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Selling a bonded Orange Spot Filefish pair, at a great price, but what are the odds an inexperienced hobbyist will like the look of them and try and give it a whirl? I know @arking_mark had some success, thoughts?

 

https://www.liveaquaria.com/divers-den/product/442041/fijian-orange-spot-filefish-bonded-pair-expert-only

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10 hours ago, KingOfAll_Tyrants said:

Well, they do give an upfront warning.  That is about all you can do.

Nonsense.  They can simply not sell them.  By my count, Arking Mark has killed 5 so far in his "studies," with only one survivor so far, and he is more conscientious and experienced than most.  I expect the pair will end up dying in the hands of another "expert" who doesn't understand his or her own limitations.

 

Given the hundreds of species of all shapes, sizes and colors, I am at a loss as to why a retailer can, in good conscience, sell fish that are almost certainly going to die. The reefs face huge challenges, and I honestly don't know how big an impact this kind of activity has, but I do know that it makes the hobby look bad.  

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9 minutes ago, mogurnda said:

Nonsense.  They can simply not sell them.  By my count, Arking Mark has killed 5 so far in his "studies," with only one survivor so far, and he is more conscientious and experienced than most.  I expect the pair will end up dying in the hands of another "expert" who doesn't understand his or her own limitations.

 

Given the hundreds of species of all shapes, sizes and colors, I am at a loss as to why a retailer can, in good conscience, sell fish that are almost certainly going to die. The reefs face huge challenges, and I honestly don't know how big an impact this kind of activity has, but I do know that it makes the hobby look bad.  

 

I agree with you here, just simply don't sell them. I'm shocked at the price TBH as well. My pair of clowns were more expensive. I think the folks I regard as expert wouldn't even consider attempting to try them. 

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I'm split on this, on one hand how are we supposed to learn to care for them without trying? Our hobby would barely exist at all if people gave up easily, I mean there was a time when keeping aiptasia alive was an accomplishment in the hobby.

 

The flip side is that I really wish that the price on these guys had an extra 0 on it. For $100 there are a lot of careless hobbyists that will give it a try without taking serious care in trying to keep them alive and thriving. Someone that paid $1000 would be inclined to try much harder and smarter and most people would not even consider the purchase without thinking they had some chance of success.

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4 minutes ago, Matt LeBaron said:

I'm split on this, on one hand how are we supposed to learn to care for them without trying? Our hobby would barely exist at all if people gave up easily, I mean there was a time when keeping aiptasia alive was an accomplishment in the hobby.

 

The flip side is that I really wish that the price on these guys had an extra 0 on it. For $100 there are a lot of careless hobbyists that will give it a try without taking serious care in trying to keep them alive and thriving. Someone that paid $1000 would be inclined to try much harder and smarter and most people would not even consider the purchase without thinking they had some chance of success.

 

I don't know when, but this sold. I'm curious as to if it was a WAMAS member! You articulated perfectly my thoughts on the price. 

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On 12/27/2018 at 10:02 AM, mogurnda said:

Nonsense.  They can simply not sell them.  By my count, Arking Mark has killed 5 so far in his "studies," with only one survivor so far, and he is more conscientious and experienced than most.  I expect the pair will end up dying in the hands of another "expert" who doesn't understand his or her own limitations.

 

Given the hundreds of species of all shapes, sizes and colors, I am at a loss as to why a retailer can, in good conscience, sell fish that are almost certainly going to die. The reefs face huge challenges, and I honestly don't know how big an impact this kind of activity has, but I do know that it makes the hobby look bad.  

 

Ah, I see your point.   Yeah, looking at this this supposedly eats acros only.   Honestly, I'd guess these were leftovers from a public aquarium order or something like that.   That also might explain the price - a relative fire sale.   

 

Just thinking aloud, I could understand your position from a collection standpoint.  Something like this should not be collected save for specific orders from someone who knows how to take care of them.  Not selling fish that can't be maintained in the average (say 20-50gallon) tank, and special ordering everything else, would be an interesting concept, though I don't know how viable it would be in an industry predominantly, to my understanding,  geared around "pushing livestock"*.  So once it's in the inventory it'll probably be treated like anything else.  :(  At least Liveaquaria gives some sort of warning (similar to how they have a 100gal minimum tank size for yellow tangs, or admittedly somewhat inadequate warnings about mandarin diets), whereas I think there are plenty of fish we see in LFS' that should only be in specialized or 75+ gallon tanks.  

 

 

* I wouldn't mind an alternate model.  Have captive bred examples of the top 20 or so nano-to-medium sized fish - clowns, cardinals, dottybacks, firefish, etc., and special order more exotic things airfreighted directly from the collector - for admittedly a substantial per-fish fee, which I think would be the killer for such an industry model.   

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Just because they're difficult to keep, doesn't mean they're difficult to catch and sell. Fish that are difficult to catch, bring to the surface properly, and successfully transport command higher prices. I generally shy away from the difficult fish/inverts because I don't want to kill any more (I've killed more than my share) but I recently picked up a copperband butterfly for the first time after being in the hobby well over 20 years. Knock on wood, it has been doing well but I've only had it about eight months at this point. I am happy that I had the opportunity to acquire one. 

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This topic (wild caught live stock) is always a tough one. In the past year (for a variety of reasons) I have personally shifted towards trying to only purchase captive bred fish. I'm not absolute on that but when I am looking for new live stock I am looking at my captive bred options first before I even consider something that isn't. My reasoning is that it is important for those of us in the hobby to incentivize captive breeding, which boils down to buying those fish. 

 

But my opinion on this matter has a giant flaw, if everyone magically started doing what I am, how would the breeders know what species to work on captive breeding next? Right now they tend to focus on the more popular fish unless it's a case of a research organization doing the work but if no one bought wild caught fish they couldn't tell which species would be financially viable to put the work in. (And often times even research organizations focus on the more popular fish as well to reduce capture stress on the species in the wild)

 

It's not a black and white situation and there is no easy solution but the last 10 years have been an absolute amazing time in reefing. I started in the salt side about 10 and a half years ago with Seahorses which were considered difficult to keep alive and just about the only fish being captive bred were regular clownfish. Now just 10 years later captive bred seahorses are common, you can buy captive bred clownfish in an insane variety of colors/patterns, and the captive bred fish list on Live Aquaria is pages long. I'm optimistic that the next 10 years will be just as amazing in advancing the hobby, which reduces our impact on wild populations as well as advances our scientific understanding on the oceans and their inhabitants.

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Key question:  Is the sale of the fish, coral, invert, etc sustainable through breeding or harvesting? Taking live stock from the ocean that is not so plentiful for the purpose of breeding is reasonable. Based on the ICUN red list status the Fijian Orange Spot Filefish it doesn't sound like it can be sustainably harvested. Diver's Den should leave this fish alone. 
 
 
sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty
/səˌstānəˈbilədē/
noun
 
  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
    "the sustainability of economic growth"
    • avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
      "the pursuit of global environmental sustainability"
Edited by sen5241b
typo

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Agreed, the more I learn about this fish the less and less I think it should be available for sale (obligate Acropora eater?), save by specific request of someone who knows what there getting into.  (how to make a reasonable "someone who knows" standard is a harder issue, especially in an open market industry)

 

Moving way off topic.....

 

As far as wild vs. captive livestock, I think we're nearing a major inflection point.  Biota is now selling captive bred (presumably maricultured: bred in pens in the inshore lagoons of Palau) yellow tangs for $100.  Pacific East Aquaculture, a sponsor, appears to have them in stock.  This comes after the Kona fishery in Hawaii is closed (the only place in the world where they breed in large numbers), and Hawaii-origin yellow tangs available for sale now come from other (from what I hear much less productive) parts of Big Island or from (also less productive) other islands.   

 

More thinking aloud:

 

Do we think now is a time to work to make captive bred yellow tangs the norm?   

 

I would say "not necessarily".   As mentioned elsewhere, there is no *catch limit* (vice court injunction functionally banning collection) for yellow tangs in Hawaii, but at the same time population surveys going back to the late 70s state that yellow tang populations on the Kona coast have are in decline.  (in fact the surveys are opposite, though the anti-aquarium fanatics naturally dispute the surveys)

 

At the same time, wild collection, with (enforced) sustainable catch limits, can be very environmentally friendly compared to aquaculture in completely artificial cultivation (like ORA does), since taking a limited number of wild juvenile fish has almost no inherent environmental impact compared to the power, seawater, waste disposal, etc. you'd need to breed fish in completely artificial conditions.  [this is especially true for species like the Yellow tang which have IIRC a month+ long pelagic state]

That being said, buying captive bred livestock always is best, after a certain collection volume is reached, IMO.

 

Are we willing to advocate, for instance, that the Hawaii government adopt a perhaps a 50,000 fish per year catch limit for yellow tangs? (1/4 the current catch rate, IIRC)  This would in many ways be giving in to some degree to for the fishes, etc.'s lobbying and litigation campaign.   The remainder of demand would be filled by Biota and other breeders, probably (possibly?) at a $90/fish price. I suppose such a thing might be possible if a catch limit were enforced, and the big distributors (e.g. Quality Marine) supported it. (emphasis on *might*, in a frankly un-market economy industrial organization)

 

Would we then be content that price?   This would make the yellow tang basically a beginner unfriendly fish.  (mind you, I might support that, in that IMO they should not be in average size 60 gallon and smaller standard sized tanks, and I can't fathom why they are so commonly available compared to even kole, naso, or convict tangs - beyond being easy to collect)  

 

Anyway, just thoughts.  Happy New Year!

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12 hours ago, KingOfAll_Tyrants said:

Would we then be content that price?   This would make the yellow tang basically a beginner unfriendly fish.

I would be comfortable with a lot more fish being "beginner unfriendly."  As pointed out in various posts above, it would have two positive effects. 

 

First, fewer beginning aquarists would buy fish they are not yet able to care for.  We have all made those kinds of mistakes, and they will continue to happen no matter what, but higher price tags will discourage at least some bad choices.  On the other hand, this is where a lot of the money is for the retailers, because an experienced aquarist can keep a fish for years, and therefore not buy much of anything once the tank is stocked. I haven't bought a fish for at least 4 years, so am not contributing much to the industry.  

 

Second, it will encourage captive breeding.  One of the problems breeders like ORA face is that it's cheaper to buy many wild caught fish.  They had to stop breeding mandarins because they couldn't sell them, for example.  I expect that the number of species available will go up, and the prices will go down, when fish can be raised on a much larger scale.  In my fantasy world, rare fish like carmabi basslets, which are very difficult to collect, will be more widely available once they are bred in captivity.  

 

I still think there is a big place for sustainable collection, which benefits local communities.  The problem is that the industry has never come up with a credible way that we aquarists can be sure of the origins of our fishes.  None of us want to contribute to the destruction of reefs for the sake of our hobby, but we have to trust an industry that, by necessity, wants to keep costs down.  It's ironic that Hawaii, with some of the best practices, cut off collection.

 

And Happy New Year to all.

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