Hybrid discussions?

Discussion on general cichlid care and issues. ID cichlids you don't know the origin of. Mixed tank questions.

Moderators: Troy, Ken Boorman

Hybrid discussions?

Postby Paulo José Alves » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:57 am

Hi

I´m absolutely against hybrids. Nonetheless I don´t understand why speaking about them should be banned in this forum. It´s just talking about it. A bann on that would be a radical, super action of censorship that would bring nothing good to this place. If there are people who by several reasons submit messages here concerning hybrids let them, this a forum so the dialogue must not be broken for a false sense of righteous "knowing the truth" and imposing it on others. By the way I´m not against color selection in pure species, does that mean that in the future I can not post some pictures of beautiful aquarium varieties of Discus, Mallawies or whatever? Good sense should prevail.

All The Best
Paulo José
All The Best
Paulo José
Paulo José Alves
 
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:43 am
Location: Barreiro, Portugal

Re: flowerhorn male or female?

Postby Lisachromis » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:49 am

Who says hybrid talk is banned here?
Talking about them is not banned. It's also not encouraged. I admit that. A large majority of the members who come here do not like hybrids and can be quite vocal in their dislike of them.

Personally, I don't care if hybrids are discussed, but arguments over hybrids will be stopped (the definition of what's considered an argument is basically a mod decision with the final say being admin). Everyone is entitled to come and enjoy themselves here. I like the fact that this is a forum where pretty much everyone gets along. Arguing would destroy the atmosphere here.

If a hybrid discussion was conducted rationally, I have no problem with that. People will keep whichever fish they like. I prefer to enjoy "nice" talk on fish, not watching a flame war or argument.
Basically, to summarize my position on it....
If you want to talk on hybrids, go for it. But expect a response. If the two sides can behave, I'll leave it alone. If they can't, I will step in and stop it. I don't want to come down as the heavy, but I will if I have to.
User avatar
Lisachromis
Administrator
 
Posts: 2659
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: flowerhorn male or female?

Postby dogofwar » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:13 pm

The problem, Lisa, is that there have been very few truly rational discussions of hybrids...discussions that leave behind whether you personally like (or dislike) flowerhorns and other hybrids (taste)...and analyze the rationale for being "against" them.

Most discussions "for" or "against" hybrids fail to differentiate between intentional (flowerhorns, OB Peacocks, Firefish) and unintentional ("mixed africans") hybrids. The former have a strong hobby following, are commercially valuable, and are intentionally produced, often by skilled breeders and hobbyists who also keep wild-type cichlids... while the latter have little or no commercial value and are often "accidentally" produced by inexperienced hobbyists or irresponsible vendors.

Trying to establish a moral bright line between "line bred" fancy fish and fancy fish that are technically hybrids is untennable. Taxonomic re-organizations (splitting vs. lumping, classification of geographic varient as a species, etc.) can convert a fish that is "good" into one that is "bad"...or vice versa. Such distinctions also require hair-splitting rationalizations regarding why historically "accepted" fancy fish (like discus) are "good" or "bad".

Most discussions also fail to critically assess the merits or de-merits of common assumptions (myths) about flowerhorns and other "intentional" hybrids: they destroy conservation, those who breed them are only in it for the money, they destroy "pure" lines of fish in the hobby, etc. For example, I'd rank the "threat" of flowerhorns to conservation at about 437th on the list, somewhere distantly behind habitat destruction, overfishing, pollution, and introduction of non-native species. Contamination of "pure" lines of fish in the hobby relies on irresponsible actions by those maintaining the "pure" lines...and not on the availability of people keeping and breeding flowerhorns.

Like it or not, flowerhorns and parrots are frequently the gateway into cichlid-keeping for hobbyists. They are commonly kept and not going away. Flowerhorns have been erected, in my perspective, as a red-herring for all of the irresponsible and unethical practices that plague (all corners) of the hobby. Being "against" them is futile, alienates a significant chunk of the hobby, and fails to address the real problems.

Although I don't personally keep or enjoy flowerhorns (big, mean cichlids aren't my cup of tea), I have chosen to embrace my fellow cichlid hobbyists who enjoy flowerhorns (not - condescendingly - by trying to show those who enjoy flowerhorns the error in their ways) but by seeing the commonalities vs. differences. I wish more would do the same.

Take care,
Matt

Lisachromis wrote:Who says hybrid talk is banned here?
Talking about them is not banned. It's also not encouraged. I admit that. A large majority of the members who come here do not like hybrids and can be quite vocal in their dislike of them.

Personally, I don't care if hybrids are discussed, but arguments over hybrids will be stopped (the definition of what's considered an argument is basically a mod decision with the final say being admin). Everyone is entitled to come and enjoy themselves here. I like the fact that this is a forum where pretty much everyone gets along. Arguing would destroy the atmosphere here.

If a hybrid discussion was conducted rationally, I have no problem with that. People will keep whichever fish they like. I prefer to enjoy "nice" talk on fish, not watching a flame war or argument.
Basically, to summarize my position on it....
If you want to talk on hybrids, go for it. But expect a response. If the two sides can behave, I'll leave it alone. If they can't, I will step in and stop it. I don't want to come down as the heavy, but I will if I have to.
www.capitalcichlids.org
dogofwar
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:25 pm

Re: flowerhorn male or female?

Postby Dan Woodland » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:16 pm

I couldn’t care less about this whole Highbird crap anymore and I'm beginning to think it's really funny reading all the chest pounding and righteousness spew forth!! I’ve seen religion dragged into it as well as racial slurs, or at least the perception of a racial slur. I’ve read threats, counter threats, hurt feelings, pure anger and even a hint of diplomacy in the “discussions” of this now totally ridiculous topic. Some of the tangents I’ve read stemming from these Highbird threads are quite amusing. Ridiculous statements like “go join and Asian Club, they know what they are doing with Highbirds” to my fish can beat up your fish or even one of my favorites – “if you let them “infiltrate the hobby” they will take over the world!” Granted they are not all on this forum but remarkably the script is almost always the same. Just like in Hollywood, there are only so many plots to work with. :shock:

What I'm trying to figure out now is why so much emotion is attached to it. When someone simply mentions they don’t like Highbird they are summarily attacked, via verbiage, and some of the attacks are WAY out of line with regard to the provoking comment. :shock:

Maybe the saying “Don’t talk religion or Politics…” should be modified to read, “Don’t talk Religion, Politics, or Highbirds…” :lol:

Thanks for the entertainment and I guess there really is an upside to ignoring the “voice of reason.”

If I offended anyone feel free to contact me via E-mail mojarra@cox.net or PM here. I’d love to talk Highbirds and such. Um, no, on second thought I'll just read about it... :lol:

One more thought, we may have to remove another word from the Politically Correctness list. Black and White have already been taken off so now we need to remove “FlowerHorn, and let’s also remove Highbird too. There that’s better…. :lol: :lol:
User avatar
Dan Woodland
CichlidRoom Expert
 
Posts: 3028
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:49 am

Re: flowerhorn male or female?

Postby Lisachromis » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:31 pm

Matt,

I do understand... It's one of those hot button topics that's almost impossible for someone to not comment negatively on. To me, if you can't say something nice, then don't say it. If you don't like the hybrid topic being discussed and know that it really bothers you, then maybe you (generic you, not you personally) should not participate in the topic.
I've learned over many years of fishkeeping, that everyone keeps different fish, everyone keeps their fish differently and sometimes you just need to say "interesting but not what I do" and leave it alone. I've seen big arguments over HOW some people keep fish, let alone what fish.

So, as long as the comments are just that... comments, I don't mind them being discussed. Start going after people personally, or becoming rude, forget it. I will delete your comments REALLY fast. To me, this is about consideration of other people. As far as I know, fish don't have 'feelings' to hurt and as such, rude comments do nothing to them. If people were considerate of other people, I know we'd all get along much better.

I think I'll split this out since this becoming a discussion on its own.
User avatar
Lisachromis
Administrator
 
Posts: 2659
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: flowerhorn male or female?

Postby dogofwar » Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:27 pm

I don't mind the hybrid topic being discussed at all. I just wish that it were more often discussed rationally.

Bad feelings on this issue primarily come from those who have been "against" hybrids (cull them all, bring the bleach, they're garbage, they're a threat to the hobby, etc.) and the logical response to that ill will by those who keep them.

I'm with Dan that hybrids should be a big non-issue. They're a red herring. And they're not going away. Being "against" them is futile. Advanced hobbysist and new hobbyists keep and breed them.

So you like Flowerhorns? Great. Welcome to the club. We're glad that you like cichlids and want to hang with others who also like them.

Don't like Flowerhorns? I don't either. Not do I like Apistos (yawn... :lol: ) but that doesn't mean I'm "against" them. Or that I'll blame the ills of the hobby on those who mis-label them or sell them for a lot of money...

Matt


Lisachromis wrote:Matt,

I do understand... It's one of those hot button topics that's almost impossible for someone to not comment negatively on. To me, if you can't say something nice, then don't say it. If you don't like the hybrid topic being discussed and know that it really bothers you, then maybe you (generic you, not you personally) should not participate in the topic.
I've learned over many years of fishkeeping, that everyone keeps different fish, everyone keeps their fish differently and sometimes you just need to say "interesting but not what I do" and leave it alone. I've seen big arguments over HOW some people keep fish, let alone what fish.

So, as long as the comments are just that... comments, I don't mind them being discussed. Start going after people personally, or becoming rude, forget it. I will delete your comments REALLY fast. To me, this is about consideration of other people. As far as I know, fish don't have 'feelings' to hurt and as such, rude comments do nothing to them. If people were considerate of other people, I know we'd all get along much better.

I think I'll split this out since this becoming a discussion on its own.
www.capitalcichlids.org
dogofwar
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:25 pm

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Juan Artigas » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:23 pm

I am absolutely in agreement with Lisa, thank so much Lisa for keeping this a nice place where to express ideas without having to be offended for it.

And please, as mentioned before, hybrids talks in the general cichlids section...
Juan Miguel Artigas
Editor

The Cichlid Room Companion
http://www.cichlidae.info
User avatar
Juan Artigas
Administrator
 
Posts: 1378
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 8:37 pm
Location: San Luis Potosi, México

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Willem Heijns » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:31 pm

I just couldn't resist..... 8) Please refer to: Hybrids and other threats to the hobby

Why not take it from there?
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam
User avatar
Willem Heijns
CichlidRoom Expert
 
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:18 pm
Location: Stiphout, Netherlands

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby dogofwar » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:25 pm

I read it when it forst came out and I believe that it's probably the best article ever written on the subject, Willem.

Matt

Willem Heijns wrote:I just couldn't resist..... 8) Please refer to: Hybrids and other threats to the hobby

Why not take it from there?
www.capitalcichlids.org
dogofwar
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:25 pm

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Willem Heijns » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:35 am

Thanks Matt.

Let me summarize the point I tried to make in my article (to which I have had not a single reaction so far):

It is impossible to control the information about the provenance of cichlids (both locality and "purity").
It will get harder and harder to obtain cichlids from the wild.

These are the two reasons for my fear that sometime in the future I won't be able to get genuine "wild type" cichlids anymore.

Does anyone share my fear? Does anyone have an idea of what we can do about that?
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam
User avatar
Willem Heijns
CichlidRoom Expert
 
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:18 pm
Location: Stiphout, Netherlands

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Paulo José Alves » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:30 am

Hi Willem

Anything short of putting a certified chip in each fish can not give an absolute assurance about the fish provenance. And that is not realistic so we have to rely on the seriousness of who gets us the fish and also in our knowledge, or of others, to determine by the fish form and colors that we are obtaining the real thing.
The maintenance of species by maintenance programs at hobbyst level is allways a problem because our space is limited and so are our resorces so there is no garanty that the species is really safe. There have been several programs throughout the years to mantain cichlid species and it´s better to have them than to have nothing but in the future either professional organizations like for instance Zoos and Aquariums get involved in strenght or in a few years we will have to rely mainly in the fish farms stocks and amateur breeders to suply us, and that is very uncertain and risky.
All The Best
Paulo José
Paulo José Alves
 
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:43 am
Location: Barreiro, Portugal

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Dan Woodland » Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:35 am

Willem Heijns wrote:Thanks Matt.

Let me summarize the point I tried to make in my article (to which I have had not a single reaction so far):

It is impossible to control the information about the provenance of cichlids (both locality and "purity").
It will get harder and harder to obtain cichlids from the wild.

These are the two reasons for my fear that sometime in the future I won't be able to get genuine "wild type" cichlids anymore.

Does anyone share my fear? Does anyone have an idea of what we can do about that?


THAT is precisely why I started traveling, to find my own “wild types”. Ten years ago I was already having trouble finding a reliable source for the fish was interested in, high quality and wild. I. I think the only way to ensure continued wild stock influence in captive breeding is having reliable trustworthy people collect them in person – provided they can be captured legally in the country or origin. If the trend of ceasing exports in Central and South America continues we’ll certainly have less fish to work with. That being said there will always be some sort of export because someone will take it upon themselves to break a few laws… I do think at some point a large change is headed our direction, what exactly I don’t know, it may be legislation here in the states or abroad as there has been a lot of talk and action on legislation lately. Hopefully not but if the hobby is drastically changed from the outside I’d look more deeply into one of my other hobbies. One thing I’ve learned in life, nothing is more important than your health and family.

As I‘ve mentioned on other threads or forums your article is dead on Willem.
User avatar
Dan Woodland
CichlidRoom Expert
 
Posts: 3028
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:49 am

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby dogofwar » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:31 am

Hi Willem,

There are really a couple of issues here:

1) The availability of wild stock (for the hobby) and
2) The availability of "authentic" wild-type cichlids in the hobby

I'll focus on the latter.

The availability of authentic wild-type cichlids in commercial circles relies on there being a market for these fish. It's no accident that colorful fish outsell brown ones. Or that vendors stock colorful fish.

There exists an opportunity for vendors that want to differentiate themselves both by stocking wild-type fish (maybe in addition to "fancy" ones)...and by committing to "responsible practices" in maintaining and selling them. Responsible practices could include everything from labeling guidelines (for fish of provenance and otherwise) to not selling (unlabeled) "mixed africans", dyed or mutilated fish, etc.

A preliminary step would be for an organization like the ACA to come up with practical guidelines for labeling and other responsible practices (that hobbyists and vendors could use)...and turning commitment to these "responsible practices" into a program for recognizing vendors. The program that Wine Spectator has established around recognizing restaurants that have committed to certain practices could be a model: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Dinin ... 5,,00.html

Another factor working against the availability of "authentic" wild-type cichlids is the faddish nature of some cichlid-keepers. There is obsession for the "Holy Grail" (e.g. beani)... a few people breed them, the fish become widely available... they're no longer super "rare" or valuable... so people don't want them any more.... and then they're not available. Repeat process.

Many Breeder Award Programs also incent churning through species vs. long-term maintenance and distribution of a single species or variant.

As someone who maintains and breeds several wild-type strains of "convicts" and several wild-type strains of Uruguayan fish, I sometimes struggle to find homes for their offspring (other than the bellies of other fish). It seems many people don't value F1 "convicts" with known provenance back to collection sites over mixed ones. But I don't keep fish for other people. I keep them for me :) And I try to get people excited about what makes each variant or locality unique and different :)

Notice that I haven't focused on flowerhorns as the principle threat to the availability of wild-type fish beyond the fact that many stores stock them because people will buy them (and stores want to stay in business). For a flowerhorn or other hybrid fish to enter a "pure" line of cichlids requires an act of irresponsibility on the part of the person maintaining the "pure" line. This is no different than someone maintaining a "pure" line of fish using stock of unknown or questionable provenance in their line (e.g. a random, wild female peacock inserted into a breeding group of fish of known provenance).

Matt

Willem Heijns wrote:Thanks Matt.

Let me summarize the point I tried to make in my article (to which I have had not a single reaction so far):

It is impossible to control the information about the provenance of cichlids (both locality and "purity").
It will get harder and harder to obtain cichlids from the wild.

These are the two reasons for my fear that sometime in the future I won't be able to get genuine "wild type" cichlids anymore.

Does anyone share my fear? Does anyone have an idea of what we can do about that?
www.capitalcichlids.org
dogofwar
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:25 pm

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Bas Pels » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:42 am

dogofwar wrote:Another factor working against the availability of "authentic" wild-type cichlids is the faddish nature of some cichlid-keepers. There is obsession for the "Holy Grail" (e.g. beani)... a few people breed them, the fish become widely available... they're no longer super "rare" or valuable... so people don't want them any more.... and then they're not available. Repeat process.

Many Breeder Award Programs also incent churning through species vs. long-term maintenance and distribution of a single species or variant.

As someone who maintains and breeds several wild-type strains of "convicts" and several wild-type strains of Uruguayan fish, I sometimes struggle to find homes for their offspring (other than the bellies of other fish). It seems many people don't value F1 "convicts" with known provenance back to collection sites over mixed ones. But I don't keep fish for other people. I keep them for me :) And I try to get people excited about what makes each variant or locality unique and different :)


I can only agree with you, Matts, as I keep my fish for myself too

for some species I got a few varieties (I had 3 varieties of Parachromis loissellei, for instance, but sold the 2 pairs of 1 of these), others I might never keep as these don't interest me so much (Parachromis dovii, for instance, or the citrinellum-comples species) while others go wild about these

However, I don't particepate in any breeder program (if there are any in Europe) and the whole concept of competition is, when I sit down and think about it, alien to me. Therefore, I can not find any reason not to keep my fish for long terms.

I get them young, after a few years they start breeding and I might sell fry. I also keep some of the fry myself, as the group will, after a while, loose some of the individuals. I also think a group of fish of only 1 age is not really natural, I rather have more than 1 age-class in the group

This way, I can regularly provide young fishes to selected shops - in relatively small numbers, keeping interest alive

If someone would manage to breed 'C' beani, and raise all the fry, your system would apply. However, if he would raise only 20, or 30, giving his friends the first picking, the demand might even increase - and after 6 months, the second batch of 30 might be as easy housed

At least, that is how I look at raising fry: I only look at the long picture
Bas Pels
 
Posts: 2104
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:17 am
Location: Nijmegen - the Netherlands

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Dan Woodland » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:05 pm

Well thoughtout Matt. Playing devils advocate, a few comments...
dogofwar wrote:Hi Willem,

There are really a couple of issues here:

1) The availability of wild stock (for the hobby) and
2) The availability of "authentic" wild-type cichlids in the hobby

I'll focus on the latter.

The availability of authentic wild-type cichlids in commercial circles relies on there being a market for these fish. It's no accident that colorful fish outsell brown ones. Or that vendors stock colorful fish.


I tend to buck the trends keeping and raising rare or difficult to keep cichlids regardless of flash or glamour. My philosophy is there are 100 guys breeding that pretty blue Cichlid, I'll do the one with a few nice spangles on the face and a black dot on the side. There is a lot more to every fish than simply color.

dogofwar wrote:
There exists an opportunity for vendors that want to differentiate themselves both by stocking wild-type fish (maybe in addition to "fancy" ones)...and by committing to "responsible practices" in maintaining and selling them. Responsible practices could include everything from labeling guidelines (for fish of provenance and otherwise) to not selling (unlabeled) "mixed africans", dyed or mutilated fish, etc.



The only thing I see standing in the way of this is the limited market for even the most sought after Cichlids and management. Many times, much like you, I raise entire batches of fry, from any Cichlid, with the intent on giving them away. I usually give them to someone to feed their larger fish because I can't find them homes.

With respect to vendors wanting to differentiate themselves, what incentive do they have to join such a program especially when other who don't simply say they have wild fishes. Will there be an application process to decipher who is worthy to be a "responsible vendor"? Who will manage the program etc etc? One last thing, how many people are able to make a living solely on the raising and selling of Cichlids, not many, adding another administrative task to the mix (when most Cichlid keepers I know aren't paperwork friendly people) would not be looked upon favorably.

dogofwar wrote:
A preliminary step would be for an organization like the ACA to come up with practical guidelines for labeling and other responsible practices (that hobbyists and vendors could use)...and turning commitment to these "responsible practices" into a program for recognizing vendors. The program that Wine Spectator has established around recognizing restaurants that have committed to certain practices could be a model: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Dinin ... 5,,00.html



Great idea, I've seen this wine program before. I hope this would be implemented. Personally I do my best to include linage and locations for all my fish when possible but that's the problem. It only takes on person to drop the ball and a "strain would be broken".

dogofwar wrote:
Another factor working against the availability of "authentic" wild-type cichlids is the faddish nature of some cichlid-keepers. There is obsession for the "Holy Grail" (e.g. beani)... a few people breed them, the fish become widely available... they're no longer super "rare" or valuable... so people don't want them any more.... and then they're not available. Repeat process.



Agreed. This is a problem for most Cichlids, only a few have had staying power. I believe the ACA cares programs addresses this. I bred H. beani several times years ago and distributed hundreds and hundreds of fry. I would still have them had my pair not contracted some strange exploding cyst disease. I have two new batches now so there will be fry available as long as I can keep them going.

dogofwar wrote:
Many Breeder Award Programs also incent churning through species vs. long-term maintenance and distribution of a single species or variant.



Agreed. I'm not sure how this happened but I know our club this was not the intention. Our BAP was for the distribution and dissemination of information regarding the keeping and breeding of Cichlids. Rest assured the guys that see it as a contest will burn out long before the ones steadily working on progressively harder and more difficult species.

dogofwar wrote:
As someone who maintains and breeds several wild-type strains of "convicts" and several wild-type strains of Uruguayan fish, I sometimes struggle to find homes for their offspring (other than the bellies of other fish). It seems many people don't value F1 "convicts" with known provenance back to collection sites over mixed ones. But I don't keep fish for other people. I keep them for me :) And I try to get people excited about what makes each variant or locality unique and different :)



That's what it's all about. Keep what you want! :D

dogofwar wrote:
Notice that I haven't focused on flowerhorns as the principle threat to the availability of wild-type fish beyond the fact that many stores stock them because people will buy them (and stores want to stay in business). For a flowerhorn or other hybrid fish to enter a "pure" line of cichlids requires an act of irresponsibility on the part of the person maintaining the "pure" line. This is no different than someone maintaining a "pure" line of fish using stock of unknown or questionable provenance in their line (e.g. a random, wild female peacock inserted into a breeding group of fish of known provenance).



As long as someone still wants Wild Types FHs won't kill that portion of the hobby. The entire hobby's future rests on the shoulders of all of us doing the responsible thing. Something I find hard to believe will ever happen as the "good guys" are far out numbered by the dishonest, mainly because Cichlids are so easy to breed any putz with a tank and water supply can crossbreed them.

[quote="dogofwar"]

Matt

Don't get me wrong, I'd love for there to be a self-policing faction in the hobby. I'm trying to influence my little part of the world here. Hopefully others are too. As someone else once said, education is key.
User avatar
Dan Woodland
CichlidRoom Expert
 
Posts: 3028
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:49 am

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Dean Hougen » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:51 pm

Willem,

I'm glad you are bringing this conversation around to a useful direction: Can we do something about this problem?

First, I do share your fear. Second, I do think there is something we can do about it.

Unfortunately, I don't think we can do much about it at the level of the individual pet store, at least not initially. It is very hard to survive in these economic times and anything that takes time but does not immediately add to the financial bottom line will be a non-starter with at least 99% of the shops out there. Even ones who want to solve this problem (and many don't) are so busy hustling to stay in business that they can't take time out for getting themselves certified as carrying "known origin" fish. After all, at least 99% of their customers don't care. The same is true at the wholesale level, the distributor level, the fish farm level, the importer level, etc. In short, I think trying to address this through the vast majority of fish related businesses is the wrong way to go about it. There is just no alignment between our objectives and theirs.

Fortunately, there are a lot of people who are interested in this. Many of them are members of this forum. Many of them are members of fish clubs at the local and national levels. They are hobbyists. Some of them run fish related businesses too but they are, first and foremost, hobbyists. Now, I know a lot of hobbyists already try their best. They collect their own fish or they buy from highly reputable sources who know their fish and often collect them. They try not to cross fish from different locations. They try to keep good records and try to pass on good information when they breed and distribute their fish. The problem is not the motivation. It is the environment. These people are, in many ways, working in a vacuum. True, there are others out there like them, but they are scattered. It is too easy for information to get lost and mistakes to be made. These hobbyists need infrastructure that can help them.

Over on the ACA forum I have posted a bit about what I think this infrastructure should be but let me tell you a bit about the principles behind it. First, it should be easy to use. As has already been pointed out in this thread, many of us are not fond of bookkeeping. Second, it should allow people to kill two birds with one stone. Note that many of us like to update our friends on what we are up to. We post pics of our fish and tanks, give updates, report breeding behavior, etc. What if we could make it so that when someone says, "What did you get at the ACA convention this year?" you could post a reply as easily as posting a forum message (or even easier!) that allowed you to say, "I got some of these" and link to fry that Ken Davis had mentioned in a previous message that he was bringing. Not just the species, those individual fry! You would be building the database tracking the lineage of these fish, just by posting an update to your buddies! Indeed, what if we could automate it so that sales through participating club auctions provided the members with all of this data? All you would need to do is confirm it in order to post your update.

I am already working on the design of the software this would require but I'd be happy to work with anyone who thinks this would be valuable.


Dean

PS. I am also running for ACA BOT in order to bring this idea (among others) to that organization. As many of you know, the ACA has traditionally not been an early adopter of technology and may need a bit of encouragement to get moving. I don't think technology is a panacea but I think it can be valuable if applied properly.
Chair, American Cichlid Association (ACA)
President, Oklahoma Aquarium Association (OKAA)

ACA 2012 Convention in Indianapolis, IN
http://www.aca2012indy.com
Dean Hougen
 
Posts: 135
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:34 pm
Location: Norman, OK

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby dogofwar » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:04 pm

"Unfortunately, I don't think we can do much about it at the level of the individual pet store, at least not initially. It is very hard to survive in these economic times and anything that takes time but does not immediately add to the financial bottom line will be a non-starter with at least 99% of the shops out there. Even ones who want to solve this problem (and many don't) are so busy hustling to stay in business that they can't take time out for getting themselves certified as carrying "known origin" fish. After all, at least 99% of their customers don't care. The same is true at the wholesale level, the distributor level, the fish farm level, the importer level, etc. In short, I think trying to address this through the vast majority of fish related businesses is the wrong way to go about it. There is just no alignment between our objectives and theirs."

I disagree - especially with the ability to post some kind of certification (a la Wine Spectator), this is an opportunity for LFS and other fish vendors to differentiate. This isn't about selling known origin fish...it's about properly labeling everything that they have. For example, if a fish is of known origin, then sell it as such (and label appropriately). If it's not, call it tank raised. It pains me to see fish that I sell to LFS (of known origin) dumped in with tank raised ones, and vice-versa. It pains me to see tanks of "mixed africans"...some "pure" species, some hybrids, some who knows. And it pains me to see mislabeled or badly labeled fish - ("Oscar cichlid - minimum tank size 20g").

I don't believe that this represents an undue burden. Many good vendors already abide by responsible practices...and this would just be a way to formally recognize them for their efforts. Others would like to improve their practices...but need some guidance. And I agree that many simply won't care. Let them compete at the low end.

The restaurant business is also a cash-strapped hustle. And I'd bet that 99% of restaurant customers aren't wine experts. But enough resturants view the Wine Spectator certification program as valuable enough to invest in (it costs money to go through certification...as well as the cost and burden of actually meeting the standards) that thousands a year go through the trouble.

The program enhances knowledge and prestige of the Wine Spectator brand...and brings in a good chunk of money for them as well.

Such a program isn't aimed at the elite handful of wine (or cichlid) experts who already know where is best...it's aimed at educating / informing a broader audience.

On the hobby side, requiring people who sell in auctions to put their name and contact info on every bag is a great way to decrease shady-ness.
www.capitalcichlids.org
dogofwar
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:25 pm

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Dean Hougen » Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:37 pm

The problem with the analogy to restaurants is market size. Take a look at your local phone book. How many aquarium stores are there? In the OKC metro area, there are 15 aquarium stores listed in the yellow pages. How many restaurants? I'm not going to count them all but the listings take up about 50 pages. Fifty pages!

With fifty pages of competitors, you as a restaurant owner need to find a way to stand out. You need to specialize. You need to find your niche. Maybe 99% of restaurant customers don't care about wine certification. Probably 99% of restaurants don't get certified either. However, with hundreds or thousands of restaurants in a city, a few probably will get certified in hopes of finding and successfully filling their niche by bringing in the 1% of customers who do care (along with their dinner partners, of course). That is enough to make the program financially worthwhile for Wine Spectator to run. And make no mistake about it, that is why Wine Spectator has this program: To make money. They are not trying to save the wine hobby from mislabeled wines! Similarly, the restaurants that go through the certification are not hoping to save the wine hobby either! They hope that by knowing their wines well and attracting the wine aficionado 1% (et al), they will move more product and make more money.

In contrast, aquarium stores are already highly specialized. They are so specialized that a metro area of 1.3 million people can only support a handful of shops. Yet the hope is that they will try to specialize even more by investing the time and money required for certification to bring in the 1% of customers who care? Not likely.


Dean
Chair, American Cichlid Association (ACA)
President, Oklahoma Aquarium Association (OKAA)

ACA 2012 Convention in Indianapolis, IN
http://www.aca2012indy.com
Dean Hougen
 
Posts: 135
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:34 pm
Location: Norman, OK

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby Willem Heijns » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:18 am

This is turning into an interesting and useful discussion! :D

What we are after is getting the right information (species identity and provenance) with our cichlids. Now how do we go about that? There's two parties involved: the hobbyist and the trade. Both Matt and Dean have gone into the possibilities of the trade adopting a system which would provide for this accurate information. I think the trade will only comply with such a system if there is something in it for them. Something meaning: money. Most of them won't have any interest in ideas that will not be to their benefit. And I don't blame them. After all if the trade sees a demand for some kind of cichlid, they will supply it. So it's the demand that has to change.

Many hobbyists don't care about all this (but I wonder if this is really true...). The few that apparently do care will keep records of provenance and identity of their fish. But do they share this information with likeminded people? Because if they would, there could a circle of hobbyists who feel the same about this issue and provide each other with the "right" cichlids. This is also where the organizations come in. For example, I have put this type of information in the Cichlid Catalogue the NVC has on its website. The catalogue entry for Amphilophus amarillo contains information stating that I keep a wild pair of this species. If someone is looking for it, they can just go to the NVC Catalogue and contact me about availability of fry. Other people keeping this species can also add their information to the Catalogue entry. I would be most willing to supply this information for the CRC Catalogue (or some separate database).
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam
User avatar
Willem Heijns
CichlidRoom Expert
 
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:18 pm
Location: Stiphout, Netherlands

Re: Hybrid discussions?

Postby dogofwar » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:03 am

Dean - totally agree that there are more restaurants than fish stores. But people still have choices. And not only choices among LFS. Throw in all of the Wal-Marts, Petsmarts, Petcos, Mayers, and other stores that stock fish and fish stuff...and there are a lot of choices. It's not a perfect analogy but...you get the idea.

The few hundred people in the ACA don't represent enough of a market to go after for even 1% of the fish stores in the US.

But this isn't about us (we already know where to buy and don't buy much from fish stores anyway)...it's about providing broader fish purchasers with a way to assess and differentiate higher quality vendors from others in the market. Why is it better to buy a fish with a proper label from a LFS than a "Mixed African" from Wal-Mart... when the mixed African at Wal-Mart is only $5.88?

It also represents an opportunity for vendors to show how they are different than the others. Commoditization and the poor quality of many LFS has leveled the playing field with Wal-Mart and PetsMart.

I'd only anticipate that one or two stores in a metro area would seek to take this marketing strategy. Fine. This wouldn't be an expensive program to run or to administer, for either the ACA or the store. It might even result in ROI for the stores that participate and a stream of money to support ACA conservation and programmatic efforts.

This is really not much different than the ACA allowing its name to be placed on a product...except that this "certification" program would be tied to commitment to actual, specific criteria (vs. a nebulous endorsement).

Wouldn't it be great if someone shopping at a fish store that's got an ACA certification sign up (or uses it in their advertising / promotion) asked:
- What does that mean?
- Why does it matter?
- What other stores in town have done this? Why not?
- What's the ACA?
- You mean there are fish clubs in the area, too?

Matt

Dean Hougen wrote:The problem with the analogy to restaurants is market size. Take a look at your local phone book. How many aquarium stores are there? In the OKC metro area, there are 15 aquarium stores listed in the yellow pages. How many restaurants? I'm not going to count them all but the listings take up about 50 pages. Fifty pages!

With fifty pages of competitors, you as a restaurant owner need to find a way to stand out. You need to specialize. You need to find your niche. Maybe 99% of restaurant customers don't care about wine certification. Probably 99% of restaurants don't get certified either. However, with hundreds or thousands of restaurants in a city, a few probably will get certified in hopes of finding and successfully filling their niche by bringing in the 1% of customers who do care (along with their dinner partners, of course). That is enough to make the program financially worthwhile for Wine Spectator to run. And make no mistake about it, that is why Wine Spectator has this program: To make money. They are not trying to save the wine hobby from mislabeled wines! Similarly, the restaurants that go through the certification are not hoping to save the wine hobby either! They hope that by knowing their wines well and attracting the wine aficionado 1% (et al), they will move more product and make more money.

In contrast, aquarium stores are already highly specialized. They are so specialized that a metro area of 1.3 million people can only support a handful of shops. Yet the hope is that they will try to specialize even more by investing the time and money required for certification to bring in the 1% of customers who care? Not likely.


Dean
www.capitalcichlids.org
dogofwar
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:25 pm

Next

Return to General Cichlids

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest