Animal Scene - - THE WILD SIDE -

So what can hob­by­ists do to help con­serve African Rift Lake ci­ch­lids? Best Al­ter­na­tives, a move­ment to pro­mote en­vi­ron­men­tal so­lu­tions for var­i­ous in­dus­tries, rec­og­nizes Pi­noy ci­ch­lid spe­cial­ists as ban­ner­bear­ers for the prop­a­ga­tion of pure­blood strains and color morphs, en­sur­ing that cap­tive­bred fish with undi­luted genes are avail­able lo­cally. Re­mem­ber that wild-cap­ture fish­eries are not nec­es­sar­ily bad, for they sus­tain the lives and liveli­hoods of many aquar­ium fish gath­er­ers in the Rift Val­ley. How­ever, wild stocks of in-de­mand species like Tropheus duboisi, Me­lanochromis chipokae, and es­pe­cially Chin­dongo saulosi have al­ready been dec­i­mated by col­lec­tors. Lastly, I’ve al­ways be­lieved that the best place to ob­serve fish are in their nat­u­ral habi­tats. Those long­ing to see ci­ch­lids in the shal­low, sun­lit edges of the Rift Lakes can travel to Malawi, Uganda, and Zam­bia from hubs like Kenya and don ei­ther SCUBA or snor­kel­ing gear. It’s one thing to see ci­ch­lids in tanks and an­other to see them where they live, where they breed, and where they are most prob­a­bly still un­der­go­ing their never-ceas­ing process of evo­lu­tion.

Boldly-colored East African Rift Lake ci­ch­lids in­habit lakes which are ex­traor­di­nar­ily sim­i­lar to marine habi­tats. White sand, sponges, even jel­ly­fish thrive in these lakes! Shown are var­i­ous ci­ch­lids around Malawi’s Likoma Is­land. (African Ci­ch­lid Hub)

Pos­si­bly the first of the Rift Val­ley ci­ch­lids to be ex­ported world­wide, highly-ag­gres­sive golden mbuna (Me­lanochromis au­ra­tus) have be­come a main­stay of ci­ch­lid lovers. En­demic to Lake Malawi, they are now bred and kept world­wide. (Gregg Yan / Best Al­ter­na­tives)

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