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Austria 2011
June 2, 2011
1:23 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Might have to split this thread if it gets too pic-heavy, but here are a selection from my trip.

So I flew into Vienna on Saturday 28th May and was collected at the airport by Michael Köck from the Haus des Meeres. After a quick stop at my digs we headed to the Schönbrunn Zoo (thanks also to them for sorting the hotel out) to have a look at their fish displays and, more excitingly, Aphanius breeding programme which is off-limits to the general public.

Displays of native species outside the aquarium-house:

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This one houses the European mud minnow Umbra krameri, tree frog Hyla arborea and fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina, all three of which were on the hit-list to see in the wild over the following few days:

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Some shots of the breeding programme for endangered species which is based in a dedicated room underneath the public part of the aquarium. Most of these tanks house Aphanius but there are also several species of Cyprinodon, Characodon, Crenichthys, Fundulus, and other bits and bobs such as Cualac tesselatus, Valencia letourneuxi and Astatotilapia flavijosephii. Very, very cool!!!:

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Cualac tank:

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Phreatichthys andruzzii is an interesting hypogean cyprinid native to a small area in Somalia and must be kept in very warm conditions:

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This pool outside contains a large breeding population of Valencia letourneuxi, a highly-endangered killifish from western Greece and Albania:

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Unfortunately my contact at the zoo had to cancel at the last minute due to family matters so we rearranged our meeting and Mike and I decided to go and have a look at the 'Wienfluss' (Vienna River), a short tributary of the Danube that's famous for rapid variations in flow. It's still dangerous and there are warning signs with speakers along certain stretches. Within the city it's been heavily-modified as a result but not far outside is clean and holds quite a few fish species.

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I'd left my photo tank in the hotel so sorry about the pics. We found juveniles of Cottus gobio and Barbatula barbatula (?)... :

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...and Phoxinus phoxinus.

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The spot we sampled:

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Cake or death?
June 2, 2011
4:05 pm
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ender2811
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Sounds like a nice trip. Is the breeding program part of a repopulation attempt or are they planing to keep the species in house.
Schonbrunn is a cool place. Been there twice, loved it. Ask your friends if they could use a couple of biotech engineers. Will work for food /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" />

June 2, 2011
4:13 pm
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Stefan
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Great Matt - looks like you've had fun!

June 2, 2011
4:14 pm
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Thomas
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Thanks for sharing, Matt. Looks very interesting especially the small Cottus and Barbatula (for me).

But where is my Cobitis? /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

Cheers,
Thomas

June 2, 2011
4:24 pm
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Menu
Austria
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Wonderful stuff Matt!
Nice that you found some endemic species.

June 2, 2011
6:48 pm
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Matt
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Cheers everyone, and this was only the first day so plenty more to come once I've worked through the other photos. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

Cake or death?
June 2, 2011
8:31 pm
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Senor Bastardo
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Great pics Matt!

That Somalian cyprinid was reallly something got any more info on that?

June 2, 2011
8:56 pm
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oaken
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That place looks amazing!

June 3, 2011
7:07 am
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Bluedave
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you lucky, lucky barsteward!

looking forward to the next installment of photo's.

June 3, 2011
7:07 am
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keith565
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wow, amazing. can't wait for installment 2

June 3, 2011
12:01 pm
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Plaamoo
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Great trip & accounting Matt! I bet you were in heaven!

June 3, 2011
1:07 pm
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Matt
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Yep Jim, you guess right. /biggrin.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":D" border="0" alt="biggrin.gif" />

To answer some of the questions:

- The Aphanius project is essentially based around long-term captive maintenance due to a lack of habitat protection in the fishes' native countries. The zoo team played a large part in the rediscovery and subsequent reintroduction attempts for the Jordanian species Aphanius sirhani and make regular trips abroad to check the status of native habitats. If necessary fish will always be available for reintroduction purposes.

- Krister, don't know much about the Phreatichthys other than that they came from another zoo who did breed them which is now the plan at Vienna. Will try to obtain more info.

- Thomas you will see your loach shortly hehehe!

Cake or death?
June 3, 2011
5:07 pm
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Eyrie
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Great stuff - thanks for sharing /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

Mature, sensible signature required for responsible position. Good prospects for the right candidate. Apply within.
June 3, 2011
7:31 pm
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andy rushworth
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The fish in pic 15 looks like a Cobitis /unsure.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":unsure:" border="0" alt="unsure.gif" /> .

June 3, 2011
10:12 pm
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Matt
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We did discuss that possibility Andy hence the question mark. /unsure.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":unsure:" border="0" alt="unsure.gif" /> Very possible for sure.

Ok here's some pics from day two...

Street outside the hotel. I was nearly killed by several trams, still very much in use as public transport throughout Vienna, during the course of my stay. /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" /> The old ones are easy to avoid as they rattle a lot but the new ones are bloody silent!

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This is the same river we sampled earlier but within the city. You can see how much it's been modified as the underground line now runs alongside it and flow is heavily reduced:

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Apparently Vienna is one of the most beautiful cites in Europe but in 4½ days I didn't see much of it, so here's a token photo of a typical building: /tongue.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":p" border="0" alt="tongue.gif" />

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First on the agenda for the second day was a brief trip to my friend Mike's place of work, the Haus des Meeres aquarium, where he curates freshwater fishes, primates, reptiles and amphibians. The building is quite interesting since it was built as a bomb shelter during World War II so is an odd shape for a public aquarium being spread out over 9 floors:

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Can't for the life of me remember what these are but Mike told me this is one of the only captive groups in the world. One of the things that struck me about both zoo and aquarium was the amount of conservation work going on:

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The roof of the building offers some pretty impressive views over the city:

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ID help required, but I really liked these lizards and chameleons, and what was additionally cool were the tetras and hatchetfish swimming about in the base of the displays:

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Morelia viridis?

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Very nice Anableps anableps display with loads of Poecilia velifera inside! Apologies for overall lack of fish photos - I did take quite a few but my camera performs terribly in anything less than very bright light so the results were mostly awful:

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The two rain forest displays are excellent and contain free-range monkeys and birds:

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Mike's real passion though is goodeids (he's chairman of the international Goodeid Working Group - website still in development) and there exist extensive breeding facilities behind the scenes. Again, sorry for pic quality, or rather lack of it /blush.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":blush:" border="0" alt="blush.gif" /> :

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There's also a display containing Xenotoca eiseni with accompanying information about the GWG in the public part of the aquarium:

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Cake or death?
June 3, 2011
10:30 pm
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ender2811
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Very nice.
So your life is basically a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom episode. With the added danger of ninja trams /ph34r.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":ph34r:" border="0" alt="ph34r.gif" />
The pics of the breeding facilities are not that bad. You get a good sense of the scale of the project.

June 3, 2011
11:02 pm
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Following a brief discussion we both agreed that the best way to spend the rest of the day would be to drive 360 km (!), spend a wee bit of time sampling a thermal spring near the Slovenian border then immediately come back again. /wacko.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":wacko:" border="0" alt="wacko.gif" /> So away we went and after a few enjoyable hours mostly spent talking about fishes and enjoying some stunning scenery arrived to this beautiful place:

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Although Mike had warned me it was still crazy to see Shinnersia rivularis and Crytocoryne spp. thriving upon first view of the spring. It only runs for a few hundred metres before draining into a non-thermal stream but holds a temperature above 21°C/70°F throughout the year which has allowed the foreign vegetation to become established via an aquarium plant farm that used to exist here 20-30 years ago. Bear in mind this habitat is in the Alps meaning steam rises from it during winter!

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Further downstream Vallisneria spiralis is also growing thickly:

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Closer look at one of the Cryptocoryne spp. ID please?

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The first fish we caught was clearly a native species. Any guesses as to what it is? Leuciscus sp. perhaps?

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We could see some other, somewhat intriguing-looking stuff swimming about and that's when things starting getting weird. First we got these (there were adults too, but we didn't want to disturb things too much):

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Then this Hemichromis sp. which appeared to be one of the dominant fishes here:

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There were also lots of Amatitlania nigrofasciata and we saw several pairs with fry - cool to watch them defending territories!

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Numerous goldfish were also at large...

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...and this Melanoides sp. was everywhere:

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Mike attempting to lift our most impressive specimen, a Squalius cephalus weighing 3 or 4 kilos caught using only team-work and aquarium hand nets! Because there was no fight involved in landing it, this fish was quite lively to say the least which wasn't helped by the fact we were both pi**ing ourselves laughing the whole time! Notice the cunning deployment of four nets to stop the handles breaking. /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" />

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Habitat shot. The water is totally transparent which with the plants and fishes present really gives the effect of staring into a giant community tank. Most odd:

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After landing this juvenile Ancistrus cf. cirrhosus my camera battery packed in hence the lack of underwater videos and additional pictures. /mad.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":mad:" border="0" alt="mad.gif" /> Literally seconds later Mike caught an enormous adult female and this species is also clearly breeding here. Other fishes observed were a solitary Pseudotropheus, Poecilia sphenops, lots of adult Xiphophorus (both platies and swordtails - all ornamental strains) and Hemichromis fasciatus but seeing we only had around 2 hours fishing time we probably missed a few, too. At any rate it was a totally bizarre, but great experience, and thanks a million to Mike for being a hardcore driver and completely outfishing me at every available opportunity. /biggrin.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":D" border="0" alt="biggrin.gif" />

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Cake or death?
June 3, 2011
11:08 pm
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Matt
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QUOTE (ender2811 @ Jun 3 2011, 11:13 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
Very nice.
So your life is basically a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom episode. With the added danger of ninja trams /ph34r.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":ph34r:" border="0" alt="ph34r.gif" />

Nope, my life consists of a poorly-paid office job and this is my first trip to anywhere other than the UK in the last three years. If that's the impression you get it's all good though! /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" />

QUOTE (ender2811 @ Jun 3 2011, 11:13 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
The pics of the breeding facilities are not that bad. You get a good sense of the scale of the project.

Cool, that was what I hoped for as anything more detailed was, sadly, impossible. /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" /> Some very nice fishes in those tanks which would be great to capture using better equipment.

Cake or death?
June 4, 2011
8:24 am
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keith565
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wow, love the breeding set up. also very interesting what fish you caught in the river.
got to love those anableps,lol

June 4, 2011
9:32 am
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oaken
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That breeding facility looks really really cool. And I can't help but wonder what that habitat would have looked like without all the invasive species.

Not very good on plants but the Cryptocoryne look like either a C. usteriana or C. aponogetifolia.

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