By Pam Chin, BITCH Reporter
I am often asked, “How did the Babes In The Cichlid Hobby get started?” And I always reply, “Babes In The Cichlid Hobby, what a story that is!! In a nutshell it started in the mid 90’s at the American Cichlid Association’s annual convention. As women fish keepers in a male dominated hobby we were desperate to experience all things cichlid, the only way we could get the fish boys attention was to appear as though we were plotting and planning something. In the early years we just made them nervous with our antics, surveys, midnight speakers, etc. Then we started to pass the hat at the hospitality room and we were amazed at the results. Who would have thought that 22 years later we would still be extorting money from mostly male fish keepers to use for our passion: Cichlid Research and Cichlid Conservation?
Once we realized we could raise money and donate it to the ACA’s Guy D. Jordan Endowment Fund for cichlid research we were beside ourselves and so proud. We would spend the whole year trying to come up with something to bring in more money then the year before. Caroline and I witnessed a silent auction at the New Jersey Aquarium Society, and they made like a $1000.00 in less then and hour. Our heads were spinning and we decided to give it a try. Today the Babes In The Cichlid Hobby Silent Auction is a tradition at the ACA convention. It is like a fish rummage sale, where 99% of the items are fish related. We have everything from jewelry, used t-shirts, art, fish decorations, fish food, fish equipment, etc. The selection of fish books is outstanding, from old old books to the latest off the press. We typically have 400 – 500 items for sale on Friday and Saturday at the ACA convention.
Our second fundraiser at the convention is the Oral Auction. What else could we call it? It is a live auction! An all girl auction to boot! We auction off the fish that are donated to the ACA from the Florida Fish Farmers and hobbyists. It is held later in the evening, as one never knows where the Oral Auction may go, but one thing for sure everyone has a good time, and all the money goes for a good cause!
I can’t go on with out mentioning our second favorite fund…. About 15 years ago the ACA started the Paul V. Loiselle Conservation Fund, and we are so proud that we have been able to be one of the largest contributors. This fund is now able to award money for conservation projects.
Pam, Claudia & Larry heading to Taiwanee Reef to release Ps. saulosi
We have donated money to many other cichlid causes over the years. Another one of our favorites is the Stuart M. Grant Conservation Fund. Even though it has been around less then 10 years it has already had great success. Notably the Anti-Netting devices set around the Maleri Islands in the Malawi National Park and our proudest moment was to be part of re-introducing Pseudotropheus saulosi back on Taiwanee Reef where it has been over collected by ornamental collectors.
Here are a few Babes In The Cichlid Hobby, there are many more!
Whitney, Pam, Pam, Caroline, Sandy
To date we have raised over $138,000.00!!!!!! It is amazing, cichlid people are so generous not only do they clean out their closets with all their donations, they also open their wallets and buy all this stuff! We couldn’t do it without everyone’s support. What is exciting to us is this is not corporate money, this money is from hobbyists, and it proves that they also love cichlid research and cichlid conservation! How special is that??
About the Babes In The Cichlid Hobby: We are women cichlid keepers who want to make a difference in the hobby. Cichlid habitats are plagued by pollution, over fishing, deforestation, hydro-electrical power projects, mineral exploitation, global warming, floods, and troubled governments. With 22 years of fund raising we have provided financial aid for cichlid research and cichlid conservation all over the world. We strive to widen awareness and encourage responsible cichlid keeping.