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Factors Affecting Availability of Aquatic Life

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

More than likely, you've spent a considerable amount of time researching, studying, and carefully matching your tank's current inhabitants with possible new additions.

While it may not ease your disappointment that an animal you ordered isn't available that very same day, perhaps knowing the why behind its unavailability will at least make it a little more understandable.

Here are a few of the factors affecting marine life availability:

  • Weather conditions & seasonality such as typhoons, hurricanes, and even major thunderstorms hamper the efforts of collectors. Depending on the severity of the storm, diving boats will either not be able to leave the dock, cannot access desired locations on the reef, or have to contend with poor visibility or water clarity, which hampers collection efforts.

  • If you've ever been fishing, you know you don't always catch what you want or how many you want. With the aquatic life industry, divers actually go "fishing" for most marine or freshwater species, and sometimes their collection efforts are simply not as successful as other times. Aquarium life is not as easily acquired as, say, aquarium equipment which is manufactured. If demand for a product is high, a manufacturer can simply make more product; not so with most aquatic life.

  • Certain religious holidays, like the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, or Christmas may influence the supply of some species. Collection and shipment of species is restricted during these times and availability of some species may be affected for up to two months.

  • Civil unrest, uprisings, and war will also influence the availability of aquatic life from specific regions across the globe. Some species that are endemic to a specific locale will not be available during these times of unrest.

  • Fish/coral management practices designed to ensure the perpetuation of all aquatic species sometime permit only limited collection of certain species due to fluctuations in populations. A disease that reduces natural populations, unusually high predation by other fish, or particularly violent storms that damage large reefs may cause governmental agencies to temporarily restrict or even curtail collection efforts in certain areas for the long-term health and viability of the population.

  • Supply and demand is another major factor influencing availability of underwater life, particularly during the winter. During the cooler months, many hobbyists establish or devote more attention to their aquariums because they are spending more time indoors. As a result, demand for aquaria is higher in the winter, when, unfortunately, supply is at its lowest for certain species.

  • Transportation - Cargo space on flights departing many of these small countries is very limited, and unfortunately, live fish, etc. take a low priority on the manifest. Therefore, shipments are frequently cancelled and rescheduled for later flights - sometimes weeks in the future!

Since our standards for the health of all aquaria are considerably higher than others in the industry, if someone else has a species we do not offer, it's very likely we are simply not making ours available for another day or two because we feel it is not at its premium health yet. If you want a specimen you're sure will be at its optimum health and most vibrant coloration, you may want to wait a few days and try us again. Every day, new species arrive at our facility, and every day we make available for sale specimens that have successfully passed our thorough health examination.

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