First Years

The begin­ning: dif­fi­cult at first, then rapid growthjuvenile Parosphromenus species

Before the age of the inter­net, all attempts – which were started around the mid-​seventies of the 20th cen­tury– to form a group out of the few experts and breed­ers of licorice gouramis (Foer­sch, Har­vey, Richter, etc.) were bound to fail. Expenses and costs were too high; the num­ber of experts too low. At the time of Gün­ter Kopic’s major breed­ing suc­cess dur­ing the eight­ies and nineties it was often not easy for him to hand over his young fish to well-​qualified aquar­ists. The inter­net was in a very early stage. Since Peter Finke took over the ”Forum Parosphromenus” in 2003 and the Licorice Gourami work­ing group in 2004, the sit­u­a­tion has changed. Inter­net and e-​mail enabled the estab­lish­ment of a wide Parosphromenus–Net­work, which was then founded in 2005 by Peter Finke and Mar­tin Hall­man and included 17 addresses from 3 coun­tries (Ger­many, Switzer­land, France). From the begin­ning, a half-​yearly cen­sus was in the focus of the work, pro­vid­ing an overview about the exist­ing aquar­ium stock.

This net­work devel­oped rapidly and very pos­i­tively in the fol­low­ing years and soon exceeded the bound­aries of the found­ing asso­ci­a­tion (IGL). How­ever, later the growth decreasedafter an ini­tial rapid increase of mem­bers (keep­ers, breed­ers, experts, influ­encers) in this increas­ingly inter­na­tional group, but nev­er­the­less kept on grow­ing. Five years later, in sum­mer 2010, it included 170 peo­ple in 15 coun­tries on three con­ti­nents (mainly Europe, but also Asia and Amer­ica) At the same time, the num­ber of species kept and bred increased from an ini­tial 11 to 18, includ­ing all already described species. Almost every year, fur­ther newly-​discovered forms extended the pool, so in 2010 almost 50 forms (species and local vari­eties) were avail­able as live stock. In par­al­lel, the Parosphromenus forum devel­oped very well, start­ing with few top­ics and con­tri­bu­tions in 2005 to more than 170 themes and 3.500 posts in 2010. It has been repeat­edly praised for its qual­ity and has been read in Eng­land, Scan­di­navia, East­ern Europe, Malaysia, Indone­sia and Japan, although most of the con­tri­bu­tions were avail­able only in the Ger­man language.

Nev­er­the­less, there were signs that it would not be pos­si­ble to con­tinue this way. The sole vol­un­teer organ­iser was threat­ened more and more by over­bur­den­ing, many mem­bers were indi­vid­u­als in dis­tant coun­tries which could hardly be approached via Ger­man lan­guage or which belonged to other organ­i­sa­tions. Net­work­ing with non-​European friends or organ­i­sa­tions was poor; also here lan­guage bar­ri­ers hin­dered the break­through. More and more Parosphromenus species and forms had to be repro­duced and kept in the stock by too few breed­ers. A num­ber of forms, only present in small­est aquar­ium pop­u­la­tions, began to dis­ap­pear. The project needed a renewal, a tough reorganisation.

These were signs that — despite the early suc­cess — the project had to be lifted to a new, wider and more pro­fes­sional basis.

(HS)

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