Introduction from an old fish-keeper

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Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby Sumit K Sen » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:30 pm

Hi All,
I am restarting a hobby that is around me ever since birth - and that was almost 60 years ago! :) As a school-going youngster I missed my bus once because my (what is now called Platax) Bettas decided that that was the appropriate time to start the breeding process. I made a small fortune (in those days) from the 23 males that I raised - they were not as plentiful and easy to find in the 1960's. The freshwater aquarium fish-keeping hobby went though ebbs and troughs as other activities too over my time and stopped for a period when I worked abroad. My aquariums changed over time from iron structures with black (and leaking) fixing material to what you get today and I started adding heaters and filters in the 1990's. The biggest change was the switch over from tubifex to processed food which dropped mortality rates like a minor miracle. My goal had always been to create a self-sustaining, minimum human support based system with a balance of plants and fish. This I achieved in a 36 inch tank in the late 1990's which had the magic balance of light, plants and fish. This was possible in a reflected sunlight driven set-up with a glass-covered top. It had an undergravel filter, but I would always switch that off at night (and our electricity supply on those days was so erratic that no aquarium set up dependent on round-the-clock electricity was possible. So we did not know any better, but our results were still satisfactory with so-called difficult fish. In the early 2000's I moved to a place which was air-conditioned centrally but did not have suitable sunlight. I changed over to a plantless system but still kept community fish (and no ciclids) with great success on the same night aeration shut-off regime. My average fish longevity was 3 years plus and I usually gave away individuals in case I wanted to introduce a new species. All this changed when I moved to my present accommodation where the sunlight was just too strong in any location that I could use and the lack of 24x7 air-conditioning, plus power outages, and inability to set up the right lighting made the aquariums unsightly because the right balance was hard to achieve without constant attention. I either had a jungle and weed covered aquarium in which only danios could make a home (and increase without intervention) or a very artificial looking aquarium with bad mix of hardy species. In the end I had just a dozen Black Ruby barbs (we used a different name in the old days) which took a number of years to perish. The females went first and the last male lasted for about 5 years. When that one went I decided to pack up the aquariums and gave away some of them. But I still have a 36 incher, a 30 incher and a hospital tank.
My return to the hobby was sparked by a desire to photograph fishes of West Bengal (I am a birder and a photographer) and while most are marine/brackish-water commercial fishes which I shoot as specimens, I also wanted to cover as many live species as I can. Trying to get back was aided by the presence of information on the net - a mind-boggling change for someone who grew up on "Mach Poshar Shok" :) . While doing that I found this vibrant and knowledgeable group who seem to be capable of doing the impossible. Any case, to cut a very long story short, I am now setting up a naturally lit West Bengal aquarium to house local plants and maintenance crew of suitable fish. It is not likely to be a show aquarium, but will serve as a prop supplier for a studio. The other aquarium is a proposed betta nano - I am still looking for a cube that is of international quality and does not cost 6,600/- bucks! That one I will dress up and I need to because that is the only way my wife will allow it inside the house. I plan to share anecdotes and images on this journey with you (if there is interest) as the 30 incher will be planted tomorrow (the substrate is ready). The only quality local plants I got at Galiff today were valls, hygrophila difformis and bacopa. But I am not in a hurry, these will suffice for the time.
My thanks to all of you for making this place such a wonderful learning tool. Great job!
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby avik » Mon Aug 10, 2015 4:18 am

Welcome to the hobby (back) and to the forum. Which native spp. you are planning for, it is not necessary to have jungle type setup for all the fishes. You may hate tubifex for its disease carrying ability, but for several native and wildcaught fishes you will need livefood. Well you can culture your own food like many of us are doing. Grindal and micro worms are very easy to culture and harvest, you can buy bbs eggs and hatch them according to your need. One part confused me, you just want to photograph the spp or like to breed them?

If you are into fancy show betta, I will try to poison you with wild type bettas very soon.

Btw, are you THE Sumit Sen, the ex-banker..Kolkatabirds?
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby Soumya Sarkar » Mon Aug 10, 2015 5:23 am

Sumitda good to see you here also....... ^:)^ :ymhug:
I have learned how to be a learner.....
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby Sumit K Sen » Mon Aug 10, 2015 5:50 am

avik wrote:Welcome to the hobby (back) and to the forum. Which native spp. you are planning for, it is not necessary to have jungle type setup for all the fishes. You may hate tubifex for its disease carrying ability, but for several native and wildcaught fishes you will need livefood. Well you can culture your own food like many of us are doing. Grindal and micro worms are very easy to culture and harvest, you can buy bbs eggs and hatch them according to your need. One part confused me, you just want to photograph the spp or like to breed them?

If you are into fancy show betta, I will try to poison you with wild type bettas very soon.

Btw, are you THE Sumit Sen, the ex-banker..Kolkatabirds?


Thank you so much for your meaningful reply.
Unfortunately yes, to your last question Avik, the 'THE' is an overkill :)
I am basically planning a tank that has aquatic plants from West Bengal. The idea surfaced from information on this portal, which explains the difficulties associated with our temperatures. My sense is that our plants will do better and my research shows that I can easily plant 10 species in that small aquarium. The fish are not important but have to be locally available. My thoughts are with a small local barb species, maybe four Honey Gouramis - not more than 12 fishes in total. Depends on the size that each species reaches. Breeding is not planned at this time.

I would like to photograph them only for a likely 'Fishes of West Bengal' book that someone else can write. I already have images of about 270 species (all dead fish! I can post an example image or share a link but not sure if either is correct for this forum ) and now I will try and get as many love freshwater and marine fish images as I can manage. A home studio set up will help with FW species. The marine I will take the help of others who have set-ups. The members here may be of great value for that effort some day. The photography will be done in a smaller aquarium but that needs props, which the larger aquarium will supply. The fish there is to keep mosquitoes and algae away and provide food for the plants.

I look forward to the betta journey with you guys. There is a lot of learning that I have to do on the way and your help would be priceless.
Thanks again,
Sumit
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby Sumit K Sen » Mon Aug 10, 2015 5:52 am

Soumya Sarkar wrote:Sumitda good to see you here also....... ^:)^ :ymhug:

Thank you Soumya. Anything non-human is always up my street :)
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby avik » Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:12 am

Nice to see you here dada..I still remember the article in Sanctuary Asia about birds found around the road from lava to Rishyap. ;) I think I sent you a pending friend req long back.

Anyway, I am still confused, so basically you want to build a pictorial database of wb fishes, alive. And you have no intention to keep them for few months/years, learn their behaviors and finally breed them in captivity!!

The best supplier is Andrew Rao from Beckbagan. There is Nopany and some smallscale native sellers having fb pages. There is Haldarda at Galiff. But the availability of spp depends on season.

Do you know about noble gourami? And badis spp..they have quite character and very much neglected in Kolkata. They ll suit dense vegetations, but once you look into the north Bengal's streams the scenario changes altogether. You need flow, you need rocks and algae. Long story short, you need more tanks. :D :D

You can share any fish related things which belongs to you. In fact, we will be glad to see the photographs.
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby Sumit K Sen » Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:52 am

avik wrote:Nice to see you here dada..I still remember the article in Sanctuary Asia about birds found around the road from lava to Rishyap. ;) I think I sent you a pending friend req long back.

Anyway, I am still confused, so basically you want to build a pictorial database of wb fishes, alive. And you have no intention to keep them for few months/years, learn their behaviors and finally breed them in captivity!!

The best supplier is Andrew Rao from Beckbagan. There is Nopany and some smallscale native sellers having fb pages. There is Haldarda at Galiff. But the availability of spp depends on season.

Do you know about noble gourami? And badis spp..they have quite character and very much neglected in Kolkata. They ll suit dense vegetations, but once you look into the north Bengal's streams the scenario changes altogether. You need flow, you need rocks and algae. Long story short, you need more tanks. :D :D

You can share any fish related things which belongs to you. In fact, we will be glad to see the photographs.


Thank you Avik. Do send a fresh request. I have too many in pending list to find you :)
The mission is to have a database of West Bengal fishes with identifiable images and other relevant information. Much like a Bird Field Guide. The mission wins over the need to enjoy fish behaviour at this time. You only achieve goals if your focus is unadulterated I think. But I will try and make an attractive Betta tank - that is the hobby part :)
My friend is in touch with Andrew, so the first source is established. But if I need to bring subjects home, I need to keep them somewhere before they are returned. For that you need settled water, a biologically active filter, live and home-bred plants that point in the right direction and are found in the natural habitat - all this means that the 30 incher has to be set up and kept going. I have two other tanks, plus one I will buy for the image-taking part. It is impossible for me to keep and breed 60-70 freshwater fishes that are suitable for live photography. The hill stream stuff is another project altogether and someone else may be able to do that part. All such books/databases source material from multiple participants - but someone has to provide the bulk and identify species.
I am enclosing an image of a species that I photographed. This one was bought from the fish market and was very dead, like many others. I need to photograph some live ones now so that I have a mixed collection of images.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby avik » Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:29 am

That photo is nice. I saw already in fb..thanks for the add. ;) How about you change the thread title or create another thread with some title like Project: WB fish database. After that you create a list of fishes of WB. Mr. Heiko Bleher and Sujoyda (Banerjee) from my frndlist can help. Then once you get a list of fishes you want to photograph, we can help you for the specimens. My concern is that all the fishes won't show you true color if not conditioned properly. So how about you click some of them in our members tanks? Feasible!!

Coincidentally, Mr. Bleher is also working on a book on "fishes from India" Presently.
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby Sumit K Sen » Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:56 am

avik wrote:That photo is nice. I saw already in fb..thanks for the add. ;) How about you change the thread title or create another thread with some title like Project: WB fish database. After that you create a list of fishes of WB. Mr. Heiko Bleher and Sujoyda (Banerjee) from my frndlist can help. Then once you get a list of fishes you want to photograph, we can help you for the specimens. My concern is that all the fishes won't show you true color if not conditioned properly. So how about you click some of them in our members tanks? Feasible!!

Coincidentally, Mr. Bleher is also working on a book on "fishes from India" Presently.


Many thanks for the suggestions, all of them make a great deal of sense to me.
I already have working list of all Indian fishes. Just a matter of pruning those that don't occur in our parts. I will look forward to Mr. Bleher's book.
My desire is to document eastern India for posterity because someone has to do it. I have some contact advantages that others may not have. So it is worth trying :) Maybe a website with fish information that others can contribute to. Fish photography for documentation is a demanding exercise because open fins need to be shown for perfect identification. It just can't be a pretty picture :)

Thanks again.
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Re: Introduction from an old fish-keeper

Postby SanamMarik » Mon Aug 10, 2015 4:28 pm

This seems really awesome....so what is the estimated time for a working url to be available with the infos? Btw one thing I want to add is, in many fish databases, we get the scientific names only and hence becomes very difficult to make local people understand abt the species being searched for. So, if u can kindly add up this local name(s) field, that will b very helpful to people like me who jst started venturing in the native world of fishes that r not much popular or available easily evn in fish markets.
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