland to send
test kits. They also want to
increase the arti?cial reef further,
but this requires funds for the raw
materials and wages for the local
?shermen to build the structures.
Culture doesn?t change overnight,
no matter how much money you
throw at it. Instead, it needs to evolve
slowly over time so the Balinese
people can keep their own cultural
identity while participating in reef
LINI has built over 2,000
arti?cial reef structures
conservation and sustainable
aquaculture techniques. However, it
is likely to take generations, not years,
for change to occur.
ABOVE:
Arti?cial reef
in Permuteran
Bay, Bali.
The attached
pieces of coral
quickly become
cemented into
place by the
accumulating
limestone.
Helping hands
NPL
Challenges
SHUTTERSTOCK
This has left an estimated 735
breeding pairs in the wild, and
therefore a potential re-population
after one spawning of 29,400 baby
Banggai (one pair has on average
40 eggs per spawn, 735 pairs x
40 eggs = 29,400 fry). Over
time, these numbers will
continue to grow and
the wild
population
should
hopefully
bounce back.
In the end, it doesn?t really matter
whether you buy wild-caught or
tank-bred marine ?sh. It?s a matter
of buying from a sustainable source
? one that promotes the protection
of the environment and the people
who rely on it.
As a hobbyist, you can help to save
the reefs by only buying ?sh from
sustainable suppliers like Bali CC,
and the tank-bred Cardinals from
LINI. By putting your hard-earned
cash into ?sh that are sustainable, it
will send a strong message down the
supply chain. The message will be
heard and action will be taken to
improve the sustainability of the reef
and the supply chain that supports
our love of marine aquaria. The more
we buy, the stronger the message,
and the quicker the change will be.
For those of you in the market for
buying a Banggai cardinal?sh I do
recommend LINI?s tank-bred
Banggai, which are available in the
UK from Maidenhead Aquatics and
Fishkeeper Scotland stores.
If you?re not looking for tank-bred
Cardinals but would still like to help,
you can ?nd out more and donate to
LINI via its website, lini.or.id.
And if you?re lucky enough to be
holidaying in Bali this year, you can
even book an airbnb at LATC!
If nothing else, please spread the
word to fellow hobbyists to buy ?sh
from sustainable sources only.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 87
MARINES
Stony corals
King om
of a s
Little ca
and s
uty
of a coral reef, but these animals are tricky to keep.
Here?s our beginner?s guide to coral success.
NEIL HEPWORTH
DAVE
WOLFENDEN
Dave is a former
aquatics lecturer
and is curator of
the Blue Planet
aquarium in Chester
88
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Know your corals
for a dazzling
display.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 89
MARINES
Stony corals
As the name suggests, LPS (or large
polyp stony) corals tend to have large
and often very ?eshy polyps. LPS
corals often inhabit deeper areas of
the reef, lagoons, seagrass beds and
areas with turbid water. They?re not
usually reef-building corals, but can
assume a massive growth habit. Many
are solitary and some, like Fungia spp.,
can actively move by in?ating their
polyps and catching the current.
LPS species are generally less
demanding ? large polyps make for
easy feeding, and their tolerance to
lower lighting and ?ow, plus a less
?nicky approach to water quality,
SPS corals
SPS (or small polyp stony) corals are
the true reef builders. These rapidly
growing corals are often found in the
high-energy reef crest where they?re
battered by the surf ? here, they can
assume branching (dendritic)
morphologies to absorb and dissipate
wave energy. Some, such as those
found in calmer waters, may assume
a plating (laminar) morphology.
SPS are more demanding than LPS,
requiring pristine water, high ?ow
and intense lighting, but in optimal
conditions they will grow quickly.
In fact, they can grow so rapidly that
SPS tend to be less aggressive and, to a certain
extent, can be packed in more tightly. However,
they may still employ tactics like ejecting ?ne,
thread-like acontia ?laments onto neighbours
NATHAN HILL
LPS corals
make them ideal corals for beginners.
They also grow slowly, so may not
need additional supplementation;
water changes alone are often
enough to maintain parameters.
On the downside, they can be very
aggressive, but many coral-keepers
favour LPS because of their diverse
morphologies, bright colours and
generally undemanding nature.
SHUTTERSTOCK
T
HANKS TO advances in
technology, high-quality
salt mixes and a better
all-round knowledge of
coral husbandry, these
intriguing invertebrates
are more accessible
than ever. Many stony
corals are still challenging to keep,
but there are some species that can
be a good choice for beginners.
You?ll often hear the terms LPS
and SPS used in relation to stony
corals. Although taxonomically
meaningless, these universally-used
terms are helpful in describing the
requirements of different corals.
Five of the best LPS corals
LPS are the best choice for coral-keeping beginners. They?re more forgiving than SPS, and with a wide variety of morphologies
and colours available, there?s something for everyone.
Bubble coral, Plerogyra sinuosa
This is among the easiest of hard corals, and it?s the distinctive, bubbleshaped vesicles covering the skeleton that give it its common name. By day,
the vesicles in?ate to allow more surface area for the zooxanthellae to do
their thing. At night, they de?ate, and the coral sends out feeder tentacles.
The polyps are typically white, though pink, blue or green-tinged specimens
are sometimes seen. Place P. sinuosa in areas of low ?ow and moderate
lighting and give it plenty of room (10cm or so) from neighbouring corals.
Lobed brain coral,
Lobophyllia hemprichii
This is a very ?eshy coral (also
known as the meat coral) that
comes in a range of colour
morphs ? red, blue, multicoloured? some are simply
stunning. It can be slightly
aggressive, so leave at least
5cm between this coral and
its neighbours in moderately
lit areas of the aquarium with
slack water movement. Feed
frequently with ?nely chopped
meaty foods.
ALL PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK
Plate coral, Fungia repanda
These distinctive corals occur as lone, disc-shaped specimens
up to 30cm across. They?re quite hardy, and found on areas
of sand or rubble in areas of low to moderate light and ?ow.
In the aquarium, they do best in a sand zone with moderate
lighting. Periodically they in?ate to rid themselves of sand, and
also to ride the current if they?re not happy in their location.
Numerous colour forms are available, with purple and green
being particularly attractive. Feeding Fungia is fun ? offer a meaty
morsel when its feeding tentacles are extended, and watch it
transport the food to its centrally located mouth.
Candy cane coral,
Caulastrea furcata
Candy canes are very attractive,
with distinctive trumpet-shaped
corallites topped with brightlycoloured polyps. The polyps
in?ate during the day,
and relatively short
sweeper tentacles
emerge at night.
On balance, they?re
pretty peaceful.
Place them in
moderate ?ow and
medium-intensity
light, feed them
?nely chopped
meaty foods, and
they?ll grow like crazy.
Hammer coral, Euphyllia ancora
The Hammer coral can form an impressive showpiece in a
larger LPS system ? colonies can reach nearly 1m in diameter.
The branching, trumpet-shaped corallites are tipped with a
jelly-like mass of anchor-shaped polyps. It doesn?t fare well
in strong water movement, as excessive ?ow can damage the
living tissue. Moderately intense lighting will suf?ce, but add
some actinic to the mix and the coral will really pop.
Euphyllia needs space as it can send out potent sweepers to
30cm distance, so create a decent ?no man?s land? around it.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 91
MARINES
Stony corals
they deplete calcium, magnesium,
alkalinity and other parameters, so
may need supplementation.
Acclimation
Corals aren?t ?nicky when it comes
to acclimation to temperature and
salinity ? in fact, many reefkeepers
don?t bother acclimating corals at all.
However, photosynthetic corals can
suffer from a phenomenon known as
light shock when ?rst introduced to
the aquarium ? excessive oxygen
produced by zooxanthellae appears
to be the cause. It?s always advisable
to shade corals when introducing
them to the tank and allow them to
adapt to the intended light intensity
over a couple of weeks or so.
Quarantining corals
It?s well worth investing in a basic
quarantine tank. Quarantining corals
is good practice as you can screen
for disease and, if necessary, treat
the corals before they?re introduced
to the main aquarium. It?s also useful
in screening for pests that can cause
havoc, like ?atworms.
Feeding
Although photosynthetic stony
corals derive energy from their algal
symbionts (zooxanthellae), they still
require feeding to provide nitrogen.
Of crucial importance is the size of
92
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
SHUTTERSTOCK
Some species straddle the boundary
between LPS and SPS. Horn coral,
Hydnophora rigida, is often considered an
SPS as it has a branching habit and
needs high flow and intense lighting.
But it also has distinctive polyps and
is very aggressive ? traits more
typical of LPS corals.
feed, and this is related to the size of
the polyps able to capture it.
LPS are the easiest corals to feed,
and will accept minced or chopped
meaty foods and even pellets.
However, frequent feedings can
impact on water quality, which is
one reason why mixed LPS/SPS
tanks are a challenge to maintain.
SPS require smaller feed items,
including zooplankton like copepods
as well as bacterial ?ocs (if carbon
dosing is being used). Micronised
powder feeds and liquid foods are
also available, but don?t overdo them
as they can affect water quality.
coral?s gut), which are ejected onto
neighbours ? literally digesting them
alive. So spacing LPS colonies is
vital, and exactly how much room
each needs depends on the species.
SPS tend to be less aggressive and,
to a certain extent, can be packed in
more tightly. However, they may still
employ tactics like ejecting ?ne,
thread-like acontia ?laments
(analogous to mesenterial ?laments)
onto neighbours. While an SPS
system can be densely stocked,
watch out for colonies in very close
proximity, and avoid having colonies
touching each other.
Coral placement
Correct placement of corals is vital
to ensure they receive the right ?ow
and lighting for their needs. Lagoonal
LPS species, for example, generally
need positioning in slack water with
moderate lighting, while branching
SPS fare better under intense
lighting and strong, chaotic ?ow.
Aggression is another factor to
consider, especially with LPS as they
often pack heat in the form of
sweeper tentacles, which can be
very potent. These are speci?cally
targeted at neighbours perceived as
competition for space on the reef.
Another strategy involves the use of
mesenterial ?laments (nematocystladen structures derived from the
Can I mix LPS and SPS?
While it?s possible to mix LPS and SPS in
the same system, it presents challenges due
to their differing needs for ?ow, lighting
and water quality, so it?s best to focus on
one or the other, at least in the beginning.
In larger systems, ?ow and lighting can be
tailored to the needs of individual corals,
but it?s more of a challenge to achieve
water parameters that suit both types. I?m
not saying LPS can live in a muddy puddle,
but they generally need higher phosphates
and nitrates than SPS. Conversely, the
pristine water favoured by SPS corals might
not suit LPS, and it?s dif?cult to ?nd a
?sweet spot? that keeps both types happy.
Five of the best SPS corals
With SPS you need to maintain optimal water quality (with low levels of nitrate and phosphate), provide high-quality lighting
and ensure adequate ?ow. Offer particulate feeds on a regular basis, and/or provide copepods or rotifers.
No SPS could ever be considered ?easy?, but the following are good choices for those wanting to take the plunge. SPS corals
are generally better for fragging and propagation, thanks to their morphology and rapid growth.
SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK
Birds nest coral, Seriatopora hystrix
This aptly named coral sports intertwined, needlesharp branches in various shades, with pink
specimens being popular. They require high ?ow,
but the colour form may dictate how much light is
needed ? pink corals seem to need high-intensity
lighting; yellow or brown individuals may fare
better under moderate lighting, though the species
is adaptable to a certain extent. It?s one of the
least-demanding SPS and an ideal starter species.
ALAMY
Cauli?ower coral,
Pocillopora damicornis
It?s easy to see why this species
assumes its common name, thanks to
its cauli?ower-like growth habit. Pink,
or pink and green specimens are the
most sought after. Provide intense
lighting and high ?ow to get the best
out of it.
SHUTTERSTOCK
Club ?nger coral, Stylophora pistillata
This species has distinctive stubby branches,
and there are numerous colour forms,
ranging from tan or green to pink, orange
and purple. Offer strong water movement
and bright lighting and you won?t go far
wrong. It?s a very adaptable species, and
the morphology of individual colonies
may be signi?cantly in?uenced by lighting
and ?ow.
Cactus coral,
Pavona decussatus
This branching coral has
a fuzzy appearance with
the polyps extended.
It?s an adaptable
species and moderate
to strong lighting is
?ne, although growth
tends to be better
in higher-intensity
lighting once the
coral has acclimated.
Incorporate some
actinic lighting and
Pavona can look
really striking.
ALAMY
Velvet ?nger coral, Montipora digitata
With polyps extended, this coral has a ?uffy
appearance. A huge range of colours are available,
and it?s justi?ably popular thanks to its attractive
appearance and adaptability. Although one of the
least-challenging SPS, Velvet ?nger corals still need
excellent water quality, but look after them and they
will grow quickly.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 93
GEAR & REVIEWS
Mustard gas
male Betta.
Roadtrip
to Devon
Come with us to the West Country where we visit
four all-rounder aquatics shops in Devon.
TOTAL JOURNEY TIME: 12 HRS 15 MINS. MILES: 663
94
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Visit 1
STEVE SAYS: The colourful, vinyl
wrap ?nish to the shop front looks
appealing, but gives no clue about
what you can expect from this
well-established family-run business.
The ?rst thing that hits you on
entering is the slight nostalgia of
tanks bubbling away, with air-driven
undergravel ?lters running in each.
This sets a bit of a precedent ? the
shop is kind of old school and happily
described as such by co-owner Dean.
Sarah and Dean have owned the
shop for around 15 years now and
the staf?ng is very stable. Sarah has
been working here for 20 years, other
staff for up to 23 years, so there?s real
rapport with long-term customers.
The nicest feeling for me was
looking around and noticing things
that tell me they understand both
the industry and the hobby well in
this shop. For example, they have
some non-aquatic plants for sale,
but clearly state the implications of
keeping them underwater. They also
use these plants above the waterline
in their display tanks to great effect.
Every display tank, I should add,
looked great, and had a unique feel.
The focus of the shop is tropical
freshwater, although coldwater,
marines and ponds are catered for
too. The pond section is a reasonably
new venture, mostly supplying for
smaller, courtyard-style ponds, and
has a nice plant selection, including
The Bucktooth
has a good
scienti?c name.
ALL: NATHAN HILL
Emperor Tropicals &
Water Garden Centre
25th June
specialist carnivorous plants. If you?re
a marine hobbyist, you?re not likely
to discover much that will excite,
but you?ll ?nd all your day-to-day
products and everything needed to
build a set-up. The coldwater/
temperate section is large, offering a
good mix of cool water ?tropicals?
like different danios, barbs, Paradise
?sh and Corydoras, as well as a
selection of small fantail and fancy
gold?sh and plants.
Dry goods are bursting out in every
room except the tropical ?sh house,
and there are some high-quality
brands around such as Eheim,
Kessil, Seachem, Evolution Aqua,
Fluval and Red Sea. There?s a large
selection of tanks and stands too.
The focus, though, is on the trops
and that?s where I can get excited.
There?s a nice selection of common
community ?sh, with a few goodies I
don?t often see, like Bumblebee and
Spadetail platies. There are plenty of
AT A
GLANCE
EMPEROR
TROPICALS
Address:
St Erth Road,
Manadon,
Plymouth, Devon
PL2 3SW
Telephone:
01752 706633
Website:
emperortropicals.
co.uk
Number of tanks:
120 tropical,
48 coldwater/
temperate,
9 marine,
100 quarantine
Parking:
Roadside,
residential area
?sh to interest more immersive
hobbyists, including Chocolate and
Samurai gourami, Geophagus, Zebra
and Giant otocinclus and Bucktoothed tetra. Betta fans will enjoy
the selection of fancy ?ghters and
the prices, with Crowntails, Super
delta, Plakat and King Betta ranging
from �25 to �.25.
One thing that?s very important to
me (and becoming more of an ?old
school? practice) is quarantining
stock and Emperor can boast 100
tanks in its quarantine facility.
The plant selection is strong. If you
want specialist plants there?s an
additional system of mini tanks by
the counter selling lily bulbs,
Madagascan lace plant and
Bucephalandra pots. If you want
something moss covered, then
you?re in luck there too. There?s
great advice on plant care, and the
display tanks highlight the staff?s
abilities. Staff member Lexi is
FASCINATING FISH
BUCKTOOTH TETRA
6Scientific name: Exodon paradoxus
6Size: 15cm
6Origin: Brazil and Guyana
6Habitat: Flowing, sandy rivers
6Tank size: Minimum 120x45x45cm
6Water requirements: Soft and acidic, 5.5-7.4 pH,
hardness below 16癏
6Temperature: 24-27癈
6Temperament: Aggressive scale eaters, species
tanks only
6Feeding: Loves bloodworm, but will take ?akes
and granules
6Availability and cost: Uncommon indeed; these were
on sale for �85
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 95
GEAR & REVIEWS
Roadtrip: Devon
currently the highest-rated female
aquascaper in the UK.
It?s clear this shop belongs to owners
and staff who?ve been hobbyists and
industry employees for quite a while;
they know their stuff and push
things slightly outside the box
compared to conventional practice.
It?s not surprising to see nine PFK
Readers? poll awards hung up
overhead, including ?Plant retailer of
the year? and ?Retailer of the year?.
NATHAN SAYS: It?s quite dark, the
tanks are bright, and there?s an old
world/new world fusion ? aquaria
with modern ?sh in tanks bubbling
away, with undergravels and
substrates sloped back to front, just
like they used to make ?em. Look up
and you?ll see a little light relief in
the form of a lifesize model shark,
and quirky signs. You?re not in the
presence of a stuffy shop owner.
The place is packed like the inside
of a beehive. What Emperor lacks in
footprint it makes up for in sheer
weight of stock. Livestock bursts
from the tanks, and dry goods are
wedged into every cranny. There?s a
small and immaculate pond section
to one side, and when you get to the
back of the store you?ll encounter
the respectfully stocked coldwater/
temperate tanks and healthy
marines. But none of that is a touch
on the tropical freshwater medley.
Look hard, as the tanks aren?t
sparsely decorated, and you?ll see all
kinds of L-numbers tucked up under
wood. There are other oddities too,
like the Bucktooth tetra.
From a dry goods point of view,
Emperor is an Aladdin?s cave. Some
space is given over to tanks and
cabinets, but even those have been
utilised to carry even more stock.
Plants deserve a special mention,
because they?re so lovely. A plant vat
is the very ?rst thing you see on
entry, and everything inside is lush.
When you go through to the dry
goods/till area, stop and swivel your
head left. You?ll spot what was once
a Betta rack repurposed to hold
specialist plants. It?s the ?rst time
I?ve seen healthy Madagascar
laceleafs in a long while.
But straight up, the main reason to
shop here (if you?re anything like
me) is to go on a browse through
those tropical tanks. It?s the
selection that keeps on giving.
ABOVE: Rows of
specialist plants
are great to see.
Visit
2
Maidenhead Aquatics @
Endsleigh.
June 25th
STEVE SAYS: This is the ?rst of the
south west Maidenhead stores I?ve
visited and it has more to offer than
many others in the Maidenhead
group I?ve seen. Most obviously the
sump tanks don?t look like they?re
just a part of the ?ltration, or a
holding tank, like most do. These
sumps look well thought out and
cared for, with displays of fancy
gold?sh, rainbow?sh, mixed cichlid
tanks and one housing rehomed
Silver sharks and Synodontis cat?sh.
96
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
In the sales tanks it wasn?t long
before I spotted something different
and interesting. First, a tank of
Gecko loaches, Homalopteroides
smithi, caught my attention (�,
then some Burma danio and Danio
tinwini (�, Thayeri acara, Blue
panchax, Diphyes cory and locally
bred Nannacara taenia.
Small and nano tanks are well
catered for with a number of tiny
species such as Chilli rasbora, Neon
green rasbora (�, Glowlight danio,
ember tetras and more. The selection
of South American cichlids was also
good including Red tiger (�) and
Spotted severums (�), Diadema
acara, Festivums, Salvin?s cichlids,
Uaru and some great angel?sh
variants like Red devils (�) and
Red cap albinos.
The normal suspects are all there
too, with a large selection of common
tetras, barbs, Corydoras, gouramis
and so on. Betta fans have a decent
selection of fancy ?ghters with Koi
plakat types catching my eye at �.
The pond area carries a good
selection of plants and 12 vats of
pond ?sh offering everything from a
small gold?sh to handpicked 45cm
Koi at �0, and some alternative
pond ?sh like Golden rudd (� and
Gudgeon (�.
Marines looked good, with some
interesting oddities dotted around
like Angler?sh (�), Moustache
jaw?sh (�) and Decorated gobies
(�), along with more normal,
pretty salty livestock such as Neon
pygmy gobies (�), Striped
AT A
GLANCE
MAIDENHEAD @
ENDSLEIGH
Address:
Endsleigh Garden
Centre, Ivybridge,
Devon PL21 9JL
Telephone:
01752 698442
Website:
?shkeeper.co.uk/
store/endsleigh
Number of tanks:
172 tropical,
16 coldwater,
78 marine
Parking:
Large garden
centre car park
cardinals (�) and Blue tangs (�).
Livestock health was good, tanks
were clean, and the only thing
lacking was aquarium plants, but
that was just poor timing on our part.
NATHAN SAYS: An open plan layout
makes this site feel especially
spacious and airy.
The stars of the show here are the
tropical ?sh. Nicely sized, fairly
priced, and with a selection that
ABOVE:
Koi Plakat
Betta.
BELOW: A nice
Homolopteroides smithi
Gecko loach.
The stars of the show here are the
tropical ?sh. Nicely sized, fairly priced, and
with a selection that breaks away from the
sedentary mainstream
breaks away from the sedentary
mainstream. Nice cat?sh abound
(I?m looking at you, Corydoras
diphyes), along with a great offering
of Siamese ?ghters. There are even
locally reared and sourced ?sh
(Nannacara, courtesy of long-term
PFK contributor John Rundle).
Add to that the brightly coloured
Asian rummeynose, and you get an
idea of the kind of things on sale.
There?s plenty to keep you occupied,
without being too outlandish.
The marine selection is nice and
broad ? smaller ?sh, bigger ?sh, reef
friendlies and reef nasties. A few
nano gobies in particular caught my
eye, and there are some bargains to
be found amongst a teeming
selection of inverts.
Get chatting to the staff, as
everyone is friendly here, and they?ll
give you the tour of all the hidden
delights you might otherwise miss. I
only had to ask what their favourite
?sh were and they were off, eyes
wide and smiles beaming as they
guided me through the selection.
In a nutshell, you can put together
some nice community tanks based
on the stock here. Really nice ones.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 97
GEAR & REVIEWS
Roadtrip: Devon
Visit 3
South Devon Aquatics
June 26th
STEVE SAYS: When you ?nd South
Devon Aquatic Centre in a small,
local shopping area, and see the size
of it, you may feel disappointment.
It instantly feels like a basic shop to
serve the local community with the
essentials. To be fair, that?s quite on
point for the pond section (which is
hidden behind the sales counter), a
small selection of ?sh and plants
with enough dry goods to get you
through, but it?s not fair for either
the tropical or marine selections.
The business has been at this site
for roughly 15 years and was in its
previous location for around the
same duration. Staff member Trevor
has been here for six years and has a
lot of marine experience to share, as
ABOVE:
Golden ram,
Mikrogeophagus
ramirezi.
BELOW: Glass
headstander,
Charax gibbosus.
well as freshwater knowledge.
Though there?s a small number of
tanks and plenty of basic community
?sh ?lling them, South Devon
Aquatics seems to be good at
sneaking a few corkers in here and
there. Fish of note included
Pimelodella gracilis (�), Myleus
schomburgkii (�), Rainbow
snakehead (�), albino Senegal
bichir (�) and Mystus vittatus.
On the opposite side of the room,
the bright marines show off. As I
said, Trevor has good knowledge of
marines, in particular fussy feeders
like seahorses, Moorish idols and
Copperband butter?ies, and that
shows with the stock, which is busy,
heathy and looks well fed. The
mixture of ?sh are a balance of
non-reef and reef-friendly, including
Fire tusk?sh (�), Candy hog?sh
(�) and some cracking Anthias
(� female/� male).
Though there?s a small number of tanks, and plenty of basic
community ?sh ?lling them, South Devon Aquatics seems to be
good at sneaking a few corkers in here and there
98
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
NATHAN SAYS: Somewhat off the
beaten track, South Devon Aquatic
Centre is nestled in a quiet
residential area with parking just
around the side, as it forms part of a
small promenade of shops.
Inside the store, you?ll ?nd a tidy
and traditional layout. To your left
and right there are banks of
freshwater and marine tanks,
respectively, while in between is
where you?ll ?nd tanks for sale
(including a couple of rather nice
aquascape set-ups) and a selection
of dry goods.
Although you won?t see it from
the shop ?oor, there?s also a small
pond section here. Ask the staff
and they?ll show you, but it takes a
short trip through the counter area.
It isn?t huge, but for a few pond
?llers South Devon Aquatics will
see you right.
In keeping with the rest of this trip,
the strengths are to be found in the
tropical freshwater selection.
Marines are nice enough, with some
of the healthiest Anthias I?ve seen in
a while, and a good scattering of
corals in a dedicated table, but the
selection of ?freshies? contains a fair
few eclectic treats. From toothy
Charax types of tetra, to sleek
unusual pimelodids, there was
enough to keep me hooting as I
looked from tank to tank.
More importantly, the health of
all the ?sh was totally on point.
Vibrant colours all round, plump
bellies, and a lack of tattered ?ns
inspired a lot of con?dence in me
as a potential buyer.
Some very
healthy Anthias.
AT A
GLANCE
SOUTH DEVON
AQUATIC
CENTRE
Address:
2 Cherrybrook
Square, Paignton,
Devon TQ4 7LY
Telephone:
01803 844498
Website:
southdevon
aquaticcentre.co.uk
Number of tanks:
52 tropical,
8 coldwater,
19 marine,
6 pond vats
Parking: Local
shop car park
Slender pim,
Pimlodella
gracillis.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 99
GEAR & REVIEWS
Roadtrip: Devon
Visit
4
Bow Aquatic centre
July 26th
STEVE SAYS: Bow Aquatic Centre is
nestled ?rmly within Bow Garden
Centre, a large, family-run concern
that grew out of the aquatics side of
the business. You feel a real love of
water as you wander round the
garden plant sales area with small
ponds dotted around and a stream
leading to a Koi pond by a cafe.
The business was bought by its
current owners in mid-2013 and has
recently undergone expansion with
more space given over to marine
livestock and tropical dry goods in
particular.
It?s a large, open plan aquatics
department, with ?sh one side of a
wall and dry goods the other.
Tropical ?sh cover many common
community species, with numerous
less-seen specialities popping their
heads up too. There?s a fair number
of plecs around ? not rare and
expensive types, but for someone
starting a collection there?s a good
choice of low to mid-priced
suckermouths.
Noble gouramis (�) stood out for
me, along with Debawi cat?sh (�,
Microsynodontis polli (�50), Badis
badis (�, Rope ?sh (�.80) and
Golden nugget plecs (�).
A small selection of temperate
?trops? are joined by different true
coldwater species like Albino
weather loach (�, Electric blue
dace (�, Rainbow dace (� and
A charming Gold
nugget plec.
You feel a real love of water as you wander
round the garden plant sales area with
small ponds dotted about and a stream
leading to a Koi pond by a cafe
AT A
GLANCE
BOW AQUATIC
CENTRE
Address:
Bow, Crediton,
Devon EX17 6LA
Telephone:
01363 82438
Website:
bowaquatics.co.uk
Number of tanks:
115 Tropical,
12 Coldwater,
48 Marine,
20 pond vats
Parking:
Large garden
centre car park
small fancy gold?sh (from �.
Marine livestock is tailored toward
?sh-only tanks, which ?ts Bow?s
audience. This paves the way for
some interesting ?sh like Pinktail
trigger (�), Harlequin tusk?sh
(�0) Red-banded hog?sh (�0)
and Clown wrasse (�). A marine
delivery turned up as we arrived,
including some large angels and
some cracking-looking Butter?ies.
Reef-safe ?sh are also available,
along with a small selection of soft
corals for those going down the reef
route. All marine livestock comes
from Tropical Marine Centre, a
decision made for reasons of
responsibility and conservation.
Poke your head outside and you?ll
see a large selection of pond and
water gardening plants ? something
that Rachel, head of aquatics,
majors in and you can see the result.
The pond ?sh offer good variety and
there are some nice-looking Koi.
You?re not likely to come out
complaining about a lack of choice
in dry goods, There are plenty of
tanks on display from the likes of
Fluval, Juwel, TMC, Aqua one and
more. There?s also lots of aquarium
equipment by Oase and Fluval, and
plenty of consumables. Pond
equipment is a little disjointed,
being positioned beyond gardening
products, but it?s another
comprehensive collection of goods
from Oase, Laguna, Pontec and NT
Labs. The large array of pipe ?ttings
also deserves a special mention.
All in all, this seems like a big,
comprehensive aquatics shop that
probably serves a large local area.
There aren?t many competitors close
by, but unless you want a really
specialist set-up or ?sh, you?re not
likely to need another shop.
NATHAN SAYS: OK, this one really
is blended in with a garden centre,
so don?t be too surprised to ?nd
yourself looking at outdoor furniture
one moment, and pipe?sh the next.
Have a good stroll about, as things
are spread over a wide area, with the
dry goods hidden back-to-back
100 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
TOP: Noble
gourami,
Ctenops nobilis.
ABOVE:
Peacock goby,
Tateurndina
ocellicauda.
LEFT: Bluestriped pipe?sh,
Doryrhamphus
excisus.
behind the open plan ?sh house,
and the pond section partly pushed
into a far corner, while the
remainder of it is outside.
Once you know where everything
is, you?ll ?nd it tidy and well
organised. The pond goods roughly
match the indoor goods for volume,
meaning there?s a fair bit of both ?
it was nice to see a good offering of
Oase aquarium gear, including a
selection of their canister ?lters.
On the ?sh side, there are lots of
?safe? species on both the freshwater
and marine fronts, with a handful of
oddities tossed in to keep things
excited. Little pipe?sh caught my
eye in the marine section, while
some handsome Noble gourami and
Microsynodontis (I tried getting a
photo, but they wouldn?t play) kept
me lingering by the freshwater
tanks. There are plenty of staples.
Plants (aquarium) were sparse, but
that fell more to the time of our visit.
Outside, the offering of greenery was
much more signi?cant, and
well-presented too. This place is a
good bet if you?re after pond foliage.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 101
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In the November iue
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6The wonderful
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Nannacara taenia
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WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 103
GEAR & REVIEWS
GEAR
Steve Baker takes a look at different
lighting options to suit a range of
budgets and tanks.
FLUVAL MARINE 3.0
RRPs: �9.99-�6.99
More info: hagen.com
This is the second generation of Fluval?s sea LED unit and
there are huge improvements. Instead of just three settings
? low blues, full power (25,000K) or off ? there?s now an
easy-to-use bluetooth smartphone app. Five spectrums
are independently adjustable for power and you can
customise the sunrise/sunset start and ?nish times.
There are three models, catering for tank sizes 61-145cm.
The power might struggle to satisfy demanding corals.
Easy to use, fully adjustable, good value.
You need a smartphone so you can download the (free) app.
INTERPET TRI-SPEC2
RRPs: �4.99-�4.99
More info: interpet.co.uk
This is an update to the original Tri-Spec. What you get is a unit
that can neatly replace ?furniture? tank lights, tanks with
?ap lids (Juwel and Fluval Rio, for example) and many
others. There are three different ?ttings and a hanging kit
is available. The double switch controls reds/white on
one side, and blues on the other. An app controller is
available separately (�.99). The unit is waterproof
to 1m and there are four sizes to suit tanks 52-124cm.
Suits furniture tanks, punchy for the wattage.
Not controllable as standard.
FLUVAL AQUASKY 2.0
RRPs: �.99-�9.99
More info: hagen.com
The main update with the Fluval Aquasky is that it loses the
old remote control in favour of an easy-to-use phone app.
Manual mode on the app gives all the same options the
remote did, while auto mode allows full adjustability of
power for each colour, day length and sunrise/sunset
periods. Seven sizes suit tanks from 38-145cms and
three ?tting options allow it to replace T5 and T8 bulbs,
be retro-?tted, or go ?luminaire? style.
Adaptable, adjustable and good value.
For strong plant growth you may need two.
104 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
FIRST LOOK
AQUARIUM SYSTEMS PROTEN
RRPs: �.99-�4.99
More info: aquariumsystems.fr/en
The Proten LED from Aquarium Systems is available in
freshwater and marine models. The freshwater (shown here)
gives a traditional, slightly pink colouration and comes with
a double switch, one for low power (6 diodes), the other for
higher power (15 diodes). It?s also compatible with a
separate bluetooth controller. The range of ?ttings makes
the Proten very adaptable and it comes in ?ve sizes to suit
tanks of 25-150cm.
Very adaptable for fitting, low power consumption.
Price-wise, it?s up against the programmable Aquasky.
AQUAEL LEDDY SLIM PLANT
RRPs: �.99-�.99
More info: aquael.com.pl/en
Here?s Aquael doing what it does so well ? producing basic,
low-priced aquarium goods that punch well above their
weight. The Plant version of the Leddy Slim offers 8000k.
Four model sizes suit tanks of 20-120cm, with one style of
bracket suiting 6mm glass in the smaller models, and
16mm in the larger. There?s no adjustability, just an on/off
switch, but it?s not expected at this price range. Other
models include Marine, Actinic and Sunny (bottom of page).
Simple, low cost.
No adjustability.
FLUVAL PLANT 3.0
RRPs: �9.99-�9.99
More info: hagen.com
In use, this is the same as the Fluval Marine LED unit. All
sizes and ?tments are the same, covering tank sizes of
61-145cm with three models, but the diode spectrums are
very different with the Plant 3.0 model offering 6500k, and
being cheaper in price because of that. With the bluetooth
phone app, it?s fully adjustable for power, spectrum and
timing. There?s a night-time setting and you can also ramp
it up and down for sunrise/sunset.
Easy to use, fully adjustable, good value.
Again, you need a smartphone, so that you can use the free app.
AQUAEL LEDDY SLIM SUNNY
APPS
They sometimes
scare people but
the apps included
with the Fluvals (and the
optional Interpet app) are
easy to get on with and
add lots of features.
Here?s a different model in the Aquael Leddy Slim range ?
the Sunny version, which offers a 6500k light with no frills.
Due to slightly simpler diodes for the different spectrum,
the Sunny comes in slightly cheaper, but still has a good
spectrum for growing plants. This light is the pick of the
bunch if you?re on a tight budget. There?s no adjustability
built in, but use a plug timer, then you?re only missing
the sunrise/sunset settings.
Simple, low cost.
No adjustability.
JACQUES PORTAL
RRPs: �.99-�.99
More info: aquael.com.pl/en
?
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 105
GEAR & REVIEWS
GEAR FIRST LOOK
Following on from its successful ?Aquascaper? tank range,
Evolution Aqua?s new eaFreshwater range gets it right too.
EA FRESHWATER 900
First look: Steve Baker
Price: �9
More info: fishkeeper.co.uk
Evolution Aqua has already shown that when you get
expert aquarists involved in the design side of aquarium
production, special things can happen.
The Aquascaper range, developed with input from
PFK contributors George Farmer and Jeremy Gay, has
been a huge hit with profesional and budding
aquascapers alike. Likewise, the eaReefPro has been a
great success in the marine world, and now the latest
launch from Evolution Aqua is set to continue the trend.
Former PFK editor Jeremy Gay has again been involved
in the design. The ?nish is just as ?high-end? as the
existing ranges, but this is clearly an aquarium built for
purpose as well as looks. It?s made with the ?shkeeper
in mind (obvious, maybe, as it?s a ?sh tank?), but what
I didn?t like with the Aquascaper, as a ?sh fan, was the
open top. I don?t like the idea of ?sh jumping, or of
evaporation altering water chemistry and making the
?lter outlet gurgle, but open tops are just what?s needed for
aquascapes, allowing the use of high-powered lighting.
This new tank resolves that issue with style ? the
slimline lighting and lid keep bulk out of the design, the
rear glass cut-outs allow a ?ow-through of air and ease
of use with external ?lters (they?re even practical enough
to get a plug through), and lights and covers are easy to
remove and clean. Normal ?oat glass keeps the retail
price affordable, while other features include the neatest
silicone work, pre-built silicone-sealed cabinets, and a
?xed foam pad (a godsend!). The cabinet and hood are
available in a choice of 12 ?nishes.
Black silicone has been used to avoid staining from
the use of medications, the versitile lighting bracket can
be positioned forwards or back or removed altogether,
plus it comes with a tub of Evolution Aqua?s pure
aquarium balls to kickstart your new set-up.
The eaFreshwater range offers tanks of 60cm, 90cm
and 120cm length all with a width of 50cm and a
height of 70cm (60cm of water)
plus there?s a 60cm cube option
with the same 70cm height.
This extra height gives a
modern, premium look and adds
a lot of water capacity for a
modest footprint, so it?s an ideal
choice for locations where ?oor
space is at a premium. If you don?t
have long arms though, you may
need to get yourself a small stool.
The range is currently exclusive
to Maidenhead Aquatics.
106 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
GREAT FOR:
Fish with deeper
bodies like Discus,
angelfish, fancy
goldfish etc.
LIGHTING IS INCLUDED
As standard it comes with 2 x Natural Sun 7000k led tubes,
with the provision to add two more. By the time you read this,
there should be other models available too ? Colour Plus
(RGB), Cool White (12000K) and Sea Blue (all-blue LEDs).
FISH FRENZY
SATURDAY 6TH OCTOBER
Come and join us for a FREE IXQ�OOHGGD\
&
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FHOHEUDWLRQV DQG \RX DUH LQYLWHG
DON?T MISS OUT ON THIS EVENT!
IT WILL BE A GREAT DAY Free
Guest
Speakers
Raffle
Prizes
Trade
Stands
EXCLU
ON THE SIVE
DA
EVENT Y
DISCOU
NTS
Giveaways
Food and
Drink
Barlows Aquatic Trading + Lancashire Discus
Sales, Brisol Works, Mount Street, Accrington,
Lancashire, BB5 0PJ. Tel: 01254 388815
www.barlows-aquarium-supplies.com
www.lancashirediscussales.co.uk
TIME TO
STEP OFF THAT
TRE ADMILL
Press pause once in a while
and curl up with your favourite magazine.
To find out more about Press Pause, visit;
pauseyourday.co.uk
READERS? POLL
SPONSORED BY
T
HE LAST chance to vote is
closing in fast! As the
Practical Fishkeeping
Readers? Poll reaches its ?nal
month, we?re asking for one
last push from you, the
voters, to get your entries in
and help us to crown the
very best aquatics stores in the UK.
Shops are the unsung heroes of the
industry and running one can sometimes be
a thankless task, so the Readers? Poll is a way
of showing your favourite shop you care.
Vote for your
favourite store in
our Readers? Poll
? and you could
win a great prize
from Fluval!
How do I vote?
What?s in it for me?
Simply go to the PFK website at
Just for getting involved, you get entered
pfkmag.com/shops, and you?ll be
into our fantastic Fluval prize draw,
asked to vote for the best store in
with a chance of winning one of
one region. This should be
the fabulous prizes listed below.
the region where your
Voting closes on September
Share pics and stories
favourite store is located
26th 2018, and results of
of your favourite shops on
if it?s in a different area to
the prize draw will be
our Facebook page.
you. From there, you just
announced later in the year.
#pfkreaderspoll
need to leave your name and
contact details to be in with a
6 For full terms and conditions
chance of winning one of the
visit bauerlegal.co.uk/competitionexcellent Fluval prizes.
terms.html
WHAT YOU COULD WIN!
FLUVAL FLEX 57 L
AQUARIUM SET
FLUVAL U4
UNDERWATER FILTER
RRP �9.99
The Fluval Flex not only offers bold,
contemporary styling with its distinctive
curved front, but is also equipped with
powerful multi-stage ?ltration and brilliant
LED lighting that allows you to customise
several settings via remote control.
1ST
PRIZE
RRP �.99
With outstanding three-stage
?ltration, increased water
movement and vital aeration, the
Fluval U4
stays at the
cutting edge
of internal
canister
?lter design.
RUNNERS-UP
WE ALSO HAVE 10
PRIZES OF FLUVAL
FOOD PRODUCT
PACKAGES!
FLUVAL PRISM
UNDERWATER SPOTLIGHT
RRP �.99
Add excitement to your aquatic habitat with
the Fluval Prism Underwater Spotlight. This
remote-controlled, high-output spotlight LED
allows you to create up to 80 multicolour
lighting options, including special effects
and weather effects.
3RD
PRIZE
2ND
PRIZE
VOTE NOW: pfkmag.com/shops
READERS? POLL CLASSIFIED
Cast your vote NOW for your
Abacus Aquatics
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If you like what we do,
please vote for us
Doing well in the readers poll helps us to run
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www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway St, Sidcup, Kent DA15 8DJ
Tel: 020 8302 8000
2017
VOTE
FOR US IN
2018
With over 20 years experience in all
types of Aquatic Design and Installation
at Clearly Aquatics we design, construct
and maintain all sizes and styles of
ponds, pools, water features, and
bespoke aquariums.
Wide range of Japanese Koi, tropical,
cold water and marine fish.
Pond & Aquarium Equipment
specialists.
Dicksons Garden Centre, 79 Cootehall Road,
Bangor, Co.Down BT19 1UP
028 9185 2277 www.clearlyaquatics.co.uk
Unit 11
Carrickmacross Shopping Centre
Main Street
Telephone: 086 189 3088
Carrickmacross
e-mail: carrickaquatics@gmail.com
Co. Monaghan
www.carrickaquatics.wix.com/carrickaquatics
Eire
DISCOVERY AQUATICS
Scotland?s top shop 2017 ? Wow!
CROWDERS-AQUATICS@HOTMAIL.COM
26 Chalet Hill, Bordon,
GU35 0TQ
01420 478387
FIND US ON
:(/29($//7+(5(,672
/29($%287+$9,1*$
1$785$/$48$5,80
We are Kaz and Rocky Crowder and are
an independent aquascaping and tropical
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We stock some of the most amazing products
on our shelfs including:
?ATM
?Dennerle
?Fishscience
?Oase and many more
VOTE
FOR US
Discovery Aquatics, Unit 18 Manhattan Works, Dundonald Street, Dundee DD3 7PY
01382 452364 www.discoveryaquatics.co.uk
Readers?poll
2017
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
s /NE OF THE LARGEST SELECTIONS OF lSH IN THE 5+
s (UGE RANGE OF !QUARIUM 0OND DRY GOODS
s &RIENDLY ADVICE FROM EXPERIENCED lSHKEEPERS
s #USTOM MADE AQUARIUMS AND CABINETS
Readers?poll
Voted UK Aquatic Retailer of the Year six times & top aquatic shop in our region 10 times since 2003!
65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts NG16 6LH Just 5 minutes from junction 28 on the M1!
Tel: 01773 861255 Marines: 01773 811044 Reptiles: 01773 811499
110 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
2017
?Multiple PFK
pollwinner
Wharf is just like a buffet
of fishkeeping. You visit
and want to try everything
because the staff do it all so
very well.? PFK, April 2013
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
favourite retailer at pfkmag.com/shops
R
E
D
R
O
T
S
R
I
F
F
F
O
10%
Marine ish
from TMC
Wide range of
tropicals
Coldwater and
pond fish
Website
Fish2yourdoor.com
or trimaraquaria.com
OPENIN
G TIME
?M
S
? TUE ONDAY: CLO
S, WED
SED
? THUR & FRI 10.30-6
.00
S1
? SAT 1 0.30-2.00
0.00-6.0
www.wh ? SUN 10.00-2.00
olesale
0
tropicals
aquatics.c
o.uk
reen Road,
220 Bethnal G E2
London,
5356
Tel: 020 7739 44
24
Fax: 020 7729
Lincolnshire?s and Yorkshire?s Largest
TH
+
+
+
+
+
+
as your South East Retailer of the year VOTE
+
+
+
+
+
+
HI
RE
LINC
IR
E
LINC
R
E
YORKSH
QUAT
SA
PLEASE VOTE FOR US
S
IC
SOU
T
I
LN S H
QUAT
SA
S
IC
CO
S
EA
LI
N
QUAT
SA
S
IC
LINC
Indoor Aquatic Centre 30,000 sq ft
VOTE
TROP
SHOP
YORKS
friendly help expert advi
ce ? open 7 days a week
all your aquatic needs under one roof!
LARGE SELECTION OF
HUGE SELECTION OF
? Working Water Features
? Waterfall Display
? Ro-Water
? Tropical & Marine Mix
? Koi & Ornamental Pond Fish
? Marine Fish & Invertebrates
? Tropical & Fancy Cold Water Fish
? Pond & Tropical Plants
? Aquariums
Come & feed our friendly fish
? Discounted Pond Liners
? Fibreglass ponds
? Filters ? Pumps
? Treatments
? Lighting
? Food
Lincs Aquatics
Lincolnshire
01507 451000
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
Please
come and
d
visit our awar
re
o
st
g
in
n
win
for friendly
expert
advice
SPECIALIST IN
Lincs Aquatics
East Yorkshire
01482 898 800
MARINE
TROPICAL
COLDWATER
REPTILES
Lincs Aquatics
South Yorkshire
01302 711639
Lincs
A uatics
East
Yorkshire
atics
South
Yorkshire
Aquatics
? Hanger1 ? Strubby Airfield
? Woodthorpe ? Nr Alford
? LN13 0DD
? Hedon Road
? Burstwick ? East Yorks
? HU12 9HA
? Great North Rd
? Doncaster
? DN10 6AB
15-17 ORSETT ROAD, GRAYS, ESSEX RM17 5DS Tel: 01375 377666
thetropshop@aol.com
www.thetropshop.co.uk
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 111
LEICESTERSHIRE
BRISTOL
From plants to
Cichlids, Stingrays
to Snakeheads
MISCELLANOUS
Fluke-Solve
TM
14
The simple
solution for skin
flukes, gill flukes
& tapeworms
Easy and
effective
?UK Top Aquatic Retailer 2001?
The Aquatic Store
Really does have it all!
www.theaquaticstore.co.uk 01179 639120
28 North Street Bedminster Bristol BS3 1HW
SIMPLY RIP TIP
AND STIR
Large selection of Tropicals, Marine, Corals
and other livestock
Quality Liverock always in stock
Call us (0116) 274 34 26
Fish Treatment Ltd.
www.fish-treatment.co.uk
All major brands stocked | Pond equipment available
CAMBRIDGESHIRE
www.clearwateraquatics.co.uk
LINC
Tropical
Marine
Cold Water
Open 7 days a week 01954 214530
www.nuttyaboutpets.co.uk sales@nuttyaboutpets.co.uk
175 St Neots, Hardwick, Cambridge, CB23 7QJ
Please mention
COUNTY DURHAM
Retailer of
the year
North East
The only true aquatic Superstore, with over 250 stock tanks
specializing in community, rare and unusual cold water, tropical
and marine fish inverts and corals. Largest range of aquariums,
dry goods, frozen and live foods and Tropical plants.
Fish Alive
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
QUAT
SA
I
CS
CLASSIFIED To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
LINCOLNSHIRE
LINCOLNSHIRE
Hanger1 ? Strubby Air?eld
Woodthorpe ? Nr Alford ? LN13 0DD
01507 451000
EAST YORKSHIRE
Hedon Road ? Burstwick
East Yorks ? HU12 9HA
01482 898800
SOUTH YORKSHIRE
Great North Rd
Doncaster ? DN10 6AB
01302 711639
To all our customers ? thank you for your support with the PFK Awards
LARGE SELECTION OF
? Aquariums
? Fibreglass ponds
? Working Water
Features
? Waterfall Display
? Pumps
HUGE SELECTION OF
? Koi & Ornamental
Pond Fish
? Marine Fish & Invertebrates
? Tropical & Fancy Cold
Water Fish
? Pond & Tropical Plants
lincsaquatics-lincolnshire
Come & feed our friendly ?sh
? Discounted Pond Liners
? Lighting
? Food
? Ro-Water
? Tropical & MarineMix
? Treatments
All fish are packed to travel anywhere in the UK
lincsaquatics-eastyorkshire
lincsaquatics-southyorkshire
www.lincsaquatics.co.uk
when responding
to adverts
LONDON
The Fish Bowl Ltd
KENT
133 Dawes Road,
London. SW6 7EA
ABACUS AQUATICS
Tel: 020 7385 6005
Voted one of the Best shops in
the UK for the last 6 years
www.thefishbowlltd.com
email: thefishbowlltd@tiscali.co.uk
Now open on Sundays
OFFICIAL JUWEL STOCKISTS PLUS SPARES
For more details about the
shop and our opening hours
please visit our website
Aquatic and Pet Shop.
Open 5 days a week 10am to 6pm. Closed all day Thursday and Sunday
www.abacus-aquatics.co.uk
168 Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent, DA15 8DJ
020 8302 8000 / enquiries@abacusaquatics.co.uk
LANCASHIRE
www.
RS
RETA IL SHOPPE
.co.uk
EVERYTHING YOU
NEED UNDER
ONE ROOF!
WINNERS!
BEST SHOP IN
THE UK 2014
VOTE FOR US IN THE 2018 PFK READERS POLL
r all your
Thank you fo 1967!
ce
n
support si
on, E2
Road, Lond
en
re
G
al
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77292444
220 Bet
56 Fax: 020
53
39
77
0
02
Tel:
ONLY
G TIMES
AY: CLOSED
? TUES, WED &
FRI 10.30-6.00
? SAT 10.00-6.00
? SUN 10.00-2.00
ww.wholesaletropicalsa
qu
atics.co.uk
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Huge range of
livestock in more
than 600 tanks!
Special Event Weekend 29-30th Sept 2018
DISCOUNTS ON EVERYTHING!
fb.com/AquahomeAquaticCentre
@Aquahome_
FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL
ORDERS OVER �0.
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
Readers?poll
2017
ODDBALL
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Readers?poll
2017
CICHLID
RETAILER
OF THE YEAR
Tel: 01773 861255 Marine direct: 01773 811044 Reptile direct: 01773 811499
Open 7 Days - 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH (near M1 J28)
SCOTLAND
NATIONWIDE DISTRIBUTORS
AQUARIUM SAND
House of Pisces ~ Scotland?s largest aquatic superstore by far
With over 1000 aquariums full of tropical, marine and cold water fish
Huge range of aquariums, aquarium furniture and equipment at discount prices
7KHEHVWTXDOLW\VDQGVSHFL繤DOO\
made for aquariums
Unit B/G, 207 Strathmartine Road, Dundee, Scotland, DD3 8PH
01382 832000 www.tropicalfish-scotland.com
WALES
DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR
25kg
sack
POND DIRECTORY
Fiveacre
Koi Supplies
Established 1973
55 John Street, Porthcawl, CF36 3AY
Tel: 01656 784646
Everything you need
to build and maintain a koi pond
www.fiveacrekoi.co.uk
Mo ay to Saturday 9am-1pm, 2pm-5pm
Closed Wednesdays, Sunday 9am-1p
y
WHOLESALERS
Tel - 01246 240350
info@fiveacrekoi.co.uk
AQUASCAPE FISH IMPORTS
Fiveacre Kennels, Chesterfield Road,
Duckmanton,Chesterfield S44 5HT
Tropical & Coldwater Live Fish Wholesalers
Unusuals inc Rays, Turtles, Crabs, Shrimps, Lobsters
DAILY NATIONWIDE DELIVERIES
CALL NOW FOR FREE monthly TRADE lists
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Tel: 0121 331 1212
Fax: 0121 331 1414
ZZZDTXDVFDSHFRXN
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sales@aquascape.co.uk
�.99
includes
P&P
Ring 01254 388815
to order
www.barlows-aquarium-supplies.com
UK MAINLAND ONLY
Barlows Aquatic Trading
AQUARIUM MANUFACTURERS..supplying direct to the public at trade prices
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www.barlows-aquarium-supplies.com
e mail: barlowsaquatics@aol.com
INTERNET
or call in and see us at:
Brisol Works, Mount St., Accrington, Lancs BB50PJ
www.aquariumgardens.co.uk
01480 450572 info@aquariumgardens.co.uk
www.
.co.uk
T:01254 208245
EVERYTHING FOR THE AQUARIUM,
PONDS AND REPTILES, TOP BRANDS
AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES.
HUGE SELECTION OF GOODS,
FROM ALL MAJOR BRANDS
LOYALTY POINTS SCHEME
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 �!
FINANCE AVAILABLE ON ALL
ORDERS OVER �0.
VOTE FOR US
IN THE 2018 PFK
READERS POLL
fb.com/completeaquaticsuk
@completeaquatic
pinterest.com/aquaticsuk
www.practical?shkeeping.co.uk
To advertise here please call the sales team on 01733 366410
P L A N T E D AQ UA R I U M S P E C I A L I S TS
OPINION
If this hobby was no fun, we
wouldn?t be doing it. So, where
exactly is the fun? My money is on
the endorphin ?high? that comes
from seeing all the ?sh on sale...
W
HERE DO you get
your ?shkeeping buzz?
I?ve been brooding on
this for a while, and I
wonder if it?s the same
for newcomers now as
it was when I ?rst got
into ?shkeeping.
My fuzzy tingle
What I recall most from my memories of
the early days was the mystery. When I
started, I didn?t know a danio from a Discus.
Every time I visited a store it was a trip
into an esoteric unknown, especially as my
local shop (a maze of a place that used to
be in Hastings called Marine Aquatics) was
such an archive of unusual species. I?d go
in, and there would be, in a very real
sense, a childish delight in each and every
discovery ? a fuzzy tingle that comes with
the moment of epiphany. But on top of
that, came the ability to recognise ?sh, ?sh
114 PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
that I?d lusted after, now here in front of me.
I could recognise them courtesy of
aquarium books I owned at that time, in the
pre-internet era. Instead of losing myself
in endless Instragram ?sh shots, I had an
atlas. Many early aquarists had a dogeared, go-to book of reference, mine being
the ?Axelrod Atlas of Freshwater Fishes?.
Being able to identify ?sh in a tank that I
knew from my books was an absolute
high. My mind was a constant mental list
of wants. Whenever I found one, the
endorphins were released. Success!
Add to this the ambience of the stores
themselves. They were dark places, even a
little initmidating by today?s standards.
Intimidating like caves. And I loved them.
It?s odd to visit such a shop today. They
feel like something of a dirty secret in the
modern, hi-tech world of centralised
systems and gleaming, bright layouts.
They?re like a trip back to a forgotten past
before aquatic retail had quite found its feet.
And now?
I don?t want to sound weird, but when I?m
in a store now, I watch people. I try to
gauge where the ?buzz? is for them.
For a lot of folks, and especially families
with kids, it?s interesting to see that a lot of
buzz comes from recognising ?Nemo? and
his ilk. Recognition is still big; we?ve just
swapped atlases for Disney.
I also realise that despite the easy access
of ?sh at our ?ngertips ? any species is a
web search away, really ? for a lot of folks
now, the buzz is about ?nding things they?ve
never seen before. It dawns on me that
despite ?sh stores being better stocked
than anything I had as a kid, ?shkeepers
are still seeing new species with every visit.
Don?t believe me? Just go to a busy store on
a weekend and stay quiet. Score yourself a
point whenever you hear ?come look at
this!? or ?what?s this crazy thing?? and when
you hit 5 points, go look at what is exciting
people. It doesn?t take long.
Call me a geek, but when I was young
I read my Axelrod cover to cover, week
after week, memorising each of the 1,800
pictures inside. But I just can?t keep up any
more. Take me out to a modern store and
I?m lost in one genre alone. Stick me in a
room full of L-number cat?sh and I?m lost
after the ?rst dozen. In my conceit, I used
to think I knew all the species available.
Now I understand I?ve barely scratched
the surface. The hobby has grown so much.
In that way, I think I?m truly envious of
the present day newcomer. The buzz I had
in my day was, I believe, different. It was
the thrill of fumbling through the necessary
clumsiness of an establishing hobby. Now,
at its zenith, it has so much to offer that
every store visit must be the highest high.
Guess the fish answer from page 35: Black ghost knifefish.
NATHAN HILL
Nathan Hill
is Practical
Fishkeeping
magazine?s
associate editor,
hardcore biotope
fancier, wannabe
aquascape dabbler
and rare tetra lover.
COMMON
SPECIES
SUBJECT TO
INJECTION AND
DIPPING
MP&C PIEDNOIR AQUAPRESS
6 Albino corydoras
6 Glass ?sh, Parambassis sp.
6 Parrot cichlids
6 Black widow tetra
6 Giant gourami
WHAT?S WRONG WITH INJECTED FISH?
Fish can be arti?cially coloured in a couple of ways ?
Fish have their mucous layers stripped, before
dunking in concentrated dyes stains them with arti?cially
bright colours.
6 Fish are dyed all over including the gills, causing
respiration issues.
6 Ink in the body can have serious effects on organ function.
6 Stripping away mucus leaves ?sh open to bacteria and
parasites.
Fish are stabbed with a needle, and dyes injected.
They may have patterns or words tattooed on the body.
6 Against ?sh body sizes, needles are huge. Imagine your
armbeing injected with a pencil for a comparison.
6 Injection sites are access points for infections.
6 Needles are not cleaned or sterilised, risking infection.
6 Chemical embolisms from injection can cause fatalities.
6 Injecting causes granulomas, tumours and cauli?ower
like growths.
6 The dyes cause in?ammation of skin and muscle tissues.
6 Injecting requires rough handing which is highly stressful.
or
Are they legal?
It IS illegal to dye a ?sh through
dipping or injection in the UK, but
NOT illegal to import or sell them.
Almost all dyed ?sh are commercially
produced in the far east, and
imported directly.
What can you do?
Ask if retailers have joined up
to the Practical Fishkeeping
Dyed Fish Campaign. Started
in 1996, the campaign asks
retailers to pledge not to sell
any dyed ?sh. If you see some
on sale, raise your concerns
with store owners. Because
dyed ?sh aren?t always
advertised as such, staff may
genuinely not know they are
stocking them! Your voice can
help make the difference!
Exclusive pond foods and treatments from Maidenhead Aquatics
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We have over 160 stores throughout the UK, staffed by
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on will be taken to
improve the sustainability of the reef
and the supply chain that supports
our love of marine aquaria. The more
we buy, the stronger the message,
and the quicker the change will be.
For those of you in the market for
buying a Banggai cardinal?sh I do
recommend LINI?s tank-bred
Banggai, which are available in the
UK from Maidenhead Aquatics and
Fishkeeper Scotland stores.
If you?re not looking for tank-bred
Cardinals but would still like to help,
you can ?nd out more and donate to
LINI via its website, lini.or.id.
And if you?re lucky enough to be
holidaying in Bali this year, you can
even book an airbnb at LATC!
If nothing else, please spread the
word to fellow hobbyists to buy ?sh
from sustainable sources only.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 87
MARINES
Stony corals
King om
of a s
Little ca
and s
uty
of a coral reef, but these animals are tricky to keep.
Here?s our beginner?s guide to coral success.
NEIL HEPWORTH
DAVE
WOLFENDEN
Dave is a former
aquatics lecturer
and is curator of
the Blue Planet
aquarium in Chester
88
PRACTICAL FISHKEEPING
Know your corals
for a dazzling
display.
WWW.PRACTICALFISHKEEPING.CO.UK 89
MARINES
Stony corals
As the name suggests, LPS (or large
polyp stony) corals tend to have large
and often very ?eshy polyps. LPS
corals often inhabit deeper areas of
the reef, lagoons, seagrass beds and
areas with turbid water. They?re not
usually reef-building corals, but can
assume a massive growth habit. Many
are solitary and some, like Fungia spp.,
can actively move by in?ating their
polyps and catching the current.
LPS species are generally less
demanding ? large polyps make for
easy feeding, and their tolerance to
lower lighting and ?ow, plus a less
?nicky approach to water quality,
SPS corals
SPS (or small polyp stony) corals are
the true reef builders. These rapidly
growing corals are often found in the
high-energy reef crest where they?re
battered by the surf ? here, they can
assume branching (dendritic)
morphologies to absorb and dissipate
wave energy. Some, such as those
found in calmer waters, may assume
a plating (laminar) morphology.
SPS are more demanding than LPS,
requiring pristine water, high ?ow
and intense lighting, but in optimal
conditions they will grow quickly.
In fact, they can grow so rapidly that
SPS tend to be less aggressive and, to a certain
extent, can be packed in more tightly. However,
they may still employ tactics like ejecting ?ne,
thread-like acontia ?laments onto neighbours
NATHAN HILL
LPS corals
make them ideal corals for beginners.
They also grow slowly, so may not
need additional supplementation;
water changes alone are often
enough to maintain parameters.
On the downside, they can be very
aggressive, but many coral-keepers
favour LPS because of their diverse
morphologies, bright colours and
generally undemanding nature.
SHUTTERSTOCK
T
HANKS TO advances in
technology, high-quality
salt mixes and a better
all-round knowledge of
coral husbandry, these
intriguing invertebrates
are more accessible
than ever. Many stony
corals are still challenging to keep,
but there are some species that can
be a good choice for beginners.
You?ll often hear the terms LPS
and SPS used in relation to stony
corals. Although taxonomically
meaningless, these universally-used
terms are helpful in describing the
requirements of different corals.
Five of the best LPS corals
LPS are the best choice for coral-keeping beginners. They?re more forgiving than SPS, and with a wide variety of morphologies
and colours available, there?s something for everyone.
Bubble coral, Plerogyra sinuosa
This is among the easiest of hard corals, and it?s the distinctive, bubbleshaped vesicles covering the skeleton that give it its common name. By day,
the vesicles in?ate to allow more surface area for the zooxanthellae to do
their thing. At night, they de?ate, and the coral sends out feeder tentacles.
The polyps are typically white, though pink, blue or green-tinged specimens
are sometimes seen. Place P. sinuosa in areas of low ?ow and moderate
lighting and give it plenty of room (10cm or so) from neighbouring corals.
Lobed brain coral,
Lobophyllia hemprichii
This is a very ?eshy coral (also
known as the meat coral) that
comes in a range of colour
morphs ? red, blue, multicoloured? some are simply
stunning. It can be slightly
aggressive, so leave at least
5cm between this coral and
its neighbours in moderately
lit areas of the aquarium with
slack water movement. Feed
frequently with ?nely chopped
meaty foods.
ALL PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK
Plate coral, Fungia repanda
These distinctive corals occur as lone, disc-shaped specimens
up to 30cm across. They?re quite hardy, and found on areas
of sand or rubble in areas of low to moderate light and ?ow.
In the aquarium, they do best in a sand zone with moderate
lighting. Periodically they in?ate to rid themselves of sand, and
also to ride the current if they?re not happy in their location.
Numerous colour forms are available, with purple and green
being particularly attractive. Feeding Fungia is fun ? offer a meaty
morsel when its feeding tentacles are extended, and watch it
transport the food to its centrally located mouth.
Candy cane coral,
Caulastrea furcata
Candy canes are very attractive,
with distinctive trumpet-shaped
corallites topped with brightlycoloured polyps. The polyps
in?ate during the day,
and relatively short
sweeper tentacles
emerge at night.
On balance, they?re
pretty peaceful.
Place them in
moderate ?ow and
medium-intensity
light, feed them
?nely chopped
meaty foods, and
they?ll grow like crazy.
Hammer coral, Euphyllia ancora
The Hammer coral can form an impressive showpiece in a
larger LPS system ? colonies can reach nearly 1m in diameter.
The branching, trumpet-shaped corallites are tipped with a
jelly-like mass of anchor-shaped polyps. It doesn?t fare well
in strong water movement, as excessive ?ow can damage the
living tissue. Moderately intense lighting will suf?ce, but add
some actinic to the mix and the coral will really pop.
Euphyllia needs space as it can send out potent sweepers to
30cm distance, so create a decent ?no man?s land? around it.
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MARINES
Stony corals
they deplete calcium, magnesium,
alkalinity and other parameters, so
may need supplementation.
Acclimation
Corals aren?t ?nicky when it comes
to acclimation to temperature and
salinity ? in fact, many reefkeepers
don?t bother acclimating corals at all.
However, photosynthetic corals can
suffer from a phenomenon known as
light shock when ?rst introduced to
the aquarium ? excessive oxygen
produced by zooxanthellae appears
to be the cause. It?s always advisable
to shade corals when introducing
them to the tank and allow them to
adapt to the intended light intensity
over a couple of weeks or so.
Quarantining coral
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