Volume 9, #8, August 2023
Editor: Alan De Angelo
Contact: [email protected]
Greetings and summer salutations!
I couldn’t make the convention due to a scheduling conflict but from what I hear, I really missed out. The Madison group did a wonderful job hosting the convention and everyone had a great time. Many heartfelt thanks to them.
ACA Convention 2024
If you haven’t heard, next year’s ACA Convention will be held in Cincinnati. Plan accordingly today so you can make it. As information comes in, I’ll be sure to report it in the ACA News.
What’s new? Well, the Bolivian Amazon just yielded two new species of cichlids, Bujurquina mabelae and B. beniensis. These fish were described in Neotropical Ichthyology Journal.
The Pike cichlids have gotten a revision published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. This should cause quite a stir amongst pike cichlid keepers. Also, two new pike cichlids were named. Crenicichla ama and C. aravera. You can get more info about these fish in the European Journal of Taxonomy.
The genus Labeotropheus has also been revised. You can either search Copeia for the paper or you can turn to Amazonas Magazine for an update on this long-favored Malawian genus. Just a personal note here: back in the late-’60s and early-’70s the wild fish that came in from the lake were huge. Today’s fish just don’t seem to stack up in size. When you remove all of the large fish genetics from the lake, it may take a toll. Research in Minnesota of bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus, populations is proving that to be true. There are lakes where all of the large bluegill have been harvested and it has changed the population’s size. The MN DNR is urging anglers to release all bluegill over 10″ in length to keep those genes present in the lakes. We know that the Rift Lakes have been over-collected and that most/all of the “prize” specimens have been taken away. We can only hope that these species can rebound.
Speaking of rebounding, many of the large haplochromine fishes in portions of Lake Malawi are coming back due to the efforts of Ripple Africa. They are teaching the local population to use larger-holed gill nets and seines so that the smaller fish can escape, survive and keep the fish populations strong. The locals are now catching fish that are significantly larger and more palatable for the table. One can eat numerous tiny fry but a large fish is much more delectable. Check out Ripple Africa to learn more. A hint to the ACA BOT, this would be a good place to donate to. Let’s do our part to keep Lake Malawi’s fish stocks healthy – rippleafrica.org.
Where do you get your latest news about the world of cichlids. The internet? Well, if that’s what you rely on, you are missing out on a lot of good, solid, peer-reviewed information. Online forums may be great for some things but not for others. Case in point: what species is this, or fish ID? Many times there is a rush to call a fish a hybrid when in fact, it is a naturally occurring population of fishes that the average hobbyist doesn’t know about. You won’t see these fish in the threads because they are not common in the hobby, so the dum-dums, as the Great Gazoo would call Fred and Barney, are quick to jump to conclusions, calling it a hybrid. A few examples are Melanochromis auratus. Everyone knows that fish but if a person puts up a photo of M. dialeptos, especially a female, many uninformed people would call it a hybrid. The same goes for a female Labidochromis joanjohnsonae. It sort of looks like a female M. auratus but close examination will find the differences. Then, if you add into the equation M. mossambequensis and M. wochepa, one can get really confused. This is where having collection point or location information is crucial, too. I’m sorry but you won’t get that from the internet, just the tired parroting of “hybrid”.
Lord help the guy that has 40 years of mbuna keeping experience that jumps in and gives the proper species name, and population locality. They, of course, are wrong because the same people who do no research but have an opinion about everything, fishy keyboard warriors, have more sway. I once had a guy give a girl terrible advice so I chimed in and gave the correct advice. The girl told me that I was wrong because the frequent flyer said I was. Excuse me, but my 62 years of cichlid keeping experience should give me a bit of credibility. Apparently, not.
Where do you get good, solid information? As a big fan of print media, I will tell you my three favorite books on keeping cichlids. First, buy, beg or borrow Paul Loiselle’s book, The Cichlid Aquarium. There is more top-notch husbandry information in this book than anywhere else. Period. Read it. Keep it as a reference. But most of all, use the information contained within. You’ll be a better aquarist. Second and Third are a tie with Ad Koning’s books on Rift Lake cichlids: Malawi Cichlids in their natural habitat and Tanganyika Cichlids in their natural habitat. There is more information, solid information, in these two books than anywhere else regarding these Rift Lake Cichlids. Fourth, and this might surprise you, Fryer and Iles, The Cichlid Fishes of the Great Lakes of Africa. It’s bit heady reading but it has fantastic information about these fishes. I read it when it first came out in 1972. Pretty deep for a teenage kid to read but I absorbed everything I could from it. I learned a huge amount of information. That summer, I was working for my Dad who was a foreman in a metal stampings company. The tool crib lady had to have surgery so I took it over. It meant long hours of boredom with flurries of activities catering to the needs of the tool and die makers. Reading Fryer & Iles got me through that summer. (Hint: Don’t fall asleep with your legs up on the desk. Your legs will fall asleep and the tool makers will make fun of you for a week or two. Dad was none too pleased with me, either.) Unfortunately, there are few comprehensive books on Central or South American cichlids. Conkel’s Cichlids of North and Central America comes to mind and not much else; BUT, Paul Loiselle’s The Cichlid Aquarium covers husbandry strategies that will serve you well with these fishes.
When I get a new book in, which hasn’t been in quite a while as they are few and far lately, the first thing I do is look at the pictures (Honest, I was reading the articles.) I then go back to the species of immediate interest and read about them. But, eventually, I go back and read through the whole text. Granted, I may just skim through the section on Diplotaxodon but I will hit the highlights.
The other sources of information are from various organizations like the ACA and it’s flagship, Buntbarsche Bulletin (BB). In the slicks, you can’t go wrong with Cichlid News, followed by Amazonas. If you do not subscribe to Cichlid News, you should? It’s full of awesome information – cichlidnews.com. Amazonas is a generalist magazine but has pertinent cichlid articles in almost every issue – amazonasmagazine.com I highly advise you to subscribe to both of these fine publications to keep current on all things cichlid. I can talk from experience here as I have every issue of all three of these magazines. I have enjoyed them all thoroughly.
Enjoy the rest of your summer,