To cut a long story short, after we had arrived in Mbamba Bay after a long and very adventurous trip, and after a few days had gone on to Liuli, it was soon clear that we wanted to export fish from there, the small paradise of Liuli, to Germany. What we saw under water in Liuli, Mbamba Bay, Lundu, Lundo, Puulu and in many other places did not allow us to do anything else but start this adventure of exporting the animals to Germany.
And again said done. Land was bought, a fish house was built and so on. If we are honest, we have to say that this story sounds better and easier than it actually was.
From Germany, the necessary on-site control was not really possible. So we sent a friend and companion to Lake Malawi as a control authority. But there were always difficulties and things that we, naive as we were at that time, had not expected.
After we had found out that it was very difficult to run the station at Lake Malawi profitably, we decided at the end of 1991 to sell everything that had been built at the lake up to then. A buyer was found immediately and everything seemed to end well. But fate had something up its sleeve for all concerned.
In November 1991, the local man, companion/employee and friend, Rainer Zinke, was attacked and killed by a large crocodile in the bay off Liuli. Two of Rainer’s friends from Germany were in the water during the attack and experienced everything first hand.
The villagers were able to rescue our friend from the crocodile’s hiding place and he was brought to Germany by plane and buried here. The unimaginable had happened and it took a long time for everyone involved to understand what had happened.
But it had to go on. In December 1991, our partner Hans Fleischer decided to go to Zanzibar to live there and start various projects. He put this plan into action at the beginning of 1992.
In 1992, the Aqua-Treff was put on a good track. In the meantime, the number of aquariums for sale had risen to about 90 and there were no more dog and cat articles. The range now only included aquarium accessories!
In 1993, the adjoining shop was rented as well. This enabled the aquarium facility to be enlarged to about 150 aquariums, and at the same time the range of accessories was also expanded.
In the following years, the company regularly took part in trade fairs in Duisburg.
An annual cichlid festival was celebrated at the Aqua Treff, which enjoyed great popularity.
This “Cichlid Festival” at the Aqua-Treff, is still well attended and always a highlight for us and our customers.
The fish offered in the Aqua-Treff come from many well-known breeders, the special feature being that we have been working with some breeders since 1989. Until 2003, the wild fish were co-imported from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi.
In 2003 the time had come 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 found their way to Germany from Stuart Grant in the years 2000 to 2003,
it was decided to visit Stuart Grant in his paradise with a group of six in January 2003 (one can only recommend this to every Malawi lover), not without ulterior motives.
It turned out to be a wonderful time and as it had to come, so it came! In March 2003, the first shipment of wild fish from Stuart Grant arrived at the AQUA TREFF.
From then on, Stuart Grant imported regularly. By November 2003 there were already 4 shipments and they were not to be the last!
In the following years, the number of imports was constantly increased. Direct imports from Burundi and Zambia were also added! Since 2007, only East African cichlids have been available at Aqua-Treff. All other ornamental fish have been removed from the range…..so more space for our cichlids. The range of accessories has also been greatly reduced. All to make room for even more retail aquariums.
The number of aquariums has increased to over 300 by 2019 and ideas for changes are still coming.
After the death of Stuart Grant in 2007, some changes were made to the caging system in Malawi and to the import system through the cooperation of friends of the Grant family, including ourselves.
The aim was to keep the animals in Malawi in a better and gentler way and thus to have a better quality ready for shipment. Over the years this has been achieved and today we can say that the quality of the imported animals is extremely good. Since then, Aqua-Treff has also acted as general importer for the Grant family cichlids in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
But we will never forget the man who was one of the pioneers in Lake Malawi and who made it possible to bring these great animals to Europe and the whole world in larger numbers!
Thank you Stuart and all the best for your long journey, which you started far too early.
I hope I have not bored you with this little journey through the history of the AQUA – TREFF.
The AQUA – TREFF, the somewhat different business!