Zoo Zürich keeper needs help...

Q&A about Madagascar Cichlids

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Andreas Lach
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 5:20 am

Zoo Zürich keeper needs help...

Post by Andreas Lach » Wed May 02, 2012 12:18 pm

Hi Pam.

I just singed up to Chichlid Room. Cause I try to figure out some stuff I ran into at work...

It might need a bit of explanation before I ask my questions.
I work as a keeper in Zürich Zoo in Switzerland. My area is a big tropic Madagascar-hall with lots of endemic plants and animals under one big roof.
So we have to take care of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and of cause marine- and freshwater fish.
There wasn`t much focus on Madagascan freshwaterfish before. With the headkeeper, and me as the second guy in charge, changing , the goal is to have no topics left on the side.
And with the arrival of 6 Paretroplus memerambo, few weeks ago, the whole dimension of pressure on endemic fish in Madagascar came into focus.
The pinestriped damba we keep in an 1000 liter tank and hopefully will be able to breed and spread when raised.

But in the main enclosure itself, we have 3 big filtrated pounds integrated. Witch hold Ptychochromis grandidieri, Bedotia geayi and 40-100 Paratilapia polleni (?).

The idea now is to make use of this huge pounds in the mid of Europe to breed and spread Madagascan fish. To connect to other Zoos and private keepers and support the survival of these very nice species.
This topic is brand new to me also I was always fascinated by cichides, I never have been deep into the hobby though.

My hope (after searching the net for solid answers for days now) is to get some answers to the following questions...

a) I tried to figure out witch species of Praratilapia we keep at all. But that leaded me into the jungle of Paratilapia sp. classification.
We got ours from 2 Zoos in Germany few years ago. Wuppertal and Leipzig. Wuppertal got theirs from a commercial trader.
What is bothering me now is: Do we have some relatively pure breed Paratilapia, worth to spread out? Or would we cause damage by giving away bastard fish?
So what do you think about that ? How important would it be to focus on a pure local form of Paratilapia, if you allready have maybe nearly 100 at hand?

b) I and our Fishcurator, Samuel Furrer, thinking to do some DNA research on our fish atm.
Is there any relayable resource available to compare our data to?

c) Looking through the www for few days now, leaves me with the impression that there where some very active ppl around posting stuff few years ago. Is the focus on Madagascar fish going back? Or who would be a person to contact, who is still deep into that topic and active atm ?

I feel like I just scratched the surface of something real big. And hope to get some help from ppl who focused on that for many years. Cause I need to split my focus up onto may topics.

Thanks so far.

Paratilapia 2.JPG
Paratilapia 2.JPG (125.58 KiB) Viewed 4266 times
Paratilapia1.JPG (93.5 KiB) Viewed 4266 times
Paratilapia Gruppe.JPG
Paratilapia Gruppe.JPG (95.51 KiB) Viewed 4266 times
Paretroplus menerambo.JPG
Paretroplus menerambo.JPG (74.88 KiB) Viewed 4266 times

Pam Chin
Site Admin
Posts: 1740
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2003 9:11 am
Location: California, USA

Re: Zoo Zürich keeper needs help...

Post by Pam Chin » Wed May 02, 2012 9:50 pm

Hi Andreas,

Welcome to the Cichlid Room Companion! It is the most up to date site on the internet. I would encourage you to post your pictures in the public forum, either under the Madagascar section or in Taxonmy. Please let them know about your plight as well, and I am sure someone will be able to ID your polleni and be able to point you in the right direction.


Here in the US we are jealous of all the wonderful knowledgeable cichlid keepers in Europe, and there are many cichlid clubs in europe, nearly in every country. You should be able to reach out to them and and get some ideas of what your possibilities are going to be. I will warn you that the relationships between the "zoo world" and hobbyists has been rocky in the past. However most people in the science world agree that hobbyist's observations of fish in the aquarium has helped both parties understand and appreciate cichlids more.


In the United States we have a group called CARES that is a species maintenance program. Many fish that are at risk, endangered or extinct in the wild are listed and hobbyists commit to breed and pass around the fish. The attitude is that we can not save all the fish, but if each of us could maintain at least one of these at risk species, then we can at least keep them going. There is even some talk of re-introduction in to the natural habitat, which is another debate. There are several species of Madagascar cichlids on the CARES list.


It does seem that the interest in Madagascar has slowed down. I think it is a combination of things, bad economy, fish are a luxury. Some hobbyists like to keep the fish for a couple of years and then move on, and want to keep the next latest rage in cichlids. Most of the Madgascar cichlids get much larger then the size of the average persons tank (55 GAL). And they only have one tank, Madagascar's are not the best community type fish. I do know that they are breeding some species commercially, but with the demand falling, it is hard to say just how long they can afford to do it.

As far as DNA research, I would go to the catalog here on CRC and find the latest reference or citation and perhaps you can track that person down, or track down where the holotype is. It is going to be tough though, alot of the work done on these fish was many many years ago.


Hope these ideas will help you further your projects with Madagascar Cichlids!
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