Yesterday I visited Bolton Museum’s Aquarium for a meeting with colleagues Pete Liptrot (pictured) and Paul Dixon. First we discussed the potential for collaboratively developing a public event we have in mind that focuses on highlighting aquatic conservation and supporting fairtrade. Also during the morning I met the highly enthusiastic Family Learning Team at Bolton Community College who support some of the Aquarium’s family engagement. It’s many years since I visited the aquarium and it was great to catch up with the guys and be shown the fabulous work they are doing behind the scenes. Both Paul and Pete have worked at the aquarium for many years and are equally knowledgeable on their subject and extremely well-skilled at fishkeeping. It was clear that they have their work cut out for them, so I really appreciated them taking time out. Many thanks guys!
Although time consuming, the work they are conducting is superb, including notable breeding successes with some very rare fish. Whilst I was there I had the pleasure in being shown some fine examples, including some of the beautiful Celestial Pearl Danios, Danio margaritatus (pictured). Only discovered in 2006, this fish is endemic to a small area of Burma/ Myanmar. Bolton had the first recorded successful captive reproduction of the species within a couple of weeks of acquiring them and subsequently contributed information on their reproductive ecology to the original description, plus were able widely disseminate husbandry information to private aquarists and other educational institutions. Pete is proud to say that the majority of the original fish are still alive, and even spawning, which shows they have a surprisingly long lifespan for such a small fish when maintained correctly.
Two other fish currently on display at Bolton include the Tequila Goodeid, Zoogoneticus tequila, and the Kendari Ricefish discovered only a year ago. Apparently Goodeids are endemic to a fairly small area of Mexico, and nearly all are under threat. The species at Bolton was thought to be extinct in the wild, although I am told Morelia University in Mexico is working with various institutions in Europe and the US to maintain colonies in captivity. It’s good to hear that reintroduction back to the wild is being attempted and that so far these efforts look positive. However, to date, very little behavioural research has been conducted with these fish. In an effort to find out more about the behaviour of this particular species, Bolton Museum has now teamed up with The University of Bolton: their undergraduate students have been using these fish to carry out research on mate choice (apparently the fish get their common name because they get the equivalent of ‘beer goggles’ when tequilla is added to the water 🙂 Only joking as I am no fish expert, but if anyone does know why they have this name please do get in touch!
If you would like to know more about the great work at Bolton Aquarium or indeed visit the aquarium to see their fish displays please see: http://www.boltonmuseums.org.uk/aquarium/.