<< Excellent points. And if people could fish-watch with binoculars like
birders do, they'd be more in awe of what's out there and more likely to
feel ownership and want to protect it. I know-- let's push freshwater
snorkeling as a valid hobby! Snorkeling clubs from coast to coast! Okay,
maybe that's too weird... (but I've been feeling weird and ornery lately
I don't see anything too wierd about promoting fishwatching. It's pretty
amazing what you can see with binoculars under the right circumstances.
Certainly snorkeling is a great way to observe them. We tend to haul people
out with us every year that have never been. Some, I look at and
think...Hummmmm, this will be interesting. But, I can't think of any of them
that didn't really enjoy themselves. So, yeah...let's promote those
snorkeling clubs :)
Anyway, my take on the popularity of keeping native fish runs toward being
kinda glad it's a relatively small, let's say exclusive, group. Almost all of
the people keeping native fishes really do think of it as a hobby. They want
to do the best job possible with their fish, they respect the environment
from which they came. They (for the most part) actually got out there and
collected them, fostering greater appreciation of the fish and their
In general, tropical fishkeepers and not all "hobbyists". In fact (having
been in the tropical fish retail business for years before figuring out how
much I disliked it!) I would have to say that among my customers, probably
fewer that 5% would I consider hobbyists! For most of the rest, it was just
something to have either because they wanted some "living art", or because it
was the cool thing to have, or because they liked seeing one fish kill
others! One of the most popular things I'd hear was.. "hey, you got anything
that kills other fish"...or "what's the baddest fish you got here...". "where
are your sharks" (we didn't carry any). It was pretty depressing, actually. I
really don't care to see those folks in our hobby!
My biggest worries are not so much that they would deplete natural
populations, but what they would do with the fish they got tired of, or that
grew too big for their tank!
Anyway, be proud that you're an exclusive little group and go about promoting
native fishes in your own way. It doesn't have to be a big hobby to be great!
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