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FAQs about Marine Livestock Collection & Cyanide

Related Articles: Cyanide Usage in the Aquarium and Live Food-Fish Industries: Causes, Impacts and Management of a Pervasive Practice by Ivan Steward Cyanide Use, Sources of Reef Mortality

Related FAQs: Sources of Reef Mortality,

New Paper on Cyanide Detection in Marine Fish     4/3/19
Sorry for the Spam.
Please share our newest paper with your community. It’s an interesting wildlife crime / illegal fishing focused paper.
On the half-life of thiocyanate in the plasma of the marine fish Amphiprion ocellaris: implications for cyanide detection
It builds off the work we did to debunk some fraudulent data that was published. Read about that here:
Press Release:
<Ahh, will do Andy. Thank you for sending this along.
Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com>

Is there a place where I can send a fish to see if it was caught with Cyanide?       2/3/15
Had a Flame angel the first day lay on its side and it took three days before it died. All parameters were good. I used meds after it started to swim weird.
a few seconds ago
<If the fish is not too decomposed there are a few salient cyanide tests (chemical) that can be done... perhaps by a Quality Assurance Lab near you. Have not seen this Centropyge collected w/ poisons though... most that die
mysteriously do so from cumulative "stress"... see WWM re their collection practice. BobF>

Poisoning. Cyanide... Emperor Angel poss.    3/15/12
Hi Crew,<Hi Adam, Jordan here.> I have in QT an Emperor Angel and two Ocellaris clownfish. The clownfish are fine but the Emperor has grey blotches all over his body and is in a bad way. I bought him very cheaply from a store and now I wonder if he was poisoned when caught.<It's possible but cyanide caught fish are usually immaculate looking because they are so easy to collect. The collector can simply grab them.> I purchased him in Singapore. What are the signs of poisoning?<Refusal to eat and knowing where the fish was collected can help. I believe cyanide is still used in parts of Indonesia and the Philippines.> Read more here:
 Regards, Adam.

Possible cyanide poisoning      5/15/09
I have recently bought some fish from Petco. I bought a yellow tang and 6 green Chromis. only half has survived so far. all my other fish, not from Petco, seem to be doing well (2 clarkii clowns and 1 large green Chromis)
and two fish I have bought, also not from Petco, after (a porcupine puffer and a Huma Huma trigger). Every one was eating, but shortly after the yellow tang was introduced he seemed disoriented, have seizures and doing
flips. He died the next day after this started. I have lost a 2 green Chromis in the night and now a third who is acting similar to the yellow tang. He has been in the tank fine for 4 weeks and now just starting this behavior. I asked around and have been told this is a sure sign of cyanide poisoning, but also have been told that Petco does not buy from sources who use cyanide.
<Try not to>
Again it just seems to be the fish from Petco that I have lost and seem to be suffering from the same symptoms. I was wondering if I could get your input on this situation and how I should proceed.
Tank: 55 gallons, pH: 8.2, SG 1.024, NH3: 0, NO2: 0, NO3: 5ppm
<Mmm... it is highly doubtful this Yellow Tang was cyanided... Almost all Zebrasoma flavescens are collected from Hawai'i'... and this nefarious practice does not occur there. There are a few other "common" explanations
for the observed behavior... "Stress" being the overwhelmingly likeliest possibility... This volume and shape system is inadequate for the livestock you list... I would be reading (even just on WWM) re the life you're keeping Bob Fenner>  
Re: Possible cyanide poisoning 5/15/09

Is there any other possibility than stress?
<Oh yes... the time frame, symptoms, loss... could be accounted for from "post collection" syndrome...">
The Chromis has been happy for weeks in there and just started acting weird. There is no aggression in the tank, not even at night. The puffer and the trigger are going to be moved to a bigger tank when they are bigger, they are quite small right now. Why would it be just the Petco fish that succumb to this kind of stress?
<Chance really... the species are touchy, often lost in batches>
<Welcome. BobF> 

Re Regal Angelfish/Feeding/Now Cyanide Poisoning 3/7/09 Hi James, <Hello Peter> Would you agree that cyanide catching may have impaired her ability to try other foods since she paid no attention to anything that I tried. <Unlikely. Typically, poisoned fish do eat well at first, but gradually lose weight. <<Mmm, no... not usually... Almost any fish "near ground zero" sufficiently cyanide toxified, will refuse eating altogether... and if it does... will then die in short order. RMF>> You have to realize that this is a very difficult fish to acclimate to prepared foods, and to keep for that matter. I've tried a couple of Regal Angelfish in my 35+ year span in the hobby, and I'm thinking one month was the longest I've kept one alive. Best chances for success with this fish are in large systems with plenty of live rock baring benthic algae growth, tunicates, sponges, etc. With natural foods present, a better chance for prepared food acclimation exists.> I am afraid she may not be able to survive for long and I dare not move her to the 400g display tank which is hosting many aggressive tangs and angel fishes. <May very well be demise for sure here. Have you tried a 30% water change in the angel's tank? Sometimes this can trigger an appetite. A sponge encrusted rock may help stimulate feeding also.> My last experience is with a Philippine Regal for 5 years. <Great.> Sadly, I lost her recently in an accident which killed many of my prized fishes and corals. <Not so great.> Therefore, any ideas that would entice my new yellow belly regal (she is really gorgeous) to feed on something else (anything) would be highly appreciated. <Have you read the FAQ's on feeding I gave you in the previous email? See what others have tried, what worked, etc.> Regards, <Good luck my friend. James (Salty Dog)> Peter

Solomon Islands   7/25/08 Would a fish from the Solomon Island's be considered "Indo Pacific" or not. <Would> I'm trying to avoid picking a cyanided fish, Live Aquaria has one for sale from the Solomon Islands and I'd like to know if that is in danger of possibly being cyanide caught. <Very low... unless (and this does happen) said fish/es are mis-labeled, get mixed up... As far as I'm aware, cyanide is only used (and not by all) in the Philippines, parts of Indonesia and Vietnam> I've been avoiding all fishes listed as Indo Pacific lately, but I'm just not sure on Solomon Islands. I realize it is in the Pacific ocean, slightly north and east of Australia, I'm hoping it is a safe place to purchase fish from. <Mmm, "Indo-Pacific" encompasses both oceans... Indian and Pacific... span more than half the globe> Thanks for all you guys do, you're great. Grant <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Cyanide use...    11/25/08 Hello Mr. Bob Fenner. Thanks for your kind permission to use your material on my site! There isn't any hard fact's about surgeons in my language, but many theories about keeping them in our forums! Therefore I'm glad for your permission in honour of these great fishes. I've kept Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids for 25 years, and just about one year in having saltwater. Now I only keep surgeons! Please allow me to ask you a different question? <Certainly>  What scared me the most, saddened me the most when going into this hobby. It was that I heard that some of the fishes in the trade were caught using cyanide! Is it still going on, or is it ancient history? Can you please refer me to any article's regarding this subject? <Mmm, yes... Cyanide is still in use in our ornamental interest as well as for some food fish (live) collection... Much can be found here on the Net> I also have a problem regarding one of your phrasings in your article: "Acid test"! What does this mean? <A certain, for-sure way of deciding... a "yes-no" decision maker> Thanks for taking time reading this. And please bare with me, I'm not writing in my native tongue here. ;) <Better than my Danish!> Thanks in advance! Kind regards Flemming P. Lytzenstein>  www.bioaqua-no3.dk <Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Thanks for your time and your quick reply! - About Cyanide. I've been using Google as search engine, but most of the subject articles are 10 years old. And not much debate about the subject, and no recent articles! It seems to be hush hush... Thanks again! Kind regards Flemming P. Lytzenstein <Fleming, am cc'ing a gentleman, Peter Rubec who has a huge scientific and working knowledge of this subject. I am hoping he can answer your questions. Bob Fenner>

Re: Permission to reprint article, Peter Rubec   11/25/08 Bob, Thanks for copying me with your correspondence concerning cyanide fishing. Yes, the problems is as bad (or worse) than it has ever been. There was a Cyanide Detection Workshop held in Orlando, Florida February 6-8, 2008. There is a Workshop Proceedings that can be downloaded from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program website. It may be too long to translate into Danish, but is well worth reading. I have tried to attach the repot. If it does not work, I will forward it to you later today (as a PDF file). Sincerely, Dr. Peter J. Rubec <Thank you Peter. BobF, the link below for others that are interested coralreef.noaa.gov/Library/Publications/cyanide_doc.pdf

Anorexic fish.... Possible Cyanide Poisoning 5/26/08 Hey crew <Hello> I have a 400 L tank which currently houses 2 clownfish and 1 black velvet angelfish. The two clowns have been in the tank for 3 years. The black velvet is the problem. It has been in the tank for 4 weeks and is eating it's fair share but it appears to be getting skinnier....what causes this in marine fish? I have previously kept a juvenile blue ring angel for about 3 months, and a Singapore angel for about 1 month and the EXACT same thing occurred. They were eating normally but getting skinnier until eventually they died of anorexia. It doesn't seem to matter how much I feed them; and I'm certain that the black velvet is going to suffer the same fate. I can tell from it's occasional spaced out appearance. All of these fish were very healthy when they were purchased from the store. Any help is greatly appreciated, I'm hoping that with your expert advice this fish might pull through. Honestly I'm considering giving up after this. It's like a never-ending nightmare just trying to find a third tankmate. They aren't cheap either!! <A couple of possibilities here, one is that it has some sort of internal parasite that is robbing it of nutrition, could try feeding it medicated foods and see if it helps. The other is that it was caught by use of cyanide, which attacks the digestive tract and can cause the conditions you are seeing. Were all these fish purchased at the same store? Perhaps their suppliers are using less than reputable dealers who engage in the practice of cyaniding fish.> <Chris>
Re: Anorexic fish.... Possible Cyanide Poisoning 5/26/08
Thanks Chris! <Welcome> These 3 fish with problems were all bought from the same store. It makes sense because the 2 clowns were bought elsewhere. <Clowns were most likely either captive breed or caught without cyanide, is not necessary with these fish.> It's also strange that their fish prices are always cheaper than other stores. Is there some way of identifying fish with this problem before purchasing? <No, not really.> There is no way I would ever buy a REALLY expensive fish after these experiences. I will not buy any more stock from the offending store, not that it will bother them much. They are the largest store in my area and the place is always full of customers. <They may very well be unaware of how their fish are caught, if that is even what really happened to them, impossible to tell with out a necropsy.> Perhaps I should place a number of warning signs on the store window after hours explaining the practice used to catch the fish....fraudulent pigs.... <Perhaps, although it is more a function of the collection companies, cyanide is more common in some areas than others.> It's amazing that they can get away with this. (They've been in business for 10 or so years). <More on the distributors than the retailers in my opinion, they are the ones who know how the fish they buy are caught.> I wonder how many other customers have had similar experiences with this place. Now I have to watch while another beautiful fish slowly dies. Grrrr. <I would still treat as it is internal parasites, in case cyanide is not the cause here.> <Chris>

CN collected fish  2/28/08 Greetings from ME! <Okay> After reading an article on WWW regarding CN fishing practices, I am beginning to be suspicious of what 2 LFS told me about detecting CN in dead fish… I was actually told by 2 different people that if a dead fish is placed in a bag of RO or tap water, it will change color…..Is this urban legend? <Mmm, likely the latter. There are salient tests for the presence of cyanide... but color change in a bag... Not one of them> Thanks for the info! Denise <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Cyanide Usage   6/5/07 Hello Crew, <Mark> I must first mention that your FAQ and articles have been a huge help to me. I have both a marine and fresh water tank. Thanks and keep up the good work. <Welcome> I have found a fish store near my home where the prices are much cheaper than the rest. The only problem is the fish seem to die on me. All of the fish I purchase at other fish stores live. For example, I purchased 3 yellow tangs from the store in question and 2 yellow tangs from BA's on the same day and added them at the same time. (neither store had 5) My understanding is that if you would like to have more than one, you should have 4 or more and add them at the same time. <Mmm, yes... stipulated that you have room...> The 2 from BA's lived however only 1 of the 3 from the store in question lived. I experienced no spikes in my levels. My tank is still way understocked. <Okay> I won't be buying any more fish from them. I am doing research to find out the cause so that I can report them to our local animal health and welfare. I am torn between cyanide usage during collection <... Zebrasoma flavescens are almost exclusively collected out of Hawai'i... not cyanided assuredly. There may well be other mitigating factors here in the handling of this species by these stores... but not the manner of their collection> and ammonia poisoning during shipping. The tanks at the store seem well set up and taken care of. How can I tell the difference? <The bazillion dollar question... Really? Maybe a/the bio-assay you're conducting... Large numbers of samples "taken" over time...> I do not have any equipment. Not even a microscope. Are there any other possible causes? <Almost endless...> I have read the article by Ivan Steward entitled "Cyanide Usage in the Aquarium and Live Food-Fish Industries...." posted on your web site. He states "Although the intention of divers is to merely stun the fish they target, in reality the indiscriminate and imprecise application of cyanide has generated evidence indicating that 50% of the affected fish perish on the reef almost instantly and as many as 40% of the survivors are dead prior to reaching their desired destinations (Barber & Pratt, 1997; 1998). Such high (90%) mortality rates place considerable pressure on the populations of many species". I would like to point out that mathematically, if 50% of the fish survive and 40% of those die, that is actually a mortality rate of 70%. (50% + 50%*40%). <Ah, yes... a common math mistake... I've made this sort of error myself on a few occasions> It is a huge problem but accuracy counts. We live in the age of misinformation (nowhere more apparent than in this hobby) and you have to wonder what else is inaccurate in this article. Thanks, Mark. <Given such "even numbers" I fully suspect the author is trying to make a point through gross generalization that an overwhelmingly large percentage of animals are lost both directly from poison exposure AS WELL AS residual toxification. At any length, for the purpose of our discussion here, I assure you that your Yellow Tangs were NOT cyanided, but do want to applaud your efforts at reforming (and informing) the apparently problem store. I would contact them re your concerns (do they have a "credit/replacement policy" posted?). My definitive position statements re these twin issues are posted in the book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Bob Fenner>

Reading materials... Ivan Steward's piece on Cyanide Use   1/28/07 Hey there Bob, many thanks for the WWM site, it has helped me out a whole heap over the years of hobby-ism! <Ahh, a pleasure> I was going through my university work recently and found this (somewhat dated) report I compiled during my Masters studies down here at the University of Melbourne. If you want to put it up in the relevant section (if you deem it worthy of course!)  then by all means feel free. I know a plethora of information is available, but maybe this could serve as a nice intro for some.... <Ah, yes!> Thanks and best regards, Ivan Steward <I thank you profusely for sending this along. Will gladly post, share... and your work will in turn be widely read I assure you... Am glad to see the ref. to Peter Rubec in turn... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Cyanide Article  9/9/05 I am considering penning a piece on the usage of cyanide.  I am in the preliminary stages and looking for references.  Do you have a copy of the Bellwood article(s) from FAMA 1981 on cyanide and Dascyllus trimaculatus? That is one of the last references I am trying to locate and coming up empty. Thanks, Steven Pro P.S.   See you soon in D.C.! <Ah, yes. What months issue/s are these in FAMA? This will speed up the search... BobF>
Re: Cyanide Article  9/9/05
Here you go.  It looks like November and December of 1981. <Do have these... and considering their nature (science...) will copy and send along snail-mail> Bellwood, D.R. (1981) An investigation into the long term histological effects of sodium cyanide doses upon the gastro-intestinal tract of Dascyllus trimaculatus. Part II. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium. 4(12): 7-9, 87-88. Bellwood, D.R. (1981) An investigation into the long term histological effects of sodium cyanide doses upon the gastro-intestinal tract of Dascyllus trimaculatus. Part I. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium. 4(11): 31-35, 75-76. <Cheers, BobF>

Cyanided Copperband? - 03/31/2005 Hello, <Ahoy, thar, Rob! Sabrina here, this fine evening.> A couple of months ago I emailed you about my success with a Copperband butterfly in my 90 gallon reef tank. In fact you guys posted on your website, very cool.  <We do try to post everything! Thank you for sharing your experience with us before; I hope we can be of service now....> I have a question though. How do I determine if a fish has been caught by cyanide? <This can be extremely difficult to determine with any certainty.... Location of collection may shed some insight; I believe a fish can be necropsied after death to discover if cyanide poisoning did it in or not....> <<Editor's note: In general, not always, Indo-Pacific fishes may be suspect.  If not collected with cyanide, may have been exposed via run-off, downstream of mining operations.>> For the last two months this same Copperband has been eating everything in sight, Mysis, bloodworms, squid, clam - pretty much whatever I put in the tank but for the last 2 weeks he seems to be getting thinner by the day.  <So, he's eating heartily, but he's losing weight? A few possibilities here, including cyanide poisoning.> I feed my fish 2-3 times a day and I vary their diet. I have quite a variety of fish in there. My water parameters are pretty much where they need to be, ammonia - 0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 0, ph - 8.3.  <Salinity? Alkalinity? Tank size? Other fish? Most recent addition? Were all additions quarantined?> I have been observing the tank for several days and nights to see if other fish are harassing the Copperband causing it stress but none seem to be. There are no signs of parasites, fungus or bacterial infection.  <Mm, actually, the fact that the fish is losing weight despite an obviously hearty appetite is a strong sign of internal parasites. Can't see 'em when they're on the inside, after all. It might also be an indication of mycobacteriosis, an essentially incurable internal bacterial complaint. Other signs of mycobacteriosis are deformations of the spine, possibly clouded/frayed fins, small lumps/granulomas, or bloating. Let's hope, for now, that it's not mycobacteriosis, and not cyanide poisoning, as there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do about those. Let's turn to the possibility of internal parasites, and explore that a bit.> I have many years experience with saltwater fish and inverts but I have not seen this before. This Copperband seems to be wasting away no matter how much he eats and he eats a lot. What should I be looking for?  <At this point, let's hope for the best. If you have access to a high-powered microscope, collect a fecal sample from the fish and take a look. You will probably need help from a university biology professor, or a veterinarian, with this, unless you have a lot of confidence in making a diagnosis. If you don't seek the help of someone of that nature, then try to get a hold of "Handbook of Fish Diseases" by Untergasser, "Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment" by Noga, or other book with good, accurate microscopic photographs of what to look for in the way of internal nasties. Mostly, you'll want to determine first if there IS anything in those guts, and secondly whether it's protozoan or a nematode, trematode, or cestode taking residence in the fish. If it seems that you're dealing with a protozoan, I would suggest treating with Metronidazole in food, as the fish is still eating. If you find signs of nematodes, Trematodes, or Cestodes, I would try treating with Piperazine or Levamisole in food. Now, if you DON'T have access to a good microscope, or vet, or good book, or you simply don't feel confidant with your findings, you could treat with Praziquantel in food, which should handle any of the above nasties - but you'll probably need a vet's help in obtaining this. Metronidazole, Piperazine and Levamisole are easily available in the aquarium trade, and can even be purchased already in foods. You might take a look at http://www.flguppiesplus.com ; I know they have some medicated foods available.> I have to admit I am getting ticked off at the thought that he may have been caught with cyanide.  <I would be, as well. I'd be infuriated.> The fish store that got him in for me guaranteed he was not but you never really know do you?  <Unless you feel you can trust the fish store, and they the wholesaler, and they the transshipper, in collection location, and you know that location does not permit collection via cyanide, then no, you really can't know. And even when the stars ARE in alignment, and you DO know the entire history of the fish, well, I'm sure it's just not possible to be absolutely 100% certain. Sadly, it is entirely possible that this IS the problem with your fish. I've still got my fingers crossed that it's a perfectly fixable situation, though.> I would appreciate any thoughts on the matter.  <And there you've got 'em. If you need further treatment information, the two books that I mentioned have great suggestions for treatment and dosages. Do try to look the books up, if you have the opportunity.> Thanks, Rob Mancabelli Syracuse, NY <Wishing you and your Copperband well, -Sabrina>
Re: cyanided Copperband? 4/5/05 - Response 4/14/05
Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately my Copperband did not survive. I dissected him (I am a biology teacher) and found his liver was pitted and mushy. Cyanide?  <<Hello, Marina today. I received an email from Sabrina a couple of weeks ago regarding this issue, and I "sent" her to speak with one Peter Rubec. He can be found under the username "PeterIMA" on http://www.reefs.org/ - here you can find more information regarding the use, presence, and effects of cyanide (in the Industry Forum).  Know that it is not necessary for an animal to have been *collected* with cyanide. In many countries there are also mining operations, and cyanide seems to be associated with gold extraction. All that needs happen is for an animal to be in the area of such run-off.  I can tell you that fishes exposed to cyanide do seem to experience problems with their livers (do Google this, I sent out links re) as well as the gut linings. What seems to happen is that a fish may/can eat, but is unable to absorb nutrients, thus gaining no nutrition from what is consumed. The fish can (and do) essentially starve, like King Midas, eating all the while starving to death. This process can (and often does) take months to occur. This is much more commonly seen in fishes found/collected in the Indo-Pacific regions, though it is NOT a rule.>> I feel bad that this fish has died, I truly have not lost a fish in over 3 years. I may try another Copperband but I hate the thought of having the same thing happen again. I usually only buy fish I believe I can maintain for long-term so maybe a Copperband is not for me. Again thanks for your help. <<I have not found this particular butterfly to be a difficult fish to keep ASSUMING it has been collected AND held/shipped properly. Easily as many fish are lost during the holding process as are through cyanide fishing practices. I understand your reluctance, but I will wager a guess that you keep other Indo-Pacific specimens. What is more important is to ensure that whomever you purchase the specimens from is purchasing from a reliable wholesaler. In the meantime, I will let Sabrina know that I've responded directly to you, will be keeping this correspondence in case she has anything more she'd like to add. Marina>> 

Cyanide Hello everyone,  <Hello Kim> I have A question but also wanted to give you an update on my yellow tang. I decided since I am to scared to move him into the main tank to make him a Little more comfy and got some live sand to keep the nitrites down, a few pieces of live rock [ more to come] I got him some live micro algae and a friend to bring him out of hiding [a Chromis, cheap hardy fish] they are getting along great. If he lives long enough to outgrow his current 29 gallon I will have to consider putting him in the main tank. but I don't see that happening. I had bought some PraziPro to medicate him but decided his heavy breathing may be gill damage and don't want to harm him further.  Okay, for my question. I am wanting to know about this cyanide use. I had some guy telling me he thought my tang was cyanide caught because the place I got it has cyanide caught fish [ I had discussed this before I ever bought from them, but I doubt they would admit it anyway] you know the guy telling me they guarantee their fish are net caught and the other place has all cyanide caught fish. I thought it that most cyanide- caught fish came from certain areas [ I think the Philippines, if I am remembering correctly] I didn't think that certain distributors caught all their fish this way, as they obviously receive fish from all over the world and didn't go out and cyanide- catch their own fish. This guy said they will live 2 or3 months then die. I had thought that cyanide caught fish did not eat, and sometimes if they did , would die soon after usually within days to a couple weeks.. My tang has always had a great appetite. It is frustrating, I have learned so much from your wonderful site and then I go to these LFS and they contradicted so much or what I read here [ had some guy in another store try to sell me a Lunare wrasse for my way to small 55 and all I went in for was food, don't worry I did not buy the fish. I was looking for a sixline.. better size for my tank!] Anyway if you could enlighten me about this cyanide issue I would appreciate it.  Have a great weekend, Kim  <Kim, here is a link you can go for reference on cyanide. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/frtloss.htm  James (Salty Dog)> <Editor's note: If you're interested in more information on cyanide fishing, look in "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", "Diving Bali", and check out the Industry Forum of reefs.org - search "cyanide".>

Thanks for the book and can you help Dear Mr. Fenner, <Mr. Forrest> Did I make it past your Spam filter? <Heee, not mine... Billy G's... Hotmail> I have spent the past few weeks engrossed in your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." Firstly thank you for taking the time to write it. It must have been quite an undertaking. I consider myself a successful marine aquarist insofar as I have a low mortality rate and everyone in my tank seems happy. I spend way too much time fussing about water quality even after it has been a significant passage if time since I had problems. I still think this is high in importance right up there with livestock selection and the number of livestock in a tank. Without the latter being focused on I feel the former to be irrelevant in a small system. <I agree> Anyway I am writing to you with a great deal of concern. I am an Australian who is an American resident but currently living in Singapore. So I have seen a wide variety of aquarists circles. The seems to be a lot of conscientious people here but to a point only. Most if not all here accept that the only way of effective collection is with sodium cyanide so you can imagine the mortality rate at the stockists. The laws here are not environmentally sound. A stockist who imports must have a separate quarantine room before they can be eligible for a license to sell. Good but bad the law does not stipulate that the stockist needs to use this room. In fact in my tour of the stocks last night I found one who had received a very large shipment from Bali and the Philippines. There were literally thousands of fish and one hundred or so buyers, buying the fish straight out of the Styrofoam boxes. Obviously that makes the quarantine law redundant. <I have been to and through Sing. many times over the last thirty some years... and agree with you re the number of doomed animals... have had retailers tell me to my face that they "can't compete" with captive produced clowns for instance, or even ones from elsewhere as the P.I. and Indo. cyanided ones are "the market"> I am ready to lobby the government here for changes to this law so I was wondering if you are able to point me in the right direction for some meaty research that I can use in my petition. I am lucky enough to have found relative financial success in the banking industry and I am ready to hang it up and plunge deep into the captive breeding of marine fish. I have on many occasions had fish pair and spawn but never the time to devote to rearing until now. Asking the government to change the laws would have a much better impact if there were viable alternatives for the buyers. A law such as prohibiting the purchase of wild caught fish when there is a good supply of reasonably priced captive breed fish of the same species would be a good start. <Mmm, the very best I can do is introduce you to a gentleman, Peter Rubec who has many years experience with this issue... in the hope he will aid you... direct you to literature, others involved in similar processes> In Singapore the people wander in without a clue as I hear them ask what is that fish which happens to be one of 40 Moorish Idols dumped into a tank and then see them walk away with one in a bag. I am a member of a very helpful community web forum here and it never ceases to amaze me how many people buy a fish take a picture of it when they get home and post it on the forum asking people to id it and asking what it eats. <Ahh, I will also cc a dear friend there, Perry Chong, who is also active in the industries of pet-fish and diving> In my estimation approx 20,000 fish pass through Singapore each week There are only 3.2MM permanent residents here. If you think of the demographic averages of people with marine tanks that is a lot of fish that are dying each week. The is a breeder of seahorses here which is great but he tells me he does not need to export as he can't keep up with the Singapore market his plans are 2400 seahorses a month. This possibly implies people don't care. <Too likely> Nonetheless I am determined to captive breed the proven fish and I will become successful at some unbred species after further research. I also plan to culture LPS and SPS in a gradual process.  <Yes... not terribly difficult to do... and you WILL have your day. Am also cc'ing a friend, Anthony Calfo who is well-learned on culture and the industry. Bob Fenner> 

Hi Bob (or anyone else with info): <Greg> I was having a conversation with one of my biology professors about the hobby and the use of cyanide came up.  I was wondering if you could give me the latest "scoop" that you are aware of. <In conversation with Peter Rubec a few weeks back the practice is still common to prevalent in a few places in the Philippines and Indonesia, and not unknown in Vietnam> I have been keeping marine fish since the 70s and am of the opinion that cyanide is much less pervasive than it was at one time. <Agreed. Used to be that the vast majority of many species/groups of marines were cyanided...> But in light of this conversation, I thought I would reassess my moral stand on things.  I know this is only one aspect of the issue, but it is the one which I have not heard much about lately.  Hopefully, you can tell me that not hearing about it as much is a good sign.  Anyway, please let me know when you have a minute.  Thanks for everything you guys do.   Take care, Greg. <There are a few good folks, organizations trying to stem the use, reform the industry... I am semi-hopeful that this will continue to improve. Bob Fenner>

Re: Cyanide Poisoning Bob: <Greg> Okay, I'm generally impressed with the reply speed...but this is ridiculous!!  Have you finally had the Web hardwired into your brain!! <"Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated"> Anyway, thanks for the information.  One would think that by this point market forces (as in spending money for a fish that eats once and then dies), if not outrage, would have put more of a dent in this practice. <Am also constantly surprised. The biggest "explanation" for this continuing nefarious nonsense is EXACTLY what you might assume... the "death" of the hobbyists! The "average" marine aquarist is in/out in ten months or so... and along come the next group of Barnum & Bailey adherents. What a mess!> Maybe more education?? <Witness our content efforts> I honestly haven't seen a cyanided fish in years, but then I'm fortunate to have a first rate LFS (The Marine Scene) here in the DC area. <Likely so> I join you in your hopes.  Thanks again.  Take care, Greg <Will do my friend. Bob Fenner>

CN (cyanide and the marine ornamental trade) Dear Wet Web Media Crew, <Yorgos> You all have been very helpful in the past with all of my aquatic questions. Yet, the emails I have sent you in the past do seem quite trivial as I now type this one. <This is... the nature of things> It is hard for me to admit this to you, but I do work in Petco in the fish dep't. <I worked for this corporation for three years in the early nineties. Many fine people and practices there> I know I know I know... but it is just to earn a little money. And I feel that by working there if I can educate the customers to any degree, I am doing some good. <Indeed my friend, you are> To tell you the truth, on any given day, I turn more people away from buying a specific saltwater fish than I do sell them one. I am a student at Gordon College in the Boston, MA area studying marine biology. For the last 2 years, I have been doing much research on the sources from where our saltwater fish are collected. Petco uses Segrest and other sources of the like. <Yes, I know intimately of their relationship to Elwyn (Segrest)> Now, I have talked to many very experience and "prestigious" hobbyists who gave me a taste for the Collection processes used in the Philippines . I have reached the point where I can not tolerate receiving fish caught with CN and selling them to customers anymore. <We are in agreement here> In grad school I will be studying aquaculture and I realize that every time I walk into Petco, I contradict all my beliefs. I am aware of the damage these collecting methods do to the reefs and I have read through all the MAC Attack files on WWM. But I need more. I brought some of these issues up to the top of the "food chain" at Petco and they all gave me the same answers. They "assured" me that all the facilities are inspected and that all the fish are clean. <... this is not the case> I know this is not true. I am writing to you at Wet Web Media to ask for help. I need to present my place of employment with proof of this ongoing issue with MAC, yet first, I need to understand the situation better than I do. I also need evidence of the problems at the collecting sites. Any information or personal advice would be appreciated. I have decided that I will not stop this fight. The way I see it, if I can bring this to the attention of Petco (which is a HUGE buyer of fish) than maybe we will stop using these collectors and distributors and by doing this, maybe eventually places like these will be shut down. <Am very glad to aid you in this "crusade"/cause. Have you read the "cyanide chapter" in "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist"? At the back of this book there are addresses, URL's for the AMDA, Ocean Voice International, IMA... do contact them for up to date information, sources of interaction you can engage in> Thank you for your time and all the help. Yorgos Gregory <Press on. Bob Fenner>

French angel hi bob, do you believe French angel from BRAZIL are caught with cyanide or other form of drug? <I do hope so... though they are sometimes caught with MS-222/Tricaine in other parts of the tropical West Atlantic...> remember in the past, i e-mailed you about my fish contracted with crypt. Now i had solve the problem and i am worry that my two French. i notice that from side view i can see a little thin back close to the dorsal fin, wondering is it showing any form of effect from cyanide.  <Doubt if cyanide is involved... no authenticated cases of this poison used for this purpose here> but from top and front view they are fat. can you advice me. and they eating like a pig. the first French is 4 inch have been kept for 8 month and the other is 8 inch for more than a month was exhibited in 2001 Aquarama. <Wouldn't worry about this for now... but very stressful to keep two French's together of this size... Bob Fenner>

Cyanide in the Philippines Dear Robert: I read your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. I found the chapter about cyanide poisoning quite interesting. So much so that I am doing my term paper on it. <Outstanding... a worthy subject> I have found it difficult to get any information about the subject elsewhere. I was wondering if you could recommend other sources to further my knowledge about this tragedy. Or, if you yourself could provide me with additional information about it? <There are many sources of valid information... but not easy to "search"... Do use the Zoological Record (BIOSIS) through your College's computer search bibliographic systems... re the IMA (International Marine Life Alliance)... Don McAllister's efforts here... and Peter...> I have tried e-mailing editors of a couple Philippine newspapers but after two months have not had a response. I have recently e-mailed IMA and Green Peace. I am still awaiting their response. IMA's web page has been a great help, but as with all papers, I need a variety of sources. I have noticed that there is a lack of information on the effects it has to people and the communities. But I must admit my main concern are the fish and coral reefs. <Amazing isn't all of this? Not to contribute to petty sensationalism... but the so-called (publicly sponsored) scientists in the western world have not much to state on the subject... would not be conducive to their "public" jobs... > Any information you could provide me with would be greatly appreciated. Let me thank you in advance for your help in this matter. <What information in particular? The best work you might do here is to conduct a random (even double blind) assay of marine livestock imports at whatever (we have never met, are not collaborating) site you are at/able to gather specimens from (even a retailer... most marines still hail from the Philippines, Indonesia... even Vietnam is currently involved in the "cyanide collection business" for food and ornamental fishes). There are salient assays for cyanide... Do consider doing "original research here... Sadly, this practice continues.> Lynn Osiel
<Bob Fenner>

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