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Ok guys, comments please (LONG)

Posted By: Martin Thoene <gkadar@sympatico.ca>
Date: Tuesday, 18 May 2004, at 8:21 p.m.

I rewrote the post Myanar below as suggested.
This time it's created as a book Foreward in mind.
See what you think..............


It happens that almost exclusively, for any informed person who keeps or wishes to keep Loaches of most varieties, those fish will be wild-caught. This can create a moral and ethical dilemna for anyone aware of the environmental issues within the fish’s country of origin. Of course, this applies to a lot of fish species as well as Loaches.

Whilst the creators of this book are biased to Loaches, it is undoubtable that the newly imported species hit of 2003 was Botia kubotai. The fish were featured in the fish press in various magazines across the world creating a demand for this very beautiful species. Initial imports were retailed at very inflated prices, but that is generally the way the fish trade operates. Prices in 2004 are falling. This maybe an indication that either the demand at retail level has dwindled due to the high price or those who wanted the fish are keeping them successfully and therefore retail sales have slowed. This goes back to the trans-shipper, wholesaler and catchers eventually as reduced orders from the retailers.

Or..... and this is more worrying, the catchers have found such vast reserves of fish that they can reduce the price at source. As this is written in 2004, sources in SE Asia have stated that markets are full of this species in all sizes. Larger sized fish are being caught potentially removing the breeding stock from the ecosystem and may make stocks unsustainable if heavy catching continues at it’s present rate.
If the source price will drop, it's likely that the retail price will too and this could kick-start more demand by people who were initially put off by the high price, thereby potentially increasing the impact on the species in the wild.

If you spend a lot of time in fish shops not only looking at the fish, but listening to the conversations of other shoppers, you will hear that price has a great bearing on what they buy in a lot of cases. Especially for relative novices. Botia kubotai creates a lot of "oohs" and "aaahs", followed by reading of the price label ......and moving on to the next tank.
Drop the price and the people will more likely buy.

Botia kubotai are collected in Myanar, an area that has recently seen great political and military turmoil. This has led to lots of changes. One has been the realisation of the potential for their native fish species within the Global ornamental fish trade, plus the worth of the country’s timber resources. Deforestation is rampant, with it’s associated environmental impact.

Deforestation is something that has also been happening for years in South America. The Amazon Jungle....the lungs of the World....has been severely degraded. Reduction in trees creates easier access to more remote areas with increased efficiency in transport of the resources from those areas. Right now, we are seeing a huge increase in the discovery of new, undescribed species from a recently opened up area. Some of these fish have been reported in the fish press and be assured that they will hit the shops soon. Myanar is no different in this respect, with huge areas being logged.

The ornamental fish market is a huge, multi-million business and often at source, the only way that the locals can earn a crust. Given the circumstances that many of the locals live under it is hardly surprising that they make use of catching fish as a means of providing funds to feed their families. Who can really blame them?

Myanar's political and sociological problems are something that have maybe created this rape of their own resources. Often major changes within a country such as this lead to a short-sightedness about the long-term effects of their actions.

For years now, there have been campaigns to ban or boycott dyed fish, such as Indian Glassfish (Chanda ranga) yet still you can go into major outlets and see the poor things on sale. The difference one can make is only as big as the number of people you can inform and who care to listen and join the campaign. The fact is that for every one of us who has the enthusiasm, experience and knowledge to keep fish responsibly, has a true interest in their well-being and desire to learn more about them, there is an army of uninformed people who just keep fish because they're "pretty". They are really the ones that create the huge international trade.

The truth is that those people probably don't actually care where their pretty fish came from, just as long as they don't die too soon. They aren't interested in some country on the other side of the world, it's land, it's people or it's problems. When it comes to the fish, they just want to be able to go buy another when it dies and at a reasonable price. Everything else that might have a connection to that fish is immaterial.

This all sounds so cynical, but unfortunately it is the way that most people think. Many of the fish shops do little to educate and create a responsibility to the fish in their customers. The fish are a commodity that gets sold and sold again when the first one dies. There's a vested interest in fish not living long aquarium lives.

Despite the contributors of this book being responsible, caring Aquarists, the fact is that this trade exists for decorative purposes. They are not called "ornamental" fish for nothing. The mind set of most fish keepers (as opposed to aquarists) is that their charges are disposable items. It's sad, but it's the truth.

Hard to make anybody care about Myanar if people don't really care about the skinny Botia kubotai they just purchased for their 10 gallon tank with the blue gravel and bubble-powered treasure-chest. Ignorance is bliss.

The aim of this book is not to preach political awareness or environmental conscience, but rather to inform those who wish to keep members of the Loach family how to do that successfully. The contributors write from practical knowledge gained personally, or obtained from other Loach keepers.

This is not just a book about keeping fish. It is a book that explains the quirky and sometimes worrying behaviour exhibited by certain species. Their social behaviour with one another and with their keeper. Loaches are characters and some can be true pets. Those who keep them enthuse about them.

Wether or not the keeping of ornamental fish is right or wrong probably needs a book to itself. Ignorance is not bliss if the fish you take into your home continually die. This book will tell you how to keep them correctly, whist hopefully building your knowledge of their wild environment, how they are caught and transported across the World to end up in your lounge. If you learn a little about another country whilst learning how to keep Loaches, that is good.

Putting a part of nature in a glass box in your lounge will actually be more satisfying if you understand more about these fishes’ natural habitats and how to create a facsimiles of them in the home.

This book will give you the knowledge to give your fish long, healthy lives. You owe it to them.
You are lucky to have the disposable income to bring a beautiful work of nature into your home.

Remember that some anonymous young guy in a far off land dove into a river to catch that fish for you. Not just for you though.

He did it so he could feed his family. You owe him too.


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