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Keywords:

  • aquaculture;
  • fisheries;
  • ornamental fish hobby;
  • pet trade;
  • public aquarium;
  • sustainability;
  • tropical fish

The global aquatic pet trade encompasses a wide diversity of freshwater and marine organisms. While relying on a continual supply of healthy, vibrant aquatic animals, few sustainability initiatives exist within this sector. Public aquariums overlap this industry by acquiring many of the same species through the same sources. End users are also similar, as many aquarium visitors are home aquarists. Here we posit that this overlap with the pet trade gives aquariums significant opportunity to increase the sustainability of the trade in aquarium fishes and invertebrates. Improving the sustainability ethos and practices of the aquatic pet trade can carry a conservation benefit in terms of less waste, and protection of intact functioning ecosystems, at the same time as maintaining its economic and educational benefits and impacts. The relationship would also move forward the goal of public aquariums to advance aquatic conservation in a broad sense. For example, many public aquariums in North America have been instrumental in working with the seafood industry to enact positive change toward increased sustainability. The actions include being good consumers themselves, providing technical knowledge, and providing educational and outreach opportunities. These same opportunities exist for public aquariums to partner with the ornamental fish trade, which will serve to improve business, create new, more ethical and more dependable sources of aquatic animals for public aquariums, and perhaps most important, possibly transform the home aquarium industry from a threat, into a positive force for aquatic conservation. Zoo Biol. 32:1-12, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.