A thunder-line royal pleco. Photograph by Leighton Lum.
Royal plecos are somewhat rare plecos that are highly sought after by catfish enthusiasts. Unlike many of the plecos seen for sale, royal plecos have bold colors and patterns that make them stand out in any tank.
This green pleco has a great home for itself. It has peaceful tankmates such as Congo tetras, rainbowfish, and roseline barbs. It has driftwood to feed on and hiding places to dart into. You can also see that there is substantial current in the aquarium.
A great white shark patrols the Open Sea Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photograph by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
By David E. Boruchowitz
Regular readers will undoubtedly remember our October 2005 cover story about the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s record successful maintenance and subsequent release of a baby great white shark. Since then they have kept and released four others, and now the sixth is in their million-gallon Open Sea exhibit. If you want to catch a glimpse of it, you can try their live webcam at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_opensea/open_sea_cam.aspx and for the full article, check out http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_whiteshark/whiteshark_ours.aspx.
Freshwater shrimp are one of the hottest newcomers to the aquarium hobby, and selectively bred red ones are extremely popular. One of the amazing things you can observe in your pet shrimp is the way they feed. Seeming to stare off into the distance, they sample detritus completely by touch and scent, moving their feeding appendages in apparent fast forward, transferring edible finds to their mouthparts at the same pace. Here’s a close-up video that shows the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWL2XUU8PJw
Bichir _Polypterus endlicherii_. Photograph by Ed Wong.
By David E. Boruchowitz
There’s a nice video of a tankful of bichirs feeding on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAleBB9AIb8. It’s been up for four years and has gotten about 15,000 hits, but it’s still getting comments. There are several things I like about it:
It has bichirs! (Pronounced like “bikers.”) These fascinating living fossils give us a glimpse of what fish looked like shortly after their main lineage split off from the lineage that gave rise to lobefin fishes and tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals). They have both gills and lungs and look and act a great deal like salamanders.
There are 20 bichirs in a 90-gallon tank. I certainly hope the owner has farmed them out to other tanks as they grew, but I always enjoy seeing that I’m not the only hobbyist who gets carried away at times with a favorite group of fish!
The aquarist is feeding them what looks like fresh fish meat. In any case, it’s not live goldfish! Feeder fish are never a good choice for predator diets.
The video clearly shows that the fish are finding the food by smell and touch, not sight. They are very good at ferreting out every last morsel of food, but their tiny eyes hardly contribute to the effort.
At the end it shows one of the largest bichirs head to the surface for a breath of air. These fish are obligate air breathers, meaning they must breathe air to survive, and their tanks need to have an airspace at the top. (They also need a sturdy and secure cover, since they will definitely escape if given an opening large enough—which is probably not as large as you think!
Last but not least, the video shows what the books (and my experience) say is impossible: bichirs of quite different sizes kept together. Bichirs normally will eat any animal small enough to swallow, including their own kin. The few times they’ve been spawned in captivity, cannibalism was a constant problem as the fry grew at different rates. As of the time of the making of this video, these very well fed fish hadn’t started to dine on each other, but I wonder if the peace lasted…
Take a look at the video, and if you’ve got the tank space, maybe try some of these fantastic fish!
The author's wild-caught oscars imported from the Rio Orinoco. Photograph by Ted Judy.
Nine months ago, I decided to get a group of oscars to grow out, which was when I found out that there are not very many in stores, so I ended up buying some wild fish imported from the Orinoco River in Venezuela. They are probably Astronotus ocellatus, but they may also be an undescribed species. They have a lace-like pattern in their fins that is not seen in the tank strain A. ocellatus, and they do not have as much red (which has been developed in tank strains through selective breeding). I have six of them growing up in a 75-gallon tank. I expect to have to reduce the number eventually, and I am hoping to end up with a nice breeding pair. So far the fish are much more shy than the tank-raised oscars I have kept in the past, but they are no less intelligent. I can tell by the way they look at me.
Fake rock can be made of cement and sand, as is being done on a commercial scale at this coral farm in Indonesia. Photograph by James Fatherree.
Setting up a reef aquarium can be an extremely challenging venture. You have to choose from all the different types of equipment out there, the type of fish you want, whether or not to include invertebrates, etc. One of the most important decisions you have to make during the setup is what type of rock to use. James Fatherree explains the pros and cons of live, base, and homemade rock in the September 2011 issue of TFH http://www.tfhdigital.com/tfh/201109/#pg51.
Female crosshatch triggerfish Xanthichthys mento. Photograph by Keoki Stender.
Triggers are rough-and-tumble reef dwellers that often create problems in a community aquarium, but those from the genus Xanthichthys are comparably peaceful and can sometimes even be housed in a reef tank. Learn all about those “Marvelous Triggers” in Edward Adam Jackson’s article in the September 2011 issue of TFH http://www.tfhdigital.com/tfh/201109/#pg99.
Leopard wrasse Macropharyngodon meleagris. Photograph by Bob Fenner.
Leopard wrasses make beautiful additions to the marine aquarium provided their exacting needs are met. They must be kept in a large, established reef with plenty of hiding places, room to swim, and a secure cover to prevent them from jumping out of the aquarium when startled. Another important consideration is to purchase a healthy looking wrasse from the start.
An adult bundoon blenny Meiacanthus bundoon. Photograph by Matt Wittenrich.
Clownfish are among the most popular fish that beginning marine fish breeders attempt to reproduce, however they may not be the easiest. Although their larvae are larger than most, and therefore easier to raise, it can take years for a clownfish pair to begin spawning.
That’s why master marine fish breeder Matt Wittenrich, PhD recommends using bundoon blennies Meiacanthus bundoon for a beginner’s first project. Bundoon blennies have large larvae that are relatively easy to raise and can even handle less-than-perfect water quality.
But Mo doesn’t limit himself to photos only, he also makes incredible videos of his cichlids. In particular, he created a video of the Amphilophus hogaboomorum featured in the article. The video shows fish that Mo collected in the Rio Cholteca near Teguchagalpa, Honduras. The tank includes one female (the smallest one) and several males in a 180-gallon tank.