Care of large cichlids, political issues

Discussion about cichlids from Central America
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Piotr Koba
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Care of large cichlids, political issues

Post by Piotr Koba » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:27 pm

Willem Heijns wrote:Now, in 2012, this legislation in the Netherlands is yet again on the political agenda. A list on which all species of mammals to be kept at home are to be published is almost ready to go into effect (planned January 1st, 2013). Any mammal not on the list is not allowed to be kept. We even have created our own Animal Cops to enforce this law.
So I am reviving my project. Anyone interested?
It's a brilliant idea, and I'd love to see something like that here in Poland, but it would be extremely difficult (if possible at all) to put into practice. The only way I can see is to educate single "aquarium owners", one by one, on forums, facebook, and other media. And in real life, too, warning unaware clients of those greedy stores not to buy a fish that may actually eat their cat, not vice versa. Same as Dan has already mentioned. It's called 'grass roots efforts', isn't it?
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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Belly-up » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:49 pm

Dan, You have the right idea. This is something that should be dealt with within the cichlid community, not by government. If I choose to crowd a fish that may be a shame but come on, it is a fish. It does not know is is crowded. I do not want government telling me what species I can and cannot keep. I do not want them dictating tank size or stocking levels either.

This is the proverbial slippery slope. I had the curator at Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit, Michigan tell me that he did not think P. managuense should be kept in an aquarium. What`s next, oscars? Please folks, lets keep our freedom and keep government out of it. Lets police our own ranks and influence others to properly house their charges. That will work to our benefit and our fishes.

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Willem Heijns
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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Willem Heijns » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:10 am

Thanks, Woody for your continuing support. While working on the system yesterday, I suddenly realized it has been published back in 1993 in Ad's book "Enjoying cichlids" Find you copy if you still have it. An excellent guide.

Anyway, the system is going through an upgrade (more and better criteria) and when that is finished I'll certainly share it with you guys. I hope I won't be long.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Thomas Andersen » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:57 am

Willem Heijns wrote:Thanks, Woody for your continuing support. While working on the system yesterday, I suddenly realized it has been published back in 1993 in Ad's book "Enjoying cichlids" Find you copy if you still have it. An excellent guide.
...and reprinted in a second edition in 2002, which is still available: http://cichlidpress.com/books/details/e ... hlids2.htm

A most exellent book indeed :)

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Don Hiatt » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:50 am

This has been something that has bothered me for quit some time. There is an abundance of fish that are available in the pet trade that should not be. This is not restricted to just large Cichlids.

Many of the big chain pet stores are the worst offenders, but even the smaller stores are guilty of this irresponsible practice.

My short list of fish not suitable for home aquariums are as follows. 1.Pacu, 2.Gars, 3.Clown Knives, 4. Irridencent Sharks, 5. Snow King Pleco (Pterygoplichthys anisitsi) to name a few. The Red Snakehead would be on this list, but they have since been banned. I am sure there are more fish that I forgot.

I feel these species have become so popular in the pet trade due to the fact that they get so large. Larger fish tend to produce a greater volume of eggs, thus producing more fry.

More fry, equals more profit for the fish farms that produce these fish. Many of these fish are produced as food fish and most likely the fish we see in the trade are a byproduct of this.

I understand a business is a business, but we need to put the welfare of the animals before profits.

Just my 2 cents.

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Willem Heijns » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:05 am

No cichlids on your list Don? 8)
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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Don Hiatt » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:17 am

I feel it would be a little selfish as a cichlidophile to only focus on Cichlids. To answer your question, I guess I would add Parachromis dovii, Caquetaia umbriferum, Cichla and Boulengerochromis to my short list of Cichlid species generally unsuitable to be kept as pets.

Most of the fish I mention get much larger than Parachromis dovii, or even Boulengerochromis and Cichla. All the fish I mentioned get more than a meter and many of them get upwards of 2 meters. I also forgot to mention the Osteoglossiformes as a whole and many of the larger catfish that are sold.

It boggles my mind that Arapaima, Alligator Gars and Brachyplatystoma are even offered for sale. This is a clear example of retailers putting money before the welfare of the animals.

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Willem Heijns » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:24 am

I wholeheartedly agree with you Don. The guidelines discussed here can easily be applied to other fish species, because they deal with size and behaviour. I believe cichlid keepers can do themselves justice if they consider the species of this their "own" family in the same way they look upon other fish species. So I'm glad you mentioned a few. :D 8)
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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Lee Nuttall » Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:31 am

We already have a similar campaign in the UK called " The Big Fish Campaign" more details here: http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/c ... p?sid=4729

This is not a campaign to enforce a law, but more to educate hobbyists and shops who knowingly sell unsuitable tankbusting fish. Strangely there's not really much details on large sized cichlids species. I fear that many cichlids are overlooked as they would appear very small to some of the giant creatures of the deep that are commonly sold here in the UK.

How would one go about to enforce this law?? Hell, here in the UK we still have the traditional Victorian practice of selling gold fish as prizes at fun fairs all strung up in water filled airless polythene bags. Fish welfare in the UK is not a priority, I don't know how different it is elsewhere in Europe or the USA?

This is my opinion only. I would say that cichlids in the home aquarium can be a very diverse group of fish that can show different behaviour patterns to their wild counterparts. In my opinion some rules can be broken. P. dovii is difficult fish to categorize, around 99% of hobbyist who keep this fish don't provide suitable conditions, therefore shouldn't really be kept, Many large size cichlids I see kept especially in USA aquariums appear to be kept as a status fish. You only have to see some of the ridiculous topics on one very popular large fishkeeping forum to prove my point. :(

So perhaps my point is that these cichlids can be kept, but unfortunately, the vast majority of keepers are irresponsible and cannot provide suitable aquarium space for them! So baring that in mind, I cannot ever see a ban on what size fish you can keep, but we can always educate and hopefully the core of these monsterfishkeepers, see sense?

Lee.

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Bas Pels » Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:19 pm

If one would start regulating anything in a law, the first step would be to define a tank.

I understand in the USA tanks are almost always fabricated - that is, not made to specs, and a 100 US gallon tank, that is 450 liters is condidered big.

On the European continent the matters are quite different, If I may take myself as an axample, I have 38 tanks which on average measure some 450 liters. 4 are over 1000 liters, 12 are between 500 and 1000 liters.

But still, a tank above 2000 liters is rare. And I think a regulation - be ik within a hobby or legilation which starts at this measure would not be felt or 99 % of the people keeping fish, and some of the last 1 percent would accept it.

For the USA people there would, perhaps, set the limit @ 200 US gallons

Now the only thing left to do is define how big a fish can be kept in this tank. Obviously, a fish reaching over 90 cm / 3 feet will be far too large for such a tank, even if it is a peaceful as a pacu

For more agressive species, one would require a measure to define such, I think preferebly so that one culd multyply the expected size with a multiplier to get a number. For instance, P dovii is much agressive than P managuensae, and if one wouldgive dovii a multiplier of 3 and managuensae one of 2, the dovi would result @ 40 * 3 = 120 and the managuensae @ 40 * 2 = 80 - dovi is too much, managuensae is a matter for debate

This coinsides with the above: nobody argues whether dovi is suitable, while managuensae is not that certain

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by dogofwar » Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:24 pm

You could always follow this advice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82GxIM7xw5U

Matt

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Willem Heijns » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:10 pm

I don't think the cichlid hobby could in any way benefit from legislation. I for one would never propagate legislation. But the fact of the matter is that legislation is imminent in my country, thanks to the lobby of animal "welfare" organisations. So I guess we'll have to live with that sooner or later.

What I'm trying to do with my guidelines is to educate cichlid keepers in a way which best supports the well-being of their cichlid pets. Every sound minded hobbyist would agree that there are cichlid species which are simply not fit to be kept in an aquarium, regardless of its size.
Having said that, size of the cichlid species is but one criterion for their fitness as pets. Behavioral aspects also have to be taken into account. My system provides for such aspects. So watch this space.....

@Matt: I assume you were only kidding us...... :? :wink:
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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by dogofwar » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:58 pm

Absolutely, Willem... But punching hole(s) in dovii tails (!) in the kind the advice that the biggest wholesaler of new world cichlids in the world is giving to other hobbyists. Really.

Willem said: "What I'm trying to do with my guidelines is to educate cichlid keepers in a way which best supports the well-being of their cichlid pets."

This is admirable and something totally different than regulation or the government dictating what and how people can keep fish. It's hobbysist trying to help others be better hobbyists.

Something that's really different today (than when I got into the hobby in the '80s) is the lack of quality LFS in most communities and the associated aquarium-keeping mentorship. Absent LFS (with experienced hobbyists on staff), there are fish forums...where you can find someone to agree with (and validate) even the most ill-advised aquaristic scheme (Electric Blue Dempseys, 3 species of Thoricthys, istlanum and salvini all together? Sounds like a GREAT idea...). And if an idea is rejected in one forum...you can always find another that will give it the thumbs up. Of course, the fish die...

Matt

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Dan Woodland » Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:52 pm

:shock: :shock: :shock:
dogofwar wrote:You could always follow this advice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82GxIM7xw5U

Matt

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Dan Woodland » Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:54 pm

Bigger more intrusive government or regulations are not the answer. Self regulation or common sense is, too bad common sense isn't all that common.

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Don Hiatt » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Dan Woodland wrote:Bigger more intrusive government or regulations are not the answer. Self regulation or common sense is, too bad common sense isn't all that common.
I agree with you Dan. I am all for smaller less intrusive government. Sadly, common sense is not all too common. Thus, the abundance of Burmese Pythons and Green Iguanas running loose in Florida not to mention all the introduced fish found there as well.

Heck, governments introduce fish all the time. Example: Tilapia, Cichla, Black Bass and trout are still being introduced to places where they do not belong (much to the detriment of local fish populations) by all knowing and wise governments. Some states even refer to native "less desirable" species as "trash fish" even going so far as to advocate catch and don't release of species such as Bowfins and Freshwater Cod (Burbot) in favor of nurturing unnatural fisheries of introduced species. Very sad to say the least. I live in the North East and Brown and Rainbow Trout are systematically introduced by state fisheries here every year. Rainbows hail from the Pacific North West and Browns are from Europe.

That said, if the aquarium trade was overly regulated, our only options as fish keepers would be what color beta fish we would be keeping. Red, Green or Blue? That would suck.

As far as regulations are concerned, I think as long as the species is not endangered or otherwise prohibited from a conservation standpoint, we should be able to keep what we like as long as the animal is properly housed.

Lets take P.dovii for example. I am fairly confident that if a large enough environment is provided for this species, it could be safely kept and bred without issue. What would the size of the tank needed for this be? I have no idea. I bet it's in the many thousands of gallons.

Alas, I did say "possible". Does "possible" equate to "should". That's a though one. I say no. Some fish are better left in the wild. I feel our efforts would better serve those species at risk from eradication from the wild, instead of some piscine status symbol meant to impress our buddies.

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Don Hiatt » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:58 pm

dogofwar wrote:You could always follow this advice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82GxIM7xw5U

Matt
I cannot agree with Don Cockle on this. Mutilating the fish just so you can breed it?? Another example of money before the animals welfare. But that is the man's business and his attitude towards the fish could be expected as such. I can't believe I spent 50 dollars on this book back in the 90's.

But alas, many people simply view aquariums as a simple piece of furniture and the fish inside them as moving decor. Furthermore, many of the people in the trade view they fish the breed / sell as nothing but the monetary value they receive for each unit sold. :(

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Don Hiatt » Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:05 pm

Lee Nuttall wrote:We already have a similar campaign in the UK called " The Big Fish Campaign" more details here: http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/c ... p?sid=4729

This is not a campaign to enforce a law, but more to educate hobbyists and shops who knowingly sell unsuitable tankbusting fish. Strangely there's not really much details on large sized cichlids species. I fear that many cichlids are overlooked as they would appear very small to some of the giant creatures of the deep that are commonly sold here in the UK.

How would one go about to enforce this law?? Hell, here in the UK we still have the traditional Victorian practice of selling gold fish as prizes at fun fairs all strung up in water filled airless polythene bags. Fish welfare in the UK is not a priority, I don't know how different it is elsewhere in Europe or the USA?

This is my opinion only. I would say that cichlids in the home aquarium can be a very diverse group of fish that can show different behaviour patterns to their wild counterparts. In my opinion some rules can be broken. P. dovii is difficult fish to categorize, around 99% of hobbyist who keep this fish don't provide suitable conditions, therefore shouldn't really be kept, Many large size cichlids I see kept especially in USA aquariums appear to be kept as a status fish. You only have to see some of the ridiculous topics on one very popular large fishkeeping forum to prove my point. :(

So perhaps my point is that these cichlids can be kept, but unfortunately, the vast majority of keepers are irresponsible and cannot provide suitable aquarium space for them! So baring that in mind, I cannot ever see a ban on what size fish you can keep, but we can always educate and hopefully the core of these monsterfishkeepers, see sense?

Lee.
Lee,
The Big Fish Campaign pretty much takes the words out of my mouth.

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Paulo José Alves » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:10 am

Hi

When the government bureaucrats start to meddle only bad things came from them. Yes, there are many very big fish who are bought by insuspecting fish keepers who really don´t know what they are buying. Many of these fish are actually produced for the food industry( Pacus, Catfish, Tilapia etc) and end up in the aquarium business because there is who buys them. These fish don´t do well in the cramped aquariums that most have. Anyway, it would be preferable to kep the government and the laws as far away from the hobby as possible.

All The Best
Paulo José
All The Best
Paulo José

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Re: What are the Willem Heijns guidelines?

Post by Bas Pels » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:30 am

@ Paolo

What would you say yo a law making the trade telling people how big a fish is expected to get, and how agressive? How big a tank is required?

It is a law, on our hobby, but I would cheer it

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