While I have no problem with genetically modified aquarium fish, or fish that are the result of hybridization between two or more species, I am completely opposed to dyed, painted or tattooed tropical fish. I am enough of a realist that I know full well that these monstrosities are too firmly entrenched in the aquarium hobby/industry to ever hope that they would be done away with.
To begin with, I don’t think that any of these aquarium fish are any nicer looking than the way they occur in nature. Also, I simply find it repulsive that people will buy, and stores will offer for sale, parrot cichlids dyed red with a heart tattooed on them for Valentine’s Day, or dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day. In some stores I have seen Osphronemus gouramis with store names tattooed on them, or hearts and such. In addition to the aquarium fish being abused, I would bet lots of money that the customers who bought these tropical fish have no idea of how huge they will get.
And that is part of the problem. There are very few true aquarium hobbyists around today. Aquarium fish are thought of as expendable, part of the décor of a house, not as living oraganisms that are part of a wonderful hobby to become involved in. Bemoaning this fact with a friend who is almost as old as I am, he made the comment that fish are an impulse purchase, and that most people look upon aquarium fish as roses or any other cut flowers. This attitude is best summed up by a woman who I overheard talking to the owner at a good fish store where I wholesale my aquarium fish. The woman was buying some “blueberry” tetras, and the store owner told her that the colors would fade in a few months or so. “That’s OK,” the woman responded. “I don’t expect them to live that long.”