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Finarama's TASG Administration Staff

We would like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to those who have contributed to this website, our forum members, and to our Administrators who maintain the forum! We would also like to thank our past administrators Stuart Chale and Carla Gordon for their time and contributions.

Thank You for your dedication and hard work.

Please feel free to communicate directly with any of staff below. We are available should you experience problems with this website or are unable to log into the forum. For general questions, please become a member of the forum and post to the forum.

If you are unsure as to whom to contact, email us at info@finarama.com.

Michelle Ricketts - Founder/Senior Administrator

Michelle Ricketts-Founder

• Location: Reno, Nevada, USA
• Contact: michelle.ricketts@finarama.com
• About: I've been a hobbyist for nearly 30yrs, keeping mostly angelfish. I collected any angelfish book I could find and "loved" the TFH articles about wild angelfish.
• I joined an angelfish forum in 1999, and found little information pertaining to wilds. I then embarked on a worldwide search for new information and learned the true status of the genus when I found Kullander's 1986 Review.
• I gathered photos of many different wild angelfish and created the first "Species Identification Guide", obtained permission to publish the historical "Angelfish Chronicles" page from the original publisher/author and thus, this site was published in May of 2000.
• I am also a founding member of The Angelfish Society and served on their very first Standards Committee in which we developed the current Genetic Notations that are widely used by breeders today.
• My goal in publishing this site was to reach hobbyists worldwide and generate more discussion pertaining to wild angelfish. There is so much to learn and is truly fascinating.
• My main interests in the hobby include classification of wild angelfish and domestic angelfish genetics.

Alec McFarlane - Senior Administrator

Alec McFarlane

• Location: Manchester, UK
• Contact:
• About:




Edgar Ruiz - Senior Administrator

Edgar Ruiz

• Location: Salt Lake City, Ut., US
• Contact: stefanoruiz@yahoo.com
• About: I have been keeping tropical fish since I was a child in Hialeah Florida. My Grandmother, of Italian/American-Venezuelan origin, lived for many years in the Venezuelan Guyana, where Orinoco Angelfish are/were very abundant. She would tell me stories of when she was younger and went collecting ornamentals throughout our country of birth. Altum and Cardinal Tetras were her favorite species and throughout the 1960's, and until her death in 1974, she maintained a huge display aquarium containing fish she herself brought to the U.S
In the mid 1970's my family moved back to Venezuela for a short time (I stayed, I had river fever!).
• I finished my High School at the Marist Brothers in Maracaibo in 1977. From 1978 through 1983 I studied Aquatic Biology at Zulia State University (LUZ). In 83' I was offered an excellent opportunity to work for a contractor of the Venezuelan State Oil Company (Petroleos de Venezuela) as an English translator. At that time, Venezuelan State Universities went on a year long strike and I continued working as a Translator/Interpreter until this day. Despite the fact that I did not go back to school to finish my degree, I continued to collaborate with my professors, colleagues and the University collecting fish in the field (I have collected 70% of the Venezuelan territory and part of the Caribbean Coast). From 1998 through 2003 (year I returned to the US) I worked for LUZ translating Scientific Publications and continued collaborating with Biologist Wilfrido (Wil) Cabezas Saavedra collecting and supplying specimens to the LUZ Museum of Science.
• Wil is a man who has spent his life counting fin rays and scales. He was my mentor, best friend and brother to this day. He pointed out the first Altum I ever saw while diving a stream North of Puerto Ayacucho.
• Dr. Donald C. Taphorn had a great influence in my early days in College. He taught Ichthiosystematics at LUZ in the late 70's. Though I did not study directly under Prof. Taphorn (Wil did), I did participate in several field trips with both of them.
• Now, from the Salt Lake Valley, I continue to try and help diffuse knowledge relevant to the Altum Habitat. Having lived in Puerto Ayacucho (my son was born there) for almost 3 years and explored/collected P. altum throughout Amazonas and Bolivar State, I have not only deep knowledge of the territory and actual habitats the species live in, but I bred the species in the early 80's while working with Wil Cabezas in a project. I hope to repeat this, though it is a true challenge in such a different environment (in the Rocky Mountains). I hope to see many more people achieving this goal with wild specimens. In Europe and Asia, hobbyists are already breeding domesticated P. altum in increasing quantities... but that does not mean the challenge is not there....I mean...Mt. Everest isn't getting any smaller!

Prof. Dirk Bellstedt - TASG Scientific Research Administrator

Dirk Bellstedt - Scientific Research Administrator

• Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa
• Contact: info@finarama.com
• About: Hi I am Dirk (Dirk U. Bellstedt). I am of German extraction, although I have lived in South Africa all my life and I am fluent in English and Afrikaans and although I still speak German, this is not as fluent as it should be. I am a professor in Biochemistry at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. I completed a Ph D in Biochemistry at Stellenbosch University in 1988, part of which was completed at the Max Planck Institute of Immune Biology in Germany. My undergraduate training included subjects such as Genetics, Animal Physiology and Biochemistry. Stellenbosch is an old historic town about 50 km from Cape Town (which I am sure you would have seen on TV as a result of the Soccer World Cup event held only a few months ago). I lecture in Biochemistry,  Bioinformatics and Immunology. I am a specialist in highly sensitive testing technologies utilizing antibodies and DNA-based detection techniques. Together with a team of students and a colleague, Dr Annelise Botes, I conduct research into vaccine development for ostriches, development of detection techniques for potato bacteria and viruses, and DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis to research the evolutionary relationships of many organisms including bacteria, plants and fishes. This research is conducted in a well equipped modern laboratory in the Biochemistry Department which is a large modern institute that can hold its own against any institute in the world. DNA sequencing is performed at a centralized laboratory at the University of Stellenbosch. I have published numerous scientific papers in international journals and have given presentations at national and international conferences.
• I have kept fishes and aquatic plants since 1968 when I was at high school. I was mentored by Mr Georg Reinhardt, a German who fled from former East Germany in the 1950’s, and who ran a small government hatchery in which many tropical fishes were bred at the Jonkershoek Trout Hatchery, just outside Stellenbosch. Its is also through Mr Reinhardt’s contacts in Germany that I had the opportunity to visit Dr Eduard Schmidt-Focke, one of the father’s of modern discus breeding. When my wife looks for me the first place she goes to is the garage in our home in which I keep 25 aquaria. Other hobbies include gardening, hiking and travel (I have travelled extensively in Africa, Europe and Australia).
• As a result of my experience and biochemistry background I have an extensive knowledge of water chemistry, fish nutrition and aquatic plant fertilizers. I have bred many fishes including killie fishes, rainbows, tetras, dwarf cichlids, Geophagus, angels and have bred discus on a regular basis since 1988. Currently I keep many tropical fishes including discus and P. scalare angels, and my present passion is to breed the altum angels that I keep. In this area we have tap water which is very soft and therefore ideal for keeping these extremely sensitive fishes, I often battle to keep the pH from dropping below 4. Frustrated by the lack of frozen and high quality foods for his Discus, I started importing such food from Germany in 1991. I have also developed an aquatic plant fertilizer for use in the soft water that occurs in many areas of South Africa.
• I hope to be of service in the scientific realm on Finarama and it's forum in future.

Larry Waybright - Administrator

Larry Waybright

• Location: Clarkston, WA USA
• Contact: apistomaster@clearwire.net
• My interest in fish goes back a long time. I began keeping tropical fish while still in elementary school and began fly fishing for Trout at the same time. By the time I was 17, I already had the largest tropical fish shop in Idaho and bred wild Blue Discus. That was in 1969 .
My interest in fly fishing taught me a lot about fish biology and I have done a lot of “field work“. That field work included catching fish but in the process of learning how to become a better fly fisherman and fly tier I became a proficient amateur aquatic insect entomologist. I discovered that the aquatic insects I was familiar with had their tropical counterparts.
• Through the year since I have specialized in Discus but also Apistogramma species and bred over 150 different species of killifish. I also am interested in the small bubble nesting species of wild Bettas.
• I have been through my big South and Central American phases of fish keeping but I have always been drawn back to Discus. It is hard not to like Discus, especially the wild species and not also be interested in the wild Angelfish. I have kept all three of the named wild Angelfish species at one time or another.
• My most recent new area of interest is in the smaller species of Brazilian “Plec” species and to a lesser extent, the Corydoras species.
• I now mainly keep wild Discus and breed Brazilian Hypancistrus species and Peckoltia sp L134.
• I began my interest in Discus with only wild fish at first then for years I raised various domestic Discus color forms but things have come full circle and now I am only trying to breed wild Discus again.
• I still try to raise a few South American Dwarf cichlids, Characins and S.E. Asian small wild bubble nesting Bettas when I can find a little free tank space. I only keep 15 aquariums going for my projects and it adds up to a little over 1000 gallons of water available for fish culture.

Phill Austen - Administrator (Registrations)

Phill Austin - Administrator

• Location: Bishop's Waltham UK
• Contact: phill.austen@btinternet.com
• About: Joined Finarama Dec. 2003.
• 40 odd years a hobbyist, keeping "wild fish that make me smile." I started keeping Altum ten years ago, which had lead me to Finarama.
• I have since developed a fascination with wild form Pterophyllum and the challenges of maintaining them in captivity.

Pterophyllum Altum - Pellegrin 1903
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