In the United States, an estimated 13.1 million households have either freshwater or saltwater aquariums, according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey. Whether you’re a new aquarist or an expert, it’s more important now than ever to make sure your aquarium is eco-friendly. As demand grows around the world for corals and invertebrates to stock aquariums, sourcing sustainable coral and invertebrates will help ensure your much loved aquarium is not harming natural reef ecosystems. In order for aquaculture to be truly sustainable, aquarists should look to aquarium companies that honor the three pillars of sustainability:
- Environmental sustainability – aquaculturists should not cause significant harm to natural ecosystems, or cause the loss of biodiversity or substantial pollution impact.
- Economic sustainability – aquaculturists must be a viable business with good long-term prospects.
- Social and community sustainability – aquaculturists must be socially responsible and contribute to community well-being.
Sourcing Rocks And Coral
Instead of using plastic plants, a great alternative is using rocks, a perfectly natural alternative to plastic. Using rocks also gives your fish a place to hide while still being eco-friendly.
Coral is another typical decoration in reef tanks, favored for their incredible coloration and diversity. However, coral reefs globally are being destroyed each year through harvesting coral for natural reef ecosystems. Coral harvesting is actually illegal in the United States, but that doesn’t stop some aquarists from doing it. Coral reefs take decades to regrow and recover from intentional harvesting, making this practice extremely unsustainable. Instead, aquarist should consider a few other alternatives, such as:
- Cultivated rock (view out range here)
- Farmed coral grown in tanks (view out range here)
- Artificial reef rock
An Eco-Friendly Tank
There are lots of simple changes you can make to have a more environmentally friendly tank, to help promote sustainability. Firstly, obviously the size of your aquarium will have a direct impact on how much energy you’ll use. Which is a factor, first-time tank owner’s could consider. When you have your tank, cleaning and maintenance will be high on your agenda. There are many natural ways of promoting clean healthy tanks without the need for plastics or chemicals. Using low maintenance plants that require low light conditions will help naturally absorb toxins whilst providing helpful bacteria and oxygen. You can also enlist the help of a cleanup crew to naturally keep your aquarium clean and reduce your workload, such as the Blue Leg Hermit Crab. Not over-medicating or overfeeding and ensuring to turn the light off at night will also save you money, reduce the impact of your tank and make your tank inhabitants healthier.
We All Have A Part To Play
That includes us at Aquarium Depot! A key focus for us is ensuring a sustainable supply of corals and invertebrates. Both Scott and Christina Duncan are natives growing up in coastal Florida. During their lifetime, they have witnessed firsthand the decline in biodiversity across the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This has included experiencing the devastation caused by red tides, where harmful algal blooms produce a type of neurotoxin, brevetoxins, which is capable of killing fish, birds and other marine life. The red tide is now an annual occurrence, with background algal persisting year-round. Over the last 20-30 years, human impacts have amplified red tide events, and further exacerbated the problem due to disasters such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Meeting rigorous standards and ensuring our practices are sustainable are important. We have been certified by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture (Certification: AQ0262031) since 2011. As a certified aquaculture facility, we aim to lead the way in doing our part to actively prevent and end the decline of coral reef ecosystems globally. It is part of our ethos that as coral reefs worldwide become more threatened, addressing sustainability should be the number one concern among responsible coral growers. Since our certification, Aquarium Depot has increased the number of sustainable products to the marketplace by 90%. We also actively support ReefCause, who are working directly with conservation groups around the world to support reef conservation and rehabilitation initiatives.
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I am so glad to see this is a topic being openly discussed – we need to find ways to help the ocean – not deplete it any further.
Some of the brightest minds are really working feverishly to make all aquatic life 100% sustainable – some animals do not reproduce easily in captivity – but more and more – there are huge gains.