Volume 4, Number 3 - September 1995

This page is brought to you by the Aquatic Conservation Network
Dedicated to the Preservation of Aquatic Life.
Home Aquatic Survival ACN-L ACN-L archives Links


  1. ACN Madagascar Program
  2. President's Message
  3. Letters
  4. Views from OFI & OFI (UK)
  5. Report of Recent Madagascar Information Meetings
  6. Skiffia francesae - Extinct in the Wild
  7. Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon - Programs for the Endangered Fish Species of Mexico
  8. Xenoophorus captivus - Inevitable Extinction
  9. Report on the Results of an Ichthyological Survery of the Winam Gulf Region of Lake Victoria, Kenya
  10. FFTAG Notes
  11. The Pachypanchax omalonotus Studbook
  12. Madagascar Breeding Project Update
  13. First Captive Breeding of Sakaramy Killifish at the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation
  14. Call for Fish Breeders - Madagascar Captive Breeding Project
  15. Positions Wanted
  16. Acknowledgements

ACN Madagascar Program

by Patrick de Rham

The following is the text of an August '95 prospectus document outlining needs and direction for conservation of Madagascar endemic freshwater fishes. It has been accepted in principle by the ACN Board of Directors as a guideline for the ACN Madagascar Program.


The environmental collapse on the island of Madagascar is well known. However, it is not well understood and neither is it well confronted. An ongoing effort to establish a Global Environment Facility for Madagascar by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program recently brought 80 scientists together for a workshop to define ecological "hotspots" within the country. It was successful in producing a realistic list of working priorities for the Malagasy government based on the best current appreciation of conservation biology.1

The ACN is devoting significant attention to the plight of the island's endemic freshwater fish species, and intends to become a player in the joint international effort underway. Therefore, this prospectus has been prepared to outline the overall needs of freshwater fish conservation programming in Madagascar, and the strategies that should be pursued. The intention in preparing this document is to assist in discussions with interested parties and with potential cooperating institutions. Further proposal definition is required for each component to address implementation strategies, personnel requirements, cost and revenue estimates, funding strategy, etc. The ACN foresees its role in this exercise as being a catalyst for such conservation work to evolve, to assist with coordination of the components, and to assume responsibility for specific sub-projects.

There is no assurance that something meaningful can be done to save Madagascar's endemic fishes. The main problem is that the native fishes are not only suffering from habitat degradation, but are actually being displaced by more competitive introduced continental species which are also better adapted to the predominantly man-made environmental conditions found in Madagascar today. Therefore, protecting the habitats alone, which can work in many other parts of the world, is frequently not sufficient in Madagascar. Also, one must be conscious, that once we embark into fish conservation in Madagascar, we must accept that it is a never ending activity. There is no way to put things straight and then let nature look after itself. One will have to go on forever caring after the populations of native species, and although such things can be done successfully in some countries (e.g. the saving and recovery of the Lake of Geneva char population the survival of which now relies on semi-artificial propagation), this is a very difficult problem in a poor country as eventually it should be taken up by the Malagasy themselves.

There are some positive points for a Madagascar freshwater fish conservation program: Ideally, the Madagascar Program would include three main project areas:

Funding and implementation is proposed to be on a project by project (or sub-project) basis since conceivably the Program as a whole will not be launched in one action. The ACN is best positioned in the short term to address aspects of project III. However, with the cooperation of certain institutions and Malagasy authorities, steps could be taken towards further research and development of other project areas. The following is a brief overview of the program.

Project I:
Field Survey of Madagascar Inland Fishes

This project would follow up, organize, coordinate, officialize and step up the field collecting and derived scientific research that began in the late 1980's.

The conservation objectives of project I are:

Project II:
In-situ Captive Breeding of Endangered Species - Pond Breeding Strategy for Endemic Cichlids

Many endemic species of fish, especially among the cichlids, cannot be saved by habitat protection alone. This is because the most important factor responsible for their decline is the competition of introduced continental species from Africa and Asia. Exotic species are well established in Madagascar today and have already totally displaced the native species in many areas. Their eradication, if it were desired, from free waters is impossible. For this reason the survival in Madagascar of sizeable populations of various endemic species can only be achieved by captive or semi-captive breeding in ponds or other enclosures that can be kept free of competing species. More specifically, the objectives of this project are:

Sub-Project A: Public/Research Aquarium

A sub-project would be the creation in the capital city of Antananarivo of a small public research aquarium to familiarize the Malagasy public and scientists with their native endemic fish fauna and make them aware of its plight. This aquarium should normally be situated in the Tsimbazaza Park and Research Station which already hosts many endangered Madagascan species of plants and animals and which after years of neglect is being rehabilitated.

Project III:
Ex-situ Captive Breeding of Endangered Species

The extremely endangered status of several endemic species of fish in Madagascar fully justifies the establishment of captive bred populations outside of the country as an ultimate safeguard against extinction.

This project could be divided into two complementary sub-projects:

Sub-project A: Captive Breeding by Aquarists

Many aquarists have developed great skills and knowledge in breeding a large variety of fish species, however the average aquarist is usually limited in the time and space (tanks) that he/she can devote to breeding fish. Therefore it seems that the aquarists should concentrate on the smaller species such as those belonging to the families Cyprinodontidae (killies, mainly Pachypanchax. spp.) and Bedotidae (Bedotia and Rheocles.spp Endangered fishes can be bred by the amateur aquarist, although in most cases it will be difficult for one individual to maintain the sufficient number of breeding pairs to avoid genetic degradation. Cooperation between aquarists and with public aquariums and commercial breeders should help to overcome this problem. The capacity of aquarists to maintain endangered species on a long term basis can be questioned, however aquarium breeding of endangered species should be encouraged as it permits us to obtain important biological data and sustains the interest of commercial breeders for the maintenance and propagation of endangered fishes. Expert aquarists can also be most useful in developing breeding procedures for species which have been seldom or never bred in captivity: e.g. all the Rheocles spp. which hopefully should be made available to them through Project I.

Sub-project B: Large Scale Ex-situ Captive Breeding

For the larger species, especially the cichlids, the long term or permanent maintenance of captive populations seems to be better dealt with at facilities such as can be provided by public aquariums and commercial tropical fish breeders. Private persons disposing of space, facilities and know-how could also be interested to join in this sub-project. The establishment of a Centre for the Propagation and Conservation of Endangered Tropical and Subtropical Freshwater Fish Species would be an important adjunct to this activity. Such a facility should be situated in North America or Europe and in a location where expertise can be readily found and the public audience is large.

Recent experience shows that many endemic cichlid species breed more readily in large outside ponds than in aquaria, provided the climatic conditions are adequate. For this reason it seems that this project should mainly take place in Florida which has the advantage of combining favourable climate with a long tradition in tropical fish farming.

This sub-project could be organized along the following lines:

General Remarks

Candidate Species

Only species belonging to three families, Bedotidae, Cyprinodontidae and Cichlidae have been considered up to now for the in-situ and ex-situ captive breeding projects. This results from the fact that these three families comprise a fair portion of the island's ichthyofauna and have most of the species of interest for the aquarist. However, other families such as Gobiidae, Eleotridae and Ambassidae contain endemic species, some of which must be endangered. The problem here is our lack of knowledge on the systematics and geographical distribution of many of these species, not to mention their ecology and conservation status. Many are probably not suited to captive breeding either.

Presently the following species appear to be highest priority for the captive breeding projects:





Funding and Implementation

It is unlikely that sufficient financial resources can be obtained quickly enough to allow all the activities of the program to start at the same time and with the same intensity. However, it seems appropriate to present the program in its entirety so that potential sponsors can see how its different parts interact and tend towards the goal of saving a comprehensive sample of the fish fauna of Madagascar.

Project I has in fact already begun and hopefully, as a minimum, the research activities can go on at their present level. Of course it is hoped that the existence of the Program will contribute to attracting more scientists and research institutions to work on the fishes of Madagascar in a coordinated way.

Project II is the part of the program which will need a comparatively large financial input especially at the beginning when the infrastructure (fish farm) is constructed or rehabilitated. For this reason it should be preceded by a feasibility mission and a funding campaign should not be engaged before precise plans can be drawn up and an "in principle" agreement is reached with the Malagasy authorities.

Ex-situ captive breeding activities by aquarists and by commercial tropical fish breeders should be undertaken and funded on a voluntary basis, and therefore should not be extremely costly. However, the creation of a Centre for the Propagation and Conservation of Endangered Tropical Fishes would have significant costs and should be preceded by a feasibility study.

In the immediate future, the ACN will have three focal areas:
  1. Ex-situ captive breeding by volunteer aquarists. Already, the ACN has commenced a pilot captive breeding initiative for the threatened Malagasy killifish, Pachypanchax homalonotus, a cooperative project between ACN member aquarists, the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation (New York Aquarium) and the San Antonio Zoo. Soon to follow will be a program for Pachypanchax sakaramyi as well as Malagasy cichlid fishes and rainbowfishes.
  2. Assist institutions and individual scientists involved with field survey and collection activities, particularly as they pertain to locating and acquiring founding stock for establishing ACN breeding programs.
  3. Discuss the program with as many potential players and interested parties as possible, with a view to:

It is hoped that by presenting this prospectus, interest in the conservation of Madagascar freshwater fishes will be stimulated and opportunities for meaningful contributions will be utilized.

1Loiselle, P.V. 1995. Report of the 1995 Madagascar Conservation Planning Workshop. Aquatic Survival, Vol. 4, No. 2, June 1995.
2bred in U.S.A.
3bred in Europe

Patrick de Rham is a Director of the Aquatic Conservation Network. He can be contacted at Montolivet 27, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland. Tel: (41) 21-616-4976; Fax: (41) 21-616-5036. For further information on the program you can also contact Rob Huntley, General Manager, Aquatic Conservation Network, 540 Roosevelt Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2A 1Z8. Tel: (613) 729-4670; Fax: (613) 729-5613; Internet: ag508@freenet.carleton.ca OR rob@acn.ca

Return to Table of Contents

President's Message

The Madagascar Project continues to make slow but steady progress. Currently there are two populations of Pachypanchax omalonotus in the captive breeding program. The first population, designated OMA-ONE, originates from a collection by Gerd Eggers & Wolfgang Staeck on the island of Nosy Bé in 1991. The second population is from specimens collected by Paul Loiselle, also on the island of Nosy Bé, in 1994 and is designated OMA-TWO. The decision to keep these populations separate is based on variations in color, positioning of the mouth and egg size. In other words, the two populations seem different enough that mixing them is not desirable until their scientific status is determined. There are at least three other populations of P. omalonotus on the mainland which are reported to have color patterns different from those found on Nosy Bé. Should they become part of the captive breeding program, they would also be bred separately.

A second species of Pachypanchax has been added to the program: Pachypanchax sakaramyi. Specimens of this species were collected by Paul Loiselle in 1994 in the vicinity of Joffreville. This fish has not been collected or seen since 1954 and was considered by the late Jorgen Scheel, a killifish expert, as a synonym for P. omalonotus. However, based upon color alone, it is reasonable to assume that P. sakaramyi is a separate species. We currently have founder fish, each pair being offspring from a different wild pair, thus ensuring a good start in preserving genetic diversity. The P. sakaramyi are beginning to spawn and Mark Rosenqvist, the Madagascar Breeding Project Coordinator, will need to find aquarists and public aquariums who are willing to participate in the program. Members of the American Killifish Association as well as other aquarists who are interested in working with these species are urged to contact Mark.

We would like to begin captive breeding of two cichlid species, Paratilapia polleni and an undescribed species designated "lamena". Both species are very attractive with the "lamena" species being particularly vulnerable to extinction in the short run. The P. polleni populations will also have to be kept separate as is the case with the Pachypanchax species due to color variations. Founders of these two cichlid species are not yet in the program but will be sought after as soon as we have interested parties who step forward to begin the captive breeding program. We invite and encourage the Conservation Committee of the American Cichlid Association and other experienced aquarists to participate in this important project.

Several members of the Board of Directors and Rob Huntley, our General Manager, were in attendance at the 1995 American Cichlid Association Convention in San Jose, California. ACN members Rob Huntley, Paul Loiselle, Patrick de Rham and myself gave a program on the Madagascar Project. While there the Board approved, in principle, a document prepared by Patrick de Rham to guide the ACN in the Madagascar Project. This document appears in this issue of Aquatic Survival. The Board also agreed to pursue the publishing of a book of readings on the fishes of Madagascar. A manuscript is already in preparation.

Roger Langton
Return to Table of Contents


ACA 95' Convention/Thank You

On behalf of Tropical FishKeepers Ex/USA (TFEx) and the Pacific Coast Cichlid Association, I would like to extend a sincere thank you for your help in providing an interesting, well informed, professional view of conservation at the "ACN Madagascar Workshop". You and the ACN's lectures during the convention, were inspiring and will help immensely in giving focus to our respective associations.

TFEx, as a captive maintenance study group, is developing the means to track several endangered species in recognized maintenance programs and assist other organizations at the amateur level in starting viable captive maintenance programs with definable goals and results. We are a dedicated group and work hard in getting the message out concerning sound procedures and skills breeders need today. Our speakers program funds several lectures a year at aquarium conferences to help bring attention to this work.

Tropical FishKeepers Ex/USA cannot thank you enough for your contribution in this field of captive maintenance and the importance it will have for us all in breeding for conservation. If there is anything we can do or if there is information you would like to share with us, we would be glad to assist and include material in our library and publications.

Hoping you and your members had an enjoyable weekend. It was an honor to be of assistance during your visit.

James E. Lawson
General Manager
Tropical FishKeepers Exchange/USA
9521 River Road
Sacramento, CA 95832


The March issue of Aquatic Survival contained an article misleadingly titled "North American Native Fishes Association Endangered Species Breeding Program," by John Bondhus.

The gentleman's article is not a NANFA policy or program.

Please advise your readers. Thank you.

Bruce Gebhardt,
Secretary, NANFA
123 W. Mt. Airy Ave.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119

Return to Table of Contents

Views from OFI & OFI (UK)

In the March 1995 issue of Aquatic Survival, Dr. David Sands asked the question 'Is there a future for wild caught fishes?' The response from OFI and OFI (UK) is a resounding 'Yes'. His article, while not setting out to attack the aquatic industry, did however, present what we believe to be an unbalanced view of current thinking within the trade. It also contained a number of inaccuracies. Although the full range of issues involved with the collection of ornamental fish from the wild cannot be covered in this letter, some of the broader points may be highlighted.

Collection From The Wild

Loss of habitat, for instance, by logging in an unsustainable fashion, has decreased the area available to natural wild animals and plant communities. Habitats which have a value to the local community are, however, more likely to be preserved.

Of all the ornamental fish traded world-wide, only a small proportion are collected from the wild. Yet, this level of trade may provide a very real contribution to habitat protection, by giving habitats value and thus enabling local people and economies to benefit. Sustainable collection provides a reason to protect habitats.

This said, we, as an industry must continue to develop and improve collection and transport techniques so that the positive effects of the industry are clear for all to see. Certainly, no responsible importer would continue to buy fish from a supplier who experienced the sorts of losses referred to in the March article.


The collection of ornamental fish occurs in many areas of the world; the international movement of these fish usually takes place by air, in which case, the methods used are governed by the IATA requirements (which we support). These require certain conditions of packing, labelling and carriage to be complied with. These conditions apply to both the shipper and carrier. Even more stringent regulations are applied by some governments, as is the case with the Animal Transport Directive in the European Union.

In direct response to one of the comments made by Dr. Sands, industry Codes of Conduct make it clear that importers should always accept fish they have ordered and which have been sent in good faith from the country of origin. This applies even where delays outside of their control occur. By accepting this natural responsibility, it can be seen that the welfare of animals in transit is placed at the top of the list of priorities. There is no place in the industry for businesses which reject shipments of live fish, that they have ordered, once the fish arrive at an airport, even if the shipment has experienced delays.

Marine Fish

All responsible elements of the ornamental fish trade would condemn the use of destructive collection techniques, eg. the use of poisons, such as cyanide. These methods should play no part in the capture of fish for the ornamental trade.

Further, for a considerable period, many elements of the industry have refused to deal in obligate coral eating fish in the belief that fish which are unable to feed and, therefore, unable to survive, should not be traded.

Imports of ornamental fish, for instance, into the EU, are now closely monitored, and with particular reference to the UK, this enables us to produce some very useful statistics. For instance, it has been calculated that the Maldives economy benefits by £3.00 (approx US$ 4.65) for each ornamental fish exported. The total weight of ornamental fish imported from the Maldives into the UK during 1994 weighed less than 250 kg. That equates to a value, in terms of wet weight of fish, of over £320,000/tonne, (more than US $496,000). Compare this with the value of food fish harvested from the wild from another group of Pacific islands, the Seychelles. Figures indicate that 1980 kg of chilled fish was exported at a value of £7,790 (US $12,075): a price per tonne wet weight of just £3,850 (US $6,000).

In 1987, 5,000 tonnes of bait fish were caught in the Maldives and used in the hook and line tuna fishery. In that year, 50,000 tonnes of tuna were caught. Of the bait fish, between 600 and 1,000 tonnes are from groups of fish strongly represented in the ornamental fish industry. Thus, weight for weight, the UK ornamental industry could be supplied for over 200 years from the bait fish caught in just one year around the islands!

An estimate from official figures indicate that approximately 350,000 marine fish are imported into the UK annually. This amounts to 2.8 tonnes wet weight of fish. The UK industry paid some £822,000 (US $1,274,000) for these fish, an average of £270,000 (US $418,500) per tonne wet weight at import. In the UK, supermarkets sell certain reef species for £3.99/lb. (US $6.18). That is equivalent to a price of £8,800/tonne (US $113,640) at retail sale value.

The UK represents approximately 10% of the world trade market. Scientific papers report the productivity of reefs as between 3 and 15 tonnes per square kilometre. On the basis of these studies, the total global demand for ornamental marines could be supplied , weight for weight, from between 2 and 10 square kilometres of the total 600,000 square kilometres of coral reef.

Hard Corals

The total usage of hard corals in the world ornamental trade is estimated to be 2,000 tonnes. (It should be borne in mind that the USA still considers coral sand as CITES material, so it may be included in this total). The use of coral in building and for other industrial purposes, such as cement making throughout the Pacific, exceeds this figure many times over.

Freshwater Collection

In a recent paper entitled "Ornamental Fish Resources of Amazonia and Aquatic Conservation" Professor Ning Labbish Chao, a professor at the Universidade do Amazonas, discussed the issue of freshwater fish collecting. It is worth repeating verbatim several of the comments he makes:

"Statistics of IBAMA (the Brazilian Regulatory Authority) for 1993 showed that a total of 17.2 million fish were exported from Manaus, including 12.7 million cardinals and 144,561 discus. These figures fall right in the range of fluctuations between 1976 and 1981 (Chao, 1993). The total Brazilian exports were between 12.5 and 19.5 million fishes, including 10.9 to 16.3 million cardinals and 107 to 192 thousand discus (IBAMA records). It is clear that the market demand for wild discus and cardinals is limited. No data exists that the yields of discus or cardinals in the Rio Negro have reduced."

"Ornamental fish exports have provided an annual revenue of US$ 3 million to Amazonia in recent years (IBAMA records). This value may generate more than ten times its worth in other economic activities among riverine communities of Amazonia. If this fishery economy were interrupted or banned, fishers will have to find other means of sustenance. Unfortunately, there are few options for Rio Negro caboclos (rural Amazonians ): slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting, logging, gold panning, drug trafficking or migration to urban centres like Manaus. Either way, the ecological and social costs will be much greater than the benefits gained by the champions of tropical fish prohibition"

Professor Chao does, however, identify a number of problems. To overcome these, he has initiated "Project Piaba" to study the whole industry and identify practical solutions to them. At Barcelos, a major centre of the industry, he has established the "Centre for Ornamental Fish Study". This will facilitate his research and help disseminate information to the fish collectors on better techniques for capture and transport. This work has received support from OFI (UK) and other sources within the industry.

Other examples of the contribution made to the local economy may be cited from all over the world. In Colombia, for instance, it is estimated some 50,000 people derive, at least, a part of their livelihood from the collection of ornamental fish. In Malawi, the extended families of the staff at one collecting station amount to around 1,000.

Value of Money

In considering this question, the value of money around the world must be considered. Economists use a concept called Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) to try to illustrate the difference in "day to day" value of money around the world. The PPP figure relates to the cost of a basket of goods and services. The "cost" of this basket in the USA is said to be 100. By comparison, the cost of that "basket" in Zaire is 2. Thus, a dollar in Zaire is reckoned to be 50 times more valuable than it is in the States. These figures indicate the potential that the ornamental fish industry offers countries to be able to trade themselves into a position of economic strength. The value of goods imported into any country includes the value of the freight. However, this reverts by custom to the sending station. Therefore, the country of origin benefits in many ways, including:

Comment was made in the article that some countries should tax exports of live animals. However, this may, if not pitched correctly, put such countries in an uncompetitive position in the world market and effectively end or severely diminish the benefits they may otherwise gain from that trade. Alternatively, members of the trade in several countries, Brazil in particular, have suggested that the industry itself should levy a charge on each box exported. The funds so collected would then be used for research and education to benefit both the industry and the local communities. This initiative has been generally welcomed by the world industry. However, the exporters have yet to organise the scheme.

Education and Research

As has already been mentioned above, the industry is actively supporting work of Prof Ning Labbish Chao in Amazonas. Further contributions to his project are also likely to be forthcoming. In addition, both our organisations have set funds aside for sponsoring other projects, including work on sustainable harvesting of coral reefs. We are, in fact, currently processing several formal applications for support from both individuals and organizations. OFI and OFI (UK) believe that the best way forward is to participate in initiatives which will help improve standards throughout every sector of the industry and hobby. We are therefore looking at a wide range of areas and offering financial backing to as many of these as our funds will allow. For instance to date, the industry, including many members of both OFI (UK) and OFI, has offered sponsorship to the tune of £60,000 (US$ 93,000) to Sparsholt College, the first college in the world to offer full time courses in "Aquatics and Ornamental Fish Management".


The ornamental fish industry is a global one which provides a livelihood for many hundreds of thousands of people. No industry of its size and complexity can, obviously, be entirely problem-free. It is a main aim of our trade associations, however, to raise standards by implementing Codes of Conduct and to keep the problems at their lowest possible level.

It is, of course, always easy to identify problems, and this we recognise. It is rather harder, though, to identify solutions and put them into effect. If criticism is to be helpful, that is to say, useful in practical terms, it should be clear, constructive, and consistent and be based on a firm foundation of recent relevant experience of a sufficient breadth to help provide workable solutions. In adopting this approach, positive aspects should be highlighted (not just negative ones) and good practice should be identified and rewarded by praise. In these ways, the industry will progress to better serve the hobby.

Yours sincerely

Keith Davenport
Chief Executive
Ornamental Fish Industry (UK)

John Dawes
Editor, Co-ordinator
Ornamental Fish International

Return to Table of Contents

Report of Recent Madagascar Information Meetings

August 1995

by Rob Huntley

Following the American Cichlid Association in San Jose, where the ACN led a successful workshop titled Aquarists and the Conservation of Fish Species: With Special Reference to the Endemic Cichlids of Madagascar, Patrick de Rham accompanied me back to Canada and we took the ACN's Madagascar Program ideas on the road. We had the opportunity to visit several authorities on fisheries research and development including:

  1. International Development Research Centre
  2. Metro Toronto Zoo
  3. University of Guelph, Institute of Ichthyology

Each meeting consisted of a short presentation by me on the ACN, followed by a one hour (+/-) slide presentation by Patrick giving a condensed version of his San Jose presentation focusing on the geological evolution of the country, the consequences for the evolution of the fauna and flora, examples of fauna and flora, the people, the impact that people are having on the natural biota and in particular the consequences for the status of the endemic fish species. Patrick ended each presentation with a discussion of conservation priorities for Malagasy fishes in the context of the "Madagascar Program Prospectus" approved in principle by the ACN Board of Directors in San Jose (published in this issue of Aquatic Survival - see page 1).

International Development Research Centre

IDRC had agreed to host an Ottawa presentation and permitted us send out invitations. Although fisheries people from a number of government and non-government organizations and Universities were invited, there was some disappointment to Patrick and I with numbers in attendance (about 10). August seems to be a bad month for finding snow-free Canadians behind their office desks. Many people plan vacations at this time of year. Nevertheless we were honoured to have in attendance His Excellency René Fidèle Rajaonah, the Ambassador from the Republic of Madagascar. Ken MacKay of IDRC performed the introductions and led the discussion afterwards. ACN member & Membership Coordinator Dean Staff was also there.

Most of the other attendees were from IDRC and the IDRC related initiative, SIFR (Strategy for International Fisheries Research).

It became quickly apparent that resource materials should have also been made available in French and perhaps the presentation itself should have been so. Understandably, the Ambassador's preference was for French and we have undertaken to soon provide him with a French version of the prospectus. About 2/3 of the lengthy discussion which followed the presentation was in French. A follow-up meeting with IDRC's Brian Davy the next week was also squeezed in before Patrick returned to Switzerland.

Metro Toronto Zoo

With Toronto being directly in line between Ottawa and Guelph, Patrick and I took the opportunity to visit the Metro Toronto Zoo on the way. We were warmly received by Cynthia Lee, Curator of Fishes, and spent the full afternoon with her touring the facilities. We had a good look at some herps as well as fishes and a back room look at their involvement in the VSSP program with Oreochromis esculentus.

The Toronto Zoo operates with geographic theme pavilions and the result is that the "aquarium" consists of a handful of tanks in each pavilion. The curator's job is quite spread out and she is faced with having only a few personnel with fisheries background and relies a lot on zookeepers from other disciplines to assist with fishkeeping work. Despite court battles with contractors and half finished "new" aquatic displays which have been about 18 months under tarpaulins, Cynthia Lee's optimism prevails for fishes at Toronto Zoo. She was very interested in Madagascar and ventured with us how she thought a Madagascar theme could conceivably be worked into their current exhibits.

We gave our presentation to approximately 30 zoo people of every persuasion: keepers, curators, as well as management personnel. We were given only half an hour, coinciding with a personnel shift change and we were told to expect that about half the people would leave if we ran over as they had to report to work. So I gave the 45 second version of "what is the ACN" and Patrick did his best to keep things short. Despite the fact we ran over time, and the discussion kept us going to at least a half hour past due, no-one left. We found them to be an especially enthusiastic audience.

University of Guelph, Institute of Ichthyology

The University of Guelph recently began construction on a new Aqualab facility and plans are in the works for the construction of a new Institute of Ichthyology (see Aquatic Survival, June 1995, p. 13). Part of the funding for these projects comes from two aquarium industry sources, Herbert Axelrod and Rolf Hagen.

Considering the progressive mode of the Institute, and the involvement of aquarium industry financing, it seemed appropriate that Patrick and I should make the long drive to Guelph to share our views on Madagascar. It was also an opportunity to connect with several ACN members including Erle Rahaman-Noronha (who Patrick had previously met in Kenya) and Al Sippel (a good friend and former roomie during my undergrad time at Guelph).

As I am a former graduate of the University of Guelph, I have kept occasional contact with several of the faculty and provided periodic updates on ACN and our Madagascar related efforts. Our initial aim was to meet with Dr. David Noakes, Dr. Eugene Balon and Dr. Christine Flegler-Balon. We again had the opportunity to make a presentation and again we had a very positive response from the 30 or so faculty and students who attended. Discussion migrated to the staff lounge and continued for some time. As with the two previous meetings, I believe we effectively transmitted the message that something needs to be done, and soon, if the endemic fishes of Madagascar are to be saved from extinction.


It was obvious to Patrick and myself after our three meetings that there is certainly no lack of interest in the topic of conserving Madagascar's endemic fishes. What is lacking is a turnkey approach to funding and managing such initiatives, and giving sufficient direction to how others might contribute. A long road still lies ahead.

Although no concrete proposals have resulted from the three meetings there were a number of ideas bantered about. With each organization there were indications that there are prospects for future cooperation with the ACN.

It would be nice to see other organizations independently take up the cause for saving Madagascar's fishes. At this point it would seem that any seeds that we have planted with these organizations could easily wither and die if not reinforced. I see a real opportunity for the ACN to become a catalyst for this movement and it seems worthwhile to continue the advocacy/education process at this professional level as much as our limited resources will permit. Notwithstanding all of this though, we must get our house in order to achieve our immediate objectives with captive breeding and set mechanisms in place to make placement of fishes and monitoring stocks less of a preoccupation and more of an ordered process.

Rob Huntley is the General Manager of the ACN and can be contacted at the main address. Aquatic Conservation Network, 540 Roosevelt Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2A 1Z8. Tel: (613) 729-4670; Fax: (613) 729-5613; Internet: ag508@freenet.carleton.ca OR rob@acn.ca
Return to Table of Contents

Skiffia francesae - Extinct in the Wild

Recently the ACN sent a request to all livebearer organizations throughout the world, that is, all those that are in our database, requesting them to provide assistance to organizers of a captive breeding program for Skiffia francesae. This was prompted by a letter from Paul Loiselle (Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation). Part of the his letter is reproduced below as well as follow-up from Arcadio Valdés.

Please contact Max Dahlgren at the address given if you can assist with finding sources of captive bred populations of this species. rh

Letter from Paul Loiselle

I was contacted a little over two weeks ago by a chap named Max Dahlgren, an active participant in the AKA Cyprinodon and Related Genera Study Group. He informed me that Arcadio Valdés had just returned from a reconnaissance of Skiffia francesae habitats in the Rio Teuchitlan drainage of the Mexican state of Jalisco. He was unable to find the fish in any of its previously recorded collection sites, including several where it was known to occur as recently as four years ago. Skiffia francesae has been reported as extinct before, but in this instance, I don't think Arcadio is crying wolf. We must assume that this goodeid is now extinct in nature.

Arcadio would like to add S. francesae to the species he is presently maintaining under culture at the University of Nuevo Leon. Max is looking for founder stock to take to Mexico. He had heard that we had this species at the Aquarium and called to see if we had any surplus animals. We did have S. francesae at one time but gave them up when we discovered that we could not house them with the Monterrey platies. I told Max we hadn't had any individuals of that species on the premises since 1991 but promised I would beat the bushes in industry and hobby circles for him. I know the fish are out there - I saw pairs on a local club auction table not long ago.

What worried me more is the fact that to the best of my knowledge, all North American representatives of this species are descendants of a very limited number of founders Bob Miller brought back from Jalisco in 1976. These fish were released to the hobby through Jim Langhammer. It is my understanding that one or more European aquarium populations of S. francesae are descended from fish collected subsequent to 1976. This makes securing some of these animals particularly important if we are serious about establishing a captive breeding program for this species.

In any event, anything you can do to run down any specimens of this species would be greatly appreciated. I am going to put an emergency bulletin out on FishFAX next week to see if there are any institutional holdings of this species we can draw upon other than the fish Doug Sweet has at Belle Isle. Anyone with fry to spare should contact:

Max Dahlgren
1401 Tree Line Dr.
De Soto, Texas 75115
Daytime phone: (800) 527-9529
Fax: (817) 633-3085

Thanks for your help!

Ho ela velona!
Paul Loiselle

Follow-up from Arcadio Valdés

I want to thank and congratulate you for the proven interest in the preservation of biodiversity, and the grand job been done with the Aquatic Conservation Network.

This time in particular in reference to your letter dated June 27 1995, with the situation developed around Skiffia francesae. During the past three years we have visited the area for the distribution of the species with the following final results:

  1. Laguna La Colorada, checked at three locales, found only tilapias.

  2. Roadside ditch spring Highway 70, at La Estansuela, nothing.

  3. Small Springs at East north ridge of La Vega Dam, with the following species: Goodea atripinis, Ameca splendens, Xenotoca variata, Chapalichthys paradalis, Poecilia butleri, Poeciliopsis infans, Xiphophorus helleri, X. maculatus, Cyprinus carpio, and Oreochromis spp.

  4. Near lower end of Teuchitlan River, next to Highway 70, spring within a private homestead. Dead and dying tilapias, lots of them.

  5. Canal near the origin of Teuchitlan river, with P. butleri, P. infans, and dead tilapias.

  6. Spring "El Venado" next to the main channel of the Teuchitlan river, approx. 1/2 mile from the origin, we saw A. splendens, G. atripinis, P. infans, P. butleri, dead and dying tilapias.

  7. Spring of the Teuchitlan river, and surroundings at near its origin, there was only P. infans, P. butleri, and dead tilapias.

  8. Chapulimita creek at 5 sites, from up to its origins and next to La Vega Dam, only contained X. helleri, and P. infans.

  9. Spring "El Tanque" 1/2 mile south of "La Mora", it is a big spring pool about 40 by 60 metres or so, surrounded by sugarcane plantation, flowing lots of water, contained only P. butleri, and many dead tilapias.

At the springs visited, the water was absolutely clear with bluish opalescence hints. All over the area were people catching tilapias by seine and dip net. In asking them the reason for so many dead fish and if it means anything to them, the only answer was a shrug of the shoulders and a grin on their face:

It is remarkable the amount of Tilapia produced at La Vega Dam. Apparently the fish swim up the streams onto the springs, and at the areas nearby the springs, the fish seem to get intoxicated.

Fishermen were collecting fish to eat and sell at the market in Guadlajara City. They appeared to be enthusiastic due to their abundant catch and nothing else seemed to matter. When pushed about the bluish hues on the water and the idea of agrochemical pollution, some of them explained that last year they had used something called "gramosol" or something like that. It was used for drying of the sugarcane leaves for burning the foliage and for making more clean "safra" - except it produced flames that were twice as high as usual. Most people did not like this, and stopped using it. The whole valley is basically producing the same produce, sugarcane, for so many years. They are using all sorts of chemicals 1) to control fungus at the root level, 2) to destroy weeds and competitive vegetation of recently planted canes, 3) fertilizers for a better production since the land is exhausted, 4) to control insect damage, and 5) to dry leaves for a cleaner "safra".

As expected there are some areas of land being lost to salt accumulation. The whole valley basin of the Teuchitlan river is managed by an "Ingenio Azucarero" or sugar factory that provides the farmers with advice and money for the "right procedures" to obtain larger crops. The entire area is certainly doomed to agrochemical pollution. I don't see any way out of the damage already done, and who knows when they will be interested in any sort of plan for restoration.

The entire length of the Teuchitlan river and surroundings are eutrophicated to an extent that the water hyacinth Eichornia sp. is carpeting all the open waters. It was not so two years ago. Even up to its springs - not even the water flow is keeping the hyacinths out of the springs. This is causing an incredible amount of tilapias, and the densities of poecilids are so great in some areas that they are overabundant and therefore heavily parasitized and fungused. The same is happening with A. splendens, the only native goodeid that seems to have benefited somehow from this situation.

The year before never found any dead fish, and still there was a more diversified native species such as Zoogoneticus quitzeonensis with its two morphs. One of these morphs is supposedly a new species that is in the process of being described. It is known as the "The Crescent Zoog" because of the orange red coloration on its caudal fin. The way it is now with its native habitat, I am afraid this species is already gone even before its description is published.

I believe that the ACN goals

will be the only possibilities for the preservation of a greater number of Mexican fish species than ever thought. Perhaps a period of about 10 to 30 years will pass before our authorities recognize the necessity for a wiser use of the watertable resource. Most administrators admit some problems, but when it comes to money, they argue "it's more important the give water and food to people than to preserve fish".

In a different place, but with similar complexity of interests, the city of Muzquis Coahuila Mex. has tapped all the water from "El Socabon" and "La Cascada", with no water flowing at all. In other words, this stream is bone dry - the only known distribution for its endemic "Platy de Muzquis" Xiphophorus meyeri.

Also, a problem with abuse of water table being overworked for agricultural irrigation is the area of distribution of Megupsilon aporus, Cyprinodon alvarezi, C. longidorsalis, and C. veronicae. All these species are endemic to their one original spring, and those springs have stop flowing, by lowering the water table, with the logical consequences for these species being lost.

Conclusion: The following species, as far I know, are extinct in the wild, and certainly I am not crying wolf. Their only hope is in the hands of well intended participants of the species maintenance programs of AKA, ALA, ACN and the like: Skiffia francesae, Zoogoneticus quitzeonensis var. crescent zoog, Xiphophorus meyeri, Megupsilon aporus, Cyprinodon alvarezi, and C. longidorsalis.

Species I know next to disappear because of the very same reason are: Cyprinodon veronicae, Allotoca maculata, A. goslinei, Allodontichthys polylepis, Xenoophorus captivus pops. "El Venado" and "Moctezuma", and Characodon audax.

People holding those species just mentioned must be aware of the situation for them in the wild, and the responsibilities it represents. Those species should be used as examples of what should not be done, and what needs to be developed in the near future in terms of environmental concern, and what is now called "uso sustentable de los recursos naturales".

Max Dahlgren, Paul Loiselle, Kit Stowel, Andreas Tvetraas, Dominic Isla, John Mangan, among many others, are friends who have helped me in the development and continuity of what I call "Centro de Resguardo Para Peces en Peligro" or the Refugium Center for Endangered Fish Species. Actually I am keeping over 25 species of special interest. If some of you want to know about our efforts in keeping them alive, or if you care to pitch in, please feel free to contact any of us. Please also feel free to use this information in correspondence and in your bulletin.


Arcadio Valdés González
Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon
Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas
Laboratorio de Acuicultura
Apartado Postal 438
San Nicolas de los Garza, N.L.
C.P. 66450 México
Tel/Fax: 52 (8) 352 42 45
Email: jverduzc@ccr.dsi.uanl.mx

Return to Table of Contents

Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon Programs for the Endangered Fish Species of Mexico

by Carlos Aguilera Gonzalez

The University of Nuevo Leon, at its Faculty of Biology, has sustained for some years, programs for the study and protection of endangered Mexican fish. The Museum of Natural History was incorporated to these programs some years back, providing areas or sections for husbandry, reproduction and exhibition. At the moment there are some 20 endangered species of Mexico.

During the present year the Museum obtained financial support from two organizations: a federal one, the "Comision Nacional para el Estudio y Uso de la Biodiversidad" (CONABIO); and the other a state one of the same affinity (CCFFNL), with a project title "Captive Conservation of Endangered Fish from the Northeast of Mexico". This has been done thanks to the support of Dr. Salvador Contreras, Dr. Paul Loiselle from the New York Aquarium, with which the university has the memorandum with the title "The Protection of Mexican Endangered Fish Species" and Dr. Edwin P. Pister of the Desert Fishes Council. This represents for us an important advance to show the same federal government that supports us, the true value of these projects, and even though we are facing a critical economic situation, and in the understanding of limited or disposable funding, they are worth supporting.

Our intention for this year regards the monitoring of 24 species from the states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and San Luis Potosi, that have been listed by international organizations like AFS (American Fisheries Society), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and the federal government. In some type of status, at least 15 of these will be in our programs of reproduction in captivity and reinforced within the Museum with exhibition and information programs on conservation of these species and their habitat.

It is evident that these obtained results will endeavour to guarantee the continuation of these programs in Mexico and in that manner maintain the attention of the government to continue developing programs to repopulate areas, that will in the long run also help to restore the habitat. For all that has been mentioned above, we are open to any contributions that will help manage the problematical situation of the present species.

As a initial point within the program, we plan to obtain a census concerning stocks of these species that are or have been maintained by aquarists.

The information we are searching is on husbandry, number of organisms or stock, generations in captivity, origin of the population, and whether there is an arrangement for species exchange. It is clear that any information sent to us will be handled with confidentiality and will be used as supporting data for a report concerning all the aspects mentioned above. We hope that our solicitation is well received by aquarists.

We would like to thank you for the attention paid to our solicitation and hope that this will have echo in all interested in the conservation of these species.

Carlos Aguilera Gonzalez
Responsable Seccion Acuario
Museo de Historia Natural
Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon
Apartado Postal 96
San Nicolas de los Garza
C.P. 66450 Nuevo Leon
Tel: (8) 382-7321
Fax: (8) 352-6380

Return to Table of Contents

Xenoophorus captivus - Inevitable Extinction

by Juan Miguel Artigas Azas

Xenoophorus captivus is an interesting livebearer of the goodeidae family inhabiting the desert areas in San Luis Potosi, the southernmost part of the Chihuahua desert. This species may give a clue for a better understanding of the geological and drainage history of the highlands of San Luis Potosi. The species presents a large and unusual distribution, with some parts in the upper tributaries of the Pánuco river basin and others in the far desert areas of the state. Of the five very well known and separated habitats of this species: Rio Tierra Quemada, spring near Jesús Maria (San Luis Potosi county), Ojo de agua de El Venado, Ojo de agua de Moctezuma, and Ojos de agua en Illescas, this last is just about to disappear.

I made a recent visit to this remote area (March, 1995) in order to collect some information about the status of the fish and habitat for a friend of mine preparing an article on the species. I was stunned to find out that what had once been a beautiful bolson in the desert, has turned out to be almost completely dried out and almost merged with it.

Access to Illescas (N. Lat. 23°15'; W. Lon. 102°08') was by no means a pleasant experience. I had to drive north 126 kilometres from Zacatecas city by state highway number 54 between Zacatecas and Saltillo. At the place known as Villa de Cos, after asking directions before the small and easy to overlook sign was found, I travelled east on a dirt road 18 kilometres long. This road was in really bad shape, one of the worst I can recall in all my exploring travels in México. I surely wouldn't want to try it when raining. Desert landscape with beautiful desert vegetation and an abundance of desert wildlife made me almost forget the state of the route.

Once in Illescas I became aware of the depressing situation. Formerly beautiful springs and lagoons of the area were drying out due to the lowering level of the water table caused by over exploitation of groundwater by pumps. The pumping is meant to support the expanded town population and agriculture in desert land. The water table has decreased so much that many of the lagoons and springs have already disappeared and just pathetic looking springs remain.

This last spring, a very small outflow, runs in the lower part of a five meter deep trench for no more that forty meters to a man made pool. This spring supports the whole population of the Xenoophorus captivus endemic geographical variation. The pool is no more than two meters wide, five meters long and fifty centimetres deep, and thousands of Xenoophorus captivus are still crowded in the place. But not for long....

The local people are sure the spring will disappear in no more than a year (March, 1996). They estimate that it has dropped one and a half meters in just a one year time span. Water in the pool was used to pump water to the town, as testified by an electrical pump present in the place; a pump that no longer works, having its intake pipes above the water surface level.

I measured the water conditions to be pH of 9.0, Kh of 9, GH of 10 German degrees, and the temperature was 22 celsius at the time. The water in the pool was clear and still supported a good amount of fine aquatic vegetation, providing refuge for the Xenoophorus fry, which would otherwise be at the mercy of thousands of hungry adults. It is perhaps those plants what allows such a dense population to be there.

Captive populations of this population are not known to me, so I took some specimens that I sent to the endangered fish reproduction center at the University of Nuevo Leon at Monterrey, hoping that a population could be maintained there. Biologist Carlos Aguilera Gonzalez was happy to receive them.

The case of this fish is not an isolated one. Over exploitation of groundwater for human use in many springs in dry northern México is causing many similar situations, and species are disappearing at an alarming rate, as has been widely documented. It is a situation that politically would be almost impossible to stop. And sometimes I wonder if somebody really cares....

Contact information: Juan Miguel Artigas Azas, Grupo Mexicano de Ciclidofilos, Cordillera Karakorum 223B, Lomas 3a. seccion, San Luis Potosi SLP 78216, México. Tel: 48 253168; Fax:28 253168; Email:cm886@freenet.carleton.ca

Return to Table of Contents

Report on the Results of an Ichthyological Survey of the Winam Gulf Region of Lake Victoria, Kenya

Part 1

by Joe Norton and Doug Warmolts
In the June issue a short report of "Progress in Lake Victoria" appeared. The following is the first of a two part article giving more detailed results of the survey.


In the last year, much advancement in the Lake Victoria Haplochromine Species Survival Plan, (VSSP), has taken place. Working with a large grant received from Kal Kan Foods, Inc., and Aquarian Food for Fishes we were able to make great strides in our immediate and short-term goals for this SSP. In addition to the grant, funding was received from the following institutions: The Tennessee Aquarium, Columbus Zoo, Metro Toronto Zoo, Detroit Zoo, J.G. Shedd Aquarium, St. Louis Zoo, American Cichlid Association, and the Greater Chicago Cichlid Association. Working with these funds, this SSP continued with work in four primary categories; in-situ' conservation efforts, North American internships for biologists and technician from the riparian countries, supporting education in-country, and the development of a field guide to the fishes of the Lake Victoria Basin.

In 1994, the AZA Lake Victoria SSP in collaboration with the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute, (KMFRI), developed a plan of action to access current stocks and population trends of critically endangered native fishes in Lake Victoria. There are many reasons for the importance of this fauna, including the preservation of biodiversity, as well as an important food fishery. Goals included formal training of East African biologists in North America as well as Africa in the fields of taxonomy, genetics, systematics, and aquaculture. Funding would also support the development of lakeside public educational materials and exhibits, as well as the completion of a field guide to the extant fishes of Lake Victoria. Finally, a series of ichthyological faunal surveys would be conducted in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Although the continued presence of the Nile Perch, Lates niloticus, in Lake Victoria makes the re-introduction of haplochromines impractical, we still believe these species are best conserved in as natural an environment as possible. Our goals were to survey the numerous dams adjacent to the lake to determine which are capable of supporting trophically representative communities of endemic cichlid species. With the information in hand, the proper evaluation can be made as to whether or not a given dam site could serve as a possible reintroduction site for native cichlids. This report represents the data gathered from the trip of March 17 to April 12, 1995.

Table 1: Sites Surveyed

25-Mar-95Futro Dam; Salawa Pond; Mbeji Dam; Uthyina Dam
26-Mar-95Uranga Dam; Tinga Dam
27-Mar-95Lake Kenyaboli; Masawa Dam; Tinga Ulanda; Tinga Mwer
28-Mar-95Mauna Dam; Ugege Dam
30-Mar-95Lake Sare; Lake Nyamboyo
31-Mar-95Kemolo Pond,, (Bar-Kanyago); Mowlem Dam
4-Apr-95Oyombe Dam; Omboga Dam

Table 2: Sampling Program

Fish Survey
DNA Samples
Water Quality Measurements
Interview of Local Residents
Live Collection
Futro Dam
Salawa Pond
Mbeji Dam
Uthyina Dam
Uranga Dam
Tinga Dam
Lake Kenyaboli
Masawa Dam
Tinga Ulanda
Tinga Mwer
Mauna Dam
Ugege Dam
Lake Sare
Lake Nyamboyo
Kemolo Pond
Mowlem Dam
Oyombe Dam
Omboga Dam


Our group arrived in Nairobi over a two day period beginning 19 March 1995. The Lake Victoria SSP members included Joe Norton, Tennessee Aquarium, Doug Warmolts, Columbus Zoo, Roger Klocek, J.G. Shedd Aquarium, and Paul Sackley, Tufts University. From this point we traveled to the Winan Gulf region in Kenya to organize and initiate an ichthyological survey of lake side impoundments from Kisumu to the town of Usenge. We were joined at various times by Dr. Nathan Gichuki, Dr. Helida Oyieke, and Ms. Mary Gikungu from the Centre for Biodiversity at the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Mr. Peter Nyamenya of the National Museums of Kenya, Kisumu, and Mr. Boniface Tsuma Jembe, Mr. Ojwang William Okeke, and Mr. Simon Agembe of the Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute, KMFRI. Our group employed the services of Siegfried (Ziggy) Engelhardt, a professional fish collector and guide, and crew of two.

A total of 23 sites were sampled in the Siaya region of the Northern Winam Gulf as well as touching more briefly in the South Nyanza region. At most sites specimens were collected by members of the team or purchased from local residents. Collection methods were primarily by seine, but minnow traps and gill nets were utilized as well as hook and line by the local population. Collections were taken primarily from near-shore locations due to size restrictions or unavailability of deeper water at shore to launch our inflatable. There were several locations that did allow for open water collections. These were accomplished via inflatable craft and seines. Several transports of the catch were taken to KMFRI as well as the Kenyan National Museum at Kisumu. Our goals included obtaining a few specimens of Oreochromis variabilis, to return to the U.S. via the research team. The remainder were to be divided between KMFRI and the museum aquarium. Tissue samples were taken at each site by Paul Sackley for subsequent DNA and dry isotope analysis and returned to collaborating researchers at Ohio State University and Boston University. This work is being carried out to determine same species variance at multiple locations. All sites as well as specimens collected were photographed by at least one member of the team. The sampling results are represented by Table 3.

Water chemistry parameters were taken at each site using a hydrolab, secchi disk. Plankton tows and bottom sampling were carried out at multiple sites as well.

In addition to the work aforementioned, site surveys were also carried out by members of the KMFRI lab. This survey was designed to further determine the appropriateness of a given site utilizing both limnological data as well as anecdotal information gathered from local residents. This data was gathered from the local population who utilize the body of water in question. The survey was developed by Dr. Paul Loiselle of the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation. This is similar to the form utilized in Dr. Loiselle's work in the Yala Swamp region of Lake Victoria in June of 1994. Some of our sites overlap, which gave us the ability to compare data. [The limnological data is not included with this article. Please contact the authors for more information. rh]

Table 3: Species Distribution

Futro Dam3,6,8,9,13,14,16
Salawa Pond1,3,5
Mbeji Dam3
Uthyina Dam1
Uranga Dam1,3,6,9,11,17
Tinga Dam3,4,9,10,13
Lake Kenyaboli3,4,7,11,14,16
Masawa Dam1,13
Tinga Ulanda1,3,8,11,13,14,16
Tinga Mwer3,5,9,12,14,16,17
Mauna Dam1,3,5,12
Ugege Dam1,3,5,9,12,17
Lake Sare3,4,6,9,14
Lake Nyamboyo9,10,11,17
Kemolo Pond 11

Species Key

1. Barbus sp.
2. Synodontis afrofisheri
3. Clarias gariepinnis
4. Astatoreochromis allaudi
5. Pseudocrenilabrus victoriae
6. Haplochromis phytophagus
7. Haplochromis maxillaris
8. Haplochromis "dwarf nubilus"
9. Haplochromis "big eye scrapper"
10. Haplochromis "fine-bar scrapper"
11. Oreochromis esculentus
12. Oreochromis variabilis
13. Oreochromis leucostictus
14. Oreochromis niloticus
15. Lates niloticus
16. Protopterus aethiopicus
17. Haplochromis nubilus


After analysis of all data gathered, we were able to determine several sites for potential reintroduction of captive bred specimens. Further work is being carried out to determine if there are other outside influences that may affect the success of specific site introductions. Included in this would be improper fishing techniques or overfishing, seasonal changes in impoundment, heavy predation, etc. This work is in no way considered to be complete. These preliminary site surveys must be re-evaluated in more detail now that appropriate sites are apparent.

Live specimens of Oreochromis variabilis, (mbiru), were shipped from Kenya to Boston with much success. These individuals will serve as founder stock for captive reproduction. It must be pointed out that this is one of the two native species of tilapia that was once considered extirpated. Recent statements by fishermen that mbiru were abundant have been somewhat confusing since we now know that this name is being applied to the introduced Tilapia zillii. Visual inspections have confirmed this confusion.

Live specimens were returned to KMFRI and the Kisumu Museum for display and reproduction. These specimens will assist in educating local people in correctly identifying this species.

A detailed account of the findings at each locality will follow in Part 2 of this article in the next issue of Aquatic Survival.

Joe Norton is the Associate Curator of Fishes, Tennessee Aquarium, P.O. Box 11048, Chattanooga Tennessee 37401-2048, U.S.A. Tel:(615) 265-0695; Fax:(615) 267-3561. Doug Warmolts is the Assistant Director Living Collections, Columbus Zoo, 9990 Riverside Dr., Box 400, Powell Ohio 43065, U.S.A. Tel:(614) 645-3400; Fax:(614) 645-3465.

Return to Table of Contents


The following two items relating to the ACN appeared in recent communications of the Freshwater Fishes Taxon Advisory Group (FFTAG) of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA):

[NB: The ACN Madagascar Breeding Project Coordinator is Mark Rosenqvist. Contact Mark directly for information on how to become involved at Aquatic Research Oraganisms, P.O. Box 1271, One Lafayette Rd. Hampton, New Hampshire 03842 USA. Tel: (603) 926-1650; Fax: (603) 926-5278.]rh
Return to Table of Contents

The Pachypanchax omalonotus Studbook

by Mark Rosenqvist and Julia McCormick

For those of you who are thinking about becoming a member of the Pachypanchax omalonotus breeding project, some information about what goes on in this program might be helpful. As a conservation breeder in this or any other future ACN project, you would have 4 major responsibilities. First, of course, would be to get the fish that are assigned to you to spawn, and beyond that to raise and care for the young of the next generation until they are ready to be spawned themselves.

This leads into your second responsibility which would be to maintain a population of your assigned fish as long as is possible for you. Of course, it is hoped that you will bequeath the descendants of your fish to your own descendants. Realistically, ACN asks only that you stick with a chosen breeding program as long as you can, and that when you need to move on to other things in your life for whatever reason, you will make sure your fish get back to the ACN so that we can turn them over to someone who is willing to take over where you left off.

pachypanchax cf. omalonotus

Pachypanchax cf. omalonotus (red fins) - Aquarium Strain. Photo by Dr. Paul V. Loiselle. (colour images will be uploaded when available)ds
Your third responsibility will be to get fish to other members of the breeding program when it becomes necessary to shuffle the genetic material found in the fish among the various breeders involved. When to move fish around between the members of the breeding project will be determined by the species coordinator.

This brings us to the fourth major responsibility of program members. This is keeping accurate records of what is going on at your facility with your fish. This would include water quality monitoring, any disease problems and what was done to take care of them. Most importantly, however, would be the accurate recording of spawnings, keeping track of individual adults as well as the tracking of individual groups of juveniles produced by specific pairs. This spawning information is vital to the genetic tracking of the total fish population of the breeding project. This tracking is done by the species coordinator. For the P. omalonotus project, this is Julia McCormick of the San Antonio Zoo. Not only is Julia breeding P. omalonotus at San Antonio, but she has volunteered to create and maintain the studbook for these fish.

In order to put together a studbook, all individuals of any given population, in this case P. omalonotus, must be identified genetically and demographically. A studbook questionnaire is the tool by which the data is obtained. Each participating breeder must keep accurate records of individual fish as well as groups of juveniles not old enough to be sexed. Background information such as source of acquisition, wild locality, hatch date, sire, dam, I.D. number and disposition of fishes (death, loan, sale, etc.) will also be kept. With this information one knows where captive individuals are held and their genealogical histories. We can also determine the demographic stability and the level of genetic variation of the population. This data will allow the avoidance of inbreeding.

To create the P. omalonotus studbook, Julia is using a software package called SPARKS (Single Population Analysis and Record Keeping System). This is the system used by the AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) to set up most, if not all, of its studbooks. ACN is using this system because it will allow our breeding programs to mesh more closely with the conservation work being done with other taxa of animals by other groups (However, use of this model for ACN purposes is currently under review in cooperation with Jay Hemdal at Toledo Zoo).

SPARKS was originally designed with mammals in mind. As a result, adjustments will occasionally need to be made when problems arise. For example, most breeders, amateur or professional, do not have the room to separate out and give I.D. numbers to individual fry from a spawn. For this reason, we will give batch numbers to these groups of juveniles in the comments section of the studbook. When these fish mature sexually, random individuals will be pulled from their group and I.D. numbers will then be assigned to these fish.

To obtain the information needed to put together and maintain the P. omalonotus studbook, Julia will send out studbook questionnaires to participating breeders once or twice a year. Since this is a new project, the timing of the fish trades among participants has not yet been determined but this too will be initiated by Julia. Since this is our first fish breeding project, problems are to be expected from time to time. As long as participants keep accurate records and return requested data to the species coordinator in a timely fashion, these problems will be minimized.

Studbooks for fish are still in their infancy. The very first such studbook was set up for the Lake Victoria haplochromine cichlids. The Aquatic Conservation Network is helping to blaze the trail of fish conservation with our P. omalonotus effort and once this pilot project is running smoothly, we will move ahead with plans to develop breeding programs for other fishes from Madagascar.

It is hoped that this brief look at studbooks and the organization of the P. omalonotus breeding project will help convince ACN members to sign on as conservation breeders. Everyone's help is needed. Besides active breeders, people with the facilities to hold large numbers of juvenile and/or adult fish could make a tremendous contribution to the project. Also, anyone with interest in writing is encouraged to tell of their experiences with their P. omalonotus from a fish culture standpoint as well as from the perspective of a participant in the breeding program.

Mark Rosenqvist is the Madagascar Breeding Project Coordinator and he can be contacted at Aquatic Research Organisms, Inc., P.O. Box 1271, One Lafayette Rd., Hampton, New Hampshire 03842, U.S.A. Tel: (603) 926-1650; Fax: (603) 926-5278. Julia McCormick is the Species Coordinator for Pachypanchax omalonotus and she can be contacted at San Antonio Zoological Society, Aquarium, 3903 North St. Mary's St., San Antonio, Texas 78212, U.S.A. Tel:(210) 734-7184 (ext. 135); Fax:(210) 734-7291.
Return to Table of Contents

Madagascar Breeding Project Update

by Mark Rosenqvist

The ACN would like to welcome new participants to our P. omalonotus Breeding Project. Mike Florez is currently serving out Paul Loiselle's term on the Board of Directors. Mike has one pair of P. omalonotus and is working towards producing his first fry.

Also coming on board is the Maine State Aquarium Society led by Bob LeBlanc. Their membership now stands at approximately 60 and at least 5 or 6 people will be participating in our program. MSAS will be starting with approximately 40 P. omalonotus. These fish will be distributed among society participants and record keeping will be done by one person acting as group coordinator.

Among all participants, ACN is currently holding approximately 240 P. omalonotus. P. sakaramyi has also been added to our program and as soon as enough are available they will be distributed to members.

Julia McCormick, our Pachypanchax coordinator, and John McLain of the San Antonio Zoo, are still trying to figure out how to best keep track of our fish population. They are currently working with Jay Hemdal on population tracking software.

Plenty of fish are available, so if you or your aquarium society are interested in participating in the ACN Pachypanchax Breeding Project, please contact Rob Huntley or myself.

Mark Rosenqvist is the ACN Madagascar Breeding Project Coordinator and can be contacted at Aquatic Research Organisms, Inc., P.O. Box 1271, One Lafayette Rd., Hampton, New Hampshire 03842, U.S.A. Tel: (603) 926-1650; Fax: (603) 926-5278.
Return to Table of Contents

First Captive Breeding of Sakaramy Killifish at the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation

The first captive-bred fry of a critically endangered Malagasy fish (Pachypanchax sakaramyi) hatched from eggs spawned at the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation on 10 March 1995. This killifish was thought to be extinct until a relict population was found just outside Montagne d'Ambre National Park in October 1994. This discovery, which capped three days of fruitless searches within and outside the park, followed a suggestion by a local taxi driver, who claimed to know where zoto (pronounced "zoot"), as this fish is called in Malagasy, could still be found.
Pachypanchax sakaramyi - Sakaramy River at Joffreville.
Photo by Dr. Paul V. Loiselle
The five pairs of this species brought back from Madagascar have to date produced 100 fry. This rapidly growing F1 population is intended to serve as the nucleus for a long-term captive breeding program.

There is a collaborative effort by the AZA's Freshwater Fishes Taxon Advisory Group, the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation, Denver Zoo, World Wildlife Fund, and the Malagasy government to establish a secure refuge for this species in Montagne d'Ambre National Park. (Source: article by Paul Loiselle in Communique, September 1995).

[NB: Since this article was written the ACN has received a shipment of a number of pairs of F1 juveniles from the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation, which are being raised and bred by Roger Langton. Roger has already a number of offspring from these fishes. For information on how to become involved with this and other Madagascar species as they become available contact Mark Rosenqvist, ACN Madagascar Breeding Project Coordinator, Aquatic Research Organisms, Inc., P.O. Box 1271, One Lafayette Rd., Hampton, New Hampshire 03842, U.S.A. Tel: (603) 926-1650; Fax: (603) 926-5278.]rh
Return to Table of Contents

Call for Fish Breeders -
Madagascar Captive Breeding Project

We still have a real need for people to become breeders of Pachypanchax killies - immediately we need people to take some Pachypanchax omalonotus and in the near future we will need to find lodging for a number of Pachypanchax sakaramyi. Although we presently have no ACN founder stocks for the following species we are starting to get the programs organized, after which we will seek out the fishes. We are looking towards starting captive breeding programs for the cichlids Paratilapia polleni and the lamena (no scientific name yet but "potentially" a Paretroplus). Species/Genus coordinators are required as well as program participants. Also, anyone willing to work with Madagascar rainbowfishes of the genus Bedotia should make themselves known. Less immediate, but nevertheless prospects for the future are several species from the Paretroplus genus of cichlids. Another genus with potential for aquarist breeding programs is the Rheocles genus of rainbowfishes. If you have an interest in any of these areas, please contact Mark Rosenqvist, ACN Madagascar Breeding Project Coordinator, Aquatic Research Organisms, Inc., P.O. Box 1271, One Lafayette Rd., Hampton, New Hampshire 03842, U.S.A. Tel: (603) 926-1650; Fax: (603) 926-5278.

Return to Table of Contents

Positions Wanted

  1. Professional aquarist/ aquaculture technician is seeking a position in aquatic education or research. Will relocate within New England.

    Experience includes culture of micro-algae, rotifers and other fresh water and estuarine invertebrates. Also experienced in the spawning and larval grow out of both native and exotic fish species.

    Education experience includes designing and leading tours of a large indoor aquaculture facility aimed at students from elementary to college level. Also includes production of aquarium set up and maintenance video. Also experienced in working with teachers and other educators to design aquatics related to classroom programs.

    For a resume and/or more information, please contact Mark Rosenqvist at (603) 659-6893 or mail enquiries to 5 Church Street, Apt. 1, Newmarket, NH, 03857, U.S.A.

  2. B.Sc. Biology graduate seeking position with private or public institution. Aquarium enthusiast. Conservation minded. Management and retail experience. For complete resume, contact Mike Collins, P.O. Box 86, Waterdown, Ontario, Canada, L0R 2H0. Phone (905) 689-9852. Fax (905) 689-9483. E Mail colgiles@netaccess.on.ca

Return to Table of Contents


For various ACN advertising: Apologies to anyone missed. We are getting such great exposure that it is hard to keep abreast of it. rh
Return to Table of Contents

This page is brought to you by the Aquatic Conservation Network
Dedicated to the Preservation of Aquatic Life.

Copyright© 1996 Aquatic Conservation Network