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Characterization of Hobbyist Ornamental fish production


DRSMP
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This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

Hello Everyone

My Name is Dr Samuel Pountney, I am a reproductive physiologist who specialises in domestication of new and novels species. I am currently an Independent researcher who is looking to characterise the production of fish by ornamental hobbyists.
In this thread I am going to be posting a link to my survey (s) which I am conducting in order to be able to work towards this goal.
I am looking to the help of everyone on this forum, please read the below information should you wish to take part, then follow the link to the survey in the following post. Should you wish to get more information you can either post on this thread, Directly message me, or contact my email (listed below, and on the survey).

Introduction
Ornamental aquaculture is one of the highest value aquaculture industries, with estimations of value between $15 and $30 billion USD (Moorhead & Zeng, 2010), with approximately over 5000 individual freshwater species and 1600 marine species traded internationally (Moorhead & Zeng, 2010, Novak et al. 2020). For comparison, the highest value food fish species (Atlantic Salmon) is valued at $16.7 Billion USD (Tacon., 2020). The industry is estimated to exceed $40 billion USD by 2026 (Beijnen et al. 2020). However, the literature focus and the estimations have so far not considered the growing number of Hobbyist breeders, sellers and small communities dedicated to breeding, selling, and distributing new varieties, hybrids and potentially species. Rhyne (2010) and Rhyne et al (2017) has identified the importance of documenting the hobbyist-lead initiatives and breeding programs, where an access to information limits adequate stock management, future research and encourages detrimental practices and isolationism between the industry and the scientific community.
Because this section of the industry has, as of yet, been undocumented there is very little knowledge or monetary investment into anything other than the high value or historic species (e.g., Koi, Goldfish, Betta, Discus, Clownfish). However, there have been repeat calls for academia to engage with this aquaculture sector (Rhyme et al 2017), for animal welfare issues, conservation concerns (Rhyne et al 2009), and reduction of alien species introductions (Ladisa et al. 2017). For example, some of these hybrid “species”, such as the hybridisation of several Cichlid species the “Flowerhorn”, are becoming highly invasive in certain regions (Herder et al. 2012). Many authors note considerable issues in reporting of information regarding this sector. Rhyne et al. (2012a; 2015) relies on international trade invoices to obtain data, and many cite social media platforms such as YouTube, and Forums (Marchio, 2018) in order to attempt to include the hobbyist factor. Many others, due to lack of scientific documentation, do not include it into their analysis (Olivotto et al 2011).
The sale of these fish appears to occur through, breeders’ websites, auction sites e.g., eBay, and more recently through Whatsapp and Facebook Marketplace as well as to local pet shops or clubs and thus there is limited information on the value of these transactions, with only international transactions having been documented (Rhyne et al., 2015). However, estimations from eBay listings on 11/05/21 there were 13,388 individual listings for live fish on eBay with prices ranging from $10 USD to over $2000 USD per fish, an estimation of the total value for 11/05/21’s listings stood at $3.1 Million USD.

While there is a significant increase in sales of ornamental fish from produced by aquaculture farms (Beijnen et al. 2020) there is a significant number of dedicated hobbyists refusing to purchase fish from certain places (e.g., Indonesia, Africa), or individual species/ taxa (e.g. Gourami), or from aquaculture in general. Often due to perceived (true or not) health risks, environmental impacts, or other ethical reasons. Indeed, there has been a full circle back to wild caught fish due to the perceived cultural, environmental, and ethical benefits reviewed in Evers et al, (2019). A 2016 survey from the pet owners survey by the APPA (USA) identified that only 40% of fish owners buy fish from a chain or small local shop.
In a sector which is already undervalued and under reported, this area of work is significantly overlooked. With repeat calls from several areas of biological concern to document and better understand and engage this aquaculture sector it is imperative that steps are taken to being to understand this unknown areas of aquaculture production.

Aims:
This study aims to;

  • Characterize the Hobbyist ornamental industry.
    • Determine the value of the industry.
    • Estimate the number of species, hybrids, variants being produced and traded.
  • Identify the requirements of this industry through.
    • Knowledge gaps, e.g., broodstock management, nutrition, genetics ect.
    • Tool requirements, eg handbooks, biomarkers, testing capacity, transportation information

Methodology

This project proposes the use of surveys to achieve its aims, the researcher would aim to reach out to the hobbyist community to directly engage over the study period with those actively involved in breeding and selling ornamental fish. As this Industry/ community favours the online and “social media” approach, the researcher would attempt to address them through their preferred platforms. While social media will allow for a wider audience, the researchers would hope to aim on three main areas of interest, North America, Europe, and Australia.

There is limited information on the population we will be surveying. There are estimations that between 14% and 50% of households have some form of pet fish, dependant on country. Because of this the required number of respondents to produce a valid study is unknown, an acceptable response rate cannot be realistically suggested from estimate data. E.g. With an estimate 14% of households in the UK keeping fish, to achieve a 50% response rate, a total of 1.34 million responses would be required. A level which is neither realistic or expected.

The researcher aims to conduct a number of surveys over the course of the project.

  • Large scale initial small survey with the aim of mapping a large proportion of the sector.
    • Small number of questions
  • Identify the proportion of people who engage in the industry.
  • Gain an overall grasp of the value and volume of the “industry”.
    • Monetary value of animals an services,
  • Approximate the number of species, hybrids and variants being traded.
  • Some potential issues and problems encountered

This would then inform the creation of a more specific survey (s) to;

  • Address knowledge gaps
    • Industry requirements
    • Standard practices
    • Welfare issues
  • Add detail regarding species, variants, and hybrids being produced.
    • Attempt to flesh out realistic effort regarding numbers.
  • Breeding concerns
    • Diseases, inbreeding ect.

Outcomes expected.

The researcher has a proven track record of publishing work in new species as well as delivery of outcomes for externally funded projects (eg AquaExcell). The dataset once analysed will be published in a timely manner in an appropriate research journal, eg Journal of Fish biology. At the project’s completion the researcher would expect to produce a minimum of two scientific publications. Results will also be disseminated at appropriate conferences, such as EAS or WAS. Additionally, due to the nature of sector, distribution of the outcomes would aim to also be open source where possible. With additional distribution (once published) through channels preferred by those in the sector such as conferences, podcasts and community talks.
This study will play an important role in characterising this relatively undocumented aquaculture sector. As a result, it would provide a platform for the development of further research into an estimated 6600 species with little to no peer reviewed publications to date. At its completion, this research would aim to inform the many areas of concern for the ornamental sector specifically those regrading breeding and genetics, sustainability, and conservation.

Ethical considerations
This work is not expected to cause any significant or lasting harm to the participants of the study. All data collected will conform to the UK data protection standards and participants will be free to withdraw from the study at any time.
Ethics statement
"If you decide to take part in this study you are able withdraw at any time by contacting the provided email address.
By completing this form you are giving your consent to the data provided to be used in research articles published in peer reviewed journals such as Aquaculture, or Journal of Fish Biology. The complete dataset will also be presented at scientific conferences such as Aquaculture North America, or Meeting of the World Aquaculture society. And upon publication of the work the findings will be communicated back to the hobbyist community, through forums, conferences, and open access materials.
This form is not collecting any personal information which can identify you as an individual, and you do not have to answer all of the questions to submit, should you not wish to do so. There is one compulsory question, regarding where you saw the link to the survey, this is required so the response rate for the study can be calculated. Despite not collecting any personal information all data collected in this study will be stored and managed in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (UK).
You have the right to request to see a copy of the information we hold about you and to request corrections or deletions of the information that is no longer required.
You have the right to withdraw from this project at any time without giving reasons and without consequences to you. You also have the right to object to us processing relevant personal data however, please note that once the data are being analysed and/or results published it may not be possible to remove your data from the study."


Expenses

The project is expected to require no external or internal funding. Any funding that is required will be sought from external sources, if necessary, e.g., FSBI, OATA. The lead researcher has a proven track record of accessing additional funding during projects, should this be necessary.

References
Beijnen 2020 https://thefishsite.com/articles/is...nvasive-and-non-native-species-worth-the-risk
Evers, H. G., Pinnegar, J. K., & Taylor, M. I. (2019). Where are they all from?–sources and sustainability in the ornamental freshwater fish trade. Journal of fish biology, 94(6), 909-916.
Herder, F., Schliewen, U. K., Geiger, M. F., Hadiaty, R. K., Gray, S. M., McKinnon, J. S., ... & Pfaender, J. (2012). Alien invasion in Wallace's Dreamponds: records of the hybridogenic" flowerhorn" cichlid in Lake Matano, with an annotated checklist of fish species introduced to the Malili Lakes system in Sulawesi. Aquatic Invasions, 7(4).
Ladisa, C., Bruni, M., & Lovatelli, A. (2017). Overview of ornamental species aquaculture. FAO Aquaculture Newsletter, (56), 39.
Marchio, E. A. (2018). The art of aquarium keeping communicates science and conservation. Frontiers in Communication, 3, 17.
Moorhead, J. A., & Zeng, C. (2010). Development of captive breeding techniques for marine ornamental fish: a review. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 18(4), 315-343.
Novák, J., Kalous, L., & Patoka, J. (2020). Modern ornamental aquaculture in Europe: Early history of freshwater fish imports. Reviews in Aquaculture, 12(4), 2042-2060.
Olivotto, I., Planas, M., Simões, N., Holt, G. J., Avella, M. A., and Calado, R. (2011). Advances in breeding and rearing marine ornamentals. J. World Aquac. Soc. 42, 135–166. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-7345.2011.00453.x
Rhyne, A., Rotjan, R., Bruckner, A., and Tlusty, M. (2009). Crawling to collapse: ecologically unsound ornamental invertebrate fisheries. PLoS ONE 4:e8413. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008413
Rhyne, A. L. (2010). The importance of open access in technology transfer for marine ornamental aquaculture: the case of hobbyist-led breeding initiative.
Rhyne, A. L., Tlusty, M. F., Szczebak, J., & Holmberg, R. J. (2015). When one code= 2,300 species: Expanding our understanding of the trade in aquatic marine wildlife. PeerJ PrePrints, 3, e1176v1.
Rhyne, A. L., Tlusty, M. F., & Szczebak, J. T. (2017). Early culture trials and an overview on US marine ornamental species trade. Marine ornamental species aquaculture, 51-70.
Tacon, A. G. (2020). Trends in global aquaculture and aquafeed production: 2000–2017. Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, 28(1), 43-56.


This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

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This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

Please read the above post before accessing the survey link.

Should you wish to take part in this survey please access the questionnaire HERE

Thank you for your time,

This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

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On 7/21/2021 at 6:13 PM, DRSMP said:

This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

Please read the above post before accessing the survey link.

Should you wish to take part in this survey please access the questionnaire HERE

Thank you for your time,

This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

I took the survey and found the survey itself to be a fun diversion.

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Ooo yay! Definitely going to take the survey.

In the spirit of helping your articles be the bet they can be, I wanted to point out a small correction for your introduction: Facebook Marketplace does not allow for the sale of live animals. (Maybe they used to—not sure if this is a new policy or an old one).

image.png.4103a203e122cf57356055a92026d22e.png

 

I’m looking forward to reading the published results!!

 

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Thanks Hobbit,

I apreciate the information, thank you. I know that there posts of people asking for rehoming, or requests to know where you can get cirtain species or colour variations on some of the facebook groups I belong to. And there apears to be a number of fish movements happening dispite it being not allowed on the site. Would you say that is a more accurate statement?

I wont edit the introduction here, but I will certainly take you input into consideration for future publications.

Thanks again for your input.

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On 7/22/2021 at 5:11 PM, Hobbit said:

I’m not a Facebook expert so I’m sure you are correct. I had just run into that rule when I was looking for fish. I wonder if most of the Facebook fish exchanges are happening in groups, rather than in their Marketplace section?

Yes it’s groups. I used to sell feeder insects from my different colonies for my bearded dragon and frog. I had to join individual group and speak to individual people interested. I could not post any for sale live insect posts. 

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On 7/21/2021 at 6:13 PM, DRSMP said:

 However, estimations from eBay listings on 11/05/21 there were 13,388 individual listings for live fish on eBay with prices ranging from $10 USD to over $2000 USD per fish, an estimation of the total value for 11/05/21’s listings stood at $3.1 Million USD.
 

11/5/21 hasn't happened yet, so this part is confusing, but I will be happy to take the survey.

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Hi Beardedbillygoad1975,

I can second that! When I was younger, living with my parents before university , that is how I managed to pay for my hobby. 

So you accepting credit form a LFS is still value, and one of the reasons why this area is so hard to characterise and as a consequence receive funding for, is this "hidden" value in the production of ornamentals. However, while the value is important it is also the scale, if we take a relatively accurate survey of fish ownership in the UK (an example) at 14% of households, 2.68 million household have fish. Even if 1% produced 1 batch of discus a year (hypothetically, 50 juveniles) that is 1.34 million juvenile discus produced in the UK every year. if we expand that to on average once a month you immediately multiply by 12 meaning 16.08 million discus produced. Now clearly these are all speculation, but there are no numbers what so ever for this type of production.


A pilot survey for this survey (to test questions ect) identified that over 90% of fish keepers has bred freshwater fish. Now clearly there is massive error in a small pilot study. But at the moment, Using forums and Facebook groups this trend is holding, with multiple species being bred, and significant "value" produced. And as outlined above there is a considerable need to identify the volume of this "industry" for conservation, welfare, diversity and a number of other reasons.

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Just to add in a little bit of friendly competition, C.A.R.E was in the top spot for number of responses from the day the survey was published..... Until today... and it is now 3rd.

We are getting some really good trends and information, If you are still interested in helping out please follow the link Here

This is an external study being allowed by the forum but not sponsored or supported by the forum itself.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/4/2021 at 5:49 PM, Streetwise said:

I finally took the survey. The questions really dialed into the details, even though I do not yet breed fish, so I was not able to answer all of them.

I have bred shrimp, but just for me, and I have gotten store credit for floating plants.

Thank you for answering  🙂

That's ok, any answers are greatly received. And there is only one compulsory question to account for varied experiences 🙂

 

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On 8/4/2021 at 8:36 PM, Ken said:

When and where can we expect a scholarly report on what was found?  

Hi Ken, 

Apologies for the late reply. 

This survey is planned to be live for 6 months or "when a suitable number of responses have been collected". At the closing of the survey there will obviously be a lot of data analysis to do which I can't give a solid time frame for as that depends on the data. After analysis I can start giving talks etc, but a requirement of publication in academic journals is that the work is not published elsewhere first, so it will not be disseminated in written form until it has been published in an appropriate journal. The time frame of this varies but once submitted can take around 10 weeks for the peer review process.


The results will be published in a suitable high level academic journal eg., Aquaculture, or Journal of fish biology etc. However I am endeavouring to make the publication open access so it is not hidden behind a paywall. I will also seek permission (from Mod's) to post the findings to this forum, as well as others, Facebook groups, magazines and hopefully talks and presentations.

 

I am sorry I can't give an accurate time frame but I hope this helps, and if you have any more questions just le me know. 
 

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