Ladigesocypris ghigii ghigii
by Andreas Iliopoulos
L. g. ghigii Both photos show animals in captivity kept in a small tank properly aquascaped by Giorgos Pastrikos.
photos by MCH/Giorgos Pastrikos
Another typical habitat of the species, near the location Epta Piges (Rhodes island, Greece).
A small pool within a creek created from a water stream, which gives house to a small population of the species. Adults along with fry (in several different stages) are found in such water bodies. Photos by MCH /Andreas I. Iliopoulos
Maximum size: 6,4 cm (SL)
Biotope: freshwater, benthopelagic, pH values range from pH = 7,0 to pH = 7,5, GH = 18,0°dGH
Climate zone: temperatures between five and thirty degrees Celsius (5° C - 30° C) – temperate zone: 37° N - 36° N
Importance: fisheries: of no interest. Endangered in the island of Rhodes.
Distribution: Greece (endemic only to the island of Rhodes) and Turkey (southwest Anatolia).
Biology: A short-lived species, which occurs in lakes, rivers, springs and associated wetlands. Feeds on invertebrates and plants. It is threatened due to water abstraction. (*)
(*the above data are coming from the specific species’ table of www.fishbase.org)
Common name (in Rhodes): Gizani.
There are some efforts for its protection and conservation but as you shall see later on this article these efforts could be characterized as pathetic.
Last summer (2003) I had to stay in Rhodes island for a while for an aquarium project I was working on. During this time, I had the opportunity to meet Giorgos Pastrikos. Some of you may be are already familiar with this name, especially the ones that have browsed the “SIDE EFFECTS” sector of this site and more specifically, his report about orchids of Rhodes island (http://www.malawicichlidhomepage.com/aquainfo/sideeffects/orchids_rhode.html). This presentation includes both his professional photos and the brief notes about them.
Giorgos told me something very important and inspired me to do a small research on this issue. To make a long story short, Giorgos told me – on one of the very first “fishy” chats we had (and we had a lot) – that in Rhodes island there is an endemic fresh water species and there are some ongoing efforts from the local authorities to protect and to reserve these populations.
Additionally, he took me to some natural biotopes of this particular species, as well as to Rhodes Public Aquarium to see an enclosure with these animals and to a hinterland village, where there is a massive container and where one population of this species is kept in a sort of loose captivity.
The name of the species is Ladigesocypris ghigii ghigii (named gizani by the locals). Of course I managed to take photos of the biotopes and the animals. Later on, I realized that on the well known “fishy” data base "Fish Base", although there was some information on the species, there were not any photos of it. Needless to say, they have to share those photos with MCH visitors.
The first place Giorgos took me to, was Epta Piges (Επτά Πηγές = Seven Springs), not at the local tourist facilities, but at a small stream located near an old dam, five minutes walking from the tourist region.
After the dam, some small natural ponds and pools have been formed by water, before it enters in Loutani’s riverbed (poor quantity of water in summer at its last kilometers).
Although this cannot be considered as a biotope, but rather as a tiny water system, part of the inland water bodies of the area, it was full of life. Paleomonetes species (fresh water shrimps), probably Potamonautes species (fresh water cramps), lots of aquatic insects and snails, frogs, dragonflies, and lizards are in abundance in and by these water bodies but the most important from all is L. g. ghigii.
This fish species is endemic in the island of Rhodes. It is included in the red list of the endangered species and there is some activity for the reservation of the local populations, as it is reported at the relevant website for this particular species (http://www.life-gizani.gr/) that this fish is now already extinct from a couple of localities, since 1996. The last statement is questionable according to Giorgos, so we shall have to visit these places to affirm it, if possible.
The populations of L. g. ghigii are endangered due to aggressive water exploitation and one-sided manipulation of surface waters, a fact which results in the exsiccation of pools which are vital for this as well as many other aquatic, semi aquatic and hydrophilic species (and not only). So the species is included in Annex II of the European Union Directive for Habitats Protection (92/43/EEC). It is considered also as an endangered species of top priority, as well as in the Red Book of Endangered Species of Greece. It is also protected by Presidential Decree No 67/1981 of the Greek State.
At the Public Aquarium of Rhodes there is one exhibition tank that houses some specimens. At Agia Eleousa, within the authority of the municipality of Kameiros. there is a round concrete reservoir in which the species is kept in captivity.
This is a project called LIFE – ΦΥΣΗ (B4-3200/98/445) and it is a joint effort of the National Center of Marine Researches (ΕΚΘΕ), the Developmental Inc of the Dodecanese (Αναπτυξιακή Δωδεκανήσου ΑΕ) and the Municipality of Kameiros (Δήμος Καμείρου).
Unfortunately the two times I visited the place without Giorgos, I found – both times – people swimming in this pond, that is supposed to preserve the bigger population of L. g. ghigii (gizani is the local name of the species) in the whole island. And if some may say: “Ok, it is no big deal”, I’ll ask: “And what about the sun screen creams and sun tan cosemtics all these people have applied on them (because I saw these “outdoor” swimmers doing so) before swimming in the reservoir???”.
Any apprehensive person may find this absolutely crazy, but when a project lacks the important public relations and education, I won’t be surprised if next time that I’ll visit this place I’ll see no L. g. ghigii in it. This will be another extinctions due to man's stupidity which is based on ignorance and the total negligence of the local authorities.
Anyway let us be optimistic and hope that sometime these authorities will take an eye on this issue and – last but not least – people will understand that we have to preserve nature with actions and not wishes.
The third time I visited the pond I took along my test kits and took some measurements of the water they live in. The only draw back was that my portable electronic thermometer was broken, so I have to get there once again with a new thermometer to check the temperature as well; and believe me, this is not going to be a problem for me, but rather a very good reason to visit the place again. So I had to deal with the ambient temperature that it was given by the digital thermometer of the car that I used to reach the place:
Giorgos, as I already mentioned, took me to a near by stream, close to the main locality Epta Piges, so I went there at the same day to take one more set of readings and these are the results:
The temperature, in this case, although I was not equipped with a thermometer (except the thermometer of the car, which shows the ambient temperature), was obviously lower.
The substratum of these water pools is muddy with a large amount of decaying leaves from the trees around the streams. The depth of this particular small biotope was, more or less, forty centimeters (40 cm) and the water volume not more than one thousand liters (1.000 l).
Giorgos has already set up a small tank he had kept for some years in his basement; and he is keeping a small school of this species along with some snails from the same habitat. He set up this micro-environment staying as close as possible to the real thing. The bottom of the water bodies I saw the fish are muddy with lots of decaying plants or tree leaves and the specimens are grazing on algae covered rocks feeding both on algae and zooplankton with no particular stress or other acclimatization problems.
His next step is going to be a small garden pond, set up according to the typical environments in which this species lives in the wild, to keep them outdoors year-round. He has already built the frame of the pond and bought a SACEM water pump for ponds, with a turnover of four thousand liters per hour (4.000 l/h) as well.
What I found in Rhodes Public Aquarium, which I also visited, was a large enough exhibit of the L. ghigii tank, with the professional PU background from Nature Aquarium (probably a model by Maelmstrøm – Denmark) and maybe with a cooling system supporting it, as when I touched the front screen, I found the water quite cool, compared with the ambient temperature. The only draw back was the population, which I found rather large for the specific system and the species’ biology, as it is observed at their natural biotopes in the wild. However, still it can serve as an educational tank which may wake up people.