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Marine aquarium sustainability

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by vogelcommando, 6 Nov 2014.

  1. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  2. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

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    I don't know the number, but in the article they say "more than 90%". Very high regardless, but not quite the same as "more than 99%".

    There has been a huge rise in serious attempts of breeding marine fish in recent years, with large advances made within a quite short period. This involves both public aquariums and private individuals (e.g. via MBI [list], which however mainly is aimed towards species that are of interest to private aquarists, e.g. doesn't include most sharks or rays, or species of colder waters). There are also rapid advances in aquaculture for the food industry and some of these find their way into aquaria too (some groupers, larger angelfish, etc). However, this is very much the beginning and if you visit an aquarium the vast majority of the marine fish will be wild-caught. One of the main problems compared to freshwater fish is that most marine fish have long free-living larval stages (weeks or months) and it is difficult to find suitable food for these. Both because of the tiny size and because little is known about what fish larvae of most species feed on. As a consequence, you'll also see that marine fish bred in captivity, especially if done repeatedly, are primarily species with no or only a short free-living larval stage. Advances are being made quite rapidly and the list of marine species bred in captivity is rising. The issue is doing this to an extent where it can supply a decent percentage of the aquarium trade and for all but a few species we're still far from that point. Until then, I believe the primary issue is sustainability: Getting the fish from populations where: 1. The fishing is done in a sustainable way (no cyanide fishing, etc). 2. The populations of the species can support the fishing. 3. The locals that do the fishing can sustain a decent life for the money they earn, minimizing the risk of them participating in fishing that contradicts 1+2.

    In general, freshwater fish have short or no free-living larval stage which makes it much easier to breed them. However, in a typical public aquarium with freshwater fish you'll still be able to find several species that are wild caught, including some that never or only infrequently have been bred in captivity. In a few cases, there are entire industries set up around this and if done in the right way, it can be quite a good thing. The most famous example is probably the cardinal tetra.

    The following paragraph (enclosed within lines) is only indrectly related.
    _______________

    When visiting public aquariums, I have noticed something quite interesting. If you inform the typical aquarium visitor in northern Europe that the Atlantic cod they're looking at in the aquarium is wild caught, they're generally fine with it because "we catch those in large numbers for food anyway". The same can be seen in western North America if dealing with e.g. a rockfish. However, then you move to the tropical aquarium and show them a yellow tang. You inform them that it is wild-caught and there's a good chance they'll think that is sad. Interestingly, the yellow tang is doing much better in the wild than both Atlantic cod and many species of Pacific rockfish (which have been, and in some cases continue to be, overfished). This fact seems to be completely lost on most who often have the wrong idea that "tropical and unusual (to Westerners) = rare". Almost all reef fish seen regularly in the aquarium trade are widespread and quite common in the wild. Many of the medium to larger marine aquarium fish are also food fish in their local countries, but selling a few live to the marine aquarium trade gives a higher earning than cathing a bunch and selling them to the food market.
    _______________

    With the fairly rapid advances in marine fish breeding, I suspect a large percentage (at least 1/3) of marine aquarium fish seen in the trade in 2025 will be either captive bred or captive raised, and the remaining will hopefully be entirely from sustainable fishing. However, the latter depends on the lawmakers and governments, especially in Indonesia and the Philippines.
     
  3. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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  4. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I heard the proposal to create 'extractive reserves' with sustainable trade of live fish for aquariums. This will protect these habitats from overfishing for food or destruction for other means. I wonder if this idea works?

    Also, there are sea farms in S Asia which breed large sea fish for food. I wonder how useful they are? I guess aquariums can be fillled with a fraction of fish traded for food.
     
  5. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

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    As mentioned in my previous post, some (groupers, larger angelfish, etc) from food aquaculture already find their way into aquaria. Two of the better known species where this is happening is the humpback grouper and European seabass.

    They're already looking at it. Among the more interesting projects is Rising Tide Conservation, which was initiated by SeaWorld, but now also involves AZA and others. For some of the recent things that are happening at RTC, they do have a blog. Most larger marine aquariums have occasional or even regular spawning from various fish species in their tanks. The problem is raising those larvae to adult fish.

    Sharks and rays belong in a separate category, as their breeding behavior does not involve a lengthy free-swimming larvae stages. Consequently it is overall easier to breed these than other marine fish. Especially smaller sharks are bred in quite large quantities by public aquaria.
     
  6. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Great to see some privat individuals are working hard to breed some species of sea-fish and I surely hope this will become more common in time. Zoos and public aquariums ( at least the ones I know ) are doing far more badly !
    Does anyone for example know if the following fish families have ever succesfully bred and raised in captivity :
    -Tangs and Surgeonfish
    - Porcupinefish
    - Pufferfish
    - Rabbitfish
    - Soldierfish
    - Squirrelfish
    - Triggerfish
    All of these are commonly kept species but I've never heared of any breeding-succes so would love to hear about it ( if it ever has happened ! ).
     
  7. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

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    Might be true for the ones you know, but overall not. The best progress for some of the harder fish groups is beng made by groups involving public aquaria (together with a few commercial enterprices), especially RTC. You can check the links in my last post.

    Check the "list" link in my first post for this subject. You can search by family and there has been various levels of success with most of the ones you list, the exceptions being porcupinefish and soldierfish+squirrelfish (one family) where we're still at zero. No huge success, but a start. A few rabbitfish species are already being aquacultured as food fish. For tangs+surgeonfish you should also check the RTC blog link in my previous post, as they have posts about these (Pacific blue tang and yellow tang) and are the ones closest to real success with the family.
     
  8. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  9. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  10. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be a considerable difference of opinion between UK and US aquarists about what is ethically acceptable. I withdrew from a well know aquarists' forum following a torrent of abuse for simply stating that is is illegal for UK zoos and aquaria to feed live-vertebrates to other creatures
    and that whilst some hobbyists do, most do not use 'feeder fish' which the site was identifying as very common in the USA. Furthermore, a number of posters felt that the status of the feeder fish and therefore what was, and was not acceptable in terms of how it was kept was entirely irrelevant because they were only 'feeders'. When I posted a piece of UK law to illustrate that an aquarium fish had the same staus in UK law whether it was a 4cm goldfish or an adult lion fish, one individual was so rude that I just removed myself from the site. There is certainly a far higher percentage of wild caught marines in the US trade than in the UK.
     
  11. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  12. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  13. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  14. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  15. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  16. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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