aquarium concerns

Joshua Feingold joshua at
Tue Nov 6 18:27:56 EST 2001

Hi John & Coral List Serve Members,

Here's a Caribbean data point.

On a recent dive (Sept '01) I observed a large adult Pomacanthus maculosus 
(a Red Sea and W. Indian Ocean native) on a shipwreck off Fort Lauderdale. 
In the same general locale Paul Human mentioned to me that he has observed 
Pomacanthus semicirculatus (Indo-W. Pacific and Indian Ocean native). 
Batfish were removed from KLNMS earlier (last year?). It seems that we have 
the "smoking gun" of non-native species being released, or that have 
escaped, into the wild.

So, even though I don't know of any culture facilities along our coast 
here, there are species introductions occurring that may be associated with 
the aquarium trade.


Joshua Feingold
National Coral Reef Institute
Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center

At 03:07 PM 11/05/2001 -0500, John McManus wrote:
>Hi Charles,
>Yes, I do find it fascinating that coral reefs seem to have resisted
>invasion from aquarium fish so far. Your examples from Hawaii are very
>helpful in that regard.
>My impression is that healthy coral reefs, at least, are particularly
>unhealthy for anything out of place. Even a fish frightened by a diver will
>often be devoured in a matter of seconds for being slightly more vulnerable
>to a barracuda or other predator than normal. This may be less true in
>overfished reef areas. There may be a high critical threshold in starting a
>new population -- which has implications in particular for the resilience of
>Hawaiian reefs to local extinctions. I'm quite worried about mass culture
>facilities in out-of-normal-range locations providing the critical
>thresholds during hurricanes. Thus, the recent discovery of exotic coral
>facilities in the Caribbean is worrying. Then there is always the problem of
>"low probability over long periods of time and large numbers of trials".
>However, I would opt for the greatest immediate concern being put on mass
>culture and holding facilities in unnatural locations.
>John W. McManus, PhD
>Director, National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
>Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS)
>University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
>Miami, Florida 33149.
>jmcmanus at
>Tel. (305) 361-4814
>Fax (305) 361-4600
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Charles Delbeek [mailto:delbeek at]
>Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2001 7:10 PM
>To: jmcmanus at
>Cc: coral-list at
>Subject: Re: aquarium concerns
>At 12:20 PM 11/2/2001 -0500, you wrote:
> >Speaking of invasive species, here is an excerpt of today's news from
> >PFP SeaSpan ~~ The bi-monthly electronic newsletter of the
> >Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation. Note that there are many ways
> >other than through aquaria that species are introduced. I think we should
> >seek to limit all sources.
>John: Not to say your point is without merit but in Hawaii tropical marine
>fish have been imported into this state for decades, and there have been
>numerous releases over that time span, however, there has not been a single
>incident of any aquarium fish forming a reproducing population here that I
>am aware of. I would hazard to guess that the same may also occur in
>Florida. Yes you do occasionally see sightings of Centropyge flavissimus in
>Kaneohe Bay and elsewhere around Oahu and the odd damsel here and there,
>but that's about it. Where there has been catastrophic changes have been
>when the state government, despite advise from scientific consultants
>released fishes here such as the bluestripe snapper, Lutjanus kasmira, and
>the peacock grouper, Cephalopholis argus, the snapper in particular has
>been implicated in the decline of local snapper species. There have also
>been attempts in the last few decades to seed reefs with giant clams and
>some corals from the south Pacific, none of which survived.
>In contrast, the freshwater streams and lakes on several of the islands are
>almost completely dominated by aquarium fishes such as cichlids and
>livebearers. In this case, the lack of any competition in the local
>freshwaters probably played a significant role.
>J. Charles Delbeek
>Aquarium Biologist
>Waikiki Aquarium
>2777 Kalakaua Ave.
>Honolulu, HI, USA 96815
>808-923-1771 FAX
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