Is there such a thing as a responsible aquarist?
I know, a bit provocative but I feel it is an important topic (if you feel it should be posted elsewhere, do not hesitate to move it).
I have owned SW and FW aquariums. I love to explore water ecosystems, i dive wherever i go, cold or warm waters. I have witnessed a few times the devastating effects of collecting fish in the wild, both in rivers and in the ocean. I have read many articles and reports about the negative social and environmental impact of collecting these fish and inverts. But I am getting tired that the people writing these articles can't even recognize the many benefits of owning an aquarium.
I have learned a lot from having one, and my kids have even more.
This being said, I canít really comprehend why nothing is being done to help the ornamental fish industry become more sustainable and project a much better image of the hobby.
I think there is some truth in the critics we read and hear, from overfishing to dumping of invasive species, damaging local ecosystems, improper handling and shipping of aquatic life, inhumane stocking of aquatic life in stores Ö
+ Marine Aquarium Council that went on to certify fisheries, exporters, importers and retailers is now defunct. Although not official, I take it from a friend in Indonesia trying to get a certification. Their phone line is disconnected. They have not answered the emails I sent 2 weeks ago. The president does not return calls/emails either.
+ Post-larval collection and culture (PCC) is a great way to raise hardier fish without social and environmental impact, but there are too few, and not necessarily with adequate funding or consideration on the part of wholesalers and retailers.
+ Focusing on retailers and stores appear to be the right way to drive the demand for sustainably caught, bred and raised fish, and accessorily a certification that will be recognized and widely adopted.
+ Getting Public aquarium to educate current and future fishkeepers, I feel they have a responsibility to take on that role.
+ Getting retailers and stores to make sure the aquatic life they sell us follow
We are the ones who drive the demand, arenít we? So what do you think could be done? Will you be willing to pay a premium to make sure your fish has been sustainably caught and/ or bred? Or do you feel (I know some will) this is not your problem?
The way I view it, at least from a FW point of view is the following:
1. Small scale sales I believe are becoming more common between aquarists, mainly because of the availability of buyers and information due to the internet
2. I know there are some local stores that carry a logo claiming that they don't carry invasive species plants
3. The more certification companies there are, the higher the costs, the more people will take the cheaper way out
4. My local club brought in Larry Johnson - he is very actively involved with the protection of the cichlid lakes in africa, look up the net rippers they are installing
5. Sadly not everyone will ever change, but education and the internet will help
Aquarium keepers is as any type of petkeeper a duel edged sword. On one hand they can do a lot of damage collecting fish of a certain species in an area. On the other hand there are fish that only survives in our aquariums and that can be returned to the wild due to aquarium stock. In other words. Yes there are responsible fish keepers, a lot of them. But there is also a lot of damage done by the trade.
I do however believe that the fish keepers and the collectors should be looked on differently here. Collectors / commercial entities do the most damage and is those who need to work hardest to become more responsible. Fish keepers on the other hand might have a hard time knowing the wild condition of fish populations. I do think they should try, but most of that responsibility has to be placed on the trade due the commercial entities larger resources.
The most important thing to me to be a responsible fish keeper is to make sure that your fish have a good home and to make sure you breed any species that is rare and/or mainly available as wild caught in the trade.
Do as I say. Not as I do.
I agree with William and Hardy. And I think another important aspect of fishkeeping is educating new aquarists. I go out of my way to help friends or even strangers when I see them standing bewildered in a fish store. I can't make a difference on a large scale but I can do little things to increase awareness.
30 g FW planted:corys, female ABNP, blue angel, harleys, zebra danios, rummies,
15 g FW planted:2 male guppies, neons, pygmy corys, clown pleco, 4 types of shrimp, assassin snails
90 Gal Journal: http://bit.ly/1vC7gVX
fishless cycling: http://bit.ly/1DARf3T
fish in cycling: http://bit.ly/1ILvcfp
Interesting question... and also interesting is your view on fishkeeping compared to your view of aquariums/zoos/animal theme parks. I think it's odd that you see the educational qualities of owning an aquarium and keeping fish, but you don't see the same qualities in a zoo, aquarium or even SeaWorld. On fishkeeping, I would agree with you... I've learned more about fish and the ecosystem that they inhabit by having an aquarium, than I ever would have elsewhere. Even reading about it wouldn't have provided as deep an insight. Fishkeeping is every bit as educational as it is entertaining.
As far as the trade goes, I pretty much agree with what's been said so far.
On certifications: I don't think they're necessary. The problem lies in the education of the fish keeper and the demands they make on the industry. The industry is fueled by supply/demand economic principles, just like everything else. If more consumers want a specific kind of fish, the industry will respond... Unfortunately, you can see this with genetically altered or dyed fish.
Misinformation is also a problem. Everywhere you look in the hobby, from Sesame Street, to random commercials, to aquarium advertising, you'll find a goldfish in a bowl. You can't escape it... and it's that type of marketing that drives ignorance in the hobby. The consumer sees a goldfish in a bowl and now they want to buy a bowl and put a goldfish in it... then the market responds by manufacturing bowl-sized tanks made for goldfish. They're all over the place.
It would be nice to have companies like PetSmart or PetCo educate their consumers and make a stand by not carrying these inadequate housing facilities, but they're in it to make a $1, too. I think fish keepers can help change the industry by being more active in making demands of the companies they purchase from. If you don't like something in the store and think it improper/immoral, then say something. Tell a manager, the owner, or call corporate. If they get enough negative feedback about a product, it's likely they'll not carry it. Until then, they'll keep stocking the shelves, because they sell.
Likewise, if you hear a store employee give bad advice to someone, attempt to correct it. If it's not corrected, the misinformation will only continue to spread and that employee will remain ignorant of the facts. Not everyone is as well-read about this hobby as we are, so it's important to take that into consideration and do what we can to make the industry a better/safer environment for the fish we love to keep and less stressful for those new fishkeepers who might be experiencing new tank syndrome for the first time.
We can only do so much, but we should do what little we can.
It's so easy to argue either way on this point.
You could argue that BP's oil spill in 2010 did more permanant damage that a few fish and corals being taken from a reef. I'd argue that the proposed dredging and dumping in the great barrier reef is going to do more harm than any one of us.
but at the same time when I go to the LFS they always have a new variety of SW fish and eels and rays etc. So there must be a pretty big turn over in stock.
I dunno, I dont want to think about it anymore to be honest aha
I do freshwater only. Except for some species like denisons for example, human activities like gold mining or cocaine production or damming do far more damage than collection for the aquarium trade.
I'd love to be able to know the source of what I buy. Then again I'd also like to see a mandatory label in the stores informing prospective buyers of things like adult size, temperament and dietary needs. Ah well, I can dream...
A great example is the show "Tanked" I love that show, but the way they show how they put the fish in, and the fish they put in together makes me sick. Lat episode I watched they made a tv tank for a kid. 10 gallons, the put a school of tetras, a red tailed shark and a few other fish that DID NOT belong in a 10 gallon. I know these guys know about fish, because I can see the passion they have for the hobby. But I guarantee you most of the fish they put in these inappropriately sized, stocked, and cycled tanks end up dying. I get most people don't want to see them sitting there planning a stock and testing water parameters, but it's giving people the idea that they can just throw a bunch of pretty things with gills in a box of water and be done.
Originally Posted by KevinVA
Planted 37 gallon, Low tech, with Cherry Barbs, Cardinal tetras, and red cherry shrimp.
Just looked it up, the stock of that tv tank was 6 or so guppies, atleast 3 red tailed shark, atleast 2 albino red tailed shark, and atleast 5 balasharks. I watched a video of the reveal of it so stocks not exact, and the tank looks a little bigger than a 10, but definitely not anything bigger than say, 29 gallon maybe. Either way, too small, bad stock, dead within a month.
Planted 37 gallon, Low tech, with Cherry Barbs, Cardinal tetras, and red cherry shrimp.
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