Label: Fish

May 22, 2014

I received many notes from students in New Jersey several days ago. They asked about the Rift Lake cichlids that I keep in an aquarium in my bedroom. The questions were great and I enjoyed reading them. You can read all of them in their entirety in the comments section of the original story, My Cichlid Tank.

Here are some things they asked and said:

Francesca wrote: "Wow!!! Those cichlid fish are the coolest fish that I have seen!!! They are so many colors and are really cool different patterns. I think that it is awesome that they react to their surroundings. I also agree to the fact that they are beautiful! I would also love to have a cichlid fish as a pet."

Kevin wrote: "I like that they swim with purpose unlike schooling fish, could you also tell how big they get and what they eat in the wild?"

Nehal asked, "how many eggs?"

Liam asked, "how many do you have?"

Here is my answer to their many questions:

  Cichlids swim individually and with purpose. They don’t school with each other and each seems to react to its surroundings. That’s why I like looking at them; each is an individual.  I just went upstairs to take a new photograph for this story, and this fish swam right over to see what I was doing!

These cichlids are all from the African Rift Lakes in the middle of the continent. They are hundreds of different Rift Lake species and they are found nowhere else in the world. Cichlids are egg layers and lay anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of eggs. Many species of Rift Lake cichlids are very colorful and they come in a variety of colors and patterns.  In their native lakes cichlids eat a variety of smaller aquatic animals and insects.

Cichlids are often belligerent and you wouldn’t want to keep them in a normal community aquarium, so I keep them in a separate cichlid tank. They sort of pick on each other but not so terribly. I purchased these six cychlids at Eddie’s Tropical Aquarium near Albany, NY when they were about an inch or so long and now some of them are three to four inches long. If they grow too large for my aquarium I will have to bring them back to the aquarium store in which they were purchased and they will place them in much bigger tanks. They are not the easiest fish to keep in a home aquarium, but for me at least, they are definitely worth it!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(19) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Pets, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 28, 2014











This is a photo of my cichlid tank. All the fish in here are African cichlids (pronounced SICK-lids), which means they originate from 3 very deep rift lakes that run from north to south along the Eastern coast of Africa. 

I love cichlids - in fact, I studied them when I was doing my Masters Work in Animal Behavior at the City University of New York. They are intelligent fish who actually react to what is going on around their tank (like when you walk over to look at them). And they swim with purpose, rather than moving aimlessly around the tank like schools of tropical fish do.

I think they’re beautiful, too, don’t you?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(23) Comments  •   Labels: Pets, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 10, 2013

I decided to share photos of my marine reef (salt water) aquarium today because I realized that some of you enjoyed seeing the photo of my freshwater aquarium last week. Many of you responded via Twitter (@seymoursimon), and I liked hearing from teachers who keep aquariums in their classrooms, just as I used to.

I love keeping aquariums and I particularly enjoy having a reef aquarium because of all the fascinating invertebrates that live there.

Here is what is living in my reef aquarium - the black one is called a 3-spot damselfish, there is a pair of clownfish who are together all the time, a yellowtail blue damsel and of course, many living rocks. There is also a fire shrimp (bright red with white antennae - very beautiful) and a porcelain crab, but they both hide under the rock most of the time. I only see them when I feed them and they come out to grab some food.

The black fish is the 3-spot damsel, and it’s getting awfully big. I may end up taking it back to the aquarium store—they will put it into a larger tank where it has plenty of room to grow and can enjoy a life swimming with bigger fish. Although I’d hate to give it up, it gives me a great opportunity to think about which new, beautiful tropical fish to add to this environment. 

I haven’t kept a marine reef aquarium in quite a few years, and when I started reading about what equipment to buy and how to set this one up, I realized that technology really is changing the way we do everything around us. In 1976 I wrote a book for Viking called TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS: HOW TO SET THEM UP AND KEEP THEM GOING. Everything (and I mean everything) about the process of setting up a reef aquarium has changed.

It is comforting to know that the inhabitants - that is the fish and invertebrates themselves - are still the same.  


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 5, 2013

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a Porcupinefish. They are found in warm tropical waters all over the world.

People often refer to them as "blowfish" because of their ability to make their body bigger and rounder by swallowing air or water. This reduces the number of predators to fish or animals with very large mouths. They even have a backup defense mechanism - those sharp spines, which stick out when the fish is inflated. Some of them have poison in their internal organs, another reason to avoid them. As you can imagine, this fish has very few predators.

Porcupinefish are just one of the fascinating creatures found in coral reefs, which is the subject of my new book, coming out at the end of April. These reefs are like huge cities under the sea, teeming with inhabitants from fish to plants to a wide variety of invertebrates like coral. I loved studying about them as I was writing the book, and I think you will be amazed by some of the photographs! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Cool Photo, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 4, 2012

Occasionally we receive such a strong piece of Writing Wednesday work that we publish it for everyone to read. This excellent piece of research and writing was done by Miss Kyle’s 4th Grade Class at Shoemaker Elementary school in Macungie, PA. Terrific work, everybody!  


All of the creatures in this picture are alive and exist in a symbiotic relationship. Being close to the same color helps the coral and the goby fish to work together. The coral reproduces among itself and is always creating a new habitat, as well as food, for the sea creatures, The coral becomes shelter for the fish and at the same time provides protection from predators. These predators might include; dolphins, whales, sharks, larger fish, jelly fish and crabs. The sea anemone hiding inside the coral is poisonous to other fish and makes predators stay away from the goby’s hiding place. In summary, these creatures all depend on one another to be able to survive in the ocean.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Coral Reefs, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 3, 2012


Brazilian scientists have been studying a small fishing community in Laguna, Brazil, where fishermen work together with dolphins to catch their fish.

This friendly pod of dolphins works together, herding groups of mullet (a local fish) toward the fisherman who are waiting in boats or standing in the water. Then the dolphins slap their heads or tails on the water to show the fishermen where to throw their nets.  Both groups, the fishermen and the dolphins, catch all the fish they need by working together in this way.

What is most surprising is that It is one special group of about twenty dolphins that work with the fishermen, and they have been doing it for more than fifteen years. The men recognize them by their markings, and have even given some of them names like "Scooby" and "Caroba." There are plenty of other dolphins in the waters around Laguna. The others do not cooperate with humans, going off to fish on their own.

The cooperation behavior is probably passed down from mother dolphin to her calves, and that is how it is learned by the humans, as well. Elders in the community teach the younger fishermen how to work with the dolphins.


Photo:  Fábio Daura-Jorge

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Oceans, Dolphins, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 2, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

This week, we are asking you to describe the scene in this photograph, using what you know or what you can learn about life on Coral Reefs.

The Facts: The fish in this photograph are Yellownose gobies, and one is peeking out from its hiding spot inside the folds of a brain coral.  

Your assignment: Write a paragraph explaining the relationship between the animals. Which one needs the other to provide camouflage? What predators is it being protected from?

How to make your writing powerful: Coral reefs are like underwater cities, teeming with life. Use descriptive details to make this ocean world come alive for your reader.


When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.


Photo: Todd Minthz

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 29, 2012

At one time, I had many freshwater tropical aquariums set up around my house. I was very much into the hobby of keeping tropical fish. I had all kinds of tropical fish in my tanks: angels, neons, barbs, tetras, guppies, white clouds, dwarf cichlids and many more. I even had several marine tanks set up and wrote a book about them called TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS, How to Set Them Up and Keep Them Going. But over the years, I kept fewer tanks of fish and finally there were no tanks left.

I haven’t kept tanks for years.

 But I’ve started again. I’ve just set up two small freshwater aquariums. Here’s what I did. 

I washed out the tanks thoroughly, using NO SOAP at all, just water and a clean (never used) sponge. Then I rinsed the tanks completely and set them in safe places that were strong enough to support their weights when they were full of water, gravel, plants and fish. Water weighs a lot; you should figure that an aquarium averages about 10 pounds a gallon, so a ten-gallon aquarium is going to weight about 100 pounds.

I poured tap water into the aquarium and let the water age for several days. I also added a water conditioner, which helped the water age more quickly. 

I washed out about two pounds of gravel per gallon in a new plastic bucket (remember NO SOAP) and then poured the gravel into the aquarium.


I added a filter, a small water heater and then planted a few underwater plants. After another few days I added a few fish: white clouds, platys, cherry barbs and two small catfish.


So far the fish seem fine. I’ll keep reporting to you about how they are doing and also show you some photographs. If you have a tropical fish tank and home or in class, write about your experiences and send me some photos too!  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Simon, Pets, Fish, Aquarium   •  Permalink (link to this article)