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FAQs about Marine Life Use in the Pet-Fish Industry

Related Articles:  Letter to the Trade re Quarantining Livestock, Growing Reef Corals For Profit, Pond Service Business, Don't Sell Non-Aquatic Plants!, Live Plants & Macro-Algae (IZOO 98 Report), Marine Macro-Algae, Clownfishes, Hawkfishes


Apogon compressus shipping issues 1/25/11
Hello Crew,
I work in a small wholesale facility and we are/have been having problems with some of the larger Apogon sp. Our problem is not keeping them, but how they arrive. In particular, *Apogon compressus *have been giving me problems lately. When the fish arrive from the Philippines, which is a direct flight, they are "bloated" and floating as if they have swallowed air. I've asked our supplier to try different methods as far as packing and shipping go, but to no avail. Do you have any ideas I can give them to try or is this a problem that I will have to deal with?
<I'd ask for smaller specimens... if possible. There are intermittent and inherent troubles with collecting and handling larger size Apogonids>
If it were one or two out of forty, I would not be too concerned. However, the last batch I received was more like twenty five out of forty. I'm not going to order them anymore if this continues to be a problem. I've had this problem with a couple of other cardinal species (typically the larger species with the same body shape) from several different suppliers. Beating my head against a wall isn't working so I thought I'd put the question out there. Thank you.
<Mmm, once the damage is done (i.e. before you get them) there's not much to be done. Collectors should leave larger individuals in the wild... to breed, live... and their wholesale distributors should refuse to buy larger ones of these and most other fish groups. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Conscientious Marine Business Practices (8/8/04) Thanks for your reply. <You're welcome.> The brittle star is not of the green variety. <Good. Not to bad-mouth the greens though--I have two in a tank with fish too big for them to mess with.> It is a bluish purple on it's body and dark yellow feet. <Sounds pretty. I am a big fan of these and other echinoderms.> The reason I ask for more in-depth reading material is I own a pet shop that has sold freshwater fish for 20 years. <Congrats on the longevity of your business.> Lately we have had a large request volume for saltwater fish, so I decided I had better start up a tank and learn as much as I can so I can carry saltwater at my store and be able to properly educate my customers (we're not a "sell it so it can die and they can buy more" pet shop, we typically have less than a 10% loss rate with livestock sold to customers, because we spend copious amounts of time educating them, and explaining water chemistry and testing water for free.)  So far I have had my tank set up for 4 months, and I haven't lost anything yet, except some little "alien" like creatures that came all over a bunch of plants I got, but I think they became food. <These small things do tend to come and go depending on conditions, predation, food supply, etc.> Thanks again for your advice, and I look forward to reading more on your site. <Great to hear of your conscientious business practices. I'll bet this gives you a truly loyal customer base. The hobby needs more retailers like you. I think you'll find the books I suggested very informative. You might want to start stocking "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta for those who are interested in SW to start learning. My LFS sells it at cost to all new SW hobbyists. Step two is "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner. These are a great start for most folks. I'd also suggest "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner. Scott Michael's "Marine Fishes" is a great pocket guide to the most common fishes in the hobby, though many think his minimum tank-size recommendations tend to be too small. "Reef Secrets" by Nielsen & FossÃ¥ is also a great beginning reef book. The others I mentioned previously are much more advanced. Best of luck to you in expanding your business. Steve Allen.>

Aquariums to save species Bob,   I remembered a paper on endangered reef fish, and made a few small modifications: Coralisters,   I have to disagree with the basic premise of the original question about using an aquarium to save reef species.   First, coral reefs are in grave danger around the world.  Coral species, however, are not.  There are a few very rare species of coral that are in fact in danger, but nobody seems much concerned- for example, on the Pacific coast of Panama there are 2 species of coral currently known from 4 colonies each.  If that's not endangered, I'd like to know what is.  These numbers are published, and yet as far as I know, no one is in the slightest bit interested in listing them as Endangered Species.  CITIES has a list for Endangered Species (Appendix I), but they are not on it.  Instead, all corals, including those whose populations may be in the billions of tons (estimates, anyone?), are all on the Appendix II list of CITIES, so trade is permitted, but permits required.  The reason for this?  To try to help countries control the trade in corals for curios to gather dust on shelves in homes, or to stock aquariums, to avoid the wholesale destruction of reefs (i.e, to save reefs, not species).  I remember hearing that dynamite and dump trucks were used to collect corals in Florida years ago for the shell shops; there wouldn't be much left there if it was allowed to continue.   As for other species on reefs, relatively few fish, mollusks, or other macrofauna are probably at risk of species extinction.  A study of reef fish found only 5 species that were critically endangered (2 of these probably already extinct), one that was endangered and 172 that were vulnerable.  Some macrofauna may already be commercially extinct, like the biggest giant clam, Tridacna gigas, but the species is not close to extinction.  Without action maybe it will be, but can we use it like the Spotted Owl in the US Pacific Northwest to protect entire ecosystems?  It doesn't require healthy reefs to live, and is easily bred in mariculture.   I would guess that almost all of the world's coral reefs could be "destroyed", that is 99% dead, without loosing hardly any species of macrofauna.  A few individuals of each species are likely to survive on most reefs.  (maybe we need some serious research to see how far I'm off the mark) Might loose some microfauna- I understand there are some amphipods with extremely restricted ranges.  Shall we try to save entire coral reefs by adopting the slogan "Save the amphipods"?  Un-charismatic microfauna may not help much.  Reefs themselves are far more charismatic.   Secondly, a home aquarium set up by a beginner is not going to help save endangered species; however, it could be used to help extinguish species. Yes, corals can be grown in aquariums and fragments spread to other aquariums and potentially returned to the wild.  Yes, more people are learning how to do this.  Yes, that's great.  But the reality as far as I know is that you have to know what you're doing, lots of people don't know yet, and fish shops continue to sell large quantities of live coral and fish because many or most home aquariums continue to be death traps- live things go in, dead things come out.  This is particularly likely for a beginner, but also includes many or most public aquariums with large budgets- do you really think they breed every fish species they have on display enough to replace the fish that die?  No way.  Sad, but true.  This does not diminish all the great things that aquariums, public and private do, for education, getting people to love the animals and be concerned for their protection, etc.  But those good things don't change the fact that most aquariums are net consumers of living things, not producers.   So my advice is if you want to get an aquarium, get one because you think its beautiful, but don't delude yourself into thinking you're helping to save a reef or a species.  If you want to help a reef, get a freshwater aquarium instead, and switch from that gas-guzzling monster you (may) drive into a highly fuel efficient vehicle.  (the sequence is said to be: burning fossil fuel produces greenhouse gas (CO2) produces global warming produces coral bleaching produces coral death)  So far, I know of no indication that people in developed countries or wealthy people in developing countries are at all inclined to give up big vehicles; on the contrary their popularity is increasing.   -Doug Hawkins, J. P., C. M. Roberts & V. Clark.  2000.  The threatened status of restricted-range coral reef fish species.  Animal Conservation 3: 81-88. Douglas Fenner, Ph.D. Coral Biodiversity/Taxonomist Australian Institute of Marine Science PMB No 3 Townsville MC Queensland 4810 Australia phone 07 4753 4334 e-mail: d.fenner@aims.gov.au web: http://www.aims.gov.au

<Sue, with Doug's permission I am sending this bold statement along for your consideration in running in an upcoming FAMA editorial. Please do respond to the "other" Mr. Fenner (no relation that we know, surprisingly enough), and send him a copy of the issue if/when it is inserted. Bob Fenner>

We are collectors in Costa Rica and would like to discuss some future pos... We have been shipping Costa Rican Marines for 12 years to Canada and The US . We have just completed an expansion and now have over 5000 gallons of salt water capacity and feel confident we can service a few more customers with the same top quality and consistency as before . If you would like to discuss terms with us . or wish to see a price and inventory list I would be very happy to send one  out to you . We have new services into the U.K that make this option feasible where it was not before . Hope to hear from you soon Catalina Castro <Thank you for your offer. I will gladly help you (for free) locate other markets. Who do you regularly ship to in the U.S.? Can you provide me with an idea of what your typical/annual stocklist looks like? Are there expensive restrictions like air freight that might influence an importer/transhipper's buying from you? Bob Fenner>

Re: We are collectors in Costa Rica and would like to discuss some future pos... I am having problems getting emails out so you may get 2 similar emails . Any ways . Thank you for responding so promptly , That sounds great . I am not clear are you a transhipper or a wholesaler ? <Actually, and thank goodness for your facility with English, more of an "expediter"... A content provider in the trade, interest... mainly a consultant and friend in/to the trade these years... A much more hands on person a decade back... But do get around and know many of the folks in the industry still (attend most the large domestic, international trade fairs,  go visit several countries a year visiting collecting facilities... And am always agreed to help people make the trade better> We are awaiting freight rates from our broker and once I have those I will forward them to you . In some cases our clients have been able to negotiate a better price from there end with the airline  especially when you are in their hub , in your case British airways.<Really? Even to Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago...?> If you have strong contacts with them perhaps that would help. One concern I have is Packaging . We now ship in Styrofoam boxes with a waxed Cardboard liner . I understand that Europe and GB do not permit non Biodegradable packaging . . Do you have some suggestions in that respect ?<Ah, will check with my friends at Tropical Marine Centre. Do you trade with them currently? I am actually in the U.S.A., in California.> We work here on quotas imposed by the ministry of fisheries , For example each diver is allowed 50 fish per species per month . <Sounds like a good principle> I have 7 divers so I would have the capacity to produce and export 350 Holacanthus Passers for example .( water permitting of course )  I have 3 more divers I can put to work should the demand warrant it . . At present we ship to Marine Enchantment ( TO ) Exotic Marine and Marine Life Design  ( Miami ) Marine Brokers of Atlanta , High Brite USA ( LA ) We will be dropping HB for problems in collecting payments &. Sea Dwelling Creatures .  ( LA) They know us as Villas Las Cascadas but we have just made some changes in our company and from now on will be known as C 2 C International S.A. I will forward to you by Fax ( Need your Fax # ) <858-578-7372> a price and inventory list . This will be an approximation of what you could expect +/- on a biweekly basis  I look forward to your reply and as soon as I have rates , schedules and your fax # I will forward that and price / inventory list to you . I hope this can work out . For us the time has come to move into Europe . Looking forward to your feedback . Catalina Castro <And I will begin now to send out our correspondence via email to parties I know to be of help and possible business contacts for you. Bob Fenner>


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