Anambas Archipelago, Indonesia

The remote Anambas Archipelago in Indonesia has rarely been heard of, but that is part of its beauty as it still has pristine beaches with healthy corals! The archipelago consists of 240 islands and can be accessed either from Bintan or Batam by ferry which takes approximately 8 to 9 hours.

There are two main islands, Pulau Jemaja and Pulau Siantan. The ferry will most likely arrive at P. Jemaja first. P. Jemaja is a very laid back island with friendly locals. There is a long 7 kilometre beach called Pantai Padang Melang which has white sand and calm waters. Nearly all villages on the island can be accessed by road so renting a motorbike for a day is a good idea. In the capital of the island, Letung, a local boat can be hired called pompong to sail to nearby islands. I managed to strike a deal for Rp. 700.000 for one day (about 45 euro’s), which was considered cheap. With the boat captain and guide onboard, we went to three islands: P. Mangkai, P. Mubur and P. Impol. Along the way we saw numerous other islands as well. The snorkelling at P. Mubur was amazing with pristine corals and a lot of coral reef fish! P. Impol had beautiful green hills with palm trees and P. Mangkai had impressive rock formations.

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Coral reef at P. Mangkai
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Pantai Padang Melang at P. Jemaja
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On the way with the Pompong!

Pulau Siantan is home to the capital of the Anambas region, Tarempa. This is a rather crowded place compared to Letung, but the people are just as friendly. There are more accommodation options and restaurants than in Letung. I stayed in the comfortable Sakura Hotel and Laluna Resto was my personal favourite for meals. The island of Siantan is rather mountainous so road access to other areas is rather limited. An impressive waterfall can be reached called Air Terjun Temburun. This waterfall has is a series of small lagoons where water flows slowly from one to the next. I went there during a dry period so the water level was not that high. Arung Ijau in the west of Siantan island is the best place to watch the sunset. Also in Tarempa pompong’s can be hired to go to nearby islands. Pompong’s are more expensive in Tarempa than in Letung and you will have to pay more than Rp. 1.000.000 for a days hire. On the day that I hired a pompong from Tarempa, we visited three islands: P. Nongket, P. Penjalin and P.  Mangkian. P. Nongket was a very peaceful place with large boulders where one can swim through. Corals were very good here and it’s a good place for photography with calm clear waters, large boulders and underwater life. P. Penjalin is one of the remotest islands in the Anambas Archipelago and had spectacular rock formations. One of which had a rock that was one push away from falling down! The snorkelling was excellent to the south side of the white sanded beach. I spotted a school of Napoleon Wrasse! P. Mangkian also had good snorkelling, but the current was quite strong due to deep waters around it. Also here, I spotted a school of Napoleon Wrasse. Watch out for the black sea urchins as they can pierce your stomach if you don’t watch out! On the last day of my stay we chartered a small speedboat to the island of Rengek where there was good snorkelling at the south side of the beach close to the drop-off. P. Rengek is near Tarempa so chartering a boat to this island costs about Rp. 350.000. I shared this with friends so it became even cheaper than that.

All in all, a very worthwhile experience travelling to these lovely islands. I can highly recommend it! Friendly people, good corals and white beaches. Remember to always bring your plastic and other types of waste with you and don’t touch the corals in order to preserve this place!

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Boulders at P. Nongket
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Butterfly fish at P. Nongket
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Coral reef at P. Penjalin
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Rock about to fall at P. Penjalin!
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Clown fish at P. Rengek

 

How to distinguish a predatory fish

Predatory fish are awesome in their own right, but are obviously not well-suited for a community tank setup. Here are several distinguishing features that predatory have. None of these features alone would identify a predator, but a combination of them is a worrying sign 😉

Size: Fish that are two or three times bigger than other tank mates might view others as food.

Torpedo body: Long arrow-shaped bodies are designed for sudden bursts of speed to catch prey. Pike and gars are good examples.

Teeth: This may sound obvious, but fish with long obvious teeth designed for grabbing and holding are bound to eat anything that fits in its mouth.

Whiskers: Species of catfish have long elongated whiskers for detecting prey in dark deep waters. Expect them to munch on any type of fish that gets detected with these whiskers.

Camouflage and hiding: Although some peaceful species use camouflage to avoid predation, some use it to hunt! Fish that burry themselves or blend in well with leaves prepare themselves for a surprising attack.

Eye position:  Fish with forward facing eyes give them overlapping vision and in-depth perception for ambushing prey.

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Pike (Esox lucius)

 

 

 

Lamprey

This could quite possibly be your worst nightmare!

Lamprey’s are a species of prehistoric jawless fish that latch onto other fish to suck blood. Lamprey’s have been around for over 300 million years. They are boneless fish without any scales. Despite the lack of jaws, they are able to suck blood by first using their circular rows of sharp teeth to grab onto the body of the fish. Lamprey’s then carve a hole into the fish with their “tongue” which is lined with sharp teeth as well :O! It then proceeds to suck the fishes blood. The victim fish usually does not die, but the open wound left at end can get infected which could indirectly lead to death. Some juvenile species of lamprey spend their first years of their life filter feeding in fine sediment of river mouths. After a few years, they start to undergo a bizarre metamorphosis of a few months where they develop their bodies for blood sucking. They then move to large lakes or oceans to feed on fish and even marine mammals.

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Picture was used from Collin Barras (2 November 2015) in an article by the BBC titled “Meet a Lamprey. Your ancestors”

Electric Eel

The Electric Eel, electrophorus electricus, is more closely related to catfish than to an eel. It originates from the Amazon and Orinoco river systems where there is plenty of mud and reeds for it to hide in. It is best known for stunning its prey by producing an electric shock up to 860 volt! The Electric Eel uses this electric shock to hunt its prey and it is very successful in doing so. The electric shock is not life threatening to humans as it is only a  quick discharge of electricity. However, it can still cause temporary numbing of a part of your body 😉

In the aquarium, the Electric Eel should only be kept by specialists as this species can easily grow up to two meters. It is not very active so an aquarium 2 to 3 times its body length should be enough. Important is to cover the aquarium as the Electric Eel can easily jump or force its way out. However, do let sufficient air through as the Electric Eel needs oxygen to survive. It will gulp for air every 10 minutes or so. Live or dead feeder fish and worms that are able to fit in its mouth will satisfy the Electric Eel’s dietary requirements.

Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2018

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize honours outstanding contributions by individuals or organisations towards solving the world’s water challenges by developing or applying innovative technologies, policies or programmes which benefit humanity.

This prestigious international award is named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, whose foresight and leadership has enabled Singapore to attain a sustainable water supply.

The Lee Kuan Yew water prize has already been won twice by Dutch representatives: professor Gatze Lettinga from Wageningen University (2008) and professor Mark van Loosdrecht from the Technical University of Delft (2012). Lets hope that a Dutch participant will win it again haha!

Participants can register through the website below:

https://www.gevme.com/lee-kuan-yew-water-prize-2018

Deadline for online submission is on the 30th of June 2017.

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Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are nine beautiful tropical islands dotted in the Andaman Sea, not too far from mainland Thailand in Khao Lak. Established as a national park in 1982, they offer some of Thailand’s best snorkeling and diving. Above water, there is also substantial wildlife, like nicobar pigeons, mangrove monitor lizard and flying fox! Islands number 1-3 are closed too all tourist activity as they are protected for turtle conservation. Island number 3 is even owned by the Thai princess. Islands number 4 and 8 are the only two islands where you can stay overnight. This can be done in simple bungalows or in tents that are already set up for you when you arrive. Similan can only be visited from November – April, since it is closed during the monsoon season. Fishing is illegal in the Similan National Park. Sadly during the monsoon season in particular, fisherman enter the park and damage coral reefs and local fish stocks. Let’s hope this situation will improve in the future. Otherwise it is an amazing place. The huge rock formations are simply stunning below and above water. I can highly recommend these islands! Try to take smaller tour operators as the larger ones are very commercial and bring with them 30+ tourists (half of them usually can’t swim :P) on one boat.

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Breeding Dwarf Snakehead

Dwarf Snakeheads are some of the more colourful snakeheads around and usually grow to a maximum of 20 cm. In order for a pair to breed, the aquarium needs to be bio-tope correct according to the natural requirements of this species.

This species is best bred in a species only aquarium with a breeding pair. Seasons have to be mimicked, so during the winter months the temperature of the aquarium should drop to around 15°C and the fish should be fed only when they beg to be fed (maintain this for at least 10 weeks). Then, gradually raise the temperature with regular 50% water changes to mimic the arrival of the rainy season. Dwarf Snakeheads are not too fussy of the water parameters as long as extremes are avoided. Tap-water should be fine.

In the wild Dwarf Snakeheads breed at the end of their winter period, before the majority of the rain comes. Dwarf Snakeheads will breed when the water temperature is around 24-26°C. After the eggs are released the male will incubate the eggs in its mouth while the female guards the territory. Incubation period is between 5 to 8 days. Once “hatched”, the fry will be fed by the female that squirts out infertile eggs as food for the fry. It is therefore important to feed the female. After about two weeks, the fry can be given flakes.

Tank set-up:

  • At least 90cm/36in tank
  • Fine sand
  • A fair amount of plants
  • Plenty of hiding places like plastic pipes and hollow logs
  • Floating plants…MUST! This will give shadow and increase activity of the snakeheads
  • Filtration is not necessary as long as you have a substantial amount of plants
IMG20170512223026Dwarf Snakehead species, Channa Bleheri (picture from MP&C Piednor.Aquapress.com)

 

 

Engineering with Membranes 2017

Between the 26th and 28th of April the annual Engineering with Membranes was held in Singapore organised by the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC). The main goal of the conference was to share knowledge on recent advances in membrane science and technology. Leading membrane specialists from around the world gave a total of 70 lectures covering desalination, reclamation & resource recovery, molecular separation, membrane fouling, gas separation, pre-treatment, industrial & bioprocess application and membrane monitoring. The Dutch representative at this conference was Dr. Emile Cornelissen, senior researcher at KWR, who presented his research on controlling Reverse Osmosis (RO) fouling after minimal pre-treatment. His main conclusion was that the 1-step RO scenario was approximately 20% lower in costs than the Ultrafiltration (UF) – RO scenario. Air/water cleaning is effective to control clogging, while lowering flux values results in less membrane fouling.

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Giant Snakehead

The Giant Snakehead, channa micropeltes, is one of the largest snakehead species. Lengths over 1 meter are regularly encountered. They are found throughout South-East Asia and have been introduced elsewhere in the world where they are considered an invasive species. Giants Snakeheads are highly adaptable and have the ability to crawl onto land and breath air in muddy conditions. They possess a primitive lung, located behind the gills, which it uses to gulp air. It can therefore travel short distances over land!

These fish are ferocious predators and will chase down anything that will fit in their mouth. They have very sharp teeth that can rip fish into half. It should therefore only be kept in aquaria with similar sized fish, but even then it is risky. Despite its aggressive nature, it is a very beautiful fish with juveniles having distinctive bright lines across their body.  As the fish grows older they develop a pattern comprising a broad, dark longitudinal stripe. Adults will defend their brood at all costs and have occasionally injured humans.

IMG_65174Pictures above is thanks to Zooish from Zoochat

NEWater Singapore

One of Singapore’s four national “water taps” is to reclaim water from wastewater. After years of research, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water agency, started to supply high quality reclaimed water, referred to as NEWater. The majority of NEWater is supplied to industries for non-potable purposes. The rest is discharged into reservoirs for indirect potable use. Currently NEWater meets 30% of Singapore’s current water demand, and there are plans to increase this to 50% by 2060. At this moment there are four NEWater treatment plant in service (Bedok, Kranji, Ulu Pandan and Changi). NEWater is produced from treated sewage, termed “used water”, that is further purified in three different steps:

  1. Microfiltration (MF) is the first step in the NEWater production. The treated used water is passed through membranes to filter out and retained on the membrane surface suspended solids, colloidal particles, disease-causing bacteria, some viruses and protozoan cysts.
  2. The second stage of the NEWater production process is known as Reverse Osmosis (RO). In RO, a semi- permeable membrane is used. The semi-permeable membrane has very small pores which only allow very small molecules like water molecules to pass through. Consequently, undesirable contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, nitrate, chloride, sulphate, disinfection by-products, aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides etc, cannot pass through the membrane.
  3. The third stage of the NEWater production process acts as a further safety back-up to the RO. In this stage, ultraviolet or UV disinfection is used to ensure that all organisms are inactivated and the purity of the product water guaranteed (PUB).

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(Reverse osmosis membranes)