An Aquarist Visits Ghana: Searching for Specific Cichlids

Lawrence Kent: “An Aquarist Visits Ghana: Searching for Specific Cichlids”


Before his trip to Ghana, Lawrence Kent made four, specific goals. They were goals that any aquarist with an adventurous spark would make, given the chance. Attendees of Kent’s session at this year’s Aquatic Experience will quickly discover that Kent is certainly an aquarist—and undeniably adventurous—as they journey with him on his Ghanaian quest.


lawrence-kent Kent’s work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allows him to support the efforts of projects that fight hunger and poverty in the developing world. As a result, Kent, who is based in Seattle, travels often, visiting both Africa and Asia several times each year. During these trips, Kent seeks out time to devote to a single activity: looking for rare and interesting tropical fish. In this way, Kent has had—and taken—opportunities to indulge his aquarist’s hobby in countries such as Cambodia, Columbia, and Nigeria.


lawrence-kentAlthough Kent is fascinated by all types of fish, birds, and reptiles, as well as the challenge of correctly identifying and breeding them, he is particularly interested in cichlids, many of the thousands of species of which are found in Africa. At home, Kent keeps 25 aquaria, many of which feature cichlids that he has collected abroad. In addition to his work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kent is a frequent contributor to Tropical Fish Hobbyist and Cichlid News.


The goals that Kent acquired in anticipation of his trip to Ghana were these:


  1. Find some of the endemic cichlid species of Lake Bosumtwi—a crater lake in the middle of the country. Several species of cichlids exist only there.


  1. Capture the Steatocranus irvinei of the Volta River—a strange, elongated, blue-lipped cichlid exclusive to the river.


  1. Find the rare Tilapia Pra cichlid, which has yet to enter into the aquarist’s hobby. Kent acquired this goal after a conversation with Dr. Paul Loiselle of the American Cichlid Association, who previously lived in Ghana.


And, finally, the goal that his mother gave him…


  1. Avoid contracting Ebola, which was spreading through West Africa at the time of Kent’s visit.


This presentation, which will be of interest to hobbyists of all stages, will be Kent’s first at Aquatic Experience. During his session, entitled “An Aquarist Visits Ghana: Searching for Specific Cichlids,” Kent will share the successes and trials of his trip. Join him on the aquarist’s adventure of a lifetime at this year’s event!