Aquaculture can be defined as the rearing or raising of aquatic organisms for commercial purposes. The practice of raising fish as pets dates back over 2,000 years to China and Japan. When buying fish for your tank there are two possible conclusions that can be made about where your fish comes from. The first is that it is wild caught, and the second is that it was raised on a farm to be sold for commercial or hobbyist use.
There is no doubt that it is relaxing to sit in front of a tank watching colorful fish gracefully swim by while listening to peaceful bubbles. If you find this true, you are not alone in your attraction to aquariums. The aquarium industry has gained a huge amount of popularity since it originated in the 1930s, and especially since the 1990s. Today, fish are sold in this multi-million dollar industry to the tune of $300-$350 million annually. These fish ultimately find homes in one of the more than two million public and private aquariums around the world, the majority of which are in the United States.
As a custom aquarium manufacturer and retailer we are excited to see so many people taking interest in these aquatic ecosystems and trying to set up their own aquariums. But we need to talk about how those fish get into your tank in the first place.
As mentioned, fish come from one of two sources: they are either wild-caught or captive-bred. Wild-caught fish are, no surprises here, caught in the wild. Someone has to go into the native habitat of the fish and catch it so it can be transported and sold in the aquarium trade. This obviously has a negative impact on the natural environment of the species. In addition, taking wild caught fish and trying to adapt them to captivity or tank life can be very stressful on the fish and lead to high levels of mortality due to changes in water quality, temperature, and diet. Captive-bred fish, are raised and bred in a fish farm. These fish are much more sustainable as they are not carrying any wild parasites. In addition, they do not suffer the same level of stress and therefore have a much lower mortality rate in transit. Furthermore, no natural habitat or fish populations are negatively affected by their commercial use.
About 90% of freshwater species can be bred in captivity vs. 10% of marine fish. Because of this, freshwater fish have always been the more popular choice for the home aquarium worldwide. In the last 2 decades, captive breeding of saltwater has greatly improved and is only expected to get better, year after year. The difficulties replicating the natural marine environment make it much harder to breed them. The trend has unfortunately had a negative impact on the numbers of marine fish available in the wild. We need to push harder to encourage captive breeding for all fish, especially saltwater.
Through our Farm to Tank program, Fish Gallery is committed to supporting farm raised fish. We currently work with farms in Florida that have been established since the 1940’s as well as the other quality farms worldwide to bring in the best of farm raised, sustainable fish populations for your aquariums.