For novice aquarists fresh water tanks are usually a starting point because they are easier and cheaper to maintain. But some may say that coral reef tanks are the Bentleys of aquariums. Despite their deep love for these amazing species many aquarists buy corals, fish and inverts that have been taken from wild reefs. A lot of reef species are obtained from the exploitation and over harvesting of already threatened reef systems. Some estimates put 60% of corals reefs in critical danger. The practice of taking corals, fish and invertebrates from these fragile systems for aquarium practices has been going on for decades.
There are however ways to enjoy having salt water species in your tank without promoting their exploitation, simply buy from aquaculture providers instead. As American aquarists have become more eco-conscious companies have taken notice and new options are all over the market. Fort Pierce, Florida based, ORA ( Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums), offers aquacultured hatchery-raised saltwater fish, invertebrates, and live aquarium foods and Sustainable Reefs.com offers access to aquacultured corals, fish, plants and inverts from various aquaculture providers.
ORA provides a sustainable way to enjoy having your own reef tank without negatively impacting reef systems. They raise and distribute their own fish, food and invertebrates. Eliminating the need to harvest from reef ecosystems. Aquacultured species not only prevent the promotion of harvesting from wild ecosystems but they also have other added benefits that make it worthwhile to the aquarist.
- Aquacultured fish are tank hardy, and tank fed
- Aquacultured fish and coral are not exposed to parasites and diseases that are found in the wild protecting your tanks from contamination.
- Aquacultured fish and coral are breed for their appearance and are just as vibrant and colorful as their wild born counter parts.
- Fish like clowns can have better temperaments and behavior more conducive to tank life.
- Aquacultured live food saves food from being stolen from wild species.
Another way to pursue being more eco-friendly is to check out forums on sites like Reef Sanctuary. Coral’s, when they grow too large, have to be fragged, or broken down creating pieces that can be used to grow new corals. You can buy frags, or small pieces, from other hobbyists you find on forums instead of going to the store on sites. This recycles coral that is already being captively grown in tanks. Just beware of non-aquaculture stores posting in the forums, and remember to dip corals or treat the corals as every tank is a different environment, even if tanks are more controlled than an ocean environment you don’t want any hitch hiking problems.
So if you are an owner of a salt water tank, maybe it’s time to change your consumer habits and take a step in the right direction to help protect what you already love. And for those looking to start up in the hobby, know where every piece in your tank is coming from, don’t be afraid to ask for non-wild captured corals and fish. Do use aquaculture providers and share your love for your tank with the species that are housed in it.