Get to know Monster Fish Keepers Philippines.

 

Evolution isn’t just for animals; it is also a natural development when hobbyists come together and realize that the purpose for which they gather is bigger than just themselves. Such was the case with the former Stingray Club of the Philippines, which started in June 2014 and was registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission as “The Stingray Club of the Philippines” (SCP) with the purpose of promoting—and together, learning—about the stingray, that magnificent fish of the Amazon which was beginning to be increasingly kept in aquariums.

As the club also aspired to create camaraderie and connections among hobbyists, it quickly became popular for its various events and gatherings.

It also attracted the attention of the international fish keeping community, which is why, on October 1, 2015, the SCP was incorporated by the Monster Fish Aquaria Network and recognized as the Monster Fish Keepers Philippine affiliate. Monster Fish Keepers Philippines (MFK for short) is the first and only local fish club acknowledged by the prestigious International Fish Club.

On the club’s rapid evolution, president Manny Bautista observes that it is not the “cute and elegant” that captivates their members. “Rather, we are fascinated with the ferocious, the savage, and the predatory… we love monsters.”

Their monsters are the fish that grow big, are venomous, gruesome-looking, are notoriously piscivorous, and in some cases, even have the reputation for attacking and even slaughtering human beings. “Why these kinds of fish? Well, it’s the excitement of knowing how dangerous they are, plus the pride that we take in knowing we call them our ‘pets’,” adds Bautista.

Before one dismisses members of the MFK as mere trophy-hunters, it must be understood that they are learning how to best preserve these fish species. “In keeping these fish, we try to learn as much as we can on how they are properly kept and bred in captivity so that there won’t be any need to the get the ones in the wild [thus helping] preserve the species,” Bautista explains.

They’re not the only ones who learn; MFK holds seminars and fish exhibits, and they publish articles on social media accounts to educate enthusiasts on proper fish keeping. “We promote awareness of [the various] species and encourage the public to go into fish keeping rather than having vices,” says Bautista.

Which is not to say that the MFK is all work and no play. Bautista smiles and says they are all friends in the club. “Yes, that’s one thing that sets us apart from the rest of the fish clubs. It’s the bond between members, the weekly meet-ups, the sports team we put up…and now we even have our outreach programs.”

And they look forward to sharing everything with more members. Bautista says, “I always say that Monster Fish Keepers Philippines is a family that started from the hobby. I know it will go a long way not only because of the deep knowledge [that we share] but also because of the camaraderie. So if you think you share the same enthusiasm that we have as predatory aquarist. Dive in to the hobby, take the plunge, swim with Monster Fish Keepers Philippines and help make a difference to the Philippine Fish Keeping Community.

This appeared in Animal Scene’s February 2016 issue.