this is a very good and thought-out piece, George;
and I think it should be a topic in itself, not hidden in a post about Greg's menarambo's (not that there
s anything wrong with those)
this is about the ethics and species conservation in our hobby vs the practical side of it; can it be done and if yes, should it be done.
like you I tend to go for fish that have interesting behaviour, not just coloration; although I will always have a soft spot for featherfins and Tropheus from Tanganyika.
wich in my book are fancy colored fish ..... imagine that.
for the average Malawi keeper Tropheus might be adull brown bad mannered fish with few colors if any and a load of nasty difficulties as extra baggage
I could write a very similar account like the one on Etroplus canarensis on Iranocichla hormuensis; highly popular and in demand for 1 single year and completely forgotten and out of the picture the next
....and a host of smaller Tilapine Africans.
non Rifters from Africa are stuck in the margin and likely will stay there. with very few exceptions
anything from the America's is bred by the thousands, even fish that aren't really suitable for any hometank, even 2,5m tanks.
species like Parachromis dovii or Cichla spp wich dwarf the largest damii or menarambo by a fair bit are for sale ANYWHERE.......
and -personal view- the best use I can think of for any adult Cichla is the BBQ
I've eaten these when I was in Equador years ago, together with adult Pleco's (another fish with highly BBQ usefulness and wholly unsuitable for the hometank) and they taste exquisite.
but a home tank for a grouping fish that reaches 70+ cm TL and swims like a trout? how big should the tank be?
who can afford such a tank, let alone the size of house needed to build it into?
still, they're on many stocklists and they sell like hot cakes.
whereas like you say, anyone foolish enough to raise 400 damii would be hard pushed to sell half or a third or less.
still think it's a bloody shame though. even Madagascar has species that fit perfectly in a regular sized tank. Katria for example. and any of the Ptychochromis species for people with a medium-large tank.
quite a bit smaller than adult Vieja, and I cannot count the number of people keeping those.
but even the smaller Malagasy fish are hard to find, if not nearly impossible.
and the same goes for many other Africans. Chromidotilapia, Stomatepia, Thysochromis, Hemichromis other than those inbred Jewels, Heterochromis, real Tilapia spp, the list goes on.
"And he piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it"