To start the second day we all sat down for breakfast together. So many aquarium enthusiasts gathered in one place, how fantastic. Ingo Seidel und Andreas Tanke jointly gave the first presentation “Wood eaters – the armoured catfish of the families Panaquolus, Panaque & Cochliodon“.
Because the South American rivers are mostly lined with trees or dense rainforest, which environmental influences cause to fall into the water, Mother Nature has met this challenge by creating animal groups capable of processing huge volumes of wood. Those catfish have a mouth part which is suitable for the “grating” of wood. The large spoon shaped teeth in the upper and lower jaws ensure that they not only ingest the food, but also the microorganisms too. Not all of the wood-eating creatures are small. They range in size from 6 cm to 80 cm. In the lecture the speakers described the three families of wood eaters, tell us where they are found and their demands on the water quality. With all animals, not only for catfish, a sound knowledge of the natural habitat forms the basis of successful keeping and breeding. Thus we saw muddy white-water rivers, clear-water rivers with sandy or stony ground but also black-water rivers. What they all had in common was wood. But today we also learned that rock crevices are ideal habitats for these animals too. You couldn’t find more variety of habitat within such a close range.
„The family Panagolus and L398 – an overview“ was the second lecture, given by Leandro Sousa and Christian Cramer. They described the phylogenetic classification of the Panaqolus species. Since 2001 there have been numerous changes within the classification. For this reason they used molecular data to distinguish between the three families. Morphological investigations were also applied to attain their results. Details about the tests and methods can be found in the 7th BBSW Special 2015, which will shortly be published by the IG BSSW.
Nathan Lujan was the next to present. “The diversity of Andean fish from Bolivia to Equador: wood eating and Chaetostoma species in the mountain ranges and foothills of western South America” was his subject. By collecting specimens and tissue samples on his expeditions over the years, he caused three species of Panaque to be redescribed and four species, plus two Chaetostoma species, to be newly described.
After lunch he continued with the subject “Exploring the Ventuari (the upper Orinoco) and the other rivers of the Guyana Shield: catching fish in the lost world”. Nathan told us of the fascination his visit to this region held for him and how it had inspired his work with fish and catfish to this day. By 2010 he had visited the region five times. The trips were to collect data to clarify the diversification of the loricariids. This way the scientist became familiar with the biotopes and areas which had surely had an enormous influence on the development of the species. Mother Nature also creates real specialists.
In the next lecture Walter Lechner took us to land of the Ancistrus: the black- and white-water biotopes at the confluence of the Amazon and Rio Negro. This is not a typical catfish fan region, but numerous Ancistrus species have been discovered there. Tetras, cichlids and knifefish were to be found in the various biotopes of the region too. It’s an unbelievable biodiversity which is hardly matched anywhere else in the world and is further evidence of how he, like all catfish fans, was able to think outside the box.
At the end of this day’s lectures there was a panel discussion. The subject was “Hobby goes Science” and the discussion brought scientists and breeders together. It soon became clear that each party could only succeed with the help of the other and that the consolidation of databases is crucial. Animal protection is a top priority for both groups. Breeders won’t have access to fish without description and research. And some behaviour patterns and backgrounds cannot be explained without the experience of breeding. And this is why a lot of successful projects have involved both scientists and hobby breeders in the past. The aim is to intensify such projects in future.
Over dinner there was a lot to be discussed. How does he manage to get those eggs to spawn? No one was lost for a topic. The multilingualism of the event simply wasn’t an issue. You had the feeling that “catfish talk“ was the common language.
Despite discussing until deep in the night, everyone sat “bright eyed and bushy tailed” in the lecture hall at 10 a.m. the next morning. The focus of this day’s lectures was on breeding, and many catfish breeders illustrated their experiences with photos and videos.
We would like to thank the entire team for this wonderful event and we are happy that so many hobbyists from all over the world came together to engage with the subject of catfish during these three days. We were very proud to support the event and are already looking forward to the 5th L-Number-Days in 2017!