Tank raised vs wild caught
If its been covered before, a search wasnt overly useful in finding it :)
Basically im torn. I like the idea of tank raised fish, but I am more than aware of the problems of hybridization and inbreeding, not to mention the selective breeding for certain traits. Its really not any better than puppy mills, imho. There are pros however, such as not depleting the wild populations, and the ability to adapt to wider range of water parameters, making once unobtainable fish comfortable in our home aquaria. Then there are the issues of hormone injection, tattooing (which I wont get into, its obvious), and genetic alteration. Of course the biggest advantage to tank raised fish, is keeping the cost down to the average hobbyist.
On the other hand, wild caught populations of fish diminish their numbers in the wild, to the point of near extinction and extinction in some cases. While they tend to be more colorful, they are typically only suited to waters that emulate their own habitat, making them incompatible with some efforts to keep them at home.
If you buy tank raised, you run the risk of inflating the 'puppy mills' and giving those folk a reason to conduct potentially inhumane business. If you buy wild caught fish, you run the risk of over collection, and potentially ruining the species for future aquarists. I dont know which I support. Thankfully there are dedicated aquarists out there (a la aquabid, and forums) that breed F1 fish and do their best to keep the strains pure for the hobby, often at an obtainable cost. The downside is in some cases its 'too little, too late' and they cant provide the volume to keep species out of chain store tanks.
What are the opinions of yall?
It somewhat depends upon the fish species. The majority of my fish are wild caught. I wouldn't have them if they weren't, because no one is breeding most of them to sell.:lol:
I would like to correct a couple assumptions, if I may. Collecting wild fish need not deplete the species, and in fact many countries now have laws on collecting to ensure the species is not endangered. Brazil for instance; it is not this way in SE Asia, sad to say. But it is a fact that local economically-driven practices are directly responsible for the majority of wild populations that are already extinct or are endangered in both SA and Asia. The indiscriminate clearing of forests for farming has destroyed many acres of habitat. Damming rivers can wipe out many species. This has been in the forefront for environmentalists over the past several months with the proposed dam--the largest in the world if it is built--on the Rio Xingu in southern Brazil. There is not the slightest doubt that if this goes ahead, many endemic species will be extinct overnight. And that river holds some of the most beautiful species of Loricariidae, and given the recent discoveries of new species it is believed that others will be gone before we know they exist. The well-known Zebra Pleco is found there and no where else. It is even protected from collection by law, since collecting many years ago did threaten it. Ironic that the government is now going to wipe it out with a dam.
In some South American countries, the collection of ornamental fish is a major part of the economy for the indigenous peoples who have learned how to fish responsibly and make a decent living while protecting the various species. There is an environmental organization behind this, I've forgotten the name now, but many of us believe this should be encouraged. The people are less likely to destroy the habitat for farming if they can make a good living collecting fish responsibly.
Oh please dont interpret my position as quite so black and white. I understand there have been great strides in some communities to protect species through responsible collection. But as you said that is certainly something that isnt universal.
environmental issues are without a doubt one of the largest predators (man-made environmental issue in the case of the Rio Xingu dam), but that is rarely something I consider when I am faced with open aquarium space, trying to decide on a species to acquire. Admittedly however, I have considered purchasing fish which have been threatened by over collection and hybridization to breed as pure strains, but at present I do not have the space in my temporary rental digs.
Maybe the answer is as simple as there is no answer. I personally research fish before we buy them, to see if i should purchase wild caught, or tank bred fish. Often I dont have a choice, though.
So i dont misrepresent myself, I dont believe that fish collection is the devil, those are often my favorite articles in TFH (and this months article on the congo was no different!) :-)
You really are a fountain of knowledge, Byron. :-) Something I'm curious about: are there any particular species that we would want to find wild over captive bred or vice versa?
Most of the fish that I keep are captive bred because they are selectively bred varieties: long-finned bettas, fancy goldfish, and koi. But now that I am getting ready to start a community tank I'm coming in contact with wild-caught fish. I must admit as an environmentalist and conservationist, I'm at first repelled by the idea of taking a fish from it's natural habitat on a commercial scale. I've heard horror stories of how it has been done with reef fish. But I am very happy to learn that it's being done sustainably in places. I wish there was a way to tell which fish were sustainably harvested and which weren't (but seeing as that is difficult even in the food fish industry I doubt it will ever happen in the hobby). I thought captive-bred fish were the answer to my prayers, and then I discovered all of the problems they can come with such as disease (dwarf gourami disease), inbreeding (guppies), and escapes (Asian carp). So right now I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. :/
thats exactly how I feel, Izzy. Off the top of my head there are fish for any number of reasons I would not want captive bred. guppys, endlers (unless I know the breeder, my LFS has lots of local breeders) all because of hybridization. Alot of captive bred cichlids are getting hybridized too. Alot of rams are treated with hormones to make them more colorful, that also can make them infertile. Hell, I loved trying to raise lyre tail swords with my gf until I found out the males tend to be incapable of reproduction. I feel a little guilty playing god.
there are other factors besides man made ones that can determine whether or not to get wild caught fish. Im looking for tank bred congo tetras at the moment, because I dont believe my water is soft enough for wild caught. Things like that.
The other fact is that if we weren't collecting them, many of the fish hatched each year would not survive anyway, due to predation or lack of food and water habitat. The stats for the cardinal tetra bear this out. For several decades now, this species has made up some 80% of the ornamental fish exported from Brazil each year, equating to some 20 million cardinals every year. And yet, when the collectors return the following year there are just as many cardinals as there were the previous year. There has been no decline whatever in this species, in spite of such enormous collections for the past 30 years. Biologists think the reason is that the cardinal in nature is an annual fish, it is born, grows a few months, many die from this or that, some manage to spawn to maintain the species. There is simply not sufficient food during the dry season (and probably other factors too) to sustain all these fish. But in the aquarium, they can live more than 10 years in soft water.
SA is doing better in this regard than SE Asia. Many of the exporting firms in SA are aware of conservation issues. This is not so prevalent in Asia from what I've read. And many of the ornamental fish that are commercially raised are bred in outdoor ponds in SE Asia, even the SA species. Ironically, this is where most of the disease issues seem to originate.
lol I have seen wild caught congos advertised exactly once, quite some time ago, way down i THINK at the hidden reef, in levittown, PA. It might not have been there, but im 80%, and that was a couple years ago. Oh well, I wont lose sleep over it.
Another aspect, if you're interested in doing your best by the environment, is to take a look at the production of the food you feed to your fish. Fish are harvested for the aquarium trade, yes, and that's important to consider! But fish are also harvested as fish food. Learn about fish food production, and how we can lessen our negative environmental impact by the foods we feed our fish.
Another important aspect to this is taking a look at what's on our plate, too. Usually much more damage is done by the typical omnivore than is ever done by an aquarist. I'm not going to advocate any particular path here, even though I def have my opinions... I'm just saying its a very important issue with which an individual can have a much larger impact on the environment. So I think its important that people in developed countries take an educated look at their diets, and see if it aligns with their morals and duties to our planet. Whichever way you go, thanks for reading!
And thanks for a great thread idea, beetlebz! Important stuff!
We all have different tastes, and I can respect that. It's one of those things that makes forums like this so useful. :)
It's great to know that cardinals are being sustainably harvested because those are one of the species I have my eye on. But what I was referring to is species that cross political boundaries. For example, cardinals are found in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. Are they sustainably harvested in all countries? Also when are they likely to be found in stores?
So I've got a dream of finding a wild dwarf gourami. Am I going to literally have to go over to Asia and capture one myself or is this possible to find stateside?
I came across this little article on the negative impacts to the environment in Brazil caused by the increasing number of commercially-raised fish as opposed to wild capture. The cardinal is the fish involved. As you can see, with 60% of the population depending upon the ornamental fish trade for their livlihood, and the forest being protected to preserve the fish for collection, everything is connected somehow.
Cardinal tetras help conserve the rainforest
I've never come across stats for other countries, so can't answer that. However, the majority of wild cardinals I see locally appear to be the Columbian/Venezuelan form. They are different from those native to the Rio Negro and Peruvian Amazon system. But this is only because local stores import less from Brazil, or rather the suppliers most of them use rely more on other countries. I prefer the Brazilian form, it is a more slender fish in appearance and the blue lateral line is more straight and longer--which is what gives it a longer profile.
Best source for Dwarf Gourami would be a local breeder, though they would obviously not be wild fish. Many stores will not carry this species due to the health issue.
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