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Old 11-03-2008, 04:58 PM   #1
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On the soapbox...The State of Our Hobby

I recently saw Anthony Calfo give a presentation on coral propagation. Some of the slides he had were unreal, but not in a good way. After his presentation, I was able to have a nice talk with him.

In his presentation, he talked about what's happening on the reefs around the world as far as fish, coral and live rock collecting. I believe he said in Sri Lanka, they have limits on what % of certain species of coral that can be harvested. They may allow, for example, 10% of acropora sp, lobophyllia sp and euphyllia sp be collected from a section of reef each year. The problem is in a year the acropora will more than likely recover the 10% that was harvested, but the brain corals or hammer corals do not reproduce fast enough to keep up with what was taken. Anthony showed pics of bins maybe 4' square and 2' high with what looked like hammer corals just thrown on top of each other...with no water in the bins!

In Fiji, there is a limit on the amount of live rock that can be harvested and exported. However, there is no limit on how much "limestone" can be harvested from the reefs. Did anyone ever see "Aquacultured Fiji Live Rock"? Petco sells it. It looks like big concrete doughnuts. How is this made? Anthony showed pics of a concrete plant that was built to make the "live rock". They blow up parts of the reef to "mine" the limestone, send it to the concrete plant and they make the rock and place it in runways, much like aquacultured corals are raised, so it becomes live. They are blowing up reefs to make live rock!

I've been in this reef hobby 20 years. I've seen may positive changes, but I don't want to see the potential changes for the negative that seem ineviatable. There are very, very few marine fish being bred in the US, but for freshwater, just in Florida, the #2 industry behind tourism is the freshwater ornamental fish breeding industry. What can we do as hobbyists? Research your purchases. If you have a 20g tank, don't get a mandarin or scooter blenny just because they are small fish. If you have nornal output lights, don't buy hard corals. Some common sense, research and thinking things thru can go along way.

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Old 11-03-2008, 05:36 PM   #2
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Thank You for the insight....I wish I had made it to the swap to have seen the slide show and talk.


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Old 11-03-2008, 05:40 PM   #3
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Very interesting Larry. Great ideas at the end. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:06 PM   #4
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It is disturbing the way some things are done. Even the fact that some fish are still being collected using cyanide. And these are the reefs we trying to protect. We have such a long long way to go.
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Old 11-03-2008, 11:48 PM   #5
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One of the owners of one of my local coral/fish shops went to MANCA this year and came back with the same opinion after hearing a talk there. But he came back with an action plan...

Not only is he making sure of his sources (he's not new to this stuff), but he's also setting up more or less a registry of local reefers that would be willing to supply certain corals. Granted... everyone sells off frags to their LFS from time to time, but he's actively looking for folks that have certain corals that would be willing to either frag at request (if possible), or at least kind of commit to fragging X amount of X coral every X months. He's not paying top dollar or anything since he still has to compete, but is presenting it as a way us "little guys" can do our part to help save the reefs and promote responsible reef keeping. Thought it was a pretty cool (and business savvy!) thing to do.

I'm very new to this hobby, but the more I learn, the more I'm afraid that this hobby won't be around when my kids grow up. I often feel guilt about buying "wild" coral that was stripped from a reef somewhere. But I tend to balance it with the realization that my little reef in my living room has educated a LOT of people about what coral really is. (Including myself.) I think most people think of coral reefs as big dead things that have pretty colors - but when they see the live corals in my tank, and realize they're really no different than the fish... you can literally see the light bulb go on in their head. It really gives them new respect for the plight of coral reefs all around the world.
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Old 11-04-2008, 12:14 AM   #6
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Great thread, a lot of good insight...I was at MACNA too and although I don't have SW tanks, I thought the presenters did a great job of really making us think about the sustainability of the reefs, fish, and the planet, and all the good things this hobby can do to help the natural reef sites. The owner of your LFS, Kurt, is putting into action what the overall theme of the weekend was. I was even thinking about one of the speakers a bit this morning!

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Old 11-04-2008, 04:22 PM   #7
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Excellent thread!

I think it is very important for anyone in the SW/Reef hobby to become a member of a local club. Most of these local clubs promote coral propagation within our own systems. I would much rather buy a coral from someone that grew it in their tank then buy it from some store that could have gotten it wild caught. I've said it before and I'll say it again ORA is on the right track. They have been growing corals for a long time.

I've had a bit of a set back in my finances in the last couple of weeks but I'm still in the process of setting up my own storefront. I have full intentions of growing corals for resale. The idea that we can avoid damaging our natural resources (or reefs) by captive grown corals is really attractive to me. The fish breeding is way over my head and my budget but I agree it should be something that is more closely looked at. I know there are some fish that are probably just too difficult to breed in captivity and maybe those fish need to be banned from the hobby.

I hope that this hobby will take a "green" turn and be around for many years to come. The corals we grow in our tanks could one day help rebuild the reefs of the world. Conservation and education are the keys. AA is a great source and I'm glad that I'm a part of it. I want to be able to pass my knowledge and appreciation of this hobby on to my son so that he can continue it.

I know that in my area WAMAS (Washington Area Marine Aquarium Society) is involved in several schools, providing tanks, equipment and livestock. I think with more programs like that we will make a bigger impact on the future of this hobby and the conservation of our natural reefs.

Off the box now.....

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