New Fish Species in 2013 – Sharks, an Antarctic Monster, and More


Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by LT DeeDee Van Wormer

Even considering that new fishes are discovered at the rate of nearly two per week, 2013 was a spectacular year for fish enthusiasts.  Included among the undescribed new fish species brought to light in 2013 were several relatives of common marine and freshwater aquarium fishes, numerous sharks (including a large hammerhead off South Carolina), a knife fish that utilizes a different type of electric current than all others, a bizarre beast from the depths of the Antarctic’s Ross Sea, one of the world’s smallest vertebrates, and one of the world’s largest freshwater fishes.  The diversity of these new species is staggering, and all seem to have amazing traits, so I was hard-put to select my favorites.  Please be sure to share information about those that caught your eye by posting below.


Giant Oarfish, Regalecus glasne

The Giant Oarfish is not a newly-discovered species…in fact, it has been inspiring tales of sea serpents for thousands of years.  But despite being the world’s longest boney fish, this 30+ foot-long behemoth is so rarely seen that I felt compelled to mention it here.  Fish-watchers were quite surprised when two individuals washed up off southern California in less than a week…and both were in great condition.  Measuring 14 and 18 feet long, one contained hundreds of thousands of eggs, while the other was infested with large tapeworm-like parasites.


Arapaima leptosoma

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by George Chernilevsky

Arapaima, Arapaima leptosome

At a weight of over 400 pounds, South America’s air-breathing, torpedo-shaped Arapaima is one of the world’s largest freshwater fishes.  It was not until 2013 that ichthyologists learned that a second species was “hiding in plain sight” (in commercial aquariums, even!).  Distinguishing the new species is important, as Arapaima have been hunted to near extinction across much of their range.  Slight differences in the natural histories of the two species may help us to understand how best to conserve them.


Blue-Bellied Night Wanderer, Cyanogaster noctivaga

The fish bearing this long name is, at 0.68 inches in length, one of the world’s smallest vertebrates; it misses being the world’s tiniest fish by a mere 7mm.  Size was not all that helped to keep this fish hidden for so long…it is also transparent and nocturnal, and “wanders” in the tea-colored waters of the Rio Negro.


Hopbeard Plunderfish, Pogonophryne neyelori

This fish’s appearance is stranger than its name.  Looking like a cross between an Oyster Toadfish and a tadpole, the Hopbeard Plunderfish was hauled up from 4,560 feet below the surface of the Antarctic’s Ross Sea by Ukrainian commercial fisherman.  As you can well imagine, we know nothing of its natural history (and, I’m guessing, may not for some time!).


Long tailed Carpet Shark

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Long-Tailed Carpet Shark, Hemiscyllia Halmahera

This 28-inch-long, attractively-marked shark is related to the Epaulette or “Walking” Sharks, several of which are popular in the aquarium trade.  A flexible body and leg-like pectoral and pelvic fins allow it to prowl about tide pools and submerged rocks in search of marine worms, crabs and shrimps.  Western Australian Museum ichthyologists discovered it off the East Indonesian island of Ternake, which is part of the Maluku Island chain.


Bluntnose Knifefish, Brachyhypopomus bennetti and walteri

Knifefishes, several of which are popular in the aquarium trade, are known to use electric currents to assist in navigation.  One species, the misnamed “Electric Eel”, also uses electricity to both hunt and defend itself.  The newly-described species emit electric currents from an organ in the tail.  Like all other electric-producing fish, B. walteri  releases alternating positive and negative pulses.  B. bennetti, however, is unique in that it produces only a direct, one phase current.  This fish lives below floating weed masses in Brazil, and seems especially prone to losing part of its tail to predators.  The navigational abilities of knifefishes that produce alternating currents are severely hampered if they lose a portion of the tail.  However, B. bennetti seems not to suffer when the tip of its tail is lost, as the direct current it produces functions just as well…an amazing adaptation if ever there was one!


More Sharks Discovered in 2013

The 8-12-foot long Carolina Hammerhead, Sphyrna gilbert resembles the better-known Scalloped Hammerhead, but is genetically and structurally distinct.  It is the largest fish to be found in such a developed area (inshore, off South Carolina) this year.


Sawsharks resemble sawfishes.  Their “saws”, which bear barbels at the half-way point, are used to disable the fishes upon which they feed.  The new species discovered in 2013, Pristiophorus lanae, hails from the Philippines.  Little is known of its natural history.


Further Reading

2012’s New Fish Species

2010’s Most Unique New Fishes


Understanding the Active Ingredients in Multi-Purpose Aquarium Medications

Sick fishIn the first two parts of this series, we discussed anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic ingredients but there are multi-purpose aquarium medications that are available to aquarists treat more than one symptom. Also, we often see more than one type of infection at a time as one can lead to another. Parasites may lead to bacterial infections at the wound site, and secondary fungal infections may occur as a result of a bacterial infection. These ingredients listed here may be effective for more than one type of disease or outbreak.


Acriflavine is used as an active ingredient to treat a number of conditions. It is an antiseptic that has been shown to be successful in treating fungal infections on fish as well as to treat some bacterial and parasitic infections. It can be used against two of the most resistant infections in the aquarium hobby: Oodinium (parasitic) and Columnaris (bacterial). Acriflavine is generally used for infections based in the slime coat and skin of the fish, not for “larger” parasites like Ich or worms.

Formaldehyde/ Formalin:

Formaldehyde is well-known as a preservative, especially for scientific specimens, but it is also used in medications and diluted solution of formaldehyde gas are found under the name Formalin. Formalin by definition is usually about 37% formaldehyde. Formaldehyde and Formaline are both used to treat fungal infections and some parasites – including the notorious Ich – but can be dangerous, especially to invertebrates (after all, parasites are invertebrates). Most formaldehyde-based medications work better as a bath or dip instead of being used to treat the entire system, and any of these medications should never be used with invertebrates that you want to keep alive. Formalin also depletes the oxygen in the water very quickly, so the water must remain well-aerated, especially when the concentration is high and water movement is low, as in a dip. Some of these medications can also be used to keep fish eggs fungus-free.
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Understanding Active Ingredients in Anti-Parasitic Medications

white spotIn Part 1 of our blog “Understanding Active Ingredients in Antibacterial Fish Medications“, we discussed active ingredients primarily used to treat bacterial infections. Next in this series is anti-parasitic medications. These ingredients are used to treat for different types of parasites.

Parasitic infections or infestations in aquariums can be internal (inside the fish or invertebrate) or external (on the outside of the animal, on tank surfaces or in the substrate), as well as microscopic or large enough to see with the naked eye. Use caution with these medications as most may also destroy sensitive fish and invertebrates.


Copper has long been one of the “go to” medications for parasite treatment in aquariums, especially for treatment of “Ich”, and protozoan parasites. Copper sulfate is the most common form in most copper-based medications but chelated copper treatments are also available as a potentially safer alternative. Copper-based medications are usually used to treat parasites and even some algae outbreaks, but since it is a heavy metal, it can be very dangerous to invertebrates and some fish.  Monitoring Copper levels during treatment is extremely important, to maintain effective levels, and to prevent disastrous overdoses. Even after treatment is over and most of the copper has been removed using carbon or another filter media, residual copper can be left behind in the aquarium.


Fenbendazole is the active ingredient in many dewormers. It is used most commonly to treat mammals including cattle, sheep, and other livestock but is also used less commonly for reptiles, amphibians and fish. It is effective against internal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and others but for aquarium purposes, it is usually used to eliminate planaria (a type of flatworm), calamus worms (an internal parasitic worm) and hydra (related to corals and anemones, usually seen on the glass or rocks). This is regarded as a very strong medication but is one of the few considered reliable for these parasites.

Garlic GuardGarlic (Allium sativum):

While not an actual “medication”, I include garlic because it is a very popular nutritional supplement that has been proven to be helpful in recovery and treatment for some diseases. It is an appetite stimulant in many fish and can help encourage even finicky eaters to feed. Garlic is also a power antioxidant that has been shown to improve a fish’s own immune system and help them fight off a condition on their own. Some believe that the garlic may “taste” bad to the parasite and cause them to fall off of the fish, but it is more likely that the fish is able to fight the parasites off on its own because of the extra nutritional boost it receives. Although garlic extract from any health food store can be used in aquariums, formulas manufactured specifically for aquarium use are generally best and often also contain Vitamin C or other vitamins and minerals. At any rate, this homeopathic herbal additive is not a true medication, has no measurable side effects, and is beneficial as a supplement for most freshwater or saltwater fish.
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Happy Holidays from the TFP family to yours!

The team here at That Fish Place – That Pet Place would like to take a moment to wish all of our readers a Happy Holiday and a great New Year. Thank you for reading our blog – we hope to see you back soon!

Happy Holidays from That Fish Place - That Pet Place

Understanding the Active Ingredients in Antibacterial Aquarium Medications

My poor clownfish has a bacterial infection behind its right eye.Understanding what a medication contains can often be as or more important than understanding what it treats. I’ve compiled just a few of the most common active ingredients found in many of the most popular aquarium medications. This list is not all-inclusive but may hopefully help to unravel the why’s and how’s of some medications.

Remember, some of these active ingredients have more than one use and the medications they are in may be marketed for different uses. Antibacterial medications may be included in anti-parasitic medications and some anti-parasitic ingredients may also be useful in fungal infections but the uses I’ve listed are the most common or most effective in the aquarium trade. Always remember to properly diagnose conditions and diseases before medicating and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any medications.

Part 1: Antibacterial ingredients in aquarium medications

These ingredients of common bacterial fish medications are used to treat different types of bacterial infections. Some are broad spectrum, general medications while others are geared towards Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria only.  The Gram designation refers to a testing system named for the scientist who developed it, Hans Christian Gram.  Known as Gram Staining, bacteria samples are treated with a purple dye under microscope, the bacteria who accept the dye, and turn purple are Gram-Positive.  Bacteria that do not accept the stain are Gram-Negative, and appear pink.  These two groups are the largest two types of infectious bacteria.  If you try a Gram-Negative medication, and it is ineffective, then you may need to switch to a Gram Positive medication. Some antibiotics may also kill off the beneficial bacteria in the aquarium, as most nitrifying bacteria are Gram-Negative, and will affect the biological stability of the system.

Amoxicillin/ Ampicillin/ Penicillin:

The “-cillins” have been well-known for decades as popular treatments for human infections, but some aquarium medications are also made with these active ingredients. All three derivatives are used to treat bacterial infections. Amoxicillin is the most broad-spectrum of the three and treats Gram-positive and Gram-negative infections. Ampicillin treats some Gram-negative infections but is most effective on Gram-positive bacteria. Penicillin is used for Gram-positive bacteria. Aquarists who are allergic to Penicillin or any other -cillin derivatives should use extreme caution if using these medications in their aquarium.
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