In early September we had a fantastic talk from National Geographic Explorer Joe Cutler about the unique lives and behaviors of mormyrids (more-my-rids). Joe is an icthyologist (he studies fish) and recently obtained his Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz. Over the years, he's collected thousands of specimens of hundred of species. It's easy to see how truly passionate he is about his work simply from the sheer excitement he displays when speaking on the topic.
The mormyridae order of fish are remarkably special in that they communicate using electric pulses generated from special organs in their body. Each species of mormyrid possesses a unique waveform in their signal. Joe has captured and categorized countless individual waveforms in order to help with identification of the numerous species. There are many species which look similar and they can only be differentiated by their waveforms. You won't often find mormyrids at your LFS. However, Joe says they pop up time to time and are difficult, but rewarding fish to keep.
In a short time, Joe will be exploring Gabon's Ogooue River on a 750-mile transect documenting the wildlife of this undisturbed waterway. Like its better known cousin the Amazon River, the Ogooue River is at risk from developments in the forestry, mining, hydroelectric energy, and infrastructure sectors of Gabon. You can follow his adventures at the Instagram account Africas Last Wild River. He hopes to find many mormyrids throughout his journey. You can also follow his personal Instagram at cutlers_catch.
As always, there were some great items for sale at our monthly auction. However, we have had some issues with poor labeling of items so our Auction Chair Nick Bowers made an announcement to the membership asking them to ensure their bags are properly labeled. Mistakes are inevitable and there will occasionally be mix-ups of auction items. The auction staff willingly volunteers their precious time and minimizing the occurrence of these errors helps them out tremendously.
At the end of August, SFAS contributed to the Crab Cove Fish Festival in Alameda and we had a fine time! We were well received and the Crab Cove administrator and staff appreciated our help. Vice President Bill Fish organized the SFAS display, which was staffed by Harry Hagan, Mark Greenspun and Kate Skinner.
Our spot was on a new wooden deck, with tent cover and electricity for filters and lights. Michael Yoshida sent an attractive 2-gallon live-plant guppy tank, that attracted lots of attention from kids and adults alike. Visitors realized they could have a pretty tank with little work.
Mark set up an impressive 20-gallon tall tank with live plants, handsome angels, a pleco, corys, a congo tetra and swordtails. When fish keepers had questions about fish keeping or aquarium prices, Mark had the answers. Harry worked the whole set-up through the day and Kate enjoyed “talking fish” with the kids.
SFAS attracted mostly families with kids younger than 5, and overworked parents not interested in taking on a fish tank. The little kids liked coloring our B&W handouts and pointing at fish. About 5 to 10 experienced fish keepers dropped in to chat. We brought color handouts and business cards, that we passed out freely. So maybe we planted seeds of interest. We’ll keep an eye open at our upcoming SFAS meetings for visitors we saw at Crab Cove. Most SFAS members began their interest in fish at age 5 to 10. When did YOU start in the aquarium hobby?
Jeff Jackson, SFAS Webmaster