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

Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Fw: NAS Species Alert - Piaractus brachypomus
Date: Thu Nov 04 2004 - 15:19:00 CST

Moon, you are absolutely right -- honesty is the best policy. Sometimes people make statements or claims out of dishonesty. Sometimes they make them out of ignorance. Here are some references you might want to take a look at:

These references provide numbers and the assessments of scientists from the Florida fish and game system and the Florida Museum of Natural History, generally credible agencies. According to these reports, there are somewhere above 108 species, maybe 130, species of exotics in Florida freshwater, as many as 53 of which have established breeding populations. the Florida Museum of Natural History lists 287 species of fishes as having been recorded in Florida freshwaters, but also offers the caveat that many of these (I counted over 80) are marine species seldom seen in freshwater and not a part of the Florida freshwater fauna in a realistic sense.

The fact that half or more of Florida's freshwater fish fauna consists of exotics has been generally accepted in the ichthyological community since the 1970s, and if you read the references I provided, you will see that the problem is considered by the people on the scene in Florida, studying and working to conserve the freshwater fishes of the state, to be exactly as you claim it is not. You will also see that almost every one of the species listed entered Florida through the ornamental fish industy and hobby. Some places in Florida, particularly in agriculturally stressed and urban waterways, have almost NO native fishes. A few non-natives were introduced as food fish or for fishing, including a couple of cichlids in recent years in an attempt to find an effective biological agent to control some of the rampant and highly invasive exotics that had escaped aquaria and the ornamental fish ponds and importers in Florida.

I never said that livebearers were infesting mountain streams in the Rockies. I said that livebearers are pests in the northern Rockies. They are mostly in warm springs. Some of these habitats once had native fishes that have been largely eliminated. Some small springs and ponds in the desert SW harbor extremely rare species with tiny populations. Competition or predation by an exotic may simply be the end for them. The exotics in these places came from unwise introductions by home aquarists.

Wishing won't make something so. Because I live in Oklahoma, and observe when I visit a stream that there are lots of native fishes present doesn't mean that introduced exotics are not a problem in those streams. Same is true in Florida. BTW, I noticed in the list of Florida exotics three species called "pacu." One of them, however, was the tambiqui, a species that is not called "pacu" in its native Brazil. These species, because of the long-distance migration (hundreds of kilometres) included in its life cycle, is unlikely to become established, but stranger things have happened.

It doesn't end with fishes. A snail that excaped aquaria in Texas has now introduced an exotic tapeworm that contributes to the endangerment of native pupfish and possibly others in the Pecos R. system. That was an aquarium escape.

I also noticed that there were several species of snakehead listed. Swamp eels were among the fishes listed. Does my desire to keep a pet override society's interest in protecting native fauna and prevention of endangerment of the species I want to keep in its native country? Can't I be a good citizen, and forego my desires, even if I believe that I'm doing no harm. Maybe I can be a good example of the citizen who simply says, "Oh, I know it wouldn't hurt anything if I had a bluebellied bananafish, but there have been so many exotics introduced that I will make sure that I don't contribute to the problem, even unintentionally. Also, I want to show my support for the hard working agencies that attempt to control the problem. Let the bluebellied bananafish remain in its native bananafishland, and when I can, if ever, I'll go there and see them in their habitat."

Let's not be part of the problem. Let's be part of the solution.

Thanks Moon. Think about it.


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 1:45 pm
Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Fw: NAS Species Alert - Piaractus brachypomus

> For some reason I seem to be giving the impression I am not
> against the
> release of exotics or that I think it's ok in small areas. Nothing
> could be further
> from the truth, I just take exception to people saying things like
> half the
> fish in Florida are exotics without explaining that this doesn't
> mean that the
> whole state is being taken over. the first time I heard that so
> many species
> were established in Florida I was appalled. The way it was being
> presented
> seemed to indicate that the rivers and lakes of Florida were all
> brimming full of
> exotics and the native were disappearing. This isn't the case or
> even close to
> the case. To say that 50% of the species of fish in Florida are
> exotic
> without qualifiers is blatant sensationalism and that sort of
> thing only serves to
> make it more difficult to make the correct decisions when it comes
> time to do
> something about the problem. To say that live bearers are a
> problem in the
> rocky mountains gives the impression of a vast area being infested
> by these fish.
> I just think that honestly is the best way to approach a problem.
> Trying to
> make the problem look worse than it really is serves the best
> interests of no
> one. It would be much more accurate to say that in areas where the
> habitat is
> amenable to live bearers some unknowing people have been releasing
> their
> aquariums fish and this has resulted in small but important areas
> being colonized by
> exotics-in-the expense of the native populations in those areas.
> To insinuate
> the problem is more wide spread than it really is serves the
> interests of no
> one. When these inaccurate descriptions make it to the media they
> can result in
> rules and regulations being passed based on emotions rather than
> real data.
> Then when some legislator wants to prove to his constituents he is
> doing
> something to help the environment he can get laws passed without
> checking the real
> problems and hurt the aquarium hobby while really doing little or
> nothing to
> help the environment.
> Moon

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:46 CST