Jun 112017
 

I was looking at the May BNL and when I reached the Fish & Egg Listings I was deeply disturbed.

There were no killies listed for sale.  In April there was a single seller.  I don’t expect much during the winter, but usually we are back up in numbers by April.

Even on Aquabid, the number of American listings were minimal – only a couple of people offering anything for sale or auction.

I am really concerned with the state of our hobby.  I know we still boast 700+ members, but where are the sellers who supply new members and occasionally come up with some rare fish for whomever is interested.  I know my reasons … until this past month I was out of the hobby for health reasons, but has the rest of the AKA also fallen by the wayside?  I am hoping the June BNL has a bit more for sale, even if I am not a buyer of those fish.

Obviously we need to figure this out.  From the time I joined the AKA in the early 1970s, the one thing I could always count on were several vendors offering fish in the BNL even if I could not find killies elsewhere.  I realize many of the fish available in the hobby come through the various shows and conventions, but for those of us who have not been able to attend the past few years, the lack of breeder/sellers is concerning.

I am sure some of the people with killies available are much like I am – I hate shipping.  More than anything else involved with the hobby, packing and shipping fish is not something I am comfortable with, but I am beginning to see a need for a couple of us to step up, if nothing else than to provide some of the easier fish for beginners.  Personally, I do not have anything yet and it will be several months before I do – primarily because I just restarted my fish room and have nothing breeding to speak of (a couple annuals but no eggs available yet beyond my own needs).  Even once I obtain some mop spawners, it will be months before the young are old enough to sell.

I don’t know what the answer might be.  I am hoping a few of the members of the AKA are willing to step up and offer some fish for sale.  Could the AKA offer some sort of benefit to entice people to sell in the BNL?  Perhaps for those who sell a certain number of months (6-8) annually, their membership fee could be waived because they are offering a needed service?  Is there another benefit that could be offered?

We need to find a solution before it becomes too late.

 June 11, 2017  Posted by at 7:49 am OPINION PAGE No Responses »
Jun 042017
 

Its a little humorous.  I got back into keeping killies with the simple idea of having a few tanks and maybe breeding a few pairs of fish.  I am beginning to think there is something seriously wrong with me (I know lots of other people believe I am nuts).

Happily, I now have a few species in the fish room and am looking for a few more.  I have set up an interesting community tank in my living room,  It contains Aplo. normanni and Epi. annulatus and some floating plants.  It would be cool to see fry down the road growing in this 30-gallon tank.  Downstairs, I am focusing on annuals.

A couple days ago, I decided to bring Killienutz Online up to date and add a few things to bring people by to see what I am doing.  What I didn’t expect was to start building the database of killifish again.  With the multitude of killie species now known to science and the hobby, it is a bit of a daunting task, but in my infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), I began.  I have completed a listing of all the different groups of killies with a list of all the species (known to me) and am in the process of designing the system to access all the data.  Each group is based on a region of the world (Africa, South America, etc.) and then further broken down into groups (genera/subgenera) such as Top-Spawners, Annuals etc.  If a specific group is selected, there is a listing displaying most of the known species.  I am still collecting data on the newer species and will be adding them as I gather the information or it is sent to me.

Photography is a problem.  I would like to have pictures of every species on their individual pages, but my skills are limited and access to most of the species is difficult.  I do take pictures at whatever shows I go to and any species I have in my fishroom, but I simply don’t have a good shot of the majority of killies.  I accept picture donations however.

I have no idea how many species for which I have to create a page, but I have completed a section on Nothos with a page for each species.  No, I have not entered much data for each individual yet, but that is underway.

Over the past few days I have wanted to scream about the status of killies.  The splitters have created so many new genera, subgenera and other groupings, it is very difficult to organize the data because the information out there is so fractured. Strangely I find myself going back to the JAKAs over and over trying to pick up little tidbits.  I do thank goodness for Google, although much of the info I find there is old and out of date.  I am working on it, but it is a time consuming task, particularly because so many of the “papers” are on websites that require substantial costs of one sort or another.  For me this is a hobby, not my life’s work. I receive no income from what I do and I simply can’t afford those costs, so I have to find the information from alternate sources or beg someone to part with a PDF.

Okay, so what is my ultimate goal?  As long as I have been in the hobby, I wanted to provide a solid source of information to killie hobbyists and for whatever it is worth, the scientific community.  My current objective is to list, provide information and photos of every species of killifish.  Will that happen. Probably not, but at least maybe I can fill in some of the holes that exist out there.  I want to help hobbyists understand how to keep and breed their fish.  There are numerous ways to do this and hopefully someday, the library will provide as much of that information as possible.

Right now, I am at an early stage of putting this all together.  Given time and the energy, I will add to KillieNutz ONline on a regular basis.

 

 June 4, 2017  Posted by at 9:45 am OPINION PAGE No Responses »
Jun 012017
 

I have begun to update the Killienutz Online “Killifish’ Database.  Most of the known species of Nothobranchius are in place with individual pages.  These pages are not complete, but will be filled in over time.  The ultimate goal is to create a system with both hobbyist and taxonomic information about every species along with photos of as many as possible.

As for the photographic end, I would greatly appreciate any and all submissions of pictures with the knowledge that these photos will be used in future volumes of the Encyclopedia of Killifish.  Unfortunately I did not start taking photos 30 or so years ago so my personal collection is quite limited.

Simply send them to killienutz@killienutz.com and include a statement of permission.

 June 1, 2017  Posted by at 6:46 am WEBSITE NEWS No Responses »
May 262017
 

My first new killies have arrived and it is a thrill to see them in their new homes.  Thanks to Steve and all his crew at Wet Pets I am now the proud owner of a pair of Aus. nigripinnis and a small (10) shoal of Apl. normanni.  I am expecting a few more annuals next week.   The nigripinnis are in a ten gallon tank with a bowl of peat moss and some mops for cover.  The lampeyes are in a 30-gallon tank in my living room and seem quite happy with all the space.

I know it sounds rather trite, but I am just excited to go down into the cellar and piddle around with things again.  My brine shrimp hatcheries are up and running and I am getting a few of my old white culture boxes into shape.  All I need are white worms and Grindals if I can get them.

The real truth of things is that I let everything go after my heart attacks and it shows.  I am having to clean literally everything in the basement to get it to where I am happy.  I am rather limited in my stamina these days.  Do a little work, take a break … do a little more, take another break.  Of course the breaks set me to thinking about what I might change or do in the fish room.  I both hate and love the idea of having 100+ tanks again.  But do I really want to work that hard?

Fortunately, the fish are in a small side room (even with over 100 tanks) off the main basement.  Sadly, my old refrigerator did burn out and so I will have to replace it.  I suspect I will probably just purchase a small freezer since the main reason for it is frozen foods.

The other thing I want to do this time is build a decent incubator for my annual eggs.  I do not need a large one and goodness knows there are a hundred configurations I can consider.  Right now I am thinking about simply buying a metal cabinet and using tank water heater in a gallon jar.  The only negative to that is making sure I do not forget to add water most days as it evaporates.  I might come up with something else, however, but I not going back to the old stick a box near the ceiling.  I have a little time.

The other thing I really need to get my greedy little fingers on is plants.  I guess I will have to buy some Java Moss and water sprite on Aquabid to get started.  I was stunned to find some duckweed that appears to be green and alive in tanks that had seen no light in at least a year.  I moved it to a tank where the lighting system is up and working to see if it catches.  I don’t love duckweed, but it is a good cover plant to deter some fish (Rivulus) from jumping.

I did go to PetSmart yesterday (which is a 100-mile round trip) and picked up some frozen brine shrimp and found some hygrophila there, so I grabbed that.  I was considering some guppies, but found out they don’t carry females for the most part.  The few that were there were separate and they had no idea which color form they came from.  Sad state of affairs when most of their fish can not be paired up (gouramies and dwarf cichlids were the same way – no females).  I guess me and Aquabid were going to become close friends for a while.

Well, who knows what I will grip about tomorrow 🙂 .

 May 26, 2017  Posted by at 10:45 am NEWS & INFORMATION No Responses »
May 212017
 

I spent some time in the fish room yesterday and today.  I was able to get all of my shoplights running (replaced dead bulbs etc.) and plugged in some of the pumps I use.  The bank of three brine shrimp hatchers are now up to par and all I need is add eggs.  Fortunately I still have a couple cans.

I stripped, cleaned and refilled a bank of seven 5-gallon tanks and will probably do another bank later today.  They are running, the filters in place and now just need to warm up to room temperature and I can add a few pairs.  I suspect I will chase down a few Rivs and a pair or two of Nothos just to get my focus back on those fish.   I also cleaned all of my fry tanks, trays and egg storage bins (plastic screw containers) as well as attacked my dried out bucket of peat moss.  I suspect the smart thing to do will be to boil all that old peat.

I have 7-8 styros filled with peat/dirt that used to be my white worm containers to reset.  I suspect mostly it will be a matter of wetting the peat moss until it is the right consistency and then adding some white worms to get the cultures started again.  It will take a good month to start harvesting from those cultures once they are up and running.

I’ve been looking at my electric heaters for the fish room and when the furnace people show up with my new natural gas boiler, I am going to see if they can place some sort of radiator system in the fish area.  I don’t know if they exist, but a nice fan operated ‘hot water’ radiator off the main house system would work nicely and help keep the electric costs down.  But that is a job still a week or two away. Until then I am using the old electric heaters.

I have six larger rubbermaid bins for a daphnia culture ready to go.  I am debating checking out some local ‘farm’ ponds to try and catch some daphnia pulex, but admit I am bit hesitant.  Up here in the wilderness, its likely the farmer would come out with a shotgun and shoot before asking a question.  We have a few (hundred) rednecks where I live.  I used to have a great spot to collect daphnia and … yes … mosquito larvae, but the village decided to drain that area and ruined the best live food source I was aware of.  Several years ago I literally collected a reverse trio of daphnia that initiated my original fish room cultures that I maintained for many years.  (Okay maybe it was more than a trio, but it was not a large number.)  In its own way it was fun to start a small culture in a gallon jar, watch it explode and split the jar into more and finally into the bins.  It took just a couple weeks to build a large active culture.

On a side note, I am looking forward to the middle of June.  My wife and I are holding a retirement party for a friend and Dr. Dan and Inkie Nielsen along with Len Futterman and his wife Mary Teelin are coming up for a few days.  It will be like an old UNYKA meeting for a bit.  Who knows what we will do other than eat and drink soft drinks.

I am sort of disappointed I can’t make this year’s AKA convention, but it’s simply not viable yet.  It’s not the trip, I’ve been to Disney World and travel fine since my health issues, it’s more along the lines I am just not ready to drive it.  I am seriously considering next year … I vaguely heard it might be in Tampa?  That’s a long drive, but by then I should be able to contribute.

Yes I am rambling … wife needed the hot water so I had to find something to do.

 May 21, 2017  Posted by at 9:36 am NEWS & INFORMATION No Responses »
May 192017
 

Well, I spent a little time in the old cellar fish room yesterday and scratched my head quite a bit.  The first thing I need to do is come up with a better heating system.  I admit, the electric heaters I used in the past are still there and fine, but think I need something better.  We now have access to natural gas and I am considering converting the entire house to this option, which will include a new furnace and some work on the water circulation heating system.  I suspect with a bit of work I can find a radiator and a place to install it in the fishroom.  That may do the job.  *waves goodbye to a couple thousand dollars*  Yes, I have contracted a company to install what I need.

I need to clean pretty much everything in the fishroom from the tanks to the fry raising trays and egg containers.  I have 6 daphnia tubs which are of course emptry adn need to get starter cultures of daphnia, white worms and microworms at a minimum.  I counted the tanks available to me in this room and came up with ninety-nine 2-1/2–5–10-20-gallon tanks in the smaller room. That does not count the 1-gallon fry tanks and other things I have held fish in.  Everything needs to be cleaned.

My old refrigerator seems to have died.  I will be looking at that before I decide what to do.  A lot of melted stuff in there, but it might just have been shut off at some point to defrost it and now I need to clean it out.

It’s really strange to be looking at all of this after two years and remembering what it once was and how it looks today.

I guess I better get to work.

 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 9:25 am NEWS & INFORMATION, OPINION PAGE No Responses »
May 182017
 

A little over two years ago I underwent a quadruple bypass after suffering through a couple heart attacks (Myocardial Infarction).  During the surgery, I also suffered a stroke which has affected my vision slightly.  Fortunately the stroke did not affect anything else (as far as I know).  In terms of my killifish hobby, it all but destroyed it.  I no longer had the desire to spend hours a day in the fish room or do any of the related activities that were so much a part of my hobby for the previous 45 or so years.  Last fall, while on a vacation, my last tank of killies, some Panamanian Rivulus was hit by an unexpected cold wave and since I had no heat on in the house, those fish died.  I am down to one live tank in my house and it contains some tetras and loaches.  A sad state of affairs.

Today, as I sit here writing this missive, I am weighing a number of options on what to do.  I own over 200 tanks ranging in size from 2-1/2 gallons to 100-gallons (mostly 5- & 10-gallons).  I have a completely empty fish ready room in my cellar and an upstairs room in my house which I could easily convert to hold a number of tanks (somewhere around 50).  I just have to find the energy to do the work.  (Trust me, it took this long to really feel good about things again despite whatever I have done the past two years.  For example I am finally playing golf again after 2 years away from the game.)

In recent weeks I have been really thinking about the hobby and what I miss about it.  As a life member of the AKA, I still read every issue of JAKA from cover to cover and I check the BNL when it comes out.  Occasionally I drop by Aquabid to see what is available.  Over the past few days I have been really wanting to work with some killies again and I guess that is where I am headed.  It’s time to make a few decisions and in essence, order some fish.

Today I am going to go down in the cellar and start cleaning a few tanks and making some real decisions about what direction I want to go.  My real love is Nothos and I also really like Rivulus.  Actually I like just about any killie, but I do not want to go overboard.  I think as soon as the fish room is once again in order, I will make a few orders and see how it goes.   I doubt I will become a breeder selling fish online or in the BNL, but I am sure a few extra pairs will flow from my fish room, perhaps to shows and conventions.

I am always glad to hear from my old friends and am looking forward to seeing many of you again in the future.  I will not make the convention in Chicago this year, but who knows about the next one.  It would really be nice to go to a convention I do not have to work.

Wish me luck!

 May 18, 2017  Posted by at 6:54 am NEWS & INFORMATION, OPINION PAGE No Responses »
Aug 132016
 

Dr. Wilson J.E.M. Costa recently released a paper discussing Cyprinodon martae, a killifish from northern Colombia which has not been seen alive since originally discovered by Steindachner in 1875.  Based on Costas observations of photos of the perserved material, he has expressed the opinion the species is most likely a member of the Cubanichthys genus.

The paper can be viewed at http://www.senckenberg.de/files/content/forschung/publikationen/vertebratezoology/vz65-1/03_vertebrate_zoology_65-1_costa_27-30.pdf

 

 August 13, 2016  Posted by at 8:05 am NEWS & INFORMATION No Responses »
Aug 072016
 

Over the past few years I have watched the slow decay of our hobby, the ending of regional shows and the loss of membership in the AKA as well as the overall tropical fish hobby.  It saddens me greatly.

I don’t believe there is any one reason for this, but without a doubt our aging membership as well as the passing of some of the great hobbyists is a part of the problem.  That, along with the new generation of younger people focusing on different aspects of entertainment (computers in paricular), our hobby has been hurt considerably.  This is not specific to the tropical fish hobby, but instead affects nearly all forms of collecting and building interests have seen the same slide in membership.

Is there a cure for this?

I do not believe we can stop the current loss of interest in hobbies that actually require a combination of self-education and physical effort, not when there are alternatives as simple and silly as Pokemon Go which is literally the most popular activity out there today.  Who knows what is next for young people to invest their time in.

What can we do?

I think the only way any of these hobbies can continue to exist is through education of very young children.  We need to find a way to access their minds while they are still young enough to be fascinated with tropical fish.  In the past a few of our members have been teachers who set up biology programs in their rooms as a tool to teach children about various topics.  It is my opinion we need to find ways to become “educators” — to find places where we can talk about out hobby that are not inside clubs, but instead to approach the outside world.  We may also want to contact local newspapers and see if they are willing to do an article on our ‘fishrooms’ or hobby.  Clubs need to make appearances at local and/or regional events, fairs or commercial shows.  Get a booth, set it up and simply promote to whoever might be interested.

Having a monthly meeting is no longer enough, but instead we need to take what we do to the public.  The AKA needs to find someone seriously committed to advertising, but not in the traditional ways (fish magazines and maybe a classified ad in a newspaper), but instead proactively get out there and find people.

Is this the answer?  I don’t know, but I do know if we do not make an attempt, 10 years from now there will be no A.K.A., very few clubs and the hobby will essentially be dead.

 

 August 7, 2016  Posted by at 6:24 am OPINION PAGE No Responses »