Freshwater aquarium fish, an important food source in the tropics
May 5, 2005
In South America many of the larger catfish (algae-eating Plecos and shovel-nosed catfish), characins (like Pacus and headstanders), and cichlids (Oscars, peacock bass) are widely harvested from rivers by local people. The Oscar, a popular ornamental fish in aquaria worldwide, is fished extensively in its Amazon home. In 2002, FAO estimates that around 183 metric tons of Oscars were taken out of rivers and streams in South America. In comparison, in Africa some 12,567 metric tons Mormyrids -- a family which includes the elephant-nosed fish -- were harvested from inland waters in 2002.
The Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is a popular tropical freshwater aquarium species. You can learn more about the Arowana here
Commercial Fishing in the Amazon: A case study
In the mid 1980s, the FAO Fisheries Department did a case study on fishing in the Amazon. The study, contained within Management systems for riverine fisheries by Thayer Scudder and Thomas Conelly, found a rapidly developing commercial fishery which involved both traditional fishermen and outsiders. The growth of the Amazonian fishing industry in the case study coincided with the completion of the Trans-Amazon highway in the early 1970s which caused the population of newly connected Amazon towns to burgeon. The resulting population increase produced new demand for protein that was met by the expansion of fishing operations on the Amazon and its surrounding tributaries.
The expansion of commercial fishing activities may have also affected the catch by subsistence or artisanal fishermen among the local indigenous communities.
To learn more about the FAO's findings, take a look at http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/DOCREP/003/X6848E/X6848E00.HTM
Below is capture production data for some selected aquarium species and types of tropical freshwater fish. All figures from the FAO's Review of the State of World Marine Fishery Resources.
|REGION / SPECIES||(All figures in metric tonnes)||1996||1997||1998||1999||2000||2001||2002|
|Nile tilapia||Oreochromis niloticus||177,072||157,714||188,056||175,846||204,350||205,353||207,572|
|Tilapias nei||Oreochromis (=Tilapia) spp||157,482||169,253||171,638||196,812||210,928||218,209||213,412|
|Mouthbrooding cichlids||Haplochromis spp||10,472||13,053||13,077||10,731||11,699||9,695||8,759|
|Upsidedown catfishes||Synodontis spp||9,267||11,560||13,384||12,856||12,571||13,737||12,827|
|Velvety cichlids||Astronotus spp||308||177||141||251||188||183||...|
|Glass catfishes||Kryptopterus spp||17,560||15,938||13,943||15,927||13,110||13,522||14,980|
|Pangas catfishes nei||Pangasius spp||541||522||917||1,061||1,274||1,100||1,200|
|Climbing perch||Anabas testudineus||3,905||3,754||4,637||6,340||6,730||5,800||6,300|
|Snakeskin gourami||Trichogaster pectoralis||30,792||21,728||22,422||23,776||22,456||21,357||20,940|
|Kissing gourami||Helostoma temminckii||12,611||18,376||16,598||23,320||18,771||19,429||20,140|
|Striped snakehead||Channa striata||30,966||28,646||21,520||23,784||26,839||24,998||25,988|
|Indonesian snakehead||Channa micropeltes||11,614||10,117||8,253||8,787||8,149||6,357||6,440|
Tropical freshwater aquarium fish
Freshwater aquarium fish under threat in the wild
FAO's Fisheries Department