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AIC annual meeting (2005)

 by Francesco Zezza

AIC (Associazione Italiana Ciclidofili) meeting takes place yearly in September , in the north of Italy, during the last thirteen years … this is my short report on the 2005 "edition" of this meeting. The meeting lasts for a whole week-end and, generally speaking, Friday evening/Saturday morning are free so you can use this time for chatting with fellow hobbyists or anything else you want...

On Friday evening a nice dinner was offered to the participants and invited guests (as usual):

Discussions went on for a long time (yes, the one in the corner is Ad Konings) but Leonardo (below) didn't seem to care at all about this event or any of us …

This time before the ACTUAL meeting took place - I mean lectures, fish auctions and the rest - we decided to visit the OLTREMARE aquatic park (in Riccione, close to the Adriatic sea)

The entrance.

Immediately after the gates we entered the, so called, “Darwin BioSphere”. This is a huge “greenhouse” mimicking – quite well I have to add – the conditions found on earth millions of years ago as far as landscape, plants and the rest is concerned while, of course only the roars, of dinosaurs can be heard in the background … Let’s get in then  …

A partial view, allowing you to take a look of the technical stuff of the greenhouse (ceiling, lamps …).

An unidentified (up to now) flower, thriving, and gorgeously blossoming, in the misty environment.

A nice, fast flowing, waterfall …

Leonardo “patrolling” the trail, a bit puzzled, while looking for the … dinosaurs (LOL!) he hears roaring behind the bushes. 

But the main attraction is the “African Lake”, a sort of “HomeMade Lake Malawi” where a lot of Malawi cichlid thrive (sharing about 40.000 litres of water with two large – two meters/six feet - crocodiles). See VIDEOCLIP.

Next step – how strange, isn’t it? - was been the aquarium, as you can see in the two following images

An, unidentified, hermit crab carrying three large anemones on its back (above)

Sea stars (Ophidiaster ophidianus ?), sea-cucumbers (Holothuria forskali? ) and (unidentified) sea-urchins: note the “pencil sea-urchin”, which is not very common in this part of the world. (Above)

No cichlids (of any kind) were shown … but this is a ”marine park”, isn’t it?

Then there was a “Dolphin Show” but since I do not like such gorgeous animals being forced to act like clowns all I will show you is a picture of one of them gracefully swimming …

However, the next step was a REALLY serious one: the attempt to heal a Grampus griseus (Risso's Dolphin) and then allow it to recover fully. This fish was rescued after it entered a harbour with her mother, which passed away. It is now named Mary G. (where “G” stays for Grampus, of course).

Here comes (below) a picture of her… I do hope SHE will make it (biologists, veterinarians and all the crew are doing their best, … wish them luck!!!)

“Mary G”, pictured in her quarantine tank; regrettably the going is really tough ,,,

Then, at last, on Saturday afternoon the actual “cichlid-orientated” meeting took place: lectures were absolutely interesting; I shared them with Stefania, while each one used half the time to take care of Leonardo. I chose to watch the lecture on Malawi cichlids leaving her the Tanganyika option. The lecture presented the feeding habits of Malawi cichlids in depth with pictures, video, and computer animations. Ad Konings reported FOUR different groups, as far as food picking is concerned - and this number refers to M’buna only - supporting his view with pictures or videoclips taken in the "field". I think we should always keep this in mind when we state (as aquarists) the oversimplified view that M’buna run on algae and/or Aufwuchs?!?!? And the story has been, of course, much longer (and much more interesting) than that.

Of course all images were covered by copyright so, regrettably, there’s nothing to show you on this matter, but – trust me! – it was, all, extremely interesting.

Time to go (the game is over, once more …) now.. We (Stefania, Leonardo and I) on our way to Rome (under a pouring rain!), Ad, and his wife Gertrud, on their way to a further (lucky them) trip to Lake Tanganyika (Rome/London/Lusaka, departure five days after the meeting). A last image (hereunder) marks the end of one more AIC meeting:

Immediately after this picture (shot by Stefania) Ad’s farewell, to her, was: “Next time we meet I do hope it will be in Africa ”. And – could it be different? – I started to dream again…

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