Tuesday, December 16, 2014

  Today I wrote more of the term paper due Friday. I also have the breeding tank sealed and will add water and sand tomorrow. Yesterday the featherfin catfish actually started looking for food when presented with the orange square. The sunfish still backs up slightly and waits. He has this response to all presented neutral objects. Next week I will try different colors and shapes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

    Today I didn't focus much on my thesis, besides finishing a blog post meant for Wednesday. Instead, I realized I forgot to send my test scores to 2 colleges I applied to on November 1st, making me less eligible for scholarships. I called Purdue University to see what would become of my application, and they said I was placed under normal decision instead of early. Because of this, I spent much time this period researching new scholarships. I really need this kuhli tank set up by Monday, so it seems less like I'm blowing hot air all day.

Kuhli Notes

  Today I took many notes on Java Kuhli loaches. The research from my attempt at breeding P.oblonga will be used in my final product. However, it's still not clear what it is. The website and short film ideas are most plausible, though. The biggest issue is my lack of coding knowledge. The short films will be about the audience research conducted, kuhli loaches, or a topic in fish care; they will be simply a demonstration of the work I've done and the capabilities of Koi Polloi. This post was originally intended for Wednesday, but studying for other classes led me to forget about it until right now.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

   Since I had to move it into a new tank this weekend, I am removing the convict cichlid from the experiment, as it is still trying to find a niche within its surroundings. As of now, leaving its cave makes it get attacked by the two oscars it lives with, so it will associate the stimulus with fear and not give a response.The other two fish still notice the orange square, but don't behave like they associate the stimulus with food consistently.  Because of factors such as availability, price, and rarity of spawning, I am most likely to attempt to breed black kuhli loaches (Pangio oblongus) in the spare tank. Like with the attempt to get fish to respond to certain stimuli, I will make note of my observations in my thesis spiral. I also started my term paper for this class, due on the 19th.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

  Yesterday my convict cichlid and featherfin catfish started to associate the orange square with food. I determined this by the fish swimming to where food's given when the stimulus was presented. When all three fish respond specifically to the square I will test the other shape / color combinations. Today I e-mailed my advisor about my progress and registered my Texas A&M ID.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

     So far, I haven't gotten the desired response from my fish yet when presented with the orange square stimulus. I think I'll have results by the end of the week. All three fish at least have proven awareness of the environment outside of their confines, but the information I do have is too subjective to use. Data will come in due time. The spare breeding tank will be prepared and cycled this week for a not-yet decided fish species. When the tank is set up, I will make detailed observations of what goes on inside so if the fish do spawn, it won't be one of the flukes sporadically reported online. As of now, I still haven't done much for preservation of wild habitats, as I need to find a good place to donate to.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A somewhat biased early impression of learning in fish

  Yesterday I actually started training my fish to come to an orange square for food. I will use this stimulus until all the fish associate it with food. Then I will display other stimuli and see if the fish respond. Since all the fish responded instantly, I'll measure the amount of time taken to go to place of feeding. I need numerical values.
  The featherfinned catfish arrested its motion instantly upon presentation of the stimulus, raising its dorsal fin slightly. This is a "sudden stimulus posture" I've observed upon presentation with various objects in the past.
  The convict cichlid followed the square when presented with it, but did not swim to the top where food is presented.
  The sunfish hybrid started begging when I opened the can of fish food. I need to hide that stimulus from now on. It seemed to have no response when presented with the square.
  Today I sent in my college essays for review and completed more of the ApplyTexas application. I expect to finish by tomorrow.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ways to Raise Funds

   As the months have progressed, I have been trying to answer the questions and proposals I've posed from the survey and presentation. One thing I haven't really touched upon is how exactly I'm raising money for Koi Polloi. I want to either hold events and/or sell merchandise, but what exactly I'm selling is unclear.
Clothing with a special logo or design could be viable, but selling within the school is a bad idea because of at least 3 other organizations selling shirts. It would be a better idea to do so if Koi Polloi had physical meetings between the members. I also have an idea for an app for making fishkeeping easier: one that gives reminders to the owner to take care of their fish depending on parameters given by the owner, and has easily-searchable reference material. Sadly, I can't program much (yet).

What's a Lizard Catfish?

Last night, I fed my 3 experimental subject fish. From the exhibited behavior, I can see all 3 being able to provide good data and even learn "tricks"! The featherfin catfish knows what type of food it eats; when I shook a container of turtle food in front of it, it barely reacted, but when I shook the container of cichlid pellets, it swam forward expecting its rations, proving it's capable of discerning shape and color, but this, along with the reports on the other two fish, aren't controlled and are only anecdotal. My convict cichlid followed my finger as I ran it across his glass enclosure, and begged when both the fish food and turtle food were offered. However, I want to see if it distinguishes between color and shape. The sunfish hybrid saw me
get his meal of dead crickets ready from across the room, without me giving any signal to associate with food. I determined he realized my actions by his frantic back-and-forth begging behavior compared to his typical placid hovering under plant cover.
   Today, however, I went on PetSmart's website to find more fish I could conduct research on. For the most part, all the fish of modest size are known to be easy to keep and breed, with a wealth of known information about them, while the fish of interest grow entirely too large for the modest accommodations I intend to give them. One fish, however, caught my eye: the lizard catfish. The store says, "The precise origin of the Lizard Catfish is a mystery. It may possibly be a natural species, but most sources believe it is a man-made hybrid from one or more other Rineloricaria species, but which exactly is also unknown. Only at PetSmart," The store's website provided an image of a loach, instead of a Rineloricaria catfish, and Google didn't provide much info. I live near a PetSmart, so the task falls on me to buy a couple and provide more information, like "Is it even a catfish?", "What are its habits?", "Where does it come from?"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Essays and Fish training

   Today I started ApplyTexas Essay C. This essay is simply talking about life goals and how what I'm doing now will help get me there. Quite simple. I'll probably finish by Wednesday .
   However, I haven't started intentional fish training or even went into detail about procedures. This is because my fish and I are cold, and unwilling to feed or do much. Once the house gets warmer, the fish and I will be more comfortable and give better data.

Fish Info and Planned Tests

To each fish, I will show various shapes and colors cut out of paper to show them, while offering food to only one shape/color combination. I will use a timer to gauge how quickly the fish react. Also, I won't feed the fish except during training, to keep water quality decent and increase willingness to eat.

Featherfinned Catfish (Synodontis euptera)
Chosen because this one is in a tank with only a small Gambusia. My personal favorite fish. Very hardy, and can survive dirty water and temperature extremes. S.euptera hails from the Nile River, Chad, and the Volta Rivers. They feed in the evening and night on aquatic insects and worms, but eat prepared fish food at any time when kept in captivity. This particular one is a subadult of unknown gender, but I refer to it as male. Because of my lack of time interacting with him, he doesn't act extremely excited like the other two test subjects when I come by, but he isn't afraid of me. This particular euptera can tell me apart from other people, and does not recognize me without my glasses.

Green sunfish / Bluegill hybrid (Lepomis cyanellus X macrochir)

This is a fish commonly used to stock ponds. Its fast growth, smallish size and voracious appetite make it a popular fish for novice fishermen. This one is a highly aggressive male who lives alone. His adaptability, large size compared to the other fish I have and quick learning make this hybrid a good subject to train. However, he is somewhat skittish, so if I scare him in the duration of the experiment, he probably won't respond to stimuli, skewing my data.

Convict Cichlid (Amatlania nigrofasciata)
A prolific native of parts of Central America, like the Honduras. The convict cichlid's behavior and colors have endeared them to many aquarists. Since convicts breed easily, have been common subjects to study fish behavior, and are hardy, my lone male will take part in the experiment. So far, he recognizes me as his feeder, but I haven't taught him anything else. My convict has no known quirks that will skew the data.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tangible Products

   In my first presentation, I stated I would have to do my own original research, like surveys and the like. I already did a survey and analyzed the results, but my previous statement implied I'm doing more than that. My next original research focus is the fish themselves.
   Many people in my survey say fish are not bright, and that deters them from caring much about them. Since I have 3 fish in their own tanks, which makes it easier to isolate the subjects, I'll attempt to train them using Pavlovian and chaining methods. So far, the three fish (a convict cichlid, a green sunfish hybrid, and a featherfin catfish) recognize me as their caretaker, at least when I wear glasses , and come to the front of the tank for food. To build on this, I will attempt to get my fish to recognize specific objects, shapes, sounds, and colors. I don't know what kind of "tricks" I can teach them, but I'll try that when I've proved my fishes' learning capacity.
  Also, I mentioned I want to breed endangered and little-known fish and record my findings. I have a spare tank of 10 gallons that would be suitable for housing a few small fish for breeding. Here's some species I've come up with, and their pros and cons.

Black Kuhli Loach

+ Small
+ Loaches are seldom bred
+ Common
+ Inexpensive
+ Hardy
+ Interesting shape
- Nocturnal
- Snake-like shape may repulse some people
- Probably require soft, acid water to breed (I don't have that)

Golden Shiner?

+ Very inexpensive
+ Active
+ Very easy to obtain
+ Usually considered "just bait"
- Not completely sure of species
- Highly disease-prone when not acclimated (at least where I get them from)
- If actually golden shiners, may grow a bit large for the space I have

Upside-down Catfish

+ Interesting habits
+ Rarely bred
+ Pretty common
+ Small
- Rather expensive
- Nocturnal and somewhat shy at first

Bumblebee goby

+ Tiny
+ Interesting behavior
+ Bright colors
- Sporadic availability
- Brackish water
- Finicky eaters

Dwarf Pufferfish

+ Tiny
+ Interesting behavior
+ Bright colors
- Sporadic availability
- Finicky eaters
+- Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, so becoming rare in the face of increasing demand

   I intend to create a separate website when research is all done, to invite people to come and publish findings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    Today I looked again at the C.A.R.E.S. website. Its main purpose is to "create a base stock of conservation priority species through encouraging hobbyists worldwide to devote tank space to one or more species at risk and distribute offspring to fellow qualified hobbyists, while forming an information network between aquarists, scientists, and conservationists." Again, this is similar to what I want to do with Koi Polloi. To differentiate myself, I will be more donation-based, but it's unclear where I'm going to put the money. Also, I want to breed fish that aren't common in the hobby,as well as the fish relatively common in captivity but threatened in the wild, and get them distributed through Koi Polloi. Perhaps I will start with something tangible and breed native bait shiners.Prove they make suitable, interesting pets, and then go from there in doing fundraisers to keep trash out of their home range.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Now what will I do with all this data?

  This survey was surprisingly effective, getting 60 responses within 2 weeks. The people who answered the survey gave great insight into what I'd probably need to do to raise interest and awareness of freshwater fish. However, I feel I've focused a bit much on the aquarium hobby and not enough on conservation. The hobby of fishkeeping is only a means to an end of increasing public interest in freshwater fish, and what kind of goal is just attracting people to the hobby for no reason?
Therefore, from now on, I will research current events in the native waters of ornamental fish species and write reports on them. That way I won't be left with weasel words when I'm trying to explain what I do during this class, and I'll have a better project because of it. I also ran into complications with the film idea. I wanted to do one on goldfish, like a pilot for a documentary series, but that would be too off-topic. I also was instructed to talk to another classmate who wants to make a film about what it would require.
Yet another issue I've recently run into is the existence of another ornamental fish conservation group: C.A.R.E.S. This group also wants to breed and reintroduce rare aquarium fish into their native waters, and wants to get the general public involved, too. However, they haven't made much of a splash despite the backing of premium aquarium supply companies. I'll learn more and probably try to contact someone involved in C.A.R.E.S tomorrow to potentially find another advisor and think of ways I can make my intentions more distinct.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More Analysis

What is one thing that would make you interested in fishkeeping?

   I don't know if this is response bias or anything, but there were many varied responses for this question. The aesthetics of the fish was a common answer, probably the most common. This is the easiest way to get people interested in freshwater fish, as there is enormous diversity in form. To lure in these people, all I need are pretty pictures of fish in common areas. Another issue was the ease of care. A few people wanted to know how to keep their fish alive. Since a large majority of respondents mentioned their fish had died from various causes, I'll have to do something that shows people what it takes to keep fish alive. Write articles maybe? Short video clips? Also, the tone and diction will have to be simpler and more accessible. One more common response was wanting to know about the cognitive capacities of fish. Many people think fish are stupid, so if this were disproven, they'd be more inclined to keep them.


Would you visit a public aquarium consisting of solely freshwater aquatic life?

   As with the previous question, I'm suspecting response bias. There was a large proportion of positive responses (84%)! Do these people realize the hypothetical aquarium would be mostly fish? The negative responders didn't answer with similar responses to the other questions. An all-freshwater public aquarium would have a niche over all the other ones, and generate more revenue for a city and more awareness of freshwater fish. However, I didn't consider this idea at first, so I'll only come up with plans after I finish the film and website outline.

Is the health of freshwater diversity, native and foreign, worth donating money towards?

This question's answer distribution was very similar to the previous question. Knowing this, I now need to find ways to get donations and a place to send it to.

P.S. I came up with a name for the group: Koi Polloi.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Now It's Fish Time, part 2

3. Would you watch nature documentaries, no matter the subject, on your preferred form of visual media?

Since I intend to make some kind of a film to go along with this project, I wanted to see if there was some kind of a demand for it. Turns out 59% responses were positive. This solidifies my decision to go forward with making the film next semester. The other 41% aren't all negative with the other questions, though some ended up not really caring about fish in general. That's fine, as honest responses are what I need in this project.
Because of last-second college stuff, I couldn't finish in time. Part 3 on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Now It's Fish Time!

   Since the survey was released to the juniors and seniors of TAG, I got 53 results. This is almost half of all the people I sent it to! I intend to send it to more people outside of the school. Now I want to go into in-depth analysis of each question.

1. Goldfish can survive in a bowl.
  I chose this question because this is one of the most basic rules of fishkeeping: never keep goldfish, or any fish for that matter, in a bowl. Their waste products quickly pile up, and they have almost no room to grow. This kills them prematurely.
  Out of  53 people, 35 have a positive (agree or strongly agree) position on the question. Most of the respondents who answered like this have dead fish, from one cause or another. The 8 negative responses are either non-or former fish owners, and they mention their fish die after improper care or some accident.
2. Name 5 freshwater ornamental fish.
  I wanted to know which species of fish were well-known among the TAG juniors and seniors who bother to answer the survey. Unsurprisingly, everyone knew what a goldfish was. Bettas (though often misspelled) were pretty common sights, because of their ease of care and bright colors. I was surprised by the prevalence of angelfish (don't see many in person) Catfish were the group to have the most specific species named, as featherfin , emerald, and plecostomus showed up at least once. However, there was a common trend of people not distinguishing among freshwater and marine fish, as clownfish and regal tang "Dory" showed up many times.  Non-fish species, like jellyfish and crabs, even showed up a few times.

Because I was also looking at college stuff, I'll add more results Friday.

Monday, October 27, 2014

College now, Fish can stand to wait a little longer

   Today, I added more details for specific schools to the Common app. The November 1 deadline is fast approaching, but I am confident I will have my applications completed in time. I also had my survey finally distributed to the juniors and seniors, so data analysis will come soon, hopefully. I also started looking for websites I can source "fun facts" from, to hopefully plaster highly visible areas with.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

College Now, Fish Later

Today I worked on 2 of 4 admissions essays, and added Purdue and SUNY-ESF to the Common App. I did nothing about my thesis today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Uhh.. I can't think of anything witty.

Today I revised my survey questions according to the suggestions of my former statistics teacher. She said I should give answer choices ranging from strong agreement to strong disagreement ( the Likert Scale) and reduce the bias on some of the questions. I also wrote out what goals I have for each facet of this yet-unnamed, proposed advocacy/conservation group.
Advertising: Encourage the masses who'd normally overlook freshwater fish to care enough to keep them, breed them, and make donations.
Donations: Money comes from group members and fundraising events, which I need to research and brainstorm. Will go to breeding, husbandry, and reintroduction.
Networking: Possibly a hybrid of internet forum/ major social media site. Hopefully informal and inviting. I can't program, so I'm left with proposing an outline. Maybe I'll try to host a couple of brick and mortar meetings, to see how things would go.
Breeding/Research: Members of group will breed fish depending on skill level. Offspring would go to pet stores, other members, and to their natural habitat, if possible. Laymen's observations and findings will be shared with group members via forum.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My sources aren't off-topic.

   Today I checked my progress on the Common App.I only need to add activities, edit the essay, and put in parental information. This took up time I could have used to look at sources. Sources now will have less of a focus on fish as I attempt to find ways to make conservation and the fishkeeping hobby more palatable to the masses.

This source is about marketing artistic events to minorities. Using minority-focused plays and paintings to build support in the community is  the main idea of the article. It also goes over ways to appeal to specific minority groups. Since I want White people in on fish conservation too, I'll look for more general sources.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Focus of the Next 6 Weeks

Because of ACT registration and thesis presentations, I haven't posted. The presentation was a success, however, with many people asking me questions. I'll keep them in mind as I enter the next phase: audience research.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Annotated Bibliography

   Today I did most of my annotated bibliography. Since I left some information at home, I couldn't do all of it, nor post my other survey questions. Here's what I've done so far:

Many freshwater environments containing thousands of unique species are endangered by pollution and habitat loss. Also, freshwater creatures are not really noticed by the media and general public, who'd rather pay attention and donate to funds protecting large and/or cute mammals and birds. This has led me to make my senior thesis about a freshwater fish advocacy group.
This project sets out to answer two questions: Why don’t people care about freshwater fish? How can we make them care enough to do something to aid their conservation? I will do research on these two questions using surveys and internet sources, and then compile my findings into a video which I hope will answer the second question.
Jepson, P., & Darwall, W. (2013, June 13). Is freshwater advocacy group the solution? Retrieved August 28, 2014, from http://www.seriouslyfish.com/is-freshwater-advocacy-group-the-solution/
    This is a video discussing how small and isolated the groups discussing freshwater biodiversity are compared to marine and charismatic land animal conservation groups. It proposed a freshwater biodiversity advocacy group that amateurs who care, like anglers and aquarists, can join. This source was the one giving me the idea for this thesis project. It is geared towards conservationists and serious aquarists.

Leathwick, J. R., Collier, K. J., & Chadderton, W. L. (2007). Identifying freshwater ecosystems with nationally important natural heritage values: Development of a biogeographic framework. Wellington, N.Z.: Science & Technical Pub., Dept. of Conservation. Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/sfc274.pdf
    This source talks about the effects of catastrophic events like earthquakes on recolonizing freshwater ecosystems, as well as the worth of conserving some specific habitats in New Zealand. It considers the distributions of diadromic (pure freshwater) organisms highly important in gauging changes over time in New Zealand’s biota, as they don’t leave the rivers and lakes they call home. This source is geared towards researchers and college students studying ecology and not the general public or amateur naturalists, judging by the length and language.

The freshwater biome. (n.d.). Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/freshwater.php
    A source giving background as to what habitats I’m actually studying. Has little to do with fish, but does describe where they live. Will be used in the very beginning of products and presentations, to provide background. This source is intended for use by laymen, as the article contains little jargon and explains what it does have.

Maceda-Veiga, A. (2014, August 13). The aquarium hobby: Can sinners become saints in freshwater fish conservation? [PDF]. John Wiley & Sons.
    A rare scholarly source on the aquarium hobby. It has a neutral tone on it, because it has led to the introduction of invasive species into worldwide freshwaters and has many ignorant amateurs killing fish earlier than they should, despite the hobby of fishkeeping leading to a greater awareness of fish amongst a small section of the general public and a few passionate aquarists leading conservation and research efforts.

Ofish - Conservation Benefits of Wild Capture. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.ornamental-fish-int.org/data-area/conservation/untitled2/-conservation-benefits-of-wild-capture

Conservation - Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.ornamentalfish.org/conservation-welfare/conservation

Conservation Fisheries :: Home. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://conservationfisheries.org/


Hinman, K. (2001). BOOSTING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF FISH. Saltwater Sportsman. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://wildoceans.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/SWS_301_for_web.pdf
    A flyer posted in 2001 with very obvious intent. The date's significant because it's before Finding Nemo, a movie that boosted awareness of marine fish significantly for a while. This flyer argues people don't consider fish as animals worthy of respect, and only a source of food in rivers and oceans. However, it mentioned a significant improvement in conservation efforts at the time. This article is about marine sport and food fish, so isn’t as directly involved with my thesis as other sources. Since I’m concerned with the general public’s opinion in such matters, though, it’s still valuable.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here's what I'm actually doing.

  Today I wrote down a general outline of what I want to do with this group. I feel in previous posts, I never made that clear enough. Here's the list of things, in bullets:

-Provide captive breeding and reintroduction services
-Be made up of aquarists and ichthyologists constantly sharing information with each other
-Educate the public about the wonders of freshwater life
-Discourage people from introducing invasive species
-Educate people on their proper care
-Work with pet stores, public aquaria, and other people working with fish to further the cause

Also, I stated I want all freshwater fish feasible to keep to be considered aquarium fish. This opens up the possibility of some random guy buying a bunch of red-tailed black sharks, or some other endangered or fragile species, and killing them all. My solution is an achievement system. Aquarists who are members of the group score points for time as a fishkeeper, number of fish bred, number of fish killed, tank size, etc. I plan to give different fish different point values, to incentivize the purchase of fish. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Target Sighted!

Recently, I found out when the first deadlines were; an annotated bibliography due October 3rd and an actual presentation on the 8th. I'm confident I can meet these deadlines with a good project.
Today and yesterday, I also waded through many sources. The time I spent searching, as well as a source given to me by Mrs.
Marchio, makes this post come a day late.

Conservation Fisheries
An organization based in the Southeast US focusing on breeding fish. They breed fish to keep populations alive and restore depleted ones. It checks the populations using non-invasive methods, as many ways of surveying fish disturb or hurt the fish. Many large conservation groups, like the WWF, support Conservation Fisheries.

A Department of Maryland Wildlife survey
It's very long and filled with data. It talks about the Maryland public's opinion on fishery and conservation matters. My first source really dealing with humans. Since I'm posting from a phone, I'll give more detail tomorrow.

Boosting Public Awareness of Fish

A flyer posted in 2001. The date's significant because it's before Finding Nemo, a movie that boosted awareness of marine fish significantly for a while. This flyer argues people don't consider fish as animals worthy of respect, and only a source of food in rivers and oceans.

The Aquarium Hobby: Can Sinners become saints in freshwater fish conservation?

Mrs. Marchio sent me this source. It asked a few of the questions concerning this thesis: namely should aquarists be involved in freshwater fish conservation? The article then goes into detail involving unsuitable and nonnative species kept by aquarists, as well as conservation efforts that saved some cyprinodontiform fish from extinction, like Ameca splendens.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Kind of Flailing Around Right Now

    Today I looked at the Rio Xingu river. It's a fast-flowing branch of the Amazon that provides many valuable aquarium fish. However, it's set to be dammed in the near future, displacing thousands of people and making countless fish critically endangered or extinct. The major catfish website Planet Catfish launched the project PlanetXingu last year in an effort to learn more about these fish before it's too late. This is where captive breeding and the aquarium trade should come in. As I've mentioned earlier, ornamental fish are more valuable pound-for-pound than food fish. They provide a source of work for those who live by some bodies of water. If the efforts of PlanetXingu become more publicized, maybe we can do more...
   I also looked at NANFA, the North American Native Fish Association. They want to do for US native fish what I want to extend to all fish: raise awareness, conserve, and research them. They also consider captive care a viable idea to raise awareness for them.
   This blog post has this title because I'm still a little lost and don't have clear deadlines. What are my final products going to be? What are relevant sources? I'm getting this figured out as well as I can, though.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More Clarification, but not much else

    Today I found out about the Jack Kent Scholarship. It pays much of one's tuition for 4 years, and is geared at students with good grades and exceptional financial need. I spent a good portion of class time today learning more about it and trying to apply, but the website was a bit slow.
    In thesis-related news, here are the three questions I intend on asking at local pet stores:

1. Do you know the Red-Tailed Black Shark is critically endangered?

2. Are Dojo Loaches invasive species?

3. Do you know that Dinosaur Eels or bichirs were used in a recent experiment to investigate how terrestrial locomotion developed?

I also emailed my adviser for more guidance and to clarify some of my intentions in the previous post. This project is intended for all aquarists, but I'll focus more on the U.S. because it's the area I know best, and when I said all fish that weren't considered a food source, I meant all of them everywhere, including U.S. native fish. Since my tiny sample of people mainly consider those fish food or bait, I want to open them up to a better use for them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wonder if this would be my niche ?

    Today I looked at some sources involving ornamental fish conservation. It's great they exist, but I do indeed need something to set my thesis apart from them. They mention that efforts in the Amazon to preserve and sell discus fish and neon tetras provide a source of income that spares the forests and helps the natives survive. I'll expand this to ALL non-food freshwater fish worldwide.
    This is a win-win situation for all involved. Fishkeepers want to keep and breed new, exotic fish. Ichthyologists can learn some of the natural history of ethically-raised fish from the hobbyists. Fish collectors gain a source of income, as ornamental fish are much more monetarily valuable than food fish. If fish collecting becomes more widespread and lucrative, it would be a boost to any economy near a body of freshwater. Ecosystems are preserved, as nobody would want to build a mall, road, etc. over a large, beautiful, and hopefully sustainable source of income.
    I also have an idea for a survey to add something of an argument for conservation: ask random people in the fish section a couple of short questions regarding the conservation status of several common fish. Even though my sample would be a bit biased towards Dallas-area fish owners, I'd get firsthand knowledge about how in the dark most fishkeepers are about the fish they, well, keep. This project involves everyone involved with ornamental fish to take steps in preventing our stocks from becoming depleted or worse, and aquarists are key sources of knowledge, like amateur birdwatchers to ornithologists.



The page from the New England Aquarium mentioned Monday.
Talks about conservation objectives. Probably won't feature too much in final project.


One of the two conservation groups for ornamental fish I found. Pro-wild capture. Helped solidify my idea.


The other group about ornamental fish. UK-based. Requires membership.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Business as Usual

     I need to mention again the two driving questions about this thesis project: Why don't people care about freshwater fish? How can we make them care?
   With no unexpected counselor visits and the above statement out of the way, I was able to get more research done today. Using Google Scholar, I found many promising-looking sources. However, I need an institutional login, and I don't have one. Looks like I'll have to borrow one from someone else. The research papers' abstracts had a few useful facts, like ornamental aquaculture being a rather lucrative business in the US.
   Using ideas my adviser gave me, I looked at things birdwatchers and marine fish conservation groups did to raise awareness of their favored animals. Birdwatchers have around 47.7 million others making observations on avian behavior patterns. They have a code of ethics.They have large networks of like-minded people. All aquarists really have are internet forums and pet stores.
   Marine fish have a whole Department of State devoted to them. People can lobby for their support. They can talk to Congress and get legislation written to protect them. Steps are being taken to reduce overfishing. Obviously, freshwater fish conservation groups don't have a DoS to lobby for them.
   The New England Aquarium has a website mentioning the importance of ornamental fish, but I don't have time to go into it much. I'll edit this post soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

College Stuff, Mostly

    Today, my counselor, Mrs.Marberry took up most of the period talking about admissions and transcripts. I wasn't able to really do anything involving thesis besides email Mrs.Marchio.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Making Contact

   Today I fully committed to the freshwater fish advocacy group. No real modifications were needed to the idea. I also want to have a video to go alongside the final presentation, shown at a separate time. This is because of possible length issues, because it's likely to go over 20 minutes (the maximum length of our final presentation), and to have the audience pay more attention to it. I'll give video details after I do much more research.
   I also contacted Elizabeth Marchio as a mentor. Mrs. Marchio is an ichthyologist who studies swordtails and other livebearers in Belize. She is currently working on her doctorate at Texas A&M University.
   Links : http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/sfc274.pdf
Identifying freshwater ecosystems with nationally important natural heritage values: development of a biogeographic framework is about the diversity of New Zealand freshwater ecosystems. It's kind of long, so I had to skim through it somewhat. It talks about the effects of catastrophic events like earthquakes on recolonizing the ecosystem, as well as the worth of conserving some specific habitats.

A basic overview of freshwater habitats. Provides a small background on the diversity of the habitats.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Preliminary Sources : The Long, Long Road Ahead

Today I made note of the webpage that gave me this idea in the first place: a post on seriouslyfish.com about freshwater conservation. It provided a link to an interview with Paul Jepson from the University of Oxford and Will Darwall, Head of the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, as well as the Biofresh blog. By next week, my topic will be solidified and expanded upon in a future blog post. I also bounced ideas off colleagues to help narrow down and focus the scope of this project.

My list of reasons to do this thesis:
-No significant media coverage of freshwater environments
-Many endangered habitats and species
-Many keystone (vital to health of environment) species
-Important food sources
-Freshwater is much scarcer than saltwater and land
-A devoted hobby dedicated to keeping fish
-Almost nobody seems to care

Links for today:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thesis Topic Change

    Earlier last week I decided to change my thesis topic from finding a family for the enigmatic catfish Conorhynchos conirostris to a freshwater diversity advocacy group. I still need to narrow down and finalize what exactly I'm doing, though. I changed my topic because of possible issues with finding sources, and the relative obscurity of the fish. Few pictures of it are online, and little information aside from its size and possible familial relationships are known. Furthermore, I wouldn't know where to source a specimen, so I can't really make observations accurately.
    I chose this current topic because I still wanted to do something with fish, and many freshwater environments containing thousands of unique species are endangered by pollution and habitat loss. Also, freshwater creatures are not really noticed by the media and general public, who'd rather pay attention and donate to funds protecting large and/or cute mammals and birds. If I write well and draw interesting conclusions, maybe some people would start to care.