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Old 06-24-2014, 12:57 PM   #31
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Ethics and the hobby

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Originally Posted by bribo12 View Post
I disagree. The human brain as a whole is much more complex than any animal out there. I've never heard the frontal cortex being referred to as the area responsible for self awareness. But I digress, this thread went from being somewhat legit to an argument about neurophysiology...


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This is why most threads of this nature end up being closed. It starts off a legit discussion with place in this forum and thread but then they end up so terribly off topic from the OPs' original discussion. Since I'm pretty sure this is an ethics thread allow me to get us back on that topic.

I believe some stores have lost all ethical sense and no longer view fish as Gods creatures and only see them as dollar signs. Wal*%#• especially, I mean why does a grocery store need to sell aquatic life? Why would anyone buy their unhealthy fish from the same place they buy their Cheerios or something? If it were up to me Wal*%#• would no longer be allowed to sell fish. I mean I've never seen them sell kittens and dogs in that store so what makes fish different? Why is a car company like Ki@ allowed to throw goldfish in a car and then slam it into a bowl? If they released a commercial with that guy throwing a kitten Into the car and then kicking it into a cage a few inches wide they'd have lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit from the ASPCA and organizations such as that. I mean they'd probably be out of business if they, or anyone did that! I just don't understand why fish abuse is accepted, and in some cases encouraged by society. It's somehow ok to view fish as replaceable and emotionless beings. I just don't get that. On another note I am against the keeping of over-sized fishes such as Arowana, some Bichirs (I know I'll explain later) and some cichlids. I just don't see how it's ok to keep a two or three foot animal in a six foot glass box. Now to the Bichirs yes I love the specie and I would love to someday study them I don't always think some of them should be kept like P. Endlicheri Endlicheri. Bala Sharks are a great example too, I mean I've never seen a fish store not carry them. They get GIANT, need schools and are incredibly active. I don't see how any glass box could hold them unless it's a public aquarium or zoo, and sometimes they may be too small. If you wanna see Bala Sharks at their full potential go see the aquarium at the For Worth, Texas zoo. There's actually a lot of fish I don't think should be sold (Black Ghost Knife, Chinese High Fin Shark, etc...) but I digress. I don't know enough about the salt water side to comment a lot on it but I do know for a fact our reefs are going away. Just my rambling anyway.....


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Old 06-24-2014, 02:00 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by bribo12 View Post
I disagree. The human brain as a whole is much more complex than any animal out there. I've never heard the frontal cortex being referred to as the area responsible for self awareness. But I digress, this thread went from being somewhat legit to an argument about neurophysiology...


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Allow me to clarify as this has been a pet topic of mine for decades. This excerpt explains the difference rather succinctly;

Humans are more than just conscious—they are also self-aware. Scientists differ on the difference between consciousness and self-awareness, but here is one common explanation: Consciousness is awareness of one’s body and one’s environment; self-awareness is recognition of that consciousness—not only understanding that one exists, but further understanding that one is aware of one’s existence. Another way of thinking about it: To be conscious is to think; to be self-aware is to realize that you are a thinking being and to think about your thoughts. Presumably, human infants are conscious—they perceive and respond to people and things around them—but they are not yet self-aware. In their first years of life, infants develop a sense of self, learn to recognize themselves in the mirror and to distinguish their own point of view from other people’s perspectives.
Does Self-Awareness Require a Complex Brain? | Brainwaves, Scientific American Blog Network

Fish and all forms of life posses self consciousness as described above, but only higher mammals exhibit self -awareness as described above and which is what I was referring to. The frontal cortex gives rise to the sense of self identity or ego.

One of the most intriguing studies on this dealt with dolphins.
They taught the dolphins to recognize an/their image in a mirror. Then they would draw simple patterns on the dolphin's belly where they could not see it.
They very quickly realized that they could go and look in the mirror and see the design. They even began to "compare" designs with one another and would race back to the surface to get a new design and as soon as it was drawn head to the mirror to check it out, clearly demonstrating that dolphins posses the same type of self-awareness and sense of self identity (ego) that humans do, and even a degree of pride and "showing off" as a couple of the dolphins stopped going to get a new symbol because they liked the one they had!

so while meandering a little off topic, I try to bring it back to fishy stuff.
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Old 06-24-2014, 02:08 PM   #33
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Thanks for clarifying . I've read that dolphin paper. It was very interesting.


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Old 06-24-2014, 02:18 PM   #34
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[/QUOTE] One of the most intriguing studies on this dealt with dolphins.
They taught the dolphins to recognize an/their image in a mirror. Then they would draw simple patterns on the dolphin's belly where they could not see it.
They very quickly realized that they could go and look in the mirror and see the design. They even began to "compare" designs with one another and would race back to the surface to get a new design and as soon as it was drawn head to the mirror to check it out, clearly demonstrating that dolphins posses the same type of self-awareness and sense of self identity (ego) that humans do, and even a degree of pride and "showing off" as a couple of the dolphins stopped going to get a new symbol because they liked the one they had!

so while meandering a little off topic, I try to bring it back to fishy stuff. [/QUOTE]

If I could do half the cool tricks dolphins can do I'd be showing off too! Strand feeding and blubber net feeding?!?! Come on.. I'm 30 and I still wear a bib when I eat spaghetti.. great post!

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Old 06-24-2014, 03:05 PM   #35
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I still get coral lists from my suppliers even though I am no longer in retail. I can't let them go I guess....Paying 50 bucks for a fish I can get for 8 dollars is probably a motivator....
Anyway, the amount of coral and fish collected from the ocean is staggering. I don't believe this is as small an impact as some say. I don't think things are getting any better than they used to be. Mom and pop stores are closing, but they are being replaced by MANY, who get a business license, and start peddling from their basements, as I did. I'm sure that I imported more coral and fish than any one store in my area. Multiple times I have seen the wholesale suppliers send out emails like "there will be no Australia this week due to not enough collected" or something to that effect.
I wish it was fact that salt water fish are reproducing faster than we are collecting them, but it just doesn't look that way from where I'm sitting.
As for pollution and climactic changes killing the reefs, of course it is, but so are we.
Not to start an argument but there are a couple things I'd like to address. Fish prices: Are the prices you are looking at "landed in your aquarium" or FOB country of origin? For example, I used to be able to buy a damselfish for .05 U.S.D. in the Philippines. The problem was it cost over $2.00 U.S.D to get that fish from the Philippines to Miami. So that fish didn't really cost .05, it cost $2.05.
Mom & Pops: It is definitely a sad thing that the Mom & Pop shop is fading away. They are ( or were) the backbone of the hobby as well as the business. They had to know a lot more about the animals they kept in order to stay in business. ( You don;t last too long if you don;t have livestock to sell along with your merchandise. ) You just don;t find that kind of knowledge in MOST of the current pet store employees around the country. ( There are some with it, you just have to wade through a lot of them to find them. )

Basement sellers: For every void, a new niche is developed. You may have been bringing in more fish and corals than any one store but how many stores where YOU dealing with? How many people were you selling to? When I was at my last retail store, there was a core of dedicated hobbyists that shopped our store as well as others. In a 100 mile radius, there were 7 stores that were all visited by that same core of people. How do I know? 2 reasons, #1- They told us where else they went. #2- I was down at the wholesaler's one day to look for a special order fish (for one of those people) that was not that common. The process was that noone was allowed in the fish room until the place officially opened so it was quite common for a number of stores to be in the office waiting area 5 or 10 minutes before they opened. I had asked one of the employees, who came into the office, if they had the fish I was looking for ( to get a jump on my competitors) and someone overheard me and asked me if that was for a particular customer? ( Let's just call him Bob here to protect the innocent. ) When I said "Yes" he told me that he was there for the same fish for the same guy. Bottom line, there were 4 stores, including myself, all looking for the same fish for the same person. So it's easy to see why any one store may not bring in a lot of stock per item but carry a larger variety of items. As for outbuying a single store, our store brought in LD3 containers of fish just for our 1 store. That was back in the early 1980s and yet, we didn't deplete the ocean to the point that there were no fish available for today's hobbyist. Hmmmmmm? I think there is more to the depletion than over collecting.

Availability: there are multiple reasons why availability can be a problem. Weather, diving conditions, LIFE, broken boat, all can cause a lack of stock to sell. I don;t think it's fair to make the statement you made and directly link it to an environmental/ fish stock reason. For all you know, the wholesaler may have had a standing order from a customer for "X" amount of fish and they only got in "X" amount of fish that week so everyone else loses. What of "X" was 100 pieces? It's hard to believe that collecting 100 pieces of a specie would be considered a low stock issue.

As for what we humans are doing to the planet, I agree wholeheartedly. We are the planet's biggest offenders. I do believe that eventually, it will all even out as just as the huge dinosaurs couldn't live for ever, neither will man unless he changes his ways. A great example of this is an aquarium. If you take a running fish tank and let it become the stankiest, dirtiest tank you can find, just by leaving it alone, eventually, through the process of biological filtration, that tank will once again be able to hold fish. It may not be quick, or pretty, but it will happen. That's the lesson here. We don;t give the oceans time to replenish or the ability to cleanse itself. The "triangle of trash" in the Pacific is proof that we have been using the oceans as a toilet for way too long. The runoff from farm chemicals kill off waterways and their inhabitants. ( We here in FL saw that first hand.) So what are we going to do about that?
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Old 06-24-2014, 03:48 PM   #36
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I fail to see how a topic of fish ethic can be brought up without debating a fishes awareness of its feelings. Imho, its the single most important piece of fish keeping as a whole. If it wasn't then it wouldn't matter if you kept any fish in too small of a tank. It wouldn't matter if the fish from low were dumped in a bowl of water. It definitely wouldn't matter if goldfish were being kept inside platform shoes either.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:40 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by PB_Smith View Post

The only thing in this thread that I feel is in error and completely wrong is the following;
Originally Posted by Andy Sager
We are the only specie that lives above it's local environmental capacities. When we run out of our local resource, we look elsewhere for it to get it .....


That is incorrect.
Any species, plant or animal, in the absence of natural predation with over populate and over-exploit their resources and when it's gone, they migrate if possible, same as us "evil humans".
That is why there are laws forbidding the importing of certain species of plants and animals, it's why there are hunting seasons and "culling's", etc., etc.

Now if you want to make the argument that humans have caused a lot of the population issues with other species by removing natural predators and are still ultimately to blame, I'm right there with ya, but as far as the quoted portion, we are doing exactly the same as any other creature on the planet would if they were sitting in the our position on top of the heap.
That was actually a quote ( and possibly a misquote?) from a documentary I saw years ago in regards to the breeding habits of the animal kingdom. It was referring to the fact that while certain animals, and I believe the kangaroo, Turtle and some of the Great African plains species were the examples, will hold their embryo until the "right time" to give it the best possible chances for surviving, Humans do not take those issues into consideration when bearing offspring. ( I will try to go through my many VHS tapes to see if I can find the program. Told you I'm old and old school ) What was brought up was that a kangaroo can hold an embryo in utero while raising another Joey so there would be no conflict over the limited resource ( Mother's milk). Turtles, a study showed, can hold a live sperm for a year before allowing it to fertilize her eggs ( Again, it may be that she holds the fertilized egg a year and not the sperm, just to be clear, it's the time frame that's important here ) waiting for the right signal to lay, and with the other animals, they would not get pregnant in years of lean food or water in order to not produce offspring that had little to no chance of surviving. Meanwhile, mankind just needs a drink, a late night movie and a quicky to make a baby with little thought of the consequences. ( And sometimes we don;t need the drink or the movie) This trait seems to be unique amongst us primates. ( And that may be the confusion on my part and the cause of the misquote. "We may be the only primate that over lives their local environment".) This was not taking into account the unnatural reduction of predators or any other unnatural events. This was "In an ideal world" situation and I still stand by it's conclusion. There are just too many people on the planet and it's effecting everybody. Habitat destruction for human use is a real natural disaster.

But to bring this back to the fish part, it's long been accepted that in nature, in animals that produce high multiple offspring, only 1% grow to become breeding adults. So what happens to the other 99%? Natural predation, bad genetics, disease, lack of space, etc. Now add in human intervention, and there may be either an increase in survival or a decrease. Tank rearing can have a higher survivability rate while habitat destruction can have a decrease to that 1% ( Sea Turtles I think have a .01% rate naturally ) So if we can take the percentage of fish that would have fallen victim to natural predation and keep them in our tanks, we would be doing Mother nature no harm. Right? WRONG!!!! We just limited the food supply to the animals that would have eaten those fish. It's a major dilemma in my book. So how do we know that the fish we take from the ocean are part of the 1% or the 99%? The only way to have no effect is to not take anything, stop taking everything out of the ocean, stop changing the natural forces, and eliminate all human intervention into everything. Is that even possible anymore? ( I just saw an article about the removal of certain dams in Maine rivers to reopen natural spawning grounds for Atlantic Salmon since they have become an endangered specie. Maybe it is possible?) How do you know that the fish you got was not part of the "bad genetics" percentage and would have died no matter what you did? You don't. But that's no reason to not try your best to keep them alive for as long as you can. And as previously stated, the knowledge that has come from keeping pet fish has happened much faster than in a laboratory. So is fish keeping all bad?
Studies, here in FL, with artificial reefs show that fish and corals will congregate to a new structure as long as it is in the right environment for them to grow. That means that if a coral or fish spawns in say, the Bahamas, and the eggs are carried by the currents to an artificial reef in FL, it just reduced the percentage of offspring to die from lack of space. So the fact that we are taking corals may not be as devastating as long as they are not reef building species and most ( not all) of what we take are not the core reef builders. If they were, they would grow too large for the average home aquarium. However, we do take some of these and they may need to be the core of the newly regenerated reefs after man & Mother nature does what they will do to what's out there now. Talk about an ethical question, are we taking things to preserve them or taking things to destroy them? And if we are taking them to preserve them and enjoying their presence in our tanks while we do that, are we bad people for enjoying it? It's a head scratcher for sure.
I don;t know that I have all the answers or have asked all the questions or if I am even the right person to do that. lol What I do know is that not everything discussed here has been fully examined or expressed based on facts but on emotions. I think that's a good starting point to the conversation. But to do away with the keeping of our aquatic pets, I believe, will have more negative effects on the world than positive ones. I know I, for one, was at a fork in the road in my life and the fish world made my life a much more enjoyable one. I don;t know that the other path would have done the same. It wasn't at the expense of the critters either as most of my time was in the breeding arena. But I admit, I did have to kill a few fish before I was successful at keeping them. Where does that place me?
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:07 PM   #38
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On the freshwater side of things, I actually love collecting and studying native fish. I decided to get a fw commercial license and dealer license so that I can help make these backyard gems available to the public. The irony is that north american natives are already popular, not here, but rather over in Europe.

My eventual goal is to start breeding programs for a few of the most interesting or imperiled species. And I believe that in just a few generations we'll have some small sunfish that will rival nearly any cichlid in color and temperament.

So overall I have no ethical issue with responsible collecting and hobby use. I find it to be far more beneficial compared to collecting for consumption.

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Old 06-24-2014, 08:37 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Sager View Post
Not to start an argument but there are a couple things I'd like to address. Fish prices: Are the prices you are looking at "landed in your aquarium" or FOB country of origin? For example, I used to be able to buy a damselfish for .05 U.S.D. in the Philippines. The problem was it cost over $2.00 U.S.D to get that fish from the Philippines to Miami. So that fish didn't really cost .05, it cost $2.05.
Mom & Pops: It is definitely a sad thing that the Mom & Pop shop is fading away. They are ( or were) the backbone of the hobby as well as the business. They had to know a lot more about the animals they kept in order to stay in business. ( You don;t last too long if you don;t have livestock to sell along with your merchandise. ) You just don;t find that kind of knowledge in MOST of the current pet store employees around the country. ( There are some with it, you just have to wade through a lot of them to find them. )

Basement sellers: For every void, a new niche is developed. You may have been bringing in more fish and corals than any one store but how many stores where YOU dealing with? How many people were you selling to? When I was at my last retail store, there was a core of dedicated hobbyists that shopped our store as well as others. In a 100 mile radius, there were 7 stores that were all visited by that same core of people. How do I know? 2 reasons, #1- They told us where else they went. #2- I was down at the wholesaler's one day to look for a special order fish (for one of those people) that was not that common. The process was that noone was allowed in the fish room until the place officially opened so it was quite common for a number of stores to be in the office waiting area 5 or 10 minutes before they opened. I had asked one of the employees, who came into the office, if they had the fish I was looking for ( to get a jump on my competitors) and someone overheard me and asked me if that was for a particular customer? ( Let's just call him Bob here to protect the innocent. ) When I said "Yes" he told me that he was there for the same fish for the same guy. Bottom line, there were 4 stores, including myself, all looking for the same fish for the same person. So it's easy to see why any one store may not bring in a lot of stock per item but carry a larger variety of items. As for outbuying a single store, our store brought in LD3 containers of fish just for our 1 store. That was back in the early 1980s and yet, we didn't deplete the ocean to the point that there were no fish available for today's hobbyist. Hmmmmmm? I think there is more to the depletion than over collecting.

Availability: there are multiple reasons why availability can be a problem. Weather, diving conditions, LIFE, broken boat, all can cause a lack of stock to sell. I don;t think it's fair to make the statement you made and directly link it to an environmental/ fish stock reason. For all you know, the wholesaler may have had a standing order from a customer for "X" amount of fish and they only got in "X" amount of fish that week so everyone else loses. What of "X" was 100 pieces? It's hard to believe that collecting 100 pieces of a specie would be considered a low stock issue.

As for what we humans are doing to the planet, I agree wholeheartedly. We are the planet's biggest offenders. I do believe that eventually, it will all even out as just as the huge dinosaurs couldn't live for ever, neither will man unless he changes his ways. A great example of this is an aquarium. If you take a running fish tank and let it become the stankiest, dirtiest tank you can find, just by leaving it alone, eventually, through the process of biological filtration, that tank will once again be able to hold fish. It may not be quick, or pretty, but it will happen. That's the lesson here. We don;t give the oceans time to replenish or the ability to cleanse itself. The "triangle of trash" in the Pacific is proof that we have been using the oceans as a toilet for way too long. The runoff from farm chemicals kill off waterways and their inhabitants. ( We here in FL saw that first hand.) So what are we going to do about that?
I'm looking at a stock list right now and see plenty of fish that are sold for 50 dollars at our local stores for under 10. Of course there is shipping, but split that 90 bucks or so between 20 bags of fish and coral and it's not much of an increase. I have never trans shipped fish, only coral. These prices are from Cali to me. In my short time selling corals and fish out of the house I had tons of return customers, have ordered special items for them, and everything else that a store does. Even now I get things for folks, but I've ceased making money on them. I just use it for favors......I'll get you a few cool scolys, and you install a few windows...
Your reference to the customer we'll call Bob- He's would have stopped seeing you and would be frequenting my house if I was available then. They all do. They can't help it buying from someone with the overhead of an average hobbyist, and prices to match.
I find our local stores to be the last place you would go for advice. I don't ever hear anyone asking what size tanks these fish they are selling are going in. On the contrary, I've heard things like "put that chili coral up high on the rock work....it needs a lot of light". The basic employee of a pet store makes under 10 dollars an hour and needs no experience.
And another point you brought up that I'd like to address is the X amount of pieces pulled in order to make a dent. It's not 100 pieces that depleted the reef, THAT's what the cities allowed. They would grab way more if they could. Maybe some do. These collectors get something like 10 cents a piece or maybe even a quarter. These folks are Indo locals with a family who all live in a one room shack. They are not pretty divers like in the reef saving video above. The point is, it's accumulative, so we are adding the massive boxes you were getting back then to the 2 boxes a week I was getting a few years ago....

There was a reference to the hobby being a learning tool, forcing people to understand marine life. This is true, however, it matters little to the bulk of humanity. It's only for the hobby, and it's actually detrimental, because the hobby is expanded the easier it is to keep marine life, which equals a greater need for livestock.
Try telling big oil to stop sending tankers across the ocean because one might sink and wipe out more life than we could count. Let me know how all the knowledge helps with that. Or perhaps we could tell the Asian countries that the shark finning, referenced earlier is actually detrimental to the shark populations. No one cares but us, and we don't care enough IMO.
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Old 06-24-2014, 10:01 PM   #40
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I'm looking at a stock list right now and see plenty of fish that are sold for 50 dollars at our local stores for under 10. Of course there is shipping, but split that 90 bucks or so between 20 bags of fish and coral and it's not much of an increase. I have never trans shipped fish, only coral. These prices are from Cali to me. In my short time selling corals and fish out of the house I had tons of return customers, have ordered special items for them, and everything else that a store does. Even now I get things for folks, but I've ceased making money on them. I just use it for favors......I'll get you a few cool scolys, and you install a few windows...
Your reference to the customer we'll call Bob- He's would have stopped seeing you and would be frequenting my house if I was available then. They all do. They can't help it buying from someone with the overhead of an average hobbyist, and prices to match.
I find our local stores to be the last place you would go for advice. I don't ever hear anyone asking what size tanks these fish they are selling are going in. On the contrary, I've heard things like "put that chili coral up high on the rock work....it needs a lot of light". The basic employee of a pet store makes under 10 dollars an hour and needs no experience.
And another point you brought up that I'd like to address is the X amount of pieces pulled in order to make a dent. It's not 100 pieces that depleted the reef, THAT's what the cities allowed. They would grab way more if they could. Maybe some do. These collectors get something like 10 cents a piece or maybe even a quarter. These folks are Indo locals with a family who all live in a one room shack. They are not pretty divers like in the reef saving video above. The point is, it's accumulative, so we are adding the massive boxes you were getting back then to the 2 boxes a week I was getting a few years ago....

There was a reference to the hobby being a learning tool, forcing people to understand marine life. This is true, however, it matters little to the bulk of humanity. It's only for the hobby, and it's actually detrimental, because the hobby is expanded the easier it is to keep marine life, which equals a greater need for livestock.
Try telling big oil to stop sending tankers across the ocean because one might sink and wipe out more life than we could count. Let me know how all the knowledge helps with that. Or perhaps we could tell the Asian countries that the shark finning, referenced earlier is actually detrimental to the shark populations. No one cares but us, and we don't care enough IMO.
Some valid points indeed. As I said, every void creates a niche opportunity. In our time, the 7 stores were considered to be the experts of the field. As you pointed out, there aren't many of them left anymore.
As for the pricing difference, I think that goes more towards the store's mark up policy and I can't really comment as I am in a very different area of the country.
Bottom line, you are correct, I fear, that we humans just don;t care enough. There has to be a happy median somewhere. I just don;t where it is or how to get there as many fish don't lend themselves to tank breeding while they do lend themselves to tank culturing. The ethical question then becomes, do we take the planktonic stages of these fish in order to not take the adults but does that harm the creatures that eat the plankton?
Thanks for the debate
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