In recent days with great sadness I received the news from Patrick Tawil, editor of L’an Cichlidé, the yearbook published each autumn by the French Cichlid Association (Association France Cichlid) of the possible closing of the publication with vol. 11, corresponding to 2011. While it is not official news, it certainly raises concern on the possibility. The reason given is that sales for this annual cichlid dedicated book are not enough to support its continuous publication. It quickly reminded me of the same fate experienced by the Buntbarsch Jahrbuch, a German cichlid yearbook edited and distributed by Bede Verlag, for which just two issues were published (1993 and 1994). And of course Ad Koning’s Cichlid Yearbooks, of which six issues (now considered information jewels) where published (1991-1996). The Cichlid Yearbooks were published in five languages (English, Dutch, French, German and Swedish). All of these publications of the best quality and with the latest information about cichlids. The best you could find.
L’an Cichlidé ten published volumes are of the best quality, with articles by some of the top cichlid experts in the world. In the pages of this publication several new cichlid species and genera where given light; including Robert Allgayer’s genus Cryptoheros (2001), a controversial genus, not initially recognized by some professional taxonomists because of the nature of the publication, not peer reviewed (I bet probably some of those taxonomist would be happy of L’an Cichlidé demise). It later became clear that the genus was in fact not just valid, but clearly applicable to a group of small Central American cichlids, of which the popular convict cichlid (Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus) is one of them.
Some other new species described in the pages of L’an Cichlidé include Cryptoheros altoflavus, Cynotilapia pulpican, Tomocichla asfraci (described after the Association France Cichlid), Vieja ufermanni and Aulonocara koningsi (the only species so far that honors the likely major modern contributor to cichlid knowledge). It has to be said that all species descriptions published in L’an Cichlidé enjoy nowadays general recognition.
Some of the authors for L’an Cichlidé include internationally acknowledged experts like Anton Lamboj, Eric Genevelle, Fabien Naneix, Heinz Büscher, Jacques Blanc, Martin Geerts, Patrick de Rham, Patrick Tawil, Robert Allgayer, Thomas Andersen, Uwe Werner and Wolfgang Staeck.
It is just too sad to think that such wonderful efforts of information publication don’t raise the interest in people to support them, and finally die out. I can only imagine the amount of work those books represent to their editors, and their following frustration of not selling enough copies to even support the publication costs. It comes as paradoxical that fish sales maintain high, likely by the inability of many aquarists to keep their fish alive in view of their limited knowledge, as money is firsthand spent on fish, then whatever remains (if anything) on information to get to know them, keep them and with this, better appreciate them.
We have to think that those authors for L’an Cichlidé or any other of the yearly cichlid books (or other cichlid publications) surely have gathered their knowledge and written their articles certainly not for the money (of which they have spent a lot more than whatever they can get), but for the passion that was raised initially by the fish, but indubitably followed by getting to know their fascinating natural history and evolution, surely thanks to quality information published, not free internet forums.
There is clearly an unbalance in this situation that somehow has to be solved, probably with the eventual increase in consciousness and awareness of the regular aquarist and his involvement in the support of his hobby and the conservation of the cichlid habitats. I just hope that in the end the quality information and those publications and people that distribute them get to obtain the recognition and support they deserve.
Thanks to Patrick Tawil and Robert Allgayer for the ten wonderful volumes of great information that have so far given to us, and my best wishes for the continuation of L’an Cichlidé.
See you next month.