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Virus? What virus? I ain't got no stinkin' virus! Or...do I?

I noticed my first symptoms in 1982. Instead of studying, as I should have been, I was looking through aquarium reference books at the University of Montana library. They had the Innes book, the Frey book (think?) and an early TFH book or two.

The pictures of apistos were few and far between, and not very good, to tell the truth, but I was very interested in these (at that time) rare and hard-to-get little beauties.

My wife first noticed my illness when I:

- Began to haunt all three of the local fish stores hoping, asking, begging for some apistos.

- Joined strange organizations like the Apistogramma Study Group, the American Cichlid Association and the Pacific Coast Cichlid Association.

- Talked about apistogramma in my sleep. At first my wife thought I might be straying, until I explained that apistogramma is not a spanish lady's name.

I ordered some apistogramma cf caetei and a. Steindachneri from one of the two people that advertised apistos at the time in the Buntbarsche Bulletin.

About the time these fish came in, I found one lonely little apisto at the lfs hidden among some wild-caught rams. I asked about him, and was told 'six bucks', which at the time seemed a little extraordinary for a juvenile, unidentified contaminant, but I bought him anyway!

I didn't know what I had, so I drew a sketch of this little guy and sent it to Mike Wise, who kindly identified it as a probable viejita or possible McMasteri.

The cf. caetei spawned like mad in our Montana tapwater - quite a remarkable feat in and of itself. I started hatching brine shrimp eggs and doing very frequent water changes. It's been downhill pretty much ever since.

After a few years of severe infection, I was able to fight off the disease for about seven years (I believe my young son was an effective anti-body at the time; he has since mutated into a teenager). Now it's back with a vengeance.

Have not as yet consulted my physician, as I fear any cure may be worse than the disease! I have not heard my wife mention the word lobotomy with any frequency for years, but the word is beginning to float about the house again....


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