Mark S. Blackburn, MBA
The African Cichlid Page
A History of my Involvement with Cichlids
At the age of 15 (1968) I became interested in tropical fish keeping, a hobby enjoyed by my degenerate friend, Chuck Cook. I had an early success in raising Aequidens portalegrensis "Port Cichlid" (South America). I was hooked on this hobby.
I was shipped off to prep school in Hawaii and this interrupted my fish hobby. At that time due to changing diplomatic relations between several African Nations and the civilized Western European nations, scientists were allowed into Eastern Africa's Rift Lake Valley for the first time in decades. What followed during the next two decades was the emergence of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika as the two richest sources of indigenous species of cichlid fishes in the world, as hundreds of fascinating new species were being discovered. The first such species imported into the "hobby" was the "golden Nyasa Cichlid," certainly among the most striking cichlids ever.
Chuck and I joint ventured a pair of these fish but never had any success raising them. I was living in Hawaii and Chuck in Newport Beach. A year or two later when I was back for college in Orange County, I remember paying $150 for 3 Haplochromis polystigma. I was earning $1.77 per hour at that time at a supermarket. This was a huge outlay for me on my meager budget. I really enjoyed keeping fish but never had much success in breeding them until I was living in Texas and serving in the Army (roughly 1977). I had success with Julidochromis transcriptus and a number of other Tanganyikan species. At one point I had 25 aquariums set up in my house.
Fishkeeping is a great hobby enjoyed by millions of people around the world. For whatever reason I particularly enjoy Cichlids. And, among Cichlids, I especially enjoy African Cichlids. And, among African Cichlids, I most enjoy those from the following Lakes:
In July, 2007 the American Cichlid Association (ACA) held their Annual Conference in Sacramento, which was jointly hosted by the Sacramento Aquarium Society (SAS). A year previous I had reservations to attend their 2006 conference in Chicago, but business needs forced me to cancel sadly. I was elated, however, when I saw they were going to hold their 2007 conference in Sacramento. I planned to use the conference as my jumpstart back into the hobby. I presently have 16 aquariums set up in my small apartment. I have raised at least 20 different species since 2007 and have supplied a number of Sacramento local fish stores including the largest Tropical Fish store in Northern California.
Update 2011: Due to the depression that started in 2008 'er, I mean the recession that ended in 2009 (according to our lying government) I had to move out of state for employment. I have had to shut down all my aquariums, and as of this writing do not have a single fish.
Mark Blackburn is a business analyst who provides data base consulting services under contract to various Sacramento clients.
Mark S. Blackburn, MBA
1310 E Street Victorian
Sacramento, CA 95814
Last Updated: January 10, 2011