What's new

Back from Central Africa

FOTM Photo Contest Starts Now!
FishForums.net Fish of the Month
🏆 Click to enter! 🏆


Fish Aficionado
Oct 14, 2011
Reaction score
Eastern Canada
I'm back from Gabon, tired, and, tired, and very tired... With the threat of war in Niger, the army there closed their air space, and we had to reroute. We had to go around the conflict zone, and fly via Cameroon, Ethiopia, Turkey and two planes in Canada. It's been a tough couple of days - airports sap your energy like hospital waiting rooms.
I have a grab bag of different fish, with 89 out of 92 individuals having survived. I have 2 Platopochilus species - one may be P. terveri but then again, may not. I brought home Epiplatys huberi, and Aphyosemion primiginium and cameronense. There are also two Aphyosemions I am uncertain about. One is in the coeleste group and looks like a citrineipinnis with scarlet markings, and the other is a beautifully striped bright blue fish with ivory fin tips.
The diversity of fish in that country is awe inspiring. Every stream had surprises and wonders. This is a pretty good planet to be on, if you look around.

When the fish have settled and eaten a bit, I'll take some photos.
Silly question but how did you transport them home? Did you have to get special permission from the airline in advance?
I used breather bags and put them in my (non carry on) luggage. The small breather bags went into dirty socks to protect them... I put a note in explaining the permits etc in case the bag was pulled and searched so they would know this was not for smuggling, but because each breather bag needs to be wrapped to avoid leakage.

The airlines don't care. I was under the 23 kilo limit, and that was their only concern.

I had papers from the Gabonese government as I was on a trip with researchers, even though I'm not a scientist. I had a lot of fish, so those papers helped at customs. I could not have done things this way if I were an American, as they have a more bureaucratic border. It's legal to import fish for personal use in Canada, though the permits were needed to explain why I paid no duty/sales tax on them. My companions who brought fish into the EU had no problems. I have no idea what post Brexit rules would be for you.

I know people who have brought small numbers of fish home without permits, and without issues. Gabon is a country that tends toward being stricter than some of its neighbours, at least on paper, and I like to respect local laws, especially environmental ones. In Cameroon, next door, I would not have needed the paperwork. In Gabon, it was never checked.
That's really interesting! Thank you for the detailed explanation!
I could not have done things this way if I were an American, as they have a more bureaucratic border.
There is the understatement of the year! We are the "land of the free!", living underneath the razor wire of restrictions we have set for ourselves (but not the rational ones). But don't tell that to the folks who will never let go of the idea we are "the freest country in the world!" 🙄 I think we're currently ranked #15, so not even in the top 10 (on our own index of such things!).

Can't wait to see the fish! Sounds like an incredible trip!
There was a news story today of two Brits canoeing down the Amazon who got shot at by pirates. I thought of you and am glad you're home safe!
The two men were ex-royal marines so managed to react quick enough to deal with the pirates. :)
The only time I felt any danger was the quicksand incident...

i think the danger of visiting reasonable countries is way overplayed. If you are going to a place where the narco traffic rules, then yes, you are taking a risk. If you behave respectfully in a country like Gabon, and are fully vaccinated, you are safer than you would be in many places in the richer world. People went out of their way to help us, and always made the time to answer questions. We talked with a lot of local fishers, and looked at a lot of their catches. They were always gracious and hospitable. In some cases, they joined us for a laugh, and some of the women took the time to train me in spotting where I might encounter stinging fire ants from the overhead branches. One woman doing her laundry upstream jumped in the water to warn me away from a bush I was too close to.

i have finally understood how stomach content analysis of small killies, barbs and such show so many ants. They criss cross the streams on vines that swing in the breezes. It's a short life for a clumsy ant.

On the planes, the Russian guys with the prison tattoos and the destinations to war zones weren't company I'd want to keep. I think the mercenaries were intimidated by the sight of serious fish nerds though. :rolleyes:
Where to start? In almost every location, we found different barbs and tetras. The Phractura catfish seemed to vary, and the Cichlids were the only ones that stayed more or less the same (lots of Chromidotilapia kingsleyae everywhere). We caught a lot of young Hemichromis elongatus, the pretty but super predatory ones.
It seemed there were subtle differences in the lampeye killies.
The Aphyosemions were only caught in narrow streams, most of which were faster than I expected.
I brought back the old Barbus jae (now Enteromius), one of the prettiest barbs out there at 1.5 cm. That's adult size. They are so red it looks like it hurts to be them.
I also got some pearly Neolebias trewevasae. When they came in commercially, they were little fish with a line on the side. These ones were beautiful irridescent fish, so I hope they keep that.
Both were in a dark stream under the forest canopy, along with Aphyosemion cameronense. That fishing spot was really jungle, and the walk in was rough. A lot of the other places had been logged clear over the past decade or so, and were growing back in.
We got a lot of Anabantoids - African gouramis. Microctenopoma nanum were common. I brought back one with different patterning that will be evaluated as a possibly new species.
nanum stays smallish. We got juveniles of the big ones too.
In a river turned yellow by gold miners we lucked into some Parananochromis brevirostris Cichlids - a nice little dwarf species. I have a pair doing okay.
A lot of the tetras were nice, but I didn't think I could keep them alive for the trip home. There was a Nannacharax that looked like a beautiful slender pencilfish - great colours. It was only in one river.
For killies, I got lampeyes (Platopochilus), Epiplatys huberi, Aphyosemion cameronense, primiginium, sp I have no clue and citrineipinnis, a real beauty.

This was a trip with a couple of scientists who studty the fishes of the region, and they seemed pleased at having some new things to examine and maybe name.
Did you have to eat missionary stew ?
Too fatty.
A sign of the times was a billboard recruiting missionaries to go to the industrialized countries.

At one stream, we weren't allowed to fish because a recent purification ceremony hadn't had time to work yet. There was a lot of animism like that around, but the majority of people in the larger towns seemed to be Catholic, with a smattering of Muslims and a bunch of competing evangelical groups. I didn't detect any tensions - it seemed pretty tolerant and easy going between the communities. Lots of languages (with French as the common language), lots of different ethnic groups, lots of characters. The housing is rough, but they're proud there is no homelessness. There seems to be good access to medical care, and I saw 3 beggars the whole time I was there, two of whom were local drunks. It's a poor country with a lot of problems, but a few things seem to work well in ways we can't manage.

The lumber trucks are everywhere, and the forest is being stripped for export, as is the case through all the rainforests of the region. Chinese companies are really active there. And there is about as much US news on the TV as there is African news on US TV.
Are you planning like a full report or article or video for this trip? It sounds incredible!
Barbus jae (now Enteromius), one of the prettiest barbs out there at 1.5 cm. That's adult size. They are so red it looks like it hurts to be them.
I've never seen this look particularly bright. I've seen a few photos that do, but I'm stoked to see what you got into! I do love a red fish!

Most reactions


Staff online

Members online