Why don’t aquarium showrooms stock a multitude of species?
Firstly, marine fish are wild-caught, and supply varies enormously. In terms of freshwater fish, we are now spoilt for choice – over 300 species are being bred in captivity – many here in Australia – and their supply is dependable from week to week. The same is not true of marine fish! We support attempts to captive-breed marines, tank-bred clowns and seahorses are regular in our showroom, but the truth is that there is little public support for the practice, so the range of tank-bred species will probably not increase rapidly.
Secondly (and relatedly) there is the issue of quality – we refuse to sell inferior fish, and we also refuse to buy from any supplier who deals with drug caught fish. While there are arguments about the effects of cyanide on the fish, there is no doubt at all that it devastates the reefs on which it is used. We have seen enough cyanide-caught fish in poor health to satisfy ourselves of its ill effects on the fish itself (which often take months to surface), but even if there were none, we still could not condone the practice of destroying coral reefs. This choice means that we will deal only with suppliers who can guarantee 100% net caught fish. Naturally, this limits the range of fish we have access to. Also, net-catching is more time-consuming and more weather-dependent than drug catching, so supply is even patchier.
Thirdly, we refuse to stock any fish that does not adapt to captivity. Some marine fish have specialized diets that cannot be met in the aquarium, and they are doomed to disease or starvation. This is not only the waste of a beautiful creature but a severe disappointment to an aquarist who may have done nothing wrong apart from buying a fish on bad advice. Such discouragement is one reason many abandon marine fishkeeping, or even fishkeeping altogether.
We believe marine fish-keeping to be a rewarding pursuit – and wish to encourage those who do it responsibly. We want to see more aquarium-bred specimens available – and that is more likely to happen with demand from such responsible hobbyists. Therefore, despite the restrictions, we will continue to stock a selected range of quality marine fish and offer our expert, honest, advice on keeping them.
Those who have bought marine setups know that, while a greater investment is needed than for freshwater, it needn’t be expensive! And of course, they also know that they are always getting quality fish, as well as preventing damage to our fragile marine ecosystem.