Florida aquaculture sales and especially ornamental aquaculture for the aquarium hobby grew to $35.5 million in 2012 according to a market survey of 404 fish farms conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida Agricultural Statistics Service.
The $35.5 million includes both freshwater and marine ornamental species as well as crayfish, corals, live rock, snails, shrimp and other marine species and plants.
“The industry is sort of always in a state of change,” Kal Knickerbocker, director of aquaculture at FDACS, told Florida’s Agri Leader. “What we’ve seen recently is that there has been a little bit of a change in dynamics of the ornamental fish market. For example, there’s more interest in marine ornamentals.” As the aquaculture market grows, it is also becoming more competitive, he said. “With fresh water ornamentals, we’ve seen some scaling back in the size and number of farms,” he said. “But at the same time, we’ve seen more interest in salt water or ‘marine’ ornamentals. We’re seeing new people trying new ways to grow fish.”
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Knickerbocker noted that the total water acreage for aquaculture in the state is currently pegged at 4,490, and the market is becoming more competitive and those in the business have sought out new ways to farm fish to stay competitive. Those growing fish in Florida are subject to the state’s best management practices and as a result, Knickerbocker said that the fish hatched and raised in Florida are superior than those grown in other locales, both in the United States and overseas.