Deeply Disturbed About Fish Being Shipped in the Mail

Orion5

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I know this is common practice, the shipping of fish, but I was going through some threads here in the forum about people receiving fish in the mail "dead on arrival" or about the ways that fish are packaged for shipping. I also get that they are often shipped over long distances.

To be completely honest, this practice bothers me beyond belief. I read about how these fish are shipped in containers that would be about the same size as a human shipped in a coffin, or wrapped in wet newspaper - all sorts of atrocities - and I cringe.

Don't get me wrong- I know that all tropical fish had to come from somewhere far away from me, and were mailed or shipped over long distances in the same (or worse) conditions than what I described, with high death rates and incredible amounts of stress to the animals. But I've made the decision that I will, from now on, only be keeping fish that have been bred locally in my own city.

It's not the best solution, but I simply can't stomach the things these fish endure to get here. I'm hoping that there are breeders here who offer their fish decent conditions and are reasonably responsible when it comes to the animals' welfare.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts... I'm no longer considering mail-order for my fish stock. I'm hoping others might do the same.

Thanks for reading.
 

James95

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I know this is common practice, the shipping of fish, but I was going through some threads here in the forum about people receiving fish in the mail "dead on arrival" or about the ways that fish are packaged for shipping. I also get that they are often shipped over long distances.

To be completely honest, this practice bothers me beyond belief. I read about how these fish are shipped in containers that would be about the same size as a human shipped in a coffin, or wrapped in wet newspaper - all sorts of atrocities - and I cringe.

Don't get me wrong- I know that all tropical fish had to come from somewhere far away from me, and were mailed or shipped over long distances in the same (or worse) conditions than what I described, with high death rates and incredible amounts of stress to the animals. But I've made the decision that I will, from now on, only be keeping fish that have been bred locally in my own city.

It's not the best solution, but I simply can't stomach the things these fish endure to get here. I'm hoping that there are breeders here who offer their fish decent conditions and are reasonably responsible when it comes to the animals' welfare.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts... I'm no longer considering mail-order for my fish stock. I'm hoping others might do the same.

Thanks for reading.
I agree with you, Orion. Most tropical fish we buy in our local pet stores are bred either here in the Southern U.S. (Florida, Mississippi, etc) or are shipped here from fish farms over in Asia. They go through an incredible about of stress to get here. Any time I see "locally bred" on one of my dealer's tanks, it makes me happy to know that those fish are probably in much better condition than the overseas arrivals.
 

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Unless you're planning on collecting them in nature yourself, I am afraid this is how all fish stores get their product. With Saltwater you have almost no choice, but with freshwater I know in NC we have a lot of breeders. I have gotten most freshwater fish through our local club auction held twice a year.
 
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Orion5

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Unless you're planning on collecting them in nature yourself, I am afraid this is how all fish stores get their product. With Saltwater you have almost no choice, but with freshwater I know in NC we have a lot of breeders. I have gotten most freshwater fish through our local club auction held twice a year.
My local club is a great source for fish as well, locally bred.

I am categorically against the salt water fish trade, and especially reef-keeping. I am also aware that this will likely bug a lot of people here on the forum, but I can't in good conscience keep a salt water aquarium.
 

MaximillianL

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A lot of people don't care about the welfare of the fish, just money and how to ship the poor little guys as cheaply as possible, which is wrong because the fish is half dead/traumatized when it gets to it's destination.
 

ricmcc

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While I won't endorse your entire philosophy, Orion, as many animals that we eat are kept in worse conditions, think veal, I will say that in buying locally you can save yourself some grief, as the fish you buy are born and bred in water similar to your own.
I believe that marine fish are now caught with far less harsh methods than the dilute bleach spray used many years ago, and that the marine tropical fish industry does support the creation of artificial reefs, just because it makes economic sense for them to do so.
In much the same way, Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika have benefited from the pet trade, as it far most profitable to collect a fish for trade than for food. Compare those lakes to Lake Victoria, which is now almost devoid of cichlids due to the introduction of non native fish to establish a commercial fishing industry--the people would have been better served, sorry to put it that way, by selling the local fish to the pet industry..
While I have dived on many reefs, I have never kept marine fish, so am not really in a position to comment on the ethics of keeping fish rarely bred in captivity, I can say that I am an advocate of buying captive bred stock.
If you ever happen over to St. Maurice Park, and are lucky enough to see a wood turtle, it may well have been born in my apartment---really, I had the room, was in Montreal for a year, and got involved with a group headed by a Prof at McGill--took longer to fill out the paperwork than to breed the things.---rick
 

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I agree with you, I got into the hobby and didn't even know fish could be posted like letters. I think it's somewhat illegal in the UK, I know someone was arrested for it and the royal mail don't allow it, not that they can check every parcel.

I took the risk and ordered assassin snails from someone, one was dead when they got here, and that just was snails! They could even keep a few snails alive!

This is just my personal opinion, I have a lot of respect for the animals and I don't think they should be posted around like letters. I understand it is probably the only way to get good species, so each to their own. I'll just buy fish from the pet shop, I know they went through it too but me not buying them isn't going to stop it.
 

Roxie Brookshire

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Makes sense to me. I always try to buy things made locally, grown locally, bred locally or at the very least sold locally where possible. Mostly because I don't want my small town to become extinct.

And hey, if you buy locally bred fish they are acclimated at birth to your type of water. It would also be loads easier to get information on their family tree if you ever needed it. (Like, "Hey I breed these guppies and this one looks really different.")
 

Jake98

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My local club is a great source for fish as well, locally bred.

I am categorically against the salt water fish trade, and especially reef-keeping. I am also aware that this will likely bug a lot of people here on the forum, but I can't in good conscience keep a salt water aquarium.
I respect your opinion and many fish as well as oceanic resources have been exploited over the years. However a great deal of the fish in the marine trade especially the popular fish ie. clownfish are almost all captive bred. Using Cyanide is almost non existent anymore most are collected by hand via local divers. Many of the worlds reefs are in a declining state due to rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification among other factors luckily corals can be propagated mitigating the need to essential "clear cut" reefs for the aquarium trade. A great deal of corals are actually aquacultured and many saltwater lfs propagate there own coral from their stock. I would be more concerned about the many freshwater fish that are endemic to a particular region or even lake or stream than the declining practice of capturing wild SW fish.

Im not trying to start an argument with you just to better understand your point of view and hopefully learn something myself, but why would you never keep a salt water aquarium, and how is it different than keeping a freshwater aquarium?
 
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Orion5

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I respect your opinion and many fish as well as oceanic resources have been exploited over the years. However a great deal of the fish in the marine trade especially the popular fish ie. clownfish are almost all captive bred. Using Cyanide is almost non existent anymore most are collected by hand via local divers. Many of the worlds reefs are in a declining state due to rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification among other factors luckily corals can be propagated mitigating the need to essential "clear cut" reefs for the aquarium trade. A great deal of corals are actually aquacultured and many saltwater lfs propagate there own coral from their stock. I would be more concerned about the many freshwater fish that are endemic to a particular region or even lake or stream than the declining practice of capturing wild SW fish.

Im not trying to start an argument with you just to better understand your point of view and hopefully learn something myself, but why would you never keep a salt water aquarium, and how is it different than keeping a freshwater aquarium?
No argument started. I'm not vehemently against the salt water aquarium hobby, I'm just not particularly "pro" salt water either.

Unfortunately the major reports that most fish / specimens are harvested by local fisherman/divers is mostly a hoax, Most investigative reports have determined that cyanide and explosives are still the norm. We could argue this for hours and hours, but I tend to trust my sources on this. And then we get to the harvesting of live rock, with a high premium still being placed on the stuff that is from nature (not cultured) because of the high biodiversity of the rock itself. The state of Florida has banned the harvesting of wild live rock specifically because the aquarium trade decimated it in the extreme.

Of course, this doesn't necessarily refer to the individual hobbyist, who may have one or two tanks at home that are likely small. I would imagine that a more important problem is the commercial aquarium - those giant ones in hotel lobbies and businesses. The amount of stock, coral and rock needed for these mammoth systems is unbelievable. To say that they don't have an effect on international reefs would be questionable at best.

Instead of putting all that money and time into keeping reef tanks and saltwater fish, I donate it to reef conservation organizations. Some of these, mind you, are made up of current and former reef aquarists - so I can't say that the hobby itself isn't contributing to conservation. But reefs are incredibly important ecosystems that need to be preserved for so many reasons, and they are badly understood and terribly abused (not just by aquarists, as you mentioned), and we can't say we aren't an important contributing factor.
 

Brandon Bennett

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I didn't think about how they were shipped until I read your thread but I'm thinking that the fish go through a similar process getting to the fish store, unfortunately.

I've never ordered fish online but have thought about it. There's not too many people in the hobby locally so we either get fish from PetsMart or go without. There are no other fish stores besides Wal-Mart and I refuse to go there.

I wonder what folks do that live in even smaller communities with no LFS at all? :/
 

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Ethical treatment of living is a definite issue universally, and the only way to make it better is to be aware and raise awareness whenever possible.

By carefully selecting where your pets and stock come from (both fresh and saltwater), and ensuring that genetics are being carefully and responsibly conserved, the future of some species is ensured only via private aquariums. There are amazing articles out there of terrestrial animals that were in extreme danger of extinction, like Père David's deer, that may one day be capable of actually leaving the endangered lists due to the actions of individuals. There is no question that problems exist in our world, what is important is that we can make it better, we can make responsible, ethical decisions, and we can make sure the future can be better than today. Whether it is breeding endangered fish or coral so they don't die out, or just making responsible and informed choices so whole industries can slowly become aware of the goodness they can preserve, each of us is important, and is powerful.

With no LFS, it is possible to hand-carry aquatics for long distances with proper containment and filtration. Can be very expensive, but with planning it does not have to be. Patience and timing can be powerful allies.
 

ricmcc

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Orion, perhaps I should apologize, as my rather emotional response perhaps was more due to the Habs beating the Leafs in a game they had no business winning.
But all that I was trying to say is that local fish populations would by better protected be the far more lucrative practise of shipping them to the pet trade, and therefore giving a great incentive to protecting their resources, than simply eating them or destroying their environment. In a world that comes down to economics, it does make sense, I think, and as well, the more humane and therefore fewer loss of the product is not so much a matter of empathy, but mere good business sense.
I only mention wood turtles as all herps, basically, as now protected under CITES, which is generally a good thing, but has also resulted in , for example, a 12" red footed tortoise, captive bred as are all herps available in Canada today, being sold for close to a $1,000------while if you visit Columbia,for example, the same size species will be sold in small town markets for food at less than $10.00, as they cannot be shipped------I am just saying that it would be of benefit to both the species and the local population of people were policies somewhat more rational.
And we did release quite a few wood turtles back into St Maurice, although they remain extinct in parts of their former range.----that extinction had little do do with the pet trade..--rick
 
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Orion5

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While I won't endorse your entire philosophy, Orion, as many animals that we eat are kept in worse conditions, think veal, I will say that in buying locally you can save yourself some grief, as the fish you buy are born and bred in water similar to your own.
I believe that marine fish are now caught with far less harsh methods than the dilute bleach spray used many years ago, and that the marine tropical fish industry does support the creation of artificial reefs, just because it makes economic sense for them to do so.
In much the same way, Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika have benefited from the pet trade, as it far most profitable to collect a fish for trade than for food. Compare those lakes to Lake Victoria, which is now almost devoid of cichlids due to the introduction of non native fish to establish a commercial fishing industry--the people would have been better served, sorry to put it that way, by selling the local fish to the pet industry..
While I have dived on many reefs, I have never kept marine fish, so am not really in a position to comment on the ethics of keeping fish rarely bred in captivity, I can say that I am an advocate of buying captive bred stock.
If you ever happen over to St. Maurice Park, and are lucky enough to see a wood turtle, it may well have been born in my apartment---really, I had the room, was in Montreal for a year, and got involved with a group headed by a Prof at McGill--took longer to fill out the paperwork than to breed the things.---rick
There are indeed many instances where harvesting fish for the aquarium trade has benefited both the community and environmental protection. Wild-caught neon tetras are a wonderful example of this, and as you said some cichlids in Africa as well.

However I do disagree with the creation of artificial reefs as a viable substitute for natural ones. We can see the same loss of biodiversity when old-growth forest is destroyed, but forestry companies try to vindicate themselves by saying they have replanted all the trees. The truth is that an artificial reef- while becoming an enormous benefit to the community involved - remains a poor imitation for the reef it replaces, which took thousands of years to come into creation. The loss of diversity whenever a reef is destroyed, or even modified or slightly over harvested, is astronomical. I can't in good conscience support artificial reef creation as an adequate "replacement" for natural ones, which are in effect heavily affected by the ornamental aquarium trade.

We must also keep in mind that what Africans are doing to these lakes is in the name of food production (in most cases), and so directing their attention to the aquarium trade isn't really an option for a couple of reasons. One, they need to eat the fish and the money gained from selling the fish as pets may not be useful to them (food purchase infrastructure isn't as good as we would like in many countries); and also because many cichlids are easily bred in captivity. There may simply not be a market for most of them anymore...

But my opinion isn't necessarily a philosophy- it's more just a common sense approach to animal welfare and conservation. I figure, if you don't buy it, it won't get sold; and if it's not sold, it doesn't need to get harvested; and if it's not harvested, habitat has more chance to be saved.
 

ricmcc

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I agree quite to the point that habitat protection is far better than habitat restoration, but perhaps diverge on saying that an economic model is the most likely to succeed in these matters,if it is a local, perhaps, micro, economy, that rewards local conservation and local welfare; well, I am a Keynesian, i guess,---best to you, Hab fan, rick
Btw, not to put to put fine a point on it, and I do agree that coral reefs do take 1,000's of years to grow, the artificial reef program does work very well--I have been scuba diving among deliberately sunk ships, and, save for the coral, the bio diversity is, to my eye, basically the same.
I have strayed rather from your main topic, tho, i think that being the suffering of animals in transit---with this, I do wholly agree, and would be quite willing to pay more from something surtaxed for, 'safe carriage'--on this, I think we agree.
 
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Orion5

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I agree quite to the point that habitat protection is far better than habitat restoration, but perhaps diverge on saying that an economic model is not the most likely to succeed in these matters,if it is a local, perhaps, micro, economy, that rewards local conservation and local welfare; well, I am a Keynesian, i guess,---best to you, Hab fan, rick
Btw, not to put to put fine a point on it, and I do agree that coral reefs do take 1,000's of years to grow, the artificial reef program does work very well--I have been scuba diving among deliberately sunk ships, and, save for the coral, the bio diversity is, to my eye, basically the same.
You need to count species (fish, coral, algae, plants, micro/macro) to determine biodiversity. Unfortunately a casual observation doesn't mean much biologically, despite the fact that it might look quite beautiful. Sort of how crystal clear aquarium water may be deadly poisonous.

I'm not much of a Habs fan though. Sorry to disappoint!
 

ricmcc

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Well, I can forgive your lack of being a Habs fan, tho just barely-Best to you, rick
And I do agree that a casual glance does little, a long term view far more, which is why I fear Warming more than the pet trade.
That, and the fact that while attending school in Guelph, I happened to find myself living with a Marine Biology student, and until later marriages, feared her above all
 
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James95

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This whole thread is really making me think twice about starting a marine tank with live rock. Maybe some artificial live rock and tank bred clowns would be the most Eco friendly option! Here's the stuff I'm referring to:
 
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Orion5

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This whole thread is really making me think twice about starting a marine tank with live rock. Maybe some artificial live rock and tank bred clowns would be the most Eco friendly option! Here's the stuff I'm referring to:
If you insist on using live rock, there are cultured varieties which work reasonably well (I am told...), and there are captive-propagated corals you can get as well. And if you're really thinking of it, I've been told that hiring someone to set up your tank and help you with maintenance the first few months decreases the incidence of fish/coral death by a HUGE margin. It's almost worth the extra expense depending on the size of your system.
 

ricmcc

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While agreeing to disagree with you on some minor points, Orion, I concede the debate, well and truly won by you.
Of course I can only concede my small portion of the debate-all the best, rick
 
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