Fish 'N' Chips
A Monthly Marine Newsletter
November 1999 Issue

From Liz
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/10/99

Happy Birthday Fish 'N' Chips This issue marks the one year anniversary of Fish 'N' Chips. I hope you've enjoyed reading my little newsletter as much as I've enjoyed writing it and putting it all together for you. Here's to a bunch of more years!

Correction! Jason at Premium Aquatics sent me a correction to last month's Reef Tank Lighting article by Kim Gross. Per Jason, Kim Gross' statement that "Power Compact bulbs are a variation of the VHO florescent bulbs. These have only been on the market for about a year. The variety of bulbs is very low compared to VHO or NO bulbs." is incorrect. Power Compacts have been available to the reef hobby for over 9 years, they hit mass popularity about 4 years ago. Jason says this isn't a huge deal, but the incorrect statement may give readers the idea that it's new technology. Even though Jason likes VHO over compacts, he hates to see people not consider them because of fearing new technology. Premium Aquatics and Jason can be found at the following website: Thanks for the correction Jason!

Skimmer Reviews Wanted - Anybody feel up to the task of a skimmer review? The following reviews have been asked for by a fellow subscriber: Turboflotor HANG-ON, and the Sipedon Technologies Acrylic Maelstrom 100 Tank Mount. If anybody has used these skimmers and wants to do a review on them, just let me know via email ( (address updated 4/26/00)). Any format you like, you don't have to use the one that usually appears in the newsletter. And, remember, I cannot pay you for your work.

Recall on Aquarium Lights - Perfecto Manufacturing Inc. has announced the recall of approximately 23,400 SHOlights aquarium lights. There are sharp edges which could cut the insulation on the wiring. If the wires are exposed, shocks, electrocution, or fire may occur. Also, some of the lights could overheat resulting in the same as noted above. Fortunately, no incidents have been reported. All 36-inch SHOlights that hold two bulbs and all SHOlights lights manufactured in July 1999 or earlier are being recalled. The manufacturing date is on a white label on the metal reflector. The label shows an image of an anchor and says "cleaned by" or "built by" and the date. If the label is missing or can't be read, consider it part of the recall. Stop using the lights and return them to Perfecto for a free replacement. For more information, call Perfecto at (800)241-7485 between 9am and 5pm EST Monday through Friday or check out their web site at

Critter Corner
Tridacna derasa
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/9/99

Tridacna derasa

General Information:
These clams usually have a striped pattern of wavy lines or a spotted pattern. Various color combinations of orange, yellow, black, blue, and white can be found. Some can even have brilliant blue or green lines.

Some descriptive information:

These clams can grow to a maximum length of 20 inches (50 cm), although I did see one notation of 24 inches (60.96 cm).

T. derasa are sometimes confused with T. gigas. How to tell the difference:

Common Name(s):
Tridacna derasa clams are sometimes called Smooth Giant Clams or Derasa Clams.

In The Wild:
Tridacna derasa are commonly found in Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Found on the outer edges of the reef in waters ranging from 12 to 33 feet (4 to 10 meters). Please note that I did find one reference to finding these clams in waters as deep as 65.6 feet (20 meters). T. derasa's seen in their natural habitat on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia are usually a vivid blue color. In other locations, their colors are shades of golden brown and green with a blue margin on the mantle.

Since T. derasa's lose their byssus glands early in their lives, they can often be found lying free on the substrate in lagoons.

A popular food item, these clams have been hunted extensively throughout their natural habitats. They are now listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In protected areas (the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for example) they are sometimes found in densities of up to 30 clams a hectare (2.47 acres).

The T. derasa's you purchase today are the result of aquaculture projects, not wild collecting. This is because T. derasa's, along with T. gigas, were one of the first clams to be commercially bred.

Tridacna derasa Closeup

Home Aquaria:
They are the most widely available and hardy of the tridacnid clams.

You can place them almost anywhere in the tank. They will do well under a variety of lighting intensities. Of course, the more light you supply, the faster they will grow. It is not unheard of for a 2.5 inch (6 cm) clam to double or triple their size in less than a year as long as they are given plenty of calcium (more than 400 mg/L).

As noted above, these clams can usually handle a variety of lighting, but some care should be taken with placement depending upon the clam's color. Clams showing the iridescent gold color will typically handle the higher light intensities. If the clam is not showing the gold pigmentation and the mantle is mostly brown, it is better to put the clam in the lower part of your tank. Definitely avoid placing these brown colored derasa's directly under strong metal halides.

Occasional stronger currents will be tolerated. Be careful when replacing evaporated water, derasa's do not like fluctuating salinity.

T. derasa's may develop scutes when grown in the aquarium. This may be a result of the artificial light and it's effect on the expansion of the mantle. Some specimens form scutes as a result of a genetic trait. I found no further references to genetic traits though.

Store: I did not have the time to check my local store for prices. Sorry folks.
Online: Online prices are based on the clam's size. Here's a list of what I found:
US Dollars: Prices below are from five different web sites.

Canadian Dollars: I only found one Canadian site selling clams, follow are their prices.

Photo Credits:
Both photos above were donated to Fish 'N' Chips by Dave Brough of Exotic Tropicals ( Thanks Dave!

Reef Deaths By Dynamite
By Dr. Romeo Arabone
Edited By Elizabeth M. Lukan 10/25/99

I wish to draw your attention to the continuing practice of fishing by the use of dynamite, which is killing dolphins, turtles, and other creatures, and harming the marine environment.

The main area where this is still occurring is in the San Bernadino Strait off the island of Samar in the Philippines.

This practice drew media attention some years ago but the lack of recent publicity may have made many people believe that it has ceased.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As it has now become inextricably linked to big business, there is pressure to keep using dynamite for fishing. And this pressure can only be countered by even greater pressure to stop it.

You are probably aware of the harm that this causes, which includes the death of many animals, vast numbers of fish which are killed but do not float to the surface, or die subsequently. Additionally, there is substantial harm to the local environment. It should also be noted that many of the fishermen are injured or killed as well.

I have created a web site containing details on this activity and other background information. The site is located at

I would ask that you draw attention to this unpleasant and harmful activity in order that greater publicity may be given and additional pressure exerted on the Philippine Government to halt the use of dynamite for fishing.

Yours faithfully, Dr. Romeo Arabone

Editor's Comments:
I found out about Dr. Arabone and this problem through an email. I contacted him and we've been discussing the issue and what Fish 'N' Chips can do to help. So, don't let me down! Go to Dr. Arabone's site and learn more about what is happening. Dr. Arabone has email addresses listed for you to send letters and maintains an update page for the latest happenings. Fish 'N' Chips is over 400 strong, let's show them we mean business!

Protein Skimmers.
Why do I need one?

By Kim Gross
Edited By Elizabeth M. Lukan, 10/25/99

Reprinted from the
Treasure Valley Marine Aquarium Society News
January 1, 1999, Volume 2, Issue 1
Edited and published by Kim Gross of Jen's Saltwater Haven

The short answer is you don't. But they are a very good idea. A Protein Skimmer, or Foam Fractionator or just skimmer for short, removes the bipolar "surfactants" from your aquarium's water. This is good for many things. First, it will remove many items which would normally be broken down by bacteria eventually creating more nitrate for your aquarium. This process can be very slow and will create many other unwanted compounds. Enough nitrate is produced from the breakdown of ammonia. We do not need to create more if we do not have to. By removing these items before they are broken down, your water quality will increase significantly. As well as ultimately decreasing the nitrate levels in your aquarium, the skimmer will also remove many other organic compounds from the water. This increases the over all water quality on most systems.

A protein skimmer reacts very quickly to changes in the water chemistry, whereas the biological filter, as everybody knows, reacts very slowly in comparison. I often refer to a skimmer as a great insurance policy for your tank because of this quick reaction time. If you have a creature die unnoticed in your tank, the levels of ammonia and nitrite can quickly increase to dangerous levels. As the levels increase, the bacteria in your filter will increase in numbers (providing there is enough available surface area) to cover the new load. Many times this happens too slow to save everything in your tank. With a protein skimmer, it will not eliminate the ammonia spike caused by a death in the tank, but it will reduce the intensity of the spike. Because the skimmer reacts quickly, the output of the skimmer will increase as the creature starts to decompose, removing many items before they are converted to ammonia. This gives your creatures more of a chance to survive the spike and it gives you a warning that something has changed in the tank because of the change in output of the skimmer.

A skimmer is very beneficial to both the fish only marine tank as well as the mini-reef aquarium. I would not suggest running a tank without a skimmer myself. As I said, a skimmer is not needed in any saltwater aquarium for it to function, it just makes life on the inhabitants much better.

A few words on sizing skimmers. Many skimmer manufacturers rate their skimmers for a tank with a very low bio-load. Always check with somebody or somebody's that you trust before you decide on your skimmer. If you get one that is undersized for your tank/bio-load, it will not be able to effectively do it's job. If in doubt, go up to the next larger size skimmer.

Maintenance of your skimmer. All skimmers need proper maintenance. You need to empty and clean out the collection cup on a regular basis. I would suggest cleaning the collection cup and the neck of the skimmer every month or more often as needed by the build up in the skimmer. Because of this, you need to make sure that your skimmer is easy to get to and easy to clean. If it is not easy to clean, the odds are it will not be cleaned as often as it should be. You also want to see if you can hook up an external collection cup to the skimmer. Many times I have seen the small cups on many skimmers overflow in a few hours when something goes wrong in your tank. A hose running into a gallon milk jug can go a long way to making sure that you do not dump this junk on your floor. Another good suggestion is to mount this jug or whatever you use over the sump if you have it. That way if it does overflow for any reason it overflows back into the tank rather than onto your floor.

I hope this helps to explain why a skimmer should be used on most saltwater aquariums. If you have any questions on this, please feel free to contact me.

Kim Gross,

Editor's Comments:
The Treasure Valley Marine Aquarium Society News is the baby of Kim Gross of Jen's Saltwater Haven. The complete issue can be found on the Jen's Saltwater Haven website ( The article above was reprinted here with Kim's permission. Editing was limited to re-working the html to the Fish 'N' Chips format and correcting a few spelling and grammar errors.

Big Mombasa Skimmer Review
By Chris Hoff
Edited By Elizabeth M. Lukan, 10/30/99

Big Mombasa Skimmer General Information:
All ratings are 1 through 10 (10 being the best or yes, 1 being the worst or no). The items in parentheses are only given as a more detailed explanation and to give you an idea of what was meant by the category.

Construction Quality (Acrylic thickness, polish, glue job, etc.):
Score: 5 Comments: The acrylic is rather thin and brittle looking. Glue is smeared all over the joints, and it has a rather flimsy feel to it. The riser tube in the collection cup is also not centered. It doesn't leak, though.

Aesthetic Quality (Does it look good, etc.):
Score: 5 Comments: Kinda ugly, but it was relatively easy to install. The bubble trap is over half as big as my overflow.

Performance (Does it keep your water clean, must you adjust it all the time, etc.):
Score: 4/8 Comments: As sold, it did not do a good job. It foamed for maybe two weeks after I installed it, and then quit for over a month. I know it did not take care of all the gunk in the water as the nitrate kept going up. The performance greatly increased after I did an airstone modification (in comments section), however, and it's at least a decent skimmer now.

Foaming (Does it do it consistently, is it nice and thick, is it dark, etc.):
Score: 4/8 Comments: It made a little dark skimmate before modifying it, but now it produces a great deal of medium-dark skimmate (the color can be modified by adjusting the output of my airpump).

Ease Of Installation:
Score: 8 Comments: The only thing that was a little irritating is that the bubble trap kept falling off- the thumb screw to keep it in place would not tighten. Otherwise easy.

Would you buy it again?:
Comments: Nope. After the money I spent to modify it, I could have gotten a Red Sea Berlin.

Electrical Efficiency (Does the pump it uses work well, etc.):
Score: 6 Comments: It uses an OTTO 700 pump. Seems like a piece of junk - not well made. The venturi plugs up with salt creep in about a week. I replaced it with a Maxi-Jet 1000 with better results - that's the pump that actually made it produce foam before the airstone modification.

Plankton Level (Do you have a lot, etc.):
Score: ? Comments: Not sure - never checked.

Overall Value (Did you get what you paid for, etc.):
Score: 5 Comments: As I said, after the airstone mod, I could have gotten a Red Sea.

Overall Satisfaction (Do you like it, etc.):
Score: 5/8 Comments: Before modification - did not like it much. After, it works well, but is still a little cheesy in construction.

This skimmer is supposed to be a close copy of the KNOP skimmer, without the sliding water level adjustment. I think it falls short of the KNOP in performance and construction. After I modified it by putting a piece of rigid airline tubing about 2/3 the way down with a limewood airstone on the end and hooked it up to a Tetra Luft pump (set on about 9 1/2), it worked well. It does have a tendency to overflow if I don't clean the venturi on the Maxi-Jet regularly. The OTTO pump they package with it now is not a very good pump, in my opinion. After the added expense of the Luft pump ($25-$45 dollars, depending on where you get it), it is not really worth the money.

I purchased the skimmer from Premium Aquatics ( for $109.00. The Maxi-Jet 1000 and venturi kit also came from there, for $22.00 for the pump and $4.00 for the venturi. I purchased the Luft pump from a local chain petstore on clearance for $25.98.

Editor's Comments:
This survey format was originally created by Ian McDonald. Editing was limited to spelling corrections and some grammar (capitalizing the beginning of a sentence, adding a period at the end, etc.). No other editing was done, what you read was exactly what was sent to me by Chris Hoff.

I only found one site (Aqua-Fins - selling the Big Mombasa and that was for $102 for either the In Sump or Hang On Back models. No product information was on the site, except that the manufacturer is Marine Enterprises Inc.

Photo Credits:
I was unable to find a picture of the Big Mombasa and I checked 14 sites. Then, I emailed Jason from Premium Aquatics ( Jason snapped a picture for me from the box. It's not great, even he said that, but at least it's a picture! Thanks Jason!

What's Up @ ReefsUK
- -
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/10/99

10/15/99 - Over the last few months, the importation of marine livestock has become a very hot issue within the United States. The following is a very brief synopsis of what was posted to The Breeders Registry email group.

There is pending legislation within the U.S. Senate that affects all of us. There is a bill pending that would basically end all air traffic of animals. It is being supported by many animal rights organizations. These organizations know that any attempt at an outright ban of pets would never fly, so they seem to be taking an end around to have laws enacted that would effectively make it impossible to ship animals. When asked if they would change the wording to not include fish, they reply that they would prefer to see the fish industry put out of business. The bill in discussion is SB1193. The bill was amended on the Senate floor with language that would effectively make it impossible for airlines to continue transporting animals without major changes to their procedures and to their aircraft. These changes to the Bill were added without any debate or hearings. Effectively this bill as it stands would insure the end of the trade and all businesses associated with it.

I am sorry that I cannot republish the entire post or the follow up that offered a different point of view but the information is just too lengthy for Fish 'N' Chips to fit in - it would nearly fill an entire issue. So, for further information on this, please contact PIJAC at 1-800-553-PETS(7387).

To join the ReefsUK Mailing List, send an email to Mark T. Taber at

Editor's Comments:
Information in this section covers the latest happenings at Mark T. Taber's ReefsUK Web Site. Mark has given me permission to publish any information from his mailing list that I feel would be of interest to Fish 'N' Chips subscribers. So, the above, although reworded by me, should be credited to Mark. The dates in bold coincide with Mark's mailings and are provided as a reference.

*Special* Caught In The Net *Special*

M3 Logo Monolith Marine Monsters' New Products Announcement Part #1
Edited By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/12/99

  1. AZ-NO3: Absolute Zero Nitrates - World's first and only all-natural enzymic NO3 Exporter (via Skimmer). Link:

    Monolith Marine Monsters is generously giving away 10 (ten) 240ml size bottles of AZ-NO3 (retail value of $22 per bottle excluding freight) to Fish 'N' Chips subscribers. Totally FREE (less freight) - all you pay is $7 for shipping and handling (UPS Ground). Each bottle of AZ-NO3 can handle 50 - 60 gallons of saltwater over 30 days. After that, only a maintenance dosage is required or none at all (so this is NOT a monthly but can be a one-time treatment). If your tank is larger than this, feel free to purchase additional bottles (S&H is still $7 for up to 4 bottles). Only the first 10 Fish N' Chips members who submit an order to Monolith Marine Monsters (via their SSL secured online orderform) with this info in the Comments field: "Free m3 Offer to Fish 'N' Chips Members" will get a free bottle. You don't have to fill in the dollar amount fields but payment info is required for the S&H. You have until Sunday, 11/14/99 only, so act fast!

  2. Areometer: German hydrometer with automatic temperature compensation. As accurate as refractometer but costs a few times less. Link:

  3. CO2 System (v5.5): Dual-gauge chrome compact pressure regulator with needle and solenoid valves. Perfect for kalkreaktor applications. Link:

  4. DAS Skimmer: Aspirating-Venturi with patented German Microfoam Needle Impeller Technology. Link:

  5. Diskusin & -Glucan Immunity Marine Fish Food: Enticing and help boost your fish's immune system. Link: & Link:

  6. Duo-ORpH Controller: Dual ORP & pH monitoring while controlling either one. Use with industrial-grade M-10 Electrodes which last 2.5x longer than conventional "skinny" types. Link:

  7. KORALLIN Kalkreaktor: Best-selling German calcium reactor which consumes the least amount of CO2. Exclusive 'Excessive CO2 Safety Feature'. Link:

  8. PO4-Minus: Renders your skimmer as a Phosphate Exporter. Much more efficient than media, sponges or other antibiotic additives to rid red slime algae off your system. Link:

Plus many more on the Monolith Marine Monsters site at

Caught In The Net
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/11/99

A New Society Is Born

New York City Aquarium Society

For those of you located in or near New York City (NY, USA) a new society is being formed for both saltwater and freshwater hobbyists. Please see the Message Board "NYC Aquarium Society" at ( for messages about the meetings and what is planned. Unfortunately, the first meeting on 11/6 is prior to this issue's publishing date, but now that you all know about it, you can be at the second one which is planned for 12/4/99!

New Articles On #reefs

Keith Clarke's talk on "The Joys of Tank Raised Banggai Cardinalfish"

Keith Redfield and Stephen Hopkins' article on ways to identify a true Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)
(address updated 4/19/00: corrected typo)

Paul Beckmann's article on the nature of color perception

This Month's Selection From The Fish 'N' Chips Site List

Informational & Educational Sites
Do-It-Yourself (DIY)/How-To

The above list matches a portion of the site list maintained on the Fish 'N' Chips Website as of the date of this publication. What you see above is what was listed as on their site by the submitter. The date that follows in parenthesis is the date submitted to the list. For the complete up-to-date list, check out the Fish 'N' Chips Website at (address updated 4/15/00).

Site Submission and Updating: To submit your site for inclusion in the Fish 'N' Chips newsletter and website based Site List, please go to the Fish 'N' Chips website at (address updated 4/15/00) and complete the Site Submission Form. Please do NOT send any site submission or update requests via email - I will not process them. Of course, emails are welcome if you are having trouble submitting the form or if your browser doesn't support forms.
The Turkey Baster #2 - By Carol E. Keen 10/23/99
Edited By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/5/99

Carol has sent along some more uses for that versatile of all tools, The Turkey Baster. Carol runs Fish To The Nth which can be found at

  1. Use them to suck up leftover foods.
  2. When baby fish are born, they can be safely sucked up into the turkey baster and transferred to another tank without being netted. It works really well for baby seahorses.
  3. Need to get to a place in the tank to feed that one picky fish? The Turkey Baster gets right down to that anemone or wrasse to feed them their frozen (or whatever) foods so the rest of the tank doesn't eat it first!
  4. Got algae on your gorgonias? Sucking up the tank water and controlling how hard you force it back out can take the algae off your gorgonias without you touching them at all! Much more like it would be in the ocean!
  5. Tired of getting egg shells in your tank from the brine when you use the net to feed your fish? Use the turkey baster instead to suck up the brine from the middle of the hatchery! Works well, and you can also measure how much brine each tank will get!
  6. Suck up lose algae and get it out of your tank for good!

To Submit Your Tip: Send your tip via email to (address updated 4/26/00) with a subject of Tip Submission (information updated 4/26/00: coding replaces need for subject notation) and I'll publish it in an upcoming issue of Fish 'N' Chips. I'll write it up for you or you can do it yourself if you are so inclined. Make sure you let me know if I can include your name and email address or if you'd rather go anonymous.

Upcoming Events
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/9/99

November 1999

Date and Time: from now until 1/1/2000 on
Info: "Y not 20k?" Contest Sponsored by Reefers ( Tell us why you want to upgrade to Metal Halides. Reply to a post in The Cove to enter. Winner gets $75 off any MH system from Reefers. Winner to be announced Jan. 1, 2000.
Access: See the Message Board "The Cove" at ( for the message with the "Y not 20k???" subject and post your reply to enter.

Date and Time: from now until 12/1/99 on
Info: "Favorite Fish Name" Contest Sponsored by FAMA ( Do you have a favorite name for a fish? Please let us know what your favorite fish's name is, or just a really cool name for a fish. Winner gets a year subscription to FAMA.
Access: See the Message Board "The Stream" at ( for the message with the "Favorite Fish Name?" subject and post your reply to enter. The Stream is in the Freshwater Section, but the contest is open to saltwater hobbyists as well.

Marine Ornamentals '99 (MO '99)
Date and Time: November 17th to 20th, 1999
Location: Hawaii, USA
Info: MO '99 is being held by the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC). For information on MAC, visit their web site at For more information on the conference, go to

To Submit Your Event: Send your event and all the specifics (date, time, location, pricing, contact info, etc.) via email to (address updated 4/26/00) with a subject of Event Submission (information updated 4/26/00: coding replaces need for subject notation) and I'll publish it in all issues of Fish 'N' Chips prior to the event.

What the ... ?
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/9/99

Byssus Gland
The structure in clams that produces fibrous threads (byssus) that attach the clam to substrate.

Large, pigmented fleshy portion of tridacnid clams that is exposed to the light by gaping of the shell valves. Also called siphonal tissue. Also, the coral tissue in fleshy polyps (eg. Catalaphyllia).

The inhalant and exhalant siphons of tridacnid clams are used to allow for gas exchange and to expel wastes.

Prove It!
By Elizabeth M. Lukan 11/9/99

The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition, Copyright 1994 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Aqua-Fins (

Aquarium Frontiers (, October 1997, On The Half Shell By Daniel Knop

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Subscription List (

Coral Farms ( (

Harbor Aquatics

J&L Aquatics (

Jeff's Exotic Fish (

Jen's Saltwater Haven

Premium Aquatics,

The Reef Aquarium Volume One by J. Charles Delbeek and Julian Sprung, First Printing July 1994, Published by Ricordea Publishing

The Wave - Eastern PA Reef Club Newsletter Volume #1, Issue #9, July 1998, Tridacna Clams By Todd Kunkel, found on the Eastern PA Reef Club Website,

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