Report on the Hamburg meeting of the PP from the view of the steering group Helene Schoubye and Peter Finke
1. General remarks
The Parosphromenus-Project (PP) conducted its first real meeting ever September 11th – September 13th in Hamburg (Germany).
For us, four questions made things difficult:
(1) Will at least some members of our global network accept the chosen place Hamburg and the hotel, come and prove it a journey worthwhile?
(2) Will we be ready to manage the language-difficulty?
(3) Will there be enough Paro-species available?
(4) Will our decision to permit the German Anabantoid-association IGL to perform its autumn meeting at the same place and time work and be an additional benefit to our guests?
Generally speaking, all four questions can be positively answered. The local conditions were well chosen and prepared by Bernd Bussler, including posters, stickers and other materials, who also personally helped some of our visitors by car to reach our destination. His energy and devotedness were a big part of the success. Also the Hotel HamburgBlick was well chosen, and everything was well prepared. Here is a summarizing report of the meeting itself from the view of the steering group.
2. Friday, September 11th 2015: Beginning
There were about 20 guests from six countries in Europe and the U.S of America, some more than in the paralleled IGL-meeting. The meeting began with the arrival on Friday and registration; we are grateful to Stephan Menzel for assistance given in spite of heavy pains. In the evening we met for the first time, introducing ourselves with our names, home places and some remarks on aquaristics and afterwards viewing different pictures of licorice gouramies brought by Helene Schoubye. Also by Bill Little who brought a fine powerpoint of images taken by David Jones, — with fine quality and interesting photos of a spawning pair and fry. Also a remarkable professional short video shot by Horst Linke on the breeding habits of P. ornaticauda. And we had a short discussion on the issues of the meeting waiting for us the next day.
3. Saturday, September 12th 2015: Main day
Saturday was the central day of the meeting fully packed with program. Beginning with the opening and some additional welcomes to late newcomers we started with a talk by Peter Finke on the origin of the PP, its beginnings and its philosophy. In a powerpoint presentation he described the role of the late Dr. Walter Foersch as the central early figure in Parospromenus aquaristics and some international scientific developments in other fields (cultural theory and ecological economics as the background for the project. He accentuated the role of a first try in Germany 2005 – 2010, its deficits and the final realization starting in 2010 in the framework of globalization and internet communication.
We then changed the room for the next presentation by the Parosphromenus father rock Horst Linke that was given in German together with the IGL members, too. This presentation was the first test for our Sennheiser-tourguide system, allowing us to translate his speech for our English-speaking guests simultaneously to English (Helene). Linke showed very remarkable, professionally shot pictures and videos including original sound, taken by himself during his expeditions at different places of Sumatra (including the original locations of Langgam (P. phoenicurus) and of Danau Rasau (P. gunawani), then on the island of Bangka (the true P. deissneri) and on Kalimantan/Borneo (locations of e.g. P. linkei, parvulus and ornaticauda). Combining still pictures and videos, we experienced how it was to fly in plane across healthy and destroyed rainforest and to sit in the boat driving on the famous rivers and lakes, hearing the silent splash and murmur of the water, see people trying to catch our fish (which is real work), see the dark brown colouring of the water and the principle values measured at the original place. This presentation by one of the discoverers himself was undoubtedly the first highlight of the meeting.
In the luncheon break a buffet was served, and there was some time for rest. Afterwards, Helene Schoubye took over and presented a summary of the present state of the PP in a powerpoint slide show. She sketched the growth of the PP over the past years, naming the 32 countries of our members, and differentiated between active and passive members. She described the principle services (census, newsletter, forums and distribution of fish) and put several questions to the members, including the parts of our work that are not yet completed. Nobody complained about that point, but to our own view there was too little time left (= our own mistake) to discuss all that in detail. At least, many of the questions were discussed during the breaks in small groups.
In the next hour we changed again to the bigger room to attend the second joint presentation in German, again translated (Peter) by using our technical system: a powerpoint assisted talk on the species identification, biological needs and aquaristic prerequisitions of Paro-breeding. It was given by Martin Hallmann, one of the best present specialists of these fish. Martin enclosed some views on the original places he visited, too, and presented unusual shots of males mirroring themselves and changing their colours according to the changing habits, lighting and behavioural situations. He spoke about feeding and water change, too, mentioning the book written together with Peter in which all these points are discussed in detail. Undoubtedly, this was seen by all as a second highlight of our program.
The next step in the afternoon program was a mixed presentation by Bill Little on the American situation of licorice gourami-keeping with largely missing species, informations given to Helene by some of our British friends, including the initiative from Chester Zoo, and an interesting short talk of Marcin Chyla from Poland about the difficult but lively developments in Eastern Europe. The most interesting detail was the remark that there is – quite contrary to many western countries – an active youth over there, that is highly interested in taking part in modern fishkeeping and sustainment endeavours.
Helene Schoubye and Peter Finke concluded the afternoon program with a presentation about the main points of the future development of our project, including the unsolved questions of distribution, amendments of the services of the project to the members and vice versa the members for the project and mentioning the melting financial resources. The Hamburg meeting should be totally for free, but there were expenses (for the regular costs paying the provider of our website or for instance borrowing that tourguide-system) that have brought our account nearly to nil. It was one of the wonderful happenings to encounter that three people hearing this gave 220,00 Euros. Horst Linke recommended to conduct a collection with all members as we had done very successful in 2010 and never since.
Accompagnying all that ran the transfer of fish brought to Hamburg, that was arranged by breeders and their customers themselves. Especially P. linkei, quindecim, nagyi and phoenicurus changed their owners.
In the evening, it was time for attending the IGL-fish fair, and some could get hold of further Paro– species (e.g. P. alfredi or P. filamentosus) and small red Bettas. After supper, we ended with an open evening that gave some space for futher discussions. A remarkable contribution came from Rafael Eggli (Basel/Switzerland) who is conducting a Matura-work evaluating our censuses through the development of time. The result will certainly lead things onwards. A further point much noticed was the announcement by Peter Finke that he plans an internationally conceived book of the PP, including writers from Asia, America and Europe and placing the problem in the middle of the Asian tragedy of rainforest destruction, palm oil commerce and the losses for mankind’s biodiversity.
4. Sunday, September 13th 2015: End
The Sunday began with breakfast and a short meeting only, for about ten people wanted to accept Bernd Bussler’s offer to visit his breeding place. Over there, further species could be seen in breeding situations (e.g. P. parvulus, P. spec. Dua, P. aff. allani) and offspring could be bought from the breeder. This was a further highlight of the meeting and for many made it worth to come to Hamburg.
We shall add in some weeks time a final account including an evaluation of the results, conclusions and open questions from our point of view. There we will ask the question of a next meeting, too, possibly at another place on earth. We end here with again mentioning the invaluable help of Bernd Bussler and Stephan Menzel. Especially Bernd has invested much work in the preparations in the hotel and elsewhere, the transport services and intensifying his breeding efforts, in order to be able to forward as much offspring of as many species possible. Without his devotedness to our project this would have never been that success all our visitors spoke about.
On behalf of the steering group, Helene Schoubye and Peter Finke , 30th September 2015