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Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Responsibilities of an Aquarist

The responsibilities of an Aquarist
By Jourdan E. Cameron

When most people think of responsibility and aquariums, usually they think of remembering to feed the goldfish, or cleaning out their aquarium. This, of course, is the primary responsibility of an aquarist. However, there is yet another job which lies before everyone with or without aquaria: it is a responsibility to their local ecosystem. It is their job to protect it from harm. For an aquarist, however, this also includes keeping your fish where they belong- in your aquarium! by releasing your fish because your aquarium was perhaps too small, you are doing a disservice to:

A. Your fish, because they may not survive, but if they do,

B. Your local ecosystem, because if the fish survive, they are capable of wreaking havoc, and

C. Aquarists worldwide, because by letting your fish go, aquarists who are responsible end up taking the blame, and sometimes suffer the consequence of never being able to keep that fish as a result of it's being banned.

What steps can you take to prevent this? The first is to educate yourself on a species you intend to keep, for example, something as a goldfish. Most people know that they can be purchased for cheap, however, few people actually understand their requirements, such as a relatively large aquarium. By learning about what is necessary for your fish, you are taking the right path, and by following through with their needs, your fish will, as a result, thrive. However, by purchasing fish without understanding their needs, you harm the fish, because they end up unhealthy from something missing, you harm your wallet, because you may soon require a larger aquarium, and if you do something such as letting your fish go, you hurt the environment.
Another way to uphold your duties is that while you are already being responsible care for your fish, you don't accidentally release something from your aquarium For example, during water changes, people have been known to find that they nearly "threw out the baby with the bathwater" when they discovered that their fish had young, and that they were in the bucket of water they were about to throw away. To stop this from happening, after changing your water, let the debris settle in the bucket you are using, this way, you can see if anything is darting around in the bucket, and use the water for your plants, since it is full of valuable nutrients you wouldn't want to throw down the drain (not unless, of course, you have a marine aquarium) and be wary of letting snails go! Though they might not seem as if they will affect the environment, they may. I, the author, once introduced the small, brown snails into my aquarium, and they quickly multiplied. Later, though, I introduced larger grey mystery snails, which where just as docile as the other snails, but because of their size, were able to obtain food much more quickly, and soon, the smaller snails almost vanished. Your introducing a species may have untold effects, and though the species may not harm native species directly, it most certainly might be capable of eliminating important sources of food!
A third way of responsibility falls on another type of aquarist. This aquarist, however, holds one of the largest responsibilities of all: it is the pet shop owner. The person who owns a store that sells fish is the bearer of quite a load: this person must ensure that his or her livestock is going to receive proper care, and also must make a point of educating the consumer. If such is not done, why, the owner of the store may be held accountable for the trouble caused by the fish he or she sold!
This is a massive responsibility.
Really, in the end, being responsible falls upon various shoulders. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be done? That is up to you.

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Anonymous Syphoneira said...

Thanks for making these important points, Jourdy.
And even if shop owners are't legally responsible, the owners are, and morally as well.
I very much enjoyed the article, which was clear and well-written; I wish I could do half as well.

5:26 PM  

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