Some aquarists limit their fishkeeping to certain kinds of fish like discus fish

Some aquarists limit their fishkeeping to certain kinds of fish like this discus fish

Some aquarists limit their fishkeeping to certain kinds of fish.

Believe it or not, there are hobbyists who keep only one kind of fish cichlids, guppies, discus, catfish or killies. Now, of course, there are many different species in some of these groups. And, some groups even span the entire globe with their native habitats. Catfish, for example, can be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and North America. Cichlids are found in North and South America, Africa and Asia. Some specialty fish are endemic to only one locality and because of that are often rare, unless they are bred for the hobby On a commercial scale. Australia, a unique continent, and its neighboring islands provide the fauna for a specialty group that was started in 1987, The Rainbowfish Study Group of North America. For those of you who are  not familiar with rainbowfish, you owe it to yourselves to get informed on these wonderful piscines. Rainbowfish come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but what will attract you the most are the different color mixes and contrasts.

For the most part, rainbows are excellent community tank fish and require very little attention, unlike other more common species. I’ll not go into their maintenance and breeding suffice it to say that they are one of the more interesting groups of fishes in the hobby. Australia (and especially New Guinea) represents one of the last great wilderness areas yet to be fully explored for fish fauna. Less than half of the known species of rainbows have even made it into the hobby. And certainly, the rarer ones that have been shared in the aquarium hobby have not come from local pet shops. They are avidly collected, traded and bred by rainbowfish aficionados. Now, you may ask, “How do all these rainbowfish lovers get in contact with each other?” Through the Rainbowfish Study Group, of course. The Rainbowfish Study Group is an excellent specialty organization with plenty of benefits for each member. For starters each member gets the Raninbow Times quarterly publication that is a real quality periodical. This magazine has fine articles, color photography, a fish and egg listing to help members announce what they have for sale and the usual club information. The club administration actively pursues new species and the propagation of known endangered species. Dues are on an annual basis $10 per year for United States and Canadian residents. Contact the chairman of the group for membership or other information  (Gant Lange, 2590 Cheshire, Florissant, mo 153033: (314) 837-6181).

A living from live rock
Live rock has been a major concern for the pet industry as more and more saltwater aquarists get into reef aquariums. Various federal, state and regional agencies are also very interested in the collection of live rock. These agencies are attempting to protect the reef rock from over harvesting, which can result in a great disruption in the life-cycle chain and, inturn, may have irreparable consequences in our tropical oceans. Even though I’m sure everyone has sympathy for those who earn a living in the live-rock industry, we all favor the protection of this ecosystem. The greatest concern in this area is the potential profit from harvesting live rock. This profit can cause collectors to overlook the environmental impact of overharvesting.

Many commercial fishermen are getting into harvesting live rock for the aquarium industry. According to an article in National Fisherman, a back-breaking haul of grouper for a fishing vessel will yield about  $600, whereas the same amount of time invested in harvesting live rock will earn about $3000. Another advantage to the live rock business is that it is not seasonal, like much of the fishing industry. Traditional fisheries require a daily effort to turn a reasonable profit, and prospects are getting increasingly worse for that opportunity. Live rock collectors, on the other hand, are only working a couple of days a week, and not every week. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) presently regulates the collection of live rock. The FDEP presently regulates the collection of live rock. The FEDP reported a marked increase in the collection of live rock from 587,192 pound in 1991 to 954,873 pounds in 1993. A new law, Amendment 2 to the Coral Fishery Management Plant, would limit that amount to 485,000 pounds in 1995 and ban live rock collecting for 1996. Richer Londeree, owner of Tampa Bay Saltwater and generaly accepted to be the father of the U.S. live rock industry, was a grouper fisherman who has turned to harvesting live rock. Londeree, though, has added a new twist to the game. He “plants” his own rock and waits for it to get “live”,  when he harvests it. I can truly support this type of preservation-oriented approach. To date, Londeree has dropped more than 3 million pounds of rock into the briny farm at a cost of more than $138,000. Perhaps the government federal and state should be working on plans to help this lucrative industry with grant money and low-interest loans. The government consensus is that aquaculture is the answer to supplying  enough live rock to satisfy the demand. It’s good for the reef hobby and it’s good for coral reef environments.

For a dropped word
Sometimes the obvious must be state, as was discovered at the North Jersey Aquarium Society Tropical Fish Weekend not long ago. The weekend of seminars, auctions, banquet, display room and hospitality roon also included an all-species tropical fish show. In order to include all the needed information on the flyer, an abbreviated set of show rules was listed. Culling out some of the words that were repetitive, like North Jersey, tropical fsih and hobbyist lead to some problems. Specifically, the dropping of the words tropical fishform the show instructions changed a sentence explaining that “open” or “all other” classes were for livebearers and egglayers that were not listed in or did not fit nto previous existing classes. A club member, Ron Giggs, gave the rules his own interpretation and placed an unusual entry in the egglayer open class a live chicken ! The moral of the story is read and re-read your entry forms and do not skimp on needed explanations and instructions. It was, of course, sad that the judges did award the chicken a second-place trophy in the open class.

They have scales, don’t  they ?!
Speaking of tropical fish shows, many aquarium clubs are saching in on the growing popularity of reptiles and amphibians. There are a lot of club across the country that now include some herp classes at their annual tropical fish shows. Some of the more popular classes of aquatic beasties include all other aquatic animals: salamanders, newts and other aquatic lizards, frogs and toads, turtles and tortoises, and snakes. These classes have proved to be popular by the number of entries and the spectator interest. If your club is looking to expand its tropical fish show, I would suggest a look into reptiles and amphibians.