Fish From the Wild
Hobbyists, breeders and aquaculturists are working diligently to get fish that can no longer come from the wild to breed in controlled tanks and ponds
Zebra Pleco (Grosvenor Tropicals)
In some parts of the world new fish species are being made available to the hobby; the majority of these new fish are coming from South Asia, including Myanmar and India. However, in other areas that traditionally have been providers of wild-caught fish, regulations are in place (or being proposed) that will severely limit, if not prohibit, the taking of any fish or invertebrates (such as shrimp) from those areas. Fortunately, fish hobbyists, breeders and commercial aquaculturists are working diligently to get fish that can no longer come from the wild to breed in controlled tanks and ponds.
The March/April issue of Amazonas magazine (amazonasmagazine.com) includes a number of interesting articles relevant to these topics, including the work of Scott Dowd and Project Piaba. Project Piaba encourages the native fisheries in the Amazon to protect the rainforest. Mike Tuccinardi wrote an excellent article on cardinal tetras and goes into detail on the basis of Project Piaba. Mike also has a very interesting interview with Stephan Tanner on importation of fish from South America, the problems and possible solutions.
In the same issue, Ted Judy wrote an excellent and extensive article on the West African cichlids of the Pelvicachromisgenus, of which the P. kribensisis the most common variety. In addition to going into detail on the sourcing and breeding of various other species, Ted discusses the problems of continuing to source these fish from the wild.
“The next box of wild fishes to be exported from West Africa may be the last box to ever get out … there is just no way to be sure that sources will continue to exist,” said Ted.
But there is hope—as mentioned above—in the commercial and hobby breeding of species that can no longer be taken from the wild. Hans-George Evers has an excellent article on the Bellenz Fish Farm on Java (Indonesia) that has a massive operation devoted to commercially breeding the Zebra Pleco—Hypancistrus zebra. The farm is producing zebra plecos on an impressive scale and have even come up with some mutations, including a xanthistic one, which is a fish that lacks melanin, but is not an albino and does not have pick eyes.
The freshwater side of the hobby/industry continues to deal effectively with the reality of our not being able to continue to take fish from the wild. The incentive of sufficiently high prices supports the efforts, such as breeding the zebra pleco, and as more fishes become unavailable from the wild similar commercial breeding efforts will continue to grow. Through these efforts we are assured of a continuing stream of freshwater fishes of all different kinds.