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Barbs - an introduction 

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Off the Shelf 

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Off the shelf « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 5 

Reader's Tai^S 

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Readers Tanks « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 7 

A^uariuwv. 120x45x50owv 6(aSS 12wvwv without reinf oroewventS, 

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Photo by Sean Sop 

Photos by Stefan Bartanusz 

Photo by Donavan Leher 

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If ^ou. have an a^uariuwv ^)ou would (ike to see featured, 
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Readers Tanks « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 8 


The barbs include a diverse array of suitable fishes for the aquarium. There's a lot of bad press 
regarding barbs, and one fish - the fin-nipping tiger barb - has generated most of it. It is certainly 
true that the tiger barb is nippy and can shred the fins of slow moving fishes such as gourami, 
guppies, mollies and angelfish. There are, however, many other barbs that make ideal and peace- 
ful aquarium residents. 

Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that barbs are active fish and this activity can be distressing 
for some slow moving species (such as Bettas) and can also effect feeding via competition. This 
aside, hardy, beautiful and active barbs make long lasting and interesting display fishes. With the 
huge variety of species available there's likely to be something in the group to suit your aquarium. 


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Most, but not all barbs, are included in the genus Puntius. The genus hails from Asia with species being 

found throughout Southern Asia, India and Sri Lanka. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 10 

..i^- l,u.i^> u.^ cm artificial assemblage 
of fishes within the family Cyprinidae. 
The name 'Barb' is derived from the 
genus in which many aquarium barbs 
were originally placed: Barbus. Recent 
taxonomic revisions have variously 
moved many Barbus species into (and 
back out of) other genera including 
Barbodes, Capoeta and Puntius. 

Today the taxonomy of the group is 

far from settled and in this article I've known Danios. Afri< 

used the taxonomic system used by are sometimes treai This system places most nae), although this t 

Asian aquarium barbs in the genus 

Puntius. The genus Puntius contains 

some 120 species many of which are ideal aquarium residents. 

the subfamily that contains most barbs is sister to the well 
known Danios. African Barbs, such as Barbus fasciolatus, 
are sometimes treated as a separate subfamily (Labeoni- 
nae), although this taxonomy is not universally accepted. 


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Sri Lanka's Horton Plains National Park is home to an array of barbs including the Two Spot Barb, Black 

ruby Barb, Cherry Barb and Black-lined Barb. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 »11 


The vast majority of barbs occur in Southern 
Asia, India and Sri Lanka. Some species do oc- 
cur in southern Europe and Africa, though the 
group is absent from the Americas and Austra- 
lia. In their natural habitat Asian barbs gener- 
ally dominate the "small fishes" niche, much as 
tetras and dwarf cichlids do in South America. 
This article focuses on Asian barbs, though sev- 
eral infrequently available African barbs, notably 
Barbus fasciolatus and Barbus callipterus, are 
also worth keeping if you if can obtain stock. 

Barbs occupy a range of niches throughout 
Asia: occurring in lakes, rivers and streams 
along with man-made ecosystems such as rice 
paddies. There are barbs that live in rapids, 
such as the Asoka Barb (Puntius asoka), while 
most species prefer slower moving water. These 
slow-water environments are typically closer to 
stream edges and in backwaters and eddies. 

The iconic Tiger Barb occurs through the Malay 

Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo. It has a reputation 

for being nippy, and while they can be - keeping 

the species in a large group (> 6 individuals) helps 

minimise the impact of this behaviour. Better still, a 

large school of Tiger Barbs look great and make big 

impact in the display freshwater aquarium. 

Lemon fin barbs are somtimes available in the aquarium hobby. This species, formerly known by hobbyists 

as Barbus daruphani is more correctly Hypsibarbus wetmorei. It's a larger growing species that can reach 

lengths of 25cm. The species occurs in Maeklong, Mekong and Chao Phraya basins. Photo by Mike Atkins. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 12 

Destruction of Peat Swamp Forests in Asia 
threatens the environment of many Pun- 
tius species. Mostly, these forests are bein; 
cleared for the planting of commericial oil 
palm (Elaeis guineensis) production. 


Borneo peat swamp forests seen burning from a sat- 
ellite. Photo by NASA. 
Puntius hexazona by Budi Lukman. 



Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 13 

Most barbs are omnivores and as such eat both 
plant and animal material. In the aquarium at 
least they leave most plants alone though some 
species have a tendency to chew on the edges 
of soft-leaved plants. In the wild most barbs 
are opportunistic and feed on insect larvae, 
small annelid worms, eggs and fry of other fish 
when available. When animal foods are not 
available most species will consume more plant 
material and even algae. 

Small barbs are frequently consumed by larger 
barbs - some of which reach more than 50 cm! 
~ along with other Asian predators such as 
catfishes (notably bagrids and clariids), snake- 
heads (Channa spp.), knifefishes (Notopterus 
spp.), nandids, arrowanas (Scleropages formo- 
sus) and various sleeper gobies (family Eleotri- 

Chitala bland (Royal Knifefish) co-occurs in Asia with 
barb species on which it feeds. Photo Peter Potrowl. 

Prior to saying anything else about keeping 
barbs there's one important rule that is worth 
keeping in mind. All barbs are schooling fish. 
This necessitates that you keep at least six indi- 
viduals (10-12 would be better) of each species 
in an aquarium. If you can't house this number, 
I'd advise you to move on to non-schooling 
fishes. Thankfully, barbs come in an assortment 
of sizes so keeping a small group is manage- 
able in most aquariums. I've provided some 
better (and worse) selections in the tables at 
the end of this article. 
Aquarium size is also important. I consider 
40-80 litres to be a minimum aquarium volume 
for tropical fish. For the small barbs (Table 1) 
this size aquarium would be adequate for 6-14 
individuals and some associated clean-up fish. 
For larger barbs (Table 2), 120-200 litres should 
be considered a minimum. Schools of Spanner 
or T-bar Barbs, at almost 18 cm, would require 
a larger aquarium. For the well-being of the 
fish, and for aesthetic reasons, it's generally 
better to have one large group of one species, 
than three smaller groups of different species. 
In aquascaping, like gardening and interior 
design, repetition equals impact! 

Most barbs require neutral, to slightly acidic, 
water which while not soft, isn't hard either. 

Insect larvae, including mosquito larvae, and small 

worms are relished by most small Puntius species. 

Photo by James Gathany, CDC. 

One of the smallest barb species, the Cherry Barb 

(this is a male) only grows to a few centimetres. Its 

small size is not its only attribute that is desirable. 

Indeed, it is brightly coloured and arguably the most 

placid species in the Puntius genus. 

Photo by Brian Gratwicke. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 14 

The barb aquarium is awash with colour and movement! 


w\l 1: BftAk [oK WJb vtqimh, 


Cherry barb 

Puntius titteya 


Sri Lanka 

Cherry barbs are perhaps the perfect 
choice for beginners. Peaceful, beautiful 
and readily available. Females and males 
are easily distinguished by their colour. 

Checker barb 

Puntius oligolepis 


Sumatra, Indo- 

Checker barbs are less brightly coloured 
than most other barbs, but a large group 
of these beautiful fish still make an im- 

Greenstripe barb 

Puntius vittatus 


India, Pakistan 
and Sri Lanka 

Like the checker barb, the greenstripe 
barb is a subtly coloured fish, again the 
best use is in a large group. 

Two-spot barb 

Puntius cumingii 


Sri Lanka 

Two black spots on a bronze-green body 
make the two-spot barb a very attractive 
addition to the community aquarium. 

Black ruby barb 

Puntius nigrofasciatus 


Sri Lanka 

Probably the most beautiful of the 
smaller barb, black ruby barbs are a stun- 
ning fish! 

Five-banded barb 

Puntius pentazona 



Not to be confused with the superficially 
similar tiger barb, the five-banded barb is 
a peaceful, almost shy species that ben- 
efits from dense planting in the aquari- 
um. Ideal for aquarists wanting tiger barb 
looks without tiger barb problems. 

Melon barb 

Puntius fasciatus 


India, Burma, 

Looking a little like juvenile spanner 
barbs, melon barbs are a beautifully 
striped species for the aquarium. 

Gold barb 

Puntius semifascio- 



Gold barbs are readily available in almost 
every retail aquarium Australia-wide. 
Their striking colour develops further as 
they age. 

Two-spot barb, Red- 
side barb 

Puntius bimaculatus 


India and Sri 

While this species shares a common name 
with P. cumingii, this species looks very 
different -- it's not as deep bodied and is 
more elongated. The two black spots are 
on the caudal peduncle and dorsal fin. 

There's a subtle beauty to the Checker Barb (Puntius oligolepis). Dismissed by many an aquarist as just an- 
other grey fish the species is peaceful, interestingly patterned and a delight to sit and watch. 

Photo by Budi Lukman. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 16 

mh 2: Ij MOitmi 

Striped barb 

Puntius johorensis 


Burma, Indone- 
sia, Malaysia and 

The striped barb is probably my favou- 
rite barb species that's readily available 
in Australia. Numerous black stripes run 
horizontally along the length of the fish. 
In a group of 10-15 individuals this is an 
amazing addition to the planted aquari- 
um. Sometimes listed as P. lineatus. 

Arulius barb 

Puntius arulius 



Arulius barbs are the ugly ducklings of the 
aquarium trade. Rarely do such unimpres- 
sive juveniles grow into such magnificent 
adults. With their elongated filaments on 
the dorsal fin a group of arulius can make 
a great visual impact! 

Rosy barb 

Puntius conchonius 


Afghanistan, Ban- 
gladesh, Burma, 
India, Nepal, 

Rosy barbs are a subtropical species and 
can tolerate temperatures down to 18° C. 
They are a large barb (reaching 14 cm), 
though most aquarium individuals only 
reach 7-8 cm. Avoid the unusual colour 
morphs of this species as they are less 
hardy than the "wild" colouration. 

Clown barb 

Puntius everetti 


Borneo, Sumatra 

This species has a superficial, yet unmis- 
takable similarity to the clown loach. It's 
a large growing species, which like all 
barbs is best in groups. 

Red line torpedo 
barb, Denison barb 

Puntius denisonii 



Above all other barbs discussed in this 
article, the red line torpedo barb is prob- 
ably the most fashionable barb at pres- 
ent. With its elongate shape and bright 
red stripes it looks more a raspora or 
scissortail than a barb. 

Spanner barb, T-barb 

Puntius tateristriga 


Burma, Indone- 
sia, Malaysia and 

Spanner barbs are stout-bodied, large 
growing barbs that are ideal with mid- 
sized unaggressive cichlids such as Heros 
severus. They have an interesting T 
pattern on their flanks which gives rise to 
their common name: t-barb. 

Where the Checker Barb is a classic MG, the Red Line Torpedo Barb is the Lamborghini of the genus Puntius. 
Adapted for fast-flowing water the species has a sleek, elongate body complete with racing stripes. 

Photo by Budi Lukman. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 17 

JcJjw 7 ): $WJi [oK fviohl wpAiWm Uvyi&k 





Tiger barb 

Puntius tetrazona 


Borneo, Sumatra 

Beautiful and feisty, tiger barbs are 
responsible for the majority of bad press 
given to barbs. Can nip fins. Keep in 
groups of 12-20 individuals in aquaria 
large enough to house such a group. Avoid 
including any slow-moving species or 
species with long fins with tiger barbs. 
Several varieties (green mossy, albino 
etc) are available, though most are, in 
the author's opinion, not an improvement 
on the beauty of the wild form. 

Orange buffalo barb 

Puntius rhomboocel- 



Puntius rhomboocellatus is a beautiful 
species of barb that unfortunately can be 
challenging to keep. The species requires 
soft, acidic water and is best kept in 
densely planted aquariums. As such the 
species can be housed with South Ameri- 
can dwarf cichlids and hardier tetras. 

Asoka barb 

Puntius asoka 


Sri Lanka 

This species of barb is endangered in 
the wild so only captive bred individu- 
als should be purchased. The asoka barb 
is an attractively spotted shark-like fish 
that requires fast water movement in the 
aquarium. Best kept with other rheophilic 
species such as lionhead cichlids, loaches 
and suckermouthed catfishes. 

Tinfoil barb 



Burma, Indone- 
sia, Malaysia and 

Small tinfoil barbs are sometimes avail- 
able to hobbyists. This attractive fish 
grows much too large for most aquarists 
reaching over 30 cm in length. Despite its 
size it's a peaceful, though sensitive spe- 
cies. The requirement for the species to 
be kept in group further complicates the 
space requirements of the species. 

The beautiful Orange Buffalo Barb is a relative newcomer to the hobby, but it can be somewhat tricky to 

care for succesfully in the longterm. Avoid it if you're new to this group of fish. 

Photo by Budi Lukman. 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 18 

Thankfully in Australia, most municipal water 
supplies are ideal for this hardy group of 
fishes and do not require modification other 
than the removal of chlorine and chloramine 
using a good quality water ager. Most spe- 
cies come from relatively slow-moving water 
and this should be reflected in the choice of 
water current provided in the aquarium. In 
aquariums with powerful filters, water cur- 
rent can be slowed via the use of dissipating 
add-ons such as spray bars that reduce uni- 
directional current. For the most part Asian 
barbs are tropical fishes and will do well in 
water temperatures of 22-28° C, though 
some species, such as the rosy barb, will 
tolerate lower temperatures. 

Provided suitable quateres to accomodate for their 

larger size, Spanner Barbs do well in aquariums and 

are placid residents best kept with larger fish. 

As for all tropical fishes, the aquarium setup 
should mimic the natural habitat. Such rep- 
lication can be easily achieved using Asian 
aquatic plants such as crypts (Cryptocorne 
spp.) and Java fern (Microsorum pteropus). 
I've also seen asian-style aquariums with 
4cm diam. bamboo canes included in the 
background that look very effective (despite 
the actual absence of any aquatic species of 
bamboo). There are numerous species that 
are well suited to co-habit with barbs includ- 
ing larger tetras, West African dwarf cichlids, 
Corydoras catfish and the like. If you're look- 
ing to maintain an Asian theme - why not 
consider other Asian fishes such as raspo- 
ras and loaches. To avoid using American 
sucker-mouthed catfishes for algae clean- 
up, both the sucking loach ~ Gyrinocheilus 
aymonieri ~ (also called the Chinese algae 
eater) and the Siamese algae eater (Cros- 
socheilus siamensis) are useful additions to 
the aquarium. The former should be added 
alone, while the latter in a small school. 

Sawbwa barb (Sawbwa resplendens) is an unusual 

and rare barb, endemic to Inle Lake in Burma. 

Photo by: The Man On The Street at en.wikipedia 

Barbs are, for the most part, unfussy feed- 
ers that will consume most offerings pro- 
vided by the aquarist. Be sure to provide 
your barbs with a variety of high quality food 
items. Prepared diets are suitable; though 
only buy small amounts, as fish food tends 
to lose vitamins and quality after lengthy 
storage. Similarly, frozen and parasite-free 
live foods are also acceptable. When provid- 
ed with clean water, high quality foods and a 

A large group of Tinfoil Barbs (Barbonymus 

schwanenfeldii) in a European aquarium. 

Photo by Eva (waterlily78 @ flickr) 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 19 

stress-free existence, breeding is generally less 

Like many other cyprinids, barbs are egg scat- 
tering fishes that show no brood care and will 
actively eat their own eggs, after spawning, 
given the opportunity. Breeding barbs therefore 
necessitates a dedicated breeding aquarium. 
The requirements for each species are broadly 
similar, though the details of age of maturity, 
spawning cues and the like differ. 

For a hypothetical, generic barb the ideal breed- 
ing aquarium therefore should be setup as fol- 
lows: The breeding aquarium should contain 
well-cycled, aged water that is identical to that 
in the display aquarium in which the barbs are 
normally housed. It should include a base which 
allows eggs to be safe from their parents. Such 
a base can be achieved using large marbles 
(which exclude the adults) or a spawning grid 
suspended from the base of the aquarium. It 
should also include dense Java moss (Taxiphyl- 
lum barbieri syn. Versicularia dubyana) that as- 
sists the spawning pair to feel comfortable and 
further provides some protection to the eggs. A 
sponge filter, powered by an air pump, should 
provide the filtration for the breeding setup. 

With colours like these, it's little wonder barbs are 

aquarium favourites! 

■rr . 

Puntius bimaculatus (Red-side or Two-spot barb). 
Photo by Anandara J Kumar 

Choose a courting pair of barbs from the display 
aquarium and transfer them to the breeding 

aquarium. For some species it can be advantageous to separate the females for a few days prior 
to the males to allow them to "plump up" with eggs. Depending on the species the pair should 
be left in the breeding aquarium until spawning is completed (usually this is for 0.5 to 3 days). 
The eggs of most barbs species are relatively large and the fry will be able to feed on either 
newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms or powdered flake foods soon after hatching. Hatching 
for most species takes between two and five days. Within 12-16 weeks the fry of most species 
resemble the adults. 


The barbs are a diverse and interesting group of fishes. Kept in community, species-only, or 
Asian biotype aquariums they can be a stunning addition to the home aquarium. Finally remem- 
ber to keep all barbs in groups of six or more and you'll be rewarded with hardy, spectacular 
fish! 4* 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 20 




The chocolate cichlid is another of South Americas underrated species. This is a large cichlid (2u 
30cm) which is quite gentle natured, despite its size. This, however, should not suggest that they 
should be housed with small fishes such as neon tetras - which they will readily consume. 


The tank should be well planted with tough indigestable species, such as java fern and anubias. If 
possible, plants should be placed such that the tank can only be viewed from one side, this helps 
to reduce the stress the cichlid feels at being "exposed" to predators. In addition the tank should 
be furnished with wood, dark subrstrate and floating plants. The dark substrate and floating 
plant cover help further to calm this nervous cichlid. 

There are some reports that this fish will leap out of the water to catch flying insects - 
tight fitting (and adequately thick) tank lids are required. 

i ne species is reasoi 
may be helpful in chc._ ... , 
"pittina" diseases when it 

^nsitive to dissolved metal ions (from pipes) ai 
] some of these free ions. The species is knowr 
letal ion concentrations are too hiah. 

peat filtration 


ypselecara temporalis 
.unther, 1862) 


ros aoel- 

diL H. crassa, uchlasoma 



South America, wide- 
spread, Amazon river 
drainages. Some variation 
does exist in populations 
along the length of the 

Photo by Budi Lukman 

Photo by Budi Lukman 

Natural habitat: 

Stagnant, generally in white wat 
black and clear water habitats. 



2.0m deep. The 
st all cases the sp 

ne species nas, nowever, ais 

sr float 

nt cover 


gree; kH - < 1 degree; con- 
ductivity 127 microsemens 
(@26 °C) 


H. temporalis is a re 
peaceful cichlid and will tol- 

peacerui acniia ana win tol- 
erate other peaceful species. 
Other Chocolates should b^ 
removed once a pair forms. 




I he species is an unfussy 

r I i , ,ii In the wild, Chocolate cichlids are found in vegetation-covered waters that are slow- 

Teeder, DUX some vegetaDie moving. The use of floating plants (where the law permits) in aquariums is useful in 

content should be included. recreating the habitat of this majestic species. 

Breeding is straightforward 

once a pair has formed. They are typical open spawning cichlids. Pairs may eat their clutch if 
uncomfortable so ensure they have adequate cover. Fry should be removed once they are free- 
swimming and feeding well on crushed flake/pellet foods. Chocolate cichlids are a joy to keep -- 
xney may not be be brightest coloured species - but they are facsinating nevertheless. 4* 

Tropical « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 22 


the art of fish shopping 

Opinion « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 23 

So t40U/'v& kjmJitelito tk&ykx)pAs, wow vuvvb ^otthat (U)hnMAA/- 
hJ&M tcihk vaxk <*i kofvies; it (£eAAxM hjaJh botvw hM UmcJuii- 
ahtbs. hut what to tuut ifo ojmL IkoiA) do iaolo WjoohJb c\ooci btocfc 

ovvca t40U/'v& dexuAeJy wkat to oJLAa 

Speak to most experienced hobbyists, those people really, really into their fish, and they'll 
tell you that you should know the fish you want before you walk into the store - and you 
shouldn't make any impulse purchases. I think this is probably over the top, and if you're 
shopping with a trusted retailer (and I advise you to seek one out!) the staff at stores can 
frequently help with your purchase - even when you know relatively little about your pur- 
chase. Here's a quick guide to choosing fish and a local fish store that hopefully will help to 
avoid purchasing fish in poor condition or those species that are unsuited to your setup or 
level of experience. 

Choosing a store 

When I Iook for a local aquarium, somewhat perversely I'm encouraged by what isn't for 
sale or on display. Every store and every aquarist has purchased fish that aren't in the 
best health. In good aquariums, these fish aren't for sale. Sometimes there's a note on the 
aquarium declaring "not for sale", sometimes staff will steer you away from a purchase ex- 
plaining that those fish are recovering or being treated. This is great sign that you're going 
to have positive experiences. 

Fish with obvious signs of disease, like this cichlid with White Spot (caused by the protozoan Ichthyophthi- 

rius multifiliis), should be avoided. Some species eg. Clown Loaches and Tangs are particularly prone to this 

and similar infections. A good local fish store can assist you in avoiding these parasites! 

Opinion « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 24 

< £■*> 

*» . 

k -* * ^* |L 




This Betta has a severe Velvet infection. Looking for signs of disease not only helps you avoid a bad pur- 
chase, but protects the fish at home in your existing setup from the introduction of parasites. 

"tohMwhc^ 9'fw o§teK eMX)u)uu^eA via wkat 

lA/t/ V hoh/ h/vLb OK Oh/ oLU^pXXUA - good aquarium staff will tell you what not to buy! 

Take your time in the aquarium, look around at the stock for sale, introduce yourself and 
your interests, discuss your situation, expertise and current aquarium residents with the 
staff. Again, being steered away from a purchase that's not a good match for you and your 
aquarium is a positive sign that you're dealing with a good aquarium store. Of course, the 
fundamentals: clean premises, memberships to relevant ethical societies, no dead fish on 
display, tanks not overcrowded all apply - but take these last points with a grain of salt. 
I've seen perfect-looking, spotless aquariums from which I wouldn't purchase and I've seen 
the reverse. It can't be stressed enough that a good retailer is worth their weight in gold. 
They're keen to see you succeed in the long term, not just for some purchase today - it's 
in their interest! 

Choosing fish 

While I said above that the hobbyist mantra to research your fish prior to purchase can be 
a bit over the top, it's also universally a good idea. Thankfully, the internet means you've 
the collective wisdom of thousands of aquarists at your beck and call, and if you're armed 
with a smart phone it certainly doesn't hurt to have a quick look at the maximum size and 

Opinion « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 25 

husbandry notes for that fish that you 
just have to buy. If you're in the store I 
described above, choosing fish is remark- 
ably easy. Ask the staff for good choices 
and you'll be guided to healthy, active and 
suitable residents for your aquarium. Sad- 
ly, not everyone has that local fish store 
- so if you're feeling a bit alone in your de- 
cision making, here's what I look for prior 
to purchase: Look for fish with a full but 
not bloated belly. Don't just look at the 
one individual you're interested in, have a 
look over the whole tank. Are all the fish 
behaving normally? Are there any signs of 
sick fish or odd behaviour? Avoid fish with 
even minor injuries - these often recover, 
but they are best left with experts. Dis- 
ease often manifests itself subtly - look 
for small spots on the fishes flanks, red- 
ness about the gills or lesions anywhere on 
the body. These are signs of poor fish health 
and such individuals shouldn't be added to 
your display aquarium. 

Success with your aquarium starts with good 
stock. Find yourself a good store - with good 
stock and you'll have a good experience. 4& 

Two of the poster children for bad purchases. The 

Redtail Catfish and the Oscar -- both are fine in the 

care of experienced hobbyists, but make very poor 

additions to the community aquarium! 

Photo (top): Elma (ulfhams vikingur) 

Photo (bottom): Daniella Vereeken 

Which Goldfish do you choose? Pick an active individual, that's brightly coloured without any signs of dis- 
ease. The fancier varieties tend not to be as hardy (though this isn't always true). 

Opinion « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 26 

Clovelly Bay 


When you think of great places to snor- 
kel, where you might be able to swim 
with a multitude of brightly coloured 
fish, you'd probably immediately think 
of tropical waters. The temperate ma- 
rine environment found in the waters of 
Sydney, Australia may not quite rival the 
colour and diversity of the Great Barrier 
Reef, but there is more to be found here 
than you might think. Qovelly Bay, in the 
Eastern suburbs of Sydney, is a remark- 
able place to snorkel. 

It is a long narrow bay which has a rock 
wall at the ocean end of the bay. Al- 
though the rock wall does not protrude 
above the surface it does provide a bar- 
rier which dissipates the ocean waves 
and forms a large calm pool which is 
essentially as close as you'll get to a 
"natural aquarium". This area is at the 

SCUBA divers at Clovelly Bay. 

Photo by Mados 


Clovelly Bay, in temperate Sydney's eastern suburbs, is a popular spot for beach goers and snorkellers. 
This is due to its narrow but deep channel with a rock wall blocking the more extreme ocean currents. 

Marine « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 28 

very southern end of the distribution for 
many tropical species of fish and also at 
the northern end of distribution for many 
southern temperate species, so a very 
diverse range can be seen. 

The fish in the bay are well used to a 
constant stream of swimmers and snor- 
kellers and as a result most are very 
tame. Highlights of a tour of the bay 

The Eastern Blue Groper [Achoerodus 
viridis) for which the bay is famed. De- 
spite the common name, these fish are 
actually a large species of wrasse. All 
juveniles are olive coloured females, 
with the largest, most dominant fish in 
a given territory becoming a spectacular 
blue male. They can reach a length of 
1.2 metres and may weigh as much as 
22kg. They are generally bold fish which 
are quite happy to be hand fed by hu- 

Curious and sociable the Blue Groper often swims 

close to divers and snorkellers and will feed from the 

hand. These large wrasses are often accompanied by 

a host of smaller fish feeding on leftovers! 

Photo by Iennyk410. 

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The beautiful Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis) is a popular resident of Clovelly Bay. 

Marine « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 29 

Blue gropers are protgynous hermaphrodites. All juveniles are female and are differently coloured to the 
adults. Despite the name, Blue Gropers aren't gropers, they are a large species of wrasse, the Eastern blue 

gropers grows to 1 .2 m (3.9') in length and weights of 22 kg (49 lb). 

mans. In the following pages you'll see 
photos of both the current large domi- 
nant male of Qovelly Bay and also a 
large subdominant female. She still has 
an olive coloured body but is already 
starting to display tinges of blue on her 
head. Should anything happen to the 
dominant male she will quickly change 
sex and colour and become a blue male 

There are many smaller wrasse species 
to be found in the bay. These include the 
Redspot Wrasse {Stethojulis bandanen- 
sis), a tropical species which just man- 
ages to extend its distribution to Sydney 
and the Senator Wrasse [Rictilabrus 
latidavius) which although colourful, is 
actually a temperate species. The Pearly 
Wrasse [Halichoeres margaritaceus) 
has bright green spangled scales which 
sparkle in the sunlight. 

Blue Gropers leave a trail of eaten Black Sea Urchins 
(Centrostephanus rodgersii) in their wake. 
Photo by Mados 

Marine « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 30 


velly Bay, Sydney, Australia. 

anne « Rednsh Magazine 2013: 18» 31 

Large schools of placid Luderick [Cirella 
tricuspidata) are happy to graze on the 
rocte and will rarely scatter as people 
swim by. Other vegetarians found in 
large numbers on the rocte are the 
Sea Hares (of the Aplysidae family - in 
Sydney, several Dolabella species are 
found), which are a type of sea slug. 
With careful observation amongst the 
crevices in the rocte, you may find 
smaller species of colourful nudibranchs 
as well as a shy octopus or two. 

Small groups of Flutemouths [Fistularia 
commersonii), which are relatives of 
the pipefishes and seahorses, are fre- 
quently found in the bay along with the 
regular shoals of Silver Bream, various 
Trevally species, Hula fish and Mados 
but to name a few. Stingrays are gener- 
ally easy to find in the deeper part of the 

The Pygmy Leatherjacket, at only 9cm in 
length for an adult, is one of the small- 
est leatherjacket species and as such is 
difficult to find, but is well worth looking 
for. It has a disc shaped body and cam- 
ouflages itself amongst the seaweed. It 
is only found in Australia. 

An olive coloured female Blue Groper. 

Large submerged rocks at Clovelly Bay with a 
host of larger fish species 

Sydney is in the southern end of the range of the very 
pretty Redspot Wrasse (Stethojulis bandanensis). 

This species is kept in aquariums, but can be difficult 

to maintain in the long term. It should probably be left 

to experts with Wrasse or in the ocean! 

Marine « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 32 

CAIRNS MARINE certified by 

« Marine Aquarium Council 


<r < «a iS 


* — - 




CAIRNS MARINE is the worlds leading supplier / 
of sustainably sou reed marine aquarium specimens. 1 ^ 

i i i i i i i i i s - ><>w i v /~\ t — rv\ ^^ \r i ^\ /^>%. s- •-n. r^r\ \ 


Collection j Education j Research 

a group of juvenile Luderick (Girella tricuspidata) 

Luderick (Girella tricuspidata) grazing on seaweeds. 

Flutemouths (Fistularia commersonii) are relatives of Various Trevally species (Carangoides) are frequently 
pipefish and seahorses. Photo by Derek Keats seen in schools in Clovelly Bay. 

Much maligned by fishermen the Toadfish (Tetract- 
enos glaber) is a pretty species of pufferfish. 

Sergeant Majors (Abudefduf sp.) are common at 

Clovelly Bay. Members of the Damselfish family they 

adapt well to captivity but are territorial. 

Marine « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 34 

a male Pearly Wrasse, Halichoeres margaritaceus. This small growing wrasse (to ~1 3cm) has a tropical distribu- 
tion and most commonly found in northern parts of NSW. Temperate Sydney is most definitely at the southern 

end of its distribution. It's sometimes kept in aquariums. 

Senator Wrasse (Pictilabrus laticlavius) are another 
colourful, and larger (to ~30cm) wrasse from Clovelly. 

Silver Bream (Acanthopagrus australis) are a common 
sight at Clovelly and a favourite with anglers. 

Sydney itself is a picturesque city with many wonderful sights and as such is a popular 
tourist destination. Whether you happen to live here, or if you're just visiting, a trip to see the 
underwater marvels of Clovelly Bay's "natural aquarium" is highly recommended for any 
fish enthusiast. 4* 

Marine « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 35 



photo by Khantipol 


Contact redfish for advertising that reaches your market. 


Community Directory 


Advanced Aquarist 

Anglia Reef Club 

Bracknell Aquarist Society 

Bristol Aquarists Society 

Bristol Tropical Fish Club 

British Cichlid Association 

British Killifish Association 

British Koi Keeeper's Society (BKKS) 

See website for UK sections 

Catfish Study Group 

Dunstable & District Aquarist Society ul</ ul</ 
http://www.bristoltropicalf ul</ ul</ 

Federation of Northern Aquarium Societies (FNAS) 

See website for list of associated clubs ul</ 

Greater Manchester Cichlid Society 

Hounslow & District Aquarists Society 

llfond &District Aquarists & Pondkeepers Society 

Preston and District Aquatic Society 

Reigate and Redhill Aquarist Society 

Ryedale Aquarist Society 

Southend Leigh and District Aquarist Society 

Strood and District Aquarist Society 


Federation of Scottish Aquarist Societies. 

See website for list of associated clubs 

Aberdeen Fish Keeper's Club 

Greenock & District Aquarist Society 

Fair City Aquarist Society 

Union of Scottish Aquarists 

Capital Aquarist Society, Edinbourgh 

Dundee & District Aquarist Society 

Glenrothes Aquarist Society 

Grangemouth Aquarist Society 

Lanarkshire Aquarist Society 

Musselburgh & District Aquarist Society 

Perth Aquarist Society 

Poecilia Aquarist Society 

Workington & District Aquarist Society 


Newport & District Aquarist Society 


Irish Midlands Aquatic Society uk/scottish_aquarium_society.htm</greenock&district_as.htm</capital_aquarists_society.htm</dundee&district_aquarist_society.htm</glenrothes_aquarist_society.htm</grangemouth_aquarist_society.htm</musselburgh_a_s.htm</perth_aquarist_society.htm</poecilia_scotia.htm 

Be part of our community! 

Our current listing is primarily from Britain, if you're part of 

a f ishkeeping club or society on the Continent we'd love to 

add you to our list! 

Email us at 

to get listed here. 

Photo by Hobvias Sudoneighm 

Community « Redfish Magazine 2013:18 » 37 

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