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Aphanius Species
July 30, 2008
1:41 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Well I've had a fantastic day. I've just got back from Zaragoza (around 300km from Barcelona), where I went to meet Manuel Zapater Galve, one of the founders of the Iberian Cyprinodontid conservation project. There are three killifish species endemic to Spain, Aphanius iberus, Aphanius baeticus and Valencia hispanica. All three are at great risk from extinction with many populations being lost already due to the introduction of Gambusia holbrooki (I discussed this with Manuel and it may turn out to be G. affinis, will let you know when I go to net some) to control mosquito populations in the last century. Valencia hispanica in particular is apparently now found in only one or two locations and the situation for all three is worsening each year.

Manuel and his four colleagues are breeding these species/reintroducing them to the wild where possible, and have a plan to make new (hence Gambusia-free) pools in some areas. These should give captive-bred populations of the fish a good chance of surviving in nature. They also have numerous other species of Aphanius from north Africa, Turkey, Jordan and Iran, most of which are also under threat from introduced species/habitat degradation.

I visited their breeding facilities and saw how most of these fish are maintained outdoors all-year round (there's a species from Jordan that needs to be overwintered indoors). Manuel also introduced me to another member of the group, Juan Pablo Campofort who invited us to his house to see his fish room (also full of Aphanius plus some other fantastic species). I also went to Manuel's house to see the fish he keeps at home. He has some really interesting stuff including a new, undescribed species of Steatocranus, Elassoma evergladei and a Haplochromine that is endemic to Tunisia!

At the end of August he and Juan Pablo are coming to visit me here and show me the habitats where the Aphanius are still hanging on in and around Catalunya. Next week I will travel to Andalucia in the south of Spain (visiting my lovely lady) and have been given the locality and co-ordinates where Aphanius baeticus can still be found in the wild so I'll be trying to find it and take pictures. After those two things have happened I'll produce an article of some kind. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

I'm also delighted to say that Manuel has offered me the chance to get involved in the project. When the boys come here in August I'll be receiving groups of Aphanius mento, a stunning species from Turkey and A. apodus from Algeria. These will be kept outdoors on my wee balcony I think. Here are a few teaser pics but I'll save the rest until after I've visited the habitats. Will keep this thread updated with info and hopefully, breeding reports! /biggrin.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":D" border="0" alt="biggrin.gif" />

This is Aphanius mento, the Turkish species I'll be keeping. Female on left, male on right. Juan Pablo had some of these from another locality that showed differences in body shape and patterning:

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Aphanius vladykovi from Iran. Two males:

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Aphanius anatoliae anatoliae, another Turkish species. These fish are from the population at Isikli. Male on right, female on left:

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Finally I must say thank you to Pablo and especially Manuel for being such great hosts and getting the beers in! Two more passionate aquarists you could not hope to meet. Also well done to Manuel for losing his car in the multi-storey. /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" /> Thanks guys!!!

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Cake or death?
July 30, 2008
7:39 am
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Malti
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you lucky git /tongue.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":p" border="0" alt="tongue.gif" />

wonder if the killi we have here is dwindling cause of the Gambusia as well. and we have no conservation project for it /sad.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":(" border="0" alt="sad.gif" />

July 30, 2008
8:21 am
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mzapater
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Hi Matt and everybody else!

It was a pleasure wondering around the car park with you as well! Hope you caught the train back to Barcelona /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

If anybody wants to know a bit more about what we do, you can check the weblog of our association: http://www.seiconservation.blogspot.com. I try to keep this one updated in Spanish and English. You can learn a bit there about what species why keep and why those.

Glad you liked the Aphanius Matt, they are mostly forgotten in the hobby, which is a shame, because they are wonderful undemanding species. As I told you all but one stay outdoors all year round here in Zaragoza (halfway between Madrid and Barcelona for those who never heard about it).

Just a little point, Aphanius sp 1 on your pic is A. vladykovi, I´ll let you take a guess at the sp 2 /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

About A. apodus, from Algeria, still some people in Belgium and Germany keep it, and maybe somebody in Spain too, but not in large numbers. This species has a terrible sex ratio problem in the offspring, which makes long term maintenance a bit tricky, but they are just hard and easy to keep. So good luck with them!

Hope to be able to help (a bit) and learn (a lot) on the forum.

Manuel...

July 30, 2008
8:34 am
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keith565
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fascinating guys. i've read a bit about the problems with many species of killi in Spain, turkey and so on being at high risk of extinction, so well done to you all for the efforts you are making to prevent such a tragedy becoming these fish.
i know a few peeps in the UK who keep aphanius and they are indeed a stunning killifish.
lets hope you guys can get good colonies of these fish going in the wild.
Matt, you lucky so and so.lol

July 30, 2008
9:25 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Manuel, great to see you here. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" /> Yes caught the train no problem! I have edited my post above with the information you have given, thanks. Number 2, ummm I know it's the one that I said reminded me of Microrasbora erythromicron...I'll take a tentative guess at A. sirhani?

For anyone interested, more information on the Spanish species can be found at Manuel's other website.

Cake or death?
July 30, 2008
9:29 am
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mzapater
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Those orange fins... can´t be mistaken, it´s A. villwocki, from Turkey like A. mento (A. vladykovi comes from Iran).

If it´s ok to give the url of our websites then:

- Sociedad de Estudios Ictiológicos This ir our Association and what we do an publish. If you can read some spanish, I advise you to go to the "Publicaciones" and "Grupos de Trabajo" sections. Of course, you can take a look at the pics as well.
- Ciprinodóntidos ibericos About the Aphanius and Valencia species from the Iberian Peninsula.

Best regards,

Manuel...

July 30, 2008
9:35 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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/laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" /> Well you did show me a lot of fish yesterday! Ok post edited again. Yes of course it's ok to post your links Manuel. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

Cake or death?
July 30, 2008
11:00 am
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dunc
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That's awesome.. top work Manuel, really glad to have you here. That male A. mento is stunning.

How big are your breeding facilities, Manuel? How many tanks do you have in there? And the last of my twenty questions (/laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid="Laugh" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" />) is.. how many fish [actual numbers, not diff species] are you hoping to re-introduce?

It's an inspiring thing you're doing there /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />

P.S. Got any pics of the undescribed Steatocranus? /ohmy.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":o" border="0" alt="ohmy.gif" /> /biggrin.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":D" border="0" alt="biggrin.gif" />

July 30, 2008
11:32 am
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Daspricey
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WOW!! Firstly well done Manuel & colleagues, top work guys!

Secondly those fish are absolutly stunning. The Aphanius vladykovi and Aphanius villwocki..... and of coarse Aphanius mento are breathtaking!

Brilliant write-up Matt, can't wait to see a article and more pictures!

David /thumbs_up.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":thumbsup:" border="0" alt="thumbs_up.gif" />

July 30, 2008
1:57 pm
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Matt
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Oh alright... /tongue.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":p" border="0" alt="tongue.gif" /> Here are some of the ponds and containers Manuel uses to keep and breed these fish.

Edit: Karlos there's an article about Aphanius fasciatus in Malta here. Not good news, sadly. /sad.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":(" border="0" alt="sad.gif" />

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Cake or death?
July 30, 2008
7:47 pm
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Reva
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Wow!! what a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing Matt!! Welcome to the forum Manuel, and thank you for the great work you are doing to restore these beautiful fish! I look forward greatly to reading about the progress. Matt I can tell you are all fired up with a new project! Glad you are having such fun /wink.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=";)" border="0" alt="wink.gif" />

July 30, 2008
8:47 pm
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Malti
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Matt, I know the author personally and I know he's dedicated...and as he said, its better to keep drugs than the Aphanius fasciatus /sad.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":(" border="0" alt="sad.gif" />

maybe if someone from the EU did pressure on the maltese goverment, they would do something...some EU commission thingy

July 30, 2008
10:08 pm
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Eyrie
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Fascinating stuff, and good luck with the reintroduction project, Manuel.

Mature, sensible signature required for responsible position. Good prospects for the right candidate. Apply within.
July 31, 2008
3:00 am
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Matt
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Here's an interesting video about A. anatoliae sureyanus from Turkey, just to give an idea of how these fish behave in life. They're really beautiful...:

Cake or death?
July 31, 2008
7:32 am
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Malti
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Pity I don't speak Urdu...are those light striped males juveniles? a sub species? or the strong striped males are the alpha males?

July 31, 2008
10:26 am
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mzapater
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Hi again everybody,

Really pleased by your interest. It´s not so common that these little fellows interest anybody.

I´ll try to give some answers to your questions.

First of all, what we intend is to help maintain captive stocks of those species, although we are working on a project very close to Barcelona which involves environmental education, captive breeding, site evaluation and release of the captive bred fish (A. iberus). This will be a test to check how it can be done in other places and help maintain one of the local populations of A. iberus. I´m not a geneticist, but genetic studies have been done and inside Spain the populations of A. iberus show some differences. Shape and colour pattern are also different among them.

As for the other species... well, we work with the European Zoo and Aquarium Society, that should be the Institution in charge of convincing Governments and Environmental Organizations of the opportunities to develop conservation programs, wether this include captive breeding or not. Anyway, in some cases, these species are really endangered, so keeping a healthy captive stock is maybe the first step.

About breeding facilities... well, you have some of the pics made by Matt, at the moment we have a place with 16 pools, 14 or them are 400 l big (1,25 m x 1,25 m x 0,3 m) and the 2 big ones are 1500 l. This serves to keep and breed some species, but not all that we have, so several members of our association have also plastic tubs outdoors, little ponds in the garden, or just aquaria.

We also have a greenhouse with a 2500 indoor pond to breed cichlids during the summer, such as Paratilapia sp. "Andapa" which as adults won´t breed in aquarium (at least mine!!).

Something about the burduricus.. although this species name is still ver used in Turkey, it´s an old synonim of A. anatoliae sureyanus, which is the species present at Burdur lake.

About A. fasciatus in Malta... what a shame, seems to be the same thing everywhere for these little fish. Keep an eye on them, since after the recent description of A. almiriensis, A. fasciatus seems to be rather a complex of species, which sounds logical since it has such a wide distribution.

July 31, 2008
11:14 am
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Malti
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QUOTE (mzapater @ Jul 31 2008, 12:09 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
As for the other species... well, we work with the European Zoo and Aquarium Society, that should be the Institution in charge of convincing Governments and Environmental Organizations of the opportunities to develop conservation programs, wether this include captive breeding or not. Anyway, in some cases, these species are really endangered, so keeping a healthy captive stock is maybe the first step.

About A. fasciatus in Malta... what a shame, seems to be the same thing everywhere for these little fish. Keep an eye on them, since after the recent description of A. almiriensis, A. fasciatus seems to be rather a complex of species, which sounds logical since it has such a wide distribution.

if you manage to convince our Govt, I know people who'd pitch in to help

July 31, 2008
11:31 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Manuel, thanks for the correction. I thought they looked similar to the fish Pablo was keeping. /rolleyes.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":rolleyes:" border="0" alt="rolleyes.gif" /> Karlos, video now in English so try again!

Cake or death?
August 5, 2008
12:58 pm
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mzapater
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Sorry, made a mistake identifying fish...

These are not villwocki, but A. anatoliae anatoliae from Isikli in Turkey. The only population from this subspecies that has yellow/orange anal fin as far as we know.

Manuel...

August 5, 2008
2:11 pm
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Matt
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Thanks Manuel. Original post edited (again /tongue.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":p" border="0" alt="tongue.gif" /> ).

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