Do Aquarium Conditions Inevitably Bring Unnatural Risks?

KingOfAll_Tyrants

New member
Hey all,

I'm a bit curious to hear about the level of artificiality of our aquarium setups. So, I have a completely hypothetical question.

Usually, with good reason, one's not supposed to release aquarium animals/plants back into the wild, and it's thus best to think about keeping the animal for its lifespan, or if not humanely euthanize them

1. non native fish, etc. could become established locally - witness the uncontrolled populations of goldfish in many parts of the US, the Lionfish in the Atlantic, etc. (IMO a very convincing reason)

2. non native fish could carry diseases that local aquatic creatures are not used to (IMO an even more convincing reason)

3. most non native animals cannot survive where most hobbyists release them - most tropical fish (to say nothing of reef inverts) cannot survive the winter. So, if you release them, you are condemning them to freeze to death, if not starve to death by being unused to the local food, or being unaware of what they can eat, or being easy vicims of predation (quite convincing as well)

4. it's generally illegal to release non native species (as a result of #1 and #2).

But, what if *everything* you have is locally collected from the same area? *****NOTE: I am not advocating this, or planning to do this; I just ask to understand*****

For example (I deliberately use a very impractical example, as well as an example that violates multiple collection laws, because I want this to remain fictional. Again, ***this is impractical and illegal and am asking this only for information sake****), let's say I live in a house right on Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii and I built a fairly standard 200 gallon reef tank in my living room. I collect LR and various corals into my tank, as well as a few fish, from the bay and grow them in my tank. I add nothing but animals, collected from the bay into the tank. I get my water from the bay for water changes (no artificial seawater), run a skimmer and 'fuge with local live sand.

After, say, 7 years of running (and without any tank crashes; it remains healthy and thriving) I need to leave my fictional house, and decide to go back to the bay, find areas where there are bleached or otherwise dead corals of the same types, and put my fictional corals there, release the fish, carefully place the live rock where it can thrive, and dump the live sand.

Will the bacteria, etc. that my healthy animals carry be identical to what's in the bay, or is there a chance that they've gotten unnatural concentrations/quantities of something either commonly seen locally, or which would only thrive in aquarium conditions, and that releasing them would still be dangerous?

If that's the case, it seems that aquarium keeping inevitably has to deal with different sorts of risks to the animals than they typically face in the wild, even in a very closely controlled hypothetical situation like I described.

(obviously, if there's a tank crash, it seems to me it's *totally* wrong to dump the water, dead animals, etc. into the bay or even a nearby seagrass bed, since there are likely fairly dense quantities of harmful pests)

Thanks for any thoughts. Again, I am not going to do this and would not support carelessly collecting and thinking you can just throw the animal back.
 

Ron Reefman

New member
I agree that all 4 of your listed concerns are completely valid. I live in an area where the lionfish has become a big issue, not to mention exotic snakes in the Everglades and exotic (big and dangerous) Nile Monitor lizards in the canals of my neighborhood!

In your fictional tank, I'd still have concerns about releasing things back into the wild and would much rather rehome them with another aquarist. But given those very tight and unlikely criteria, and as somebody with no zoological expertise, I could see how such a release could be OK for the environment, even if not necessarily for the animals you would be releasing.
 

KingOfAll_Tyrants

New member
Thanks, Ron. Indeed, the criteria are deliberately very tight, but I'd still be unwilling to release them. Maybe I'll try to find some scientific views.....

Also, the lizards are nothing. Oscars (allegedly very common), Clown Knifefish, Arowanas are all now introduced to certain freshwater parts of Florida, almost certainly by accident from aquafarmers or aquarists themselves - monsterfish.com has many threads about people shocked about how your feral exotics caught on fishing lines are much bigger than their monster babies. :) :) :(
 

CStrickland

New member
Interesting thinking! I wonder if the captive fish lose some of the instincts that keep them safe. Like they get spoiled in a tank and are less able to find food or defend themselves.

ok i read like 2 lines of this. someone has way to much free time on there hands
Rude.
Also, *I* *too* and *their*
 

anthonys51

New member
Interesting thinking! I wonder if the captive fish lose some of the instincts that keep them safe. Like they get spoiled in a tank and are less able to find food or defend themselves.


Rude.
Also, *I* *too* and *their*


Really it should be two, not too. Please If you are going to be the English police please at least get it right



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anthonys51

New member
But all seriousness. This post is senseless. Reason you don't put captive fish and stuff back into the wild is disease and the possible disruption of the ecosystem. Now most of the time this won't happen. But it can and when it does the results can be disastrous. Bottom line


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2smokes

In Memoriam
You dont have to euthanasiate the animals.You can always donate them to a fellow reefer that would be verry happy to get them.Sadly here in europe we have manny alien species from north america that caused ecological disasters and somme are made by aquarists.There are a lot of florida turtles in my city parks that were released by aquarists into the wild and they are threatening our rare and endangered romanian turtles habitat.Aligators released of rivers,rainbow trout from america that infested our rivers and lakes threatening the endangered european salmon and the native brown trout.Ctenofores from Atlantic that were carried out by ships ballast water tanks and caused a decline in all the life and biodiversity of the black sea.We even have in our waters that american paddlefish .Even thogh i dont like the presence of the florida turtles in my city parks lakes i wouldnt hurt a turtle or kill it because thats an innocent animal that has no guilt of being there.When i see american sociopats, killing carps and otther non native species sadistically on TV shows,explaining they do a good thing trying to save america ,i wonder if they dont deserve to have alien infested waters with such characters of people.
 

ssick92

New member
Lol ok maybe your right on that one my bad lol


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*you're

But really, didn't your parents ever tell you that if you don't have something good to say then don't say anything at all?

Theoretically, if all factors are kept the same, then you wouldn't run the risk of introducing disease or disrupting the ecosystem, because it is identical to the original ecosystem (or as close as possible). However, since you only read 2 lines, you don't even understand the basis of this thread.
 

anthonys51

New member
Please don't bring ny parents into it. If you can't make a point without being family into it don't make the point. It's illegal to do it Reason is most people can't be trusted to keep tank totally Sterile. But in the rare case you can. Then yes it would be safe You got your answer.


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gone fishin

New member
You dont have to euthanasiate the animals.You can always donate them to a fellow reefer that would be verry happy to get them.Sadly here in europe we have manny alien species from north america that caused ecological disasters and somme are made by aquarists.There are a lot of florida turtles in my city parks that were released by aquarists into the wild and they are threatening our rare and endangered romanian turtles habitat.Aligators released of rivers,rainbow trout from america that infested our rivers and lakes threatening the endangered european salmon and the native brown trout.Ctenofores from Atlantic that were carried out by ships ballast water tanks and caused a decline in all the life and biodiversity of the black sea.We even have in our waters that american paddlefish .Even thogh i dont like the presence of the florida turtles in my city parks lakes i wouldnt hurt a turtle or kill it because thats an innocent animal that has no guilt of being there.When i see american sociopats, killing carps and otther non native species sadistically on TV shows,explaining they do a good thing trying to save america ,i wonder if they dont deserve to have alien infested waters with such characters of people.

Sadly these things seem to be on the rise around the world. Plants and insects are some others causing issues. In my area Japanese beetles are getting to be a real problem.
 

KingOfAll_Tyrants

New member
LOL. I have actually have some secret admiration for the king of grammar nazis. (though burning your daughter is horrifying pathologic insanity, of course)

Interesting thinking! I wonder if the captive fish lose some of the instincts that keep them safe. Like they get spoiled in a tank and are less able to find food or defend themselves.

My personal opinion is that these animals have the instincts for my generations. My cat has excellent instincts to chase after her toys, and my brother's malamute has shockingly good small animal predation skills even though she's at least 3-4 generations away from having to subsist in the wild (and she knows how to corner and isolate large animals from a herd, an instinct honed in by human pack mates of her ancestors many generations ago.

Likewise, I'd imagine captive fish generally still have many of the same instincts. the thing is, if you just stick them in a lake (that's suitable for them to live in), their chances are not very good in the first place - fish of course have 100s-1000s of offspring per year, of which only 1 makes it to the spawning stage (anything more and you get a population explosion).


You dont have to euthanasiate the animals.You can always donate them to a fellow reefer that would be verry happy to get them.

True. But sometimes donating animals can be hard.

When i see american sociopats, killing carps and otther non native species sadistically on TV shows,explaining they do a good thing trying to save america ,i wonder if they dont deserve to have alien infested waters with such characters of people.

Depending on the person, it's not sociopathy (though the people who brag about it may be). The Nile perch was introduced into Lake Victoria, almost completely eliminating the native population of African cichlids, most species of which were never known to science. Even the small rebound of new cichlid species has shown to be shallow, isolated populations, since they can't go into open water areas without being eaten anymore. The local environmental authorities near my home called for people to start rapidly trying to find and kill invasive snakehead fish a few years ago when they were introduced, and worked quickly to kill thousands. Fortunately, I suppose, in that case they were successful.

Theoretically, if all factors are kept the same, then you wouldn't run the risk of introducing disease or disrupting the ecosystem, because it is identical to the original ecosystem (or as close as possible).

Yes, this is the key point why I made such a narrow (and impossible) example. But again, another theory is that the pathogen balances they have in capitivity could still lead to deadly diseases in the wild. Meaning that, there's a lot more artificiality in our tank setups than I had realized before seriously researching reefkeeping. Either way, maybe this is a better conversation to have with a ichthyologist.

Thanks for the serious thoughts.
 

CStrickland

New member
Ha! I do get mad about that like in the supermarket they say '10 items or less' for the express checkout and one of these days I'm going to say f it and let rip with a sharpie and change all the signs to 'fewer.'

But really I don't care how people post. It's not hard to tell what someone is trying to say and I've learned a great deal on these forums from folks who can't speak the kings english. I see no correlation between use of proper 'to' and tank knowledge. Rather, the grammar ability is more a tool to put pedants, randos, and big-head boys in their place (like my Oxford comma?). As in, if someone is going to get up on a high horse about what should or shouldn't be posted, or how much time is spent doing it, the least they can do is spell right. Or, if they can't be bothered to type out a literate reply, why bother at all?

I think you're probs right about instinct lasting generations, likely more to do with the sheer odds of survival writ large. I think that's the main problem with invasive species. They can upset an extant balance that allows 4 of 4,000 spawn to survive. Which raises the question whether raising and releasing mature fish (under hypothetically pure sterile conditions) can be beneficial - it can shortcut that prey phase entirely.
 

KingOfAll_Tyrants

New member
A few finalish thoughts on my admittedly strange and obtuse thread:

1. threads about people getting Aiptasia and other unwanted disease/hitchikers from other people's frags,. and the near impossibility of removing it, reinforce the necesity of using only locally caught critters in this impossible hypothetical tank. Because, if I add a frag grown from my buddy's tank which has Aiptasia, if I put my corals back into the water I've potentially added a prolifically invasive species. This can be mitigated

The point: it would seem the instant you start adding stuff that's not locally collected into an aquarium, ethically even stuff you've collected are captive for life.

2. I forgot various public aquaria release their critters back into the wild. The most prominent examples are the Whale Shark, Great White keepers (whale sharks are prwho keep them for a few years and then release them. They do mix the whale sharks with other fish from all over, but these are generally large pelagic fish so I suppose (or they suppose? I hope there's some good biology justifying their decision) it's not so bad when they release it back to the deep open ocean. Various navy's mammal programs also flirt with this by bringing dolphins from various locations to places they're not native to. Again, I don't know that has that big a risk of introducing invasive species; the navies either have real biologists on staff and/or don't GAS.

Further
Which raises the question whether raising and releasing mature fish (under hypothetically pure sterile conditions) can be beneficial - it can shortcut that prey phase entirely.

You're right about this - biologists have been reintroducing extinct populations back into the wild for some time now. Some people also stock their lakes for sport (the Nile Perch example again....). Again, the biologists probably raise them in probably fairly sterile conditions, and their intention is to reintroduce something extinct.

I know some public aquaria also catch and release smaller local critters (I believe the Maui aquarium does this). I'll be at the Waikiki aquarium next month, I'll ask them about this, just for my own curiosity.
 
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