The following is a very brief history of where I started and where I am today.
I’ve been keeping fish for nearly forty years, as of 2010, with the vast majority of those years being dominated by raising, breeding and studying Cichlids. When I was ten my parents bought me a ten gallon tank and filled it with livebearers – black mollies (Poecilia sphenops) and blue moon platys (similar to Xiphophorus maculatus). Little did they know their unending pursuit to keep me occupied as a youngster would result in where I am in this thing we call a hobby. I’m building my third fish room in as many decades, I’ve helped numerous others build theirs, I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world to see places and things most people will never see, I’ve kept and bred numerous animals including some of the larger and more difficult Cichlids, and I’ve had the great fortune someone found my ramblings and mediocre photographs worthy for use in their magazines.
When I saw that first live baby black molly (Poecilia sphenops) drop form its mother I freaked! I screamed MOM!! Come quick!! From that moment on I was hooked! I’ve had at least one tank of fish since including hauling a thirty gallon tank with baby Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) from Ohio, to southern Texas then, to Portland Oregon and back to northeast Ohio.
In the late 1980s I packed up the new wife, that same thirty gallon tank, a one hundred fifty gallon setup and a few more tanks bound for St. Louis, Missouri and a new job only to return back to Ohio six months later with all my tanks and new wife in tow. A couple years later, 1990, I moved to my new home in a Cleveland, Ohio suburb. One daughter and a scant eight years later I was dinning with some friends when my good friend Don Danko, in passing, mentioned he was leaving for Mexico in a week or two. I nonchalantly asked “if he wanted some company” to which he replied almost immediately, “yes”. That night I bought my first international air line ticket and prepared for my first collecting trip. Since then I’ve made at least one trip, sometimes three, annually to Cichlid lover havens in one country or another. Travelling has become more difficult these days but it’s still very rewarding in regards to the places and things I’ve been lucky enough to see. Working a second job over most of the last twelve helped fund my growing illness, as I call it, of course.
Not only have I been able to visit Mexico, Central and South America I’ve also attended most ACA (American Cichlid Association) conventions since 1990 and given talks on my travels all over the United States and even Bermuda. The point of telling you all of the above is not to brag of what I’ve done but to illustrate all the opportunities and great people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting from all over the world and all the doors keeping fish has opened for me. Some of my best friends came to me through fish “activities” including my travels and events. My list of friends includes people from all walks of life in numerous countries and all over the United States. Getting reacquainted at events throughout the years has been the great fun. Learning about how their hobbies and families have grown or changed over time. All in all it’s been a great ride and I look forward to future travels, meeting new friends and my new fish keeping paradigm!
More to come…