Extravganza 2015: Julian Dignall

Details on this year’s Extravaganza

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Extravganza 2015: Julian Dignall

Post by LewC » Tue Nov 03, 2015 6:34 am

Julian Dignall

As a fishkeeping boy I began thinking about where fish came from. One of the guys that worked in a local fish store in Leith, Edinburgh, sparingly told tales of his visit to Colombia in the 1970 ̶ how vast it was and how dangerous a place it seemed. As I grew up, and my fish hobby grew with me, I never forgot these memories. They were exciting but it I thought it also a shame only a few heard these tales.

Late in 1996 I started a small web-page about the catfishes I kept, in a short time this led to many, many other catfish fans coming out of the dark places they had been hiding in and we all started communicating in a way that had not previously been available. The internet had enabled this conversation and it also made me realize that the same tales I’d found so interesting were being devoured by other readers. Before I knew it, it was the year 2000, I had a much bigger website on my hands and also airplane tickets for Peru.

Over a decade later I’ve built my second fishroom, collected catfishes in eleven countries and given talks on them in ten. PlanetCatfish.com has grown into the largest catfish website in the world and is recognized as one of the big fish sites. It is one of a very few hobby sites mentioned in scientific literature. A species has been written up in detail every month since late 1997; there are over 18,000 catfish photographs and over 30,000 populations of catfish being tracked by the site. I also started and have been running a much more low-key “all freshwater fishes” website called AquaticRepublic.com – primarily to innovate and trial information sharing technologies which I think may be useful to fishkeepers in the years to come.

More importantly, I’ve started a family and my interest also now stretches to what fishkeeping might be like for my children as they grow. I hold a dear conviction that the art and science of fishkeeping is a wonderful teacher for anyone interested in learning. Especially those with younger brain cells than I. I am hoping to shape the fish web sites I run to address the next generation of fishkeepers too. So much of fishkeeping is still trial and error, something which may not be sustainable for future generations. Freely documenting and sharing what we know for this and future generations is hugely important to me.

South American fishes have dominated the ornamental fish export trade in recent decades; since the late 1980’s the catfish hobby has been transformed by the influx of new species of Loricariids and many other species of catfishes hitherto never kept.

Travelling to the countries of origin of many of the popular and obscure aquarium fishes has given me some insight into how fishes live in the wild and their journey to our aquaria. I’m delighted to be asked to speak at the Extravaganza and that will hopefully allow me to share some of this experience with you all.

Jools will give 2 talks: "Introduction to L-numbered Plecos" on Friday evening, and "Collecting Catfishes in India" on Saturday morning.

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Re: Extravganza 2015: Julian Dignall

Post by JHG » Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:14 am

Looking forward to these talks.

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