The BAP program is pleased to announce that the Breeder of the Year for 2014 was earned by Andrew Bogott. Over the course of the year Andrew spawned 19 species with an average of nearly 15 points per spawn: A third of them being the more challenging 20 point species!
Notable species include the neon and cardinal tetras, three rasboras (including the miniature Boraras merah), and a pigmy sunfish (Elassoma evergladei). During the BAP challenge of the 2013-14 fishkeeping season, Andrew was the only member to 'BAP' a species from each of the five tropical continents. You might have noticed Andrew managing the BAP forms a couple of months last year – that's becasue he serves as the assistent to the BAP chair, filling in when there is an absence.
Andrew was unable to be at the January meeting when we publicly recognized the previous year's accomplishments. Since we could not ask him questions at the meeting, we did so earlier. Here is his interview...
How long have you been in the hobby?
As an adult, about ten years. I kept a few killis (without much success) when I was a kid, then after a long gap I resumed with a little planted 'biocube' tank with shrimp and T. micagemmae.
How long have you been breeding fish?
Also about ten years, since it's hard to keep Tanichthys without them breeding. I set up multiple breeding tanks a year or so in after I got obsessed with raising the Amano shrimp that kept hatching out in the one little tank.
Why have you chosen to be so engaged in breeding fish?
I've always been interested in ecology and evolution -- Every fish's breeding strategy tells a little story about their environment and their history. Like, bubblenesting bettas vs. mouthbrooding bettas -- each clearly evolved someplace where there was no solid ground to lay the eggs, but you can't build a bubblenest in fast-moving water. I'm really enjoy watching this play out in person.
Also, I work from home, so the daily routine of fishkeeping makes for nice little breaks during my work day.
You have submitted a lot of challenging species (a third of your species were 15 pointers and another third were 20 pointers – ratios which are higher than usual). Is there a reason why your BAPs include a high proportion of high-pointed species? Have you found them harder than the 10 point species?
I like complications, and I sometimes troll the bap scoring table for fish that might be more interesting or challenging. A fish that's super picky about conditions or who spawns frequently but has really hard-to-raise-fry, that's right up my alley because I like to tinker and experiment.
What is the condition (softness, pH, anything else to report) of the water you use? Do you do any special prep for them?
I recently changed my water-changing system over to pure R/O water and have accordingly started keeping only soft- or black-water fish. The shrimp really hated the R/O water so I've switched my shrimp tanks back to regular Minneapolis tap water -- I'm still waiting to see if they rebound.
How many tanks are you running? Give us an idea of their sizes (or range of tank sizes).
I have one big planted 90-gallon with tetras and angelfish. In the fishroom I have about 20 smaller tanks, from 10-40 gallons. All of the small tanks are on a continuous water-changing system, so the maintenance isn't too painful.
Of the species you bred this past year, tell us about one or two that significantly engaged you in order to be successful.
This is the year when it felt like I really figured out tetras, and spawned quite a few species with the same process. That said, I probably spent the most time getting fry from the cardinal tetras, because their spawning rules seem to be totally different from the other tetras -- they spawn in the pitch dark, and very irregularly, and I only ever got a handful of eggs. It felt like a real triumph to get any fry at all past the wriggler stage.
And, this seems backwards, but I still haven't really figured out cichlids. I had to hatch the Anomalochromis eggs by hand, and it took a lot of tries before getting any fry. I kept a pair of Rams this year as well, and got lots of eggs from them but never any fry.
Where are you this week (the January meeting) that is keeping you away from MAS?
I'm in Singapore, visiting a friend and waiting out the worst of the Minnesota winter. I just took a side-trip to Vietnam and visited a gigantic tetra farm there, 'Saigon Aquarium'. They don't seem to have any trouble getting their cardinal tetras to spawn.