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Behind the Curtains of Responsible Fish-Keeping
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Jason L
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Joined: 18 Feb 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2008.03.13(Thu)7:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The only way we could save the fish is to stop selling to folk that doesn't have a clue what nitrogen cycle, fish compatibility and fish requirement is!!

And how to do that?

Law should state that anyone who wants to purchase an aquarium fish specie, have to show the "Responsible fish-keeper" Certificate, purchased by a local Aquarium Club.
Also, the Aquarium Club folk that has certified the new fish-keeper have the right by law to visit the fish-keeper and check onto his/her aquarium/fish.
Trust me this would work Wink


Dusko, I love the way you think! Sadly though, I never see anything like this coming to fruition, especially in North America

I have seen countless times in my ventures to Walmart, a shopping cart with a brand new 10 gallon (38L) aquarium kit and a couple of bags of fish right next to it. As long as there is a profit to be made, retailers like this and many others, will continue to sell to unsuspecting people who will probably experience 100% mortality in a few days or weeks.

I think one of the many problems we face is directly related to cost. If you can get a 10G(38L) setup for less than $30 and fish for a few dollars each, how much research is someone going to put into a $40 to $50 investment? If everything was more expensive, people may think twice about it. I have a 10G, as I am sure everyone on does, or has in the past; but I believe that if they were no longer allowed to be sold, like Dusko has mentioned before, that would drastically cut down on impulse buying. If that $50 price tag was all the sudden $100, most impulse buyers would think twice.

At my usual LFS, the man who owns it is a very responsible fish keeper and breeder. We have had many conversations on this very topic. He is frustrated on the density in shipping most fish. He has changed suppliers in the last couple years and has seen an improvement in the health and quality of the fish upon shipment. We were recently discussing how tightly packed the "cheaper" fish were as compared to the Discus, Fronts, Thopheus, etc. Bolivian Rams for instance sell for around $7 here for a 5cm specimen, and are very crowded in bags. When he gets juvenile Discus in, which sell for around $30 for a 5cm specimen, they have quite a bit of room in their bags. I know Discus are not as hardy as a Bolivian Ram, but this "rule" holds true for most species.

I strongly believe that cost plays a major factor in how the fish are treated upon shipment, and the ability for someone to make an impulse or an uneducated buy.
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Dusko
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Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: 2008.03.13(Thu)15:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sadly though, I never see anything like this coming to fruition, especially in North America


Jason L my friend, if you believe in something, you will make a change. One man, full of fate, can make a huge impact on people and inspire them to change. People these days don't believe much and are focused selfishly onto them selves and their closest family members.
But I want to believe that there are people that are moving the "others" to start rolling the wheel of change.
Don't wait for the change my friend, bring the change your self. You want make a sudden fast change, it will take time, years, decades maybe even longer, but better ever than never.

I am already making a change here in Sweden, and I am very proud of that.
I am educating my working colleges, not to sell fish just for the sake of money making and it took me half a year to actually make a difference, but I did it!!
They felt my words, they felt my belief, and were moved by it. Of course they still are saying that I'm a "crazy man, burning for fish well being", but they are following my example.
I am working for this shop for 16 month now, and I am proud to say that majority of my customers don't have problems with dead fish (nor dead plants nor algae problems) anymore.

Most of my customers are being informed about how interbred Guppys are, and that they aren't the best option for a beginner at all, especially in South of Sweden where most cities have very soft water.
On the other hand, customers that are purchasing Guppys and have soft water (GH 3-4), are taking my advice to use GH-Booster which this fish prefers. They don't report any/many deaths.

Quote:
As long as there is a profit to be made, retailers like this and many others, will continue to sell to unsuspecting people who will probably experience 100% mortality in a few days or weeks.


My newbee customers ask me about how many fish can they buy at once, and I always say NONE Smile
What they do instead, they get to plant 30% with fast growing plants first (Silent cycling), waiting one week, and if plants are thriving, start with no more than 6 small fish per week (algae eaters after one month).
All are following my advice and very few report fish deaths (even if they are Guppys).
BUT, even though I am spreading the philosophy of responsible fish-keeping, I am still making good profit for my shop. Actually, since the time I began to work for this place, we started making better profit than before, we jumped from 38% to 49%.
My customers are experiencing the joy of fish keeping and plant growing without dead fish and dead plants, without algae problems, and they usually come back to start another tank, Hi-light this time
Wink

What I am trying to say is, it is possible to sell the fish responsibly and still make a good profit.
I mean, my Boss wasn't happy at first when hearing me saying to customers that they shouldn't buy a Fancy Goldfish for a 11 gallons, but after seeing me selling instead (to the same customer) plants, liquid fertilisers NPK, pressurized CO2 system, stronger lights and a bigger tank, he now gave me a total freedom of speech, and the right to educate our CO2-workers, so every one is advising customers exact as I do Very Happy

Quote:
If everything was more expensive, people may think twice about it.

Yes, saltwater fish and corals are the best PROOF for it. You pay a lot and you don't want it to die Wink so you do wide research and ask lots of questions first.

Quote:
He is frustrated on the density in shipping most fish.


Tell me about it, my heart is braking when each week I get the shipment.
Lets not forget that these fish are traveling in such bags just so we could have/keep a few fish in our home aquariums for just a few bucks.
Happy customers (fish-keepers/heavers) and happy retailers/distributors,...and happy fish...or maybe not Confused

We can make a change by simply using this forum as a media, to spread the truth behind this hobby. Locally bred species only even though it limits the number of species being available to us. We don't have to necessarily own all the fish species of the world, do we?

Regards, Dusko
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nikelodeon79
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Joined: 08 Nov 2007
Location: Wisconsin, U.S.A.

PostPosted: 2008.03.13(Thu)15:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that a change can be made. Most fish-havers are not mean spirited people, just misinformed. Just in the past week, I have spoken with two different individuals who have aquariums about proper fishkeeping practices. They were very surprised to learn that much of the information they are receiving at the LFS is incorrect/misleading, and eager to do the right thing about their fish. One of the individuals has asked me to teach his young boys about fishkeeping. I think educating the next generation is a good place to start. Wink
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Slimy
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Joined: 20 Nov 2007

PostPosted: 2008.03.13(Thu)15:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally don't think people will ever get fish-keeping licenses. It just doesn't seem practical. On the other hand I do feel that shop-keepers and employees should be licensed and should be required to adhere to certain standards.
Licensing a profession is an idea people are already used to and comfortable with.
I for one would very much be willing to pay more for fish that are kept better, but I would definitely want to see the quality of care go up in stores.

This latter point is what I am mostly concerned about. I am lucky enough to live close to a very nice LFS. They clean their tanks daily and take good care of their stock. However it seems that some things are out of their control. I'm not sure how higher standards could be enforced so that they can reach breeders. I think this would need to happen to a large extent outside of the fishkeeping industry. Possibly with gov. animal rights intervention.
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Dusko
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Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: 2008.03.13(Thu)16:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On the other hand I do feel that shop-keepers and employees should be licensed and should be required to adhere to certain standards.

Yes, this could work also. My shop is an example that this works very well. Educated sales assistants. Great Very Happy

Quote:
I think educating the next generation is a good place to start.

This is a good thinking. Evolution rather than revolution. In revolution someone always get hurt Wink

Regards, Dusko
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Dusko
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Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: 2008.06.26(Thu)2:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

I copied this from another thread, since it is connected to this issue.

Dusko wrote;

Quote:
I am a customer and a LFS employee, so can talk on both sides of this story Wink

I have seen good shops and bad shops.
And I know that people are spreading bad news faster than good news. Which isn't a bad thing, it just makes you wonder who's to blame in this bad shops case Confused

As I already mentioned in this thread this thread we need better laws protecting the pets (in this case the fish/crusta species).

Most people involved in this hobby are ignorant, and lack enthusiasm to learn more.
Without laws people working in this hobby don't feel they have to make an extra effort and learn about species and their requirements.
They are focused on how to survive in this tuff world of competition between shops.
How can we blame them? We all have to pay for our bills and feed our family. It is the main reason to start a business or get a work.

Some companies train their employees to get better quality/service.
Some don't.

Local Aquarium Organisations together with Governments can help a lot in sorting out this issue.

Laws have to be made stating that everyone working in this industry has to go through an educational course organised by the Local Aquarium Org. which is supported by the Governments. Most Orgs will probably do it volunterely any way, to help spreading the Responsible Fish-Keeping Philosophy (I know I would)

Also these Organisations have to be linked by the law, so they can also evolve by working together. Not all orgs are of the same knowledge and quality.

ALSO;
All customers should be forced by the law to purchase a "Responsible Fish-Keeper Certificate" (in a form of an ID card) issued by the Local Aquarium Organisation.
Orgs should offer basic fish-keeping education/courses, so people get to understand the importance of cycling the tank and fish-requirements.

I purchased my cats from a Local Cat Org here in Sweden. Before getting the cast you have to sign the paper which states that this Org has the right to come and visit and check on the cats if they feel like it. I happily signed to support this cat protection method.
Once people know that they might come to check, they will be more focused on cat's well being.

The same can be done in the fish-keeping hobby where we all know how many fish-havers are out there.
Aquarium fish aren't protected that much.

I am not for rough laws. But rather laws which are focused on how to educate LFS employees, customers and improve/help Local Fish Organisations.

There is a way, we just have to support and believe in it Smile

So instead of complaining, do something to make a change.
Go and join your Local Aquarium Org and tell them about these ways of protecting the Aquarium fish.
Trust me one man/woman can make a huge difference if they believe!

As always, kind regards, Dusko

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Psyfalcon
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Joined: 14 Feb 2003
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: 2008.08.21(Thu)9:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusko, I'm going to have to start disagreeing a bit.

At least in the US, nothing happens, even in the government without some sort of profit. It will be tough to license sellers for that reason, but that is a valuable goal. The good shops always have a few fishhavers that won't be taught, but they do educate the new keepers, and have fewer in store losses.

Licensing the keeper might work, but it has its limitations. I don't practice it, but I'm familiar with some of the licensing, and resulting problems with falconry in the US. Here (but not Europe) we're talking about wild caught, apex predator raptors so some licensing should be required. You get a mentor, take a test, build your facilities, get them inspected, and get a bird. Sounds great, right?

The problem is actually pretty simple. Its not the time, or expense, and there are some important hurdles to pass. The problem is that it depends entirely on people, state fish and game mostly to control it. What is the standard of correct care? In some cases you have random inspections turn up a broken feather or two, which is definitely a "not good thing" but they can be broken in many ways, not just poor husbandry. Alas, the inspector may make you rebuild the entire enclosure just to be sure. Most states require a giant enclosure fit for a hawk, although the newbie falconer is allowed a small kestrel, but because they "might" end up with a hawk, they have to have one large enough for that.

So, we now have variably trained, and likely underpaid, people entering our homes looking for abused fish. Do we all need 75g or 180g tanks because we "might" get an Oscar instead of some Neons or even Convicts? What is the standard of care? Wasn't there a post a while ago with the petco or petsmart standards that included a total lack of algae as proper in store care? Good for sales I bet, but not for health. How clean must the filter be? Can I use my box filter or homemade sump or do I need an approved HOB and canister? The gravel? Some people are still convinced a deep sand bed will destroy the tank by choking the fish or releasing toxic gases (unlikely, really). Is a 55 enough for a Red Devil or do you need a 75? Most stop growing in the 12-14 inch range.

I'd rather not codify the last 4 years of this board and the 3 or 4 others I read on a regular basis. Fish keeping is an art and science that is constantly changing both in opinions and scientific fact. I wouldn't want someone with state of the art knowledge of 10 or even 5 years ago entering my home to try and see if my fish are being cared for.
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Dusko
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Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: 2008.08.21(Thu)12:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I wouldn't want someone with state of the art knowledge of 10 or even 5 years ago entering my home to try and see if my fish are being cared for.


I agree! I wouldn't allow the state officials to do it, no way, but wouldn't mind the Local Aquarium Society/Org to do it from time to time (this could be discussed a bit more).

Lets say this, the other day I explained a guy that Fancy Goldfish is a bad idea for a 10 galls and that he could be better off stocking with fish like most Tetras, Rasboras, Barbs... fish which doesn't exceed 5-6 cm when fully grown.
He was insulted and asked this:
"Are you saying that you are not going to sell me this fish"!!
Since there is no law in Sweden stating that LFS employee can say NO to an irresponsible customer, this guy went out of my shop with 3 goldfish!!
If I could have said NO, I would have saved 3 Fancy Goldfish. Of course there are more people which actually listen and in many cases return the goldfish to my shop and get some smaller species instead.

I don't know... this is not a simple issue. But I am sure there is a solution to it.

Regards, Dusko
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Sunstar
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Joined: 08 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: 2008.08.21(Thu)13:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is all very interesting. I was thinking if I got a job at a petsmart(as it is closest to me) that I would likly discuss with customers about what it is they intend to buy. I would not be surprised if this would be frowned uppon, but I agree, fish are living creatures that have every right to a pleasent life. I am trying to learn all I can learn. Even though I have been wiht fish nearly all my life, there is So much advancement. There is no excuse anymore for fish to live in poor environs.

Dusko, I think what is needed is awareness, which you are doing. Unfortunately to any cause, there is sometimes a sacrifice to be made. Its horrible to say that. But hopefully, hopefully that the person will learn.

Interestingly my sister and I were in a big al's and they inquired about her tank size and fish quantity when she purchased a fish. I was impressed.

At the petsmart across the road, the one fish man seems to not give a flying frag. I asked him quesitons, he didn't have an answer or just didn't want to answer. The other fish man was really good. I like him.

Scary, I was telling my inlaws about the fish I have and was telling them about my poor fish that died earlier this year was about 9.

Quote:
Jacquie has two gold fish. Although one turned silver when it grew. We were told Goldfish only live on average for 6 months.


Can you believe that?! they can live many many long years.

Personally, I dislike the idea of someone entering my home. I don't like people coming in even when they need to. (superintendants for emerg repairs) I am rather reclusive.

It is an interesting concept, and with some modifications, I think it is do-able.
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Dusko
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Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: 2009.08.07(Fri)1:48    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am just linking to this thread, since it is giving us a certain view;

http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=55848&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Regards, Dusko
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