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Aquaculture in Your Store

Posted: April 24, 2014, 9:55 a.m. EDT

By David Lass 
All too often uninformed people complain that the aquatics industry is "ruining the wild” by taking fish and invertebrates from their natural habitats and somehow or other laying waste to those lands.

On the freshwater side of the hobby this is not at all correct. In fact, 95 percent of freshwater fish kept is commercially raised, either in Florida or the Far East, and if they stopped taking any freshwater fish or inverts from the wild it would make virtually no difference to the vast majority of folks who keep fish. Oh, real fish geeks like me would be disappointed that there were no more new weird catfish, or that the latest little fish from Burma could not be imported, but for the "typical” hobbyist with one or two tanks it would not even be noticed.

On the saltwater side, the situation is very different. The only fish that are really being produced in any quantity are clowns, gobies and dottybacks—angels, tangs and triggers all still come from the wild.

Aquaculturing. David Lass

When it comes to corals, a large percentage is aquacultured. I also want to encourage every store that handles corals to get into aquaculturing as many corals as they can. Even if it is just a 40-gal. breeder in the back room where you take frags from your hard corals, and splits from soft corals, it is a good idea to start propagating corals on your own. Promote this to your customers as much as possible; you might   be surprised by the positive reactions you receive. All fishkeepers applaud aquaculturing, being green, sustainable fishkeeping – however you refer to it.

As a great example of what can be done in the way of aquaculturing fish, corals and plants, I invite you to take a look at what Patrick Donston, the owner of Absolutely Fish in Clifton, N.J., does. Donston is truly a forward thinker and one of the leaders of our industry.Donston has established a 5,000-square-foot facility where he and his crew propagate fish, plants and corals

"Within 50 tanks, there are 4,000 gallons containing more than 60 species of hard and soft corals, numerous plants, 20 varieties of freshwater fish and three distinct freshwater shrimp species,” says Donston on his website. "These animals are kept in pristine conditions, which promote breeding and raising of tank-raised specimens for sale in our store.”

While most stores probably can’t do things on the scale of Absolutely Fish, it is just as important—and customers respond just as well—if you can only set up one tank where you grow coral frags. I know a couple of stores who try to have as much of their livestock come from aquaculture facilities, and they report that their customers appreciate this. Do they go down the street and buy that fancy tang? Sure, but you can also be sure that they will feel better if they know that they are not taking anything from the wild.



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