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July 6, 2016

As I mentioned in my last letter, I’m in the planning stages of setting up my first saltwater tank. My eventual goal is to have a mini reef tank with corals, clams, fish and other interesting and beautiful organisms.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and talking to marine tank keepers so I will know what I’m doing before I take the plunge. It’s interesting to me to be in the role of beginning pet keeper because it’s been a long time since I’ve had that experience. I’m really grateful to the folks who have been sharing their knowledge with me. I’m especially happy I found the Reef2Reef community. Their forum and Facebook feed is full of knowledgeable, friendly and helpful people who always have time to help beginners.

As you can imagine, I was excited about Joe Olenick’s article on reef livestock this month. He gives a good primer on the common, hardy and interesting animals that are in-demand by reef keepers. If your store is new to the reef scene, you’re sure to get a lot out of it. Even if you are a diehard reef shop, Joe’s piece is worth your time.

On a more somber note, I’ve found the recent reports of widespread bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef distressing. Bleaching occurs when water temperatures rise and corals lose the algae that gives them their dazzling colors. The corals turn white, hence the name. The problem is that the corals depend on those algae for food. Bleached corals are usually dead corals. As global temperatures rise, these terrible events will grow more frequent, endangering the survival of reefs.

Can the pet industry help out? I think it can.

The trade in marine life is often thought of as harmful to the environment, but it doesn’t have to be. Demand for marine animals provides local income from the natural reef, which is incentive to preserve it. Several aquatic products companies – including (but not limited to) Boyd Enterprises, Ecotech Marine, Cobalt Aquatics, and Piscine Energetics – have helped sponsor the Coral Restoration Foundation, which plants corals on reefs in the Florida Keys. A new company, Biota Aquariums, will soon be launching a sustainable saltwater tank kit suitable for beginners. Now that so many coral keepers are fragging their corals, there’s even the possibility that home aquarists could provide corals to conservation programs.

I’d love to see more partnerships between pet companies and conservation organizations. We can all work together to help the animals we love.

Tom Mazorlig

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