WIT Press

An Overview of Marine Ornamental Fish Breeding as a Potential Support to the Aquarium Trade and to the Conservation of Natural Fish Populations


Free (open access)


Volume 9 (2014), Issue 4



Page Range

608 - 632

Paper DOI



WIT Press




The aquarium fish trade moves more than two billion live fish worldwide per year. For fresh water organisms, more than 90% of them are captive bred, but over 90% of commercial marine organisms are wild-caught. Wild-caught organisms come mainly from coral reefs and adjacent areas. Destructive collection techniques, such as cyanide, quinaldine, even dynamite or explosives, are commonly used. These techniques not only affect the target fish but causes terrible damages to the ecosystems and the reef habitat itself, as well as coral and crustacean bleaching. This damage has not been assessed globally, but locally, where populations have been overharvested; it has created environmental imbalances due to the selective fisheries focused on a few species, sexes or ages with high market value. A number of measures can be taken in order to reduce the environmental damage. The most important depend largely on the efforts by local governments, community groups, environmental organisations and the private sector. The final objective of these measures is to place the ornamental trade on a sustainable basis. Moreover, new research into aquaculture technology on target species with the aim of diminishing the fishing pressure on wild stocks as well as increasing the effectiveness of aquaculture facilities must be carried out. This is especially important in rural populations dependent on the aquarium trade. The present article presents an overview of the ornamental fish trade regarding the most important species involved and their situation and the harvesting effects on the ecosystem. In addition it discusses updated information on breeding protocols for some high-value marine fish species.


Aquaculture, aquarium fish trade, marine ornamental fish