Originally Posted by cal91666
I think you'll find that most people that keep aquariums seriously are very passionate about the inhabitants we have chosen to care for. I don't see this as a casual hobby.
Very very true. I have always felt (both in professional and personal capacities) that the decision to keep a reef aquarium is a trust held to the ocean itself. We, as reef keepers, are in a unique position to bring one of the worlds most rapidly shrinking environments to the attention of people who would otherwise never realize it even exists, let alone care. I strongly believe it is our duty to both properly care take for these animals which have been removed from their natural environment, and educate all who come into contact with our hobby on both proper care of existing specimens in the pet trade, and responsible stewardship of our greater world community's depleted resources. We are in a position to make a true difference in the future of our coral reefs, individual decisions really do matter. Especially in the pet trade, which, as big as it seems, really isn't so big that one person's actions have little statistical value. It only takes one person to refuse a sale to an individual because that person has an improper set up, to make that person think about what they're doing. It only takes one customer at a time to start a revolution. For those of you old enough to remember, take note of the grape boycott. For those of you who don't know, in the 70's and 80's, tens of thousands of people refused to buy grapes, this forced growers to face the problems their migrant workers were having, the child labor, the deaths from pesticide exposure, the long hours and inhumane conditions these workers were kept in, the "brown slavery" that it was. The aquarium trade is much smaller, it doesn't take a movement so large, it just takes each one of us being conscientious to make a change evident. An example of this is our LFS
owner, he prevailed on the only other salt store in town to join him in the boycott of sales of clown tangs, powder brown tangs, and powder blue tangs. This was in response to the LFS
owner's own experience of the fragility of these fish. He only buys hardy specimens that are near guaranteed success in any fairly decent tank. I've seen him refuse to sell nudibranchs to people with small aquariums and no source of specialized food. I've also countless times seen him steer newbies away from the acros and towards the easier and hardier softies. Rather than make the easy sale, he makes the ethical decision. And in the end it wins him long time customers, like myself, who know we may be able to get certain things cheaper online, but who would rather throw the money towards an ethical and responsible dealer.
And yes, it is true that many of us have kept or now keep fish in less than optimal conditions. The true measure isn't in how many people have had too large a fish in too small of a tank, but in how many people realize this and then move responsibly towards compensating for this by either relocating the fish or expanding the environment. And yes, if you consider the natural habitat and behavior of tangs, it would become painfully clear that truly, any captive conditions we can provide short of a large commercial aquarium like that in Atlanta, are inadequate in comparison. However, we can work with this knowledge, and only purchase small/juveniles, who can easier adapt to the aquarium conditions, and be responsible by providing as close an approximation to their habitat as is possible. While it isn't a perfect solution, it is a start. Many break throughs in aquaculture have occured, maybe it will some day be one of us who makes the break into captive breeding of tangs. The better we understand our own microcosms of the ocean, the better equipped we will be towards the preservation of the world's reefs.