In a perfect world, all wild fish would be left in the ocean and all aquarium fish would be Aquacultured in controlled, humane environments. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect and though strides are being made every day in the understanding and ability to breed marine fish, there are still a very few species that are currently being commercially bred. This means that, by necessity, the majority of the species commonly sold for aquariums still come from the ocean.
When looking to purchase a particular species, Life Aquatic prioritizes its search as follows:
A) If at all possible, we buy Aqua/Mari-Cultured fish
- Aqua-Cultured – The farming of aquatic organisms.
- Mari-Cultured – Specifically the farming of marine aquatic organisms, often in enclosed sections of the ocean
The following categories fall under the term Aqua/Mari-Cultured:
Our first choice is:
Tank/Captive Bred – Breeding pairs spawn in captivity and their offspring is raised from eggs in captivity. They are then grown out to an optimum size prior to shipment. When we receive these fish we know they are young, will eat and have not suffered the long-term stress of improper collection practices. We also know that the purchase of this fish had ZERO negative impact on our environment.
Our second choice is:
Tank/Captive Raised – Raised from juveniles in captivity. These fish are net collected from the wild in the very earliest stages of life when they are very small and typically have a <1% chance of survival to adulthood (due primarily from predation). In a controlled environment, these fry are safe from predation, weaned to accept prepared foods and grown out to a size most suitable for shipment. When we receive these fish we know they are young, will eat and have not suffered the long-term stress of improper collection practices. We also know that the purchase of this fish had a negligible negative impact on our environment.
Our third choice is:
Captive Conditioned – These fish are net collected from the wild at various stages of development following strict collection quotas. They are “conditioned” in captivity in a controlled and monitored environment for a period of time to adjust to captive life, prepared foods, etc. When we receive these fish we know they will eat and have not suffered the long-term stress of improper collection practices. We also know that the purchase of this fish has minimal negative impact on our environment.
B) If a particular fish is not available from one of the above three sources, we then go to the following categories which are not considered Aqua/Mari-Cultured:
Our fourth choice:
MAC Certified – MAC stands for Marine Aquarium Council – Originally created to provide an industry wide standard for the responsible collection, housing, shipping, acclimation and bringing to market of marine organisms ensuring a completely documented supply chain from ocean to retailer. Unfortunately this organization as struggled with vision, feasibility, cooperation and funding and has languished for several years now. Nevertheless, many improvements were made along the supply chain and some fish do still carry MAC certification. Though far from perfect, purchasing a MAC certified fish is still preferable to purchasing one of unknown origin.
Our fifth choice:
Responsibly Wild Caught/Collected – These animals are net collected, housed and shipped in a monitored, humane and sustainable manner. For this we are at the mercy of business ethics and economies. Our policy here at Life Aquatic is if a particular species of fish is not currently being captive bred, captive raised, captive conditioned or MAC certified that we, at the very least, buy our fish from just a few of the most highly respected wholesalers in the industry. These typically larger wholesalers have reputations to protect and will not chance damaging these reputations by dealing with collectors that do not follow their strict guidelines and that cannot or will not subject themselves to oversight and monitoring. These particular wholesalers have been around a while, do large volume and got that way by being honest, ethical and environmentally responsible. They will not throw all this away to make a “quick buck”. We will not, under any circumstances, purchase fish that were gathered in an: Unknown collection method – Subject to Irresponsible Collection methods.
Irresponsibly caught or collected-Collected using Cyanide, Dynamite or other inhumane methods. Housed in unsanitary, overcrowded or unmonitored holding facilities. Shipped using inhumane, prolonged or inadequate methods.
It is also Life Aquatic’s firm policy not to sell fish that have poor captive survival records, will outgrow even the largest aquarium, or are endangered in the wild. You will never find fish such as Moorish Idols, Orange Spotted Filefish, Wild Caught Banggai Cardinals or all but a very few species of Shark at our store. For the same reason, we are proud to sell only Aqua-Cultured Live Rock and not any that has been removed from our Coral Reefs.
Purchasing in this matter is certainly not the cheapest way to get a fish from the ocean to our store, but the cost of a fish is really immaterial if the fish doesn’t live, infects the rest of your tank’s inhabitants or destroys our oceans. In our opinion it is much wiser to pay a bit more for a fish that is likely to have been collected responsibly. The fish will be healthier, will become used to captive life quicker and will likely live much longer than a fish of unknown origin. You can also sleep well at night knowing that your purchase was made with the utmost respect of our fragile environment.