IG-BSSW-Event “African Catfish”

There has been a lot of talk about this event and it finally came to life on the weekend of May 21st to 22nd 2016: the first IG-BSSW meeting about African catfishes.

The idea for this event was born on a different catfish meeting, the International L-Numbers Days. Oliver Frank, Eckhard Fischer and Jan Wessel decided to organize this event during a joint dinner. Since they wanted to have minimize travel for attendants as well as speakers as much as possible, the Hotel Gaulskopf am Taunus between Gießen and Frankfurt was chosen as the event location. Speakers were found quickly. The event program turned out to be well rounded and interesting despite two unexpected call-outs.

So how did it start?

The rst guests arrived on Friday evening at the venue. Check-in, inspection of the meeting room and some tests of the available technology led to first hobby discussions during a joint dinner. The actual event started on Saturday morning with a presentation by Armin Senger, who used Retro-Technology, a slide presentation, to report on his experiences in breeding the well-known Cuckoo catfish from the good, old days of the hype around the rift lake cichlids. The Cuckoo catfishes were referenced as Synodontis multipunctatus, a Synodontis from Lake Tanganyika. These spawn among mouth breeding cichlids, which then bring the catfish spawn to full term. Most interestingly, most people used cichlids from Lake Malawi to spawn this species in the aquarium. Later research then prove that the Cuckoo catfish is in fact Synodontis grandiops. Synodontis multipunctatus inhabits deeper waters and was only imported very infrequently so far. It is currently not known if this species also shows cuckoo behavior. Armin then also mentioned a second Synodontis that was very sought after back in the day, a species we knew as Synodontis petricola. It is in fact more likely that we were dealing with Synodontis lucipinnis. This species does not show cuckoo behavior, but lays their eggs between cracks in rocks, among other locations.

Erwin Schraml then talked about the complexity of the Synodontis species in Lake Tanganyika and presented pictures and facts about all species. Determination of species frequently is a challenge here. Erwin gave a general overview of the genus Synodontis in Africa. Their history, distribution, relationships, behavior and an overview over the species were the cornerstones of this presentation. After a short break, Erwin also introduced the genera Microsynodontis and Chiloglanis vorgestellt.

Then, after the of cial break, Erwin Schraml reported about a trip to Mali he undertook last year. What an exotic destination, one might think. Mali is, however, part of the Niger drainage. And there are cat sh present. Erwin prove this with some very impressive pictures.

This group of presentations was then followed by Frank Schäfer who provided an overview over the catfish imported from Africa in recent years. These by far exceeded the family Mochokidae, which includes the actual Synodontis. He showed predatory catfish, glass catfish, stinging catfish and suckermouth catfish.

After so much information the approximately fifteen attendants needed some oxygen. A short trip in the sun led to the Hausberg close by, which has an observation deck, giving a great overview over the Taunus and the surrounding areas. After that we could refocus on African cat sh during an Afghan dinner buffet, served by the hotel host Mr. said. We were, however, briefly unfaithful, when Armin Senger and Eckhard Fischer finished the evening with a report about their expedition to the Caribbean island Trinidad.

Sunday morning began with a presentation video, taken in 2003 during a presentation given by Herbert Winkelmann at the Aquarienclub Braunschweig. It was about the genus Synodontis, with particular focus on breeding them. For species such as Synodontis schoutedeni, eupterus and the like, the bottom was covered with coarse gravel. The females frequently were visibly gravid. After spawning the eggs tended to collect between the gravel and frequently several youngsters had the chance to survive. All Synodontis appear to be severe egg predators.

The event then ended in the late morning hours and all participants expressed positive feedback. We can therefore start thinking about a follow-on event. It might also be a primer for other BSS-groups of the IG- BSSW to organize meetings.

Pictures: Armin SENGER & Eckhard FISCHER

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