Over the years there has been a trend to introduce new 'novelty' fish in to the hobby. Fish which have been selectively bred to produce odd shapes, fish which have been injected with or even tattooed with a message. We even have genetically modified fish. I am most definitely old school and prefer my fish to be real. The fish below (in random order) are among my least favourites and I would be happy to see them out of the hobby altogether.
Dyed glass fish
The dyed glass fish, the daddy of them all. The real glass fish is quite a good community fish, peaceful, hardy and lives in all conditions across its natural range, from soft acidic water to brackish water.
The dyed version is usually quite short lived often as a direct result of the dying process when disease is introduced through the use of unsterile equipment. The dye fades after a few weeks and the fish rarely last more than a few months (instead of years). The dye is injected in to the fish in several places and the same equipment is used repeatedly on different fish without be sterilised. Often dealers will say it is done with the use of a special diet but don't be fooled.
A strong campaign led by Practical Fishkeeping magazine against these fish has seen them decline in the UK.
These hybrid fish are quite often dyed, they are incapable of fully closing their mouth which must impinge on their ability to breathe properly and they are almost all sterile. They are 'the elephant man' of the fish world.
Some of these already poor fish have their tails amputated, no sedation, just simply chopped off and then returned to their container. The point of this was to give them a heart shape and sold in huge numbers on Valentines day.
Isn't it wonderful what some people will do for money?
Bubble eyed goldfish
The bubble eyed goldfish has two huge fluid filled sacs, one under each eye. These sacs are so big that they force the fish to constantly look up and because of the extra drag the fish can only swim very clumsily. There must be no sharp objects used for decor and sand or a bare floor is preferred over gravel because the fluid filled sacs are incredibly delicate and prone to being injured. If torn the fluid will leak out giving the fish a lopsided appearance which will never fully disappear because even after healing the sac rarely returns to its former size. When injured the eye itself is at risk due to potential infection.
What ever your feelings about fancy goldfish (and I actually like most) I think that this variety is an adaption too far.
The Celestial (so named because it constantly looks towards the stars and the Heavens.) is another unfortunate fish with its eyes popped out of their sockets, leaving them easily damaged and leaving the fish less able to compete with other fish and for what? They don't even look nice as a result. Again I feel that this is one adaptation to far.
Baby (hybrid catfish) tank buster
The fish in the photograph above is a hybrid. It is a cross between a red tailed catfish and a shovel nosed catfish. These fish were produced as a food source in Countries where they were needed. They are ideal as a food resource because the two species are native to where they are produce and with hybrid vigour they grow very rapidly and potentially bigger than either parent.
So with an adult size in excess of 150cm (60in) why sell them for keeping in a domestic aquarium?
I've often seen them for sale at 2 - 5 inches (depending upon the species) and often with no warning about their ultimate size. Even more worrying is that a tank full of baby red tailed catfish will sell far more quickly than a tank full of neon tetras for example.
The majority of these fish are doomed to a premature death.
I have absolutely no wish to see any legislation which introduces restrictions on what can and can't be kept. But if people buy these fish completely on a whim with no research and then become stuck with a large and still growing individual which has begun preying on its tank mates leading them to take it to a local pond or river - well it's only a matter of time before it is taken out of our hands.
Genetically modified fish
We're told these fish were produced as an indicator for poor water quality but with their many colours they are simply another novelty variation. They were supposed to be sterile but this hasn't always been the case and they have been bred in the home aquaria. This gave rise to an unexpected problem, the producers who developed this variation took out a patent for the process and in law no one else is allowed to produce them.
Now what ever your views on genetic modification do we really want a situation where large cooperation's own the sole rights to producing the fish we keep. Imagine what that will do to the cost and availability of the fish we keep.
More and more species are falling victim to the balloon fish fad. Surely these fish are going to have the same problems associated with fancy goldfish where they are unable to maintain a balanced neutral buoyancy. Most of these fish will live shorter lives than their healthy counterparts.
I'm uncertain about how these fish are produced, it seems unlikely that it is a simple case of selective breeding just because of the sheer number of species involved and the rapidity that they have appeared.
The trouble with these enhanced fish is that the enhancements usually make them look worse. Veil tails which look tatty, heal poorly and are more prone to infection. selectively bred colours which usually aren't a patch on the real fish although it has to be said that selective breeding for colour mutations is far better than dying the fish.
Real wild type Rams are perhaps one of the most beautiful of all fresh water fish. The ram above with its tatty fins and lack of colour is a poor representation of the species.
Fish which ought not to be in the hobby
Some fish are just so big that even a public aquarium would struggle to house one long term. The Arapaima, the Pangasius cats and the Giant snakehead really should have no place in the hobby unless you have won the lotto and have the resources to keep one properly.
I sometimes wonder where the hobby is going.
I joined the hobby at a very early age. I did it slowly but I did it simply because I was genuinely interested in fish real-fish.
Artificially coloured, mis-shaped fish with huge fins carried around in handbags with a built in bowl is something entirely foreign to me and something I want no part of.
Sadly as more and more of these freaks are being introduced all in the name of market share, the hobby I know and love feels to be being slowly taken over and lost
But none of them are real.
Dwarf gouramis and honey gouramis are two beautiful species, so why muck about with them and replace them with this sorry bunch?
I can go and buy all of the above relatively easily. But it is a very long time since I saw a properly coloured pair of dwarf gouramis and I have only ever seen one pair of honey gouramis displaying their natural colours.