www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk
Summer 2013
worth
over
£237
FishKEEPING
Guppies
great
Fish
Popular
Your practical guide to fre...
FANTASTIC OFFER!
SIGN UP FOR 12 MONTHS
AND SAVE A WHOPPING 50%!
SubscribetodaySubscribetoday
Offer terms and conditions ap...
THANKS TO WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
News
Latest updates............................................. 5
How you ...
Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk
Filtration.....................................................20
What fi...
Further information
For the full calendar of events or for more
information, see: www.3riverscleanup.co.uk/ or
contact Jes...
news &
views
Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 7Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk
CoolControl is
a simple...
8 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
Fish are:
● highly educational – you’ll
learn all about geography,
mathematics, physi...
b) It is not facing a window.
c) The occupants won’t be
disturbed by excessive
vibrations, from door
movements, a sound
sy...
their quarters.
At the other end of the
size (and cost!) scale, there is
no denying that large ‘hang
it on the wall’ tanks...
aquarium; you can even get
incredibly realistic plastic
replicas for use in tanks with
herbivorous species. It is quite
pe...
FEED YOUR
FISH
12 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
T
his in turn means
that live food can
serve as a natural
conditioner...
W
hen Roger George’s
life became stressful,
he thought that
keeping fish might help him to
relax. After all, what could be...
– lifeless – at the top of the
tank.”
After that, things went from
bad to worse. One by one,
nearly all of the fish in his...
16 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
as their owner. I’ve never
had a problem with algae or
anything like that. Maybe I’v...
Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 17
www.wharfaquatics.co.uk
• One of the largest
selections of fish in the UK
• Huge rang...
18 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
O
ne newcomer that has
generated particular
interest is the
celestial pearl danio (D...
new
fish
Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 19Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk
above Females are less
bri...
I
n the wild, amphibians and
reptiles may live in large
expanses of water, whereas
in their aquatic home, the
volume of wa...
they will utilise nitrate.
The simplest way of
stimulating biological
filtration is to fit an
undergravel filter. As its
n...
22 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
for the aquatic area together,
and then dividing by 1000,
to provide the answer in
l...
Getting the best from
today’s lighting technology
With so many different lighting options now
available, it can be very co...
tank experts now rely on
these lights to provide both
the colour and intensity of
light that are necessary to
get the very...
Shrimp talk
The world of shrimps and small, beautifully planted desk top set-ups, accommodated in so-called
‘nano tanks’, ...
small 15-30l (3-6gal) nano
tank with a filter and light
for around £50, and you
don’t even need a heater for
most species....
28 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
T
he benefits of this way
of life are clear-cut of
course, with several
pairs of eye...
Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 29Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk
that young or
inexperienced
fish oft...
30 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013
feeding on unfamiliar prey
are more likely to accept this
new food source. On the
ot...
Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 31Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk
displays and outcomes of
fights. Bo...
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Popular fish keeping 2013 summer

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
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Transcripts - Popular fish keeping 2013 summer

  • 1. www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk Summer 2013 worth over £237 FishKEEPING Guppies great Fish Popular Your practical guide to freshwater aquarium care FILTRATION GUIDE What you need to know CREATE A BETTA WORLD PLANTING YOUR TANK Our expert’s top tips WIN!ONE OF THREE biOrb TANKS HOW TO KEEP THESE BEAUTIFUL FISH DISCOVER HOW FISH COUNT LIKE US Why these fish inspire such devotion among fishkeepers FishFish NEW KEEPING ONLY £3.95
  • 2. FANTASTIC OFFER! SIGN UP FOR 12 MONTHS AND SAVE A WHOPPING 50%! SubscribetodaySubscribetoday Offer terms and conditions apply. * UK offer only. ** Subscription offer available when paying by direct debit only. A regular annual payment of £23.10 will be taken from your account until you cancel your subscription, minimum subscription term is for 12 months. YOUR FANTASTICSUBSCRIPTION OFFER GREAT free gift worth £31.49* FREE delivery direct to your door NEVER miss an issue ✃ Hello,Subscribe todayand receive a fantastic Fluval U1underwater filter worth £31.49 FREE. In each issue, we’regoing to be looking at all aspects of the freshwater hobby, ranging from tank set ups to the latest trends and technology. Meet the personalities involved, anddiscover the latest scientific findings about fish and their behaviour, with our top team of fishkeeping experts. There has never been a better time tosubscribe, so go on what are you waiting for? If you don’t want to miss out –subscribe today! Offer code: P101 For international subscription offers please call: 0044 (0)1858 438 856 YES! Please start my subscription to Popular Fish Keeping magazine and send me my FREE Fluval U1 underwater filter.YOUR DETAILS Mrs/Ms/Miss/Mr ............... Forename ................................................................. Surname ............................................................................................................. Address .............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................ ........................................................................ Postcode ................................... Daytime phone ................................................ Mobile ........................................ Email ...................................................................................................................DELIVERY DETAILS (if different from above)Mrs/Ms/Miss/Mr ............... Forename ................................................................. Surname ............................................................................................................. Address .............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................ ........................................................................ Postcode ................................... Daytime phone ................................................ Mobile ........................................ Email ................................................................................................................... Direct Debit payment of £23.10 taken every 12 months + send me my FREE Fluval U1 underwater filter.Instructions to your Bank or Building Society to pay by Direct Debit Name of Bank ..................................................................................................... Address .............................................................................................................. ........................................................................................................................... ............................................................... Postcode ............................................ Account name .................................................................................................... Sort code Account number Signature ........................................................ Date .......................................... Originator’s Id number PLEASE SEND COMPLETED FORM TO:UK Freepost address:Popular Fish Keeping Subscriptions, Kelsey Publishing Ltd., Freepost RSXY-XXGK-EUYS, Market Harborough, LE16 9EF.*FREE gift subject to availability, we reserve the right to offer an alternative product at the same or higher retail value. On receipt of your order your free gift will be delivered within 25 working days. Offer/ prices available until 23rd August 2013. Kelsey Publishing Ltd, publishers of Popular Fish Keeping magazine uses a Multi Layered Privacy Notice giving you brief details about how we would like to use your personal information. For full details visit www.kelsey.co.uk or call 01959 543524. If you have any questions please ask as submitting your data indicates your consent, until you choose otherwise, that we and our partners may contact you about products and services that will be of relevance to you via direct mail, phone, email and SMS. You can opt-out at ANY time via email on data.controller@kelseypb.co.uk or call 01959 543524. 8 3 7 3 8 3 Direct Debits from the account detailed in this instruction subject to the safeguards assured by the Direct Debit guarantee. I understand that this instruction may remain with Kelsey Publishing Ltd. and, if so, details will be passed electronically to my Bank or Building Society. P SUBSCRIPTION OFFER UK SUBSCRIPTIONS ONLY David Alderton, Editor David Alderton P www.popularfi shkeeping.co.uk Summer 2013 worth over £237 FishKEEPING Guppies great Fish Popular Your practical guide to freshwater aquarium care FILTRATION GUIDE What you need to know CREATE A BETTA WORLD PLANTING YOUR TANKOur expert’s top tips WIN!ONE OF THREE biOrb TANKS HOW TO KEEP THESE BEAUTIFUL FISH DISCOVER HOW FISH COUNT LIKE US Why these fish inspire suchdevotion among fishkeepers FishFish NE W KEEPING ONLY £3.95 PFK Cover3.indd 1 12/06/2013 20:56 P.Fishkeeping Pump offerNew2.indd 2 13/06/2013 11:12 going to be looking at all aspects of the freshwater hobby, ranging from tank set ups to the latest trends and technology. Meet the personalities involved, anddiscover the latest scientific findings about fish and their behaviour, with our top team There has never been a better time tosubscribe, so go on what are you waiting David Alderton, Editor David Alderton FREE GIFTFLUVAL U1 FILTER ONLINE kelseyshop.co.uk/fk/p101POST Fill in the form and send to: Popular Fish Keeping Subscriptions, Kelsey Publishing Ltd., Freepost RSXY-XXGK-EUYS, Market Harborough, LE16 9EF. CALL OUR SUBSCRIPTION TEAM0845 872 7385 and quote offer code P101 1 2 3Hotline open: Mon–Fri 8am–9.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm. Please note that calls are charged at your local rate, for further information please check with your service provider. 3EASY WAYS TO ORDER PAY JUST £23.10FOR SIX ISSUES** FREEGIFTWORTH£31.49 Product Features:❉ EASY TO USE AND QUITE RUNNING❉ POWERFUL ECONOMIC FILTRATION❉ DESIGNED TO BE USED IN AQUARIUMS AND REPTILE TANKS ❉ QUICK AND EASY TO MAINTAIN - TOP ACCESS ❉ INTEGRATED SPRAY BAR FOR GENTLE FLOW FOR PLANTS ❉ BOTTOM OUTLET FOR DEEP WATER AGITATION ❉ ADJUSTABLE FLOW RATE❉ USE AS A PRIMARY FILTER IN SMALLER AQUARIUMS OR AS A SECONDARY IN LARGER AQUARIUMS Popular Fish Keeping is the only newsstand magazine in Britain dedicated to the home freshwater tank environment, targeted to community tanks, making this a family magazine with practical advice for choosing and keeping popular fish. In addition, readers interested in establishing a tank environment for aquatic amphibians or reptiles, suchas terrapins, will find supporting editorial advice in this publication as well. In everyissue, we will cover topics such as feeding, housing, water quality and filtration, lighting and plant growth, fish profiles, the care of other creatures that will thrive in a freshwater environment and much more! LAUNCH SUBSCRIPTION OFFER P.Fishkeeping Pump offerNew2.indd 3 A nd welcome to Popular Fish Keeping! I hope that you’ll enjoy this first issue, and the very best of luck in our competition to win a fantastic biOrb tank. As you’ll see, our focus is on fresh water fish keeping – both cold water and tropical, touching on other aquatic creatures too – and one of our key aims is to help newcomers. Too many people are dropping out of the hobby prematurely, because they cannot find the right advice when starting out. By concentrating exclusively on fresh water aquariums, we can devote all our space to this area of the hobby, rather than providing information on topics relating to the marine fish keeping for example, that may well have no significance whatsoever for you. By way of an introduction, Kelsey Publishing Group produces the widest range of pet-related magazines in the UK, and you may already be familiar with some of our other titles such as Practical Reptile Keeping and Cage and Aviary Birds. We’ve set up a great subscription offer for Popular Fish Keeping so that you can obtain a free aquarium filter. Don’t miss this opportunity! We’ll be publishing every two months, and our second issue will be available on August 16th. Meanwhile, if you’ve got any thoughts, comments or questions, please do get in touch with me. hello David Alderton, Editor A nd welcome to Popular Fish hello SEE PAGE 46 David has kept fish for many years, and his books include the Encyclopaedia of Aquarium & Pond Fish (Dorling Kindersley, £16.99) - a comprehensive guide to the care of over 800 species.
  • 3. THANKS TO WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM FOR PHOTOGRAPHY News Latest updates............................................. 5 How you can become involved in helping fish in London. Plus news about how to keep your fish cool if necessary, and a new type of lighting. Be inspired The appeal of fish keeping .......................8 Well-known fishkeeper and former Dr Who sound man Dick Mills explains what you need to consider, and how to start off . New fish.......................................................18 Introducing a Burmese gem. It helps to have friends............................28 The remarkable world of fish communication and shoaling is revealed by Dr Julia Mueller-Paul. Have guppies, will travel ....................40 Susie Kearley finds out about what is involved in breeding exhibition guppies, and reveals how the judging process works. Mine is the betta!..................................... 52 Christian Castille guides you through the world of the Siamese fighting fish and their care. Coyrdoras profile......................................65 Introducing one of the most popular catfish for the community aquarium. The development of discus.....................86 Tracing the history of these unmistakeable cichlids, into the beautiful aquarium strains seen today, along with information about looking after them. Fish mysteries...........................................92 Dr Karl Shuker reveals the strange stories surrounding the discoveries of some of today’s most popular aquarum fish. Competition Win an aquarium!.....................................38 Have the chance to win one of three biOrb aquariums - and you don’t even need to buy a stamp to enter! Do it now The Aquatic Design Centre..................... 32 Find out about why so many people rely on this unique aquatic venture, and plan a visit when you’re next in London. Subscriptions............................................46 Sign up for our fantastic offer now! Puzzles........................................................ 73 A selection of puzzles to test your fish- keeping knowledge. A moving experience................................74 Discover how to organise a house move with an aquarium. Capturing a jewel......................................78 How to make a painting of your fish., shown in a step-by-step style. Expert help Live foods ....................................................12 Discover those that you can collect now that are suitable to feed to fish, and find out what is happening in terms of prepared live foods. 4 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 ContentsSummer 2013 52 The Jewl of the Orient. p38 p34 p20 p90 p40 p52 65 Introduction to corydoras.
  • 4. Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk Filtration.....................................................20 What filters do, and the different types that can maintain water quality , not just for fish, but also aquatic creatires such as amphibians and reptiles. Scorchers for your tank ..........................48 How to look after the stunning fire-bellied newts in an aquarium. Persuading your fish to breed...............66 Find out about what is required. Q&A Why kissing gouramis kiss - and more! 45 Here are some questions that came up in the office - but let us answer your questions in our next issue. Email them in now! Can fish count?......................................... 90 Be prepared to be surprised by the answer! Next month.................................................98 And how to contact us Technology Aquarium lighting ....................................24 Discover the different types of lighting, and choose the right type of light for your aquarium. Flying guppies, cichlid brains & more. 60 Enter the world of fish behaviour and biology, with popular science writer Dr Victoria Welch. How technology helps .............................82 New advances in terms of equipment for monitoring water quality and much more Regulars Me & My Fish..............................................14 Caroline Impey meets fish keepers around the country , reporting on their personal experiences of the hobby. Shrimp talk ................................................26 Expert enthusiast Lucas Witte-Vermeulen of Sharnbrook Shrimp talks about his passion to promote shrimp keeping. Planting guidelines ..................................34 Don’t feel overwhelmed by creating your own living aquascape. In each issue, we’ll be helping you to get the best from your underwater greenery.. Fish Focus...................................................50 A stunning poster spread, featuring a popular cichlid.popular cichlid. IN THIS ISSUE Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 5 86 The development of the discus. 14 Me and my fish; recovering from a fish keeping nightmare. 66 Discover how to breed aquarium fish. 78 Tips from artist Ben Waddams.
  • 5. Further information For the full calendar of events or for more information, see: www.3riverscleanup.co.uk/ or contact Jess Kyle on 020 8314 2119 6 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 particular stretches of river that could benefit from more work. The results of people’s efforts are bringing real benefits to these localities. Back in 2011, an amazing discovery was made in the heart of London by the Environment Agency, which monitors wildlife populations in England. Its scientists found evidence of a colony of seahorses in the River Thames during a routine fisheries survey at Greenwich. This is the first time that these rare creatures have been found so far up the Thames, and they have never previously been reported from this part of London. Occurring in temperate and tropical waters Although it is often assumed seahorses are confined to tropical seas, they have always been visitors to the coastal waters around the British Isles. Recent sightings suggest that there may be more permanent populations in areas around the UK and during 2008, they became fully protected under domestic wildlife legislation. A small number of individuals had previously been found in the River Thames, raising the possibility that the river could P eople are being invited to get to know their local river in a series of watery adventures, planned with the aim of improving the rivers of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bromley. These events, which run through until July 7, are part of the fifth annual 3RiversCleanUp. Vic Richardson, one of the organisers, explains: “This is a great opportunity for people to discover hidden green stretches of river on their doorstop, and play a direct role in protecting and improving them for the future.” Hundreds of volunteers are expected to take part in family-friendly, river based activities, which include walks, river dipping, nature walks and talks, invasive weed removal, litter picking, and habitat improvement events. Volunteers can also share information about invasive plant sightings and be supporting a colony of seahorses, but this had not been confirmed, nor had these fish ever been recorded so far up the river. The species that was discovered in the Thames during 2011 is the short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus). It is relatively rare in UK waters, mainly being found along the south coast, and can grow to around 15cm (6in) long. Regular monitoring The Environment Agency has carriedoutregularmonitoring of the fish populations within the Thames Estuary since the late 1980s. This data has enabled scientists to gain a better understanding of the importance of the river as a nursery and breeding ground for a number of species of commercial and conservation importance. The young seahorse found in the River Thames. PHOTO © ENVIRONMENT AGENCY / ENVIRONMENT AGENCY MEDIA TEAM. ABOVE Clean-up work in progress. PHOTO COURTESY 3RIVERSCLEANUP. Seahorses themselves are one of the few fish that mate for life after elaborate courtship rituals. Emma Barton, Environment Agency Fisheries Officer said “The seahorse we found was only 5cm (2in) long, a juvenile, suggesting that they may be breeding nearby. This is a really good sign that seahorse populations are not only increasing, but spreading to locations where they haven’t been seen before. This is a really exciting discovery. “We hope that further improvements to water quality and habitat in the Thames will encourage more of these rare species to take up residence in the river. The young seahorse itself was released back there, and will hopefully breed in due course.” News & views Help fish and other wildlife in London’s waterways Keep up-to-date with events in the world of aquatics. Share your views and opinions by Emailing us: pf.ed@kelsey.co.uk
  • 6. news & views Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 7Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk CoolControl is a simple but effective system. This is the time of year when goldfish owners often transfer their pets from an aquarium to an outdoor pond, but these can become rather murky with algae at this stage. The Tropical Marine Centre (TMC) has been the market leader in UV Pond Clarifiers for many years and now has just launched a range of ultraviolet (UV) lamps, aimed specifically at the replacement pond UV lamp market (rather than being a general UV lamp). These are branded “TMC Pond” and are high quality lamps, suitable for use in all brands of UV pond clarifiers. The range offers a choice of 4W, 6W, 8W and 16W lamps. È TMC launches dedicated pond UV lamps ControlledcoolingThe JBL CoolControl is equipped with a temperature sensor for the JBL Cooler, switching it off when the set temperature has been reached. It is easy to operate, in the tank. As soon as the set maximum temperature has been reached, the JBL CoolControl turns the Cooler on automatically, and will then disconnect the power with a dial being used to set the maximum temperature, while the control cable simply has to be plugged into the Cooler itself. The sensor will need to be placed supply again, as soon as the temperature drops below the set maximum temperature. The JBL Cooler and the JBL CoolControl are effective, reasonably priced alternatives to expensive cooling units for typical aquaria, where a maximum temperature reduction of no more than 4°C (7.2°F) is required. Are you launching new aquatic products? Want to let our readers know? Drop us an email to: pf.ed@kelsey.co.uk
  • 7. 8 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 Fish are: ● highly educational – you’ll learn all about geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, genetics as a result of keeping them. ● an excellent teaching tool about the responsibility that comes with pet care. ● great examples to help answer those ‘facts of life’ questions that every parent has to face at one time or another! Living quarters ● Aquariums – serve as living art. A fully furnished aquarium can brighten up any dull, normally lifeless corner of the house, providing an interesting focal point at the same time. ● Aquarium equipment – is dependable, easy to set up and inexpensive to operate. You can design your aquarium from separate I t’s simple really. Fishkeeping is a relaxing pastime that is quiet, clean and unlikely to impinge too much on your daily lifestyle. It is literally a self-contained hobby, and the fish will not cause any disturbance. Fish won’t: ● take over your favourite armchair. ● bring home unwanted litters. ● need exercising late at night. ● make any noise. ● become a complication at holiday times. Fish will: ● take kindly to aquarium life. ● generally adapt to the water that comes from the tap, provided that you add a water conditioner to it first. ● breed, despite the odd bit of negligence on your part. components or buy a complete set-up including a furniture cabinet. ● Aquarium fish – With a choice of tropical or coldwater freshwater fish, you have a wide selection of different types of fish that will be suitable for this type of set-up. An excellent selection of such fish is available at aquatic dealers around the country. Aquarium fish are commercially bred on a very wide scale, often long distances away from their native waters, thus dispelling conservation concerns. There are numerous areas RIGHT There is a wide selection of different fish food now available. Check the use-by date on prepared foods like those shown here. Small goldfish of all types will thrive in aquarium surroundings. In some tanks, the emphasis may be on aquascaping, rather than the fish. Why keep fish?This seems a good question to start with, and we’ve asked Dick Mills, the President of the Federation of British Aquatic Societies, to provide the answer and guide you through the early stages, assuming that you are just about to start out in the hobby. STARTING OUT
  • 8. b) It is not facing a window. c) The occupants won’t be disturbed by excessive vibrations, from door movements, a sound system or television noise. d) There are no cold draughts, especially if you are keeping tropical fish. e) It can be easily maintained. f) Ideally, it will be close to your favourite armchair too! but the average, popular freshwater species are well within financial reach, as are most aquarium plants. ● Feeding fish – This presents few problems. A wide range of foods – in flake, tablet, granular or pelleted form, together with frozen or freeze-dried live foods - are now available. The appetites of fish are relatively small, and this is reflected in their feeding costs. ● Further help – A wealth of helpful advice is at hand from equipment and fish food manufacturers, local aquarium societies, and the Internet, where you can visit the Federation of British Aquatic Societies’ website at www.fbas.co.uk for additional information as well. ● The only real drawback? – You won’t discover this until it is too late, but it is the amount of time you will spend gazing into the aquarium’s depths, and admiring the activities of its brilliantly coloured occupants. So you’ve decided to take the plunge? Here is a quick run- down on the basic requirements that all fish need – regardless of their type or species: They have three vital needs, in terms of space, light and food. Obviously the first thing that you’ll need is an aquarium, and it is important to have adequate space in the house to accommodate it. Perversely, we’ll look at the second thing first – the location where you intend to site the aquarium. It needs to be in an area where: a) It’s near an electrical power outlet. “The appetites of fish are relatively small, and this is reflected in their feeding costs.” occupants. So you’ve decided to take the plunge? Here is a quick run- down on the basic power outlet. “The appetites of fish are relatively small, and this is reflected in their Be sure that your fish will not outgrow their aquarium when choosing them. Discus, as seen here, can grow quite large. Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 9Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk Choosing the fish for your new tank is exciting. within the hobby to explore. You could just as easily specialise in aquatic plants for example, with fish forming only a minor part of your aquarium’s focus. Other popular hobbies associated with fishkeeping are photography and painting; an opportunity for you to keep visual records of your aquarium set up, favourite species or even spawning sequences. ● Maintenance – A few minutes of simple maintenance each day, plus perhaps a couple of hours every fortnight or so is all that it takes to maintain most aquariums in optimum condition. Costs Although costs have to be considered, a modest-sized aquarium set – a 60cm (2ft) long tank, fully equipped would certainly provide change from £200.00. Running costs are low – a tropical aquarium in a normally-heated house will not require vast amounts of electricity to heat the water, and ancillary equipment (in the guise of filters, lights, and air-pumps) is equally miserly in terms of power consumption. Fish can be expensive if you want the most ‘exotic’ species, CONTINUES ON THE NEXT PAGE
  • 9. their quarters. At the other end of the size (and cost!) scale, there is no denying that large ‘hang it on the wall’ tanks look impressive. Obviously these have a very narrow back to front dimension, and this in turn may effectively limit the surface area of the water, and so ultimately, the number of fish that you can keep in the tank. It is recommended that the minimum size for an aquarium is around 45cm (18in) long by 25cm (10in) tall and 25cm (10in) wide. This will hold around 28 litres (6gal). Usually, the commercially available aquariums come in standard lengths of 60cm (2ft), 90cm (3ft) and 120cm (4ft) lengths, with the height dimensions being tailored to look aesthetically pleasing. When it comes to design, this is an area where you are on your own, as one length of the tank increases, so does the tendency for the front and/or back glass panels to bulge outwards! This is the reason many ‘long’ tanks have cross bracing straps across the top to hold the glass panels in line. Most reputable aquatic dealers work to an approved OATA (Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association) code of practice which lays down exact specifications for glass thicknesses for new tanks but, should you tend to pick up second-hand tanks, then this is something you should look out for. Many newcomers to the hobby are children, and they will be more than likely to be attracted to the mini-type of aquariums that are now quite widely available. Some of these are very skilfully mini-engineered right down to clip-on fluorescent lights and rather gaudy, brightly coloured lids and logos. Such units need particularly careful management because of their small size though, as I mentioned previously. As a starting point with this type of set-up, be sure to choose fish that will not outgrow tanks may look spectacular, but they will be difficult to plant and maintain and, even more disappointingly, may not be able to house the number of fish you might have liked to keep. Digressing for a moment, this fish number thing is not applicable right across all areas of the fishkeeping hobby. Just because you splash out (oops, sorry for that!) on a large tank doesn’t mean you could keep 50 fish of whatever species you like in it. You can choose more fish, and will have a wider available choice too, if you opt for tropical rather than coldwater species. The tank itself Back to the tank selection then. You can buy a basic aquarium and fit it out yourself, or you can opt for what is sometimes described as a “plug ‘n’ go” set-up, which will contain all the basic components that you need. Always look for an aquarium that has the correct thickness of glass panels for its size. Water exerts a great pressure on to the glass and as the Once you can fulfil most of these requirements – or understand how to deal with the consequences if you can’t quite manage all of them – you can progress on to the next stage, which is getting the tank. The size and proportions of the tank are all-important, and you should get the largest one you can afford (as long as it still fits in the place you have in mind for it). The reason for this is not simply to impress anyone who may visit, but to provide the best environment for its ultimate occupants - the fish. The larger the volume of water, then the more stable that the conditions will be within the tank, or, putting it slightly differently, the longer the periods you can allow between essential maintenance, and the less you will need to worry about the fish! Of course, the shape (length and depth) can be left to your personal tastes to some degree, but you must choose an aquarium with a good surface area, so as to allow for efficient exchange of gases to occur at the water surface. Tall, column-shaped 10 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 Rockwork can add significantly to the weight of an aquarium. “Always look for an aquarium that has the correct thickness of glass panels for its size.” A stylish glass tank with a supporting cabinet beneath.
  • 10. aquarium; you can even get incredibly realistic plastic replicas for use in tanks with herbivorous species. It is quite permissible to mix ‘n’ match both living and replica plants together, in order to create just the effect you want. Equipment Whilst both groups will need filtration and lighting, only tropical fish will require thermostatically controlled heating. For really luxuriant freshwater plant growth, extra lighting, together with carbon dioxide injection will be required. For those species that need special conditions, then items such as water softeners, nitrate removers and inert substrate materials may be necessary in order to maintain the water chemistry within the correct parameters, but this situation represents the exception rather than the rule. Is breeding possible? Tropical freshwater fish have been bred in home aquariums for years. A very large number of species are happy to oblige and there are diverse methods of reproduction too, notably livebearing and egg-laying fishes. Egg-laying species again divide further into different subgroups - egg- scattering, egg-depositing and mouth-brooding: in the latter two cases, varying degrees of parental care will be evident. Coldwater fish can also be bred very successfully in aquarium surroundings. Outside support There is a great deal of support in terms of societies for freshwater tropicals, including specialist groups catering for particular types of fish, and even individual species in some instances. In the case of coldwater fish, there are a smaller number of groups, largely focused perhaps unsurprisingly on goldfish. Now, armed with some basic facts, you simply need to decide which (or both) path(s) to take in order to enjoy your fishkeeping career. We wish you the very best of luck! È setting up a coldwater tank, but this is not necessarily the case. Basically, there is little difference, other than the fact you will not need to buy a heaterstat (a combined heater and thermostat unit) for coldwater fish. Care is straightforward for most tropical species, with relatively few needing special conditions. The biggest bonus is that the majority of species are generally tolerant of gradual varying water conditions and are, extremes of size apart, usually compatible. This characteristic stems from the fact that whilst freshwater species may come from only a small area of water, these habitats are affected by seasonal changes in water quality, to which the fish have become naturally accustomed. The result is that these fish usually survive the very varying conditions under which they are kept by a novice fish keeper, provided that they were healthy when you acquired them! Stocking densities Here it has to be said that freshwater tropicals come out top, compared with coldwater fish, which tend to grow larger, so you can only keep fewer of them in your aquarium. Allow 75sq cm (12sq in) of water surface area per 2.5cm (1in) body length (excluding tail) of the fish. As an example, in a tank measuring 60x38x30cm (24x15x12in) you could keep around a maximum of 60cm (24in) of fish. In neither case though should the maximum number of fish be put into the tank all at once, as the filtration system takes time to mature and reach its full capacity. Aquatic plants There is a very wide range of aquarium plants available for the tropical freshwater aquarium to create this situation. Vive le difference! Faced with the prospect of keeping tropical fishes, there is no doubt as to what the main attraction is - their sheer visual beauty. Factors such as breeding, care difficulties, costs or even where to put the tank are all typically problems to be solved at a later date! Encouraged by a frantic desire to own such a beautiful living picture in your own home, it is all too easy to jump to the wrong decisions at the outset, so here’s some comparisons for you to think over before you finally decide what suits your requirements best. How easy? Most newcomers presume tropical fishkeeping is going to be ‘too difficult and technical’ compared with person’s Picasso is another’s Rembrandt! The only thing that I would advise is be aware that there is a difference between glass and acrylic tanks. The latter material is increasingly being used for tank construction, and many of the resulting aquariums are quite spectacular. Extruded acrylic tanks often have rounded corners which can give a distorted view of the fish but this aside, the real cause for attention is when it comes to cleaning the inside of the panels. What works well on glass may leave scratches on acrylic – with such damage being ideal for microscopic algae to colonise, turning these areas green. There are specific cleaning instructions and materials available for whichever type of tank you choose. Finally, harking back to an earlier point, do remember that a fully furnished fish tank is likely to be heavy. Before you stagger in with your new aquarium therefore, do make sure the floor can support it adequately – especially if you live in an upstairs apartment! You may also wish to check that your floor is level, and if not, adjust the positioning of the support under the apart, usually compatible. This characteristic stems from the fact that whilst freshwater species may come from only a small area of water, these habitats are affected by seasonal changes in water quality, to which the fish have become naturally accustomed. The result is that these fish usually survive the very varying conditions under which they are kept by a novice fish keeper, provided that they were healthy when youaquarium to create this difference between glass and acrylic tanks. The latter material is increasingly being used for tank construction, and many of the resulting STARTING OUT Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 11Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk Some tropical fish, like the red-tailed shark seen here, are harder to breed in aquarium surroundings than others.
  • 11. FEED YOUR FISH 12 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 T his in turn means that live food can serve as a natural conditioner for breeding purposes, thanks to its protein content. Although you can obtain freeze- dried live foods, many fish instinctively prefer fresh or defrosted foods of this type. The problem is that those of aquatic origins are potentially dangerous. They may have originated from water that is polluted, or contains harmful bacteria and fungal spores that could threaten your fish’s health when introduced to the aquarium alongside the live food. One answer can be to offer live foods that are not aquatic, but will still be eaten readily by the fish. At this time of year, you may find large congregations of greenfly or blackfly on garden plants such as roses and broad beans. These aphids will be greedily eaten by many smaller fish, especially species that normally lurk close to the water surface, seeking to snap up unwary insects. You simply need a clean small paintbrush, and a container into which you can gently brush a supply of aphids. It will then be a matter of brushing them into the water for the fish. Only collect aphids in areas where you are certain that no chemicals treatments are used though. More possibilities Other forms of terrestrial live food that will be eaten readily by many fish include fruit flies (Drosophila). These can be purchased in starter cultures from live food suppliers advertising on eBay and elsewhere. Tip them into a narrow by tall plastic container, with a banana skin or special fruit fly paste as food, keep warm, and before long, you are likely to be inundated with them! It helps if you can purchase a wingless strain, so that when you open the container’s lid, they will not fly off around the room. Larger fish will appreciate curly-winged flies. This is a similar mutation that means these houseflies cannot escape. You simply need to tip them in small numbers into the aquarium, where the fish will gulp them down at the surface. Live foods provide an excellent way to tame fish, as well as being a valuable supplement to their diet. Even those living in the lower reaches of the tank can be catered for, with earthworms, which are available in different sizes, being very appealing to many catfish. Live food developments An exciting new range of frozen foods intended for fish of all types has just been launched by Aquadip. These foods are supplied sealed within colourful blister packs, with 20 cubes to each pack. The cubes are scored so that each one can be easily broken into two, in order to allow you to defrost a smaller quantity. This prevents any wastage, ensuring that such foods are economical to use, even if you have just have a single aquarium rather than a fish house full of tanks. There are 35 different foods to choose from, ranging from staples such as daphnia to more exotic choices such as lobster eggs. Each has a detailed product analysis on the packaging, helping you to select the most appropriate for your fish, with colour coding also serving as a guide in this regard. For larger-scale users, there are also flat packs of these foods available in both 500g (1.1lb) and 1kg (2.2lb) packs as well. BELOW Part of Aquadip’s new range of frozen live foods. PHOTO COURTESY OF AQUADIP. Live foodsIn the wild, many freshwater fish prey on invertebrates. Compared with other types of food that most fish eat naturally, live foods contain a higher level of protein, writes Adam Drew. those of aquatic origins are potentially dangerous. They fish will gulp them down at the surface. provide an excellent way to tame fish, as well as being a valuable supplement to their diet. Even those living in the lower reaches of the tank can be catered for, contain a higher level of protein, Increased brine shrimp benefits These tiny crustaceans, also sometimes referred to as artemia, are widely used as fish food, particularly when it comes to rearing fry. It was not easy to grow them through to adulthood in the first instance, but about 15 years ago, Aquadip devised a successful formula for this purpose that included Omega3.As a result of their on-going research, Aquadip has recent altered the formulation again, and has now added astaxanthin to the ingredients.Astaxanthin is a form of carotenoid pigment that can be passed from the brine shrimp to the fish, and absorbed into their bodies. This will help to improve their colouration, with shades of red in particular being very vivid. Immature brine shrimp are called nauplii in their larval form, with those from Aquadip already being enriched with fatty acids.Their small size and soft bodies mean that they have been a popular rearing food for aquarium fish over the course of many years, as they can be easily digested, and they also form a staple part of the diet of seahorses. È Fruitflies are easy to culture. LEFT Aphids on a rose stem. These soft-bodied insects will be eaten by many fish. Aphids shown here on a cabbage leaf.
  • 12. W hen Roger George’s life became stressful, he thought that keeping fish might help him to relax. After all, what could be more therapeutic after a busy day at work than watching beautiful fish swimming around gracefully in their aquarium? “I’d grown up with fish,” explains Roger, 33.“My parents had a pond as well as a coldwater tank. I helped to look after these and I used to love watching the fish. I found them peaceful to be around, even back then as a child.” So, equipping himself with a large 180l (39.5gal) tank donated by his parents, Roger got to work setting up the perfect aquatic home. He decided to try his hand at tropical fish keeping. He didn’t feel ready to take on marine fish and in any case, he liked many of the different species of tropical freshwater fish that he’d seen. He took his time installing a heater, an internal filter, Roger’s tropical aquarium traumaRoger George hoped that his new tank of tropical fish would bring him some much- needed stress relief. However, following some initial poor advice, it had the opposite effect at first, as Caroline Impey reveals. fantastic. I loved having them in my home.” Disaster strikes But, just two days later, Roger walked into his living room to be greeted by a very different sight: all four of his Guppies were dead. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” recalls Roger. “One day they’d been swimming around quite happily, and then on the next, they’re floating platies, shrimps and a ‘sucker’ or plecostomus catfish. “I put them in the tank and at first, it was wonderful,” says Roger. “That evening, we sat for hours just watching them swimming around, investigating their new environment. I found them so calming. It was gravel, artificial plants and decorations for the fish to hide behind and swim through. Then he added the water and water treatments. Starting too soon “A week later, I went to a pet and aquatic store and asked them when I could begin adding the fish,” says Roger, who works in a call centre and lives with his partner Palma in Easington Lane, Tyne and Wear.“I was a little surprised when they said I could start straightaway, but I had very limited knowledge then, and I trusted the staff there knew what was best.” So with feelings of eager anticipation, Roger chose some Guppies, “I’d grown up with fish,” parents had a pond as well as a coldwater tank. I helped to look after these and I used to love watching the fish. I found them peaceful to be around, even back then as a child.” So, equipping himself with a large 180l (39.5gal) tank Roger got to work setting “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” recalls Roger. “One day they’d been swimming around quite happily, and then on the next, they’re floating them so calming. It wasSo with feelings of eager anticipation, Roger chose some Guppies, CAROLINE IMPEY Aquarium writer 14 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 One of Roger’s Amano shrimps on a piece of bogwood.
  • 13. – lifeless – at the top of the tank.” After that, things went from bad to worse. One by one, nearly all of the fish in his aquarium died. “It was awful,” admits Roger.“I found it really upsetting. To me, they weren’t ‘just fish’. They were living creatures and our pets. And they were all dying.” As he continued to lose his fish over the next couple of weeks, Roger became increasingly concerned and stressed, as he was unable to save them. What was he doing wrong? Why was this happening? What was he meant to do? “Fish-keeping was supposed to help me to relax,” says Roger.“Instead, it was creating even more stress in my life. I felt terrible – guilty, anxious and confused. I thought I’d CONTINUESONTHENEXTPAGE done everything that I was meant to do and yet all my fish were dying. It was a very difficult time.” Seeking a solution Desperate by now, Roger sought advice from books as well as from online forums. It was on a forum that he discovered that he was not alone. Many other people new to fishkeeping had apparently been given similar advice and were also experiencing the distress of dying fish. “I realised that I’d been advised to use fish to cycle the tank,” says Roger.“The shop must have known that those fish could easily become ill and die, but they didn’t tell me. I was shocked. Fish are living creatures. How could this ever be ok?” “In a new tank, there are simply not enough of the beneficial bacteria in the filtration system at first to break down the fishes’ waste. This accumulates unchecked, and becomes an unseen killer. Everything seems ok at first, until the ammonia in the water reaches toxic levels for the fish and other creatures. Then they start dying,” he explains. “And obviously, the more fish you have in the aquarium at this stage, then the worse the impact will be on them.” Safeguarding the fish Gathering more advice from the forum, Roger realised that there were various ways to prepare the tank so that it was safe for the fish. This typically means using a product that introduces these beneficial bacteria to the aquarium – a process sometimes described as ‘seeding the filter bed’. The whole process typically takes 6-8 weeks, until the filter will be working effectively in a new tank. You need to be carrying out regular water checks throughout this period to see that everything is fine. Ultimately, the nitrogen cycle kicks in, and then the toxic ammonia will be broken down to less harmful nitrite. It will be converted, again by bacteria in the water, to nitrate which plants will use as a fertiliser to support their growth. This is just what happens in nature, but you need to be very careful at first with a new aquarium. It is normally recommended to introduce the fish slowly to the tank rather than putting them all in at once, so that the filter does not become overloaded. You need to be very careful about stocking levels in these early stages. Roger also bought an external filter and realised that he should continue testing the quality of the water in his tank regularly. This will reveal any fall-off in water quality before it becomes fatal for the tank occupants.“I wish that I’d known all this before,” says Roger regretfully.“It could have prevented the deaths of those poor fish and saved us a lot of heartache.” A new start Gradually, however, Roger was brave enough to start adding fish to his tank again. And this time, he bought them from a different aquatic dealer with a much more knowledgeable staff. They also offered free testing of water samples. With a little trepidation, he added the first few fish.“To my relief, they didn’t die,” says Roger.“It took quite a few weeks but soon we had all the fish that we wanted and thankfully, they were all ok.” Now, eight months on, Roger is the proud owner of four Bolivian ram cichlids, eight platies, eight panda corydoras, one bristlenose plec, five zebra nerite snails, “I absolutely love my fish. Having the tank now is everything that I’d hoped for and more...” “Read up before you start, get the biggest tank you can afford and chose an external filter” Roger’s Top fish keeping tip me and my fish Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 15Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk Bolivian ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus). Photo courtesy Corpse89. Roger’s tank offers plenty of swimming space for the occupants. Roger and his aquarium today.
  • 14. 16 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 as their owner. I’ve never had a problem with algae or anything like that. Maybe I’ve been lucky but I have also put a lot of effort into creating the best possible environment for them.” È is he one of the friendliest of the fish, but Bubba is also one of those that Roger often feeds by hand. He is always the first one to swim around Roger’s fingers when he swishes the water. “Bubba is a real character,” laughs Roger. “He’s always at the front of the tank and when I go up to it, he’ll often swim across the tank and look over at the drawer where I keep the food. He knows where it is! He’s so funny. We love him.” Maintenance needs Roger gets such great pleasure from his hobby that he doesn’t regard the weekly water changes as a chore. Each week, he changes a quarter of the water in the tank using a siphon and five buckets. Then every month, he cleans the filter, while every other day, he feeds his fish on a wide variety of food. “It takes about two hours to change the water but I never mind doing it because I know it’s giving my fish the best environment to live in,” says Roger.“That’s my role personalities and we’ve been lucky that we’ve never had any fighting between them. It’s a very peaceful tank and that gives me a sense of calm. I love coming home from work to see them and yes, we do talk to them all the time! They’re better to watch than television. You find yourself sitting watching them for hours. They’re just brilliant and the best stress-reliever there is!” Roger admits that while he loves all his fish, he does have a favourite – Bubba. Not only four Amano shrimp and a blood parrotfish called Bubba. They thrive together. Roger’s favourite “I absolutely love my fish,” says Roger.“Having the tank now is everything that I’d hoped for and more. I love going into the living room in the morning and they’re all there at the front of the tank. I think it’s completely wrong to suggest that fish have a two second memory because I know they recognise us. “They each have their own Would you like to feature in Me and My Fish? If looking after your coldwater or tropical fish means a lot to you, we’d love to hear from you! Perhaps caring for your fish has helped you through a stressful event? Or maybe you particularly value the friends you’ve made through your hobby, either on the forums or through a club? Perhaps you show your fish or you might help to re-home unwanted fish? Do you suffer from a disability and enjoy overcoming the challenges it brings to looking after your tank? Whatever your story you can email us at pf.ed@kelsey. co.uk or write to us at our address on page 97. Share your experiences ROGER’S ADVICE So what has he learned from his experiences, and what advice would he give to anyone thinking of setting up a tropical tank? ● “I’m no expert but what I would say is to read up before you start, get the biggest tank you can afford and chose an external filter, as these are generally more effective,” says Roger. ● “I’ve thought a lot about what happened to us initially, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the hobby itself should really be called water keeping, not fish keeping! Get the water quality right and the fish will look after themselves.” ● Roger found support and advice at www.fishkeeping.co.uk What’s in Roger’s tank?What’s in Roger’s tank? a favourite – Bubba. Not only “I’m no expert but what I would say is to read up before you ME AND MY FISH A zebra nerite snail (Neritina natalensis), has striped patterning. These molluscs not only look attractive, but also help to control algal growth in the aquarium. PHOTO COURTESY DRÄGÜS. Bubba takes advantage of one of the retreats provided in the tank. Panda corydoras (Corydoras species). These small catfish are so-named after their markings. They are an ideal choice for a community aquarium. PHOTO COURTESY CHRONOTOPIAN. Bristlenose plecs (Ancistrus species) are so-called because of the projections on their face. They appreciate pieces of bogwood in their tank. PHOTO COURTESY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM Parrotfish They should not be confused with the marine fish also known under this name, which belong to a completely different group. PHOTO COURTESY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • 15. Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 17 www.wharfaquatics.co.uk • One of the largest selections of fish in the UK • Huge range of aquarium dry goods • Friendly advice from experienced fishkeepers • Custom made aquariums and cabinets Massive range of cichlids, including more than 70 tanks of Malawi & Tanganyika cichlids Great selection of catfish, plus rare and oddball fish Just 5 minutes from junction 28 of the M1! 65-67 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Notts. NG16 6LH Tel: 01773 861255 Tropical - Marine - Pond - Reptiles Voted UK Aquatic Retailer of the Year six times!
  • 16. 18 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 O ne newcomer that has generated particular interest is the celestial pearl danio (Danio margariatus), also sometimes known as the galaxy rasbora (Microrasbora sp. ‘Galaxy’). Even if the precise name of the species has been a subject for debate therefore, it is definitely a member of the family Cyprinidae, with recent studies confirming that it does belong in the Danio genus. Origins It was originally found seven years ago in the Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma), just to the east of the town of Hopong on the Shan Plateau. These fish were discovered in shallow ponds, in a small area of this relatively open, upland region. There are relatively few species present alongside the celestial pearl danio in these stretches of water, of which only the dwarf snakehead (Channa harcourtbutleri) could be regarded as a potential predator. These danios, measuring just 2cm (0.75in), were known to the local people though, who caught them as food in spite of their small size. Before long, celestial pearl danios also began to be sought after as aquarium fish, and soon collectors were out searching for this species, raising fears about its survival. Such concerns were thankfully misplaced though, and it soon became clear that if if there is a species of fish that is ideally suited to being captive-bred, then this is definitely it! Adult females of this species can spawn on a daily basis when conditions are suitable. Sexing is straightforward, A Burmese gem Perhaps you’ve been out of the hobby for awhile, or are simply looking for new fish? If so, let us introduce you to some of the more unusual and striking freshwater species that have entered the hobby over recent years. Sue Jones reports. with mature males being more colourful than females. These fish are substrate spawners, although their eggs are not scattered around, as in the case of many related species. Instead, they tend to be hidden in vegetation. It is also now clear that these danios do not form true shoals, although they show best in aquarium surroundings in small groups. They will prove to be relatively inactive fish, and are not especially strong swimmers, probably reflecting the fact that they originate from ponds, rather than rivers. Straightforward care needs Celestial pearl danios are quite straightforward to look after in aquarium surroundings. Basically, medium hard water conditions, with a pH of 7 or just above will suit them well. They thrive at relatively low temperatures, reflecting their high altitude origins, with a water The colouration of male fish is very vibrant.
  • 17. new fish Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 19Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk above Females are less brightly coloured. Photo courtesy Mummymonkey. temperature between 21- 24°C (70-75°F) suiting them well. Be sure to include a number of plants, as these danios can be rather nervous in the open, and will settle better in these surroundings. They are quite unfussy about food, eating everything from flakes to micro pellets. Assorted small livefoods should be offered regularly too, with powdered freeze-dried krill enhancing their red colouration. Breeding Care needs to be taken when it comes to housing the sexes together, as more dominant males will chase and harry would-be rivals away from females, even inflicting injuries on them using their tiny sharp teeth. The females are very prolific indeed, and they may produce as many as 30 eggs a day! The hatching period depends on the water temperature, typically varying between 3-5 days. The young fry are dark in colour at first, and can be quite slow to start swimming, remaining largely inert for as long as a week. They then undergo a series of colour changes, becoming silvery before they then start to gain adult colouration between 9 -10 weeks of age. By just three months old, they will be fully grown and are likely to be starting to spawn for the first time. In addition, there are colour variations between different strains, which may be an indication that their ancestors came from separate areas of water. The less typical form, where red colouration in the cases of males is replaced by orange, and the spots appear elongated rather than round, is attracting the attention of breeders keen to preserve these traits. Blue colouration in this case is also affected, being changed from a rich deep shade to a more olive one. There seems little doubt that this stunning fish, originating from a remote area of Myanmar, could ultimately become one of the most popular aquarium fish of all time. The question is – how many more species like the celestial pearl danio are out there, still awaiting discovery? È “Before long, collectors were out searching for this species” The town of Hopong is close to where the celestial pearl danio was found. Map courtesy Uwe Dedering. did you know?
  • 18. I n the wild, amphibians and reptiles may live in large expanses of water, whereas in their aquatic home, the volume of water accessible to them will be significantly reduced. Unsuitable water conditions can then give rise to skin and eye problems, and if uncorrected, they may lead rapidly to the premature death of the tank occupants - particularly amphibians, and the same applies with fish. Maintaining water quality Clean water is not necessarily safe, as dissolved chemicals from the waste matter produced by the tank occupants can build up here and prove deadly. So how can you prevent this situation from arising? live aquatic plants to their enclosure. This may not be possible in all cases, as with African clawed toads (Xenopus species) because their swimming patterns tend to uproot any vegetation. But even the addition of floating plants may be beneficial, as Although an accumulation of nitrate can still be harmful to amphibians at a high concentration, it will be utilised by aquatic plants, serving as a fertiliser to encourage their growth. It therefore helps to maintain water quality by adding Natural control of water Biological filtration is the natural process whereby organic waste is broken down, via what is known as the nitrogen cycle.Toxic ammonia from the breakdown of waste builds up in the water, but then beneficial bacteria in the waterwillconvertthisfirstlyto nitrite, and finally to less toxic nitrate. Testing systems, as sold for aquarium fish, enable you to keep a check on the water quality in set-ups housing aquatic frogs and reptiles. concentration, it will be utilised by aquatic plants, serving as a fertiliser to encourage their growth. It therefore helps to maintain water quality by adding you to keep a check on the water quality in set-ups housing aquatic frogs and reptiles. quality Natural control An African clawed frog in its natural habitat. 20 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 Airstone bubbles. Good aeration is important for biological filtration Red-eared terrapins need powerful filtration systems
  • 19. they will utilise nitrate. The simplest way of stimulating biological filtration is to fit an undergravel filter. As its name suggests, this needs to be located under the gravel on the base of the tank, and should cover the entire aquatic area. The size of the particles is vital, because the aquarium water has to pass down through the gravel which acts as a filter bed. An undergravel filter therefore will not work effectively with a sand substrate, so choose pea gravel or larger. The gravel used needs to have a particle size of at least 3-4mm (one- eight of an inch). The depth of the filter bed is also significant, and should be at least 5cm (2in) in depth, if it is to work successfully. By sloping the gravel towards the front of the tank, so you will be able to see any build-up of debris here and can siphon this out. The other thing that is important is to seed the filter bed with a bacterial culture,to speed up the colonisation of the gravel by these beneficial bacteria. In a new set-up, it will take about eight weeks or so for an undergravel filter to becomefullyfunctional.More frequent water changes than usual will be needed through this period, to safeguard the health of the tank occupants. For this type of filter, an air pump is required to force air through an airstone, creating a stream of bubbles in the uplift tube. Drawing water TURN OVER FOR TOP TIPS ON WATER CARE  vertically into the tube from beneath the filter creates what is effectively a circulatory pump. Maintaining this type of filter simply requires the regular use of a gravel cleaner, when carrying out a partial water change of perhaps 30% of the water every week or two. This will help to remove dirt that has been drawn down between the stones, and would otherwise ultimately reduce the undergravel filter’s efficiency. More powerful options An undergravel filter is particularly useful in a tank catering for a pair of newts, where the waste output will be relatively low, but will not be an ideal choice for larger turtles. Different filtration methods, as well as alternative designs of filter are required in this case. Turtles produce a relatively large amount of solid waste, which may not be drawn down through an undergravel filter in any case. WATER QUALITY Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 21Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk Lifestyle differences Amphibians and reptiles occur in a wide range of different aquatic habitats. Yellow-bellied toads (Bombina variegata) are typically found in small, shallow areas of water, often little more than puddles. This means that they are relatively well-adapted to the build-up of waste matter here, compared with the Asian river toad (Bufo asper) for example, which inhabits much larger stretches of water where pollutants are rapidly flushed away. It will therefore be much more vulnerable to a build-up of waste in its quarters. Top tips to keep water safe Planting concerns Beware about setting too many plants in pots in the gravel, as they will reduce the effectively filtration area, and once established, the roots of plants set directly into the gravel may start to block the holes in the undergravel filter, preventing it from working effectively. Hygiene concerns Always wear gloves when servicing the quarters of your fish, amphibians or reptiles, both to protect you from any risk of infection and also the occupants, in case you have residues on your hands which could harm them. Keep a special bucket for water changes and washing filters as necessary, and tip dirty water down an outside drain, and never down the sink.
  • 20. 22 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 for the aquatic area together, and then dividing by 1000, to provide the answer in litres. Choose a filter with a relatively high flow rate, as this means it will be drawing the water through the unit more frequently. Further considerations The height of the water in the set-up will also have an impact on the type of filter that can be used - large internal power filters are not suitable for shallow water. The power of the filter is also significant. Young tadpoles for example should only be housed in tanks where either an undergravel filter or a basic foam filter are incorporated, because neither of these are likely to endanger their health. A power filter, however, may drag tadpoles into the unit, with fatal consequences. Water changes Not everyone who keeps amphibians in the home relies on a filtration system to maintain water quality, especially where they are only or two individuals housed together. Instead, regular water changes can be the answer. Aquatic siphons, doubling up as gravel cleaners, are available for this purpose. They are equally useful to spot clean around an enclosure where rockwork can be a barrier to effective filtration, enabling debris to build up out-of-sight. This if overlooked, can result in a marked deterioration in water quality. In many cases, it may only be a matter of carrying out a partial water change, as is normally the case with fish, instead of having to empty the whole tank. The water building up on the filter medium will have comprised its efficiency, causing a noticeable slowing in the output of water from the unit. Changing the filter medium is also easy, but before buying a unit, check and compare the cost of replacements, because this can represent a significant outlay over a period of time. Foam can be washed off in a clean bucket of dechlorinated water and reused, whereas filter- wool products will need to be thrown away. In addition to mechanical filtration, filters of this type may also include carbon, as part of the filter medium. This provides for so- called chemical filtration. Potentially harmful chemicals dissolved in the water are adsorbed, becoming bound with the molecules of carbon, and this also help to prevent the water from smelling. Flow rate The amount of water in the set-up determines the size of filter required. It is quite easy to work out the volume of water in the tank by multiplying the width, depth and length measurements Mechanical filtration is more important in this case. Various materials including filter wool and foam are sold as mechanical filters, acting as sieves that are capable of trapping waste of this type. Power filters are all-in-one units, which attach to the side of the aquatic area, using the suckers that form part of their design. A power filter should be sited in such a way that the output nozzle is at the water surface, generating a flow here, and assisting movement of the water around the tank. Basic units draw in water and particulate waste matter in suspension, which passes upwards through the mechanical media. Some biological filtration also takes place here, as bacteria colonise the material here. Every few weeks however, you will need to strip the filter down, because the debris that has been removed should be replaced with fresh water at the same temperature. This must be treated with a water conditioner first, especially for amphibians, in order to remove harmful chlorine- based chemicals that will have been added to the water to kill potentially harmful microbes. È In order to minimise the inevitable deterioration in water quality, the following steps will be helpful:- 1Consider transferring turtles to a separate feeding tank. 2Carry out partial water changes once or twice a week. 3Remember water quality deteriorates most rapidly when the tank occupants are feeding well. Use test kits regularly for monitoring purposes. 4Do not overfeed the tank occupants. Uneaten food of any type will rapidly pollute the water. Feed a little and often, matching your pet’s appetite and minimising wastage of food. Lessening the load External filters Where to find… Interpet Test kits and filtration systems www.interpet.co.uk Tetra Manufacture filtration systems www.tetra-fish.com Zoo Med Produce specialist filters, water conditioners www.zoomed.com Large set-ups will need an external filter, which is located outside the unit itself, often being concealed in the cabinet on which the tank may be resting. The filter media are likely to be more complex than in the case of an internal power filter. These units often have a range of materials present, through which the water passes. They can include ceramic granules, which help to support colonies of beneficial bacteria, contributing to biological filtration, as well as filter wool and carbon. Some of these external filters may be used with a spray bar, through which the water is returned to the tank. This acts rather like a shower, helping to move and oxygenate the water as it is returned to the tank. for the aquatic area together, to provide the answer in litres. Choose a filter with a relatively high flow rate, as this means it will be drawing the water through the unit more frequently. Further considerations The height of the water in the set-up will also have an impact on the type of filter that can be used - large internal power filters are not The power of the filter is also for example should only be housed in tanks where either building up on the filter medium will have comprised its efficiency, causing a noticeable slowingMechanical filtration is WATER QUALITY 22 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 Tadpoles must have gentle filtration only.
  • 21. Getting the best from today’s lighting technology With so many different lighting options now available, it can be very confusing when it comes to choosing which lamp or indeed lamps to buy for your aquarium. Here Ben Catley of Arcadia Aquatic explains what you need to consider. 24 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 purposes, and these will impact directly on your choice. Firstly, it can ensure healthy plant growth, mimicking the beneficial effects of sunlight in this regard. The wavelengths of this light will correspond to those in nature, so that plants can utilise these in order to photosynthesise, producing energy for their growth. The other crucial aspect to aquarium lighting is, of course, so that you can see your fish in their true colours. Lighting options There are many type of lighting available now that will serve these purposes, but there is no single solution. It may be that you have no live plants in your tank, preferring instead to include maintenance-free and very realistic plastic substitutes. On the other hand, you might keep blind cave fish for example, which typically I t is not just the choice of possibilities on offer that can create confusion. Aquarium lighting can unfortunately sometimes seem to be a very technical area, full of jargon and with limitless facts and figures, not to mention strange acronyms such as PAR lamps (with this abbreviation actually stands for a ‘parabolic aluminised reflector’ lamp!). But what you need to bear in mind is that aquarium lighting essentially serves two distinct only require very subdued lighting, replicating that in their subterranean world. Historically, aquarium keepers have used fluorescent tubes in standard output T8 and now in High Output T5 forms, while metal halide systems, which are very high output light sources, have been favoured for larger aquariums. Things are changing fast though, and there is now is a big push towards the development of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting, which is a topic that we will cover in detail in the next issue. Fluorescent lighting can be in the form of a tube or a more compact light. As you will see looking at packaging of lamps, there can be quite significant variations between manufacturers in terms of the colour outputs of different lamps. As lighting specialists, Arcadia have researched plant growth and fish colouration for many years now, and this has helped us to develop a family of lamps that we believe not only provide excellent plant growth, but also show off the colours of fish in a way that not many other lamps can achieve. To give you some insight into the subtleties of the process, we have chosen to use very expensive phosphors in the mix of our lamps. These serve to highlight colours and fluorescent patches on fish that would not be apparent otherwise. Furthermore, there are also very particular phosphors in this mix that will not just accelerate live plant growth but actually inhibit the growth of nuisance algae. Meeting your needs It is certainly not the A Plant Pro lamp in use. An Original Tropical lamp in an ArcPod. Rainbowfish under a Freshwater Lamp.
  • 22. tank experts now rely on these lights to provide both the colour and intensity of light that are necessary to get the very best from their set-ups. Such lamps are commonly used as part of a group of lamps over high light requirement planted tanks. As its SPD profile shows below, the Plant Pro is a broad-spectrum lamp that recreates daylight and so stimulates plant growth. In summary There are no hard and fast rules, but follow these simple guidelines and you and your family should be very pleased with the appearance of your aquarium for the life of the lamp. Remember that the phosphors inside of a lamp, which effectively control the light colour output, degrade over time. The longer that a lamp is used therefore, so the duller its appearance will become over time, even though it is still working. Make sure that you change your lamps at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer. In the case of Arcadia lamps, they can be used safely for up to two years, depending on the type. You can find all this information on our website, and also sign up to receive an email when your light ultimately needs changing, so there is no need to worry that you might forget. Lamps need changing, even if they are still operating at the end of this period, in order to safeguard plant growth, quite apart from optimising the viewing experience of the aquarium. È case that all lamps are the same and any one will do! If you have ever tried using a typical ordinary fluorescent lamp as sold in diy shops above your aquarium, you will soon notice the difference, compared with a genuine aquarium lamp. There will be a rapid increase in unwanted algae, and a decrease in the colour rendition of the fish as a whole using a household lamp. So how do you make the right choice, in general terms? First of all, you need to consider what type of aquarium you have, and the species of fish that you are keeping. Do your fish contain lots of deep reds, blues and oranges in their colouration? If so, a pinker type of lamp would be the best choice by far. This part of the spectrum highlights the reds, blues and oranges and makes such fish stand out in the aquarium, so they will look more stunning. It is for this reason that most aquatic shops will use a lamp of this colour output over their more brightly coloured fish, so as to showcase them very effectively for their customers. Arcadia’s Original Tropical lamp is an example of a light of this type. The SPD (spectral power distribution) chart in the next column shows how the emphasis here is on red end of the spectrum. A natural combination Yet what lamp would you choose If you have lots of green plants that need high quantities of light and would benefit from a clean, crisp light? You will want to show the natural colours of these fish and plants together in this case. The solution will be a bright, full spectrum lamp with a hint of green. This will provide great plant growth and will also help with the colour rendition of the plants, so they look good in the aquarium too. You do need to be very careful though, so as to ensure that the lamp you are using for aquarium plants does not contain too much light from the blue part of spectrum though. This can otherwise cause nuisance algae to start spreading, and will significantly increase the amount of time that you need to spend maintaining your tank. Getting the choice of lamp right is a very personal thing though, as we have found. Some aquarium owners like the deep tropical hue created by the Original Tropical Lamp whereas other keepers prefer the starker brilliance of the Freshwater Lamp, both of which are available in standard output T8 and now in the high output T5 version. The SPD chart below for the Freshwater Lamp illustrates that the focus is on the green part of the spectrum, but still with peaks in the yellow/ orange, when compared with the Tropical Lamp. Getting the choice of lamp wrong will wash out the colours of your fish and can cause terrible algal problems in the aquarium. So what should you do when you are keeping both plants and fish together? You can select one of each type of lamp for your aquarium. There is an added advantage of having a pink light under these circumstances, should you have any red aquarium plants such as red ludwigia, simply because this will also highlight the colour of such plants, making them look really stunning too. The best of both worlds! If you are really keen on combining the very best of plant growth with the fantastic colours of fish,at the pink end of the spectrum, then in effect, you need a lamp that combines the outputs of both. Arcadia has achieved this in the form of a single, high output T5 lamp, called PlantPro. Many of the mainland European planted Further information To learn more about aquarium lighting, visit Arcadia’s website at www.arcadia-aquatic.com customers. careful though, so as to ensure that the lamp you are using for aquarium plants does not contain too much light from the blue part of spectrum though. This can otherwise cause nuisance algae to start spreading, and will significantly increase the amount of time that you need to spend maintaining your tank. choice of lamp LIGHTING ADVICE Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 25Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk A T8 Freshwater Lamp over plants. A red crab under an Original Tropical lamp, emphasising its colouration. ALLILLUSTRATIONSCOURTESYARCADIAAQUATIC.
  • 23. Shrimp talk The world of shrimps and small, beautifully planted desk top set-ups, accommodated in so-called ‘nano tanks’, is an area of the hobby that is growing very rapidly as present. Here expert Lucas Witte-Vermeulen of Sharnbrook Shrimp introduces this new branch of the hobby. 26 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 become the focus in many tanks. With the advent of small nano tanks, which are not large enough for the majority of fish, so shrimp prove to be the ideal occupants. They are small, colourful and create little waste. QAre they straightforward to keep? Can many be kept in fresh water? AThey range from being very easy to keep at one extreme to being very challenging and suitable for the expert only. The cherry shrimp makes a great introduction to the hobby though. Its care is straightforward and it is adaptable to most conditions. In contrast, the higher grade crystal red bee shrimp and Taiwan bee shrimp are much more demanding to maintain successfully. There is a great QWhy do you think shrimp have become so popular? AThe emergence of the “planted tank”, with the emphasis on plants and design, rather than fish, has encouraged enthusiasts to source small creatures for these set-ups that will not dominate the aquascape. Shrimp like the Amano were originally introduced into such set-ups to clean the plants and keep the tank clear of algae. They were kept primarily for functional purposes, but now they have choice of shrimp suitable for fresh water setups. QWhat attracted you to shrimp? AMy wife pointed out some red and white striped shrimp in a tiny 10l (2gal) tank in a local fish shop. I was instantly hooked on these crystal red bee shrimp, and it began from there. QWhy did you decide to set up a business promoting them? AI then had a large tank containing cherry shrimp that thrived, and after a few months, I had thousands of them. I began selling them on eBay and it started from there. QDo you need to have had experience with fish before keeping a shrimp set-up? ANo, I think shrimp keeping can be simpler, and there is less maintenance involved if you are interested in a few of the easy-to-keep, Crystal black bee shrimp . Blue jelly shrimp are beautifully coloured. Snow white bee shrimp.
  • 24. small 15-30l (3-6gal) nano tank with a filter and light for around £50, and you don’t even need a heater for most species. A few plants and shrimp could set you back a further £15 to £20 to start. QWhat type of people keep shrimp? AAnyone who wants to include a part of nature in their home or office. You only have to worry when you are addicted like me, and shrimp tanks start to reproduce throughout your house!! È colourful varieties like the cherry shrimp, or the yellow or orange shrimp. QWhere do they come from, and how big can they grow? AThe most popular shrimp come from Asia, but new species are being found all the time. The most notable new and extremely colourful introductions to the hobby are currently originating from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Common ornamental freshwater shrimp range in size from about 2.5 cm (1in), in the case of the crystal red bee shrimp, up to the Cameroon fan shrimp, which can reach 15cm (6in). However, there are many more occurring in different shapes and sizes in-between! QAre there any that I could add to my aquarium? AIf a fish can fit something in its mouth, then it will. Shrimp are mostly quite shy and fish are highly active, and this conflict can cause stress to shrimp. I would advise having a shrimp-only tank. That being said though, Amano shrimp, which grow to about 7cm (2.8in), should be fine in a community tank as long as the fish are peaceful and non-aggressive. QWhere did the interest in keeping ornamental shrimp originate? AIn Japan. The most notable figure in the hobby is the famous aquascaper Takashi Amano. He introduced the Amano shrimp into his aquascape works of art and thus eventually into the mainstream. Another famous shrimp pioneer was Hisayasu Suzuki who bred the first crystal red bee shrimp, a mutation of the wild form that is predominantly brown and black. QIs it expensive to set up? ADefinitely not! You could find a well-made, Don’t miss out! Starting in our next issue, Lucas will be providing a detailed, step-by-step guide to setting up and maintaining your own shrimp collection. Meanwhile, check out the Sharnbrook Shrimp website at www.sharnbrookshrimp.co.uk house!! ÈIf a fish can fit something in its mouth, then it will. Shrimp are mostly quite shy and fish are highly active, and this conflict can cause stress to shrimp. I would advise having a shrimp-only tank. That being said though, Amano shrimp, which grow to about 7cm (2.8in), should be fine in a community tank as long as the fish ADefinitely not! You could find a well-made, maintaining your own shrimp collection. Meanwhile, “You only have to worry when you are addicted like me, and shrimp tanks start to reproduce throughout your house!!” Q&A: SHRIMPS Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 27Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk A yellow shrimp, bordering on a canary yellow shade The orange eyed blue tiger shrimp. Crystal red bee shrimp . A popular shrimp among hobbyists. Black Taiwan bee shrimp. Taiwan bee blue bolt.
  • 25. 28 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 T he benefits of this way of life are clear-cut of course, with several pairs of eyes providing greater environmental awareness. This allows all individuals in the group to track down food sources more easily, and become aware of possible predators at an earlier stage. Such skills greatly enhance the chances of survival, with this ability to learn from others being described as ‘social learning’. Despite being widespread, social learning is complex, and requires substantial cognitive abilities to understand the situation. Firstly, a fish needs to observe the behaviour of its companions in a shoal. Then it needs to interpret why another individual reacts in a certain way in a given situation. Next, it has to understand how both the situation and the other fish’s solution to the situation might affect its own circumstances and finally, it has to translate all this information into appropriate behaviour that might or might not involve copying the actions of its companion. Taking all of these steps into account, it becomes clear that even the brain of a fish, which might be physically very small, can have great processing power and capability. There are several different ways in which social learning can be of help. Apart from the avoidance of predators and the acquisition of food, other benefits can include orientation and mate choice. Recognising danger Learning to avoid predators is a risky business, and an individual is unlikely to get many chances to overcome these dangers by trial and error! Obviously, errors are very likely to be fatal, so learning from the reaction and fate of others is highly beneficial, making this a prime situation for social learning. Fish can learn about both the presence of a predator and the identity of a predator, should they have not encountered this particular threat previously. Shoaling tends to offer an early warning with regards to potential danger, ensuring that members of the group have a greater chance of escaping than if they were on their own. Fish living in shoals have the unique possibility of learning from others via the extraordinarily fast communication that occurs within the shoal. This means that the need for avoidance can be communicated faster than a predator is likely to approach, maximising the opportunity for escaping the danger. Scouting behaviour While simply following the shoal away from a predator cannot be considered social learning, research has shown It helps to have friends in the world of fish! Guppies have been shown to learn from each other’s behaviour. In the case of fish, as with any other animal, being able to detect changes in their environment and pick up the slightest hint of danger is very important for their survival. Over recent years, it has become clear that in shoaling species, learning from other members of their group is a skill that many such fish have mastered with remarkable success. Behavioural scientist Dr Julia Mueller-Paul explains more about this ability.
  • 26. Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 29Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk that young or inexperienced fish often acquire or refine their individual knowledge of predators by correctly interpreting their shoal mates’ reaction to a situation. Interestingly, some shoaling fish even send out scouts that will assess the level of danger expected from a specific predator. The threat level appears to be conveyed back to the shoal through the reaction of the scouts, thereby allowing the shoal to respond to this potential threat, even before the predator even attacks. their shoal mates’ reaction to a situation. Interestingly, some shoaling fish even send out scouts that will assess the level of danger expected from a specific predator. The threat How the risk is communicated Information about a predator can be transmitted via the release of a warning substance into the Young fish like these discus have to learn fast, in order to survive. It is not only inoffensive fish that benefit from living in shoals. The notorious piranhas do as well. Minnows can learn to recognise danger of specific predators by their scent. Fish living in shoals have the benefit of an early-warning system against would-be predators like pike. surrounding water or by visual signals. One study showed a flight response by shoaling fish that had observed a flight reaction of another shoal of the same species in a neighbouring tank when it was threatened by a predator. Other investigations have reported similar flight responses of one species in reaction to the behaviour of another species. This means that making use of visually transmitted information about predators is not necessarily restricted to a particular species, as other vulnerable fish in the vicinity can pick up on this message too. The important point in deciding when such reactions are lessons learnt is that the information about the danger is retained. Research has shown that minnows can learn to associate a previously unknown predator with danger when it is presented together with either a flight response or a chemical warning given by other minnows. This ability is also very useful for minnows in terms of learning to be cautious about “Errors are very likely to be fatal, so learning from the reaction and fate of others is highly beneficial...” FISH SKILLS CONTINUES ON THE NEXT PAGE
  • 27. 30 Popular Fish Keeping / Summer 2013 feeding on unfamiliar prey are more likely to accept this new food source. On the other hand, a group of fish are less likely to be drawn to new prey than in the case of an individual learning on its own. This means that a social influence can encourage as well as inhibit new behaviours, and once more demonstrates how aware many fish are of their shoal mates’ actions. A striking experiment with European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) showed that individuals were able to learn to press a lever that released a food guppies learn better from fish they know, rather than from unfamiliar companions. Going against their instincts Golden shiners (Notemigonus crysoleucas) usually spend the whole day in safe, shady areas but can be taught to wait for food in a brightly lit area, when always fed in that location at the same time of day. Shoals of inexperienced golden shiners could be trained to wait for food in the brightly lit area of their tank by just a few experienced individuals, going against their natural instincts. The greater the number of experienced individuals that were present, so the stronger was the effect, but even a single experienced golden shiner was able to train eleven inexperienced fish in this task. Furthermore, it appears that fish that have the opportunity to observe others problem-solving approach in different situations and locations, enhancing their survival skills accordingly. Learning about food sources In open waters, the discovery of new feeding grounds and foraging are much more likely to be achieved by shoaling, simply because the more fish that are present in an area, so the greater will be the possibility of encountering a suitable food source. Guppies, for example, forage more efficiently in direct proportion to the size of the shoal. Once an individual has encountered a food source, this information is spread quickly through the shoal, and as the fish begins to eat, it will soon be joined by others in the group. This ability to communicate about food sources undoubtedly increases the likelihood of the survival of the shoal. In more restricted areas with less visual access and more aquatic vegetation, smaller shoals can prove to be more successful, as they might be more flexible with respect to their travelling paths. However, shoal size is not the only important factor, as studies have revealed that dangerous habitats that might contain the scent of resident predators. Plotting a safe path In another study, guppies (Poecilia reticulata) were paired with previously trained demonstrators. The task was to escape from a model predator via one of two possible escape routes. The first demonstrator always used one route, the second always followed the other. While the demonstrators were present in their quarters, the fish followed them faithfully and thus learnt how to escape from the predator. Later though, they were tested without the presence of the demonstrator and the results show that they were much more likely to escape successfully than fish that had not received previous demonstrations. Interestingly however, they did not necessarily follow the same escape route that their demonstrator had taken. This suggests that the fish do not just copy a simple behaviour, but in fact, they actually learn about the means by which escape is possible. This is very useful as it ensures that they are more likely able to apply a similar “This ability to communicate about food sources undoubtedly increases the likelihood of the survival of the shoal” A Siamese fighting fish in combative mood. The more guppies there are in the group, so the easier it should be for them to find food. A golden shiner. This cyprinid lives in large shoals and is widely-distributed throughout eastern parts of North America. ARTWORK COURTESY DUANE RAVER/US FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE. In order to increase the chances of fish reared in captivity surviving when they are released into the wild, they need to be introduced to wild individuals, capable of alerting them to possible dangers. DID YOU KNOW?
  • 28. Summer 2013 / Popular Fish Keeping 31Subscribe now! Visit www.popularfishkeeping.co.uk displays and outcomes of fights. Both male and female mollies, guppies, gobies, and Japanese rice fish (Oryzias latipes) have been observed to prefer mates that have already been selected by other fish. One study tested this phenomenon by letting a female guppy choose between two males, one of which she had observed interacting with another female, while the other had been on his own. Females reliably chose the male that had been preferred by the other female. This behaviour might suggest that female fish take the favourable opinion of other females as an indicator that a particular male is a worthy mate. reward, simply by observing experienced individuals perform the task. Orientation and navigation Fish can also learn spatial orientation and navigation routes from others. This ability is very useful in finding the best paths from resting sites to feeding grounds. One study tested fish in their natural habitat. When some were displaced from one resting site to another, but had the chance to follow the resident fish to the feeding grounds, they were able to find their way by themselves within two days. However, this was not the case when there were no experienced fish present in the new location to guide them. Another study provided inexperienced guppies with two possible routes to a feeding ground. They were then paired with an experienced demonstrator, which they shoaled with to arrive at the feeding location. After some time, the demonstrator was removed and the guppies confidently continued to follow the same path to the feeding ground that had been used by the demonstrator, despite the presence of another possible route. This means that they remembered the route rather than just blindly following the demonstrator. Interestingly, the greater the number of experienced fish that were present and demonstrating the route, so the more faithful the guppies were to that original route. The effect was so strong that in another similar study, the fish chose a longer, less convenient route, simply because it was the one commonly used by their experienced shoal mates. This still proved to be the case if the guppies could clearly see the feeding ground, and had received individual training to use the more direct path. Learning about mates and potential adversaries Social learning can even be helpful when it comes to mating and conflicts with other fish. Male Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), as an example, are able to gather information about the combative strength of their potential adversaries by observing them fight amongst each other. Information obtained from such observations can later be used to decide how to fight against a particular individual – or if it will be better to avoid conflict. But male fighting fish are not the only ones that pay attention to these fights. Females may also observe them and use them to evaluate the males as potential mates. Accordingly, studies have confirmed that male adversaries will adjust their behaviour during a fight, depending on the whether or not they are being observed from the sidelines. A female’s presence gives rise to less aggressive behaviour and more sexual demonstrations. Learning is, however, not restricted to observations of In conclusion Learning socially from other fish is something that is observed regularly in shoaling fish. The ability itself can be both complex and demanding but the benefits are great, since they can often make the difference between life and death. This also has consequences for fish raised in hatcheries for later release into the wild. Given the importance of learning socially from experienced fish, it is important to expose safely kept hatchery fish to individuals experienced in the dangers of the real world and provide simulations of such dangers before release, so that they have a more realistic chance of survival in the wild. All in all, however, it is probably fair to say that fish are much smarter than is popularly believed! È European seabass could be taught to feed themselves using a mechanical device, simply by observation. Guppies will learn from other members of their kind. Male mollies are one of a number of aquarium fish that will actively prefer to pair with individuals that have bred before. Fish skills

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