How does one go about a Conservation Project ??

Discussion about cichlid conservation and captive bred programs

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Real Cichlid
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How does one go about a Conservation Project ??

Post by Real Cichlid » Wed Nov 26, 2003 10:33 pm

Hello to all. I'm from Malaysia.
Been an AVID reader of cichlid room and have subscribed to I've read with fascination on the conservation being carried for the Madagascan species.

Anyway, I would just like to inquire as to how one goes about in being part of a conservation project? What are the criterias etc. ?
Fishkeeping is the only thing that makes me sane !!!!!

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Juan Artigas
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Post by Juan Artigas » Fri Nov 28, 2003 10:53 am

That is a great question. Conservation is one of the hotter topics of discussion as there are not clear criteria for carrying out. It is just in the development. Points of view vary with some even stating that there is no worth it conservation outside the natural habitats, and if those habitatas are lost there is no value in keeping the species found in it anymore. This I believe is radical and very much arguable.

My opinion is that if any conservation is to take place it is very important to follow at the very least some simple rules:

To make a compromise to a long term maintenance of the species.

To know for sure where my starting individuals come from in the wild.

To avoid any crossbreeding and maintain a group large enough to assure at least a little genetical variation.

To get rid of fish that present obvious flawns.

To document behaviours, colors, changes, etc of my populations.

I think of course this are just basis and much more has to be written.
Juan Miguel Artigas

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Post by Simon » Fri Nov 28, 2003 7:55 pm

I think you need to be very clear why you are undertaking the conservation program. Are you doing it to ensure the species is not lost from the hobby or are you doing it to possibly release them back into their natural habitats? The way I see it you can't have it both ways.

If your goal is to prevent a species from being lost to the hobby then the idea is to follow the guidelines set down by Juan (BTW Juan - long time no see - nice to see you again) and get a group of like minded hobbyists around you who are also dedicated to preserving the species and once you breed them spread them around so that if something happens to your fish the species isn't doomed because you have them safely located in many places. Only the strongest individuals need be bred and culling can take place to ensure quality can be maintained. Much like any serious fish breeder would do anyway.

On the other hand, if your goal was to carry out a breeding program to restock habitats from which the species has disappeared and was found in naturally, then that is a different kettle of fish so to speak :lol: The best way to do that would be to select your starting pair or pairs and to place them in a very large pond or even a dam and allow them to breed unrestricted to choose their own mates and allow natural selection to play a part in determining who gets to breed and who gets selected against and therefore removed from the gene pool. This helps to overcome something called a bottleneck where populations originating from a small genetic base experience reduced genetic variability and become genetically homogenous. By allowing large scale and unrestricted breeding you are allowing all the genes the fish has to be, in effect, reshuffled into millions of different combinations and in doing so create genetic variability.

To illustrate this this point take humans, who have 23 pairs of chromosomes. These are sorted randomly when eggs and sperm are produced. The number of different combinations possible from a single man or woman is 8,388,608 different genetic combinations. And that is from a single person. Now when you take into account fertilisation still has to occur the probability of any two individuals having the same genetic makeup sky rockets to 1 in 64 trillion. In fish, where chromosome numbers vary from that of humans, you still have a similar pattern occuring AND if this is allowed to occur in tandem with random mating with the added selective pressures involved in finding a mate and surviving in the open for several generations etc then you could reasonably expect to create stock that is more suited to being released, with a 'deep' gene pool, and in numbers that will ensure the survival of the species in the wild.

It has been shown that when breeding is allowed to take place unrestricted in confined waterways, the population often appears to become stunted so tests would have to be done to ensure the mean size of the fish did not decrease and when it showed signs of this a harvest and release would have to occur.

Anyway, just food for thought or lively discussion lol

ciao - Simon
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Post by coelacanth » Sat Nov 29, 2003 10:13 am

juanmi wrote:Points of view vary with some even stating that there is no worth it conservation outside the natural habitats, and if those habitatas are lost there is no value in keeping the species found in it anymore. This I believe is radical and very much arguable.
With a finite quantity of resources, difficult choices may need to be made in this area. Hypothetically, if five species of Cichlid were being considered, and resource availability would only allow three of those to be correctly maintained in a manner that will allow for adequate management, then whichever three species were most likely to have a habitat to return to at some point in the future would be naturally the ones to direct efforts towards. If attempts were made to hold all five, then none of them may receive correct management, they are just being held like trophies, and it doesn't matter how much this is dressed up, this then isn't conservation. It is just delaying the inevitable, wsting time and misleading people.
This is complicated by questions about the importance of different faunal assemblages, in which case should one be a representative of a very different lineage then it could be argued that this should also be considered, regardless of whether the habitat was restorable. This would then subsequently lead to other choices being made about the other species, as one would have to 'make room'.
juanmi wrote:maintain a group large enough to assure at least a little genetical variation.
Here we have another problem. How can this be done for a Cichlid that perhaps reaches 25cm? The logistical problems are huge.

Personally I think the best service that can be done for Conservation is the distribution of information. People care more for what they know about. Careful observation in captivity can give some clues about the ecology of a species where for reasons of extirpation this is not possible in the wild.
I'm afraid I can't think of a single example where ex-situ conservation is actually working for any Cichlid species. Maybe if some of the larger Public Aquaria stopped housing sharks and filled some of their big aquaria with Paretroplus this might work, but I don't think the marketing people woudl realy go for this.

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Fish conservation

Post by Willy » Wed Nov 24, 2004 8:17 pm

I would suggest that you make contact with one or the other conservation programm like WWF and similar organisations.
Write or e-mail them,and tell them about the problems in your country.
It is already known that there is a problem with a lot of other animalspecies like the lemures and chameleons.
this people have the power to do something more,but of course any help from locals is welcome! Good luck,Willy
Willy,Male,Holland,Dwarfs,West-Africa,Central-Amerika,South-America,Tanganjika,Author of articles,Give lectures to.

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Post by z-rock » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:50 pm

Real Cichlid... I hope you are still amongst us and doing well.

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Post by Ardeus » Thu May 11, 2006 5:13 pm

Although I already found people interested in this project and able to finance it's still in its early ages. I'm working on getting numbers for costs (the project must be self-sustainable and give good money on top of that to go ahead).

Imagine you have one central octogonal tank with 30 meters diameter and 6 satelite octogonal tanks with 15 meters diameter. The water is 2.8 meters high.

Source of income comes mainly from tourism and also from selling the fish.

2 main options are still on the table:

- Each tank to each lake/region: Malawi, Tanganyica, Victoria, South American, Central American, etc.

- Focus of African cichlids and mix all the lakes in all tanks - to help prevent hybrids and increase the number of species.

We have to walk a narrow way between conservation aspects and economical aspects. Since the main source of income is provided by tourism, it must be held as a priority too. So right now I think we abandoned the idea of recreating exactly the lakes' hardscapes because they are not very attractive. So although we're aiming at a natural look, it must be more beautifull than real, each of the 56 views must have "its own story to tell" (even if to do that it looks slightly surreal, like making it ressemble somewhat a dry landscape like a mountain, prairy (dead trees with java fern growing on it, long extensions of vallisnerias on the ground), shoreline, etc). There will be rocky, sand, open water areas for all tastes in all tanks.

But all this doesn't influence much the conservation aspect of the project, beyond making the project look less scientific at first glance.

Hybrids: how to prevent them? And if they happen, how to correct it?
Mixing all lakes: what are the disadvantages? How to draw the line in what concerns hybrid safety and species numbers?

Another option: forget about the hybrids issue and breed the fish for conservation/aquaculture purposes in a fishroom with smaller aquariums. Not being obssessive with the hybrids problem, how will the large tanks look in 5 or 6 years? How can we estimate, the evolution of the percentage of hybrid fish, given the chosen species?

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