Starting a saltwater aquarium? First, dive into this new website

Monique Myers
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California Sea Grant’s new Reef Friendly Aquariums website aims to help aquarium enthusiasts enjoy beautiful reef animals at home while promoting conservation of their natural environment.

Fish swimming around coral reef

Developed by California Sea Grant extension specialists Carolynn Culver and Monique Myers, and research assistant Marissa Bills, who are based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the new website helps aspiring aquarium hobbyists make good choices for the environment and for their home saltwater aquarium.

“Keeping aquarium pets can be educational, fun, and aesthetically pleasing, but the hobby is complex, with unintended environmental impacts. Millions of wild caught fish and invertebrates enter the U.S. each year from developing countries where they are often caught using illegal fishing practices that destroy natural reefs,” says Myers.

The good news is there are ways to improve your success as an aquarium hobbyist, as well as alternatives that are aesthetically pleasing and much less work. The website, which was developed during 2018’s “Year of the Reef,” provides background information to help new aquarists ensure that their hobby is gentle on the environment, and that the species they choose will thrive in their new home.

“Deciding if the marine aquarium hobby is right for you is the first step. Then, if moving forward, you’ll need to choose the right species for your tank, which is complicated—you need to consider many things. You need to keep the fish healthy and make sure that they will coexist with other species in the tank. Getting it right will not only be more satisfying as the animals thrive, but it also will help protect their natural populations by minimizing losses and impacts to reefs where the animals come from” says Culver.

More information

For more on the inspiration behind, and the making of the website, please read the blog post: Reef Friendly Aquariums: Behind the scenes

Reef Friendly Aquariums