Aquarium Fish Collected from Coral Reefs Damages Marine Food Web

Effects of Aquarium Collectors on Coral Reef Fishes in Kona, Hawaii

Brian N. Tissot and Leon E. Hallacher

Conservation Biology , Vol. 17, No. 6 (Dec., 2003) , pp. 1759-1768

Common sources for rare aquarium fish are Coral Reefs.   Coral reefs are ecosystems consisting of many different marine organisms.  These many different organisms feed off of the coral or off of other fish, creating a self-sustaining cycle of life.  By removing some of a species, part of a food web is removed from the ecosystem.
The maintenance of a sustainable food web is important. If one predator’s population is over populated, then the species will eat more of their prey to fuel energy. If a predator’s population is low there will be less predators to eat the prey, and the lower food-web level over populates, then repeats the process of having another over-populated food-web level.
There was a study conducted in Hawaii to analyze the absence of specific fish.  During the data-retrieval process, observers focused on the count of nine popular aquarium-collection fish species.  The fish count is recorded as aggregate data.
The researchers used multiple sites to compare to each other.  The sites consisted of legal fish-collecting locations and illegal fish-collecting fish locations.  The results were low at both locations, and 7 of the 9 fish species’ populations were lower at the legal fish collection location.
This study has proved the sustainability of protected areas from fish collection.  By making certain locations unacceptable to collect, 7 of the 9 species observed had higher populations than if they were acceptable to collect.  This study can be used to propose more regulations upon protection areas.  More protection areas will provide more safe habitats for marine organisms, and maintains sustainable fish populations.  Sustainable fish populations are important to maintain the marine food web.