Captive bred fish and cultured corals – reducing our reliance on any one source

We recently wrote about how wild caught ornamental fish are a sustainable and essential part of our hobby and are also hugely beneficial for the environment and the local communities that serve them. We have since shared this wonderful infographic from Tropical Marine Centre on Facebook as it really does put the facts of the matter into perspective.

However, we are equally proud of the work that we have been doing over many years to also increase the sustainability of the fish and corals that we import through captive breeding and culturing projects. This way we really do benefit from the best of both worlds rather than relying on a single source.

Cultured Corals

We have previously written about our trip to hand select cultured SPS and LPS corals in Bali, this was back in 2012 and the grower continues to be a very close partner of ours and is now also producing micro SPS and soft corals as well.

All of the corals are propagated on site from cuttings (fragging) of mother corals and glued to artificial rock bases. In these natural conditions it takes only two months for each coral to grow from a cutting to a saleable size.

Not only are these corals cultured independently of wild stocks, the farm also voluntarily donates 10% of its crop to the government for replanting onto actual reef… actually expanding the biodiversity in the area.

As well as this we also found plenty of wildlife living in the area surrounding the farm which was previously just a plain sand bed with little life. As this area has been dedicated to farming and not exploited for tourism it is also a turtle breeding ground sanctuary – the beaches here are truly pristine unlike in the surrounding areas.

We are also now receiving regular shipments of cultured corals from a state of the art indoor facility in Germany, another way of diversify choice for our customers in a sustainable manner. You can also read about this and see more pictures in an earlier post.

Red Tail Black Shark

All of the Red Tailed Black Sharks that you see in the aquarium trade are captive bred. This species has been considered extinct in the wild until as recently as 2011 due to the destruction of its natural habitat through the construction of dams and draining of swamps in Thailand around 1970. There has since been a small wild population found in a single precarious location meaning these fish are listed as “Critically Endangered”.

The large captive bred population in the fishkeeping hobby almost certainly outnumbers the wild population, giving this species the security of survival in at least some form whilst it’s future in the wild continues to be threatened by environmental pressures.

L046 Zebra Pleco

The future of this iconic and beautiful species is severely threatened by the Belo Monte Dam construction project in the Amazon rainforest which is well underway and will become the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world by diverting up to 80% of the flow of the Xingu River which is a major tributary to the Amazon River. In the process an area of 1,500 square kilometers of rainforest will be flooded and destroyed as well as the homes of 40,000 of the local population.

Unfortunately, the Zebra Pleco isn’t the only endemic (only found in this location) species threatened. So too are the Sunshine Pleco and Slender Dwarf Pike Cichlid along with hundreds of other species of fish and animals.