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1st U.K. Breeding of Parancistrus Aurantiacus

26 Apr 2013 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (2)
1st U.K. Breeding of Parancistrus Aurantiacus
C.E. Fish Essentials customer Gregory Day has succeeded in becoming the 1st person in UK history to breed wild 'xanthic' Parancistrus Aurantiacus known in the trade as Chubby Plecos

Gregory Day is a person who can only be described as a 'fish freak'. He is absolutely in love with all of the wonderful rare, interesting and unusual species which are becoming more and more available to the UK hobby by the day. He keeps several highly sought after species including P13 and P14 stingrays, golden Arowana, wild Heckel discus and several others as well as these captivating wild Parancistrus Aurantiacus which originate from the Rio Araguaia, Brazil. Below are photo's of the actual parent fish submitted by popular discus fish retailer Matthew Boardman of Manchester Discus, whom Gregory purchased the fish from thanks to Francis Hu at Chens Discus who imported 2 pairs (both taken by Gregory).

              Male (left)                           Female (right)

Gregory feeds all of his fish with C.E. Fish Essentials foods and varying dried foods. He finds that his Parancistrus Aurantiacus also enjoy stealing C.E. Discus Professional food from his discus fish and reject foods such as courgette. The ideal food for this species is C.E. Pleco Carnivore.


In the photo (above left)you see the male Parancistrus Aurantiacus guarding the fry. The photo (above right) shows how the caves are situated in the aquarium. interestingly these fish chose to breed in a higher cave on top of another. Previously, the male had also rejected some of the eggs which Gregory was able to save (see below). The fry are currently housed in an egg tumbler device which Gregory had to improvise and the first few fry have begun to hatch. 

26th April 2013
Hatching begins..


We have uploaded a video to the C.E. Fish Essentials Youtube account to document this wonderful achievement by Gregory and would like to wish him the very best of luck! Congratulations from us here at C.E. Fish Essentials.

Update: 30.04.13
8 fry saved by Gregory are all doing well.
No fry found in the cave.

Update: 02.05.13
6 days old.
Yolk sacks almost completely consumed. 

Update: 04.05.13
8 days old.

Update: 18.05.13
14 days old

Update: 23.05.13
19 days old


Update: 29.05.13
25 days old


Update: 18.06.13
45 days old

Update: 15.07.13
72 days old


Update: 14th January 2014
8 months & 19 days old
Feeding happily on our Pleco range

Update: 9th October 2014
1 year 5 months and 14 days old.

                                              Parent (Female - Right)



Proud Sponsors of Alex Carslaw (Rainbowfish UK)

24 Feb 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (0)
We are humbled and proud to have been approached by keeper, conservationist and Rainbowfish fanatic Alex Carslaw to support his move into lecturing about the wonderful genera of Rainbowfish species and their futures.

Alex Carslaw is without doubt the U.K's most dedicated Rainbowfish enthusiast, award-winning in fact and has made it his passion to become a significant contributor in the field in hope of preserving both their keeping in the aquarium hobby and in many cases stabilising a future for several species of these graceful, diverse and unbelievably underestimated fish.

Alex (Left) with ichthyologist Heiko Bleher     Alex's website dedicated to Rainbowfish

His story is as follows; 

"As a young lad I remember pestering my father to go visit my uncle who had a tropical fish tank. I was amazed at the Angelfish and neons he used to keep and would jump at the chance to feed them. I was hooked! It wasn’t until I met my now wife did my passion really kick off. Her dad owned a pet shop in Glasgow down by the “Barra’s”. Soon it became an obsession. We joined the local fish club, Cumbernauld & District Aquarist society and it wasn’t long before we got more involved in the running of the club. Around 1989 I started working for a Tropical fish wholesaler in Glasgow where I had the pleasure of meeting a man who I soon realised was to teach me lots, stuff the books cant teach you, Mr Cliff Murray Snr was his name. It was here I first got my eyes on Rainbowfish, A massive tank of Melanotaenia boesemani. I still think of them when I look at some of the lesser specimens we now see today and sigh. Today, I now have my own little man-cave as I call it, 28 tanks in my purpose built fish house at the bottom of my garden. I currently keep around 18 species of Rainbowfish and Blue-eyes and to date I have bred 30 species and hopefully now with the support of great company I can continue to breed and distribute many fish we now sadly have lost in the wild".

Alex's collection features several different Rainbowfish genera and some wonderfully rare, unique and endangered species. 

Glossolepis pseudoincisus (Tami River)       Melanotaenia praecox
Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi       The critically endangered: Chilatherina sentaniensis
Endangered: Melanotaenia lacustris (Kutubu Lake)  -  Melanotaenia sp. "Aru II"
 Melanotaenia parkinsoni                            Melanotaenia maccullochi
Melanotaenia trifasciata (Goyder River)       Melanotaenia kamaka (Lake Kamaka)

Here are Alex's thoughts on why he chose to approach us;

"I first became aware of C.E. Fish Essentials on a visit to London to take in the 2012 "Aquatics Live" show, in particular to attend a lecture by Rainbowfish collector, Heiko Bleher. I really liked the look of the product, but was unable to take any as I was on a break. I was lucky enough a few months later to be chosen to test the Community Plus formula on my fish and decided to test it on my group of Chilatherina sentaniensis. At first my fish seemed a bit unsure but I soon realised that by grating the product into flakes it was 'more than readily' accepted. This is part of the appeal of this food that it can be served up in different ways to appeal to the palette of different fish. I first noticed a difference in the colour of my fish after around 2 months, my fish were like gold bars instead of orange. To be given sponsorship and support from C.E. Fish Essentials is a dream come true for me. I visit clubs all over the UK to give talks and presentations on my passion for Rainbowfishes and now with the support I have I feel I can do it better and with more confidence. All my fish will now be given the Community Plus product as a staple diet and I'm confident I will soon see the rewards in my fish and the future generations that will follow them".

Chilatherina fasciata                                    Melanotaenia goldiei "Aru II"
Chilatherina sentaniensis                             Melanotaenia rubrostriata

The need for individuals such as Alex (and others) to propagate and increase the numbers in captivity of some of these species is vital for the survival of these fish, as some are no longer found in the wild. Many Rainbowfish habitats have already (and are continuing to be) destroyed or polluted even before they have been explored or assessed and so our support of Alex is a cry to the aquatic community to come together and make changes. If you organise events within the aquatic community, if you want to become involved in the conservation and/or keeping of Rainbowfish or if you are able to support the work being done by people like Alex;

Please make contact: Rainbowfish UK Website | Alex's Facebook | Rainbowfish UK on Facebook

In an attempt to increase their popularity in the hobby (and preserve some critically endangered species in the process), Alex is already lined up to speak at several national and international events this year including the West Lothian Aquarist Society, The Kirkaldy Aquarist Society as well as being invited to give a talk early next year at the Catfish Study Group Convention 2015


Rainbowfish lecture at West Lothian Aquarist Society by Alex Carslaw

02 Mar 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (4)
This months gathering at the West Lothian Aquarist Society saw the first sponsored lecture on Rainbowfish by C.E. Fish Essentials ambassador, Alex Carslaw.

This afternoon, Alex Carslaw, undoubtedly the UK's most dedicated keeper, breeder & conservationist of Melanotaeniidae (Rainbowfish to you & I) hosted his first official sponsored lecture about the husbandry of these wonderful genera at the West Lothian Aquarist Society. Attendees had the opportunity to grasp a better understanding of breeding methods used by Alex and how to successfully propagate these attractive fish  (some for the good of their species survival).

The members of the West Lothian Aquarist Society
Alex's lecture at the W.L.A.S was well attended

Alex's work, whether his hours upon hours investing time & money with his fish, or researching, learning and teaching others about the wonderful Rainbowfish of the world, helps to keep an awareness of the need for the future of many rainbowfish to be protected. Some of these species originate from single lakes in what are now 'developing areas' and hence being destroyed, polluted or filled with invasive species which are outcompeting or even predating upon these pressurised populations. For some of these fish, their propagation within the aquarium hobby is there only chance to remain on earth...

Great work Alex!

Attendees of Alex's lecture all received FREE 10% off vouchers on all C.E. Fish Essentials products

Alex feeds all of his fish with our Community Plus formula

Photography: Sharon Johnston  ©  (


Alex Carslaw's Fish House Tour - Part 1

10 Mar 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (1)
Alex Carslaw's Fish House Tour - Part 1
C.E. Fish Essentials ambassador Alex Carslaw is known for his keeping, breeding & conservation of various well known & several endangered Rainbowfish species. He also has some pretty amazing fishkeeper friends and in this article we will follow Alex's trip to visit George Funkner, a well respected Killifish keeper who also works to preserve several rare & endangered fish.

Located in Glasgow’s busy Darnley area, George Funkner's fishroom is a haven for all things aquatic, killifish in particular. With 260 tanks, yes, 260 ! George is kept well busy in a fish house that far outnumbers any aquatic retailer you will find in this fine city. On the approach to George’s place you could be forgiven for thinking you have made a wrong turn, it is situated at the back of some retail/workshop units. Once inside you will be gobsmacked, it’s an Aladdin’s cave as I like to call it. Measuring some 300 ft² and the main room is crammed floor to ceiling with tanks.


Set off the main room, George has a nice big area where he can prepare and receive shipments to send to hobbyists worldwide. I jokingly asked him when he is going to fill this room also, to which he pointed me in the direction of a large shipment of new shelving. Soon, it looks like the 260 will become 400! Total dedication from a man who really knows his stuff.

A warm welcome is always a priority for George

George’s tanks are filtered using various methods and all connect to a single main air ring fed from some pretty big air blowers. The room is space heated and one thing I did notice was the lack of condensation which is probably down to the tight fitting tank covers of the 'sometimes suicidal' Killifish.

Temporary Pool at the locality “Trinidad East BPBV 2014-09” in Cercado Province, Department of Beni, Bolivia

George has been keeping fish since 1982 and in this time has bred nearly 900 species of fish from the humble guppy to the more tricky African killifish like Aphyosemion wildekampi. Looking into each tank it’s clear to see George’s success, with many hosting fry, sub-adult and adult fish all within the same perfectly decorated and leaf strewn tank. George supplies many people from all over the world with the eggs of some of the rarest Killifish you will find and this allows funding for George’s many collecting trips to the likes of Bolivia, from where he has only just returned bringing with him many new and undescribed species of fish. Here are just a few of his wonderful collection.

Hoplosternum sp. Nuevo Palmar  |  Chromaphyosemion volcanum «Ekondo Titi, Manga Water CB3SR

Nematolebias papilliferus «Inoã» | Hypsolebias sp. Urucuia

Fundulopanchax clauseni «Akure» (Albino) | Hypsolebias picturatus «Volta das Pedras»

Oryzias nigrimas «Lake Poso» 

I always look forward to visiting George as here you will find fish you will not see very often if at all. Always with a smile on his face, George has no problems explaining his methods and success’s to which he has many. A true gent, a good friend and a fantastic aquarist.

Written by: Alex Carslaw - Editor: Chris Englezou
Photography: George Funkner 
© & Alex Carslaw © 


Rainbowfish lecture at Kirkaldy Aquarist Society by Alex Carslaw

31 Mar 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (0)
Last Monday, C.E. Fish Essentials Ambassador & well known rainbowfish conservationist (and enthusiast) Alex Carslaw was once again invited to hold a C.E. sponsored seminar on 'Breeding Rainbowfish & Blue Eyes'. This time it was at the Kirkaldy Aquarist Society, Scotland. Here is Alex's account..

Kirkaldy Aquarist Society    |    Alex explains why he chooses C.E. Fish Essentials for his fish
I always look forward to my visits to Kingdom of Fife, whether it be for an open show, an auction or to speak at one of the club meetings. Kirkcaldy AS is a popular and long established club, formed in 1927 and is part of the Union of Scottish Aquarists. The club has its own premises at 21 junction road, Kirkcaldy and the first thing you see after you have climbed the old stairs is the certificate covered walls and trophy laden shelves of the meeting room. This visit was to present a lecture on the breeding of Rainbowfish and Blue-eyes. Breeding these particular fish is pretty straight forward however raising them can sometimes prove tricky, particularly the smaller larvae such as Iriatherina werneri.
M. trifasciata (Goyder river) 21 days old        |    M. trifasciata (Goyder River) 16 weeks old
The lecture covered my 5 key steps to success.

1 Fish Selection
This section features some highly important issues such as inbreeding depression and maximising the diversity of your genetic pool amongst other topics.
2 Preparation
Recreating environments which the target species view as desirable for breeding can be difficult. Covered here are my set ups for successful breeding and the conditioning of selected fish for maximum fecundity.
3 Methods
Different species tend to adopt varying methods for breeding and here I speak of the different spawning methods used by various species
4 Hatching Eggs
In this section I highlight the topic of hatching eggs and the associated difficulties one can encounter at this stage, as well as how best to tackle these problems.
5 Raising Fry
Arguably the most difficult aspect of this process is the successful rearing of high quality fry. In this section I explain in detail the methods I adopt for correct feeding of fry with varying sizes through their growth stages as well as how to provide the optimal environment for best development.
Chilatherina fasciata 14 weeks old                 |           Melanotaenia sp. Aru II  16 weks old
As always, a warm welcome was given and appreciated from this fantastic club and I look forward to returning after the summer where I will be talking on the subject of Rainbowfish Identification.
If you live nearby why not join up as I'm sure you will be made most welcome. The club meets every Monday evening at 7.30pm. Details for the clubs annual open show and auction can be found below.
Article by: Alex Carslaw (Rainbowfish UK)
Editor: Chris Englezou (C.E. Fish Essentials)
Photography: Alex Carslaw ©

Alex Carslaw's Fish House Tour - Part 2

16 Apr 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (0)
The second installment of C.E. Fish Essentials ambassador Alex Carslaw's fish house tour takes place at Colin Dunlop's Fish Hut. We'll let Alex doing the talking ...

Set in hundreds of acres of land in the beautiful Clyde Valley, Colin Dunlop's place really is a true sight for sore eyes. Colin's Fish Hut sits next to his stunning farmyard house and it’s probably the most unique fish house I have seen with its very own alpine garden rooftop. Colin explained that it acts as fantastic insulation having raised the temperature by 3°C when completed.
When I arrived I was invited to view Colin's fantastic 1100 litre tank which is situated in the corner of his kitchen. Standing around 3' high, 4' deep and 6' wide this really is the daddy of all corner tanks. What I really liked about this tank is that even after ten minutes of fishspotting something else will emerge from the Anubias covered tree roots to surprise you; like his shoal of massive Red-line Torpedo Barbs (Sahyadria denisonii). All the wood within the tank is collected from around the farmyard and is first stripped of its bark by his ever eager wood munching L330 Panaque's before being carefully placed in the tank. Colin recommends using Beech, Oak, Hawthorn, Acer and heather. I was especially intrigued by the use of heather and Colin assures me it will help no end in breeding my F1 P. scalare angels.
Betta macrostoma (juvenile)  Channa andrao
I never tire of visiting Colin as I know I will always leave having learned lots. He is always the first person I will turn to for advice and he is always happy to try and help, if he can. I first met Colin on the advice of our mutual friend and fish keeping legend Peter Cottle about 7 years ago and it turned out we both worked for the same Glasgow tropical fish wholesaler around the same time in the late 80's. Colin has more or less been keeping fish all his life having been introduced to the hobby by his father but it wasn't till around 1980 before the bug really took hold when he bred his first fish, the Keyhole Cichlid, (Cleithracara maronii), in a small tank in his bedroom. Since the early days Colin has went on to breed over 350 different species of fish and includes the extremely difficult Betta macrostoma amongst his conquests.
Betta mandor                  Betta macrostoma (juveniles)
Anabantoids figure highly among Colin’s favourite fish and he regularly travels the UK giving talks on the subject and is highly respected by fellow aquarists Worldwide. It wasn’t long before Colin invited me to see what’s been going on in his fish hut, which is currently going through renovation. He has decided to renovate his fish room in two halves allowing him to maintain a limited collection while working on the other. Some of the fish maintained by Colin are his awesome pair of golden cobra snakeheads (Channa aurantimaculata) who were in the process of mouthbrooding. Colin had hoped that there would have been fry to see but sadly it didn’t happen for my visit. Being a sub-tropical species I liked Colin’s set up for the Channa, which had a vent to the rear of the tank that allows cool air to enter; keeping it at a colder temperature compared to the other tanks within the fish house. These snakeheads need a cool winter rest at about 10-12° to encourage breeding the following spring. His Channa are fed a diet which includes raw prawns and earthworms. I have always had an admiration for Channa and have a single dwarf ornate snakehead (Channa ornatipinnis) myself, who lives at the bottom of my fish hut and is the eager recipient of any fatalities from my other tanks.
Betta macrostoma                Betta mandor

In Scotland a license is required to keep Channa species and one can be obtained for free from Scottish Natural Heritage. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned to Bettas, and boy does this guy know about Bettas. Colin maintains and breeds some species like Betta renata, B. stigmosa, B. kuehnei,and as yet undescribed Betta species. You won’t find these fish in many (if any) other fish houses in the UK.  
Betta macrostoma (juvenile)   Betta macrostoma
Over a cup of coffee, Colin explained to me the secrets of maintaining a healthy yet extremely low pH tank, and who knows one day I may pay a visit to the acidic extremes of fish keeping. Colin’s bettas are fed a staple diet of quality flake and pellets with the added luxury of earthworms and whiteworms. I spoke to Colin about the range of fresh frozen foods supplied by C.E. Fish Essentials and the benefits of being able to customise the food to the requirements of his own particular fish and he seemed to think this a great idea. Once finished in  The Fish Hut it was back to the farmhouse for a chance to pick Colin’s mind on all things fishkeeping (and another coffee) and I admit I could have sat drinking coffee and talking to this guy all night. His knowledge is awesome.

Written by: Alex Carslaw
Editor: Chris Englezou
Photography: Colin Dunlop ©  

Kirkaldy Aquarist Society Open Show 2014

23 Apr 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sunday the 13th of April saw the commencement of the first show on the Scottish fish keeping scene this year, The Kirkcaldy Aquarist Society open show. The club is part of the Union of Scottish Aquarists and the show was eagerly anticipated by many. C.E. Fish Essentials ambassador Alex Carslaw gives his account of the day.

I look forward to this event more than others every year. I first started attending this show around 24 years ago and still have the old rosettes and certificates for my showing wins tucked up in my drawer at home. This years preparation began the night before and carried on till 1am, catching fish in a space heated fish house environment is not the easiest thing to do. After a few hours sleep it was back to fish catching duties at 6am but not till I had sank a litre of coffee, this was going to be hard. I planned to leave my home town of Cumbernauld around 9.30am to ensure the boxes of fish I had for the auction got an early placed lot. After all the auction fish were sorted a quick check of the watch revealed the unwelcome time of 10.15 ! ARRGGHHH !!
Chilatherina sentaniensis   |  Pseudomugil gertrudae 'aru II'
I quickly prepared a few entries for the show, One breeders group of 4 Sentani Rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis), One breeders group of 4 Spotted Blue-eyes (Pseudomugil gertrudae “Aru II”) and an adult male Pseudomugil gertrudae “Aru II”. This was a bit disappointing as I had spent too much time on auction fish and neglected my plans and entries for the actual show, oh well, I packed up and headed for the Kingdom of Fife at a very late 11.00am.
The efficient admin team   |  Kirkaldy Aquarist Society meetings
Arriving in Kirkcaldy at 11.55am I just managed to get my entries in the show and was aided at registration by a extremely helpful admin team. At registration I was pulled aside by club president Colin Beavis who presented me with a copy of the new show standards for being a friend of the club due to my talks I have given them on Rainbowfish, It was much appreciated and is an example of the warm welcome this club gives its visitors. Unfortunately my lateness was to affect my chances of fish sales as I was entered at lot 23 of 25 for the auction and some of the lots were BIG! 
Last minute preparations | The Bargain Hunters at the auction
After a few coffees and a chat to my friends it was time for the auction to begin. The auction was well attended with over 250 bargain hunters all crammed in looking for bargains and as usual the auction did not let them down. Being one for a bargain myself its always hard for me to refrain buying anything and everything but I had my eye on a few that I seen on the notice board. First was a cracking Barb I have been after a while now Dawkinsia rohani and after seeing them at Colin Dunlop's place on my visit there last week I decided I must have them.
Dawkinsia rohani   |   Pseudomugil cyanodorsalis
I bought two bags totalling nine fish for the bargain price of £15 and are currently settling into a nice spare 48” tank in the fish hut. I plan to house them with my trio of yo-yo loaches (Botia almorhae) to create a river type fast flowing Asian themed tank. Next up on my want list was a lovely wee blue-eye I have never kept before the Blue back Blue-eye (Pseudomugil cyanodorsalis). As the bidding started I realised I was not going to win these. I don’t mind paying a fair price for my fish but I always draw the line at getting into bidding wars and in any case I had a plan B. Hopefully the folks that bought these knew they needed a brackish to near full sea water environment and were not just buying blind. After around five hours,two tonnes of bogwood , four thousand cherry shrimps and a skip full of bristle nose plecs the auction finally finished and we could now get to see the open show entries. I was keen to see how my breeding group of Sentani Rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis) had got on.
Neolamprologus pulcher  | A wonderful Poecilia variant

Thorichthys ellioti       |      Microglanis iheringi

Apistogramma. sp    |    Barilius bakeri (Best in Show)

Before the show I had entered these as a first time bred and hopefully I will receive the certificate for this most likely extinct in the wild species. From my three entries I received a first and second for both my breeding groups and a first in the Rainbowfish section for my adult fish. When entering my fish I had noticed another entry of young Blue-eyes, a group of Pseudomugil cyanodorsalis and that was the plan B. Before long I met the breeder, a nice chap from the north east of England, Robbie Kirkup and we soon agreed to trade our breeding groups. Four of my spottys for four of his Blue backs. Plan B was successful and it did not cost me a penny, happy days. On browsing the tables I noticed some cracking fish, a credit to the owners and a delight to see such healthy, colourful fish on display. Soon after it was time for the awards and finally home time, well not before my usual visit to Kinghorn beach with a fish supper first!

Receiving one of my awards | J. Symington (Best Betta)

Full list of winners are as follows :

POECILIA-LIMA- MALE - Rob and Karen Kirkup
POECILIA - LIMIA – FEMALE - Rob and Karen Kirkup
XIPHOPHORUS – MALE - Sandy Murphy 
A O V -LIVEBEARER – MALE - Rob and Karen Kirkup
BARBS - Graham Geddes
BETTAS - Jean Symington
A O V ANABANTOID - Rob and Karen Kirkup
A O V CATFISH - Dave Smart
RAINBOWFISH - Alex Carslaw
TROPICAL MINNOWS & DANIOS - Colin and Susan Beavis
RASBORAS - Dave Smart
AOV – EGGLAYER - Gavin and AJ Cowan
AOV – COLDWATER - Gavin and AJ Cowan
BREEDERS CATEGORY – C - Mandy Hutchison
BREEDERS CATEGORY – A - Eddie Morcambe
BEST BARB - Graham Geddes
BEST PAIR - Gordon McLeod
BEST TRIO - Gordon McLeod
BEST CICHLID - Rob and Karen Kirkup
BEST ANABANTOID - Jean Symington
BEST JUNIOR - Jack Young
BEST BREEDER - Eddie Morcambe
BEST LIVEBEARER - Rob and Karen Kirkup
BEST COLDWATER - Gavin and AJ Cowan
BEST EGGLAYER - Gavin and AJ Cowan
BEST EXHIBITOR - Rob and Karen Kirkup
3RD BEST IN SHOW - Rob and Karen Kirkup
2ND BEST IN SHOW - Gordon McLeod
BEST IN SHOW - Gavin and AJ Cowan

A massive well done must be said to Kirkcaldy AS and in particular Brian and Abby who made things run smoothly even though this was there first year as show managers !

Written by: Alex Carslaw
Photography: Alex Carslaw
Editor: Chris Englezou



Alex Carslaw's Fish House Tour - Part 3

30 Apr 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (0)
Our third stop on our U.K fish house tour takes us into the wonderful world of catfish with a visit by C.E. Fish Essentials ambassador Alex Carslaw to the well respected Loricariid enthusiast Julian Dignall.

    Julian Dignall (left) with Alex      |      Planet Catfish website
    So far I have been privileged to visit some of the best fishkeepers in Scotland, if not the UK and my latest venture was no different when I paid a visit to Planet catfish guru Julian Dignall. Living in Bathgate, West Lothian but hailing from Inner city Edinburgh Julian first started keeping fish over 30 years ago when because of restrictions on being able to keep large pets he opted for the humble Goldfish. It wasn’t long before moving onto Guppies and became hooked when he managed to breed his first fish. Fast forward 30 odd years and we find Julian has amassed a vast knowledge on all things Catfish and most of it he shares via his brilliant website Planet Catfish. Julian has Catfish from all corners of the world but he favours the Loricariidae family and this is evident when viewing his 38 tanks within his fish room. I counted on average 3 different Catfish in every tank working out to be an incredible 90-100 different species being kept.
    Julians Rainbowfish                  Neosilurus ater
    On entering Julian’s fish room im not ashamed to admit the first thing I spotted were his Rainbowfish, yes that’s right, thousands of Catfish and I spot his bows but during the ensuing conversation on them my eyes are drawn to  dark shapes emerging from the shadows, it was 3 stunning Eel-tailed catfish Neosilurus ater. I have never seen these Catfish in the flesh before but then again not many have I suppose so this was a real treat. There aren't many Australasian Catfish, but if anyone was going to own some it was sure to be Julian. Julian’s 38 tanks all feature separate filtration to suit the varying needs for his fish and this apply's to the heating also. His room is heated via oil filled radiators but many tanks are supplemented with separate heaters in tank, again to suit the varying needs of his fish. Water changes are made easy by a gravity fed tank located overhead in his loft and each tank is easily drained via a network of drainage pipes connected to the house waste system.
    Julian feeding the fish               Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus
    During my visit Julian fed each tank we looked at to let me see some of the more shy Catfish like his group of striped woodcats Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus tightly huddled within a clay pipe. Julian feeds his fish a diet of pellets and is currently trying out a brand of fish food called Repashy. I spoke to Julian about the benefits that C.E. Fish Essentials advanced formulations could bring to his fish, in particular the foods aimed at Loricariidae. I left Julian a sample of food to see how his fish enjoyed it and hopefully I will get some feedback and im confident it will be positive. 
    Collecting in the Congo             Loach fishing in India
    During a mug of Coffee (In a mug) Julian told me of his fish collecting exploits he has encountered on his visits to the likes of India, Uganda, South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and North America which included being led off a plane by armed guards and coming face to face with a caiman in his collecting net in South America. Later this year Julian plans to visit North America again on a collecting trip and plans to take his kids with him on there first expedition. I sense the Dignall obsession with all things wet and whiskery will have no problem moving to a new generation.
    Julian & a large Adonis pleco    L173b variant
    We also spoke of another of Julian’s projects Planet Xingu. Planet Xingu was an initiative to boost financial support to the scientific research being carried out into the fish fauna of Brazil's Rio Xingu and the impact the Belo Monte dam will have on the eco-system before, during and after completion. Through crowd funding Julian’s initiative managed to raise over $11.000. A fantastic achievement that Julian and all the contributors should be immensely proud of.
    Corydoras nanus                       Corydoras sp. CW028
    Julian’s vast knowledge of Catfish has seen him give lectures all over the UK and beyond. He has visited North America, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Germany. I admit I've yet to witness one, but next year I have been invited to do a lecture on Rainbowfishes at the Catfish Study Group annual convention and was hoping that Julian would be also, but it turns out I would have to catch a flight to either the USA or Belgium to take one in.
    Moenkhausia agnesae             Pearl Gourami (bred by Alex)
    It was a pleasure to meet Julian and be so warmly welcomed into his family home and I look forward to our next meeting when I can again probe the mind of a very experienced fishkeeper and a pleasantly genuine down to earth guy.
    Written by: Alex Carslaw
    Photography: Alex Carslaw © Julian Dignal© 
    Editor: Chris Englezou



Glenrothes Aquarist Society Open Show 2014

23 May 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday the 18th of may saw the first open show on the Federation of Scottish Aquarist Society's calendar. The host club was Glenrothes Aquarist society, a small, yet long established and well respected club from the kingdom of Fife. Alex Carslaw gives his account of the day.


Sunday the 18th of May saw the first open show on the Federation of Scottish Aquarist Society's calendar. The host club was Glenrothes Aquarist Society, a small, yet long established and well respected club from the Kingdom of Fife. After last months event in Kirkcaldy I had decided I would no longer be submitting any of my home-bred fish for auction. Whilst I regret not being able to support this and other local auctions, there are a number of reasons for this. The main contributing factor for this decision (and I’m sure anyone who raises their own fish would understand) is that I can no longer justify the stress it causes to my fish. Last months event saw me bringing home fish that had been bagged up all day to be simply returned to the tank, I don’t like to stress my fish for no reason and in any case I like people to come to me to buy my stock rather than just snapping it up because it was only £2 a bag. When aquarists come to me to collect fish I know that person actually has an interest in the fish species I keep rather than just a bargain.

F1 Red-Line Rainbowfish Melanotaenia rubrostriata (Kopi River)
The judges working hard to determine the eventual winning fish

Free of the stress of catching auction lots I decided I would enter a few breeding teams of my Rainbowfish and claim a first time bred certificate for them. I entered three groups of four fish, F1 Red Line Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia rubrostriata)“Kopi River” the parents of these fish were caught by my good friend (and owner of Pier Aquatics) Neil Woodward on his trip to West Papua a few years ago (with Hans George Evers), the critically endangered Sentani Rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis) and its close relative the Barred Rainbowfish (Chilatherina fasciata). There are many fantastic breeders in Scotland but for some reason the first time bred registers seem to be a bit dated and unused, perhaps the registers could benefit from being a bit more simplistic and an online application form created for claimants on the FSAS website.

The Spotted Blue-eye (Pseudomugil gertrudae Aru II)

Unfortunately there was no class for Rainbowfish at the event and decided I would put a couple of young bue-eyes into the AOV egg-layers class. I entered one Blue back blue-eye (Pseudomugil cyanodorsalis) and one Spotted blue-eye (Pseudomugil getrudae) “Aru II”. The spotty is a stunning wee fish and one with particular interest to me. This fish began its life after being hatched from an egg deposited on a small piece of Java fern I gave to my son for his massive vivarium's water hole. Due to the viv not being completed the fish received no light, food or filtration for the first 3 months of its life and survived solely on detritus worms and micro fauna created from the breakdown of plants in the darkened water hole. When I discovered it I could not believe the colours the fish was displaying and how it was in such good health. If you breed these take a look at the most colourful fry, you will notice no doubt, that these are the ones who will be hanging around the sponge filter pecking away at the micro fauna that inhabits it. Sometimes we can interfere to much as far as foodstuffs are concerned and a natural aquatic environment containing natural micro fauna is far superior for these small fry than a laboratory plastic tub type environment. This is my excuse for my algae covered breeding tanks and I'm sticking to it !

Abramites hypselonotus     Peckoltia lineola
Puntius oligolepis               Hyphessobrycon amapaensis
Epalzeorhynchos frenatum       T. argenteus

With a 1pm start for the auction and judging, this show suits me fine as I am not a morning person. I need 5 cups of coffee and half an hour in my fish hut before I will even speak to anyone. As usual, even with the late start I arrived with 10 minutes to spare and just got my entries in on time and straight off headed for a coffee and a roll and sausage before finding a seat in the crammed auction area. The auction as usual was full of some fantastic buys and first time auctioneer Billy Aitchison from WLAS did a great job moving the lots along and it was good to see members from other clubs joining in and helping out. I was determined not to buy any fish and it wasn’t till the last lot I finally gave in and purchased a Pakistani loach (Botia almorhae) to add to my existing trio. I love these fish. Entry numbers for this year's show were a bit on the low side at 107 but entries had come as far as Yorkshire, Cumbria and Tyneside. Great support for people to come this far!
Hypancistrus sp (L066)       Epalzeorhynchos bicolor
As for my fish, my wee spotty came 2nd to a fish of the same species, a beautiful and slightly more mature fish owned by my friend Jack Irish. I also took a 2nd in the breeders groups for my Red line Rainbowfish and a 3rd for the Sentani Rainbowfish, both loosing out to some very handsome King Tiger plecs (Hypancistrus sp L066) bred by David Gamble from Aberdeen AS. I was impressed with the quality of fish at the event and some tough decisions must have had to be made by the Federation judges. Best in show was won by B Kerrigan of STAMPS for his beautifully conditioned red tailed black shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor). Over all it was a very well run event and credit has to go to show managers Dave and Alan Smart as well as everyone who helped make it a success. Thanks and see you next year !
Class Winner Club Species
Guppies S Murphy   P reticulata
Mollies D Smart Glenrothes AS P salvatoris
Platies S Murphy   X maculatus
Swordtails J Irish WLAS X montezuma
AOV Livebearers G & AJ Cowan Solway AS C lateralis
Barbs A J Hetherington  Workington P oligolepis
Barbs B B Kerrigan STAMPS P denisonii
Characins A J Irish WLAS H amapayensis
Characins B J Irish WLAS T argenteus
Characins C J Douthwate STAMPS A hypselonotus
Danios/Minnows J Irish WLAS D freegradei
Gouramies Colisa J Irish WLAS C chuna
Siamese Fighters D Smart Glenrothes AS B splendens
AOV Anabantoids J Irish WLAS B pallafina
Catfish A F Bennett Fair City AS C pygmaeus
Catfish B D Gamble Aberdeen AS H ornatus
Catfish C D Gamble Aberdeen AS A spinosissimus
Dwarf Cichlids J Irish WLAS A Myrnae
Large Cichlids B Kerrigan STAMPS S casuaris
Rift Cichlids J Irish WLAS L helicanthus
Rasboras J Douthwate STAMPS R lacrimula
Sharks/fox/loach B Kerrigan STAMPS E bicolor
Toothcarps D Gamble Aberdeen AS S santanae
Albino B Kerrigan STAMPS E frenatum
AOV Egglayer J Irish WLAS P gertrudae
Unidentified D Smart Glenrothes AS ­
AOV Coldwater G & AJ Cowan Solway AS N chrosmosus
Pairs Livebearer J Irish WLAS P chamola
Pairs Egglayer J Milligan SLAG D tinwini
Breeders Egglayer D Gamble Aberdeen AS Hypancistrus sp (L066)
Junior Egglayer AJ Cowan Solway AS P Viitata
Best Livebearer G & AJ Cowan Solway AS C lateralis
Best Barb J Hetherington  Workington P oligolepis
Best Characin J Irish WLAS H amapayensis
Best Danio/Minnow J Irish WLAS D freegradei
Best Gouramie J Irish WLAS C chuna
Best fighter D Smart Glenrothes AS B splendens
Best AOV Annabantoid J Irish WLAS B pallafina
Best Catfish F Bennett Fair City AS C pygmaeus
Best Cichlid J Irish WLAS A Myrnae
Best Rasbora J Douthwate STAMPS R lacrimula
Best Sharks/fox/loach B Kerrigan STAMPS E bicolor
Best Toothcarp D Gamble Aberdeen AS S santanae
Best Albino B Kerrigan STAMPS E frenatum
Best AOV Egglayer J Irish WLAS P gertrudae
Best Unidentified D Smart Glenrothes AS ­
Best Coldwater G & AJ Cowan Solway AS N chrosmosus
Best Pair J Irish WLAS P chamola
Best Breeder D Gamble Aberdeen AS Hypancistrus sp (L066)
Best Junior AJ Cowan Solway AS P Viitata
3rd Best fish in show F Bennett Fair City AS C pygmaeus
2nd Best fish in show J Irish WLAS H amapayensis
Best fish in show B Kerrigan STAMPS E bicolor

Written by: Alex Carslaw
Photography: Alex Carslaw © | Allan James ©  | John Bradley ©
Editor: Chris Englezou



No such thing as "Curipera"...

16 Aug 2014 — The C.E Community | Permalink | Comments (0)
There are many misidentifications within the fish keeping hobby and within the Discus fish world this can also be too common. In this short article I will try to eliminate some of the common names erroneously bestowed upon these poor souls.

The first name which I want to help hobbyists correctly identify belongs to the wild Symphysodon haraldi (discus fish) of the Alenquer region in Brazil commonly (but incorrectly) known as the "Curipera" or sometimes even "Curipeua". Traditionally, wild discus fish which reach the hobby are not only named by their taxonomic identities (e.g. genus & species) as even one species can inhabitat vast areas and be incredibly diverse, but they can be further classified by identifying the specific river or lake which their habitats are linked to. In this case, the Discus fish of the Lago Cuipeuá are identified as such because their biotopes are found in and around the Cuipeuá Lake - 1°51'22.6"S 54°54'03.1"W

Lago Cuipeuá Discus Fish Biotope by customer N. Rezeq (Greece) | Photo: N. Baviolis

The next to be correctly identified is the discus fish hamartianly named as coming from "Barra Mansa". Barra Mansa, as also highlighted in Bleher's Discus Volume 1, is a village along the Rio Curuá, no discus fish are found in that area however, in the bays of the lower Curuá, discus biotopes exist and host some very beautiful variants.

Rio Curuá Discus Biotope created by customer P. Kotsiropoulos | Photo N. Baviolis

Another often misidentified discus fish is one which actually bares some resemblance to the variants it is falsely named as. But independently they all deserve to have their correct identities revealed, especially as it will help the collecting hobbyists. The discus of the Xingú region really are something special (I write from a moderately biased view, as readers of my personal blogs will know), but even one taxonomic publication identified these fish as a species of their own within the Symphysodon genus based on some unique genetic loci (although, personally I'm not so sure). One of the amazing characteristics of this S. haraldi variant is their lack of pigmented patterning and extreme golden colour (in exceptional individuals). They are popularly known as the most yellow / golden of all of the wild discus forms and said to be among those with the best round body shapes. Now to get to the point, sadly many other patternless brown and golden (also of the brown clade) discus are being named from Rio Xingú region when in fact they often come from areas such as Cametá, along the Rio Tocantins, Santarem & the Rio Tapajos and another beautiful golden variant is that of the Rio Arapiuns. Each are unique and deserve independent respect.

Xingú Discus             Cametá Discus             Arapiuns Discus

To be continued...

Photography: © N.Baviolis © N. Hivatal © Rare Aquatics © H&K Discus
Article by Chris Englezou