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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 20052010, 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

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