Reef-Friendly Resolutions for 2014

A sustainable reef aquarium hobby minimizes the impact on coral reefs around the world.

A sustainable reef aquarium hobby minimizes the impact on coral reefs around the world.

Happy New Year to all our salty friends around the world! Chris and I wish you and your loved ones the very best in 2014. We’d also like to express our sincere gratitude for the support you’ve given us since we launched Saltwater Smarts last spring and for the sponsors whose generous contributions make this website possible.

Somewhere around the stroke of 12:00 this morning, many of us resolved to make positive changes or kick some unhealthy habits to the curb so we can live longer, healthier, happier lives. Chris and I have also resolved to strengthen our commitment to promoting a sustainable—and, of course, enjoyable—marine aquarium hobby. We hope you’ll join us in making the following reef-friendly resolutions for 2014:

Buy captive-bred/propagated livestock

With more and more species of marine fish being bred in captivity nowadays, hobbyists routinely propagating corals of all kinds, and high-quality aquacultured live rock available on the market, it’s now possible to enjoy a thriving, fascinating marine aquarium with little or no impact to natural reefs or wild fish stocks.

Shun impulse livestock purchases

At one time or another, we’ve all been tempted to buy a really gorgeous fish or invertebrate that we know little to nothing about, assuming we’ll get it home first and then figure out what its care requirements are later. Anyone who has “been there and done that” knows the outcome of such impulse purchases is often a deceased specimen and a disheartened hobbyist.

Research all stocking decisions

The best protection against impulse livestock purchases is advance research and planning. Plan your stocking list and stick to your plan! Proper research ensures you’ll never end up with a species that you cannot feed, grows way too large for your system, or is otherwise inappropriate for aquarium life.

Speak up wherever unsustainable species are sold

The next time you’re in an LFS and see species for sale that have no business in hobbyists’ tanks (such as these brutes), consider politely sharing your concerns with the manager. If he/she responds with indifference, “vote with your feet” by shopping somewhere else.

Give something back to the hobby

If you’ve been in the hobby for a while and achieved a decent level of success, perhaps 2014 will be the year to start giving something back to the hobby in the form of coral frags you’ve propagated yourself or, if you’re up to the time commitment and challenge, fish specimens you’ve bred in captivity.

Share what you’ve learned with newcomers

As every experienced salty knows, there’s a steep learning curve to the marine aquarium hobby. Don’t keep all the knowledge you’ve acquired to yourself! Sharing your insights and experiences with others may just help a novice hobbyist sidestep a few common pitfalls, which should translate directly into fewer livestock losses.

Photo Credit: USFWS/Jim Maragos

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About Jeff Kurtz

Jeff Kurtz is the Co-founder/Editor of Saltwater Smarts, former Senior Consulting Editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and the aquarist formerly known as “The Salt Creep.” He has been an aquarium hobbyist for over 30 years and is an avid scuba diver.

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