Re: NANFA-L-- Fw: NAS Species Alert - Piaractus brachypomus

Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Fw: NAS Species Alert - Piaractus brachypomus
Date: Thu Nov 04 2004 - 11:17:48 CST

I don't know that I want to keep this thread going forever, though it is important, and perhaps NANFA could take a published position after appropriate study.

However, Moon, you make some points below that bely the reality and magnitude of the problem. You are a knowldgable and responsible aquarist. Some vendors are also knowledgable and responsible. Many people without a clue buy fish and not only do they know nothing, they get no help from the vendor. Been to a Walmart lately? Lots of those fish end up in aquatic habitats, and Los Vegas and San Antonio and Phoenix and Los Angeles and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas have human populations of multi-millions, as does Florida. The San Antonio R., far from being isolated, flows from the Hill Country of central Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, and intercommunicates with the larger Guadelupe R. This is a bad situation. The San Antonio R. is important, just as SE Coastal Plain streams are important, and just as the Great Lakes are important. We are almost certainly not going to get a population of characins established in the Great Lakes. WE might in the San Antonio R.

BTW, not all of Amazonia consists of soft water habitats. Much of the Amazon Basin includes hard water. In fact the Amazon R. itself is of the "White Water" variety, with pH high enough for mosquito populations, circum neutral. The soft water is mostly in the basin of its largest tributary, the Rio Negro, but even that stream has white water tributaries. In Amazonia, the term "white water" refers to streams that drain upland regions and carry heavy sediment loads, have relatively low tannin concentrations, and relatively high pH values. These streams abound with various species that go in this country by the general name of "pacu" and the populations are much greater than in the blackwater streams, which are less productive.

To answer a question you asked in another post, regarding livebearers in western habitats (including the N. Rockies): Mosquitofish, though a big problem, constitute only part of the problem. Mollies, platys, swordtails, guppies are all common in these habitats. There is no source for these fish in these locations other than the aquarium hobby and casual fish purchasers and keepers.

Since a majority of people who keep fish in their homes are not knowledgable and responsible, and many vendors also fit this description, general regulations are required. The various states have laws and regulations that make it illegal for anyone to introduce aquatic life to a body of water within the state without permission and coordination from the relevant conservation agency. Those are good regulations, and they cover even animals from local populations. Though you would never release a fish you had, most members of the general public would do so, thinking doing so was better than killing it. Education and regulation is the only way to curtail this. We can be a part of both.

Isolated and small habitats are important also. In many cases, protecting these is the only way we are going to protect biotic diversity. And yes, introduced exotics have done harm to native populations, including introductions that originated in the aquarium hobby. Firemouth cichlids have been introduced to the U.S. through no other means.

Florida regulatory agencies may have backed off, but not because the problem is less damaging or pervasive than formerly reported, but because the pet industry has powerful economic importance, and powerful political support.

Let's stand up for the integrity of our native ecological communities, and show that we truly do support North American native fishes.


David L. McNeely, Ph.D., Professor of Biology
Langston University; P.O. Box 1500
Langston, OK 73050; email:
telephone: (405) 466-6025; fax: 405) 466-3307
home page

"Where are we going?" "I don't know, are we there yet?"

----- Original Message -----
Date: Thursday, November 4, 2004 10:40 am
Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Fw: NAS Species Alert - Piaractus brachypomus

> In a message dated 11/4/04 11:05:56 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> writes:
> >
> > Moon,-in-the risk of offending you, I do not think that
> referring to some of
> > the most endangered habitats in the U.S. (small, isolated
> springs and pools)
> > as unimportant, or in trying to minimize the perception of the
> exotic
> > problem, you are doing the aquarium trade and hobby any good.
> Dave I am not trying to minimize anything and don't worry about
> offending me.
> This isn't a personal issue-in-all.
> When the industry that causes a problem (all those livebearers in
> Florida
> and the
> > SW, all those catfish in Florida, and on and on came from
> aquarium fish indu
> > stry and hobbyists ) attempts to deny, the only thing it
> accomplishes is to
> > engender distrust from regulators and the public.
> All those fish you are talking about represent very small
> populations in very
> small areas. This is the kind of exaggeration I am talking about.
> A breeding
> population in one canal doesn't make for a state wide invasion. As
> long as we
> accept exaggerated blame we are doing no one any good. the really
> damaging
> introduction in Florida has been the North American Flathead
> Catfish (their words
> not mine). Most tropical breeding populations have been highly
> localized and
> not significantly damaging. Even the notorious walking catfish
> didn't have
> much of an impact. I am not trying to say exotic release isn't a
> bad thing I am
> just saying the aquarium hobby is getting far too much blame for
> far too little
> reality.
> What kind of reputation does the oil industry enjoy as an
> environmental
> steward?
> > Could its reputation be better? Yes, the introduction of
> exotics to
> > Florida is an ecological disaster, whether you agree or not.
> Considerably more
> > than half the species of fishes in the state are exotics.
> Florida official have backed off the disaster status for most of
> the releases
> and the numbers you quote are misleading. if you have two dozen
> exotics in
> one canal and no where else it looks bad when you figure just
> numbers of species
> but it's like a drop of water in the ocean when you figure actual
> real-estate
> colonized and actual numbers of fish. native fish occur all over
> the state,
> the exotics occur in very limited areas. Not match-in-all on a one
> on one
> comparison of species.
> >
> > The San Antonio R. in Texas is loaded with fish from the
> aquarium trade,
> > including loracoriids, firemouth cichlids, and on and on and on.
> The endemic
> > fish populations of the very remote Cuatro Cienegas in Mexico (I
> know, Mexico
> > is not part of the U.S., but this trade is international) has
> been invaded by
> > several exotics originating in the aquarium trade, to the
> detriment of the
> > entire fauna.
> This is very bad and I don't want to down grade the effect in this
> river but
> again this river is a special case and not representative of
> rivers every
> where.
> >
> > We need to work to police ourselves, and we need to accept the
> regulation
> > that is designed to help solve this problem.
> >
> I agree but we should also make sure that regulations are based
> on reality
> and not someone's perceptions of what is happening. Regulations
> that make
> sense in South Florida have no meaning in South Eastern, NC. Any
> regulations
> should be written with the reality of the area and the real
> possibility of
> establishment of a specific fish. Blanket regulations would be
> detrimental to both the
> aquarium hobby and the believability of the rules themselves.
> Banning
> electric catfish in NC would be unnecessary, in South Florida it
> would be necessary.

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:45 CST