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Old 07-27-2011, 12:19 AM   #1
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Fishkeeping ethics

Just wondering about everyone's position on what is ethical when it comes to fishkeeping. I often see posts concerned with the welfare of fish, whether it be overcrowding, potential toxin spikes in uncycled tanks, or even humane methods of euthanasia.

Yet it is still common to have feeder fish, who tend to live a short life in sub par conditions prior to being chased around and eaten alive.

We often allow fish to cannibalize their young, which is often due to being kept in the confined area of an aquarium.

Some of us like catching fish in the wild by putting a hook through the mouth, which is not only inhumane by basic fishkeeping standards but also cruel, since we do it for sport.


So, what makes 1 fish better than another?
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:59 AM   #2
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Interesting question ... you bring up a good point. I find that its a matter of cost and or value we place on the fish. If it's a fish we pay for to promote our hobby, then it's one we are more likely to treat more humanely. Sometimes we buy inexpensive feeder fish to feed the larger predators. The feeder fish may not seem humane, but it's justified because it's to feed the main display fish.

Fish that don't cost us anything .... like those in a lake or river, we may not think twice of unhooking it then either tossing it back or having it for dinner.
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:18 AM   #3
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For me it is not about money. It is just about the Fish. For example I have 6 dollar fish, and goldfish. I don't like the Goldfish less do to being 15 cents .

I think it is just how well we "know" the fish. If I get some fish from the store I don't know his story. I don't remember when I first got him home , I don't remember how he loves that one spot. I don't remember how we watching my play Punch Out. When I get fish from the store all I remember is how good they taste with vinegar .

PS: I ddon't like the idea of a feeder fish. That just seems so mean.
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:37 AM   #4
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Another ethically questionable practice along fishkeeper lines, using live bait while fishing. Not only does that use a fish as a feeder, but also puts hooks into them to live out their last moments struggling to get away from predators out in the wild.

I also know that in my years of fishing (i still fish, a lot), the kept fish are often tossed into a cooler to die, sometimes the cooler has ice, but if the weather is cool, then no ice, so they are subjected to a fairly painful demise.

The only time I've ever quickly euthanized a fish was while in a boat or on a pier, to keep them from getting blood everywhere, or from flopping around and damaging things. With pelagic fish like mackerel and bonita, that involves grabbing the fish by their bony tail and smacking them against a hard surface.

Just some things that aren't often thought about.
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:37 AM   #5
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Jeta, I was wondering the same thing earlier as I read the posts on euthanasia. I enjoy the fish we have in our tank but think nothing of eating fish regularly. I also think the deer in my yard are beautiful and yet yearly my husband kills one for us to eat throughout the winter. For me it boils down to this... I try to maintain a sense of balance. We don't kill things that we don't eat (no trophy deer for us) and we try to treat the animals in our care with the utmost concern. We try very hard to do as little harm as possible. We have euthanized dogs to prevent further suffering, as well as put down cats hopelessly mauled by wild animals. We always do so with kindness and make sure that they are treated gently throughout their ordeal. In a day and age where people's meals come pre-packaged in the supermarket, people (especially young folks) tend to forget where food comes from. It leads to a very soft and fairly biased view of the world.
Nature can be harsh. I certainly don't condone the mistreatment of animals. But if we were to do what was actually best for any of these animals, we would leave them in the wild where they belong and not force them into unnatural conditions in our tanks for our selfish enjoyment. Since we choose not to leave them be, each of us must do the best we can....with what we have.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:11 AM   #6
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Interesting question and very well put Maya.

To me it comes down to animals I consider "in my care". If I go out and purchase or bring a living animal into my home...I take direct responsibility for it's welfare and overall quality of life.

There certainly is a level of hypocrisy I assume...I consume steak, sushi and other meats in massive quantities...but at the same time I write checks out every month to the ASPCA and local animal shelters. Personally I don't hunt or fish simply because it is not something I have interest in and am incapable of experiencing enjoyment from taking life...but also because there are foods available where I basically don't have to do the deed myself (also a form of hypocrisy). Feeder fish is another example of something I will never be involved with because I view it as unnecessary in most cases where there are commercially available foods to feed the fish you keep...but I can only guess how those foods are produced and would rather not know TBH.

At least in the wild nature takes it's own course as it has for millions of years (usually without our interference). When I put fish in a glass box, or my dogs are brought into my house...I view it as our duty as responsible adults to do our best to provide them with the most suitable and healthy environment we can offer. Which again...when we remove animals from their natural environment and take dominion of them (perhaps also considering dogs who have been domesticated as our servants)...another variation of hypocrisy.

All that said, I do feel like the animals in my care will live a happier and less stressful life than the alternative than they would in their natural environment, but again...that would be considered..........
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Old 07-27-2011, 09:05 AM   #7
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as a avid fisher and aquariest , there is a big difference between the my pets the fish i catch and the live bait i use . My pets get the best of care i can give them , I strive to give them cleanest water possible and the best quality foods.

as far as fishing is concerned I do my best to be a ethical angler. I follow all laws on legal size and bag limits . i do my best to get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible to reduce stress as much as i can

I do bass fish for sport and practice catch and release and I can tell you catch and release works . Ive caught the same fish twice in one day and ive also caught bass with hooks and luers in there mouths
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:01 AM   #8
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To me it comes down to animals I consider "in my care". If I go out and purchase or bring a living animal into my home...I take direct responsibility for it's welfare and overall quality of life.

.
I agree, since I've been fishing/hunting since I was a kid(still do 3-4 times per week) but have no moral issues using panfish for cut bait, large golden shiners, or tossing fish onto the ice when icefishing but would certainly have a hard time treating my oscars and such in the same fashion.

I'm mainly a bass angler throwing lures and practicing catch and release but when crappie, panfish, or walleye fishing ethics are out the window when it's time for a fish fry. So the sense of ownership plays a vital role for me personally.
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Old 07-27-2011, 11:23 AM   #9
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:37 PM   #10
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I agree with that, we place value on things we care about. Everyone draws the line differently.

Life doesn't have equal value, at least by our standards.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:57 PM   #11
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I believe in giving fish the best environment possible that is closest to their natural habitat. I keep what I can and do the best I can to provide. It's fair to the fish because it's my fault when they get disease because I have neglected the tank from time to time and should be doing better care. I'm working on it, starting out in high school with high expectations from parents with me doing a lot outsied of academics and sports doesn't give me time to take care of the fish as much as I can but I do my best to support them. I still find time to do PWC every week. I still feed the fish every other day. Really it depends on how much you care and how much effort you're willing to put in. Some people don't put in any effort at all, they expect the fish to live without their care and expect them to compensate for their poor health.

As for the fishing question, I've never gone fishing before but I wanted to point something out: fishing as a sport will probably stay where it is.. For professional fishers they don't care about the fish, they care about the prize. That's the mentality of the sport and I doubt they will ever change it due to animal protesters or PETA. Because according to several papers (I had to do an essay on this, so I should know) many believe animals do not have the same rights as people, and although they live and feel pain, you can't put animal's needs before yourself. Which is why sports fishers like to see fish feel pain, it's the satisfaction they get out of it. And although we think it's wrong, they think it's right. It's like good and evil (bad analogy), the good person thinks the evil person is doing evil, but the evil person believes they're doing the right thing. It seems erroneous.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:35 PM   #12
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It's the same with any species, why is it so repulsive to eat dogs and cats in the U. S. But fine to eat cows, pigs, and chickens?
What gives us the right to choose what species of animal is pet and which is dinner?
It's which ever you choose for yourself and your conscience, in some cultures cows are sacred religious symbols but you have no problem tossing a steak on the grill and devouring it.
When it comes down to it, it's survival of the fittest!
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:43 PM   #13
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As for the fishing question, I've never gone fishing before but I wanted to point something out: fishing as a sport will probably stay where it is.. For professional fishers they don't care about the fish, they care about the prize. That's the mentality of the sport and I doubt they will ever change it due to animal protesters or PETA. Because according to several papers (I had to do an essay on this, so I should know) many believe animals do not have the same rights as people, and although they live and feel pain, you can't put animal's needs before yourself. Which is why sports fishers like to see fish feel pain, it's the satisfaction they get out of it. And although we think it's wrong, they think it's right. It's like good and evil (bad analogy), the good person thinks the evil person is doing evil, but the evil person believes they're doing the right thing. It seems erroneous.
Coming from someone who has fished his whole life, including many tournaments, I can assure you, the bolded portion of your quote is totally off base. Hunters and fisherman buy hunting and fishing lisences which fund programs to ensure we have a safe, healthy environment for our wildlife. Professional fishing is no different. While it may be for the sport (which, anybody who fishes does it for fun... just like keeping an aquarium), responsible fishing practices are required.

As far as replicating their environment, we can't do that. As much as you try, it'll never happen.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:54 PM   #14
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Only reason I buy a fishing license is so I don't get busted not having one! LOL
As for the pain, I love a good fight when reeling in but it's not about enjoying the pain.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:27 PM   #15
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I think that the feeder fish thing is pitiful. I would never feed my flowerhorn (when he gets bigger) any of these feeder fish that you find in stores. If I ever came across ones in good health, then why not? If my flowerhorn were a natural fish in the wild, he would of course eat smaller fish, no problem. His lineage contains plenty of big cichlids that have no issue eating juvies or small fish. The problem is when we try to control what fish they do eat. Since they will just become food, these goldfish (or whatever else feeder) is horribly treated with tons of diseases in cramped, overcrowded, under cleaned tanks. I could never give that to my baby. I will just stick to frozen foods and pellets.

It's just a whole issue of where you draw the line. I can't eat freshwater fish. I tried to back in May to eat some catfish and was sick in the bathroom, puking. I just couldn't do it. But, sushi? I eat that at least once every other week. I have a bias towards saltwater fish, for whatever reason- probably because I don't have them as pets, and can readily eat them. It's just like a dog. I could never eat a dog, I would just think about all the ones I have had in the past or my boyfriend's dog. Same thing with that catfish, I kept thinking about the catfish I have had for pets.

And fishers/hunters aren't completely in the wrong. Everything that my dad gets becomes our food. The only part of the animal that becomes a trophy is the antlers. Everything else gets used for something. And the licensing does go to great programs for national parks, etc. Most hunters/fishers that I have been around have some of the greatest respects for nature. They aren't killing to kill, they are taking part in more of a primal aspect.

But, this is a nice thread. Everyone throwing in their two cents.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:27 PM   #16
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Good points jet. I have been thinking about this as well. I get upset when ppl say if u cycle with fish just get feeder fish bc they are cheap!! So it's ok to make them go through cycling bc it's easier on our wallets? I don't think so.

As for deer hunting I personally feel it's wrong to kill anything for sport alone... If u eat it that's a different story. God gave us meat for food.

As for fishing. I have been wonder why we care so much for the fish in our tanks and yet hook some in the face for the thrill and throw them back. I've been battling the fishing idea. I went fishing thanksgiving and had the best time. Now I have 6 tanks and I'm wondering how I can do this to this fish and live mine so much!?? We just caught and threw back. I have heard that the fish don't feel much pain but I don't know how I feel about that???
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:30 PM   #17
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On the flip side, deer are overpopulating much of the US. While I definitely think all meat should be eaten or at least donated to programs to help the hungry (we have a program here in ky), the fact is that if we don't kill enough, many will suffer from hunger and destroy our crops that feed us.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:37 PM   #18
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On the flip side, deer are overpopulating much of the US. While I definitely think all meat should be eaten or at least donated to programs to help the hungry (we have a program here in ky), the fact is that if we don't kill enough, many will suffer from hunger and destroy our crops that feed us.
Good point. This is why in the winter, venison is mostly what we eat. My dad and his side of the family hunt and share the meat. They all hunt to their max, because they all are rural and deal directly with damages that the large population of deer make.

But, we might hit a point where there aren't enough deer one day (obviously not for a very long, long time). Like in Europe, most of their deer are completely wiped out. I know my mother's family in Croatia have never even seen wild deer.
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:31 PM   #19
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Good point. This is why in the winter, venison is mostly what we eat. My dad and his side of the family hunt and share the meat. They all hunt to their max, because they all are rural and deal directly with damages that the large population of deer make.

But, we might hit a point where there aren't enough deer one day (obviously not for a very long, long time). Like in Europe, most of their deer are completely wiped out. I know my mother's family in Croatia have never even seen wild deer.
According to the IUCN red list of threatened species European Deer are "of least concern". There are plenty of healthy deer populations in Europe. There is even a herd that lives in Magdalen College Gardens in Oxford City Centre. Certainly in the UK hunting and fishing have gone a long way to help with the conservation of natural habitats (no habitat, no game). As for the ethics of fishkeeping this article:
Fishkeeping - Ethical Fishkeeping - General Guides - Articles
about says it all for me
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:40 PM   #20
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Sorry, I shouldn't have generalized that so much. A whole continent can vary with wildlife populations greatly. I know that in former Yugoslavian countries, they are virtually nonexistant.
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