Category Archives: Fish and Aquaria

Why shouldn’t we eat catfish?

 

Who are “we” to say?

Firstly, that depends who “we”” are.

If “we” are vegans, it is because catfish are not vegetables.

If “we” are Jews, it is because Siluroides do not have scales, but either naked skin or bony plates. Therefore they are not kosher. Not kosher is not kosher, don’t ask me to justify it biologically. If you want to be frum, eat kosher, that’s all.

If “we” are anyone else, then the question turns on what do we mean by “catfish”.

The huge biodiversity of catfishes

There are over 3000 species of catfish in the world and they demonstrate vast diversity. From the candirù of South America which swims up people’s urethra if they urinate in the water, all the way up to giant Pangasias or Siluris species among the largest freshwater fishes of the world. Plus various marine species also.

“My name is Vandellia / They call me Candiru / It won’t be you be eating me / It’s me be eating you.”

Just to be clear about how astonishing that fact is, it means that 1 in 20 of the vertebrate species in the world is a species of catfish, in Siluriformes. There’s no other order of vertebrates like that. And the cladists have been trying to break it down until they were looking like clado-masochists, and the geneticists have been getting frenetic and still the Siluriformes is reckoned to be all the product of a single putative common ancestor.

Some species of catfish deliver toxins, some electric shocks, some like Corydoras or Otocinclus are too tiny to be of use as food, but are very popular in aquaria. Some species makes sounds, some get out of the water and walk about, some are transparent and you can see right through them.

There is one catfish fossil despite all of this, its name is Corydoras revelatus and the author has held it in the palm of his hand in the non-public area of the British Museum of Natural History thanks to the kindness of the late Dr Gordon Howes, ichthyologist.

Catfishes which are regularly eaten

The catfishes most commonly farmed as food are European catfish, Silurus glanis. As long as you have got one from sustainable sources they make good eating. I recommend “som fri”” in Russia or the Ukraine. Clearly they are a sports fish too, and in these cases we put them back, we don’t take them and eat them.

In the US it is channel cats, the Ictalurus and Ameiurus species which the song “Walking in Memphis”” references in the words “they got catfish on the table””. These are also fine eating as long as they are fished from sustainable and legitimate sources.

In the Amazon region they eat large Loricariids like Plecos. If you should be there as a tourist and are not a Vegan or kosher Jew, you might want to try one.

A lot of tropical rivers though are home to parasites that can transfer to people. And here I come onto the kind of catfish which has become more popular in supermarkets in recent years, namely Panga.

These can be farmed in particularly polluted parts of the Mekong river. I suggest you don’t make these a part of your menu, although trying them once might be ok.

 

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Are fish tanks cruel?

Are fish tanks cruel? It depends. If the fish tank is too small for the fish or the equipment in it and water changes all in combination aren’t giving the right quality of water, heat and light then that’s cruel for at least those species of fish that aren’t being catered for. Fish also have the right to hidey holes where they can enjoy their privacy for the species that need it. Of course, some individuals within a species might need it more than others. Fish differ not only between species but within a species. They even differ in their behaviour within one spawning of fry. Such is life, for organisms that reproduce sexually. It is one of the so-called “joys of sex” that Alex Comfort neglected to mention as he was more concerned with the prurient. In fact, I hope my readers haven’t even heard of him.

BB Radio – einfach der beste Mix

The mix of fish is what people tend to get wrong the most though. Putting together fish of different sizes so that the smaller ones end up getting eaten is not fair on them. Also, you should not put fin-nippers or biters like barbs or puffer fish or overly playful fish like botias in with delicate fish which don’t like to be chased around, like discus or mormyrids. Everyone should know not to mix two male Bettas, but you could have a similar result over a longer period with a lot of kinds of cichlids. When you breed fish not taking care to have males and females from separate bloodstock, this also can lead to unintentional cruelty. That is because the number of young with genetic issues and deformities is likely to be higher.

Nuh’un gemisi sizin evdedir

If you avoid those problems, there is nothing intrinsically cruel about the aquarium hobby. Our well-maintained aquarium fishes have a much better quality of life much better than that in the wild. Whole species are now being maintained in hobbyist collections which are extinct in the wild. The German hobby and Hans-Georg Evers in particular brought the Noah’s Ark capability of our hobby to peoples attention already in the 1980s.

Many livebearers and even cherry barbs are maintained despite habitat destruction in captive collections.  Other hobbyists have gone so far as to describe species to science which they have found wither coming through trade channels or in their own explorations of the Amazon.

The image shows Brachyrhamdia marthae, named by my old friend and mentor Dr. David D. Sands in honour of his then wife. David Sands used to write many articles promoting non-cruel fishkeeping, avoiding for instance keeping very large fish like red-tailed catfishes in small fish tanks where they would not thrive.

I hope some aquarists reading this will aspire to be part of some cottage conservation project, and dedicate some nice tanks to this idea.

Aqua cuna vitae, ager nobis

So, you see why it depends. Depending on what you do with your tank it can be heaven or hell for your piscine companions. In itself it is not cruel, it is a set of panes of glass.

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If an enemy ran up to a tank and tried to put C4s on it, what would the tank driver do?

Someone asked me to answer this as a fish tanks question.  It doesn’t look like the fish kind of tank, but if it is, then I imagine the tank owner will remove himself from the vicinity as quickly as possible on seeing the C4s, whatever they are.  If there are irreplaceable fish inside he might try to net them and carry them away in a carrier bag with water. For sure he or she will look for a replacement aquarium quickly. Obviously it’s not a situation any fishkeeper hopes for.

Supplementary question

A Quoran called Patrick Zhong then replied to the above with the question “Please inform, how do you drive a fish tank?”.

 

I replied “Very carefully, otherwise all the water slops out when you accelerate, brake, or turn corners.” Patrick then said “And how do I safely turn the fish tank in place at high rotational speeds to generate a whirlpool without killing all the fish?” My answer to this is as follows:
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Emerald Eyes (PV#32)

Original YT playout date: 7 June 2010
Duration: 15:01

Here we have the second part of the Prague zoo expedition. Some of this is quite pretty so I have reduced the film lengths and gone for HD coding.
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Huliganov VCR Virals 5/5 – Lesson learned

Monday, November 22, 2021

Original YT playout date: 25 April 2010
Duration: 2:07

“Huliganov has come to accept that if you can’t beat them, join them, and notes the improvement in investment strategy that comes from people learning venture capital with the VCR business game.

Right now http://vcr-gra.pl is only in Polish, but an English version will hopefully be out for next year’s round of competitors.”
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Enjoy the Soup

Original YT playout date: 13 March 2010
Duration: 12:32

I go round checking what everyone’s up to. The result is this random soup, which does in fact include the consumption of soup.
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Кфтвщь Ыщтп Цшерщге Цщквыю

 

Original YT playout date: 29 July 2009
Duration: 2:360

Those of you familiar with the Russian keyboard will be able to work out what the heading says to this video. Let’s see who can decode it first in the comments.

I thought I had switched it back to English letters, and it wasn’t intentional, but then I thought it might be a bit of fun to leave it like that.

Anyway, here’s a bit more of the good old temporaneous music, mixed with footage for which I had no decent sound anyway. All very random…
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Marine Aquarium at Warsaw Airport

Original YT playout date: 16 July 2009
Duration: 2:32

Just another little fishkeeper video. This is in the Business Shark lounge airside in the new terminal.
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Office Aquarium

Original YT playout date: 16 April 2009
Duration: 6:08

A little look at my fishes, the collection as per 2009, that is. None of these are with me now in 2020, although I do have some that are 7 years old or so. The offspring of the Ancistrus might be still in the tank, but I took Ancistrus at different times so it is hard to say on that one. You’ll recognise some if not all of them from earlier videos.
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On Not Meeting Konwicki

Original YT playout date: 19 February 2009
Duration: 15:26

This living legend of literature was signing his book right next to my office, and as a literary person I wanted to go along and meet this figurehead letterhead. Unfortunately, all the other budding literati had the same notion, and the crowds of cultural vulturals descended on Wiejska Street in such force that I could not get anywhere near the great man.
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In an Aquarist Store

Original YT playout date: 10 February 2009
Duration: 7:45

It’s Kakadu, formerly Anna Zoo, in Galeria Mokotow, Warsaw
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Uncle Davey’s Herts Content S2 E14, London Zoo 3/3

Original YT playout date: 29 August 2008
Duration: 20:13

This concludes one of the most detailed looks at London Zoo done by a visitor currently up on YouTube – but don’t miss the ZSL’s own channel and subscribe to them. You can also support the conservation projects at ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade by joining http://www.zsl.org
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