Commercially Viable Fish Species – Aquarium Fishes


Viable fish species have not been spared by the fluctuations that have marred the marine ecosystem. Both anthropogenic and natural interferences have led to their decline though efforts are being made to preserve them. Some of the most common aquarium fishes include catfish, cyprinids, bichirs, characins, redfish, Coraciiformes, cichlids, killifish, pufferfish, labyrinth, loaches, rainbow fish, gar, spiny eels, and cypriniforms (Matishov et al. 1-2). This paper looks at the management of these commercially viable fish species.

Role of human users on aquarium fishes extinction

Destructions to the aquarium fish natural habitats were reported as corals were broken in the process by fish collectors. Algal overgrowth was also reported since the harvesters took with them the precious herbivorous species that play a great role in the growth reduction. There were great instances of over-harvesting which posed an extinction threat on the most harvested species. All these impacted negatively on the reef health and there were major concerns on the future of aquarium fishes hence their management (Tissot 1-2).

Management of aquarium fishes

The required fishes for an aquarium must be of high quality since they are sought for the aesthetic value that makes them commercially viable. This trend has led to their overexploitation thus endangering them. In a quest to manage them, there have been numerous calls geared at sustaining these species. There has been a crisis in the aquarium industry for many years now with major conflicts occurring between aquarium collectors and recreational divers who complained of their decline. This has led to the issuing of collecting permits to the aquarium fish enthusiasts especially in Hawaii, which has suffered a huge blow on its marine life. in 1995 only, aquarium fish worth US$ 844,843 had been harvested and this was a cause for alarm (Helfman 406).

Otherwise known as the marine ornamental trade, the aquarium trade has gained ground in up to 12 island countries and this has affected the fish due to over-harvesting to meet the market demands. These pacific islands include Palau, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Republic of Vanuatu, French Polynesia, RMI, New Caledonia, PNG, Kingdom of Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, and FSM. To save these endangered species, Fish Replenishment Areas (FRAs) have been set up which serve as reserves where the fish collection is prohibited (Minato 1-2).

As a result, there has been a noted decline in the over-harvesting of aquarium fish and this has worked towards their sustainability. Human users make a livelihood from aquarium fish as they are employed as harvesters and caregivers. To ensure that there are enough supplies of the aquarium fish, governments in collaboration with non-governmental organizations have set up aquaculture facilities that cater for expansion through breeding and rearing (Kinch and Teitelbaum 4-6).

In addition, the introduction of exotic species to the aquarium fish has paid off as a strategy in their management since they replace those facing extinction. These exotic species include cichlid and spiny daphnia. The introduction of books on aquarium fishes as well as workshops on how to rear them has contributed to their effective management. More aquarists are thus aware of how to take care of this marine life and this has reduced their death rates significantly as compared to past figures (Goldstein et al. 3-4).


Fish are a natural resource that has grown into a million-dollar business in the pacific island countries. A majority of people in these countries rely on aquarium fish harvesting for a living. However, there have been numerous cases of overexploitation of these commercially viable species as the market demand rises. This has called for management strategies aimed at curbing this destruction as well as the initiation of restricted harvesting to safeguard these ornaments. Aquarium fishes are cherished for their aesthetic and therapeutic value and that is why they remain popular with their many enthusiasts.

Works Cited

Goldstein Robert, Harper Rodney, and Edwards Richard. American aquarium fishes.USA: Library of Congress Publishing, 2000. Print.

Helfman, Gene. Fish conservation: a guide to understanding and restoring global aquatic biodiversity and fishery resources. USA: Island Press, 2007. Print.

Kinch, Jeff and Teitelbaum, Antoine. “Proceedings of the sub-regional workshop on the marine ornamental trade in the pacific.” Secretariat of the Pacific Community, 2.4 (2009): 4-6. Print.

Matishov Gennady, Denisov Vladmir, Dzhenyuk Sergey, Karamushko Oleg, and Daler Dag. “The impact of fisheries on the dynamics of commercial fish species in Barents Sea and the Sea of Azov, Russia: A Historical Perspective”. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 33.4 (2004): 1-2. Print.

Minato, Charissa. “Research discovers more fish in West Hawaii Aquarium Project.” Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, 8.18 (2002) 1-2. Print.

Tissot, Brian. “Adaptive management of aquarium fish collecting in Hawaii.” SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin, 16.6 (1999). 4-6. Print.

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