A big, beautiful custom fish tank is a great addition to almost any space at home or at work, but it comes with a responsibility to avoid causing additional harm to the world's oceans and fish populations. With an estimated 11 million tropical fish imported into the United States annually, wild species are at risk like never before. How can you make sure that your vibrant home aquarium is friendly to the ocean you care about? Here are some ways to know.
Know Your Source
Tropical fish are often harvested from the ocean in ways that endanger not only the fish but also the coral reefs in which they live. In order to capture wild saltwater fish, harvesters generally use cyanide to stun the fish. Unfortunately, cyanide is toxic to the coral reefs and often results in damage to the fish itself (as do shipping practices). When choosing fish for your aquarium, pay special attention to whether the fish were caught in the wild or were raised in captivity. Filling your tank with wild-caught fish contributes to depopulation of endangered species and damage to the ocean.
Colorful species such as clownfish (like Nemo) and cardinalfish can be raised successfully in captivity, so you can still have a beautiful, colorful tank. Or choose a fish that's similar to more popular but endangered species, such as a sailfin tang instead of the better-known but unsustainable blue tang.
Try Freshwater Instead
Freshwater aquarium fish are much more likely to be raised in farms rather than captured in the wild, making a freshwater tank much more friendly to the environment than a saltwater tank. Often easier to care for and maintain, freshwater fish can still be colorful and fun to own. Discus and killfish, for example, come in a variety of colors and styles that include spots, solid blues and oranges and even wild patterns. Endlers feature neon colors and abstract, artistic patterns.
When searching for corals for your aquarium, be sure, once again, that your supply comes only from sustainable farmed coral rather than wild coral. Between pollution and over-harvesting, the world's coral reefs are rapidly being destroyed. A 2004 report noted that some 20% of global reefs have already disappeared with another 50% either at imminent risk or under long-term risk. The way to help protect reefs is to populate your tank with farmed coral and even to participate in home programs to grow coral yourself.
Sustainable Water Usage
Aquariums can be big electricity and water drains. Make your tank more eco-friendly with some innovative new designs and technology. Install LED lighting and energy-saving pumps and ballasts. Even the aquarium can be designed to be part of an ecosystem that does everything from provide water for family pets to growing an herb garden with the recycled water.
By paying attention and working with trusted suppliers and designers, you can create an aquarium that's both a joy to own and watch and a healthy tribute to protecting the world's precious oceans.
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