Concerns re: Commercial Breeding Practices
I have been reviewing info. on different types of fish for future additions to my aquarium and I am a bit concerned regarding what I have learned about the commercial breeding practices of guppies and how the fish has become genetically weakened. It seems cruel to me how they are inbreed for the enhancement of desired traits and the deformaties that result in a significant number of the fish. Have I misunderstood or has this and is this still going on? Are there no regulations to restrict these kinds of practices?
I am not an expert in this, but I think so. I look forward to seeing what other people have to say.
I do whatever I can to get wild caught fish.
In general yes it does go on, line breeding is very common, traits are carried over from healthy specimens and breed into generations from there on.
The deformities usually do happen, commercially, these are sold as feeders sometimes, when dealing with the quantity of fish commercial breeders do, it is not always possible to remove these fish from the sale stock. Personal and small scale breeders are able to offer higher quality fish this way compared to the commercial guys.
With regards to buying only wild caught fish, I actually work the opposite way, I prefer to buy tank raised stock. They tend to be a lot hardier compared to wild caught and you are also not taking them for their natural habitat.
I do have a stock of wild caught Yellow Labidochromis caeruleus (yellow lab cichlids), these are the only wild caught fish I have ever bought.
I always buy wild fish over tank raised when I can. Wild caught fish are healthier, hardier and more colourful. Now, having said this, I am thinking here of soft water fish like characins and such. Tazman's experience with rift lake cichlids is a very different kettle of fish.;-)
Sadly, the commercial guppy now available are very weakened, and some biologists are actually suggesting they never be purchased. This is actually applicable to most livebearers. The fish in stores are so far removed from the wild form as to be scarcely the same species.
This is also turning up in some of the long-bred characins, like the neon, glowlight, etc. Wild fish when they can be acquired are much more resilient and colourful.
As for removing the fish from the habitat, this is a valid concern. But there are some excellent programs now working in South America for instance, like Project Piaba, that are responsible from the point of maintaining the wild fish species through restricted collecting, and providing good economic employment for the local people who would otherwise have to resort to clearing the land for farming and thus destroying the environment and the fish species entirely. I read one article noting that acquiring wild caught cardinal tetra is actually preserving the habitat and thus the species.
Line breeding or inbreeding is done with tons of animals not just guppies. Every dog, cat, horse, cow, ect "breed" is a line breed or inbreeding. Though most people don't like to think of it like that. It is carefully controlled but that doesn't entirely avoid the risks. Thus thats why certain breeds are high risk for certain diseases. Those diseases are genetic and if they are they are in the genes then they are unavoidable. Its no different in any of these situations. An animal is inbreed simply for desired traits. The great Dane for example, while the biggest dog is also the shortest lived breed.
It however isn't always a human caused issue. Funny enough there are tons of cloning animals in nature that seem to do just fine, while others do not. The cheetah surprisingly through nature and man-kind has EXTREMELY low genetic diversity. Its thought the species faced near extinction on more then one occasion. The few remaining ones to repopulate led to such little diversity they are almost clones. Which is proving difficult for conservation.
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