Open Letter to the Aquatics Trade:
Issue: Quarantine of Livestock
This letter is an attempt to stir up action on the issue of quarantine of aquatic livestock. Over the last 22 years I've been in the industry there has been important trend changes in the origins and distribution process of aquatic livestock.
1) The increasing breeding and importation of Central and South American fishes from the Far East.
2) Corresponding higher use of hormones, other color-enhancing agents, shipping anesthetics.
3) With increased shipping and other costs, increased crowding of shipped livestock.
4) Retailers, Jobbers acting as "trans-shippers".
5) Holding facilities shifting to once-through, non-recirculating systems, with less treatment.
These changes have resulted in types and degrees of livestock losses which to some degree are predictable and acceptable. I'd like to address the issue of an area of livestock losses which can be lessened; at the wholesale/distributor level.
For the most part, nationally, retailers and hobbyists have improved their methods and systems for acclimation and maintenance. This has not been the case at the distributor level. Compounding the deleterious changes mentioned above has been an increasing trend to not hold/quarantine livestock for any period of time.
We have seen increased incidences and virulence of bacterial, parasitological, environmental diseases; in particular Tetrahymena, Costia, flukes, and Chondrococcus columnaris (so-called cold-water disease.) Most any one in the industry recognizes these problems symptomatically. The seasonal breakdowns of anabantoids, especially Gouramis and livebearers are the rule rather than the exception.
What to do? I wish I had the or even an "answer". Two suggestions come to mind; 1) Develop and implement a loss/credit, replacement request book and system and demand diligence from your livestock suppliers. 2) Quarantine, treat, at least dip your livestock prophylactically.
I know the roots of this problem: unknown causes of losses feeding and being fed by short term profits driven by less care at all levels. I also have known the long term effects of discouragement of the aquatics business at the least common denominator level- the hobbyist. Who can expect whole-hearted participation with so many "mysterious" losses on the aquarists' part?
Bob Fenner; Aquatic Environments, Aquatic Life Services, Wet Pets; San Diego, CA... yes, penned in the early seventies... still a/the huge problem... RMF