Blackline Penguinfish

The Blackline Penguinfish, Thayeria boehlkei, also known as the hockey-stick tetra is a species of tetra native to the upper Amazon River basin in Peru and Araguaia River in Brazil. It has a distinguishing black line across its body which hooks downwards at its tail. It is highly recommended to cover the aquarium as these small fish have been seen jumping 2 meters out of the aquarium! Keep this fish in schools of at least 6 individuals (preferably more). The blackline penguinfish does not grow very large (max 7 centimeters long), so one does not need a very large aquarium to house a school of these fish. These fish are not too fussy concerning water parameters as long as the tank is cleaned periodically. This is a very peaceful fish excellent for a community tank. Goes well with other species of schooling tetra’s 🙂

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Potential for Marine Aquaculture

NPR (2017). A Russian fish farming operation in Ura Bay in the Barents Sea

Consumption of seafood is expected to replace a considerable amount of meaty products in the future. Could widespread marine aquaculture in (open) coastal areas help in satisfying the global demand for seafood? Researchers from the University of California certainly think so. Using certain criteria they calculated that marine aquaculture could potentially produce 16.5 billions tons of fish per year or 4000 pounds per person! The question remains, however, where will the increased fish feed come from. Will high-protein vegetable crops be needed which production is based on land? Also, wild specimens need to caught in order to start a population of fish for breeding. Finally, care needs to taken on the implementation of marine aquaculture in coastal areas. Shrimp farms in South-East Asia have destroyed many coastal mangrove forests and discharged harmful contaminants in estuaries. Space is not necessarily an issue for marine aquaculture, it is more of applying it in a sustainable manner by rectifying the above challenges!

Link to the article:

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/15/543675398/can-we-feed-the-world-with-farmed-fish

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is such a nice place to be with many historical buildings, picturesque cafe’s and interesting museums. Stockholm is situated on 17 islands surrounded by greenery. The city is rather expensive compared to other European capitals, but the experience you get from paying the entrance tickets to attractions is definitely worth it. If you don’t understand Swedish, there is always English provided at information displays (unlike in France!).
We spent 3 days in Stockholm and went to the following places: 1) Skansen, a pleasant park / zoo on the island of Djurgården, 2) Vaxholm, a beautiful island in the vast Stockholm archipelago, 3) Drottningholm, the official residence of the Royal Family, 4) Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm dating back to 13th century 4) and Södermalm, the hippie district of Stockholm. I can highly recommend all the place! I have attached a photo with each number below 🙂

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2) Vaxholmwp-image-1997244500

3) Drottningholmwp-image-1368348900

4) Gamla Stan

5) Södermalmwp-image--1687707842

 

 

 

Aircon condensation for irrigation

Ever noticed the wet puddle outside your aircon? Each time an air conditioner is turned on, it pulls moisture from the air inside the home. The water needs to go somewhere and is usually discharged via a condensation pipe to the nearest drain. 

Why not capture this free water and use it for irrigation to plants?! You simply have to divert the condensation pipe to the area you would like to keep moist. Small droplets from the condensation pipe will keep the soil moist all day long. It is very similar to drip irrigation! Moreover, the water from the aircon is cold which cools the plants. Amazing and simple guys! 😊

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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