BEST COLLECTION PERIODS IN TROPICAL COUNTRIES

Before you prepare your collecting trip carefully according to the KEY SUCCESS FACTORS listed in Killi-Data,
You may wish to decide of your target country for collecting according to the best period for annual or non-annual killifish.

The following table only lists tropical countries, because, there, climate and water supply vary considerably during the year : rainy seasons induce floods that may make collections difficult, dry seasons induce desiccations that may make collections of annuals impossible.
In temperate climates, collections are possible throughout the year, with a preference to Summer, for not protected or endangered species.

Obviously, climate forecasts in tropical countries are less organized than in the Western World :
It is best to finalize dates after a primary contact with local people.

This table has been prepared with the assistance of experts of these countries who have often collected several times in each country and under various conditions. They are listed in the last column of the table and receive our warmest thanks.
Some of them have added personal comments that are given at the END of this page.

In general terms, it is recommended to consider collecting some time, but not too long, after the end of the rainy season.
And the necessity of holding the most recent information is stressed.
In the following table, the last update is given, so that potential collector can weight the value of the information

Finally, enthusiastic planners may enjoy reading two booklets, by Roger Langton and Wolfgang Eberl, both in English :
* Collecting Killifish in the Wild, Journ. Amer. Killifish Assoc., 32. Eberl, W. 1999
* Wild Collections of Killifish 1950-2000, Third Edition, Private Publ. Langton, R.W. 2001

WHY NOT CONTRIBUTE ?
If you have been collecting Killifish in a given country, please share your experience by sending advices and best collecting periods in CONTRIBUTE.
WHY NOT COOPERATE WITH OTHER POTENTIAL COLLECTORS ?

If you are planning a collecting trip and are seeking partners to accompany you, please CONTACT the editor and your offer will be quoted in the page COOPERATE and even mentioned in the members' section

 

Last update: February 27. 2014 (information or updates for many countries are too old, review contributions are needed)

COUNTRY BEST PERIODS CONTRIBUTORS
Argentina, northern (Chaco) January - February (Formosa, Chaco) Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Argentina, central (La Plata) May to September (Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, Santa Fe) Martin Fourcade, 2004
Bangladesh    
Belize    
Bénin    
Bolivia July - August Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Botswana    
Brasil, Goias and Mato Grosso lowlands February - April for Simpsonichthys/Cynolebias/Rivulus; sometimes, January Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002; LaCorte, 1988
Brasil, Amazon cuvette January - February (non annuals), January (annuals), November / December (Rio Negro); compulsory legal permits Wildekamp, 1994, reviewed 2002; Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Brasil, central plateau February - Mid March (annuals and occasionally non annuals); compulsory legal permits Wildekamp, 1993, reviewed 2002; Nielsen, 2000
Brasil, Roraima December - January (annuals and non annuals), June - August ( Moema/Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002 ; Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Piaui and Pantanal July - August; compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Sta. Catarina September, October, November (Campelollebias/Rivulus); also some years, May - June; compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Rio Grande do Sul July, August, September (Austrolebias/Megalebias/Cynopoecilus); compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Paraná September (Austrolebias carvalhoi), March (Leptolebias/Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Brasil, São Paulo March (Leptolebias/Campellolebias/Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Rio de Janeiro December - January (Simpsonichthys/Nematolebias/Leptolebias/Rivulus); May - June (Simpsonichthys/Nematolebias); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Esperíto Santo July - August (Simpsonichthys/Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002; Huber, 1980
Brasil, Minas Gerais January - February (Simpsonichthys/Cynolebias/Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Bahia and Pernambuco February - March (Simpsonichthys/Cynolebias/Rivulus); also August (Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002; Huber, 1980
Brasil, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará March - April (Simpsonichthys/Cynolebias); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Pará (lower Amazone) April - June (Pterolebias/Moema/Rivulus); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Tocantins March - May (Simpsonichthys/Rivulus/Maratecoara/Pituna/Plesolebias/Trigonectes); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul March - May (Neofundulus/Rivulus/Pterolebias/Trigonectes/Plesolebias/Stenolebias); compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Rondônia April - June (Moema/Trigonectes; compulsory legal permits) Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Brasil, Amapá June - July for Rivulus; compulsory legal permits Dalton Nielsen, reviewed 2002
Burkina (Faso) dry season is from Sept/Oct to May; Epiplatys, Poropanchax, Micropanchax, best around Dec/Jan/(early)Feb; can already be done in Oct/Nov, but more difficult because of too much water; best not later because water quality becomes poorer, there are more parasites on the fish, etc.; quite difficult during rainy season (Jul/Aug/Sep), Scriptaphyosemion, best around Dec/Jan/(early)Feb; earlier, too much water, later, too little; Pronothobranchius, Fundulosoma: haven't cought them myself, but discussed that recently quite a lot with people who have; Dec latest, Pronothobranchius can maybe only be found from September to November Michael Redinger, reviewed 2014
Burma (Myanmar)    
Cabinda    
Cameroun, northwestern around Kumba and western lowlands January (annuals and non annuals); rarely November - December, depending on water levels; also July Pürzl & Radda, 1970
Cameroun, central and eastern January - February (annuals and non annuals); sometimes March - July, depending on water levels Eduard Pürzl, reviewed 2002
Centrafrique    
Chile    
Colombia    
Congo, southwestern July - August Huber, 1978, 1979
Congo, cuvette and belts July - Mid August Huber, 1978
Costa Rica    
Côte d'Ivoire [Ivory Coast], coastal and inland forest March (non annuals), December (annuals) Eduard Pürzl, reviewed 2002 ; Radda, 1977; Pürzl, 1978
Cuba    
Ecuador May - June (non annuals and occasionally annuals) Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Ecuatorial Guinea    
Gabon July - August (annuals and non annuals); rarely, June; also January - Mid February, depending on water levels (some years, they are just too high); permits may be asked (increasingly often) Eduard Pürzl, reviewed 2002; Huber, 1976; August, 2001
Gambia    
Ghana June (annuals) Blair, 1968
Guadeloupe May Huber, 2000
Guatemala, Alto Verapaz February (non annuals) Eduard Pürzl, reviewed 2002
Guiana (British Guyana) Mid September - Mid October, in general terms 1989 - last week of July and the first 2 weeks in August. Non annuals. Coastal area. The rivers were very high at that time
1991- Last week March and first 2 weeks of April. Non annuals. Lowlands. Low water in the rivers.
1995- First 3 weeks of April. Non annuals. Lowlands and Guyana Shield (Upper Mazaruni River). Low water in the rivers.
1997 - 3 weeks in April. Non annuals and annuals. Low lands and the Northern savannas. Very dry at that time.(did not find any annual species in the savannas)
1999 - Last week of September and first 2 weeks in October. Non annuals Lowlands and the Guyana Shield (upper Potaro River)
2002 - Last week in September and first 2 weeks in October. Non annuals and annuals. Costal area and the North and South savannas. No annuals and non annuals in south savannas (very dry, maybe too late)
Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002 ; Wym Suyker, 1989 to 2002 (reviewed)
Guinée, coastal lowlands Mid November - End November (non annuals); End October - Beg November (annuals) Cauvet, 1993, reviewed 2002
Guinée, Southeast zone March - Beg. April (non annuals) at the beginning of dry season Cauvet, 1990, reviewed 2002
Guinea-Bissau    
Guyane September - November (ideally, Mid September / Mid October, small dry season); no annuals reported, yet Cicéron, 2000; Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Haïti    
Honduras    
India (Goa) August-November (from end of rainy season) Huber, 2003
Indonesia August, preferably, but all around year is OK Huber, 1982
Jamaica    
Kamputchea    
Kenya, coastal lowlands May - Mid July or Mid December - January; advised legal permits (annuals and non annuals) Wildekamp, reviewed 2002
Kenya, inland May - Mid June; advised legal permits (annuals and non annuals) Wildekamp, reviewed 2002
Liberia, lowlands November - December Etzel, 1978
Madagascar October - November Loiselle, 1991, 1995; de Rham, 1992
Malawi Mid March - April - July (annuals and non annuals); Lacustricola, best in dry season (May/June - Sep); Nothobranchius, in dry season, May/June and (early) July, Aug is definitely too late Grant, 1975; Vermaak, 1984, Watters, 1991, Michael Redinger, reviewed 2014
Malaysia    
Mali November - January (non annuals)  
Martinique May - July Huber, 2002
Mexico, highlands (Profundulus) and lowlands July Langton, 1972; Huber, 1984
Mozambica, lowlands March - April, sometimes up to July; Export permit, obtained at Provincial level and cost 7 $ in 2003 Wood, 1999; Rosenstock, 2003
Namibia April Watters, 1995
Nepal    
Nicaragua    
Niger    
Nigeria, southeastern November - December; rarely January Radda, 1974
Nigeria, overall July - December (non annuals); July - August or November (annuals) Wildekamp, reviewed 2002
Pakistan    
Panama, east of Canal zone February Weber, 1983
Panama, western March - April Etzel, 1992
Paraguay, Chaco October or April - June Fromm, 1992
Peru, Amazonian July - August, and up to November Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002 ; de Rham, reviewed 2002
Puerto Rico    
Rwanda    
Salvador    
Santa Lucia    
Santo Domingo May - August Huber, 1999
Sénégal    
Seychelles    
Sierra Leone, lowlands Mid November, best (annuals and non annuals); sometimes December; rarely, up to February, depending on water levels Etzel, 1975; Radda, 1976; Cauvet, 1984, reviewed 2002
Somalia May - Mid July or Mid December - January (annuals) Wildekamp, 1983, reviewed 2002
Sudan, Nuba Mountains, Southern States and West Kordofan Mid November - Mid January (annuals); compulsory legal permits; beware of heat: for living fish, leaving Soudan via Khartoum is a must, where average temperature is 42°C, 24hrs / 365 days Bellemans, 1998 to 2002, reviewed 2002
Sudan, Darfur States, West and South September - October to Mid November (annuals); beware of heat: for living fish, leaving Soudan via Khartoum is a must, where average temperature is 42°C, 24hrs / 365 days Bellemans, 1998 to 2002, reviewed 2002
Sudan, West Equatoria all year around; beware of heat: for living fish, leaving Soudan via Khartoum is a must, where average temperature is 42°C, 24hrs / 365 days Bellemans, 1998 to 2002, reviewed 2002
Sudan, East Equatoria End September - December; beware of heat: for living fish, leaving Soudan via Khartoum is a must, where average temperature is 42°C, 24hrs / 365 days Bellemans, 1998 to 2002, reviewed 2002
Sudan, Upper Nile and Bahr-el-Ghazal States May - September (non annuals); End September - Mid January (annuals); beware of heat: for living fish, leaving Soudan via Khartoum is a must, where average temperature is 42°C, 24hrs / 365 days Bellemans, 1998 to 2002, reviewed 2002
South Africa, Natal area March (annuals and non annuals) Watters, 1992
Sri Lanka    
Suriname Mid September / Mid October (no annuals reported, yet) Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Tanzania, coastal lowlands mid May-July or December - Mid January;  advised legal permits (annuals and non annuals) Wildekamp, reviewed 2002
Tanzania, inland May - Mid June; advised legal permits (annuals and non annuals) Wildekamp, reviewed 2002
Tchad    
Thailand July - August Huber, 1985
Tobago    
Togo    
Trinidad    
Uganda May - June (annuals and non annuals); rarely from Mid April, depending on water levels; legal permits, advised. Seegers, 1988; Wildekamp, 1988
Uruguay ideally November - October - December (annuals); sometimes August Reichert, 1991; Litz, 1994; Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Venezuela, coastal lowlands April; October; compulsory legal permits Eduard Pürzl, reviewed 2002; LaCorte, 1977
Venezuela, upper Orenoque February - March ; compulsory legal permits Wolfgang Staeck, reviewed 2002
Vietnam August (non annuals) Gonin, 
Zaïre, east of Kinshasa August Eduard Pürzl, reviewed 2002 ; Radda, 1982
Zaïre, northeastern cuvette September Grell, 1986
Zaïre, Shaba (southeastern belt) May - Mid June or Mid December - January (annuals) Wildekamp, reviewed 2002
Zambia December - April (annuals and non annuals) Rosenstock, 1989
Zimbabwe March (annuals) Furzer, 1968

 

 

YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS EAGERLY EXPECTED !

 

 

Comments by expert collectors

Comments by Dan Fromm (November 2002)
Deciding when to go in neotropical countries: I survey museum collections accessible through the NeoDat portal www.neodat.org to find which fishes of interest have been collected from the country of interest and collection dates. I also read original descriptions, national fish catalogues, and the like to get information on specimens on which information may not be accessible through NeoDat. This information is more comprehensive and of higher quality than a single aquarist-collector, or even an excursion of them, can provide. Furthermore, I extend information from one country to another as seems reasonable. For example, when deciding to go to Paraguay for the first time, I read, among others, a paper of Vaz-Ferreira in which he described a number of Uruguayan Cynolebias. His collecting dates surely make sense for southern Brazil, Paraguay, and northern Argentina too.

Practical comments? Everything I know about the places I've visited is somewhat out of date and not to be trusted. I use guidebooks that are updated annually to learn about road conditions and availability of lodging. For Central America, the guidebook of choice is The Mexico & Central America Handbook. For South America, The South American Handbook. I supplement these with guidebooks from Lonely Planet and, these days, web searches. Neotropical countries, except perhaps for Haiti which seems to be collapsing, are undergoing rapid economic development. What I know about most of the places I've been is out-of-date and no longer safe to act on.

Everything I know about permitting requirements for neotropical countries can be found at the NIA site, http://www.mct.pucrs.br/lab/museu/nia/. The site, unlike my experience, is actively maintained and contains information on countries I've never visited. Rules change frequently, everything I know is out-of-date.

Finally, I think it is responsible to stress the necessary updating of information when preparing a collecting trip in the tropics. Yes, it is the volunteers'  time and money that are at risk, but if they go collecting, at least in the New World, without permits, they risk losing everything but the experience of having been in the field. Times have changed since we first went to the field, and newcomers can't enjoy the "laissez faire", "laissez passer" environment we used to know. This is not a case of "do as I say, not as I do," but rather, "do as I now do, not as I used to do". We just can't get away with as much as we could formerly. I don't particularly like the new way, but I have to follow it.

Further, I think it is good for aquarists to do their own "home work". They should go to primary sources themselves, not to secondary sources of uneven quality. They should learn to feed themselves, not go to gurus or compilers of misinformation. We did it, with minimal guidance from our elders ("Um, you might want to look at these books or those papers, " rather than "Here's the answer to your question"). We're the better for it, and they will be too.

Comments by John Rosentsock (November 2002)
I am a little hesitant with respect to the issue about permits. It is my experience that they often do not know locally where to go for obtaining a permit, meaning that it can draw out endlessly before you get one. I have sometimes obtained permits at the local fisheries office - by promising to hand over specimens of what I found in the area, they have jotted down a few lines on a piece of paper and stamped it. I don't know how much it is worth and I have never had to use it. Also, rules may change so that an information that a permit is not mandatory may be misleading.
The most valuable info would in my opinion be which authority to address to obtain the permit in the particular country !

I have never concealed in the customs that I brought fish for scientific, non-commercial use, and I have never had trouble (except one time with British Airways in London because I brought the fish as hand luggage and the rules prohibited "pets in the cabin"). In my experience, it is highly dependent upon the individual customs officer whether you get problems or not.
I have never had problems when having the fishes in my ordinary, checked-in luggage - on the other hand, your risk of losing the whole lot is greater due to delays or luggage getting lost.

 

Comments by Patrick de Rham (November 2002)
First I think I can give a general, if somewhat vague, answer to your question, which according to my experience seems to be valid for most of the tropical world: "The best time of the year to collect Killies, is some time after the end of the rainy season, let's say 3 weeks to up to 2, 3 months after the end of the rains (main rainy season)"

This, if you are predominantly interested in collecting adult specimens and finding rare species with the greatest ease. The reason for this is that it is normally the period during which you find the highest densities of Killies in their habitats: as the water levels recede, the fishes get more concentrated and more easy to find and catch. Of course, you must not wait too long, especially with annual species. I think this general rule is valid both for annual end non-annual species, as the latter show also a peak in population densities sometime after the rains have stopped.

If however, your main interest is to collect specimens to bring them back alive for breeding purposes, then the best time of the year is sometime after the onset of the rains. This is the period during which you are more likely to find sub-adult specimens, which will transport better, adapt more easily to captive conditions, and of course have a longer reproductive life. This is again most important in the case of short-lived annual species, but again I think this advice also goes for non-annuals.

However, there are also practical reasons to consider: collecting under the rain is no fun and more important it is often very difficult and in some areas, practically impossible, to travel over land during the wet season.

To cite some countries I know best, I would say September to December for Central America (Mexico to Panama; May to July for Peru (Amazon drainage); May to August for Kenya (in this country, sometimes up to January, if the two rainy seasons are not separated by a too long dry spell); June to October in Benin, July to December in the southern part of the Ivory Coast and May to July for Madagascar (no annual species in this country). It is also important to remember that there is often (I would even say usually!) large climatic variations from one year to another in most tropical areas, rains can be late, early, stop early or late and also show great differences in total amount of rainfall. So you must also be lucky! The best years are the rainy years (this is valid for all freshwater fishes!).

However, I have usually been able to collect, if at times with some difficulties, non annual species at any time of the year in most countries I have lived in or visited.

Comments by Wolfgang Staeck (November 2002)
I do not think that it really makes sense to distinguish between annual and non-annual species, for according to my experience the optimum period is always shortly before the peak of extreme low water as then the fish are concentrated in the remaining biotopes.
All the recommended periods for collecting trips are only rough suggestions as there may occur considerable divergences from the "normal" dates of the beginning/ending of both the dry and rainy period and low and high water levels. In addition in some regions local conditions may vary a lot.
I do not give any information on legal aspects as they change very quickly and depend on many factors (e.g. whether a resident of the country in question is involved in the project !).

 

Comments by Dalton Nielsen (November 2002)
It can have a variation depending a lot from the El Niño effect that sometimes prolongs the drought stations or of rains

 


Have you performed a recent collecting trip? This table is incomplete and needs frequent updating. Then, please CONTRIBUTE !

You are interested in reading:

Key Success Factors, KSF
Selected targets by country
The Data Base holds all known collecting localities for each species (localities of undescribed species are listed under the genus name): it is available after REGISTRATION.