Fishkeeper Melville Official Opening

Braehead - Fishkeeper Scotland opening

Our Fishkeeper Melville store are hosting their official opening on Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th September at Dobbies Garden Centre, Melville Nurseries, Lasswade, EH18 1AZ. If you’re local, pop down and you can pick up some bargains!

We will have lots of special offers running all weekend along with goody bags to give away, whilst stocks last (the first 25 are extra special!)

There will be facepainting along with plenty of cake and balloons as well.

You will also have the chance to win a Kent Marine Bioreef Aquarium worth £299.99 and there will be a colouring competition for kids to win their very own starter aquarium!

There will also be an appearance by Forth One DJ Mark Martin on the Saturday from 12:00-14:00, with even more chances to win!

We look forward to welcoming you to Fishkeeper Melville!

Record numbers for new store in Braehead

Over 1,500 families and avid fishkeepers attended the official opening of our new store in Braehead during the bank holiday weekend.

The store, which is our second in Glasgow and eighth in Scotland, opened to a queue of over 100 families and fishkeepers, many who had queued from 7am, keen to get a first look at more than 5,000 fish and invertebrates.
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Colin Christian, Fishkeeper Scotland Regional Director, says: “Our launch weekend broke all visitor records since the company first started out. People turned up in their droves from all over Glasgow to check out the new store and the feedback already has been fantastic.
“There was a real buzz in the store all weekend with not only fishkeepers taking advantage of the opening weekend offers but families too who seemed to really enjoy the extra activities we put on to celebrate the launch, including face painting and various competitions to win aquariums.
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“The team has definitely got off to a great start and I’m sure it will continue to be a huge success.”
Fishkeeper Scotland currently holds the winner and runner-up positions for Scotland in Practical Fishkeeping’s Retailer of the Year awards.

Fishkeeper Stirling officially opens on Saturday 27th February

MA_Scotland logo reversePlease come and join us on Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th February at Dobbies Garden Centre, Drip Road, Stirling for the official opening of our latest store and grab a few bargains!

We will have lots of special offers running all weekend along with goody bags to give away whilst stocks last (the first 25 are extra special!)

There will be facepainting from 10:00 – 16:00 each day, along with plenty of cake and balloons as well.

You will also have the chance to win a Kent Marine Bioreef Aquarium worth £299.99 and there is a colouring in competition for the kids to win a starter aquarium.

We look forward to welcoming you to Fishkeeper Stirling!

You can also find us on Facebook or our official website.

Fishkeeper Aberdeen & Dundee are now open!

Our two newest stores are now officially open for business! Please pop in and check them out – both have a wide range of tropical, coldwater and marine fish as well as everything else for the Scottish fishkeeper!

Fishkeeper Aberdeen
Dobbies Garden Centre
New Park Farm
Whitemyres
Langstracht
Aberdeen
AB15 6XH
T: 01224 698 600
E: aberdeen@fishkeeper.co.uk
facebook.com/FishkeeperAberdeen

Fishkeeper Dundee
Dobbies Garden Centre
Ethiebeaton Park
Monifieth
Dundee
DD5 4HB
T: 01382 537 865
E: dundee@fishkeeper.co.uk
facebook.com/FishkeeperDun

Fishkeeper Scotland is coming to Aberdeen and Dundee!

MA_Scotland logo reverseWe are pleased to announce that we will be opening two new stores inside the Dobbies Garden Centres in Aberdeen and Dundee in late May / early June.

The existing aquatics sections will be taken over by Fishkeeper Scotland during May, although at Aberdeen construction has already begun on an extension to provide us with a footprint which is double the size of the existing department. In Dundee we have already drawn up our exciting plans to hold more fish and products than ever before.

Additions will include brand new marine fish and invert systems along with a wide range of specialist marine products at both sites. The existing aquatics sections will be reworked to hold a much wider range of interesting and unusual freshwater species along with more tanks, cabinets and accessories to choose from.

Our product selection will be as wide as possible with the stores stocking many of our exclusive as well as favourite brands such as: AquaOak Aquariums, Aquamanta Filtration, AquaCare Foods & Supplements, Reef Nature Reef Ceramics, Microbe-Lift Treatments, Evolution Aqua Marine and Pond Products, New Era specialist foods, JBL, Red Sea and D&D along with many others!

We are looking forward to offering “everything for the Scottish fishkeeper” in Aberdeen & Dundee. Please feel free to give us feedback in the comments as to what you would like to see in particular in your local Fishkeeper Scotland store…

Please note that the existing aquatics sections in the garden centres continue to be run independently by Dobbies until we start work on site in late May.

Captive bred fish and cultured corals – reducing our reliance on any one source

Our last post wrote about how wild caught ornamental fish are a sustainable and essential part of our hobby and are also hugely beneficial for the environment and the local communities that serve them. We have since shared this wonderful infographic from Tropical Marine Centre on Facebook as it really does put the facts of the matter into perspective.

However, we are equally proud of the work that we have been doing over many years to also increase the sustainability of the fish and corals that we import through captive breeding and culturing projects. This way we really do benefit from the best of both worlds rather than relying on a single source.

Cultured Corals

selection (3)We have previously written about our trip to hand select cultured SPS and LPS corals in Bali, this was back in 2012 and the grower continues to be a very close partner of ours and is now also producing micro SPS and soft corals as well.

All of the corals are propagated on site from cuttings (fragging) of mother corals and glued to artificial rock bases. In these natural conditions it takes only two months for each coral to grow from a cutting to a saleable size.

Corals to be returned to the reef
Here you can see some of the donated stock awaiting collection (note how fish are living on this ‘reef’ already!)

Not only are these corals cultured independently of wild stocks, the farm also voluntarily donates 10% of its crop to the government for replanting onto actual reef… actually expanding the biodiversity in the area.

As well as this we also found plenty of wildlife living in the area surrounding the farm which was previously just a plain sand bed with little life. As this area has been dedicated to farming and not exploited for tourism it is also a turtle breeding ground sanctuary – the beaches here are truly pristine unlike in the surrounding areas. You can read the original article in full here.

IMG_7335We are also now receiving regular shipments of cultured corals from a state of the art indoor facility in Germany, another way of diversify choice for our customers in a sustainable manner.

You can also read about this and see more pictures here.

Red Tailed Black Sharks

Red Tail Black Shark
Photo taken at our Edinburgh store

All of the Red Tailed Black Sharks that you see in the aquarium trade are captive bred. This species has been considered extinct in the wild until as recently as 2011 due to the destruction of its natural habitat through the construction of dams and draining of swamps in Thailand around 1970. There has since been a small wild population found in a single precarious location meaning these fish are listed as “Critically Endangered”.

The large captive bred population in the fishkeeping hobby almost certainly outnumbers the wild population, giving this species the security of survival in at least some form whilst it’s future in the wild continues to be threatened by environmental pressures.

L046 Zebra Pleco

Zebra Pleco brood stock

The future of this iconic and beautiful species is severely threatened by the Belo Monte Dam construction project in the Amazon rainforest which is well underway and will become the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world by diverting up to 80% of the flow of the Xingu River which is a major tributary to the Amazon River. In the process an area of 1,500 square kilometers of rainforest will be flooded and destroyed as well as the homes of 40,000 of the local population.

Unfortunately, the Zebra Pleco isn’t the only endemic (only found in this location) species threatened. So too are the Sunshine Pleco and Slender Dwarf Pike Cichlid along with hundreds of other species of fish and animals.

There have been numerous attempts to stop this project which was first discussed back in 1975 but seemingly to no avail. Clean energy hey?!

L46 Zebra Pleco
Some healthy new arrivals from our Asian partner at our Inverness store

We have been working closely with another partner of ours in Asia (a long way from the Amazon!) and he has been buying up as many of the remaining populations found in captivity around the world as possible from a wide variety of bloodlines in order to reproduce this notoriously slow developing species.

He has really got the knack after several years and has a continuous production line, from which he keeps a proportion for broodstock and sends the rest to friends of his around the world (like us!).

The Zebra Plec is yet another species with an uncertain future in the wild, but secured in captivity by the fishkeeping hobby.

F0 / F1 Genes

On a final point, another reason that captive and wild caught fish are complementary to each other comes down to genetics. It is widely know that if a genetic pool is too small then health issues and deformities will start to develop down the line. The best way to prevent this is to occasionally reintroduce wild stocks into captive breeding programmes to bring some fresh genes into the pool. As such “F1” (first generation) stock often commands a premium among hobbyists due to the strong health and colouration traits that they possess. Moving further and further away from quality livestock like this would result in a downturn in animal welfare – the absolute opposite of the intent of the Scottish Government’s proposal to review and restrict the importation of “exotic” fish whether captive bred or wild caught.

Please remember to support the #handsoffmyhobby campaign as soon as possible in the following ways…

  • Sign the petition at Change.org
  • Visit the dedicated #handsoffmyhobby campaign website for further educate yourself on this very important and pressing matter – www.handsoffmyhobby.org
  • Write to your local MSP and Richard Lochhead who is the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. You can find their contact details on the Scottish Government website including postal and email addresses. Contact them for free via www.writetothem.com. You could also contact them directly via their social media accounts! Remember – they want your votes too.

Why the blanket banning of wild caught fish would actually have a negative impact on the environment and developing communities #handsoffmyhobby

At Fishkeeper Scotland we aim to act as responsibly and sustainably as possible in our sourcing of quality and varied livestock from around the world. The vast majority of our regularly stocked and bestselling species are captive bred, whilst a fair amount of the unusual and most interesting species that find their way into your home aquariums and biotopes are wild caught by exporters that we know and trust.

There are real benefits to sourcing captive bred or cultured species for many reasons which will follow in our next blog post, however today we would like to focus on the benefits to the environment and developing communities provided by also collecting from the wild in sustainable quantities.

Our recent post regarding the #handsoffmyhobby campaign highlighted the real threat that is posed to our wonderful hobby of fishkeeping by new Scottish Government proposals to severely limit the keeping of “exotic” species as pets in Scotland. Prior to this announcement they had only consulted biased animal “welfare” charities without also consulting the pet trade or pet owners to hear the other side of the story. We are pleased to say that after contacting Richard Lochhead MSP the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment he has now confirmed to us that he does intend to hear the views of those actually involved in the care of these “exotic” species during the review.

Perspective: Careful hand catching by net of ornamental fish vs destructive trawlers for the food industry

The Scottish Governments review into exotic pets could potentially lead to the blanket ban of the importation of live ornamental fish destined for loving homes, however dead wild caught and seriously threatened species such as Cod, Haddock & Tuna destined for the food trade would still be allowed – what’s the difference? Well actually there is a big difference:

  • About 85% of fish caught is used for human consumption. The remainder is converted into fish-meal and oil used mainly for animal feed and for farmed fish. (United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation)
  • 92,200,000 tons of food fish is caught on average annually compared to approximately 150 tons of ornamental marine fish worldwide. Therefore fish caught for the aquarium trade account for less than 0.0000016% of the entire annual catch. (Incorrect decimal placing updated 23/2)
  • Bottom trawling (for food fish) is the ocean equivalent of clear-cutting a forest. Ships drag huge, heavy nets held open by doors over the seafloor to catch fish that dwell near the bottom of the ocean. In the process, they destroy everything else, including deep sea coral and sponges (Oceana)
  • Ornamental fish are caught delicately by hand and small nets on a non-intensive scale by divers and fishermen. There is no by catch or surplus as everything that is caught is live and transferred to water tanks.
  • Maldive fishermen get $500 a kilo for supplying live marine fish for the aquarium trade. They would get just $6 a kilo for the same fish if destined for the dinner table. (OATA)

Project Piaba: Buy a fish, save a tree

This initiative in the Barcelos region of Brazil, which has also been supported by charities such as ZSL, encourages the local population to supply fish such as the Cardinal Tetra to the ornamental trade.

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Research has shown that the extraction of the ornamental fish from the area is biologically sustainable and has no minimal negative impact on the land and waters of the region. In fact, because the wild-caught ornamental fish trade has minimal detrimental effect on the area, the industry of wild-caught ornamental fish can help to support local communities by offering a long-term, sustainable source of income that establishes environmental stewardship in the land – Project Piaba

In essence the local population are taught how to make a sustainable living from their native fish species which aren’t suitable for food and would otherwise be of no value to them. Realising the value of protecting the fish’s environment leads to bumper populations that can be sustainably harvested. The alternative could well be rural-urban migration and mass clearing of the rainforest in this area for logging or agriculture which would have a massively detrimental effect on the environment including the rivers through soil erosion. This has been seen elsewhere in the Amazon and in some small part the “exotic” fish trade is helping to stop the spread.

Intervention done correctly: Clown Loach in Indonesia

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Clown Loaches are a staple fixture in tropical community aquariums however they are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity which leads to a high demand for wild caught specimens. However the Indonesian government rightly stepped in and ruled it illegal to catch and export the adult fish in order to protect the breeding population. As a result there is a healthy trade in juvenile fish and the collectors have learnt methods to catch only the sizes that they require, leaving the remainder undisturbed to continue breeding healthy populations.

Coral reefs: “A great material to build with”

In Sri Lanka and parts of India entire sections of coral reef have been mined as a cheap source to make cement for the construction industry. If a higher value was attached to the reef through sustainable practices it would still be there.

We have worked with fishermen in Indonesia who understand the value of their reefs and are working to create additional artificial reefs to expand the local populations of species in which they are fishing. They are even working with neighbouring communities to rotate fishing seasons to restrict their catching to a non intensive level.

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These pods (pictured on a recent trip) actually provide such a high level of protection for the fish that they can breed in larger numbers and avoid the dangers of predation and ocean currents. Equally it is much easier for the fishermen to catch them when it is time to harvest the populations that it keeps any stress on the fish to an absolute minimum.

In summary, the export of sustainably wild caught ornamental fish incentivises local communities to protect their aquatic environments and provides a better living for developing communities compared to other destructive fishing or farming practises, resulting in less pressure on overall fish stocks.

A blanket ban on “exotic pets” would harm these communities, environments and species, as well as an estimated 250,000 fishkeepers in Scotland.

Our next blog will focus on the steps that we are also taking to encourage captive bred and cultured livestock, in particular for species in high demand.

In the meantime, please remember to support the #handsoffmyhobby campaign if you haven’t already done so… Your fish depend on you!

  • Sign the petition at Change.org AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
  • Visit the dedicated #handsoffmyhobby campaign website for further educate yourself on this very important and pressing matter – www.handsoffmyhobby.org
  • Write to your local MSP and Richard Lochhead who is the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. You can find their contact details on the Scottish Government website including postal and email addresses. Contact them for free via www.writetothem.com. You could also contact them directly via their social media accounts! Remember – they want your votes too.

#handsoffmyhobby

We have disturbing news that we are compelled to share with our customers in the pet loving nation of Scotland. The Scottish Government have announced that Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, has committed to a review of the trade and importation of exotic animals for the pet trade in Scotland after discussions with the “animals rights group” OneKind. However prior to this announcement there has been no consultation with the pet trade or pet owners.

The definition of “exotic” means anything not native to this country, whether captive bred or not. This could ultimately lead to almost every species of aquarium and pond fish as well as invertebrates being outlawed if poorly thought out and unnecessary sweeping regulation is brought in on the back of the extensive lobbying of several animal rights groups, who let’s be clear would ultimately like to end all pet ownership. Realistically they’ll never manage to banish dogs or cats, despite the greater dangers they can pose to humans and the environment than the humble Neon Tetra or Guppy. However, viewing “exotic” species as an easy target is an attempt to restrict the keeping of all pets.

Let’s remind them that nearly 1 in 10 households have an aquarium and that we are all committed fishkeepers who are proud of our hobby and our commitment to providing for the needs of our animals – whether exotic or native, with fur or fins!

Check out the following worrying quotes:

We believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping”—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets”—never existed. – PETA

The legislation should facilitate a reduction in the numbers & types of non-domesticated birds, mammals, fish & reptiles in private keeping. – ONEKIND

We don’t need MORE regulation, we need better enforcement of the existing regulations. The licensed pet trade is already actively promoting the highest levels of animal welfare and sustainability and is heavily regulated, as pointed out by the Scottish government themselves:

The sale of animals as pets, including over the Internet where holding premises are within the UK, is currently covered by the Pet Animals Act 1951. The husbandry of certain exotic animals considered to be dangerous is covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, while the transport of all animals for commercial purposes, including pets, is covered by the Welfare of Animals Transport (Scotland) Regulations 2006, which implements EU requirements. The welfare of all protected animals, including exotic pets, is provided for under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

Abandonment of any protected animal is an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

What can you do to help?

  • Sign the petition at Change.org AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
  • Visit the dedicated #handsoffmyhobby campaign website for further educate yourself on this very important and pressing matter – www.handsoffmyhobby.org
  • Write to your local MSP and Richard Lochhead who is the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. You can find their contact details on the Scottish Government website including postal and email addresses. Contact them for free via www.writetothem.com. You could also contact them directly via their social media accounts! Remember – they want your votes too.

What are Fishkeeper Scotland going to do?

  • We are going to heavily promote the #handsoffmyhobby campaign in conjunction with OATA who along with its members give fish welfare the highest priority.
  • We will be inviting MSP’s to visit our stores along with other licensed pet shops and for them open a constructive dialogue with both the pet trade and responsible pet owners.
  • We will be posting a series of articles to show the largely undocumented positive impact that the fishkeeping hobby has on animals in both the wild and captivity, as well as the communities around the world that are involved in their care.

Remember when you leave this page do three things!

Sign the petition here, educate yourself here & write to your MSP and Richard Lochhead MSP here!