History of the BKA

History of the BKA

The following articles were all published in a special edition of Killi-News 411 in Dec 1999 to mark the millenium. They describe the origins of the BKA.


As this is the final Journal of this century and Millennium I thought it would be a good idea to record as much of the beginnings of the BKA as possible before memories fade completely. To this end I started to contact various members only to find that Chairman Andy (Gabbutt) had thought likewise! Between us we have managed to put together a potted history and have been able to identify two members who were in at the beginning, Mick Packwood and Lol Greenall. I reckon that the rest of us who enjoy the association today owe much to these stalwarts for the efforts they made in getting the BKA off the ground. I am tempted to suggest that any member with over 35 years continuous membership should be made a `Fellow’ of the Association and granted free membership for life. I certainly wouldn’t mind paying an extra few bob for such a scheme. Mick is still making contributions today and I think you will agree that his cover picture is superb (Epiplatys fasciolatus totoaensis). Talking of schemes, I am indebted to Ian Sainthouse for drawing to my attention a paragraph which appeared in the AKA October Business News. The suggestion put forward was one of five for the price of four. Renew for four years and get the fifth free. I am not sure what the extra cash would make in interest but it would certainly ensure that the various long term plans we have could be funded with the certainty of renewals for at least four years. Yes, I realise that it is a sizeable sum of money and doesn’t come anywhere near the supermarket offers but it’s not a prelude to a price hike either! Just in case the treasurer is turning summersaults and the registrar pulling his hair out, it’s only a thought!

I mentioned last month that I now had a few specimens of Nothobranchius furzeri. Well, in addition to the first hatch which turned out to be two good males and about eight females, three males being`bellysliders’, I was lucky enough to get about 30 fry on the second wetting. I don’t intend sending out any eggs at present but am collecting them with a view to distributing them in about January/February when hopefully the weather will be kind to us. In addition to this I have also hatched the new Nothobranchius brought back. by Trevor Wood, Bob Gunn having given me some eggs. Again many thanks Bob.

We are sorry about the non appearance of the picture for the October issue. Poor Jim Sutton has been inundated with work added to which he has had to fend off numerous enquiries as have I. Hopefully this missing item should be in the December issue but if it isn’t look for it in January!

It only seems like yesterday that I was siting here talking about the festive season and here we are again! I just don’t know where the time goes. I am drawn to the conclusion that retirement is the busiest time of ones life! Before I run out of time can I, on behalf of the Management committee, wish you and your respective families all good wishes for the festive season and forthcoming new Millennium

IN THE BEGINNING Mick Packwood 195-03

At the last Weybridge meeting the Chairman asked me if I had been involved with the formation of the BKA. Was this true he asked? My reply was `Yes’. He then asked if I would put pen to paper and record the beginnings as I remembered them in order to preserve the details for the next Millennium. So here goes!

It was back in 1963 when I acquired my very first pair of killifish, sold to me as Aphyosemion calliurum but they were infact A. gardneri Akure. Within the first two or three weeks I lost the female but fortunately, as luck would have it, a week or so later I found three fry swimming around in the tank and I’m sure that managing to raise these fry started me off down the killifish trail.

The male grew very well and got shown at a few local shows and made a few cards but most of all lots of enquiries about where I acquired it etc.

About this time I read an article in the Aquarist and Pondkeeper about an organisation which had been formed in the USA which specialised in the family of egg laying toothcarps, as they were then always called. So I wrote away for information about an organisation which, of course, turned out to be the American Killifish Association. After two attempts at sending away for eggs, both lots fungussed badly in water filled phials, I decided to write to all of the nineteen AKA members living in Gt. Britain. I stated that I was having trouble receiving eggs from the USA and that I would be willing to run a monthly egg and fish list for the AKA members living in Gt. Britain on a s.a.e. (Self Addressed Envelop) system but definitely no s.a.e. no egg and fish list!

Out of nineteen letters I had eight positive replies. So, in March 1964, I started sending out the listings. It must be mentioned here that one of the eight positive replies was from one Mr. Lol Greenall who is still an active member of the BKA I understand.

Each month the list became a little larger, not perhaps from the amount of fish and eggs advertised but from the questions on killies etc. So just a straightforward list ended up being a one or two page newsletter. We even got together our own New Species Committee with the help of contacts given to us by the chairman of the AKA New Species Committee. I’m not too sure how successful we were as thirty five years is a long time ago but nevertheless it certainly kept our interest going.

After about a year it was obvious that there were a lot of egg laying toothcarp keepers in the country but not keen enough to join the AKA. However, quite a few of these people were pestering for a British equivalent of the AKA to be formed. So it was decided, in the summer of 1965, that a meeting should be convened at which it was decoded to call the organisation the British Killifish Association. As a group of very keen fish keepers lived in the Birmingham area, it was further agreed that the general management committee would work better if they all came from the same general area.

Consequently, in August 1965 my last news letter was sent out and the following month the British Killifish Association was launched. Sadly, as older members will recall, both Paul Stokes and Harry Williams, who were the main driving forces at our association’s formation, met their tragic deaths in a dreadful car accident whilst returning home after visiting a friend’s fish house.

It has been a few years now since I last looked at the egg and fish listings for the first year but even taking into account some of the name changes over the years, it was not unusual for there to be two full A4 pages of eggs and fish for sale. Also, in those days, we used to advertise fry, I wonder why that practice has stopped?

Whilst reminiscing through these old duplicated sheets, it’s obvious that throughout my newsletter I had always spelt killifish with an `e’, so most likely through my bad spelling the infamous British Killiefish Association came into being. Rumour has it that one of the badges with an `e’ would fetch huge sums of money if at auction!!

Allow me one last thought before I close. From a small group of killie nuts way back in the early days, rushing around with duplicating machines and hand-fed, hand operated printing press, we have come a long way in producing the Journal in its present form.

In the next Millennium it would be nice to think that instead of having associations in different countries throughout the world we could have one International Association via the Internet.

Aphyosemion calliurum

This was the Beginning  – March 1964

Out of the nineteen letters I sent to AKA members in Gt. Britain I received eight replies so that’s nine people interested, including me. Personally I don’t think that is too bad but I hope some of the rest will write to me before next month.

The roster part of the idea I think we can leave for a while as there is only a few of us. Mr. L. Greenall has moved and his new address is shown in this letter.

Two people who wrote to me have problems and as I think that nine heads are better than one the problems are: Ted Seymour has a pair of killies in his tank but he cannot name them. Rough description: body blue-brown with red bars and spots. Dorsal yellowish with red spots, pectorals, ventrals and anal all yellow.

Barry Blackett is the other member with a problem. He is making a new fish house and the tanks he is intending to make out of cement lined with resin but what dimensions should he make them? Any member with suggestions please contact him. If anybody else has a problem I will willingly add it to next months listings.

Those who replied to my letter are: B.J.Blacket; L. Greenall; A. Robbins; W.H.Hamilton; K. Russell; L. Willis; E. Seymour; E. Townend.

Killifish Exchanges.

E. Townend. Available Fish and eggs: A. gulare gulare Pachy. playfairii.
Eric hopes to have two other species next month.

A Robbins. Fish and Eggs:
A. calliurum yellow and blue.
Eggs only: A. calabaricum; Riv. milesi. Wanted. A. coerulem; sjoestedti; filamentosum; gardneri. N. rachovii; neumanni; orthonotus.

W.Hamilton.For sale
A australe 12/6d pair; A. vexillifer 17/6d pair.

M. Packwood. For sale eggs
A. schmidti 9/- per doz. This is a large variety of killie approx. 3″ orininally imported from Germany by Johnson’s of Tooting

That’s all for this month, don’t forget the s.a.e. for next months listing.
All the best Mick Packwood.

Nothobranchius neumanni (P.A.Newton)

News Letter No.12.

Sorry that this newsletter is much later than usual but owing to our printer being indisposed with a slipped disc, it was unavoidable.
The proposed meeting to be held in Birmingham will most likely be arranged for May or June. The actual date will be announced in the next newsletter.
The new species has had eggs of the new Aplo that our contact in Germany so kindly offered us, also eggs of Riv.peruanus and Pt. zonatus. All these I’m afraid to say arrived in a very sorry condition. Nevertheless we still have hopes but these are not very high. Another two members have joined us this month: J.S. Macdonald and Les Ball. To these we extend a hearty welcome.

Regarding discovered eggs that some member had mysteriously disappeared while in their resting period. Ted Seymour kindly sent me this extract from T.F.H. Sept. 195y page 78 on spawning Cyn. whitei: “In the beginning I used peat moss as an incubation medium and was successful on only one occasion when 75 fry hatched. More than 2,000 eggs were lost with this peat which contained a strong concentration of tannic acid, there by sterilising the eggs and killing germ cells…… There are several varieties of peat and their own German peat is not as strong as our Michigan peat.” Nor it appears are some British peat.

The request for member’s ways and views on this subject met with quite a good response. A. Robbins uses a course peat that is supplied to farmers for deep litter etc. L. Greenall informs me that a peat not to use is Datum. He informs me that he has lost adult fish through using this peat in a new condition. Before using this peat he found that it had to be boiled and then soaked for 3 months. P. Stokes uses Irish moss peat and finds this quite satisfactory. I personally use Eclipse sedge peat, this being as black as the .ace of spades but nevertheless works very well.. The only thing I must add to all these comments is that all the peat must be well boiled and rinsed afterwards.

This month’s listings are:
E.Townend. Available eggs of A. cognatum.
D. Craven Available at 6/- per doz. A.australe; Pachy. playfairii; Riv. cylindraceus. At 8/- Riv. milesi
A Robbins Available at 5/- per doz: Ep. sexfasciatus; Ep. chaperi; A. calliurum; Riv. milesi.
At 8/- doz: A. arnoldi; A. beauforti; Aplo. lineatus; A. unidentified.

All the best for this month.
Aphyosemion australe; arnoldi; bivittatum; beauforti; calabaricum; cinnamomeum?; coeruleum; cognatum;fallax; labarrei; nigerianum blue; nigerianum yellow; sjoestedti; splendopleuria; schmidti; striatum; vexillifer;filamentosum; gulare gulare. Aplocheilus dayi; lineatus; panchax. Aphanius sophia. Cynolebias bellottii; nigripinnis; whitei. Cynopoecilus ladigesi; melanotaenia. Epiplatys chaperi; duboisi; grahami; macrostigma; sexfasciatus. Micropanchax katangae. Nothobranchius guentheri; palmqvisti; rachovii. Oryzias latipes. Pterolebias longipinnis; maculipinnis. Pachypanchax playfairii. Rivulus cylindraceus; holmiae; milesi; uroptalmus.

Aphyosemion cognatum ‘Lutendele Kinshasha’


News Letter No.16 August 1965

Well this is the last news letter that I shall be sending to you all as in September the British Killiefish Association comes into being and I sincerely hope that they will be able to give you a rather better service than I, in my amateurish way, have been able to produce. To the management committee I would like to wish every success. Also I would like to thank all of you who have supported this small news letter of mine throughout these past 16 months. Especially to Alfred Robbins and Paul Stokes for making so many different species available to us through their constant listings. To all people who have furnished me with items of news and ideas. To Ted Seymour for his unfailing work with his N/S contacts and last but by no means least, to our printer Jim Barker who made these bulletins possible with his typing and duplicating. It might be of some interest to you that over the past 16 months 31 members have received a news letter at one time or another, the biggest month I have sent out has been 26 and the average for the last 10 months has been 21. In all I have issued 273 news letters so I do not think we have done too badly.
Writing these bulletins each month has given me a great deal of pleasure and for my wife it has brought headaches (spelling wise) but we would both like to thank all of you who have called at No.13 and turned your writings into faces. It has been quite funny at times, as most did not quite fit that which we had pictured! So do not forget any time you are passing through or near Mitcham, please drop us a line and we shall be very glad to see you.

Regarding the BKA items of interest that have taken place so far are:
Paul Stokes and Harry Williams were, at the beginning of July, interviewed by a reporter and photographer from the Birmingham Express and Star which I am informed has quite a large circulation. The following day (19 there appeared in this paper quite a large article on killie keeping under the headline “Instant Fish in the Garden Shed”. Paul and Harry were rather disappointed with the `gimmickie’ title but with three black and white photographs illustrating Paul and fish plus a nice plug they managed to get in for the BKA. I don’t think we beggars should be choosers.
Greater excitement was to follow, as the very next morning Paul was asked by a representative of Midlands A.T.V. if he would be prepared to give a short demonstration and talk on our unusual finney friends. This Paul agreed to and with the support of Harry and Bill Devison, they duly arrived at the Birmingham T.V. Studios with the eggs in peat, fry, youngsters, adults, plastic dishes and tanks, plus the proverbial watering can holding the magic liquid. During rehearsals there must have been considerable panic in the camp as twice no eggs hatched when put in water. Also it was decided by the T.V. officials that only one of our lads could appear infront of the cameras. Whilst Paul was out of the room Harry and Bill voted that he should, at long last, have his chance for stardom. I understand that on the actual take Paul, looking like Coco the clown with all the powder and paint they made him wear, did his stuff really well and things went off very smoothly. By the way this program appeared on Midland Region `Today’. I think you will agree with me when I say that Paul and Co. have really done well and taken the bull by the horns regarding advertising the BKA. I hope that all their hard work is rewarded with Bill Devison running out of membership forms. One point that shouldn’t go unnoticed is the Paul gave his T.V. fee of £7.7s Od to the BKA funds.


Bill has asked me, through this bulletin, to let it be known that he would like anything for inclusion in the September News Letter to be in by September 5th.i.e. group news, listings etc. One point I would like to make here is, where I, with this very small news letter could hang around waiting for late listings and bits of information to come in, Bill will not be able to do this. He has got a schedule and a contract with a printer to keep to, so please try and help him as much as you can and not let him sweat too much when `press’ time gets near. I would also like to add here that BKA news letters can only be the success we make them. I have received numerous letters from members lately saying that they didn’t think much of AKA newsletters these days because of the lack of general news items and listings. When you think about this, it is not the BOT’s or the editor’s fault, but it the fault of the membership who cannot be bothered to put pen to paper.
Well, now that I have had my say I will dry up and wish Bill Devison all the very best of luck. One point of information, Paul Stokes tells me that any member who had N/S Cyn. whitei eggs off him, that these should now be ready to hatch. Paul sent N/S orders before saving some for himself and now these which he kept back have hatched O.K.
Well that’s just about the lot, I must admit that I’m rather disappointed with the response to my plea for a bumper bundle of listings to finish with but still, as the saying goes, `That’s the way the cookie crumbles’. Hope to see you all soon. Till then all the best with the Finney things.

E.Townend Available eggs A. calliurum 6/- doz.
L. Greenall Wanted 4doz A. australe eggs.

M. Packwood Available eggs at 5/- doz. Ep. chaperi Ep. sexfasciatus
M. Packwood Wanted Eggs or fry of any Fundulus

Fundulopanchax gulare

The Short History of the B.K.A. D.W.Ellis Chairman. Killi-News November, 1968

The BKA came into being through a news sheet sent to English members of the American Killifish Association by Mick Packwood, a present member of the management committee. Through this news sheet we came to know other aquarists from all over the country.
From this initial contact the idea of forming a killie association started to ferment, the result being a meeting held at the `Three Horseshoes’ West Bromwich in June, 1.965, https://www.blackcountryales.co.uk/pubs/the-three-horseshoes at which over 20 people attended and Mr. Paul Stokes presided.

The Three Horseshoes, West Bromich

A committee was then formed in the Birmingham area and from a number of suggestions the name “The British Killiefish Association” was adopted. Since that first meeting in 1965, the association has come a long way; a lot of hard work has gone into the building of it, by both the old and present committees. The title of the association was amended last year to “The British Killifish Association” to be more scientifically correct.
The monthly newsletter is now professionally printed, as against duplicating it on an old hand duplicator. This move became necessary as the membership increased so quickly. In addition to the newsletter ,members now receive coloured slides of killifish, this being a recent innovation and a sign of our progress over the past few months.
As you will notice, we have a number of committees, each with its own function namely, The New Species which imports new species from all over the world. When these have settled in after their journey, they are then passed to the New Species Stablizing Committee chairman to send to members of his committee whose job it is to get the fish breeding and when they have sufficient eggs etc., they are made available to the members of the association. In this way we not only get the new killies we want but in many cases save a species from becoming extinct.
The Advisory Committee is formed from members who are well up in their knowledge of matters pertaining to killies.
The technical editor spends a lot of his time checking and getting fish identified and keeping names up to date. At the present time many fish are being renamed some as many as three times in as many years.
The Management Committee members have their own jobs to do.
The News Letter editor has a full time job, answering letters etc., and sometimes finds that this work can be a hindrance to the time spent on the news letter as well as keeping the fish and egg list up to date each month.
The Publications editor has the job of getting the copy in and the layout sorted out ready for the printers on all publications other than the news letter and egg/plant list. The Secretary deals with all the enquires as to membership. One of our members provides line drawings whilst another makes printing blocks of these. We have a number of tape and slide shows and groups are being formed. So far they are in Darlington, Birmingham, Macclesfield, London, Sheffield and Yorkshire. From this you can see that we are an expanding organisation. If you would like to join us you will be most welcome.
1968 Membership £1. 10s 0d. Overseas £2. Os Od.

Scriptaphyosemion (Roloffia) roloffi

Chairman: Ron Willingham; Secretary: John Open; Treasurer: K. Blackett

Dear Member,
Here is the reminder to attend the June meeting; it was very good to see so many faces both old and new at the May meeting. I hope all of you that came thought the effort worth while. If you have any ideas to improve things then lets have them. If you have a fellow member or someone interested in killies please invite them along, the more the merrier.

Last month we had a table show for South American bottom spawners. There were six entries representing three species and Reg Gardner took first prize card with a large Cyn. whitei, second went to Rod Roberts with a Cyn. nigripinnis and third went to Dave Brookes also with a Cyn. nigripinnis. Rod Roberts also had a card for the only entry in the pairs class.

The table show for this month is for Roloffia species, as usual I haven’t an entry yet but I’m looking.

The main attraction this month is a Killie quiz devised and presented by guess who? We have had the London group running for over six years now and we have had a number of quizzes, the winner each time has been Tony Lovett. Has Tony a challenger in the group or is he going to keep his 100% record? Come along and find out, we might even give a prize, I say might because if Tony wins again he expects the `London Trophy’.

For the prospective member the next meeting is on the 28th June, 1971 at 8.15pm. Venue: Woodlands, Mycenea Rd., Blackheath, SE.2. We have a raffle (fish prizes) and quite often a bring and buy last month A. gulare and N. melanospilus were on offer.

Wanted: Dave Brookes wants N. rachovii and a female bellottii, Dave Ellis wants a male Rol. roloffii

Reg Gardner wants a female whitei and gardneri;

Ron Heaver wants male A. cognatum and female N. melanospilus. To close note that the July meeting date has been changed to July 10th
John Open

Chairman D. Ellis Treasurer R. Christou Secretary G. Licence Chair New Species G. Richardson Chair Stabilising Committee D. Craven Tech. Editor E. Seymour News Letter Editor J. Open Publications Editor M. Packwood Members Advisory K. Owen Committee Members A. Howes R. Roberts N. Snelling H. Towell

Nothobranchius melanospilus ‘Mikumi’


Around 1965, I went to Bingley Hall in Birmingham. The London Committee of the BKA had a publicity stand there at the big show and were being helped by members from Birmingham. The BKA had been formed mainly from members who had joined the AKA. The early members had decided to give the committee to a group every two years and it was Birmingham’s turn next. I joined the BKA 18 months later. At the AGM after the Birmingham’s two years the move afoot was to have a nationwide committee. In particular Dick Armstrong the Species Import Controller said that if his vintage motorcycle club could have a national committee we could too.

The result for me was that I became Treasurer and we had a Scottish Chairman and Secretary, Thomas Cochrane and Ken Jenkinson. The friendships made then are still often in tact. In doing the checking for this article I was looking through the 1970- 71 membership roll. There are a lot of those names still on the list today. Even in those days it was often the same members advertising on the Fish and Egg list, but there did tend to be more of them than there is today.

The memories were also brought to life in respect of some great characters (apologies to those not mentioned) John Open a London Bobby who loved Rivulus, Dave Ellis with all sorts of different sales items, Charlie Francis always sent his apologies to every AGM, Dave Sale the strong willed editor, Lol Greenall one of the founder/earliest members always willing to be an auctioneer, Rod Roberts a man able to get people motivated and doing things, Allan Brown the friend of many new members, Ted Seymour our first Technical editor, a man who, knowing he was going to die young, nevertheless gave his all to the BKA. There are of course some great characters who have joined since 1971.

The combined will of the members at that time was to bring into the BKA fish from abroad. The risk was undertaken by the Species Import Controller with BKA money. When things went well everything was fine; when they went badly all sorts of accusations were made. It was not a job for someone with a faint heart. When I took over as Treasurer we had to pay back members who took part in a scheme with a guarantee that they would get fish; so subscriptions were coming in only to be paid out again. Thank goodness we had around. 600 members. When membership went up to around 700 the task of despatch needed a team of people. Many more local groups appeared that now do not exist.

In the early days, travel was more expensive compared to today so corresponding and the postal service was more important. Often the sending of fish through the post was mentioned in the newsletter and members did occasionally have difficulty with the Post Office refusing to deliver or accept mail. I remember my first fish from abroad that arrived were a surprise as I had sent for eggs but they had hatched en route.

I view the BKA as a collection of friends. I have visited other BKA members not only in this country, but also in Sweden, Austria and Malta. I have always felt very welcome. You all have memories of the BKA and where it started for you. I don’t know about you but I am glad I got started.

Fundulopanchax puerzli