In mem­ory of Bernd Bus­sler august 2020

Bernd Bus­sler passed away

By Peter Finke

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The sud­den death of Bernd Bus­sler is hor­ri­ble news. Only 60 years of age, the cook by pro­fes­sion and pas­sion­ate aquar­ist, died in a heart attack. This is sad news for his rel­a­tives and friends, above all his mother still living.

But it is sad news for all friends of labyrinths too, above all the friends of the licorice gouramies. For decades, Bernd was a suc­cess­ful and devoted breeder of nearly all species and vari­ants we know. He spe­cial­ized early, did not com­pro­mise and was stub­born and deter­mined. Leav­ing Allan Brown out, who decided years ago to end his very pro­duc­tive career as explorer and breeder, I knew nobody who cared for so many forms of licorice gouramies at the same time on a spe­cial­ized rack. And he bred them in unusual quan­ti­ties and dis­trib­uted them in an altru­is­tic man­ner to many friends and coun­tries. There were some other peo­ple hav­ing, say, ten species; some being suc­cess­ful as breed­ers, too. But there was no one beside Bernd Bus­sler for such a long period, in such a spe­cil­ial­ized way tire­lessly chang­ing water, breed­ing live food, clean­ing tanks and fil­ters, con­stantly pro­duc­ing off­spring and keep­ing the species for us alive. An end was not in sight; he never spoke about that.

Myself, I am grate­ful to him for some of the hap­pi­est expe­ri­ences as a friend of these fishes; I tell one story only. There was a longer time­out for me from aquar­is­tics in the nineties for uni­ver­sity rea­sons. When I came back and longed for some licorice again I wrote in a ger­man news­group that it was my wish to have Parosphromenus palu­di­cola know­ing that these fish were seen by a very few peo­ple so far live. Then a per­son whom I did not know at that time wrote to me that he liked to send me these fish: Bernd Bus­sler. I was thun­der­struck. There was a Ger­man aquar­ist in Ham­burg not only hav­ing this species swim­ming in his aquar­ium, but he bred it and offered it to me whom he did not know by per­son. Hap­pily I replied and asked for one male and two females which arrived only a few days later. Within two weeks time off­spring was swim­ming in my tank and I vis­ited Bernd Bus­sler at home in Hamburg.

I came to know a warm-​hearted and robust man, mar­ried at that time, and his exten­sive self-​made breed­ing sta­tion for licorice gouramies only, sit­u­ated in a sep­a­rate room of the remote liv­ing house of his mother and includ­ing all the addi­tional facil­i­ties nec­es­sary for that pur­pose. It felt as heaven for a Paros-​friend. He did not live there him­self, but came across every sec­ond day. When I received new species or forms by Allan Brown, Mar­tin Hall­mann or Horst Linke, Bernd Bus­sler became the first addressee of my off­spring. The fish were safe here because he securely prop­a­gated them. When we had the Parosphromenus Project from 2010 on, his breed­ing room soon became a sort of Mekka for many devoted peo­ple from Britain, Poland or even the United States. There was no place on earth includ­ing Asia where you could see or even to buy so many dif­fer­ent licorice gouramies within one room as this sta­tion of Bernd Bussler’s. And there­fore it was inevitably that in 2017 he was unan­i­mously decided to be the third per­son to receive our Parosphromenus Award for out­stand­ing accomplishments.

He was no man for desk work. These fishes came first, humans later. When the ponds for catch­ing his favourite Cyclops were frozen, he went out­side with an axe. He always pre­ferred out­door caught food for his fish. The small­est fry was fed with African Para­me­cia and spe­cially tiny Micro and vine­gar eels. If some species was miss­ing some­where, one was likely to find it sur­viv­ing in Ham­burg at Bernd’s breed­ing sta­tion. For Ger­many and Europe he was the cen­tral source for many years, up to now, safer than any­body in Asia, a breeder with intu­ition, endurance and a friendly spirit.

His death is incom­pre­hen­si­ble und leaves a very big gap hardly to be filled in some time to come. When Allan Brown sud­denly ended his work as a breeder, Bernd and I did not under­stand it. When I did the same, he did not under­stand it. Now, him being dead, I do not under­stand it.

Peter Finke, Biele­feldt, Deutschland

26 august 2020

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