David Tarragó is a Spanish biologist highly enthusisast of fish and in particular cichlids. In 1996 he obtained his Ph.D. in biology in the fields of inmunology and microbiology. In spite of being a lab biologist his wish is to become a field biologist, but he hopes that in the end he does not become a "tie" biologist.
Since an early age David had always felt a special attraction to these animals that inhabit underwater. His first aquarium represented the begining of expectations that will never be fulfilled, because as soon as he manages to obtain a new aquarium or species he is already thinking in the next one. The truth is that the fact to be able to reproduce that environment so distinct to ours keep producing in David a lot of excitement.
As he express it, the main critic to hobbyists is the suffering caused to animals kept outside their natural environment. But it is evident that it is not possible to protect something that you don't know it existence. In this sense, without doubt it is important the role that many aquarists have played in the development of ichthyology. Some have even become obliged references in this field of zoology, like Ad Konings. Our modest contribution consists in preserving the species and varieties as they are found in nature, specially when many of them are waiting to be described. Besides, with our own interest we offer the ichthyologists, directly or indirectly, a material that otherwise would be hard to obtain. It is also the strong collecting pressure with the forthcoming damage to the natural habitats (A big problem concerning coral reefs) one of the mayor risks in the fish world trade business. This is something that can't be justified, but that in the concrete case of cichlid trading does not occur.
The economic development of the countries where major cichlid habitats are found, without doubt, has caused the destruction of many of these. In this sense we have the moral obligation to denounce the destruction of aquatic habitats worldwide, starting with our own countries. There is a strong controversy abut the right of poor countries to exploit their resources against the conservationist speech of rich countries, that in the recent past destroyed their own natural resources in search of progress.
The cichlid family includes, generally speaking, robust and grateful fishes that bring us many satisfactions, as long as we respect certain aspects of their ecology. For this reason, it is our duty to distribute our own knowledge to avoid that starting aquarists suffer from problems and frustrations that have so much damaged the hobby.
In the autumn of 1999 David had the opportunity to participate in a safari organized by Ad Konings in lake Malawi. During the month that the expedition lasted, he visited many of those places that hold unique cichlid species en the coasts of Malawi and Mozambique and that has allowed him to obtain several photographs that are now shown in the Cichlid Room Companion.
David has also had the opportunity to meet the well known cichlid exporter Stuart M. Grant and share with him and Ad Konings some of his experiences in Lake Malawi.
David hopes that all this is just the beginning of his relationship with the world of cichlids.