May 052008

Spent the morning of april’s last sunday in FISU 2008.

Saw two presentations, the first of which overlasted its welcome (and not only on account of technical difficulties) and the second one could easily have lasted way longer.

The first show of the day was the second presentation by Heiko Bleher, this time a travel report on Collecting fish in India. The trip concerned lowlands only, and the selection of fish improved a lot from the earliest slides (which showed a bunch of Tilapias in a garbage-strewn lake next to Mumbai).

The oddball-award goes to Horaichthys a non-livebearer equipped with non-traditional breeding habits. A far more colorful (and suprisingly variable) group of fish were the loaches, there seemed to be dozens of species captured on the trip. But both paled against the news that there seem to be permanent populations of freshwater stingrays in Asia as well (of Dasyatis genus), at least I was completely unaware of their existence. As of dwarf Channas, of which there have been lots of discoveries recently – the smaller fish have not turned out to be juveniles of larger species.

On the exploration front, the biggest news were the complete lack of leeches in India. Leeches are a constant plague in many Asian countries (Laos and New Guinea specifically mentioned), but fortunately nonexistent on the subcontinent.

Pertti Rassi presenting in FISU 2008The second presentation of the day was Pertti Rassi‘s 50 Years, 500 Species, 5000 Photographs, forty-five minutes of personal history in the wonderworld of catfish.

The slides packed with great photographs thoroughly covered three families, and touched upon half a dozen more.

I’ve never owned a catfish of the Mochokidae family. But based on the prettiest and most interesting shown here, that might very well change. Synodontis granulosa was the rarest of the species covered – it’s 300€ price tag reflects its habits (lives very deep in Lake Tanganyika). The european market is crowded with Czech-bred hybrids (which are unfortunately sold using genuine names).

Loricaridae and Callichthyidae (suckermouths and armored catfish, respectively) were described in long form as well. The most interesting bit was the coverage given to the “long-nosed” species of the latter family – as opposed to the snub-nosed fish, these seldom imported fish can actually be difficult to take care of. These days the batches are carefully scanned for rare species, back in the nineties there used to be lots more unexpected guests in the boxes.

The finale of the presentation discussed less well-known families – Auchenipterids has lots of interesting small species, but Bagrids and Pimelodids are better left to public aquaria. Mystus leucophasis was the strangest amongst the slides – an asian upside-down catfish that is waiting to be placed into a new genus.

Skipped the last two presentations of the day (both on cichlids) and went apartment-hunting instead.

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