This article first appeared on Care2.com
Nearly all fish living in saltwater aquarium tanks began their lives thousands of miles away on warm tropical reefs, according to For the Fishes (FTF), a nonprofit working to protect the future of reefs and wildlife. Many of these fragile fish die before reaching aquariums from poisoning, the stress of captivity or the inhumane practices used in handling and transport to the pet store.
“Most people have no idea that the saltwater fish they are buying for their aquarium were captured in the wild,” said Rene Umberger founder and executive director of FTF and a consultant to the HSUS and Humane Society International on coral reef wildlife issues. “Aquarium hobbyists automatically assume that they are buying fish that were bred in captivity.”
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According to FTF, only 2 percent of fish species kept in saltwater tanks can be bred in captivity. The other 98 percent are among the most trafficked animals in the world. They are captured on reefs depleted and degraded from overfishing and cyanide use and exposed to ill treatment leading to prolonged suffering and premature death. On many tropical reefs, methods of wild capture include the illegal use of cyanide as a stunning agent, puncturing of organs, spine cutting and starvation prior to transport.
“It’s almost impossible to breed saltwater fish, which is why there are fewer than 60 species that are commercially available out of the 2,500 marine fish species that the U.S. currently imports for the aquarium industry,” Umberger said.
Continue reading “How to Make Ocean-Friendly Choices for Your Saltwater Aquarium”
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While it’s illegal to release non-native species into the wild, many pet owners who no longer want their pets will turn them loose. Releasing unwanted pets into the wild is both cruel and bad for the environment. Domestic rabbits, ferrets, rats and mice and aquarium fish have all been released to fend for themselves — often leading to either their death or disastrous environmental consequences.
The release of exotic pets in Florida is such a huge problem that the Department of Fish Game and Wildlife created an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day where pet owners can surrender unwanted pets without penalty.
Here’s a list of popular pets that people often consider releasing into the wild and why they shouldn’t:
There’s a common misconception that domesticated ferrets are wild animals and can fend for themselves if turned loose. That’s not true. According to the American Ferret Association, Inc., ferrets were domesticated by humans as early as 63 BCE and shouldn’t be confused with the black-footed wild ferret. If a domesticated ferret is turned loose into the wild he or she will rarely survive more than a few days.
What to do instead: Reach out to a local shelter to see if it will accept and rehome your ferret. The Ferrets Rescue Shelter Directory provides a global list of shelters and rescues dedicated to finding new homes for ferrets.
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Continue reading “Why You Should Never Release Pets Into the Wild”
This post first appeared on Care2.com
You adopted your dog and cat from a local animal shelter and now you would like to add an aquarium to your home. As an animal welfare advocate, you wonder if it’s possible to adopt a fish? The answer is yes but you may have to do a little more research to find fish in need of a home. You’ll also need to decide on the type of aquarium you want to keep.
“Adopting fish is a great idea,” said Ted Colletti, a member of the North Jersey Aquarium Society (NJAS) and author of The Tub Pond Handbook and Aquarium Care of Livebearers. “Fish are animals too. They may not be cuddly like dogs or cats, but they can still feel discomfort and suffer from neglect just like others pets.”
Experts say first-time aquarium hobbyists should focus on freshwater fish. Before rushing out to adopt your fish it’s important that you learn everything you can about the proper care and size and maintenance of tanks. Many clubs like the NJAS hold monthly meetings, welcome beginners and are eager to share their knowledge on fish keeping.
Where to find homeless fish
Petco’s “Think Adoption First” policy extends to fish with some stores offering fish for adoption on an “as available” basis. The fish are surrendered by owners who no longer want them and can be viewed in adoption tanks at the store. There isn’t a formal application process for adopting surrendered fish, instead, adopters are asked to fill out a standard animal care form and are educated on the care of the fish before taking them home.
Some shelters offer fish for adoption
Petfinder.org is a great place to being your search for shelter fish. Choose Scales, Fins & Others from the “Type” drop-down menu. If a specific location doesn’t show fish in need of homes, go to the advanced search box and choose “anywhere.” This will show you fish for adoption nationwide and you can search for shelters within driving distance. Some humane societies and rescue groups will ship fish to adopters.
Continue reading “Looking to Adopt a Fish? Here’s How to Find Fish in Need of Homes”
This post first appeared on Care2.com.
Certified Humane Educator Doriane Lucia has fond memories of caring for pets in the classroom. In fact, she credits classroom fish and a caring fifth-grade teacher with fostering her love and compassion for animals.
“This experience was huge for me. I didn’t know years later this would become my life’s mission, but even if it hadn’t, it would still have taught me responsibility,” said Lucia, who received her Master’s degree in Humane Education from Cambridge College in Boston, Mass. and The Institute for Humane Education, and is a member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators.
When the Pet Care Trust began offering Pets in the Classroom grants in 2011, more than 500 teachers nationwide applied. Today, the grant program has issued close to 40,000 grants with an average of 50 students being impacted per grant. The grants are offered to public school, kindergarten through sixth-grade classes, and are intended to support pets or aquariums in the classroom.
A classroom pet can be fun and exciting for schoolchildren, but it also has real educational, leadership and character-building value, according to a 2015 studypublished by the American Humane Association (AHA). According to the AHA study, the most popular classroom pets were fish followed by guinea pigs, hamsters, bearded dragons and leopard geckos. Several teachers who responded to the survey said that they had more than one classroom pet, such as a “rabbit, hamster, fish, two turtles,” “fish and lizards,” and “Beta Fish and Dwarf Frogs.”
Bearded dragons made the list of popular classroom pets in an American Humane Association study.
Keeping and breeding tropical fish outdoors in the warmer months is a practice as old as the 100-year-old tropical fish hobby itself, according to experts at the North Jersey Aquarium Society (NJAS). Homeowners interested in breaking into the hobby should start small with tubs on their decks or patios.
Once the tub is in place and the climate is right it’s time to begin introducing plants such as dwarf water lilies, iris cattails, water hyacinth, and pickerels. In June families can start adding white cloud mountain minnows, rosy barbs and zebra fish to the tub. If you want fish to breed in your container include livebearers such as platies and guppies.
Continue reading “How to Take Your Fish Hobby Outdoors”
Pet fish offer a nice alternative for busy households or for families with members who are allergic to dogs or cats. You don’t have to walk, groom or clean up after fish every day. And while it’s true that you can’t pet or cuddle with fish, there are some aquarium buddies who do have friendly and interesting personalities. Some fish learn to recognize their owners, others can be fed by hand and still others entertain families with their fun antics or their habit of rearranging ornaments in the aquarium.
Before rushing out to purchase a fun fish, do some homework just as you would before adding any new pet to the family. When deciding on what type of fish or what size tank you want, consider your living space. The rule of thumb is an inch of fish per gallon, so keep that in mind when choosing a species of fish.
Continue reading “Friendly Fish Make Great Pets”