Earth Day and the Conscientious Aquarist

Patty here. It’s Earth Day, and we wanted to remind you of just a few things you can do as aquarists to minimize your impact on our environment.  Just a couple of things to keep in mind!

More and more, aquacultured corals and fish are available in the market.  When you can, choose aquacultured frags, coral colonies and fish.  By buying these items instead of specimens collected from the wild, we help to reduce the stress on reefs and wild fish populations.  There are hundreds of species, both freshwater and marine that are bred and grown  for use in aquariums.  These fish and inverts are hardy, beautiful and eco-friendly.

When considering equipment and supplies, consider everything from the packaging to the efficiency and impact of those products.  Perhaps you could choose bulk salt in a cardboard box instead of plastic buckets, or upgrading older inefficient lighting to T-5 or LED fixtures. 

And one final consideration: make an effort to learn about the species you want to keep.  We all want our fish and pets to live long and healthy lives, and it is imperative that we know what we’re getting into before we purchase or adopt any animal.  One issue that is most prevalent in the world of aquarium keeping is size.  Many species sold for home aquariums can reach a max size of OVER 12″ in length in a matter of a few short years!  The size of the tank will not govern the size of the fish or its appetite, and our local waterways and coastlines are NOT suitable places to relocate non-native species when they out grow the tank. Nor do they deserve to be housed in tanks too small to roam properly and thrive.

 As responsible aquarists, we can do our part in loving our planet!

Anniversary Sale 2009 Recap

Just wanted to say thanks to all the That Fish Place/That Pet Place fans for making our 2009 Anniversary Sale a success. Thanks for everyone that showed up, and hope you enjoyed the deals, the seminars, and the fun. Check out some pics here, as well as on our Facebook page in the next few days.

A Brief Intro to Koi

Patty here. Koi  are basically colored Carp.  They are descendants of Asian and Central European Carp originally domesticated and used as food in China and Southeast Asia.  Their hardy nature and adaptability made them easy to propagate and transport to new locations.  Beginning over a thousand years ago, Asian breeders were selectively breeding these fish to develop natural color mutations into the brilliant and brightly colored fish that exist today. By the early 19th century through the early 20th century, desirable color patterns were established by the Japanese, and Koi started gaining world -wide popularity. 

As Pond season rolls around this year, many might be considering the addition of Koi to a water feature. Here are a few tidbits to think about before you purchase koi.

  • Koi should only be housed in ponds at least 1000 gallons or more. The bigger the better. The depth of the pond should be at least 3 feet to help the fish to avoid overexposure to sun and heat and to allow them to survive harsh winter temps. If your pond does not fit these criteria, goldfish and comets will be a better fit for you.
  • The bright colors shown by koi make them beacons for predators. Herons, raccoons, bears, and even cats and dogs amongst others may find koi a fancy meal if they can reach the fish. Proper depths and shade trees can help the fish to stay safe.
  • Koi have big appetites. They are omnivores, and will enjoy a varied diet of staple pellets along with frequent treats of fruits and veggies like watermelon, peas, lettuce, and corn. Koi will also eat plants at the surface of the water and will happily dig at the roots of potted plants on the pond too. You may need to cage the plants to preserve them, or at least top the soil with river rocks.
  • By encouraging these fish to the surface for feeding, they can become quite tame, often hand feeding. This behavior allows for visual health inspections that may need to be treated.
  • Koi should not be fed if the temperature of the pond sees a constant of 50 degrees or lower as they cannot properly digest proteins.
  • Along with their big appetites comes a lot of waste. Be sure to provide ample filtration and aeration particularly if you have a number of these fish in a minimally sized pond.
  • If provided with a proper environment, koi can live for decades, and have even been reported as living more than 200 years!
  • Wild carp can grow to almost 6 feet in length, and ornamental koi are known to reach lengths of about 3 feet in length. Carefully consider this in relation to the pond you plan on housing the fish in as they grow QUICKLY! Juvenile fish can double in size in a year, and though the growth rate can slow after 2 or 3 years, the fish continue to grow for 10 to 15 years. They’ll need plenty of space to grow and live comfortably.
  • Koi spawn in the spring. Females grow bloated with eggs and males compete for the opportunity to fertilize the eggs when she releases them. You may see one fish being chased aggressively around the pond by several others. The female is the target of the attention. Supply breeding mats, floating plants, or plants at the bottom of the pond as a place where she can release her eggs. You may be lucky enough to see new additions to your population not long after, though survivability is usually not high unless the fry are collected and nurtured.

Koi can be the pride of a backyard pond, but they do require a bit more attention and a lot more space than goldfish and comets.  When you’re ready to add fish, give us a call or shoot us an e-mail with any concerns or questions so we can help you to have a successful pond experience.  Be sure to save the date for or annual Pond Festival, too, May 16-17 2009!

Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Stan Shebs

HR 669 – The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Protection Act

What would the world be like without pets? A new bill proposed in House could make this a reality. All pet owners should be aware of a pending federal government resolution. HR669 stands for House Resolution 669 which is designed to change the way the government classifies non-native species. If passed into law it will have a tremendous impact on keeping pets in America. It will make it illegal to sell and breed many animals common in the pet trade including most species of tropical fish, ferrets, most reptile and amphibian species, corals, and many others. Though That Fish Place/That Pet Place is in favor of an effective invasive species law, we are convinced this is absolutely not the legislation to accomplish that. Please read Frank Indiviglio’s blog below to find out more and learn what you can do to help prevent this from even being introduced as a proposed law.

Frank Indiviglio here. By now many readers are no doubt aware of the bill known as House Resolution 669, which is currently before Congress.  If passed, HR 669 will dramatically impact, if not eliminate, pet keeping as we now know it.Check out the proposal as written here to educate yourself and form your own opinion.  For more information and some simple (i.e. “click of your mouse”) steps that you can take to register your opinions, please check out: NoHR669.com

A variety of well-informed arguments against the passage of HR 669 have been raised, many of which are summarized at the aforementioned web site.  I would like to present here a slightly different take on the issue, one drawn from a lifetime of work in the pet trade and as a professional zoologist and conservationist.

Inspiring Conservation

Pet keeping has inspired generations of zoo, aquarium and conservation professionals – the very people upon whom the future of wildlife and wild places depends.  Virtually all zookeepers, zoologists, conservationists, zoo curators, and aquarists – from Raymond Ditmars, first Curator of Reptiles at the Bronx Zoo, to today’s leaders – started out as children with pets, and from this fascination with animals sprouted a career.  This hold true for those with roots in city and countryside, poverty and wealth alike.

The Influence of Nonnative Species

In many cases, the pets that gave rise to and encouraged these people arrived here from afar.  In fact, all of our most commonly kept pet species – guppies, goldfishes, parakeets, canaries, dogs, cats and others, not to mention our domesticated “food animals” save the turkey – are nonnative.  The same holds true for invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians.

The reasons are often not apparent – for example, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fishes from tropical regions are often far simpler to breed in captivity than are temperate species, which usually require a period of reduced temperature and day length if they are to reproduce.  The ability to breed so many exotic creatures encouraged many people to delve deeper, and to apply what they learned to the breeding of endangered species.  Of course, keeping such animals first hand has also long served to inspire a sense of wonder in us, and to urge many to go out into the world and discover just what animals live there, and what can be done to help them.

It must be remembered also that many native animals are legally protected and cannot be kept as pets, and that the ready availability of captive bred foreign species is an important deterrent to the illegal collecting of native wildlife.

The husbandry expertise and respect for animals garnered in the process of caring for them cannot but help find its way into the zoo and conservation realms.  Here in the USA, well-known conservation success stories, including the rescue of the American alligator and black-footed ferret from sure extinction, relied on captive breeding techniques that had long been utilized by serious pet owners working with similar species.  Similar scenarios, both here and abroad, are legion.

Problems Facing Zoo Breeding Programs

Zoos today are unable to meet the challenges posed by an unprecedented number of critically endangered species…all of the world’s zoos could fit comfortably into less than one half the area occupied by New York City.  It has recently been postulated that, even with international cooperation, the world’s zoos could sustain (as opposed to merely “exhibit”) perhaps 500 animal species…a mere fraction of the number faced with imminent extinction.

Pet Keepers Respond to the Turtle Crisis

It is just such a situation which led to the formation, in 2001, of the Turtle Survival Alliance.  This venture draws together zoo herpetologists and private turtle hobbyists in an effort to take concrete conservation action on behalf of the world’s turtle populations, the majority of which are in severe decline.  In one TSA effort, numerous private turtle keepers helped rehabilitate and house the survivors of a group of 10,000 illegally collected turtles that were seized in China and transported to Florida.  Today these animals, many in private hands, form the breeding nucleus for a number of species which seem destined for extinction in the wild in the very near future.

Pet Keepers Conserving Amphibians

The Disappearing Amphibian Crisis is much in the news today, and with good reason.  The situation for many of the world’s frogs and salamanders is so dire that zoos are collecting all the amphibians that can be located in certain habitats.  The hope is that these animals can be kept and bred for possible reintroduction once the threats posed by a rapidly spreading, deadly fungus can be addressed.

Once again, the expertise developed in part by pet keepers has played a major role in the rescue effort.  As concerns frog breeding, hobbyists have kept pace with zoo efforts.  For example, the blue poison frog, restricted in nature to a single mountainside in Surinam, is now a pet trade staple.  Similar stories abound, and the knowledge brought to the zoo field by pet keepers turned zookeepers is helping to assure that frog songs will continue to enliven spring evenings in the future.

The outlook for amphibians, however, is stark, and zoos do not have the facilities or finances to cope.  As with turtles, pet keepers with space and breeding expertise are being called into service as “foster parents”.  The most recent IUCN Red Data Book provides the grim news that one third of all amphibians are either threatened or already extinct.  Of these, 159 species are or may already be gone – 38 are known to be extinct and 121 species have not been seen in recent years and are likely no longer with us.  Those remaining are faring little better – 42% of the known species are declining in numbers, many dramatically, while less than 1% are increasing.

Pet Care Expertise and other Animals

The situation is likely just as critical for other groups that pet keepers have had great success in breeding, including parrots, tortoises and corals.  Where invertebrates are concerned, we do not as yet even have a handle on the magnitude of the problem.  We have closely studied a mere 0.2% of the estimated 30 million insect species, and a far smaller percentage of arachnids and other groups.

However, over 300 species of insects, spiders, scorpions and other terrestrial invertebrates, and a far greater number of aquatic species, are established in breeding populations by pet keepers worldwide.  The lessons learned in the process have been applied to captive breeding and reintroduction programs for a number of North American species, including Karner blue butterflies, burying beetles and red-kneed tarantulas.

Check out nohr669.com for information on how to get your voice heard on hr699

 

Anyone wishing to share their thoughts or opinions on this issue, may feel free to comment here, or on our facebook page.

A Livestock Preview: New and Interesting Arrivals in our Fishroom

Hey  Everyone!  Patty here.  Thought I’d take a minute to highlight some of the new and interesting things we’ve gotten in this week in the fish room.  With the Anniversary Sale coming this week, I’m sure there will be more to see and buzz about for the weekend, but here is a look at just a couple of the newest arrivals that are looking particularly pretty.  All of the regular favorites will be here for the sale along with some special goodies that will make the visit even more worthwhile!  We hope you can make it in this weekend!
Freshwater

Lake Terbera rainbow

Lake Tebera Rainbow
Like other Rainbowfish, this species is great for larger community aquariums. They are larger, but active and peaceful. Rainbowfish are also great additions for their shimmering colors.

small blood parrot

Small blood parrot
This batch came to us with more natural looking coloration instead of the traditional brightly colored Bloody Parrots.

lelupi

Lelupi
Lelupi are a staple in the world of African Cichlids, sought after for their interesting habits as well as their bright yellow-orange coloration. These are lovely!

Gold faced datnoid
Datnoids have a mystique about them that is quite a draw. This species has attractive bars and a golden sheen in the head and face. Enthusiasts should check these out!

Saltwater
yasha haze

Yasha haze
The Yasha Haze Goby has been around in the market for a few years now, but every time one arrives it’s beauty still astounds me. This is a great candidate for a reef or nano-reef system.

Orange-spotted Sea Slug
This pretty slug is a real spectacle! A Pacific native, its bright orange dots make it easy to spot.

swissguard

Swissguard
Despite is rather cryptic, cave-dwelling personality, Swiss Guards and other related basslets like the Swales Swiss Guard (also here) have amazing color and will not disappoint in the right environment. They are most at home in a rocky reef home.

Feel free to contact our livestock department or a fishroom associate if you are looking for anything in particular before you come in or if you are interested in having something live shipped to your door.