Rising Tide Conservation is dedicated to developing and promoting aquaculture of marine ornamental fish through the collaborative efforts of researchers, public aquaria, hobbyists, and conservation groups.

By developing and sharing aquaculture methods, Rising Tide Conservation aims to increase the number of aquacultured marine ornamental fish species available to public aquaria and commercially to hobbyists.

Aquaculture provides a sustainable alternative to wild fish collection, which can stress wild fish populations and damage the coral reefs where they live.


What is Aquaculture?

Generally, aquaculture refers to the “breeding, rearing, and harvesting of [aquatic] plants and animals” (NOAA, http://bit.ly/1AkcojD)  for consumption, conservation, or commercial production. Aquaculture is done with both freshwater and marine species, and can take place contained within the natural ecosystem (in nets or cages), or on land in manmade systems.

At Rising Tide, our mission is to develop and promote aquaculture of marine ornamental fish for the aquarium trade. When Rising Tide says that a species has been “aquacultured”, it means that a facility has  reared the spawn of captive broodstock from egg to adult, completely within a captive environment. The purpose of researching aquaculture techniques is to discover the ideal conditions that allow marine ornamental fish to breed, spawn, and thrive in a captive environment, without the need to remove spawn or fish from the ocean. Once these methods are discovered, the information is shared on the Rising Tide website, and replicated by other Rising Tide research facilities. The adult fish are then sent to other Rising Tide stakeholders, including producers, or kept for further studies. The goal of Rising Tide is to share these aquaculture methods to encourage the aquaculture of marine ornamentals on a commercial scale in order to meet market demand and reduce impacts from wild fish collection.


How does Aquaculture help coral reefs?

Aquacultured marine fish are a known sustainable alternative to wild-caught fish. A wild collection of marine ornamental fish is done by hand, with divers and snorkelers collecting the fish individually. Many of the popular marine ornamental fish inhabit coral reefs for some or all of their lifecycle. This means that collection of marine ornamentals often occurs on coral reefs. There are a couple ways that wild-collection can cause harm to the coral reefs.

  • Directly: Some reefs are located in remote locations, requiring a boat to access them. Boat anchors have the potential to hook on and drag across corals, destroying them in the process. Boat oil, gasoline, trash and other leftover items can get into the ocean and pollute the water around corals The presence of people on the reef also has the potential to damage the coral through poor collection techniques, such as moving or destroying coral or using cyanide to collect fish.  By spraying cyanide over the reef, collectors immobilize the fish making them easier to collect, however, cyanide can cause death and long-term health problems for the collected fish, and can also damage or kill the coral that may be weakened by bleaching events.

  • Ecologically: Coral reefs are ecosystems that support diverse plant and animal life. The species in these ecosystems rely on each other for survival. For example, some fish consume the algae that grow on top of the coral, which allows more light to reach the symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, that live within the coral. If too many of the fish are collected from the same reef, the algae can become overgrown on the coral, limiting light and ultimately stunting coral growth. Increasing the availability of aquacultured fish on the commercial market could reduce demand for the wild caught species, reducing the opportunity for a species to be overfished on a reef.