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Aquatic News

Issue #2 - 2002

Issue #2
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Editorial Editorial
Dear Reader outcome: for the first time it
I do hope you enjoyed the was stated publicly that
first issue of planet Earth has lost more
NUTRAFIN Aquatic News. than 75% of its original
And now here is the second primary forests...
issue, which contains just as something I have been saying
much information. for decades. I only wish more
Our highlight this time is an- of the media would take notice.
other of the most popular Like the advert sponsored by
aquarium fishes around the FoEI President Brent Blackwa-
globe, the guppy. These ter on Earth Day, April 22,
colourful “swimming tapes- with a full-page in USA Today,
tries” have a very interesting showing a “For Sale” sign
story behind them, which you posted on the Earth, accusing
will not want to miss (p. 4). governments of selling the
Another, very fascinating tale environment to corporate inter-
involves Echinodorus, plants Photo: Heiko Bleher (NAN editor) with new cichlid species ests that pollute and abuse our
which do not deserve their collected recently in a remote southern Amazon area. Here the air, water, and land, for profit.
common name of “Amazon rain forest is still untouched...but for how long? It is a vicious circle, that is for
sword” as they do not live in sure. We are living in a time

the Amazon river (p.6). And, where our population is grow-
talking about the Amazon, the ing as never before in the his-
original source of most of our tory of Man (even though some
aquarium fishes and plants people would have us think
(although today most are from Fishes in nature and in the aquarium 4 otherwise). And it is perfectly
captive-bred stocks), I cannot reasonable for everyone to
The history of the guppy
keep an incredible fact to want to live, have a job, take
myself. The Sixth Conference care of his or her family. But it
on Biodiversity was recently Aquatic plants in nature 6 is this uncontrolled growth,
held in The Hague, Nether- and in the aquarium and the accompanying pollu-
lands, where representatives of Amazon sword plants tion and destruction of aquatic
182 countries tried to devise a habitats - in so-called “third
plan to protect the last prima- world” countries - that is
ry forests. A plan of action was Aquarium technology 8 causing the creatures we love
adopted and Friends of the Plant System to disappear. Everytime I re-
Earth International (FoEI) has turn to places in the Amazon,
stated “ could be a major The aquarium hobby on the Internet 8 or elsewhere - particularly in
step forward”. But it wasn’t! tropical areas - it is worse.
Brazil, Canada, Malaysia and Rivers and lakes have vanished
other countries blocked any
Do-it-yourself 9 completely or are used for
attempts to include clear Lighting for marine aquaria garbage disposal. Especially
targets. And at the end of the the smaller streams, which
two week convention, the di- New practical products 10 bear the highest concentration
rector of the environment pro- New Cycle, New Canopies, of biodiversity - and which are,
gram of the United Nations, New Foods, Plant Food or were, the source of most
Klaus Töpfer of Germany, said aquarium fishes and plants.
”... I had expected more...”. That is why I say:
Uncontrolled deforestation and New in the trade 11 “Let us make the most
the introduction of exotic Fishes and plants beautiful hobby even more
species (the second most dam- beautiful... and help to keep a
aging cause of the extinction of Biotope aquaria 12 piece of nature alive!”
countless aquatic life forms For guppies
that we love), will continue. Yours aquatically,
I can see only one positive Heiko Bleher
Aquarium history 13
Part 2: Fishkeeping to the end of
NUTRAFIN Aquatic News
the Middle Ages Scientific adviser: Dr. Jacques Géry
Publisher: Aquapress Lithos: Fotlito ‘73, Borghetto Lod. (LO), Italy
Layout: Rossella Bulla & Heiko Bleher
Editor-in-Chief: Heiko Bleher
Editorial address: Nutrafin Aquatic News Nutrafin news 14 Copy editor: Heiko Bleher
Printer: S.A.T.E s.r.l., Italy
Via G. Falcone 11, Zierfische und Aquarium - Nutrafin at Photos: Aquapress archives
27010 Miradolo Terme (Pavia), Italy unless otherwise stated - www. Germany’s biggest aquarium exhibition NAN is printed on paper produced using
Tel. +390382 754707 - Fax +390382 754129 chlorine-free bleach

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Fishes in nature and
in the aquarium
“The water temperature in the containers of tropical fishes is dropping, we must do something!”
shouted the boatswain of the South America – Hamburg Line freighter heading across the high seas
from Caracas towards cooler Europe, as the temperature on board fell below 60°F. Making a snap
decision, a nameless sailor emptied his jars of expensive Venezuelan honey, filled them with hot water,
and placed them in the 4 gallon fish cans. He repeated this procedure night and day, day-in, day-out,
often in rough seas. The precious cargo must reach Hamburg alive….

Guppies worldwide (for this reason they were also
called “missionary fishes” because more
Carl Hartwig Peters (1815-1883) received
61 dead specimens from Julius Gollmer,
than any other aquarium fish they “convert- who had collected them in the Rio Guayre
and their history ed” people to the aquarium hobby). But at near Caracas. Peters named the new
by Heiko Bleher that time neither Siggelkow nor the breed- species Poecilia reticulata, as the speci-
ers had any inkling of the future triumphal mens exhibited a reticulated scale pattern.
…and it did. In 1908, thanks to the quick progress of this little fish or that it was des- It is interesting to note that he adopted the
thinking and perseverance of the sailor tined to become one of the most popular of genus name Poecilia from Schneider, 1801
(who staggered ashore, exhausted, in Ham- all aquarium fishes – but more of than (in Bloch & Schneider), and that in the
burg) the aquarium hobby would be able to anon. years that followed more and more speci-
marvel at live guppies for the first time. But first of all, how on earth did this fish mens were deposited in various museums,
Real tropical fishes! At that time there were get the universal popular name of “gup- each time under a different name so that
no aquarium heaters, and “tropical fishes” py”, as its scientific name is quite different eventually there were no less than 11! But
had so far meant just the paradise fishes im- - Poecilia reticulata? Now, it seems un- these are all now regarded as synonyms
ported from southern China some 50 years likely that the aboriginal peoples in its na- and once again this fish bears the scientif-
previously and a few gouramies, as well as tive lands can have overlooked such a ic name Poecilia reticulata. (To be precise,
a number of cichlids and catfishes brought gaudy – albeit small – fish for thousands of Poecilia (Acanthophacelus) reticulata).
in from Argentina, Uruguay and southern years (in nature the 1 inch long males are But one of the many synonyms provides
Brazil after the turn of the century. But very colorful, the larger females colorless). the explanation of the popular name gup-
these “tropical” fishes in fact originated Although it is not known whether they py. This was down to Albert Carl Ludwig
from temperate regions where the water gave it a name, the first recorded name Gotthilf Günther (1830-1914), in his day
temperature often drops below 60°F for dates from 1859. The head of the ichthyol- an ichthyologist (of German-English ex-
several months each year, and could thus ogy department at the Imperial Prussian traction) at the British Museum in London.
easily be maintained at room temperature. Academy of Science in Berlin, Wilhelm He received dead specimens from Trinidad
Unfortunately, despite the from the Rev. Robert John
sailor’s best efforts, some of the Lechmere Guppy and in 1866
guppies were dead by the time C. described these as Girardinus
Siggelkow in Hamburg opened guppii – which subsequently,
the cans. Nothing to do with the like all other later names, was
hardships of their journey – the shown to be a synonym of
wild form is very hardy – but the Poecilia reticulata. But gup-
result of poisoning. In those days pii caught on – and is now the
ships were always disinfected af- universal popular name. (Inci-
ter docking, to prevent the intro- dentally, Guppy was a mis-
duction of plague, smallpox, yel- sionary – again hence “mis-
low and spotted fever, and sionary fish”!)
cholera, by rats. The tiniest Following the eventful ar-
traces of the prussic acid used rival of the live guppies in
posed a huge threat of poisoning Hamburg, Siggelkow discov-
for all animals. ered that each of the gorgeous
But the survivors would be- males had a different col-
come known as “millions fish- oration and also possessed a
es”. Not just because they breed clearly visible, laterally-pro-
prolifically in their natural range truding, copulatory organ
- Venezuela, Guyana, Trinidad, (known as the gonopodium).
the Antilles and other Caribbean Not long afterwards the fe-
islands – but also because before The culture of the guppy knows no bounds. The millions fish is always in the top ten males, often twice the size of
long they were being bred in best-selling ornamental fishes even when it isn’t at number one. Some of the “swimming the males, were seen to mate
their millions by hobbyists tapestries” bred by Man from the original wild form command astronomical prices – with the males, and then – lo
but those above can be had for a few dollars. Photo: Burkhard Kahl
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and behold – bring to up to 60 ists into action. Guppies mate just
live young into the world. And two months after birth and the fe-
thus they were classified as “live- males produce young four to six
bearing” toothcarps – “tooth- weeks later. In less than 10 years
carps” because originally this the guppy was not only the best-
group was assigned to the cyprin- known aquarium fish, but culti-
odontid fishes (family Cyprin- vated varieties of this fish were
odontidae). the most prized of all. The guppy
But what is so special about became the “million dollar fish”
“ livebearing” ? Do we humans in America, the land where every-
not arrive “ alive” in the world, thing is possible. Little remained
like many species of animals (al- to be seen (at least where males
most all mammals)? And is it not were concerned) of the wild form
common for fishes in general to imported in 1908, with its pointed
be viviparous (= bringing forth head, gracefully curving,
live young)? Today more than 60 colorful dorsal fin, short – some-
families and over 1000 species of times elongated – tail, and elon-
viviparous fishes are known and gate body covered in blobs of col-
it would be totally confusing to or (left). And even females were
apply the epithet “livebearing” to becoming more colorful through
all of their names! In addition, the selective in-crossing.
word viviparous covers a whole By the time of the First World
series of different types of live- War a number of guppy varieties
bearing, too numerous to discuss were already being bred, includ-
here. Nevertheless, the term ing the almost unaffordably ex-
“livebearing” has become estab- pensive “peacock guppy”.
lished in the aquarium hobby Nowadays there are almost in-
(and among aquarists). Nowa- numerable color varieties and
days enthusiasts, aquarists, deal- forms - practically a “swimming
ers, breeders, and many others carpet” Mankind’s enthusiasm
understand the collective term for something new, or rather,
“livebearers” as applying only to “never before seen”, knows no
the familiar fishes of the family bounds, and right from the start
Poeciliidae (order Cyprinodontif- the guppy helped satisfy this ap-
ormes), including guppies, petite. Anyone can give their
platies, mollies and swordtails imagination full rein and produce
(which will be covered in future their own “creation” in a very
issues of NAN). short space of time – something
It should be noted that in the that takes many years in other
course of evolution animals re- fishes.
peatedly have to adapt, and that To the present day the cult of
species still exist today because the guppy remains unbounded.
they bring their young into the After the first international guppy
world alive. A live juvenile can show in Hannover (2nd–6th Sep-
swim away, an egg cannot… To tember, 1954), at which five Eu-
sum up, in these interesting ropean countries and the USA
species – including, of course, the were well represented, the Ger-
guppy – the eggs are fertilised in- man Guppy Society (Deutsche
side the mother’s body, develop Guppy Gesellschaft, DGG) was
for a certain period of time in her formed in 1955. Since 1978 there
reproductive tract, and are then have been European guppy
released – born alive. championships, and in 1981 in-
Thus, at the beginning of the ternational judging standards
20th century devotees of the new were established (left). This led
and fashionable trend towards to the creation of an internation-
tropical fish, could keep a species al “curatorium” for fancy guppy
that was not only colorful but breeding, based in neutral Aus-
produced live young before their tria. But the DGG was just the be-
very eyes. Children and adults ginning. Today there are almost
alike found something new to innumerable guppy clubs, associ-
study almost every day. But this ations, and societies. On the inter-
was not enough. Every newborn net, alone has
male has a different more than 420 pages under:
color pattern – just like finger- 1) Wild guppy from Mexico (male). 2) Wild males from Venezuela are particularly “Guppies, Poecilia reticulata“. In
prints – and no two are exactly colorful. 3) The 12 standard guppy varieties (from top to bottom): round-tail; bottom- practice many of the entries there
the same. This spurred profes- sword; pin-tail; double-sword; spear-tail; flag-tail; spade-tail; veil-tail; lyre-tail; are very superficial and contain
sional breeders and expert hobby- fan-tail; top-sword; and delta-tail. information that is incorrect, but

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there is also excellent scientific material,
and a number of good to excellent clubs.
Every month the Japanese publish material
on their high-price guppies, and other jour-
nals regularly discuss this, the best-known
of all fishes. And the Russians and other
former Eastern Bloc countries likewise
cover the latest guppy “creations”. Guppies
are being bred with such huge tails that
they can hardly swim, let alone attempt to
inseminate females (lower right).
But this is not the only use Man has made
of the millions fish – for almost a century it
has been used in countless scientific exper-
iments as well. For example, guppies were
cloned long before Dolly the sheep in Eng-
land. Some 50 years ago scientists stored
the sperm of the finest male guppies in or-
der to create other such monsters. In prac-
tice a lot of useful knowledge has resulted
from this research, especially the studies on
wild fishes. Inter alia, biologists have dis-
covered that females are attracted to the
most splendidly colored males (just as in
Man?), while males, on the other hand, pre-
fer inconspicuous females that have a bet-
ter chance of surviving pregnancy (less vis-
ible to potential predators). Or that where
predation pressure is low, the fishes
become sexually mature later, live longer
and healthier lives, and grow appreciably
The guppy remains a fish for seekers of
knowledge, whether they be scientists or
laymen. And I am of the opinion that even
the wild forms, which look as if they have
been daubed with color (see photos), will
enrich a child’s – or even an advanced
aquarist’s – aquarium. The guppy is not on-
ly virtually problem-free in its maintenance
(see the biotope aquarium article in this is-
sue), but a miniature textbook, from which
we can often learn more than from the TV,
magazines, or internet. The guppy has al-
ways been and remains the ideal beginner’s
fish, and hardly anyone in our wonderful
educational hobby will not have kept them
at some time. The missionary fish contin-
ues to delight both young and old – there is
no lower age limit, and certainly no upper
It is worth noting that the Polish word
Gupi means stupid, and the fact that it has
a Polish-sounding name has led to a special
interest in these fishes in Poland, where
mass breeding has produced some splendid
Finally, it should be noted that these fish-
es originate from equatorial regions and are
generally found along the margins of rivers
large and small, sometimes in lakes, but al-
ways in shallow water, and often among
vegetation and stones. Water parameters
1) Bottom-sword – a near natural cultivated form. are variable across its range: pH 6-8, con- 1) Cultivated (?) spear-tail. 2) Cultivated round-tail.
2-3) cultivated top-swords. 4) double-sword - could ductivity 10-2000 µS/cm and temperature 3) Flag-tail? 4) Fan-tail (the “fan” is too heavy, the
pass for a near-natural form.... 5-6) cultivated 68 - 86°F (or even higher - up to 90°F). guppy has to rest frequently). 5-7) Delta-tails – culti-
top-swords. 7) A typical guppy show, in this case vated forms that can swim only with difficulty (5-6),
in Ostrava, Czech Republic. or hardly at all (7).
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Aquatic plants in nature
and in the aquarium
by Heiko Bleher
It is our intention to show our readers how various aquatic plants live in nature, and how best to
cultivate them in the aquarium for long-term enjoyment. This time we will look at the swordplants.
Their pan-American distribution makes them suitable for the guppy – or other livebearer – aquarium,
and, of course, these plants are also ideal for the majority of medium-sized and small
South American characins and community aquaria, while large specimen plants can form
the centrepiece of the aquarium decor, etc.
The swordplant genus (Echinodorus) be- of these can create real “lawns”! A few E. The majority of these crosses have, of
longs to the family Alismataceae. It re- angustifolius, E. berteroi (rather tricky), or course, been engineered by breeders.
mains to be seen whether it comprises 47 E. griesebachii are ideal for the sides. “More color”, because almost all natural
good species (following Rataj, 1975a) or And, of course, if you want something real- swordplants are green (albeit every shade
26 species with a number of subspecies (ac- ly special, E. aschersonianus or the rare E. of green, and sometimes red even in the
cording to Haynes & Holm-Nielsen, 1994). opacus and E. portoalegrensis are real wild). It should be noted that there are
In practice, about 25 species – almost all of gems. species that live for only a year (eg E. bert-
them very beautiful – are available in the The numerous hybrids are a matter for eroi), but the majority are durable, long-
aquarium trade, plus at least 30 hybrids (a personal taste and choice. Almost every lived, undemanding aquarium plants as
number of these were illustrated in month there are new varieties, and the situ- long as you remember that many like to
NAN #1). ation is so confused that a few hybrids have grow emerse part of the time, as in nature
Entire books have been written on this been described as species (but with no lo- (in particular, E. grandiflorus, E. macro-
genus alone – undoubtedly at least in part cality details!). Many of these cultivars add phyllus, E. paniculatus). They are very
because they are the most important aquar- more color to the aquarium, in particular E. adaptable - happy in soft or hard water and
ium plants worldwide. No other genus of cordifolius “Tropica Marble Queen”, E. at a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and tempera-
plants offers the aquarist such a wealth of “Oriental” or E. “Little Bear”, E. “Green ture-tolerant (72 - 82°F is optimal). There
different growth types, and so much poten- Panda”, E. “Red Devil”, and many more. are even species such as E. horemanni (a
tial for creating a splendid un- good species), E. opacus, E.
derwater landscape. For exam- osiris, E. portoalegreneis, and
ple, a full-grown specimen of E. E. uruguayensis which periodi-
amazonicus, E. bleheri, E. cordi- cally live at temperatures of
folius, E. horizontalis, E. martii, less than 60°F in nature.10-12
or E. osiris makes a splendid hours of light is naturally and
centrepiece. Species such as E. optimal.
grandiflorus (which also forms
beautiful emerse leaves), E.
palaefolius, and E. paniculatus
(which likewise rapidly pro-
duces emerse foliage) are suit-
able for the background. And
there are also a number for the
foreground of the aquarium: E.
bolivianus, E. quadricostatus
(below), and the smallest species
of all, E. tenellus. The last two

Here you can clearly see
(centre) how swordplants
(E. grandiflorus?) change to
an emerse form during the
dry season and their delicate
submerse leaves (left) take a
quite different form. Both
photos were taken in August,
at the start of the dry season,
in Roraima state. Above we
see a typical swordplant flower (and seeds) – often the only way to establish the species.
(This is the flower of E. paniculatus). Far left is a beautiful decorated aquarium full of
E. quadricostatus in the foreground with a large E. osiris behind to the left.

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Aquarium Technology: Plant System
CO2 Natural Plant System ploying a natural fermentation process for oped to support consistent carbon dioxide
A beautifully planted aquarium creates a CO2 eliminates the need for inconvenient output.
stunning focal point for any setting. Live pressurized cylinders. It allows quick, easy, A Natural Process
aquatic plants bring a living, 1. All-natural Activator and Sta-
breathing, exquisite part of na- bilizer ingredients are added to
ture into your own home. sugar and water in the Fermen-
It's easy tation Canister.
The CO2 Natural Plant System 2. Once sealed, fermentation
helps you achieve beautiful, commences. As CO2 forms,
thriving live aquatic plants, and pressure builds, creating CO2
ultimately, a healthier aquarium. bubbles that travel through
Visible results in just 15 days! CO2-resistant tubing into the
When comparing plant systems aquarium.
using CO2 versus those that 3. There, the bubbles encounter
don’t, the differences are very the CO2 Bubble Counter/Dif-
apparent. Most rapid growth fuser, the key to efficient CO2
plants obtaining CO2 injection, diffusion into the water. The
are more lush, colorful and CO2 bubble follows a patented
grow faster. 3-dimensional, extended path.
How it works As it travels within the unique
This system is designed to sup- matrix, the bubble becomes
ply any aquarium with a safe, economical, and affordable refills of ingredients to pro- smaller and smaller, finally disappearing
and efficient method of providing nature’s vide continuous CO2 for a 3-4 week period. almost entirely. This indicates that CO2 has
most powerful carbon source for plants. Em- Our special fermentation canister was devel- fully dissipated into the water.

Brief notes on various homepages: at of it can be skipped, there are some good, The website will quite a few things are especially scientific, publications. For be- be a real hit with catfish fans. A fabulous
new, click on English as language, then ginners and those who want brief but homepage. So far 27 of the 34 families are
Aquatic – you will be amazed. A fantastic worthwhile information there are two sites: listed, and 797 siluriform species (of some
new site at is under construction at, which 2600 known) are illustrated. A few of the, with ex- is well done. They even provide a “Guppy names are incorrect or out-of-date (e.g.
ceptionally realistic biotope set-ups. The Start Page”. If you want to see a video Bunocephalus caracoides should be
website has a lot then is Dysichthys caracoides; Hemibagrus
on plants, and anyone looking for informa- the place to go for: “A Guppy is Born”. wyckii belongs in Mystus; the Corydoras
tion on discus – worldwide – shouldn’t And if anyone is interested in an aquarium geryi is an undescribed species, etc). But
miss The site job click The the layout is excellent, the photographers has almost everything the American Zoo and Aquarium Association are listed as well (under cat-elog), the in-
heart of a marine lover could desire, with has vacancies for aquarists and reptile formation is available in a wide choice of
fantastic photos. In altavista search for keepers, care interns and vets - all the way languages, and thereare numerous links.
Guppies “poecilia reticulata” and you up to aquarium curators and even directors In short, almost everything you need to
will find over 420 pages – although much of conservation. know about catfishes.

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Do it Yourself: Lighting
How to Evaluate and Select Lighting ronment, penetrates to depths of hundreds have a ratio of 2 to 4 watts per gallon. A de-
Needs for Marine Aquaria of feet. Red light is almost totally absorbed duction of 15% to 20% of the rated tank
Marine aquaria, which are intended for the by water within the first 16 feet. Sunlight volume is permissible to allow for water
keeping of photosynthetic corals and inver- present over tropical reefs is extremely in- displacement due to live rock formations.
tebrates, require serious consideration and tense (high lux values). In comparison to Reef systems containing species of hard
understanding when the issue of lighting is calm waters, waves and turbulent condi- corals need a minimum of 4 watts of light
addressed. Quality, intense, full-spectrum tions can reduce light penetration due to re- per gallon. It is often impossible to deter-
lighting is essential. This can be achieved flection. mine the origin (which ocean, the depth
by combining multiple Hagen Fluorescent and surroundings) of a coral or an inverte-
Glo Bulbs. brate. Even hard corals, requiring more in-
The chlorophylls found in various algae, tense lighting, have been found in lower
invertebrates, and corals require exposure light conditions. Knowing a coral or inver-
to specific wavelengths of light for proper tebrate’s origin would allow simulating
function. These chlorophylls are essential lighting requirements more accurately,
for the basic survival and growth of many however, only general guidelines can be
species of coral, invertebrates, and algae followed. If a coral is not responding in its
commonly kept in marine aquaria. In gen- How Much Light Does My present location, it is recommended to
eral, it is the blue spectrum that is impor- Aquarium Require? place it in a different area of the aquarium
tant for various chlorophylls to function. The quantity of light required for marine where the lighting conditions and water
Light wavelength absorption by water is aquaria will vary depending on the life movement may be more suitable.
another critical factor for marine aquarium forms kept. In fish-only setups, 2 watts per For How to Maximise the Efficiency of
lighting. Blue light, which represents the US gallon is sufficient. Reef-type systems Fluorescent Lighting and for useful Light-
dominant wavelength in the aquatic envi- containing primarily soft corals should ing Tips please refer to NAN #1.

Marine Fish
- Bright Cool Light
- Higher Blue Spectrum
- Red Spectrum for Certain Fish
(Red, Yellow, Orange)
- High Color Temperature
Not all marine aquaria contain corals
and can include a mixture of other in-
vertebrates and fish. In the case of
fish only, the aesthetic aspect of light-
ing requires a combination of 2 bulbs
to accentuate the variety of pigments
found in many commonly kept marine
2 watts per US gallon is adequate for
this type of aquarium. 2-3 watts of
light per gallon of water are required
for proper fish presentation and
good plant growth.

Marine Reef Aquaria
- High Light Intensity
- Higher Blue Spectrum
- Higher Color Temperature
Reef systems can vary in content. Aquaria
containing predominantly soft corals and in-
vertebrates can function effectively with low-
er light levels than systems including stony
corals. Mushroom corals frequently open ef-
fectively in lower light conditions. Placing
them at the bottom of reef structures is gen-
erally recommended. Certain species of
green marine algae are desirable in marine
aquaria. They contain pigments very similar to
those of other plants and are very attractive-
ly displayed using Life-Glo bulbs. Systems
containing varieties of hard corals require in-
tense lighting with much emphasis on higher
color temperatures. A minimum of 4 watts
per US gallon is recommended for this type of

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New practical products

New Cycle New Canopies New Foods
New Improved Cycle Light Glo Canopies NFM Betta Food
New Cycle contains more bacteria respon- Aquarium canopies represent a convention- Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) are
sible for the oxidation of ammonia and ni- al method of illuminating and protecting an well known and appreciated for their grace-
trites. This allows for greater stability and aquarium. The new Light Glo canopy takes ful fins and rich colors. These ideal aquari-
faster activation. Species of heterotrophic a step beyond with innovative design and um fish have rather small stomachs and
bacteria (Bacillus sp.) provide essential numerous practical, useful features. The benefit from a diet enriched with ingredi-
balance between autotrophic and hetero- sleek profile blends well with any décor ents that promote superior coloration and
trophic bacteria. and provides function as well. condition.
Cycle contains thousands of tiny This new line of canopies consists of seven Nutrafin Max Betta Food incorporates
particles in suspension different sizes ranging from 19.68” to R.A.P. (Red Algae Pigment), a natural in-
These flocs are the visual proof of the in- 47.24” in length, including four that feature gredient rich in astaxanthin. This potent
credible increase of the nitrifying bacteria. dual fluorescent lighting (see bleow). The pigment accelerates color development
The concentration of these beneficial bac- two largest sizes are available as double while significantly enhancing disease
teria is so high that it is now possible to see lighting units only and come equipped with resistance and improving fish condition.
them without magnification. A single one efficient electronic ballasts. All but the Bettas will also appreciate
of these little flocs observed with a micro- smallest size offer a built in automatic feed- the inclusion of
scope reveals millions of bacteria cysts er slot, located on the front lid for easy and freeze dried Blood-
which need only to be added to an aquari- convenient access. worms. High in
um to become activated. Other additional advantages include a built protein, they pro-
in frame with anti-capillary lip to eliminate vide a naturally
humidity and condensation. Disposable palatable nutrition
white reflectors are employed to ensure source. Easily di-
optimal light reflection and are inexpen- gested, the combi-
sively and easily replaced if necessary. nation of a floating
Water-proof light bulb sockets (T-8 bulbs freeze-dried food
only) eliminate the need for light reducing and flakes pro-
lenses and ensure safe isolation of electri- vides an excellent
cal connections. The attractive design not basic diet for
only provides aesthetic enhancement but bettas.
increases additional under-hood air vol-
ume, contributing to beneficial gas ex-
The new Light Glo canopies are the perfect
accent to an attractive display aquarium Plant Food
and benefit both aquarium inhabitants and
owners. Plant Gro NPK
It is commonly understood that regular ad-
ditions of micro-nutrient supplements, such
as Nutrafin`s Plant Gro Iron Enriched are
essential for proper growth and condition
of aquatic plants. In fact, the major nutri-
ents Nitrogen (Nitrate, NO3), Phosphate
(P04) and Potassium (K) are of great im-
portance for optimal condition and growth
of aquatic plants. Nutrafin NPK Aquatic
Plant Fertilizer delivers these key major
nutrients in three convenient sizes,
118ml (4 0z.), 236 ml
More nitrifiers (8oz.), and 473 ml
Each floc contained in New Cycle is (16oz.).
packed with bacteria sealed in a protective It is recommended to
bio film. The concentration of nitrifying use this product in
bacteria is significantly higher in compari- Light-Glo sizes available aquariums that are
son to other similar products. 19.68” x 9.84” 23.62” x 11.81” densely planted and
No refrigeration is required 23.62” x 13.77” 31.49” x 11.81” feature limited fish
Because the bacteria cysts found in the mi- populations. Nu-
31.49” x 13.77” 39.37” x 15.74”
cro flocs rapidly sink to the bottom of the trafin`s NPK is often
container they are protected from oxygen 47.24” x 15.74” required for heavily
that would enter the bottle. The stabilized planted aquariums
environment prevents any activity, even at equipped with high
room temperature, serving to maintain the intensity lighting and
integrity of the product. CO2 injection. Nu-
Cycle is the most active product on the trafin Test kits for
market. Laboratory tests show its capacity Phosphate and Nitrate
to oxidize more than 10 ppm (mg/L) of am- are available for de-
monia per day. termining existing
New Cycle is fully activated immediately. levels while also ac-
Ammonia at a concentration of 100 ppm curately revealing
(mg/L) is consumed in 10 days. Fish can be when to re-dose with
introduced at start-up without delay. NPK.

10 NUTRAFIN Aquatic News 2
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New in the trade
2. The red-banded headstander

Fishes Synaptolaemus cingulatus
This characin, which is found only among Plants
rocks and large stones – often hovering ver-
tically head-down and feeding on Aufwuchs
New characins in 3-16 feet of depth – is not a new import New swordplants
Characins belong to the order Characi- but a very uncommon one. And it certainly In NAN #1 this spot was devoted to new
formes. They are found only in Africa (about isn’t a fish for beginners. Back in the 1950s hybrids among the swordplants, some of
250 species) and in the Americas from Texas Bleher discovered this fish while diving in the most popular aquarium plants (see also
to Argentina/Chile (more than 1500 the upper Rio Xingu, and subsequently in this issue, page 7). This time we bring you
species). They have occupied almost every the Iriri (a tributary of the Xingu). These a totally new discovery, an Echinodorus
imaginable ecological niche, whether it be fishes are horrendously difficult to collect species first discovered recently by Heiko
mountain streams (up to 3500 m above sea as they live solitary – or at most in twos and Bleher on the border between Brazil and
level), waterfalls, rapids, ponds, lakes, and threes – in strong currents, often rapids. Guyana. Bleher was able to find the species
rivers of every kind, even subterranean There are no known reports of successful only in running water, growing submerse
rivers and caves. There are species that live breeding. These fishes require a 36 inch (during both dry and rainy seasons), often
almost exclusively at the water’s surface, on tank with numerous large stones, white sympatric with a long-leaved Hygrophila
the bottom, or even buried in the sand sand, bogwood, and a strong current. Water species. Although most members of the
and/or in submerged tree-trunks – in the parameters should be pH 6-7, conductivity genus have an emerse form, none is as yet
bark! But the majority live in mid-water, for below 50µS/cm (1-2 °dGH), and a temper- known for this species. So maybe it is a
example, the neon tetra (see NAN #1), the ature between 76 and 82°F. Adults measure true aquatic plant?
Congo tetra, the silvertip, and the glowlight. 3.5 to 4.5” and are a fantastic eye-catcher
The species most often kept in the aquarium for the biotope aquarium. It is not regularly
hobby are undemanding and suitable even imported.
for beginners. Many are shoaling fishes and
should be kept as such. They are the most
commonly purchased fishes of all – which
itself speaks for their popularity. Unfortu-
nately, new species are no longer common
in the hobby. But we are nevertheless able
to bring you four of these jewels that are
either completely new or rare: Photo by N. Khardina
1. The dwarf neon – newly discovered 3. The new dream characin
Tyttocharax sp. aff. tambopatensis New discovery – identity unknown
This fabulous fish was first discovered by
Heiko Bleher in August 2002, in rocky
crevices in six feet of depth in the Rio Iriri.
This dream tetra has bright orange-red eyes,
orange pectoral, anal, caudal, and dorsal
fins, a longitudinal band of the same color Bleher at the type locality Photo by N. Khardina
(sometime bright silver as above), and a
velvet black lower body – so striking you
can hardly miss it. Certainly worth breed-
ing, although this hasn’t yet been achieved.

In 2002 Heiko Bleher collected 13 speci-
mens of this species in an unexplored part
of Bolivia, in tiny watercourses at about
3000 ft above sea level. They have subse-
quently produced thousands of youngsters.
The barely 0.4” long adults are brilliant It could be the true E. intermedius, never yet
light blue little fishes with a yellowish tail. imported, although the type locality for that
These dainty little fishes are problem-free species is in the state of Maranhão, some
and ideal, in a shoal (of appropriate size), 1550 miles to the southwest. Whatever it
for any community aquarium, large or 4. The unique Cameroon tetra may be, this swordplant will certainly soon
small. They will rapidly win the hearts of Phenacogrammus major be seen in aquaria worldwide. Specimens
aquarists as they are a sight for sore eyes. Did you ever see such an adipose fin? Only with about 100 leaves are not unusual in the
(The photo above doesn’t do justice to their this species from southern Cameroon has wild. Its elegant form, with its long, narrow,
brilliant colors.) They are very adaptable anything of the sort. An entirely new tetra crinkly leaves, will be an ornament to any
and can be kept at a neutral pH (but tolerate experience for the larger aquarium. Easy to aquarium, just like the most popular species
up to pH 8), with a total hardness of 5 - 20 keep at a pH of 6-7.5, a total hardness of 1- of the genus, E. bleheri. The water paramet-
°dGH and a temperature between 75 and 85 15 °dGH, and a temperature of 79-85°F. ers were at pH 5,85; conductivity 8 µS/cm;
°F. A perfect shoaling fish. And if possible in small groups of 3-8. temperature 80°F (air 86°F - at 5.30PM).

The new swordplant in nature, along with
Hygrophila sp., (growing partially emerse).
Photo by N. Khardina Upper photo: detail of new species.

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Biotope aquaria: for guppies
The Guppy Aquarium choices include Cabomba species and the platies (Xiphophorus maculatus), which are
Every beginner in the aquarium hobby Guiana willowleaf, Hygrophila guianensis available in numerous color varieties at any
should start with guppies – but experienced (small-leaved willowleaf, H. polysperma, good aquarium store. Other good tank-
aquarists can likewise find great pleasure in will do instead). The dwarf chain sword mates include bristlenose catfishes such as
these swimming rainbows. But everyone (Echinodorus tenellus) is ideal for the fore- Ancistrus hoplogenys and A. temminckii.
should first of all ask themselves, “ Do I ground; it will form a carpet above which These “suckermouth cats” remain small
want an aquarium with a population of the fishes will be seen to best effect. Alter- and eat unsightly algae. They do not in fact
wild-type guppies, or would I prefer a natively you can use the somewhat larger occur in the natural habitat, where there are
“ tapestry” of the larger cultivated forms – dwarf swordplant E. quadricostatus (see instead other suckermouths, of the genus
or a mixture of both types?” The wild below, left-hand biotope). And, finally, one Hypostomus, but the latter are not recom-
forms are more active. It is easier to ob- to three specimens of the larger swordplant mended as they grow too large and may
serve their courtship, and they breed more E. horizontalis or E. osiris (as in the left- nibble the plants. Another catfish that does
rapidly. On the other hand, the “ fancy” hand corner of the biotope below left) occur in the biotope is the bronze catfish
types give the aquarium more color. which is highly decorative. You can also (Corydoras aeneus), ideal for sandy sub-
Once that is decided – there is plenty of plant lots of Ludwigia repens (as in the strates. It you decide to keep these then
advice in the literature and on the Internet biotope below right) - again very atractive make sure you have a small group and that
(eg at search for: decoration. you leave an area of open sand as they like
Guppies, “ poecilia reticulata”) – then you Put in the sand, wood, and rocks, then to “nose around” in the substrate for small
can decide which colors you like best and half-fill the aquarium with water before organisms.
visit a high-quality dealer to obtain healthy planting. Finally fill up the aquarium. When you buy your fishes don’t forget
stock – never buy guppies that can’t swim Always bear in mind that guppies feel par- that the trade almost always offers cultivat-
properly, or from tanks where there are fish ticularly happy and show their best colors ed forms of guppies, swordtails, and
lying on their sides, wobbling around, or with good plant growth as cover (see pho- platies, and these, of course, are not found
even dead. But, before you buy any fishes, tos below and on page 7 ). So don’t stint on in nature. So, if you want to be “biotope
you must first set up their aquarium. the plants. correct” you will have to hunt for wild fish
Setting up the aquarium: When buying If the aquarium purchased doesn’t include a or captive-bred wild forms. They are avail-
an aquarium, always remember that the built-in filter, then you can add either an in- able, and then you can proudly display an
larger the aquarium the more attractive it ternal or an external. The filter should be aquatic microcosm representing Venezuela,
will look, and the more space the fishes filled with biological media, and if you use a Trinidad, or even Mexico in your home.
will have for swimming. But a 30” (long) x biological starter (eg Cycle from Hagen) And you will certainly learn more than
12-14” (wide/deep – the wider the better then you can add your fishes a day later. from the cultivated forms.
where the decor is concerned) will suffice Fishes for the aquarium: As already General: Maintain the water temperature
in this case. mentioned, choose the guppies you like. at 75-80°F and light the aquarium for 10-12
If possible, obtain some fine white sand As a rule of thumb you can add 1” of fish hours each day (see also NAN #1 under:
or light quartz gravel for the substrate – per 1 gal. (U.S.) of aquarium water, ie a Do it Yourself: Lighting). The water should
about a 2” layer is required, a little deeper 16 gal. (U.S.) aquarium will house 16” of be slightly alkaline, pH values below 7 are
at the back. First rinse your new tank well fish or 16 male guppies at 1” (average adult unnecessary. Let the biological filter media
with warm water – no soap or detergent! – body length) apiece. Note that this rule is do their job and change some of the water
and check whether the sand has been well based on the body length (= Standard regularly.
washed (regardless of what it claims on the Length, SL), ie not including the tail. If you The only other thing these little splashes
packing). For decor we recommend a few want to keep other fishes with your gup- of color need for successful maintenance
nice pieces of bogwood and stones, and a pies, then we recommend other livebearers and regular breeding is food. And you will
good selection of attractive aquatic plants. of the family Poeciliidae, eg green or red have hands-on experience of evolution in
Particularly good (and biotope correct) swordtails (Xiphophorus helleri) and your biotope-in-miniature.

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Aquarium history Part 2

The story continues....... there as early as the 4th century BC. It is tion of “ornamental fishes” in Europe. The
It is difficult to say whether it was the known for certain that Huan Ch’ung (328- first book on nature, including fishes, by
Sumerians, Assyrians, Chinese, or Romans 384), who lived at the time of the Chin Dy- the German Konrad von Megenberg (1309-
(see NAN #1) who first kept fishes in con- nasty, saw wild fishes (Carassius auratus – 1378) appeared in 1478, and was the most
tainers or ponds (before glass - and hence the ancestral form of the goldfish) with red important work on the subject during the
aquaria - existed) for decoration, display, or scales in a lake on Mount Lu. We know that Middle Ages. The Swiss Conrad Gesner
other purposes. But we do know that in at the time of the T’ang Dynasty (618-907) (1515-1565) – who sadly died prematurely
China, as long ago as about 2000 BC, carp every high official wore a goldfish badge. of the plague – published four volumes
eggs were artificially incubated and silk- And that the first undisputed evidence of with more than 4500 pages in the period
worms were used to rear the young. This is maintenance (and therefore breeding) of 1554–58. In that on fishes we can read
detailed in a book by Fan Lai dating from goldfish in captivity occured during the about the carp (Cyprinus carpio). The
475 BC. Lai wrote that silkworm culture Sung Dynasty (960-1127). In the Poem on pages of detailed description state “ Carp
began in 2698 BC and that right from the the Pagoda of the Six Harmonies, written are useful fishes that are kept in ponds and
start the faeces and pupae of the silkworms around 1030, the author recalls standing on ditches by some of the populace in various
were an important fish food. For this reason a pine bridge and waiting for the golden villages; they are used for food and also
the fish ponds were located below the silk- Chi (goldfish). The pagoda was built near bred for sale, which brings in large
worm colonies. These records may be the Hangchow in 971 and repeatedly restored amounts of money.” So carp were already
proof that the Chinese were the first to cul- thereafter. But whether golden Chi still being kept.
ture fish. At the same time (1554) another
Even so, we must not forget the book appeared, by the famous
Greeks. No less a personage than Guillaume Rondolet, Professor of
Aristotle (384-322 BC) mentioned Medicine at the University of
fishes in his works of On Nature Montpellier. In it he wrote of how
and described 116 species. Inter his wife had kept a fish alive for
alia he tells of the marine electric three years in a glass. (Was this
ray Torpedo marmorata, feared on the first aquarium?) Unfortunate-
account of its 50 volt electric dis- ly the Frenchman did not say
charge. But it was also kept in what sort of fish it was – certain-
ponds as that discharge could be ly not a goldfish.
used to treat migraine. Aristotle, Meanwhile in the Far East the
who published thousands of pages culture of the first “ornamental
– more than 2,500 have survived fishes” was well under way, and
the ravages of time – dedicated by 1547 a permanent fixture
over one third of his work to na- among the high-ranking popu-
ture. Interestingly he mentions lace. Nobles and mandarins kept
therein that there had been a suc- these pieces of gold in splendid –
cession of Greek thinkers (known sometimes fabulous - bowls of
as the Ionians) interested in nature precious jade. The man-in-the-
some 300 years before his own street kept them in earthenware
time, and cites as the first Thales, Above: A bowl from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) with goldfishes. tubs, vats, and bowls. These con-
who stated (about 600 BC) Below right: The fish, “Yu”, was the basis of one of the earliest Chinese characters, tainers were very popular as gold-
“...that everything began with dating from the 11-13th centuries BC. During the Han period (202 BC - 220 AD) fish would even breed in them.
water, and everything may be these characters were refined into graphic symbols, with more than 49,000 signs Perhaps the first author to write
composed of water today”! Now, that continue in use today. extensively on these jewels and
our fishes definitely originated in water – swim there....... who knows? breeding them was Chang Ch’ien (1577-
just as all other life forms trace their origin It was probably Governor Ting Yen-tsan 1643), and his work was undoubtedly the
to that element. And Thales realised this who established the first “ornamental fish first ever book on ornamental fish.
some 2,500 years before Darwin... In addi- pond” for cultivated forms of goldfish in Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty
tion, Aristotle was very far-sighted and also Kiahsing, and subsequently in Hangchow (1644) every Chinese household had a
wrote “...just as the eyesight of the night and Nanping. At this time golden Chi were small (or large) goldfish basin. This was the
owl fades at sunrise, thus our understand- held in high regard in China, but keeping centrepiece of the dwelling and brought
ing of nature is increasingly fading...” – it and cultivating these divine creatures was people much pleasure, acting as a source of
was ever thus and today is much worse than reserved for the priests. Not until 1163 interest and entertainment. The goldfish
ever. During the 20th century alone more were private citizens allowed to keep these had risen to the status of the absolute dar-
than 75% of the Earth’s primary forest was revered fishes. Even so, there were still no ling of the Chinese people, and already the
destroyed, and millions of aquatic life aquaria. first cultivated forms were appearing, such
forms perished along with the trees! What It should be noted that in Europe the first as the bubble-eye, the celestial, and the
would Aristotle say about that if he was long-distance transportation of fishes took twin-tailed lionhead.
alive today? Perhaps, “...the eyesight of the place in the 6th century AD. Cassiodorus But we will tell you about that, and the
surviving owls still fades at sunrise, but we (490-585) wrote how live carp were sent first glass aquarium to appear on the world
have become totally blind to nature...”. from the Danube to Ravenna in Italy. Live, scene, in the next issue of NAN. Until
And the more so following the 2002 Earth because everything had to be absolutely then...
Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. fresh for the table of Theodoric, King of
yu (Fish)
But back to China. There are reports that the Goths. But it was to be almost a
red-coloured goldfish were being bred thousand years before there was any men-

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Nutrafin news
Nutrafin presents world exactly as he had seen them time and again 1
in nature, that is, in the environment where
first - Heiko Bleher’s they live and thrive.
In the 9 specially manufactured aquaria -
biotope stand at the 2 of about 625 gallons, 6 of 140 gallons,
Zierfische & Aquarium and a small one – he portrayed specific
habitats from 4 continents. One of the large
2001, German’s largest tanks simulated a section of the lower Rio
exhibition Juruá where large stingrays (Potamotrygon
spp.) live together with giant arowanas
Once again Nobert Zajac, the organizer, (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) and huge red-
enthusiastically plied his art in Duisburg at tailed catfishes (Phractocephalus hemio-
the fifth Zierfische & Aquarium exhibi- liopterus) – fishes that require tank of this
tion, by now a German “institution” size, with plenty of sand and a few large
renowned worldwide. More than 100 plants. The second large aquarium was al-
exhibitors from 6 nations displaying the so an authentic replica of an underwater
most beautiful aquaria and other exhibits habitat, in this case in the Lago Nhamundá
in the approximately 64,500 square feet of (also in Brazil - see below). There were
the Kraftzentralenhalle (an industrial mon- also biotopes from New Guinea – a crater
ument) – an unsurpassable show. With lake and a karst spring; a section of the San
Nutrafin literally at the forefront – just Antonio River in Texas; the Iténez (known
inside the entrance. as the Guaporé in Brazil) at Vila Bela, the
Thanks to the support of the Hagen com- river with the greatest wealth of aquatic 2
pany, Heiko Bleher had planned something plants; an Assam biotope (India); and a
unique as the main feature: a biotope dis- specialexhibit of two dwarf snakeheads
play such as the world had never seen be- livingto gether happily among the vegeta-
fore. A room some 24.5 x 21 feet and 8.75 tion (photo below).
feet high, with a single entrance, white on During the five days of the exhibition
the outside and pitch black inside, so that more than 54,000 people thronged the hall
the visitor would be entering another to marvel at the futuristic aquarium show.
world. The world of the aquatic biotope. It The biotope display was such a success that
was Bleher’s desire to present the fishes further stagings are planned, worldwide.





Photos 1-2): On the 3 outer walls of the biotope stand Nutrafin presented photos of the
inexorable destruction of aquatic habitats together with fish species that are extinct or
endangered in nature. 3) Visitors “stormed” the biotope stand. 4) The interior was black
and the aquaria lit from in front (as well as the Hagen lighting tubes above the tanks).
5) Dwarf snakeheads were exhibited in appropriate surroundings and 6) Discus as
they live in the Lago Nhamundá – all just as in nature.

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