‘What on earth is he bleating on about now?’ I can hear it said. ‘I thought this was a marine aquarist’s site.’
Well, it is a marine aquarist’s site. Also flying will cost more, and it will have an impact on marine aquarists.
Everything seems to be creeping upwards in price, all apparently because of the huge demand for oil worldwide, particularly now that China and India have developed. The demand is currently outstripping supply according to the experts.
So it is with air travel. Passengers are facing ticket price increases and fuel surcharges. The same increases apply to air freight.
For the most part, the livestock we keep in our aquariums comes from the wild reefs and the journey has to be paid for. Air flight is brilliant because time between start and finish is minimised. Livestock is suitably boxed so that transport is as efficient as possible, but it still costs a lot, and the cost as said is increasing.
The increased cost will no doubt feed through the system to the consumer, so the aquarist will have to pay more for fish and corals. The cost of corals may increase the most, at least those that are attached to and travel with a piece of rock, which will be because of the weight. Live rock will likewise probably increase in cost.
This will just be a fact of life that the aquarist has to contend with. There’s not much that could be done about it – there might be some assistance if it was an essential but it isn’t, it is an inessential luxury. I’m sure that the marine hobby isn’t going to reduce overnight, in fact I feel reasonably sure the hobby isn’t going to reduce.
There is an aspect that brings relief to the ’what if’ question. This is that, more and more, aquarists are propagating (“fragging”) corals in their aquariums, or in aquariums that have been designed specifically for the task. This applies to both soft and hard types. Even if the aquarist isn’t too bothered about propagation, corals grow, and to keep the captive reef in good shape some pruning is necessary. The removed parts of the coral can simply be taken to the local marine store for onward growth, or passed to another aquarist who is more keen on propagation and has the facilities. Coral propagation is generally very straightforward.
Breeding fish is also being done by hobbyists. Probably the best example are clownfish. There are several others. Breeding marine fish is more complicated and requires considerably more dedication, but the practice is increasing, both with the currently relatively few advanced hobbyists and also commercial organisations.
As cost pressures mount on wild imports, so commercial organisations should hopefully increase their efforts in producing livestock for the hobby. As wild caught livestock begins to cost more, commercially produced livestock should be able to compete more effectively as, generally speaking, there does not need to be any air travel involved, or if it is necessary at least it will not have to cover the same distances. Commercial organisations that operate in warmer zones will also minimise the cost of the energy they require.
There are two advantages and one disadvantage in being able to obtain home produced or commercial livestock. First, it seems to have been generally shown that livestock produced in aquariums are more hardy. This seems reasonable – they are to be kept in aquariums. The second advantage is that the pressure on the wild reefs will be eased, which will no doubt please environmentalists/conservationists. So what might be the disadvantage? A considerable number of local people in the reef areas have employment because of the aquarium trade, and no-one would want them to suffer.
The future cannot be seen, but I reckon the marine aquarium hobby is well placed to continue to bloom, perhaps with a few adjustments along the way.