Archive – Collecting Dwarf Cichlids

Screen shot of old fish collecting web page

The article below is taken directly from the old website. It was mostly written in 2008 – 2009 so its badly out of date. However, it gets web traffic so I’m keeping it here as an archive for anyone interested. Everything below is the original with all mistakes included. It has not been edited, no links have been checked, etc. so read at your own risk.

I’ve always had a dream of going to the Amazon to explore the jungle and collect Apistogrammas. As a youngster I would scour the library for accounts of expeditions into wild places and I have always enjoyed the accounts of expeditions as reported in Tropical Fish Hobbyist and other publications. With the arrival of the Internet, there are many more places for accounts of collecting trips to be housed and over the years I have read a lot of them. On this page I will keep an archive of the trips that I find stories of. These accounts are a great way to get a glimpse into the fascinating realm of collecting dwarf cichlids in their native habitats.

     There are a lot of different stories here. I am trying to include every dwarf cichlid related collecting account I can find, so, if you know of any that I don’t have listed here please contact me. Although the focus here is on dwarf cichlid expeditions, I have added a few others that I thought were interesting or relevant.

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Dwarf Cichlid Collecting Expeditions

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Tom Christoffersen is a very serious hobbyist collector from Norway who has made a number of collecting expeditions in search of Apistogrammas. Tom publishes amazing photo journals of many of his trips and gives us all an opportunity to better understand the fish we might be fortunate enough to keep. I have specifically linked to several of Tom’s collecting expeditions below but be sure to visit  Tom Christoffersen – Collecting Expeditions and More

Collecting in the R�o Tahuayo and the R�o Tamshiyacu drainages 2011 – Tom Christoffersen                Collecting in: Peru

        With his typical ability to make us all jealous, Tom Christoffersen recounts his October 2011 expedition to discover the wild forms of Apistogramma panduro in the R�o Tahuayo and the R�o Tamshiyacu drainages. Tom set out to try and find the three reported forms of the species and in this photo essay he tells of his experiences. All of Tom’s collecting stories are must read for apisto lovers.  Collecting in the R�o Tahuayo and the R�o Tamshiyacu drainages 2011

Collecting in Pebas, R�o Orosa and R�o Shishita 2008 – Tom Christoffersen                                            Collecting in: Peru
        This account of his search for Apistogrammas in Peru is another great addition to the knowledge we have available about the native habitats of these fish. Tom provides an in-depth photo description of his trip, including his Apistogramma discoveries in these waters:  R�o Shishita – Apistogramma bitaeniata “Shishita”, Apistogramma sp. “Pebas”, Apistogramma cf. eunotus “Shishita”, Apistogramma agassizii – R�o Orosa – Apistogramma cf. eunotus “Schwanzstreifen/Tail-stripes” – R�o Amp�yacu – Apistogramma sp. “Pebas” (“Morado”) Collecting in Pebas, R�o Orosa and R�o Shishita 2008

The Hunt for the True Apistogramma cruzi – Tom Christoffersen
Collecting in: Peru
       This is a great photo essay of the author’s experience searching for Apistogramma cruzi in Peru. This was not a commercial trip but rather was self conducted. There is a lot of good info and great photos in this account. Tom has info about his other collecting activities as well as a ton of other great info on his site. The hunt for the true Apistogramma cruzi

The Pipe Expedition Collecting in: Brazil
       This is a website built to document the activities of the Pipe Expedition, a fish collecting/inventory expedition that explored rare sampled watered in Brazil. In total they documented more than 250 different species of fish, including, if the photos are accurate, one of the most unusual Apistogrammas ever seen. The Pipe Expedition

Heiko Bleher’s ExpeditionsCollecting Worldwide
        No one in the world has collected as many different waters and places as Heiko. He has discovered countless new species and color forms and the accounts of his expeditions are legend. On his site he posts photo essays of some of his latest trips and this is a great place to discover dreams. Heiko’s fish collecting expeditions

Getting Wet Feet in Peru – My First Tropical Fish Collecting Trip – 1995  By Craig Morfitt   Collecting in: Peru
       In the 1990’s Margarita Tours was offering collecting trips based out of their large river boats. Lead by recognized experts, these trips provided the first easy way for the average hobbyist to go on a collecting trip. Margarita provided virtually everything needed and hobbyists were able to easily import their fish into the US. This account is text only with no photos. Read the story of Craig Morfitt’s First Tropical Fish Collecting Trip

Amazon Fish Collecting Diary – Christopher Scharpf – 1990, 1995, 1996                                                 
Collecting in: Peru
        A great story of collecting in Peru, mostly based on Christopher’s first trip in 1990 augmented by his experiences in 1995 and 1996. He does a great job of giving us a glimpse into his experiences, making us wish we had been there. This account is text only with no photos. Read Christopher’s Amazon Fish Collecting Diary   

Mostly Cichlids is the site of Vin Kutty                                             
Collecting in: Peru, Uruguay, India, Thailand & more
       On his site, Vin has published  a number of  collecting expeditions he has taken. Vin has been to many areas of South America as well as in Africa, India and Thailand. This is a great collection of stories about collecting a lot of different fishes in a lot of different places. read Vin’s stories about Tropical Fish Collecting       

Collecting in Uruguay, 2008                                                                                                                   
Collecting in: Uruguay
        Collecting in Uruguay has become very popular and there is a great series of posts on a popular forum telling about a great trip. There are lots of beautiful photos and general info. The trip was lead by Felipe Cantera who has an excellent reputation for providing quality expeditions in Uruguay. Read about Collecting Tropical Fish in Uruguay      

Amazon Tropical Fish Collecting Expedition2001Collecting in: Peru
      This is an interesting site that was put together for the members of an August 2001 Rio Nanai and Pintoyacu Tropical Fish Collection trip that was organized through Margarita Tours. There is a lot of background info here but no actual account of the trip. However, there are some excellent links to info of interest. Particularly useful are the two links to suggested packing lists. Rio Nanai and Pintoyacu Tropical Fish Collection  

Peru 2000 an Amazon Adventure – Allan James                                                                                           Collecting in: Peru
       An account of the author’s 12 day trip to Peru in 2000. It was a commercial trip out of Iquitos and was typical of what these trips are. This story has photos and is a good account. Peru 2000 an Amazon Adventure

Peruvian Amazonia – Eugene T. Aldridge, Jr., 1987Collecting in: Peru
       This is a detailed personal diary type account of a 1987 trip to the Peruvian Amazon. As I understand it, the trip was conducted by the company that became Margarita Tours. There were not a lot of hobbyists collecting at the time and the members of this trip are among todays best known fish experts.  Peruvian Amazonia

Collecting Cichlids in the Peruvian Amazon By Lee Newman, 1995Collecting in: Peru
       This is an excellent article about the author’s two week cichlid collecting trip to the Peruvian Amazon. The article was originally printed in the Buntbarsche Bulletin, the official magazine of the American Cichlid Association, and is reflective of the high standards of that publication. The article covers a lot of ground and you will enjoy Collecting Cichlids in the Peruvian Amazon

Shane’s World  – Planet Catfish Collecting in: Uruguay
       This is a great  site with a lot of information about collecting various catfish in their native habitats. Since this site specializes in catfish, the most detailed info is about these fishes. However, there is a lot of good material about the habitats and conditions where dwarf cichlids are found. Rather than provide links to the different collection stories featured I will provide this single link where you will find all of the fish collecting stories.

Other Collecting Expeditions

The Drive for Fish (Another Central American Collecting Trip) by Patrick A. Tosie, Sr.
       This is a rather unique story as it recounts a 1998 collecting trip in Central America that was done by driving from Missouri in the US. Although I had never really thought about it, this group proved that it is not too difficult to drive yourself to great fish collecting experiences. No dwarf cichlids, but, interesting info about Central American CollectingCollecting in: Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico

The Honduran Episode by Patrick A. Tosie, Sr.
       An account of a collecting trip to Honduras that was taken by the author prior to the trip described above. Rather than driving, Pat did this trip via the airlines. The Honduran EpisodeCollecting in: Honduras

SURVIVOR III: MEXICO An article on a fish collecting trip to Mexico in 2001 By Craig Morfitt
 This is an account of  a ten day trip taken by a group of 13, which is very large for a collecting trip. They flew to Mexico and rented vehicles driving to e number of cities where they would stay in hotels, collect local waters and enjoy Mexico. fish collecting trip in Mexico
Expedition Providers

Margarita Tours Has been offering fish collecting trips in the Peruvian Amazon since the 1983. They offer trips for every interest and regularly  schedule fish collecting trips. Each trip is lead by a noted expert and  many aquarists have reported having an excellent experience with them.

Amazon Tours and Cruises with Dawn on the Amazon is a company that I know nothing about. However, I found them on the web and thought some might find it of interest.

Amazon Fish Collecting Expeditions – I do not know anything about this company beyond what I have read on their web site. However, it appears that they offer “introduction” type trips in an interesting area.

If You Are Going – Expedition Advice

Product Field Tests by John Mangan – In this article the author gives his opinions of a few specific products that he used during a collecting expedition. I am always interested in unbiased evaluations and this one is good.

Packing list for fish collecting in Peru – This is advice from 1995 that was sent as an email. There is also some follow up info from another person. It is very comprehensive and if you are going on a trip I think you would want to look at this.