If you’re looking for a unique Christmas present for a fishkeeper, or just want to treat yourself, check out these one-off, handmade ceramic pieces by Practical Fishkeeping contributor and forum moderator Bob Mehen.
Bob’s love of fish really shines through in these gorgeous pieces, with great attention to detail. Some of the best loved fish in the hobby are represented in his work, including Discus, Clown loach, Corydoras, and suckermouth cats such as Whiptails and Royal plecs.
Check out more of Bob’s work at his Etsy shop: Bob Mehen Ceramics.
We've got some amazing aquatic-related goodies up for grabs during December with the Practical Fishkeeping advent calendar.
Every day from December 1–24 we'll have different prizes to be won. Whether you're a freshwater fan, or prefer your fishkeeping more on the saltier side, there will be something there to suit you. Some of the fabulous fishy bits you could win include food, lighting, aquaria, pond gear, retail vouchers — and some cuddly suckermouth plecs! So be sure to check out the PFK website every day during the run up to Christmas to see what's on offer!
The 2016 UK Aquascaping Championship took place on Saturday, October 15 at J & K Aquatics, in North Petherton, Somerset.
The final was in the form of a live ‘scape off, with finalists selecting their hardscape materials and then ‘scaping throughout the day until 3.45pm. The UK Aquascaping Champion was decided by a judging panel and public vote. Stephen Rhodes, who was also in the final last year, created a ‘scape called ‘Snake Pass’ to win the contest.
Stephen won a bespoke Clear-Seal aquarium to the value of £850, £250 cash and sponsor goodies.
Second-placed aquascaper, Dan Harris, won a Ciano Emotions Aquarium, £200 cash and sponsor goodies.
Joint third place winners Alexea Tonge and Hayley Sloman, won a Ciano Emotions Aquarium, £150 cash and sponsor goodies. All the finalists in the ‘scape off got to keep their creations along with the Clear-Seal Edgeline.
Tetra, Eheim, Arcadia, Reeflowers, Aquadeco, Ciano, Clear-Seal, Dennerle sponsored this year’s competition, which was attended by over 130 people.
For further details check out the UKASC website at www.ukasc.co.uk.
The annual Catfish Study Group convention will take place over the weekend of March 17–19, 2017, at the Kilhey Court Hotel in Wigan, Lancs.
Guest speakers include Melanie Stiassny, (Curator of Fishes at American Museum of Natural History); Luiz Tencatt (University of Maringa State, Brazil); Peter Petersen (Blue Planet Aquarium, Demark), and Hans-Georg Evers (Amazonas editor, Germany).
There will also be trade stands, specialist societies and sales tanks set-up over the weekend.
Room rates are £90 per delegate (single) or £70 per delegate in a shared room (maximum of two adults per room). Breakfast and evening meal are included.
Day tickets are available at an ‘early bird’ rate of £20 per day or £35 for the weekend if booked before January 15, 2017 — there’s also an additional discount for delegates staying at the hotel.
More info: www.catfishstudygroup.org
Looking for something different that lots of kids will love? Meet Morris — the fish you can turn inside out to explore his anatomy!
OK, he might not be ‘cuddly’ as such, but this anglerfish-like toy can help teach youngsters about what’s on the inside — and loads of kids just adore freaky stuff like this! He’s the brainchild of Brooklyn-based designer Rachel Ciavarella. He actually started life as an exploration of material textures, but he has proved so popular that she has decided to put Morris into production.
Rachel has started a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign to help cover the cost of a minimal 1,000-unit production run from the factory that will manufacture it, as well as the cost of shipping it to each backer if the campaign is a success. So for a pledge of $40 or more, you could get your own Morris!
If the genitals of male fish are large, females of some species can develop bigger brains to enable them to avoid sexual harassment.
This certainly seems to be the case in the Eastern mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki — a livebearing species in which sex is far from consensual, with males forcing themselves on females using their modified anal fin (gonopodium). This can make life difficult for females as they are constantly harassed and are unable to select the best males. Even feeding can be a challenge when you are constantly being sneaked up on from behind. Those males with larger genitalia are more successful in breeding with unwilling partners.
Now scientists from the University of Stockholm and the Australian National University have discovered that females of this species develop bigger brains if they are subjected to continuous harassment by more well-endowed males.
In their experiments the scientists used three groups of fish — one line bred for longer gonopodia, a second group line bred for shorter gonopodia, and a third control group where the research did not select for size.
After nine generations, the brains of the female fish kept with the more well-endowed males were found to be up to 6% heavier than those of females kept alongside males with smaller genitalia.
What was particularly interesting was that the females with bigger brains were better at reproducing. It’s unclear whether this was because they were more able to avoid unwanted attention, leading to them being less harassed and so able to carry on with normal day-to-day things such as eating — or whether it’s because they were better placed to select the best males to reproduce with and avoid those of lesser quality.
The January 2017 issue of PFK is on sale now — and it comes with a FREE guide to setting up your first aquarium.
Also in the fish-packed January issue is advice on converting your freshwater tank to marine, plus a budget clownfish set-up for those who just want to dip their toes in saltwater for the first time.
Rainbowfish, knifefish, Black neons, a jungle inspired catfish set-up, a reader's magnificent mbuna system, and a look at some of the 'man down the pub' fishkeeping theories...just what should you believe?
All this and loads more in the January issue — on sale now!
Check out this video of the magnificent mbuna display aquarium belonging to Scott Lynch, which aquascaper George Farmer helped to set-up.
You can read more about Scott's tank — plus loads more besides — in the fish-packed January issue of Practical Fishkeeping, on sale Wednesday, November 23.
The January issue also comes with a FREE beginner's guide to setting up your first aquarium.
This beautiful little Siamese fighting fish has just been sold for the equivalent of £1222 in an online auction on Facebook.
The breeder, Kachen Worachai, posted images of the fish on a private Betta auction group — with a starting price of just 99 baht (£2.26). He was shocked to find the bid at more than ten times that amount by only the second day.
He closed the auction after two days, by which time the winning bid was at 53,500 baht/£1222.
So you might be wondering why — apart from being a rather lovely little fish — it fetched such an enormous sum. Well, the colours of this Fighter mimic the horizontal stripes of the national flag of Thailand, which is where Kachen Worachai lives.
We think this might be the highest price ever paid for a Betta splendens - but if you know different, please get in touch!
Emperor Tropicals is holding an Aquascaping Weekend from December 3-4 2016, with live aquascaping and huge discounts on live plants and plant-related products.
The store, based in Manadon, Plymouth, has been voted the 2016 Plant Retailer of the Year by readers of Practical Fishkeeping in its annual poll — that's the third time in a row for Emperor Tropicals. In addition, it was voted this year's Best Aquatic Retailer in the South West and is also one of PFK readers' Top 40 aquatic stores in the UK.
Two of the shop's staff, Hayley and Lexy, reached the final of the UK Aquascaping Championship (UKASC), held last month. They took joint third place for their live aquascape produced at the 'scape-off'.
Emperor Tropicals says its Aquascaping Weekend will see a large tank aquascaped over the two days with helpful tips on how to achieve various effects and how to maintain it afterwards. It adds: "There will be huge discounts on all aquascaping products throughout the store, including offers on plants to celebrate coming 1st in the UK for Aquatic Plant Retailer (three years running). These details are being finalised still, but more information will be released very soon!"
The store is the only authorised ADA stockist in the South West and also stocks a huge selection of aquatic plants including Tropica.
You can find Emperor Tropicals at 9, St. Erth Road, Manadon, Plymouth, Devon, PL2 3SW. Tel. 01752 706633.
Looking for the ideal Christmas gift for a keen fishkeeper — or just fancy treating yourself? Tropical Marine Centre (TMC) has just launched a REEF-Cam — a live streaming underwater camera, purpose-made for the aquatics market.
This patented camera is extremely compact, measuring just 26 x 26 x 19mm, and this means it can be easily installed inside your aquarium (although a bracket for mounting it outside your tank is also supplied).
Controllable from your smart phone or tablet, via the REEF-Cam iOS and Android compatible app (free to download from the App Store or Google Play), your camera feed can be viewed by you from anywhere, or shared with friends. You can also take snapshots of your tank and its inhabitants and save to your device or a micro SD card (not supplied).
There are two versions available, which come with either a magnet mount or suction cup mount (dependent on the thickness of your aquarium glass), but rather than mounting the REEF-Cam on the side of the tank you could place it unobtrusively amongst rockwork or decor to get a really close up view of tank life. TMC has even come up with a funky little rock case and base (available separately) to help you disguise the camera if required!
This amazing little camera retails for just £139.99 and is available from the end of November.
More info: www.reefadvanced.co.uk or view the REEF-Cam video below.
Philips CoralCare is an LED-only aquarium luminaire, which research has shown to grow coral at the same rate as traditional lighting but with a 30%+ energy saving.
The new CoralCare lighting is Philips’ first dedicated LED luminaire to grow coral in aquariums. It follows three years of research into the use of LED light to grow coral, and results show that coral grown with the new Philips CoralCare luminaire has the same vivid colour as that grown naturally in the sea.
The independent Coral Publications marine consultancy undertook research for coral growth with both traditional T5 luminaires and the Philips CoralCare luminaires during five months of tests. During these field tests, four scleractinian coral species were grown with pink, purple and green colours of coral. The research found that the Philips CoralCare LED-only luminaire has been able to grow coral at the same rate as conventional lighting for the first time and with exceptional coral colours and healthy appearance. Previously, aquarium coral grown using conventional T5 and hybrid-LED luminaires had a less vibrant colour.
The latest LED technologies used in this new product allow for significant energy savings, reducing electricity consumption by 30% to 50%.
Philips says that in the future, technology similar to this could be used to grow corals from the sea in nurseries ashore.
The unique features of CoralCare are:
- Wide spectral range - optimised for coral growth and natural reef appearance
- Perfect light balance - unique homogeneous light distribution and colour mixing solution
- Low energy consumption thanks to highly efficient LEDs
- Easy to control – by intelligently combining various LEDs with different wavelengths, Philips has simplified the set-up of the lighting controller. As a result, the user only needs to select the desired colour point and intensity, without having to worry about the optimal light quality for coral growth and beautification.
- Low maintenance – long-life robust design and materials
- Easy to install – driver integrated in fixture, hanging kit included, and computer interface.
RRP starts from £660 for the Philips CoralCare luminaire. A typical aquarium of 140 x 70 x 70cm size requires two Philips CoralCare luminaires and a luminaire controller (RRP £66).
Watch the video below from Erik van Dijk, a coral reefer in The Netherlands showing the coral grown using three Philips CoralCare luminaires...
Acres Aquatics, based in Corsley, near Warminster, is holding a special event over the weekend of December 3-4, with the opportunity to grab some great offers, plus competitions, a raffle — and a free goody bag for the first 100 customers.
Acres Aquatics stocks tropical freshwater, coldwater and marines, along with all the associated dry goods.
Competition prizes include products from Evolution Aqua, Juwel, AquaOne, BiOrb, J & K aquatics, Fishmate, NT Labs, OASE, Tetra and Red Sea. Plus there’s a chance to meet some of the reps over the weekend.
Hot food and drinks will also be available.
Acres Aquatics is located at Acres Supply Garden Centre, Corsley Heath, Wiltshire, BA12 7PP. Tel 01373 832591.
The last Open Show for 2016 in Yorkshire is held by Bradford and District Aquarist Society. This was held at the Bradford Academy, together with a grand auction, on Remembrance Sunday, November 13. Dr David Ford reports...
This is a show where the catfish usually get the most points, a run that came to an end at the 2015 event — only to return this year, with awards for both Best in Show and Best Exhibit being taken by catfish.
The Best in Show was a Long-whiskered catfish, Duopalatinus peruanus, from Peru, owned by Gareth Savage of Castleford AS. It won with 87 points.
The Best Exhibit (from the Pairs and Breeders Classes) also went to catfishes. These were Bunocephalus larai banjo catfishes from Brazil, with 86.33 points.
￼Both of this year's winning catfish are peaceful, even shy, fish. Their owners say the catfish are finicky eaters — but that they are their favourite pets.
Judging was by YAAS Judges Chris Jones, Mick Price and Trevor Douglas.
Some of the other Firsts are shown below.
￼Next year Bradford and District AS will reach its 70th year, with celebrations at the Spring Open Show and auction at the Bradford Academy (BD4 7QS) on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Make a calendar note!
The American retail chain PetSmart has agreed to pay a $4.25 million civil penalty fine after failing to immediately report a problem with defective goldfish bowls.
There were 19 reports of bowls sold under the ‘Top Fin’ and ‘Grreat Choice’ brands cracking, breaking and even shattering in normal use between August 2011 and January 2014 — some of the consumers were left with serious injuries that required surgery.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that the fish bowls contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or an unreasonable risk of serious injury, and that PetSmart had failed to report the problem to CPSC, as well as the scope of the recalled products.
The bowls were sold in PetSmart stores between March 2010 and September 2013. PetSmart announced a recall in April 2014 of around 10,000 bowls, which it later expanded in November 2015 to an additional 81,000.
PetSmart issued a statement, which said: ”The safety of our pet parents and their pets is our top priority, and we are committed to identifying and addressing any safety issues quickly. We stopped selling the glass fishbowls in 2013 and conducted two voluntary recalls. Since that time, we have made significant improvements to our processes, protocols and sourcing of products."
The CPSC said the company will also work on improving compliance with consumer safety laws.
Surrey-based fancy goldfish specialist Star Fisheries is holding its final open day of 2016 on Sunday, November 20.
Fish have arrived especially for the event from China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the UK.
Star Fisheries' Andy Green tells us: "We have fish from smaller sizes right the way up to the very large, including the first official showing of 'Rocky' the largest Red Oranda we have ever brought over and certainly the largest to arrive in the UK, weighing in at nearly 1.5 kilos and measuring nearly a foot long!
"All the fish on show are for sale on the day so if you are looking for quality fish and want a gigantic selection then don’t miss this event."
Star Fisheries will be open from 10am-3pm. There's plenty of free parking available.
Visitors from Europe, please give one week's advance notification due to the paperwork required to move the fish from the UK to Europe.
You can find Star Fisheries at 94A Benhill Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 3RX. Tel. 0208 9150455.
One of the most desirable species among fans of big plecs has finally been given a name. The Scarlet cactus plec — or L025 — is one of the most spectacular species due to the bright orange/red edging of its fins. It reaches a length of 45cm/17.5in and is found in the lower and middle Rio Xingu, and its tributaries, the Rio Bacajá and Rio Iriri.
Now the fish has been formally described as Pseudacanthicus pirarara. The species name is derived from ‘assacu-pirarara’, which is what local fishermen call this fish — ‘assacu’ is the name for the spiky Amazonian tree Hura crepitans, in reference the catfish’s spines, while ‘pirarara’ refers to the reddish fins.
Evolution Aqua, the multi award-winning British manufacturer, has secured exclusive UK distribution of Reef Life Support Systems (RLSS) and Waveline aquatic products.
Itself a multi-award-winning company, Canadian based H2O Systems Inc, owner of the Waveline and RLSS brands, is well known around the world as one of the pioneers of developing DC pumps for aquariums and for their ground breaking, revolutionary protein skimmer designs.
“Waveline is a great fit for us,” said Jeremy Gay, Business Development manager at EA.
“Like us they have their own, privately owned and operated factory and do all their own research and development in house. This has already led to many leading DC pump and DC skimmer product releases, and Waveline RLSS lead in the marine equipment market, where others follow.”
Waveline and RLSS join the ever growing Evolution Aqua aquarium product portfolio which includes Kessil, eaReef, eaReefPro, PURE Reef Balance, The Aquascaper and PURE Aquarium brands. Many more product releases are promised for late 2016/early 2017 including the Kessil A80 LED light, PURE Aquarium Bomb, the evoUV Aquarium Steriliser and the much anticipated Waveline Wavepuck reef flow pump.
More info: www.evolutionaqua.co
A pondkeeper in California was shocked to discover the mystery ‘vandal’ who had been toppling rockwork and moving equipment around his garden pond was in fact a bear.
Bob Bramley, from Oakhurst, checked his security cameras after he woke to find his Koi pond in disarray. The footage showed a North American bear bathing in the pond, which is located no more than 10ft from Mr Bramley's front door.
Fancy a fish tank at your school? The UK’s largest specialist aquatic retailer, Maidenhead Aquatics, has big plans to inspire the younger generation to get interested in all things aquatic with its new programme called ‘Fishkeeper Fry’.
The team at Maidenhead Aquatics have created an interactive learning experience for school children aged 7–8 years, to open their eyes to the underwater world. Working with their film production team, Fishkeeper Films, the group has formulated eight lessons to take children on a journey of fishkeeping; from setting up an aquarium, adding fish, to seeing it thrive before their eyes.
All the livestock, guides and videos will be provided by the specialists at Maidenhead Aquatics. In addition, with sponsorship from popular aquatic brands Fluval and API, each school class will receive all the equipment they need to set up their aquarium. The programme, which is due to begin in January 2017, has a number of schools ready to host the project and will prove to be an exciting time for the fishkeeping industry!
Are you a teacher or parent and know of a school who would love the opportunity to take part in Fishkeeper Fry? If so, please email the Maidenhead Aquatics team on Fry@maidenheadaquatics.co.uk