>>>So what do we do? Should we list them all as 1 species, 3 or 4 different populations of a single species, or 3 different 'cf' forms that may or may not be different species? <<<
Until they are better understood and sucessfully bred over generations, it would be prudent to keep them separate. Perhaps the killie syntax is not ideal, but the killie hobbyists have learned from their mistakes. Diligent husbandry is required to keep the strains genetically viable at times. Cross breeding two locations of the same species may result with sterile offspring after a few generations. Or the fish become increasingly more difficult to breed or markings fade.
The taxonomy will change over time, regardless of what you or I think. There was a recent commehnt on the killie list how many experienced breeders tend to refer to specific fish by the location code rather than the genus/species name. That' because the location code has remained constantthrought the years while the genus may have gone through several changes over the years.
>>>Maybe for the time being we should just list them by who collected them. Thus we have A. cf. payaminonis (Staeck) for offspring from Staeck's stock, like David Soares' & A. cf. payaminonis (Melgar) for Mike's fish, etc<<<
Then do we go to A. cf. payaminonis (Melgar II) for another import from Julio of a nearly identicle, but different fish but from another secret location? And whatever syntax the hobbyist evolve towards, responsible collectors and exporters will likely adhere to the conventions. But many will not.
Fortunately, the apisto market is relatively small, so the hobbyists are in a fairly strong position to set the naming conventions in the hobby, just like the killie folk have done. There will always be contaminents, but if the hobbyists insist on porper identification and are willing to pay a premium for it, then it ill make good business sense for them to try to accomodate and adhere to the naming convention.
Now I know that's not likely to be the norm. But the alternative is to nd up buing hybred dwarfs, perhaps even as obtuse as the parrot fish (to each their own tastes). Perhaps the ASG should consider setting a standard naming convention for the hobby that keeps similar, perhaps identical apistos separate until it's difinatively decided thay are in fact one species or two (or three).
Food for thought.