Alex Carslaw’s Fish House Tour – Part 3

Our third stop on our U.K fish house tour takes us into the wonderful world of catfish with a visit by C.E. Fish Essentials ambassador Alex Carslaw to the well respected Loricariid enthusiast Julian Dignall.

  •  Julian Dignall (left) with Alex      |      Planet Catfish website
    So far I have been privileged to visit some of the best fishkeepers in Scotland, if not the UK and my latest venture was no different when I paid a visit to Planet catfish guru Julian Dignall. Living in Bathgate, West Lothian but hailing from Inner city Edinburgh Julian first started keeping fish over 30 years ago when because of restrictions on being able to keep large pets he opted for the humble Goldfish. It wasn’t long before moving onto Guppies and became hooked when he managed to breed his first fish. Fast forward 30 odd years and we find Julian has amassed a vast knowledge on all things Catfish and most of it he shares via his brilliant website Planet Catfish. Julian has Catfish from all corners of the world but he favours the Loricariidae family and this is evident when viewing his 38 tanks within his fish room. I counted on average 3 different Catfish in every tank working out to be an incredible 90-100 different species being kept.
     
    Julians Rainbowfish                  Neosilurus ater
    On entering Julian’s fish room im not ashamed to admit the first thing I spotted were his Rainbowfish, yes that’s right, thousands of Catfish and I spot his bows but during the ensuing conversation on them my eyes are drawn to  dark shapes emerging from the shadows, it was 3 stunning Eel-tailed catfish Neosilurus ater. I have never seen these Catfish in the flesh before but then again not many have I suppose so this was a real treat. There aren’t many Australasian Catfish, but if anyone was going to own some it was sure to be Julian. Julian’s 38 tanks all feature separate filtration to suit the varying needs for his fish and this apply’s to the heating also. His room is heated via oil filled radiators but many tanks are supplemented with separate heaters in tank, again to suit the varying needs of his fish. Water changes are made easy by a gravity fed tank located overhead in his loft and each tank is easily drained via a network of drainage pipes connected to the house waste system.
     
    Julian feeding the fish               Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus
    During my visit Julian fed each tank we looked at to let me see some of the more shy Catfish like his group of striped woodcats Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus tightly huddled within a clay pipe. Julian feeds his fish a diet of pellets and is currently trying out a brand of fish food called Repashy. I spoke to Julian about the benefits that C.E. Fish Essentials advanced formulations could bring to his fish, in particular the foods aimed at Loricariidae. I left Julian a sample of food to see how his fish enjoyed it and hopefully I will get some feedback and im confident it will be positive. 
     
    Collecting in the Congo             Loach fishing in India
    During a mug of Coffee (In a planetcatfish.com mug) Julian told me of his fish collecting exploits he has encountered on his visits to the likes of India, Uganda, South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and North America which included being led off a plane by armed guards and coming face to face with a caiman in his collecting net in South America. Later this year Julian plans to visit North America again on a collecting trip and plans to take his kids with him on there first expedition. I sense the Dignall obsession with all things wet and whiskery will have no problem moving to a new generation.
     
    Julian & a large Adonis pleco    L173b variant
    We also spoke of another of Julian’s projects Planet Xingu. Planet Xingu was an initiative to boost financial support to the scientific research being carried out into the fish fauna of Brazil’s Rio Xingu and the impact the Belo Monte dam will have on the eco-system before, during and after completion. Through crowd funding Julian’s initiative managed to raise over $11.000. A fantastic achievement that Julian and all the contributors should be immensely proud of.
     
    Corydoras nanus                       Corydoras sp. CW028
    Julian’s vast knowledge of Catfish has seen him give lectures all over the UK and beyond. He has visited North America, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Germany. I admit I’ve yet to witness one, but next year I have been invited to do a lecture on Rainbowfishes at the Catfish Study Group annual convention and was hoping that Julian would be also, but it turns out I would have to catch a flight to either the USA or Belgium to take one in.
     
    Moenkhausia agnesae             Pearl Gourami (bred by Alex)
    It was a pleasure to meet Julian and be so warmly welcomed into his family home and I look forward to our next meeting when I can again probe the mind of a very experienced fishkeeper and a pleasantly genuine down to earth guy.
    Written by: Alex CarslawPhotography: Alex Carslaw © Julian Dignal© Editor: Chris Englezou

 

Alex Carslaw is without doubt the U.K’s most dedicated Rainbowfish enthusiast – award-winning in fact and he has made it his passion to become a significant contributor to the field in hope of preserving both their keeping in the aquarium hobby and in many cases stabilizing a future for several species of these graceful, diverse and unbelievably underappreciated fish. Alex has been keeping and breeding fish for just over 30 years and his passion for Rainbowfish began with a consigment of the stunning Melanotaenia boesemani which he encountered when working for a Glasgow importer of tropical fish. Alex is a great believer in the power of social media and has used this platform to create a worldwide network of Rainbowfish enthusiasts through his Facebook group and personal website. Alex’s work, whether his hours upon hours investing time & money into his fish, or researching, learning and teaching others about the wonderful Rainbowfish of the world, helps to keep raising awareness for many Rainbowfish which are in urgent need of protection. Some of these species originate from single lakes in what are now ‘developing areas’ and hence being destroyed, polluted or filled with invasive species which are outcompeting or even predating upon these pressurized populations. For some of these fish, their propagation within the aquarium hobby is their only chance to remain on earth.

Alex Carslaw

Alex Carslaw is without doubt the U.K's most dedicated Rainbowfish enthusiast - award-winning in fact and he has made it his passion to become a significant contributor to the field in hope of preserving both their keeping in the aquarium hobby and in many cases stabilizing a future for several species of these graceful, diverse and unbelievably underappreciated fish. Alex has been keeping and breeding fish for just over 30 years and his passion for Rainbowfish began with a consigment of the stunning Melanotaenia boesemani which he encountered when working for a Glasgow importer of tropical fish. Alex is a great believer in the power of social media and has used this platform to create a worldwide network of Rainbowfish enthusiasts through his Facebook group and personal website. Alex's work, whether his hours upon hours investing time & money into his fish, or researching, learning and teaching others about the wonderful Rainbowfish of the world, helps to keep raising awareness for many Rainbowfish which are in urgent need of protection. Some of these species originate from single lakes in what are now 'developing areas' and hence being destroyed, polluted or filled with invasive species which are outcompeting or even predating upon these pressurized populations. For some of these fish, their propagation within the aquarium hobby is their only chance to remain on earth.

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