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Are aquariums always a bad thing ?


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#1 skawdiver

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 12:50 AM

Hi all,

Please help me on this topic. Are public aquariums always a bad thing ?

Or is it just the way they treat the animals, or the way the animals are caught that decides if it's a bad thing ?

Good things to say couldt be that it raise the public awareness towards the enviroment, or make scientific study easier.

Any input apriciated.
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#2 Paul Kay

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 01:09 AM

Absolutely not. They raise awareness of course, many have breeding/release programs, some buy oddities from fishermen (thereby saving them from becoming discards) and many have very beneficial educational aspects too.

Like anything else in life there are good and bad - I've seen some appalling aquariums (mostly in the past - they are now covered by 'Zoo' regulation in the EU so have to meet certain standards) and some excellent ones with keen, conservation-minded staff with superb husbandry skills.
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#3 Scuba_SI

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 05:13 AM

Most of them are very good as Paul says. But there are some very bad ones, such as some of the Dolphinaiums mentioned in the other thread, and if you've ever been to Cocos Island Costa Rica, go to the one in Puntarenas, it's sooooooo bad.

My issue with them is that people take their kids there, and the child decides he/she wants 'nemo' in his bedroom and the parents go ahead with it (as my Sister has just done with her kids after seeing my pictures, despite my comments about reef damage etc, and that the whole point inNemo is to stop collection). Look in the book section at the public aquarium, i bet it contains some books on 'how to setup your own aquarium etc'.

Kids can't look after fish as a general rule, i had enough trouble with freshwater ones growing up, never mind the complexities of a marine aquarium. But i think in todays society of flash cars and flat screen tv's keeping the humble goldfish or maybe even a couple of guppies is not enough.

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#4 pmooney

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 05:31 AM

Modern Aquariums are without doubt a good thing . They give a large part of the community a chance enjoy the wonders of the ocean that that otherwise would be precluded from them.

As a guide - my 9 year old did tours four 4 days straight of the Kayukan Aquarium in Osaka , and then complained that his mother wouldn't let him back for day 5.

One of the highlights of my recent visit to Monterey was the 2 days spent at the Monterey Bay aquarium - great stuff - I will be back to that one.

The new aquarium in Georgia is by all accounts a roaring success .

As an aside, the work that has been going on in background of the fish collectors who supply the aquariums with their stock is enourmous. the new methods used to handle the and transport the fish , new methods of capture , fish collectors on rebreathers jumping down the wall at Bunaken chasing new fish.

Modern aquariums are fantastic - I always leave wanting more , smiling , happy , planning my next trip diving. A great tool for thr environment.

#5 Scuba_SI

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 06:19 AM

Modern Aquariums are without doubt a good thing . They give a large part of the community a chance enjoy the wonders of the ocean that that otherwise would be precluded from them.

Modern aquariums are fantastic - I always leave wanting more, smiling, happy , planning my next trip diving. A great tool for thr environment.


I agree, places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium are institutions, vital for the successful education of the next generation, they are always in documentaries now too.

As an aside, the work that has been going on in background of the fish collectors who supply the aquariums with their stock is enourmous. the new methods used to handle the and transport the fish , new methods of capture , fish collectors on rebreathers jumping down the wall at Bunaken chasing new fish.


I agree here too, they are becoming more and more aware and strive to do the right thing.

But i sincerely doubt that the 4 or 5 pet shops in Huddersfield or any other small town will have stock from captive bred sources or from viable collection. I just think that public aquariums can sometimes encourage people to do the wrong thing, right before they leave.

For instance, imagine you are your average Brit, you go on an adventure holiday to the south coast of Spain, you don't get in the water at night because "there are sharks"....

You take the kids to the aquarium when you get home from your 2 weeks of drunkardness in Spain, and you spend 4 hours walking around 'cooing' and 'awwing' at all the amazing fish, reading about conservation and things you can do to help, you see images of whaling and say it's awful.

Then just before you leave, the route takes you through the shop and there are books on 'practical fish husbandry', 'keeping clownfish', 'your first marine aquarium.' For the average person, the messages from Greenpeace, WWF (not the wrestlers) and Sea Shepherd have all been forgotten now, theres a shiney book that will explain how to get what you just saw in the last 4 hours into your living room or your little boys bedroom, won't daddy be cool then!!!!

How do i know all this... My sister married one of your average Brits, and as i have discovered, there's no point arguing with fool....



[can you tell this is a recent sore point for me, i spent hours talking about we houldnt keep tropical marine fish, with lots of nodding and agreeing, MORONS!]

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#6 Paul Kay

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 07:27 AM

Simon

Do I note a degree of scepticism in your post? Your view on Brits and 'adventure holidays' is perhaps a trifle negative....

What is encouraging is that there ARE captive breeding programs for the pet trade and that home aquariums can actually be kept viably (I have a friend with one, although I do have to admit that he is a professional aquarist!) - perhaps the point to make is that to run one 'properly' is very expensive - in power costs alone from what he tells me. And of course been concientious and buying sustainable specimens is neither easy nor cheap.

But public aquaria do at least let the non-diving majority see marine creatures first hand - which will raise awareness. On the Nemo front, whenever I give a talk and show Clown Fish I am told that they are actually 'Nemos' by any children present - the power of Disney!
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#7 JackConnick

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 07:35 AM

I am a volunteer diver at the Seattle Aquarium.

We work as interpreters as well as fish feeders and maintenance types. Part of every encounter with the public is to impart a conservation message, whether it's to eat fish from sustainable sources, or yes, to buy your aquarium fish form breeders or sources that are certified in using non-destructive capture methods form sustainable sources. I can't quite remember the name of the certification program, but you can ask at a good quality fish store about it. There's lots and lots of fish that are breed for home aquariums.

I guarantee that most, if not all, people leaving the Aquarium have a much better education on the ocean and it's critters from coming.

Jack

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#8 Scuba_SI

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 08:35 AM

Oh yes, i am particularly sceptical of the British public!

My issue is not so much with the well run public aquaria, it is with the smaller ones with dirty tanks and smelly water that you get in various places.

As for fish breeding, i know that you can breed most things in captivity these days (i used to breed freshwater fish before i discovered girls and beer) but i find it hard to believe that certain fish i have seen in pet shops can be bred in such large numbers to meet demand. Add to that the 'live rock' etc it cant be good. But im now completely off topic as usual and will shut up!!

Oh, and i wasnt calling anyone who goes to an aquarium a fool in my previous post, just my Brother-in-law ;) :D

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#9 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 08:36 AM

Maybe we should suggest that public aquariums put a don't try this at home sign at the entrance and exit ;)

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#10 skawdiver

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 01:17 AM

Thanks for all of your feed backs.

I agree with you, there is well driven public aquariums, wich help people to get close to the underwater world.

Not everybody can or will dive, and via the aquriums they might still become ambassadors for the underwater world, and help us speading the word, that we need to protect the oceans.
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#11 Drew

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 02:38 AM

Unfortunately there are also well run aquariums which try to exhibit silly things like whaleshark and great whites which can't really survive in those environments.
Look at the aquariums in Japan and Taiwan. Whalesharks are replaced and hardly any awareness programs for the preservation of the species. So there's no effect on the education to keep off sharks fin soup etc.

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#12 Rocha

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 01:09 PM

This is a very interesting discussion and most points are valid. But I want to stress one thing, the overwhelming majority of the reef fish in the aquarium trade are not cultured. And even worse, most of them are fished with cyanide (especially at the Philippines). Interestingly, "Nemos" (anemone fishes) are among the very few that reproduce well in captivity and are commercially cultured.

Even freshwater fishes, which can be cultured, are usually not cultured because it is a lot cheaper to go to some river and catch thousands with a net. I have first hand knowledge about this.

Does that mean that home aquariums are bad? Not if you know what you are doing, by buying the right fishes, etc. The problem is that most people don't know.

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#13 Scuba_SI

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 01:16 PM

At last, someone agrees with my off topic ramblings!! :D ;) ;)


And yes, having spent a few months doing researchy type stuff in an area of the Philippines where cyanide was used in vast quantities, i can agree that it totally wipes out everything.

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#14 bmyates

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 02:41 PM

...I want to stress one thing, the overwhelming majority of the reef fish in the aquarium trade are not cultured. And even worse, most of them are fished with cyanide (especially at the Philippines). Interestingly, "Nemos" (anemone fishes) are among the very few that reproduce well in captivity and are commercially cultured. . .Does that mean that home aquariums are bad? Not if you know what you are doing, by buying the right fishes, etc. The problem is that most people don't know.


I agree, Luiz! We have two salt-water tanks in my company's offices, and I've had ambivalent feelings about them for several years...knowing how many fish are killed for the few that make it into our tanks really bothers me. Fortunately, the tanks are well established and well serviced, so most of the fish live for several years and seldom need to be replaced. But when we recently needed a couple of new fish, I told the guy who takes care of them that I'd really prefer to only use fish bred in captivity from now on. He got a blank look on his face and said the only species he has heard of that are farm-raised are the little percula-like clowns Luiz mentioned. I asked him to please look into other species, and haven't heard back... I also asked him to look into fish that are "certified" as coming from "humanely harvested" sources, where cyanide is NOT used.

Of course, having been diving in areas of Indonesia where dynamite fishing takes place, and everything in sight is dead as far as the eye can see in every direction for the entire dive (acres and acres!), one can also argue that more creatures are killed with one stick of dynamite than would be used in 1000 home aquaria. But that line of reasoning runs into trouble (like saying lots of people die in wars, so murdering one person yourself isn't so bad) because stocking home aquaria DOES contribute to massive numbers of fish being killed overseas... Therefore, my conscience tells me that the best thing I can do (short of getting rid of the 2 tanks in our offices) is buy only farm-raised fish.

BTW, I see the discussion of home aquaria as quite different than public aquaria, such as the wonderful ones in Monterey, Baltimore and Atlanta (and Seattle, too!), to name a few. I think, as others have said, that when large public aquaria are run with an intense educational emphasis, they can raise tremendous awareness and appreciation of the life in the seas, and I wholeheartedly support those efforts.

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#15 Melusine

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 03:18 PM

There is an organization called Reef Protect International that has developed a pocket guide to help people make responsible choices in aquarium fish. A PDF version of the guide is here; you can print one out and hand them to your favorite aquarist:

RPI Reef Fish Guide

They got the idea from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's pocket guide to sustainably harvest seafood. You can also contribute to their efforts or order paper versions of the guide (info on their website).

Reef Protect International

Edited by Melusine, 01 March 2007 - 03:19 PM.


#16 bmyates

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 04:08 PM

There is an organization called Reef Protect International that has developed a pocket guide to help people make responsible choices in aquarium fish. A PDF version of the guide is here; you can print one out and hand them to your favorite aquarist:

RPI Reef Fish Guide


Great resource! I'll give one to our aquarium maintenance guy, and encourage him to "spread the word" to his other clients, too! THANKS!

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#17 Rocha

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 04:16 PM

That's a really nice resource, I didn't know it either.

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#18 Paul Kay

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 01:24 AM

I think (this is just from my often dodgy memory) that people from the UK's Marine Conservation Society have been very active in the 'wild caught' fishes trade and have tried to establish proper codes/structures which are sustainable and provide viable local income in poor areas. I'm sure a google search will find details but I'm just off out so can't look now. One point to remember is that demand requires supply and often from places where incomes are low and work hard to come by - compromises are inevitable and establishing sustainable capturing systems is probably the 'best' current solution.

I fully agree though that there are viable ways of keeping aquariums, both public and home, but all too often people are faddy (look at underwater photography!) and don't realise what is involved so I do suspect that 'wastage' is very high indeed.
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#19 james

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 01:44 AM

This is off the public aquarium topic, but look at it this way:

Live grouper and napolean wrasse for the food fish trade: $1 per pound

Live reef fish for the aquarium trade: $40 per pound

The fishermen need to work - which would rather have them catching...

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#20 Paul Kay

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 06:20 AM

Hi James

Public aquariums pay premium prices for good healthy specimens to - which probably has a minor but beneficial effect on the way that odd fish are handled by commercial fishermen.
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