What's in YOUR fish tank?
If you’re an aquarium enthusiast, you no doubt have many beautiful and colorful tropical fish populating your aquarium. Perhaps you’ve studied the different species carefully to be sure they can peacefully co-exist. You know what they like to eat and what water conditions help them thrive.
Here’s a question though — did you investigate to see whether the type of fish you wanted to buy is in danger in its natural habitat? Did you ask whether it was captive-bred? Many people don’t. In the case of the Banggai cardinalfish, its amazing popularity is threatening its very survival in the wild.
Demand is high for Banggai cardinalfish in the U.S. and around the world. It’s not hard to understand why. This is a gorgeous saltwater fish, sporting an iridescent silver body with vertical black stripes and delicate white spots. Not just beautiful, it’s also considered an easy fish to keep and maintain, even for those new to tropical fish care. For tropical aquarium fans, it’s an unbeatable combination.
Overfishing Pushes a Species to the Edge
That ever-growing demand sadly feeds an industry that populates pet store tanks with Banggai cardinalfish taken from the wild. While you might expect that such a fish can be found in abundance at many tropical spots around the world, that’s not the case.
The cardinalfish lives in only one small geographic range of about 3,200 square miles near the Banggai Archipelago off Sulawesi, Indonesia. Within that area, the available coastline habitat to support this species is a mere 21 square miles. That’s it. In addition, it’s ridiculously easy to catch this species. They live only in shallow water about five to eight feet deep, making them easy to see and harvest.
Overfishing of this species has been a critical problem for some time. In 2002, experts estimated that out of a total population of perhaps 2.4 million Banggai cardinalfish, about 600,000 were being harvested each year. By 2005, that number had ratcheted up to a worrisome 900,000 fish per year. In 2009, some estimated that fishermen were taking an incredible 1.8 million fish per year.
They take so many because an estimated 55 percent of wild-caught cardinalfish do not survive long enough to make it to a pet store. The decimation of this species has to stop — soon.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.
Fish tank image via Shutterstock.