Ichtyological Explorer Heiko Bleher – Live at Maxi Zoo Leopardstown
Born the fourth and last child of Amanda Flora Hilda Bleher, daughter of Adolf Kiel, the famous “Father of Water Plants” who initiated the modern aquaristic and had established the world’s largest plant and ornamental fish farm by the turn of the last century in Frankfurt (1900).
Amanda Bleher followed in her father’s footsteps and Heiko followed in his mother’s. At the age of 4 he traveled with his mother to Africa and at age 6, throughout Europe. When he was 7, his mother took him, his elder brother and sisters with her on an incredible exploration trip through the “green hell”, the deepest jungle of South America (or the world).
By 1962, Heiko moved to the US to learn more about fishes by attending the University of Florida in Tampa, and studying at night. He took courses in ichthyology, biology, limnology, oceanography, parasitology and many others. During the day he worked at Elsberry’s Fish Farm and later at Gulf Fish Farm. In 1964 he returned to Rio to open Aquarium Rio and start to do his own collection in Brazil – first opening several compounds in the interior, and later more in other parts of South America. It was in 1965 that he discovered his first new species, that was eventually named after him – Hemigrammus bleheri, the Rummy-Head Tetra, one of the most widely-sold aquarium fishes today. He also discovered his first new strain of discus, and many other new species.
In the following years, Heiko explored into many new, uncollected areas, and by 1967 he transferred his company Aquarium Rio to Frankfurt, Germany, returning monthly to Brazil and South America to collect fishes.
Through the years, Heiko has penetrated jungles (mostly alone and seldom with company) in Colombia, Peru and Paraguay as well as into Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. To the Amazon area alone, he travels almost 10 times per year since 1965 – up to this date (2013). In the 1970s he expanded his aquatic research field trips to include Africa, Asia and Oceania, since 1974 yearly to Australia and New Guinea.
In 1997 he closed his Aquarium Rio company and moved to Italy where he lives to day.
With the discovery, rediscovery and introduction of over 6,000 aquarium fish species as of 2012, he has probably found more fresh and brackish water species than anyone else in history since the early 60s, including such fishes as Melanotaenia boesemani (with G. R. Allen), M. lacustris and M. preacox (probably one of the most sold aquarium fish at this time), Pterophyllum altum, Steatocranus bleheri and Channa bleheri. Also, most of the rare L-numbered Loricariid fishes, many new Corydoras species countless tetras and dwarf cichlids from West Africa to South America, knife fishes, blue-eyes and flounders can be attributed to Heiko’s explorations. One of his best-known discoveries (with Gordon Stables) is the first freshwater sawfish ever found in a remote lake in northern Australia.
His lectures and seminars take him to the five continents each year and he is invited to judge fishes (mostly Discus), biotope aquariums, as well as aquascape contests, at exhibitions worldwide.
His life is dedicated to fishes – perhaps more than his mother or grandfather or any other person living or dead…. Mr. Fish.
We are delighted to welcome Heiko to our store to offer our fish loving customers a free seminar with the man himself.