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FAQs on FW Life for Aquarium Use

Related Articles: Reproduction of Freshwater OrganismsSex Changes Everything by Judy Helfrich,

Related FAQs:  Reproduction


Re: The Ethics conversation...Beginner Hobbyists, Neale Monks chimes in re fatuous FW stmt.s      2/11/12
  From Rene: "Certainly you're aware of the freshwater species now listed as threatened with extinction because of the aquarium trade/hobby. Certainly you're aware of the diminishing wild birds from habitat destruction, etc., despite their protection from the trade/hobby. Imagine the very long list of wildlife tragedies if Lacey and the Wild Bird Conservation Act had not been enacted.
> Hello Rene,
> Which freshwater species are endangered because of collection for the aquarium trade. I'm not aware of any.
> I am aware of freshwater species kept by aquarists that are endangered or even extinct in the wild. To give one example, the Red-Tail Black Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor) is apparently extinct in the wild, or at least persists in only an extremely small range. But there is no argument over the causes of its extinction, the building of dams and the loss of habitat. The fact this species had previously become popular in the aquarium trade, and subsequently bred on farms, is probably the only thing that gives this species any sort of long-term future.
> This isn't to say that the freshwater trade isn't causing problems. Introduction of non-native species (such as goldfish and guppies) can cause major problems and has already done so in places like Florida and Australia. I think we should also be sensitive to the fact that farming marine fish species won't prevent them causing the same sort of harm if they are set loose in marine environments. We're already seeing a taster of that sort of thing with Pterois volitans in the Western Atlantic.
> As Bob mentioned, farming tropical marine organisms will have costs of its own. Some 30 years ago there were many who believed aquaculture would replace the need to harvest marine resources such as fish and shrimp. To some degree, aquaculture did lower the cost of these foods. But they also incurred their own substantial costs. Farming carnivores like salmon means that small fish needed to be caught in vast numbers, and this in turn caused problems for those animals, like seabirds, that fed on these small fish. The salmon themselves created waste and harboured parasites, and these in turn placed severe stresses on those rivers and sea lochs where the salmon were farmed. Farmed shrimp have turned out to be catastrophic in many cases, partly by destroying precious mangrove habitats, but also in terms of how much food they need and the waste they produce.
> If you accept that natural populations have an in-built ability to accept a certain level of predation, then harvesting wild fish or corals is by far the least ecologically damaging way to harm their populations. (This puts to one side the energy costs of shipping livestock around the world, of course.) A common misconception is that every fish has the potential to find a viable niche in its ecosystem. It doesn't. Most will fail for one reason or another long before they breed. Thinking of damselfish, not only do they need to survive being eaten, they also need to arrive on the right part of a coral reef for their ecology, secure a territory, and then locate a mate. None of these are certainties, and most will fail. That's why they have so many offspring. Provided we are removing damselfish at a sustainable level, and that the way we catch them isn't placing an unusual selection pressure on the species, then no harm is done.
> Cheers, Neale (BSc marine zoology, as well as less relevant PhD in geology)

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