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A rose by any other name....
* Warning! *
Soapbox mode ON!
The recent discussion regarding the correct common name for the
American-Flag Fish (Jordanella floridae) deserves a bit of attention.
Dwight's habit of using all three names for this little beauty might lull
him into thinking that he is eliminating any possible confusion but I don't
think that it is having that effect. Especially as he continues to use what
appears to be a local name (i.e. "Florida Flag Fish" or FFF) as his lead-in
in his posts and remarks.
The fish is "officially" Jordanella floridae. No other fish known to science
has this name. Anyone using this name can rest assured that anyone,
anywhere, will know what they are talking about. It doesn't matter if the
reader is in Europe, America, Australia or Japan - they will all know WHICH
fish is being discussed when the scientific name is used.
The accepted "common name", world wide, is American-Flag Fish (or a close
variant like American Flag Fish or American Flagfish). For reference, I
chose to look it up in both Dick Mill's You & Your Aquarium as well as that
old standby Innes Exotic Aquarium Fishes. One author from the U.K., the
other an American, but both widely established and accepted within our
We all realize that some things get specific "local" names, and this is O.K.
In the case of J. floridae, obviously someone from it's native home of
Florida might feel that it is jim-dandy to use a local variant, especially
when retailers and distributors seem to do the same thing. But when trying
to communicate information and ideas to people not familiar with your
"local" word use, you run the risk of confusing people. Listing a whole
string of possible "variant" names does little to educate anybody - the
official name is well known and the accepted common name has been in use for
a long time. Anyone using the wrong name either doesn't know how to look
things up in a book or doesn't really care if they confuse people in far
flung locations. The world, and this list, truly does extend past the
borders of the Greatest Nation on Earth (that was a joke, by the way......
<g>) and it helps us all to stay on the same page when we use words to
As an aside (and please Dwight, this isn't a flame, merely an
"observation"), I notice that when I visit Dwight's commercial homepage, I
see that he sells what he calls "Cichlid Resistant Hairgrass" (Elocharis
acicularis). Now, my copy of "Wetland Plants of Ontario" calls this species
Needle Spikerush and says that it is distributed throughout North America.
Mills uses Hairgrass as the common name for the species. Innes describes a
closely related but more narrowly distributed species E. vivipara and uses
the name Hair Grass. In none of my references can I find the name "Cichlid
Resistant Hairgrass", so I guess this is something specific to Dwight.
Similarly, he sells Australian "Pine" driftwood and says on his web site
that he finds it on local Florida beaches. If you ask me, that's a long way
from Australia for a piece of wood to float, although I'm sure that it is
possible. More likely, Dwight felt that he might make the product more
"saleable" if he gave it an exotic name (and there is absolutely nothing
wrong with that.....).
Again, I'm not picking on Dwight.... I got excited a while ago over the
misuse of the term "laterite" too. We all have to keep in mind that what
might seem correct and appropriate to us in our local neck of the woods
might be mistaken for something else entirely when read by someone half way
around the world (as this list is...). Misuse and misidentification of both
fish and plants seems to be an epidemic within the hobby as a whole. But
just because some distributors persists in calling a flying fox a Siamese
Algae Eater and selling them at over inflated prices is no excuse for us to
accept such sloppiness. This is a "fun" list, but it is also a serious forum
I am not trying to set myself up as any "expert" or associate this
discussion with anything even remotely "politically correct", I just wish
that we would all try to talk the same language so that everyone could
understand what is being discussed.
Soapbox mode OFF!