Fish profiles NOT user friendly - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-28-2013, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Fish profiles NOT user friendly

While I applaud the more scientific approach to the reference section and the huge amount of work it involves to organize and research, I am not happy at all with the use of only scientific names.

The average aquarist doesn't know fish families off hand (or much care) and may not know the genus/species. At least the old fish profiles gave a novice user, or me when I'm too lazy to look up the scientific names and families(!), a fighting chance to browse the fish semi-quickly.

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but I find the reference section, at least for the fish profiles, just about unusable if I want to browse for something quickly. I'm much more likely now to google the info I need in a hurry than I am to try and dig through the TFK reference section.

Note: I'm a biologist and I find sole use of scientific nomenclature on the site cumbersome.
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18 species/varieties of fish, 15 species/varieties of plants - The fish are finally ahead of the plants!
*560 gallons (2120 liters) in 5 tanks -> you do the math.
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-28-2013, 11:13 PM
I'm wondering if we could have both? I'm definitely not a scientific person (I failed biology in school. Lol) and I would rather use common, every day names.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-29-2013, 05:38 AM
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I think we talked about this before and should re-address it. I agree that it should be a bit more common name friendly.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-29-2013, 10:17 AM
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Agreed. I google it too. Even though the store I shop at has the scientific name then the common name under each tank I still find some of those names so long I can't remember them. Like anytime I refer to my larger african he is my "Fusco-whatever f you call it" lol . Have to google that each time just to remember it is a Nimbochromis fuscotaeniatus therefor I find googling much quicker then these fish profiles on TFK. I think my store has a good approach offering both right there especially given the scientific name for a lot of my fish absurdly long hard to say two word names
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-29-2013, 11:19 AM
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Yes, I agree. I've had to Google the common name, look up the scientific name, and then come back here to find the profile. I like that they are sorted alphabetically by scientific name though because it does make it easier to find fish that are typically very similar, but it'd be nice to also include a common name so I can scroll through and find the type of fish quicker.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-29-2013, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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I need to compare the FW profiles with the salt water profiles that I haven't ever looked at yet (need to do some yard work now ), but at a minimum, it would be very helpful to have an overall "index" (searchable would be perfect) that cross references the various common name(s) with the Family, Genus, and species of each fish or plant in the reference list.

18 species/varieties of fish, 15 species/varieties of plants - The fish are finally ahead of the plants!
*560 gallons (2120 liters) in 5 tanks -> you do the math.
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-29-2013, 02:39 PM
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This has been a concern of mine, even though I am responsible for the present layout. Perhaps I can explain why things are as they are. I was intending to do an announcement on the new Reference Material section and explain searches, etc, and still intend to do so. We have had a lot of related issues/discussions during all this and it is something that can't happen overnight. Anyway, enough excuses, down to the reasons.

We recognized the need to move the profiles into the main forum and disconnect the former profile section. Some features that former Admin Mike had built into the former profile system cannot be carried over due to technical systems design. For instance, the auto-link function which created automatic links to the profile when the name was typed in a post is gone; some found that useful, others annoying, but regardless it is no more. Of more importance is how the profiles are organized and the search capability.

The former format had the ability to list species by scientific name or common name, and Mike built in a stand-alone search function for these. Now that the profiles are within the forum they are bound by the forum software and programs. The listing of species has to be orderly, and we were able to continue the divisions into groupings such as characids, livebearers, cichlids, and so on. But within these the individual threads can be organized either alphabetically or by date order [the latter is how the general forum operates]. It seemed useless to use date order, as no one but the person entering the profile would have any inclination as to when this was done, so that left us with alphabetical.

Which brings me to the scientific/common name issue. Common names are fine when we all know what we mean by them, but we don't in most cases. Neon Tetra is fairly well understood, but do any of you know what fish I am referring to when I call it "Hummingbird Tetra?" I suspect none do. This "name" has been used for several species that are so far apart you can't know what it might be. Many of the fish we keep have more than one common name; many have none. One of the problems with the former profiles was that I had to make up a common name because the software used that as the main referencing. No one but me would know what many of the names I made up referred to. Everyone will appreciate the futility of using common names, half of which were made up by me, as the basis of organizing the profiles; most members would be at a total loss to find anything.

Another problem with common names is that this forum is world-wide, and common names to those of us in North America may be very different from a common name used for a species in Europe, or Asia, or Australia. Even within North America there are differences. In many cases the common name is only "common" to the person using it at that moment, not to anyone else. Common names vary from language to language as well. It is fine for a person in the USA to know what a "Rocket Pencilfish" may be, but an aquarist in Europe or Asia will likely not have the faintest idea what this fish might be. And they certainly will not have an inclining with respect to the many common names I have made up just to have one.

Obviously there is a simple solution, and that is to use the scientific name of genus and species epithet. This is universal, not bound by any region or distinct language, and readily understood by everyone. And it rarely will change. The species epithet assigned by the original describer of every species of life on this planet is absolutely unique and cannot be changed under the rules of the ICZN with the exception of those very few cases where it is subsequently discovered to have been in error. The genus can change, and many are even as we speak, as ichthyologists reclassify fish as the result of new discoveries about their evolution.

I readily admit that there are many species in our profile that I could not find by their scientific name. As one uses the name it becomes more familiar, but I couldn't begin to tell you the names of the many cichlid species in Africa without looking them up. But for this situation, there is the search function, and a secondary method.

If you run the cursor down the list of threads in the profiles, and pause over any one, it will display the common name(s) I assigned to the species. If you have no idea as to the classification of a particular fish, you can use the advanced search which is the same across the forum. Enter the common name, even something as general as "tetra," and confine your search to the characids if you know that tetra are characids, or anything up to freshwater fish profiles. The list of all profiles with the word "tetra" will display.

Hope this is of some help.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 06-29-2013 at 02:46 PM.
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-30-2013, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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My apologies for not responding sooner, I wanted to dig through the various profile sections.

First and foremost, I want to thank ALL the mods and admins. My original post was not intended to cast aspersions on any of their work. Running a site such as TFK is a huge job and I applaud all who share their time and expertise, including the non-mod members! I promise I’m not an internet troll, stirring up problems just to do so without offering my possible solutions (for what they are worth, if anything). So, I'll give my opinion here on making the profiles easier to use!

Back to my original concern that it's not really easy to "browse" the fish profiles. I do understand website technical limitations and logistics. I'm a mod on a small club forum and the technical limitations are very frustrating. I'm summarizing my understanding of TFK below, so if it's wrong, it's no one’s fault but mine!

I'm assuming there is no corporate entity that "owns" TFK? IF there is, then the best solution is that corporate entity needs to pony up some $$$ for a robust relational database design and technical support . Lacking deep corporate pockets, we’re back to an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization. Originally you had a "web design guru", for lack of a better term, who was excellent at designing and kludging code together for the old profiles section but - it was page-specific coding(?), not portable(?), or easily scalable? Now you need literally a global system that makes sense to multiple users, in multiple countries, AND that is usable by people with disabilities. You also now have to contend with users regularly interacting with the site using a growing variety of mobile devices (the ultimate challenge in universal web design - making it work for everyone on all platforms). Please Note: mobile devices may not display the “rollover” info properly, so while that is very helpful when browsing TFK profiles on my laptop, it’s less so for some mobile devices and may not function well, or at all, with screen-reading devices used by the visually impaired.

Byron’s point regarding the universality of the scientific names is an excellent one. Common names vary widely. I totally support the use of the scientific names and families for grouping, but there also needs to be an easier way for novice, and experienced, users to cross-reference the material.

How would this work? And, I’m suggesting it for all the profiles if it turns out to be practical:
A “sticky” in each of the main Profile areas (one under FW fish profiles, one for Salt, one for brackish, etc). In this sticky would be one, perhaps more, “index pages” for the forum posts. Assuming we can still embed links in individual posts back to individual profile pages, couldn’t there be a page that lists common names for fish (admittedly there will be some inconsistency) and lists the scientific family, genus, species (with a link to the profile page) The “index” posts could contain very abbreviated descriptive information and/or even be set up in multiple index configurations the user could select from (soft-water fishes, hard-water fishes, community fishes, etc.).

Ok, I admit that would be a huge amount of work, especially if the profile pages are not static on your web server! BUT a basic index "sticky" page using a general description of the family, listing the common names of fish found in that family, and containing link(s) to fish profiles would be very useful. I’m not certain I explained it well here. I could make, I think, a mock-up index post if this doesn't make sense.
The only thing I don't know that could be a major technical hurdle is the size limit for a single post

Anyway, that's the only thing I could come up with given my limited understanding of the forum structure, for what its' worth! If you don't think it's a good idea, my feelings won't be hurt (it won't be the last bad idea I'll have, unfortunately )

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18 species/varieties of fish, 15 species/varieties of plants - The fish are finally ahead of the plants!
*560 gallons (2120 liters) in 5 tanks -> you do the math.

Last edited by DKRST; 06-30-2013 at 05:56 PM.
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post #9 of 18 Old 07-01-2013, 03:43 PM
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Would you be willing to show us what you mean DKRST?... cause the search thing just does not work for me... I just get hundreds of threads (pages 1-25 of 500...) with the word "Cory" or "Tetra" in it and so I'm not doing it right!!!! But it shouldn't be that hard and I don't know how to fix what we have at the moment.

Yes we are owned by a "corporation" (in Canada too) but until we clean up our bits that are "sticking out" so to speak like the old profiles for one...then we cannot begin to do any upgrades even if there was a budget to spend on such things. The site was custom built so we have to work with some limitations of the site for now.

All I know is that I don't want to have to "Google Search" a scientific name and end up on another site because of that search. We need to be able to easily find that information on our own site... and grow the data base of profiles for our members... and draw people to us because of those "Google searches".

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post #10 of 18 Old 07-01-2013, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
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Mock up with 3 species

The “index” page would start with a brief introduction to the group of fishes (it could be the Order, Family, or Genus level grouping, depending on the size and simplicity/diversity of the grouping. I picked the Freshwater Fish Profile “Catfish” for this mock up and I modified the text from Byron’s Catfish sticky.
Ok, here's a mock-up of what I meant…

The common name “catfish” arose from the barbels resembling a cat’s whiskers. All catfish have barbels on the head, normally up to four pairs. The nasal and chin barbels may be absent in some species. Eyes are usually small and most species possess an adipose fin. Catfish have no scales; they are either naked or covered by bony plates.

Read more about Catfish: Catfish-siluriformes

FRESHWATER CATFISH (listed alphabetically: Common Name, (Genus species), other names)
Click on the scientific name to go to the species’ profile. Note: Common names are not universal to a species, they often vary widely and several species may share the same common name. When referencing/researching a particular species, it is best to use the scientific name to avoid confusion among species.

  • Bronze Corydoras (Corydoras aeneus ), green corydoras, bronze catfish, lightspot corydoras, wavy catfish
  • Green Corydoras (Corydoras aeneus ), bronze corydoras, bronze catfish, lightspot corydoras, wavy catfish
  • Juli Cory (Corydoras julii )
  • Lightspot Corydoras, (Corydoras aeneus ), green corydoras, bronze corydoras, bronze catfish, wavy catfish
  • Pepper Cory (Corydoras paleatus ), peppered cory
  • Wavy catfish (Corydoras aeneus ), bronze corydoras, green corydoras, bronze catfish, lightspot corydoras

So, I just used three species to make the mock-up. I used the Bronze cory intentionally since it is called so many things. The link is just the linkback reference with extra stuff removed. Be nice if I could just do a table format, but I think I'd have to use HTML coding for that.

Basically, I’m creating a master index of the common names linked to the scientific profiles, with an admittedly large redundancy, but it’s easy to visually scan down the list.

I have been practicing with the “Search this forum” search function and that actually works pretty well, even when using the common name(s). Just don’t try searching the entire TFK site, restrict it to the forum/sub-forum of interest!

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18 species/varieties of fish, 15 species/varieties of plants - The fish are finally ahead of the plants!
*560 gallons (2120 liters) in 5 tanks -> you do the math.

Last edited by DKRST; 07-01-2013 at 05:34 PM.
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