“No wild-caught anything? You’re joking, right?” Actually, I’m serious.
While currently many wild ornamental fishes and invertebrates are not adversely impacted by their collection for the aquarium trade, some definitely are. Both Floridian cleaner animals as well as Banggai cardinalfish have received much press of late that has reflected badly on the marine hobby. In the not so distant future, marine aquarists could be legislated and regulated right out of the hobby. As demand by aquarists increases and more pressure is put on wild-caught stocks of fishes, corals and other invertebrates, can legislative course corrections be far behind?
“Seeded” Terrestrial Rock
Imagine a beautiful reef tank replete with LPS, SPS and soft corals, a myriad of reef-safe fishes, motile invertebrates and several pounds of live rock and sand — with none of it taken from wild reefs but produced “in-house,” so to speak, through captive propagation. Even the live rock can be eco-friendly and doesn’t have to be mined from a reef. Some countries have put a stop to the mining of their reefs and the resulting exportation of “pieces of their countries” to aquarists’ fish tanks.
One Florida company I found online offers eco-sensitive live rock. Here’s their sales pitch:
Rock from an upland site is deposited on our 5-acre lease [an off-shore site], allowed to grow for a number of years, and is then harvested for use in your reef tank. Our aquacultured live rock is absolutely beautiful, colonized by five different species of hard corals, tunicates, clams, feather dusters, coralines, sponges, algaes, invertebrates, plants and other life!
Why Aquacultured Fishes?
Besides taking the pressure off of certain reef species as well as the ecosystems they frequent, purchasing aquacultured reef livestock has many other benefits too.
1) Long-term sustainability for the hobby
2) Sustainable employment opportunities
3) Healthier livestock
4) Less stressed livestock
5) Already conditioned to life in aquaria
6) Genetic ark for species that could become extinct in the wild
7) Used to aquarium foods
8) Mortality rates upon introduction are much reduced
9) Selection continues to increase
I took a cursory look online to see what’s out there as far as aquacultured marine livestock is concerned, and I found an amazing array of aquacultured animals that are colorful, healthy, guaranteed, many reef-safe, conditioned to aquarium living and not that expensive. I found five LPS corals (there are many more available), 66 species of marine fishes (this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all of the “marine breeding projects” currently going on in aquarists’ tanks), 17 noncoral invertebrates, seven kinds of macroalgae and other marine plants, 14 SPS corals and 24 species of soft corals.
Take a look for yourself. Still think you can’t put together a 100-percent environmentally friendly reef tank with fish stocked entirely with aquacultured livestock? Think again.
Assessors: Yellow assessor (Assessor flavissimus)
Blennies: Enchelyurus flavipes, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis, M. bundoon, M. grammistes, M. mossambicus, black line fang (M. nigrolineatus), canary (M. ovalaunensis), M. smithi, M. tongaensis
Cardinalfish: Blue-eye (Apogon compressus), blue-streak (A. leptacanthus), Banggai, or Kaudern’s, cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni), pajama (Sphaeramia nematoptera)
Clownfish: Amphiprion bicinctus, Clark’s clownfish (A. clarkii), fire (A. ephippium), tomato clown (A. frenatus), cinnamon (A. melanopus), ocellaris (A. ocellaris), percula (A. percula), pink skunk (A. periderion), saddleback (A. polymnus), A. rubrocinctus, orange skunk (A. sandaracinos), sebae (A. sebae), three band (A. tricinctus), maroon (Premnas biaculeatus)
Cleaner gobies: Elacatinus chancei, E. evelynae, E. multifasciatus, neon (E. oceanops), E. puncticulatus, yellow line (E. randalli), citron (Gobiodon citrinus), yellow clown (G. okinawae), green banded (Gobiosoma multifasciatum), red head (G. punticulatus)
Cobia: Rachycentron canadum
Dottybacks: Neon (Pseudochromis aldabraensis), P. diadema, sunrise (P. flavivertix), orchid (P. fridmani), P. fuscus, striped (P. sankeyi), splendid (P. splendens), Springer’s (P. springeri), flamehead (P. steenei)
Drums: Black drum (Pogonias cromis)
Indigo dottyback: Pseudochromis fridmani x P. sankeyi
Pompano: Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus)
Redfish: Sciaenops ocellatus
Royal gramma: Gramma loreto
Seahorses: Hippocampus barbouri, H. breviceps, H. comes, H. erectus, H. kelloggi, H. kuda, H. reidi, H. zosterae
Sharks: Marbled cat shark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum)
Seatrout: Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus)
Watchman gobies: Cryptocentrus cinctus, C. leptocephalus, C. lutheri
Albalone: Green (Haliotis fulgens)
Cleaner shrimp: Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata rathbunae)
Conches: Florida fighting conch (Strombus alatus), queen (S. gigas)
Clams: Hippopus hippopus, sandbed clams (Tapes spp.), Tridacna crocea, T. derasa, T. gigas, T. maxima, T. squamosa
Nudibranch: Berghia verrucicornis
Snails: Strombus maculates, Trochus intextus, Turbo sandwicensis
Worms: Bristleworms, spaghetti worms
Agar: Agardheilla sp.
Chaetomorpha: Chaetomorpha spp.
Gracillaria: Red, green & brown gracillaria
Red mangrove: Rhizophora mangle propagule
Sea lettuce: Ulva lactuca
Acropora echinata, A. granulosa, A. kirstyae, A. loisetteae, A. millepora, A. tenuis, A. valida, A. yongei
Cotton candy pocillopora (Pocillopora verrucosa)
Canary porites (Porites cylindrica)
Pink birdsnest (Seriatopora stellata)
Blue cespitularia (Cespitularia sp.)
Blue palythoa polyp (Protopalythoa sp.)
Evergreen starburst polyp (Briareum sp.)
Gorgonians: Muricea laxa, Pseudopterogorgia sp., P. bipinnata
Leather coral (Sarcophyton spp. & S. glauca)
Lemon tree (Stereonepthya sp.)
Montipora capricornis, M. digitata, M. Pettiformis
Neon pineapple tree coral (Capuella sp.)
Octopus ink heteroxenia (Heteroxenia sp.)
Taro tree coral (Capuella sp.)
White pom pom xenia (Xenia sp.)