Aquaria Information from
WHERE DO YOUR FISH COME FROM?
For anyone looking for different fish or researching water conditions for a particular fish, an abundance of material is available.
However, most information is limited in regard to what fish are commercially available and more importantly, where and when these fish are available.
We'll discuss commercial or trade availability first. How many times have you, as a hobbyist, gone to your favorite store with a Latin name from an encyclopedia or atlas and asked, "Can you get this fish for me?" How do they, as a store owner or manager, know if this fish is available?
A good wholesaler of tropical fish will provide your dealer with a list of stock items (preferably with prices) that should also include oddball or seasonal fish as well. This becomes a prime reference. Normally, the store owner will keep a list of customer requests, then check with the wholesaler to see if they are currently available.
The more tank space the store's wholesale supplier has, the more likely uncommon fish will be available. The reason why some fish are not commercially available is simply that there is not enough demand for them. This holds true for fish caught in the wild or raised at a fish farm facility. Sometimes a box of wild-caught fish (usually one species per shipping container) will contain a few miscellaneous specimens of a normally unavailable item. Stores that pick up orders at their wholesale tropical fish supplier are most likely to get these fish.
Now let's address the issue of where fish actually come from. In the wholesale trade, between 65 to 75% of tropical fish, exclusive of marines, are farm raised, either in this country or abroad.
Central and South American cichlids are a typical example of "native location" versus "commercial location". Although Dempseys, Firemouths, Texas Cichlids, Red Devils and Convicts are indigenous to these areas, they are primarily commercially available from Florida.
Southeast Asian fish farms also raise many of these cichlids, but due to freight costs, U.S. wholesalers don't usually obtain them from these sources. To ship a box from the far east to New York, for example, costs between $85 and $100.00. If there's only 50 fish in the box, the added cost is $1.70 to $2.00 per fish!
I think you can readily see why big fish aren't imported very often. A wholesaler could easily spend $25 in freight alone for a 10-inch Gold Severum. Add supplier charges, compute the wholesale and retail markup, and you've got a fish retailing for $100!
Discus and Angels, native South American species, are primarily farm raised; angels in the Far East and Florida, and Discus in Bangkok and Singapore. Oscars, however, are generally imported from Bangkok, but may also be from Singapore. Festivum, and some Geophagus species, Blue Acara, apistogrammas and pikes are still wild caught, presumably because fish farmers don't think there's enough demand to offset the high cost of breeding and raising them.
African Cichlids are primarily available from Florida and the Far East. Although some are still imported from Africa, they are usually large sized and very expensive, and therefore their primary use is as breeding stock.
Live-bearers (guppies, swordtails, platies and mollies) are native to Central and South America and are exclusively bred and raised on fish farms. Wholesalers buy about the same percentage of live-bearers from the Far East and Florida - fancy guppies from Singapore and feeders from Florida. Mollies and Swordtails are split 50-50 with fancy types primarily imported. Sourcing of platies is usually by preference.