By Craig Morfitt
My Involvement in the Aquarium Hobby
Keeping Tropical Fish

I have been actively engaged in keeping tropical fish since 1988. At one time, I had 22 aquariums in my home with the largest being 180 gallons. I have recently down-graded and am now down to a sinle tank - a 75-gallon live-planted tank. 

My main interest has been the Cichlid family.  I enjoy both Old and New World cichlids (i.e. Rift Lake cichlids from Africa and cichlids from South and Central America).  Whilst cichlids are certainly my main love, I still have an interest in Catfish, followed by some of the other genera.  One of the great things about this hobby is that it is so diverse that I cannot imagine anyone ever being able to say that they have "done it all".  If you get tired of keeping one type of fish, you can switch to something else and be faced with a whole new scope of challenges and experiences. My latest area of interest is live-planted aquaria.

Involvement in the organised side of the hobby also brings with it a whole new range of experiences that enhance the overall fish-keeping experience.

Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society
In 1989, I formed the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society.  Until that point, there were no aquarium clubs in Bermuda.  I was the President of the society from 1989 until 1999.  I took a two-year break and resumed the position of President in 2001, a position that I retain to date.  Being able to create the society and guide it through its first ten years was a major achievement for me, and something of which I am very proud.  I was the Editor of the society's newsletter - Fish Tales - from its inception in 1992 to 2001, during which time I produced 95 issues.

American Cichlid Association
I have been a member of the American Cichlid Association (ACA) since 1990 and have travelled to the ACA annual convention on seven occasions (1990 - Chicago, 1996 - New Orleans, 1997 - Chicago, 1998 - St. Louis, 2000 - Cleveland, 2001 - New Jersey, 2002 - Atlanta). 

In 2000 I was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees of the ACA for the two-year period commencing January 2001.  This was a great honour for me and gave me an opportunity to give something back to an organisation that I love.  I served as Secretary of the BOT in 2001 and for the second half of 2002.

I subsequently served the ACA by operating the "Local Club Liaison" program.  This program facilitates the exchange of information concerning cichlid related events being held at the local club level. Unfortunately, I  had to resign that position due to  other commitments.

Fish Shows
I entered the Freshwater Aquarium section of Bermuda's Agricultural Exhibition on three occasions, twice as an amateur and once as a professional.  On each of the three occasions I won first place.  For the last few years I have been a judge for this competition.

The Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society runs an annual Home Show that judges decorated aquariums without them having to be removed from the owner's home. I won the Best Aquarium award in the Home Show in 2004 and 2008.

One of my fish (Aulonocara sp. flavescent usisya, or Peacock Cichlid) won Best In Show for four consecutive years (1994-1997) at the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society Annual Tropical Fish Show.  This was achieved under three different judges and I consider this another of my achievements in the hobby. 

In 2001, my Hericthys bocourti won Best in Show and my Labeotropheus fuelleborni "OB Super Orange" won Reserve Best in Show at the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society's Annual Tropical Fish Show.

In 2002, my Nandopsis istlanum won Reserve Best in Show at the Bermuda Fry-Angle Annual show.

In 2003, my Hericthys bocourti again won Best in Show.  I also won Best in Class Catfish with a Synodontis petricola.

In 2007, my Swordtail won Reserve Best in Show.

Fish Collecting Trips
In 1995, I participated in a tropical fish collecting trip in the Amazon region of Peru.  This was a wonderful experience and is detailed in an article that can be found on this web-site.

In October, 1999, I travelled to Zambia and Malawi, Africa.  The Malawi part of this trip was spent at the fish collecting station of Mr. Stuart Grant.  I was able to snorkel at various locations on Lake Malawi and observe cichlids in their natural habitats.  I was also able to bring back wild cichlids to Bermuda.

In February, 2001, I travelled to Mexico where I joined my friend, Rusty Wessel, and others for a collecting trip.  An article on this trip should be appearing on this site soon.

In July 2003, I returned to Peru for another collecting trip with a group of  members from our local club.  The trip was operated by Margarita Tours and led by Dr. David Schlesser and Devon Graham.

I have conducted numerous lectures locally (in Bermuda) on tropical fish and have also had the distinct pleasure of visiting both the Greater City Aquarium Society (twice) and the Long Island Killifish Association in New York as the guest speaker.  In November, 2000, I was the guest speaker for the Louisville Tropical Fish Fanciers Association.  I was very honoured to have been invited to speak at the 2001 annual convention of the American Cichlid Association, in New Jersey, where I spoke on my trip to Lake Malawi.  Other speaking engagements have been the Boston Aquarium Society (April 2003); the Ohio Cichlid Society (November 2003); North Eastern Council of Aquarium Societys (NEC) annual convention in Hartford, Connecticut (2004).

I have since withdrawn from giving talks overseas.

I have authored numerous articles on tropical fish keeping, primarily out of necessity, in order to ensure that there was something to fill the newsletter. My efforts have, however, met with some success. Some of my articles have done well in the Publications Awards run by the Federation of American Aquarium Societies. I was also fortunate enough to be runner up for the Author of the Year category on one occasion. 

In July 2000 I was awarded the American Cichlid Association's Excellence in Writing Award for the year 1999 - 2000 for an article on Lake Tanganyika that appeared in the ACA's publication Buntbarsche Bulletin (read more).  In July 2002, I received an "Honorable Mention - Travelogue Division" as part of the ACA's Excellence in Writing Awards for the year 2001-2002, for my article on collecting in Mexico

In September 2002, I began to co-author the Cichlid Forum column in the Aquarium Fish magazine, published by Fancy Publications.  I answered readers questions concerning Old World cichlids whilst Lee Newman answered the questions on New World cichlids. I ceased authoring the column for AFM in January 2007.

Fish Breeding
I was awarded the Bermuda Fry-Angle A.S. "Breeder of the Year" trophy, for gaining the most Breeders Award Programme (BAP) points in the year, for the years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.  I have reached the "Advanced Breeder" level in the BAP.

International Friendships
All of the above achievements and experiences have been wonderful.  However, one of the great benefits that I have encountered as a result of being involved in the organised side of the hobby is the number of friends that I have made.  I have been fortunate enough to meet, and spend time with, some of the most notable aquarists in the American aquarium hobby.  I have made some wonderful friends from overseas who I would never have met were it not for my involvement in the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society and the American Cichlid Association.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that I strongly recommend membership of an aquarium society to anyone who is serious about keeping tropical fish.  I can imagine that I may not have remained in the hobby as long as I have, had I been an isolated individual without the benefits associated with membership of a group of like-minded individuals with whom to share experiences and ideas.