Long story short, after we arrived after a long and very adventurous drive in Mbamba Bay and after a few days drove on to Liuli, it was clear to every one of us that we wanted to export fish from there to Germany. What we witnessed under water in Liuli, Mbamba Bay, Lundu, Lundo, Puulu and many other places left nothing to be desired but to tackle this adventure of exporting the animals to Germany.
They bought land, they started to build a fish house, and so on. To be honest, though, one has to say that this story sounds better and, above all, easier than it actually was.
From Germany, the necessary on-site control was not really possible. So we sent our friend Rainer Zinke as a controller to Lake Malawi. But there were always difficulties and things that we, naive as we were then, had not expected.
After we realized that it was very difficult to profitably manage the station on Lake Malawi, we decided to sell everything that had been created on the lake until then at the end of 1991. A buyer was found immediately and everything seemed to end well. But fate had more in store for all of us…
In November 1991 , our companion and friend, Rainer Zinke, was attacked and killed by a large crocodile in the bay off Liuli. Two friends of him were in the water during the attack and experienced everything close up.
The villagers were able to recover our friend from the hiding place of the crocodile and so he was taken to Germany by plane and buried here. The unimaginable happened and it took a very long time until all parties realized what had happened.
But it had to go on. Still in December 1991, our partner Hans Fleischer decided to go to Zanzibar to live there and to tackle various projects. He put this plan into action in early 1992.
In the year 1992 Aqua-Treff was lead on a good way. Meanwhile, the number of sales aquariums had risen to about 90 and there were no more dog and cat products. The assortment included only aquaristic accessories!
The aquarium plant was enlarged to about 150 aquariums in 1993, and at the same time the range of accessories was extended.
In the following years there were regular participations at fairs in Duisburg.
In the Aqua-Treff a special cichlid festival was celebrated annually.
This “Cichlid Festival” in the Aqua-Treff is still well visited and always a highlight for us and our customers.
We get the fish offered in Aqua-Treff from many well-known breeders, whereby the special feature probably lies in the fact that we already work together with some breeders 1989.
In 2003 it was time again. Finally back to Lake Malawi. This time, however, to Stuart Grant, the veteran when it comes to wild catches from Lake Malawi. After only a few animals from Stuart Grant found their way to Germany in the years 2000 to 2003, it was decided to visit Stuart Grant in his paradise with a group of six in January 2003 (you can only recommend this to any Malawi enthusiast) not without ulterior motive.
It was a glorious time and how it had to come, so it came! In March 2003, the first delivery of wild catches of Stuart Grant arrived at the Aqua-Treff.
From now on it was regularly imported by Stuart Grant. By November 2003, there were already 4 imports done and we did not stop there.
In the following years, the number of imports increased steadily. Furthermore, direct imports also came from Burundi and Zambia! Since 2007, there are only East African cichlids in the Aqua-Treff. All other ornamental fish have been removed from the assortment … so more space for our cichlids. The range of accessories has also been greatly reduced. Everything to make room for even more sales aquariums.
The number of aquariums has risen to over 300 by 2019 and ideas for change still exist.
After the death of Stuart Grant in 2007, a cooperation of friends of the family Grant, to which we are allowed to count, changed a lot of the system of the holding plant in Malawi as well as the import system.
The aim was to improve the holding and handling of the animals in Malawi and thus to maintain a better quality for shipping. Over the years, we have succeeded and today we can say that the quality of the imported animals is very good. Since that Time the Aqua-Treff also acts as general importer for the cichlids of the family Grant, in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
But we will never forget the man who was one of the pioneers on the Lake Malawi and has made it possible to bring these great animals in greater numbers to Europe and the world!
Thank you Stuart and all the best for your long journey, which you started too early.
I hope you have not bored with this little journey through the history of Aqua-Treff.