Volume 4, #12, December 2018
Editor: Alan De Angelo
Seasons’ Greetings and Salutations!
I know that Yule Log this issue into the annals of cichlidom. After all, it is seasoned with Christmas Cheer!
My hands have stopped shaking, the fever has broken and life is returning to normal. While I only have one aquarium at this point in life, I do have cichlids once again. It was a tough two weeks and the withdrawal symptoms were real, but I happened across Mike Hellweg at a GCCA Swap meet (you never know who you will find at these things) where I acquired some wild Rams from him. So, while diminutive, I officially have cichlids again! WooHoo!
The current BOT will be retiring soon and the new BOT will be taking the reins of the ACA in their hands. Hopefully, progress will be made. I am a big proponent of getting a new website that is easily managed and can be accessed by numerous people. It should also be rife with SEO so when a person searches for cichlid-related topics, the ACA pops up in the top of the list or at least on the first page of their search. I am encouraged by the fact that Rusty Wessel reached out to me and is now employing my web guys to make a site for the ALA Convention that LTFF will be hosting. Also, he/we are looking into a plug-in site that all future ACA Conventions can use instead of having to build a site from scratch each year. My web developers have offered the ACA a 50% discount on the process. I’m certain that Rusty will have a good experience and that he will encourage the ACA to modernize the website. Let’s move forward with this guys. While I am certainly no expert in websites, SEO and the like, I have employed people in the field for years and have learned a lot. If you look at the leaders in industry and other successful people, they knew that they did not have to know everything but they did need to know who to reach out to for their specialized knowledge. Until now, the ACA has been a burden on one or two people to manage the website, which meant that it was oftentimes ignored or static. Everyone has a life outside of ACA business. The new platform will hopefully allow us to get more people involved, have better links to all of our services, be mobile-friendlier and allow guest blog posts etc to get our name out there more. If the ACA wants to attract more donors so that it can do more things in the world of conservation and research, it must have a great website. That is how the world works now. Even an old guy like me knows that.
Speaking of donors … why does the ACA only approach fish-related donors? Why don’t we approach large corporations for funds to take on bigger projects. Last issue I mentioned more advertisers in BB. I brought this to the attention of our industry committee and already I have heard that we may have another advertiser for BB. I will not mention anything until the papers are signed but things are looking up. Now, because I do not have enough on my plate and I shirk responsibility at every turn, I will put my money where my mouth is and I will volunteer, with help, to contact possible donors, sponsors and advertisers. I have a few people in mind to help me with this task and, if the BOT will approve of my doing this, I will get in touch with these individuals so we can work as a team.
Why does the ACA need more money? Besides lining my pockets with cash? Just kidding, I’m not a politician. Because we can do more for the world of cichlids with more money. Plain and simple.
If I were only on the BOT … people seem to think that the BOT has all of the power in the ACA. While they have approval power for projects and funding, most members of the BOT do very little besides vote on props and offer an opinion, on occasion. It is definitely not a dynamic body most years. You would think otherwise, but as I finish my eigth year as a BOT member, I can attest to these facts. The real power in the ACA lies with the Committee Heads or Chairs. These people are the movers and shakers of the ACA. These fine folks get things done.
Furthermore, if you want to get anything done in the ACA, or in any other organization, roll up your sleeves and get involved. Take on a leadership role, become part of a team, get off your duffs and join the party. The most fun that I have ever had in any of the organizations or honor societies that I have belonged to, was had by joining in and helping out. In college, I cooked spaghetti sauce for 200 hundred people for Tri-Beta, a biological honor society. (I did this for three years in a row. They came back for more, so, yes, I make a good sauce! PS: It is never gravy, that goes on mashed potatoes!) I helped get a chapter of AED installed at our university too. My roommate looped me into coaching a women’s flag football team, too. It was all great fun, great times, with a bunch of great people. If you want to get the most out of anything you do, join in. Don’t be bashful. Walk up to a worker at the convention and ask “How can I help?” Send an email to a Committee Chair and say; “Hey, I am good at doing this, or can I give you a hand with that.” We are all in this together and from my 48 years as an ACA member, I can tell you, we are a pretty nice group of people to hang out with, to talk with, to convention with and to work with. Join in!
A special note here to younger members or new members: I hear, at times, complaints that the BOT is made up of the same people year after year and that nothing changes. Well, get involved, become one of the people that make the ACA function. Your name will get out there and you will have a much better chance of being elected. Members usually vote for people that they know. So, get involved, get known and get elected!
Parachromis loiselli is no more! That’s right, it is gone. The powers that be have confirmed that it is a synonym for P. friedrichsthali. When I heard about this, I did the only thing that I thought was right, I contacted the Big Guy himself, Dr Paul Loiselle, to get his view on the topic. He has given me permission to share this with all of you. He writes:
I have downloaded and read Morgenstern’s paper, which includes good photos of the all the fish in the Friedrichsthal collection. While the type specimen of Parachromis friedrichsthali is, as is usually the case with material collected in the 19th Century, in less than optimum condition. What remains of the melanophore pattern is sufficient to confirm that it is identical to Parachromis loisellei.
To understand how we have arrived at this state of affairs, a bit of historical background is in order. Emanuel Ritter von Friedrichsthal (1808-1842) was a representative of the minor Austrian nobility. After a brief stint in the civil service of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he decided to replicate in Central America the program on exploration in South America carried out by his better-known German contemporary, Alexander von Humboldt. Securing diplomatic status from Clemens von Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, in 1838 he traveled to Nicaragua. He spent just over a year in southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica collecting specimens, which he sent back to the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
His collections included a small number of fish collected from either the Rio San Juan or Lake Nicaragua. In 1839, he travelled from Central America to Washington, DC, where he spent several months working in the consular section of the Austrian Embassy. In late 1840, he travelled to Belize, with the object of exploring and photographing Mayan ruins. He entered Yucatan through the port of Bacalar, on the lagoon of the same name. during his stay in Bacalar, he made a somewhat larger collection of fish, which was again sent to Vienna. While in Yucatan, he managed to visit and photograph all of the then known Mayan sites, returning to Vienna via New York, London and Paris, where he presented the results of his field work and displayed his photos to several learned societies.
He died in 1842, apparently a victim of malaria contracted in Yucatan. Much of the documentation of his travels, which he apparently intended to publish as a comprehensive account of his findings, has been lost and the remaining material was widely dispersed, which makes Morgenstern’s success in piecing together an itinerary and timeline for Friedrichsthal’s travels all the more impressive.
In 1840, Ernst Heckel described Heros friedrichsthali. The only collecting locality given was Central America. Franz Steindachner’s description of two new species based upon Freidrichsthal’s Yucatanean material was equally imprecise with regard to collecting locality. This lack of precision is difficult to understand, as Steindachner recognized that several of the fish in Friedrichsthal’s collection were conspecific with species described in 1862 by Albert Gunther based on material collected in Guatemala by Osbert Salvin. For no explicitly stated reason, Gunther in 1868 gave Lake Peten Itza in Guatemala as the type locality of H. friedrichsthali. With the unique exception of Jordan and Evermann, who correctly – but without giving a reason for their action – gave the Rio San Juan in Nicaragua as this species’ type locality, subsequent workers, among them Regan, Hubbs, Miller and Bussing followed Gunther and applied the name Cichlasoma friedrichsthali to the guapote native to southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize described by Regan in 1905 as Cichlasoma multifasciatus.
Fast forward to the 1980s, when aquarists were working with two very differently colored guapotes being marketed as Cichlasoma friedrichsthali. This situation was clearly unsatisfactory and after I had nagged him for several years about it, Bill Bussing resolved it by describing the Costa Rican component of this guapote twosome as Cichlasoma loisellei. Bill never examined the type specimen of Heros friedrichsthali, instead relying upon Heckel’s quite misleading description of the type’s color pattern when comparing it to Costa Rican material.
Based upon Heckel’s description and the generally accepted type locality of C. friedrichsthali, the conclusion that the Costa Rican guapote represented an undescribed species followed quite logically. As it transpires, the logical conclusion was not in this instance, the correct one. Parachromis loisellei is a junior synonym of P. friedrichsthali and the correct name for the fish we have be calling by that name is P. multifasciatus.
The take-home message here is that systematists undertaking any sort of revisionary work should whenever possible examine type material. In Bill’s defense, at the time he was working, it was unclear if the type specimen of H. friedrichsthali was still extant. The Second World War was not kind to preserved fish material housed in European museums. Collections were often jumbled-up in the course of being moved to safe locations and many institutions were still actively engaged in the daunting task of assembling accurate catalogues of their actual holdings.
Kudos to Ricco Morgenstern both for taking the time to find and examine Friedrichsthal’s material and for doing the literary research necessary to put together a coherent account of his travels in Central America.
Ho ela velona!
That’s all for now. I extend to you all the Joy of the Holidays and from me to you: Have a Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next month. Have a Safe, Prosperous and Happy New Year, too! Ho Ho Ho!
PS: Dear Santa, please bring me that new fishroom I’ve been wanting. I’ve been pretty good-(ish) this year.
PPS: Upon recovery from your Christmas Food Coma, get started on your article for BB … in fact, you could commence during your recovery, it is excellent therapy. Just leave any mention of feeding until the end. ($$$) – [BB Ed]
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