Saturday, April 1, 2017

Poisson d'Avril

April Fool's Day is celebrated in many countries all over the world. In France,and some other French speaking countries, children will try to put a drawing of a fish upon your back. In other countries people will try to fool you by making you belief something is real while it's not.


On April 1st many photos are made showing remarkable, new discovered fish, like the Elephant Tang on the photo (left). Of course these photos are made for fun. Sometimes however, these jokes become a bit too serious. The German aquarist society DKG (Deutsche Killifisch Gemeinschaft) published a description of a new species in their magazine of April 1983. Although the description included a funny picture of a smiling fish (in fact the article ends emphasizing the special, distinguishing feature of the species is the upcurled mouth... a fake smile) and the remarkable names of the scientists who described the fish (Falsehood & Deceit, sic!); features which should have raised some questions, or at least some doubt. But even reknown aquarists were fooled. The species was included in the well known 1987 edition of 'S├╝sswasserfische der Welt' (Freshwater Fishes of the World) of German aquarist G├╝nther Sterba. Thus the non existing species had suddenly become a true species of science!

The fish I have painted is an existing species, Aphyosemion australe. However; it is a fancy variety developed in 1957 by a German fish breeder Hjerresen. If hobbyists would have followed the system of plants it's name should be Aphyosemion australe var. Hjerresen. Instead of this simple system, the name Aphyosemion hjerreseni has been used, A name which is not valid according the rules of the ICZN (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature), yet leading to confusion about its origin. In the aquarium trade this fish is sold as Orange or Gold Lyretail. Its natural ancestor unfortunately received another fancy name 'Cap Lopez'. I guess people like to be fooled...
Click here for the full description.