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back from germany

hi all,

i'm back from a week visiting a friend in stuttgart, germany.  the highlights of my visit, aquariologically speaking, were visiting wilhelma in stuttgart, and a petshop, which showed how far and advanced the hobby is in europe than here (it was too depressing walking into one of the chain stores today, near work...).

wilhelma is a combination zoo-botanical garden but the best part was the aquarium-terrarium building.  the collection puts nyc aquarium to shame.  there were displays of cold salt and freshwater, and tropical fresh and saltwater tanks.  there was a tank with four-eyed livebearers (Anableps) with babies!  there was a huge tank with australian rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus, Melanotaenia trifasciata and boesemanii) with two huge barramundi or lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri).  there were several tanks for southeast asia and south america, filled with tetras, barbs, cichlids, an catfish, i was impressed by the large Loricarias, also loved the big amazon tank with pencilfish, hatchets, corys, discus, angelfish and Typhlonectes (caecilian).  

among saltwater tanks, i was totally entranced by the huge pipefish (some over half a meter long) and there were lots of babies (they looked like little red worms).  the highlight for me was the sea dragon tank, these are seahorse and pipefish relatives from australia, with amazing and colorful fin extensions.  there were maybe 8 large ones in this tank, that they shared with some seahorses and other peaceful fish.  i spent a long time staring at them and could not believe how beautiful and colorful they were (pictures don't do them justice).  the collection of saltwater and freshwater is truly amazing and certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.my friend works at a garden center and lives near it, and next door is a pet shop.  the selection of fish and plants there was unbelievable, nothing like that exists at least in the nyc area.  i saw so many amazing fish, among tetras there were Hyphessobrycon amandae and hyanuary; Astyanax leopoldii; africans included some Alestes sp., Hemigrammopetersius caudalis and Phenacogrammus caudomaculatus.  of cyprinids, there were a profusion of rasboras, danios and barbs, including very rare angola barbs (B. barilioides).  livebearers included Limia melanogaster, Nomoramphus liemii and endlers (Poecilia sp.), all of which are rare around here.  they also had FW pipefish(Microphis), blue-eyes (Procatopus), killis, gobies (incl. Awaous strigatus and Tateurndina ocellicauda), and an amazing variety of tanganykan cichlids including many shell-dwellers (Neolamprologus), Spathodus, Julidochromis and Cyprichromis.  labyrinth fish included Colisa chuna (wild type) and Pseudosphronemus dayi; also some shy Badis.  apistos included borellii, agassizi, cacatuoides and panduro, also Nanochromis transvestitus, with females intensively courting the males.  all sorts of loriicarids (there was a profusion of L-numbers), including whiptails, Panaques, Hypancistrus and many others.  one tank had a tantalizing tag, zebra otocinclus, but i saw none, they were all sold out.  aquatic plants were amazing too (Nuphar, Hydrotriche, Hygroryza, Samolus, Eichhornia diversifolia, all sorts of Crypts, Echinodorus, Anubias, Hygros, Aponogetons, etc.) but the most impressive for me were the crustaceans and invertebrates.  some striped round snails they called zebra snails.  tiny (2 cm), bright orange crayfish with pincers that looked like miniature lobsters.  two or three transparent Caridina shrimp species.  giant, huge filtering shrimp (Atya gabunensis?) constantly waving those fans (biggest ones were fat and about 13 cm/5 inches long), and also one medium sized crayfish/lobster that was dark brown in color with bands of orange, red and blue (Cher

ax mysolicus? and also did not seem to be a threat to the fish in spite of its huge pincers), and some small crabs.  

oh yeah, there were also a saltwater section (with nautilus for sale), and reptiles, frogs, insects, scorpions, tarantulas, centipedes, birds, sugar gliders, rodents, etc.  all in one store.  

the books and magazines are also amazing as you can expect.  too bad i don't read germany but i did end up buying a book on seahorses and their relatives (shrimpfish, pipefish, snipefish, seadragons) and a magazine on tanganyka lake.  

we also visited botanical gardens in tuebingen and heidelberg, with interesting aquatic plant exhibits.

happy new year to all.

tsuh yang chen, nyc USA