From the Editor
Usually this hobby is about fish. Sometimes it’s about
science. And sometimes it’s about people—all kinds
of people, since this hobby cuts across races, ages,
nationalities, and every other grouping by which
human beings often segregate themselves. It even bridges a gap
some misguided aquarists struggle to maintain: the gap between
aquarium hobbyists and ichthyologists, between fishkeepers
and fish scientists. Fortunately, this rift is constantly eroded
from both sides—by hobbyists immersing themselves in science,
the better to understand and enjoy their fish, and by scientists
recognizing the important symbiosis and synergism between the
two groups and seeking a continual dialogue. These hobbyist-scientists sometimes become extremely popular and influential
in two spheres, marrying the energy and dedication of the
researcher with the passion of the hobbyist, gaining the attention and respect of their biologist
colleagues and of hobbyists.
Both the aquarium hobby and the scientific world are mourning two of these hobbyist-scientists: Dr. Jacques Géry, whose taxonomic work spanned many decades and most of the
globe, and Dr. George Barlow, whose work in piscine ethology—especially studies in cichlid
behavior—brought the discipline of Lorenz and Tinbergen to American cichlids. This space
is insufficient to do more than introduce these men, so please see the tributes to them in this
month’s issue (p. 98 and p. 40, respectively).
But I mentioned that all sorts of folks make up this hobby, and human tragedy also afflicts
people of all groupings. As we were going to press, we received news of a terrible loss to the
family of one of the Northeast’s hobby greats, Joe Graffagnino, president of the venerable
Brooklyn Aquarium Society and occasional TFH contributor. His son, Joseph Graffagnino, was
one of two NYFD firefighters killed when close to 500 responded to a fire at the Deutsche
Bank building, a Ground Zero edifice still awaiting demolition since the September 11
terrorist attacks of 2001. All of us here at TFH offer our sincerest sympathy and condolences
to Joe’s entire family.
Grief is collectively borne by the community that supports the bereaved, and the aquarium
hobby is a small but significant part of the communities that have suffered these losses. The
family-like nature of our community is apparent whether in the immediate sense of coming
home that we get when attending an aquarium club meeting for the first time or in the
outpouring of love and support in times of tragedy. Sometimes this support can be physical as
well as emotional; in the case of Joey Graffagnino, his father’s club is coordinating donations
for the firefighter’s wife and children (for details see brooklynaquariumsociety.org). And in all
cases, when a loss is felt by a whole community the individuals can gather strength from each
other, and the departed live on in the hearts and memories of those left behind.
As I said, sometimes this hobby is about people.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist