The Humphead Glassfish – Parambassis pulcinella – Species Profile

Craig here. Parambassis pulcinella. What a name. It kinda rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Well… as cool as the name sounds, the Humphead Glassfish is even cooler looking! If you have ever wanted a fish that has a bit of size and a lot of character for your freshwater community aquarium, this just might be the fish for you!

A relative newcomer to the aquarium scene, the Humphead glassfish was not scientifically described until 2003. Parambassis pulcinella hails from Myanmar, in South East Asia. With changing political climates, many fish have just recently become known to science from this region. Myanmar is a country that has nearly half of its land covered in dense forests. Within these forests are countless streams. It is in these fast flowing streams that the Humphead Glassfish can be found.

The Humphead Glassfish is a schooling fish that benefits from being kept with members of it’s own kind. It has a spine from the dorsal (supraoccipital) area of it’s skull that is extended. This extension is what gives this fish it’s bizarre shape and name. The pH should range from neutral to slightly alkaline. It is not a particularly picky eater. The small group that is kept here will ravenously feed on pelleted foods and thawed frozen foods. It seems that the only things that the Humphead Glassfish are particular about is the need for excellent filtration, higher levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, and room to swim! Other than these requirements, you will find that these curious fish are very sturdy and make wonderful additions to your tank. They will not eat plants, so keeping them in a larger planted aquarium is acceptable provided that your CO2 levels do not rise to a dangerous level. Even though these fish are relatively peaceful and can be kept with smaller community fish, beware keeping them with fish like neon or cardinal tetras. If a tiny tetra will fit in their mouths… it will surely be lunch!

So, if you want something different, something rare, something new… take a look at the odd Humphead Glassfish. When available, these fish are certainly well worth the price. You will have something that many people have never even seen before, as well as a fish that is one of the most interesting and coolest additions to the aquarium trade in years.

Bumblebee Snails: an alternative solution to nuisance aquarium worm control

Bumblebee SnailWhenever most aquarists see that first dreaded bristleworm in their aquarium, they immediately run out for the nearest Dottyback or Sixline Wrasse or Arrow Crab or little plastic trap. There’s another, often overlooked, little critter that can help out even more than any of the “traditional” solutions – the Bumblebee Snail, Pusiostoma mendicaria.

Bumblebee Snails are flashy little snails, as saltwater snails go. They have solid black shells with thin yellow stripes and only grow to about one inch in length. Bumblebee Snails are more carnivorous than many other species and are known to feed on other snails, ornamental feather dusters or the occasional coral polyp if their supply of leftover foods, tiny crustaceans or small worms in the substrate grows too low. The risk is usually well outweighed by the benefits though to anyone with a bristleworm problem; A sturdy (nuisance level) bristleworm or flatworm population can keep several Bumblebee Snails well-fed enough to leave their tankmates alone as long as the population lasts. While Bumblebee Snails aren’t quite as proficient sand-sifters as the ever-popular Nassarius Snail, they do sort through the substrate and aquarium rockwork to find their food – the same places that the dreaded worms hide.

So, if you’ve tried the traditional solutions or want to cut a bristleworm or flatworm problem off before it starts, try adding a few Bumblebee Snails.

Aquarium History and the Holidays

Patty here. Christmas is a time for giving, as is said, and more than a few out there might be receiving (or giving) something aquarium as a gift this year.  Some will get their very first aquarium kit or bowl, and will anxiously await the time a few days later when they’ll add their first fish and plants to the tank.  It may turn out to be that person’s first taste of what will develop into a life-long passion, hobby or even career. I’m sure that most of you reading this can relate to the experience, getting your first tank, setting it up, getting a second tank for that other type of fish you want to keep, or upgrading to the biggest tank you can fit in your living room. 

Working in the industry and in the hobby, I really find the advances in aquariums and aquarium keeping fascinating.  The technology grows by leaps and bounds each year, and the possibilities are almost endless to what can be housed in aquariums today.  With all the equipment and products available to us today, you have to wonder how it was all started.

An aquarium may be defined as a receptacle consisting of at least one transparent side in which water dwelling plants or animals are kept.  Did you know that people have been keeping fish indoors since Roman times?  The introduction of glass panes around 50 A.D. allowed them to keep sea barbels indoors. The glassed replaced one wall of the marble tanks that contained the fish, allowing them to be viewed with ease.  Fish were also kept by ancient Egyptians and Asians, both as a food source, and for aesthetics.  In the 1300’s large porcelain tubs were produced for keeping and breeding goldfish.  From these early ideas and developments, aquariums evolved in shape and integrity to accommodate the demand.  In the early 1800’s, Dr. Nathaniel Bragshaw Ward developed the Wardian Case, a terrarium that allowed for the successful cultivation and transport of plants.  This was the inspiration for aquariums that we know and love today.  By 1850, not even a decade after the first were produced, these aquariums enabled people to maintain freshwater and marine organisms in stable containment for years at a time.  This hobby popularized quickly in the United Kingdom. In addition to there being ornate, cast iron framed aquaria featured in the Great Exhibition of 1851, the first large public aquarium opened at the London Zoo in 1853, known as the Fish House.

The aquarium hobby exploded after that, spreading across Europe and to the U.S. with aquarist societies, literature, and aquarium advancements fueling the fire.  The interest grew stronger during the Victorian era, when models for society homes were made available, usually constructed of pitch-sealed wood and glass with a slate bottom that could be heated from below.  Native species could be collected and contained easily.

With the introduction of electricity to homes the hobby flourished.  Tanks could be installed in more homes, with artificial lighting, filtration, aeration, and heating.  The boom brought the industry to a boil, gave rise to a demand for exotic fish imports, and allowed it to grow into the phenomenon it is today.  You are one of around 60,000,000 aquarists worldwide and growing.

So whether you’re contemplating your first betta bowl, buying your kid an Eclipse Aquarium kit, or testing the integrity of your floor to see if it will support the weight of a huge new reef tank, know that it’s good to be a part of a hobby so diligently contrived and deeply rooted in history.  We’ve come a long way!

Thanks,

Patty

The Emerald Elysia, a Solar Powered Sea Slug (Elysia chlorotica) – Research Update

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

Sea slugs are shell-less, swimming mollusks that are much favored by marine aquarists for their beautiful colors and unusual lifestyles.  Studies at Texas A&M University recently (December, 2008) revealed just how unusual their survival strategies can be.

Stealing Plant Cells to Produce Food

It has been known for some time that that the emerald elysia, a sea slug native to North America’s Eastern Seaboard, is dependent, in an odd sort of way, upon one species of marine algae (seaweed).  Newly discovered details of its relationship with the algae are startling.  It seems that these sea slugs are unique among animals in being born with at least 1 gene that supports photosynthesis.

However, newborn sea slugs cannot actually harness the sun’s energy and utilize it to produce food, as can algae and plants.  For this they must consume the cytoplasm (internal material) of marine algae.  Within the cytoplasm are organelles known as plastids (chloroplasts), which trap solar energy and convert it into food.  Amazingly, the algae’s plastids continue in this role after being consumed by a sea slug. 

The Switch – Consuming Energy to Producing Energy

The newly discovered sea slug photosynthetic gene seems to be the key factor in allowing this unique relationship to function – without it, the alga’s plastids would not likely survive in such an alien environment.

In essence, the sea slug converts itself into a solar powered, plant-like animal – the only known example of such a phenomenon!  Some marine biologists speculate that, given time, the emerald elysia might evolve into a truly photosynthetic animal.

Something new and unexpected is always popping up in this wonderful field of ours – please pass along your own news tidbits.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Background information on the emerald elysia’s unique feeding mode is posted at:

http://sbe.umaine.edu/symbio/

A Simple CO2 Solution for the Planted Aquarium

Brandon here. If you’re like me and want to get the best growth and color out of your planted aquarium, you’ll probably want to add CO2 to your tank at some point.  The addition of CO2, in conjunction with adequate lighting, will greatly increase the rate of growth of your aquatic plants and is almost a necessity for certain hard to keep species.  Here at That Fish Place we carry a number of supplies for dosing your aquarium with CO2.

Turbo CO2 Bio System from Red SeaThe first CO2 additive that I used on my planted 20 gallon was the Turbo CO2 Bio System by Red Sea.  This system is relatively inexpensive and fairly simple to use.  It works by attaching the reaction chamber to airline tubing which runs into a small powerhead.  A mixture of yeast and sugar inside the reaction chamber produces CO2 and usually lasts four or five weeks.  The downfall to this system is that the CO2 generated cannot be regulated and the duration of the mixture is usually inconsistant.

Once I upgraded to my 55 gallon aquarium, I decided I should upgrade my CO2 system as well.  To save money, I bought a 20 oz paintball tank instead of a larger tank similar to the ones we use in the fishroom.  To diffuse the CO2, I purchased a Maxi-Jet 400, attaching the airline to the venturi.  This actually diffuses the CO2 very well.  To regulate the CO2 coming out of the tank, I bought the CO2 regulator by TAAM.  The regulator comes with a needle valve for adjusting the amount of CO2 released into the tank and a solenoid so I can control when the unit operates by attaching it to the same timer as my lighting system.

Dual CO2 Regulator for Paintball Tanks from TAAM My plants have never been healthier since I began CO2 additions.  I have several different species that have grown almost too large and need constant pruning, such as my watersprite, bacopa, and bronze wendtii.  If you decide to run CO2 on your aquarium, be aware of several complications you may run into:

CO2 will displace oxygen in the water.  If you add too much, your fish may suffer.

A high degree of surface agitation will drive the CO2 out of the water and make the addition of CO2 worthless.

CO2 will also lower the pH of the water.  Be sure your carbonate hardness is within the proper range (3-8 dkH).

CO2 will increase the rate of growth of your plants when used with adequate aquarium lighting.  Fast growing plants will deplete trace minerals in the water (iron, potassium, calcium, manganese). Plants that are deficient in these minerals tend to have health issues and even die.  Be sure to test your water and dose with trace minerals accordingly for the best growth.

Hope this helps,

Until next time,

Brandon

 

Until next time,

Brandon