Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here's what I'm actually doing.

  Today I wrote down a general outline of what I want to do with this group. I feel in previous posts, I never made that clear enough. Here's the list of things, in bullets:

-Provide captive breeding and reintroduction services
-Be made up of aquarists and ichthyologists constantly sharing information with each other
-Educate the public about the wonders of freshwater life
-Discourage people from introducing invasive species
-Educate people on their proper care
-Work with pet stores, public aquaria, and other people working with fish to further the cause

Also, I stated I want all freshwater fish feasible to keep to be considered aquarium fish. This opens up the possibility of some random guy buying a bunch of red-tailed black sharks, or some other endangered or fragile species, and killing them all. My solution is an achievement system. Aquarists who are members of the group score points for time as a fishkeeper, number of fish bred, number of fish killed, tank size, etc. I plan to give different fish different point values, to incentivize the purchase of fish. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Target Sighted!

Recently, I found out when the first deadlines were; an annotated bibliography due October 3rd and an actual presentation on the 8th. I'm confident I can meet these deadlines with a good project.
Today and yesterday, I also waded through many sources. The time I spent searching, as well as a source given to me by Mrs.
Marchio, makes this post come a day late.

Conservation Fisheries
An organization based in the Southeast US focusing on breeding fish. They breed fish to keep populations alive and restore depleted ones. It checks the populations using non-invasive methods, as many ways of surveying fish disturb or hurt the fish. Many large conservation groups, like the WWF, support Conservation Fisheries.

A Department of Maryland Wildlife survey
It's very long and filled with data. It talks about the Maryland public's opinion on fishery and conservation matters. My first source really dealing with humans. Since I'm posting from a phone, I'll give more detail tomorrow.

Boosting Public Awareness of Fish

A flyer posted in 2001. The date's significant because it's before Finding Nemo, a movie that boosted awareness of marine fish significantly for a while. This flyer argues people don't consider fish as animals worthy of respect, and only a source of food in rivers and oceans.

The Aquarium Hobby: Can Sinners become saints in freshwater fish conservation?

Mrs. Marchio sent me this source. It asked a few of the questions concerning this thesis: namely should aquarists be involved in freshwater fish conservation? The article then goes into detail involving unsuitable and nonnative species kept by aquarists, as well as conservation efforts that saved some cyprinodontiform fish from extinction, like Ameca splendens.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Kind of Flailing Around Right Now

    Today I looked at the Rio Xingu river. It's a fast-flowing branch of the Amazon that provides many valuable aquarium fish. However, it's set to be dammed in the near future, displacing thousands of people and making countless fish critically endangered or extinct. The major catfish website Planet Catfish launched the project PlanetXingu last year in an effort to learn more about these fish before it's too late. This is where captive breeding and the aquarium trade should come in. As I've mentioned earlier, ornamental fish are more valuable pound-for-pound than food fish. They provide a source of work for those who live by some bodies of water. If the efforts of PlanetXingu become more publicized, maybe we can do more...
   I also looked at NANFA, the North American Native Fish Association. They want to do for US native fish what I want to extend to all fish: raise awareness, conserve, and research them. They also consider captive care a viable idea to raise awareness for them.
   This blog post has this title because I'm still a little lost and don't have clear deadlines. What are my final products going to be? What are relevant sources? I'm getting this figured out as well as I can, though.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More Clarification, but not much else

    Today I found out about the Jack Kent Scholarship. It pays much of one's tuition for 4 years, and is geared at students with good grades and exceptional financial need. I spent a good portion of class time today learning more about it and trying to apply, but the website was a bit slow.
    In thesis-related news, here are the three questions I intend on asking at local pet stores:

1. Do you know the Red-Tailed Black Shark is critically endangered?

2. Are Dojo Loaches invasive species?

3. Do you know that Dinosaur Eels or bichirs were used in a recent experiment to investigate how terrestrial locomotion developed?

I also emailed my adviser for more guidance and to clarify some of my intentions in the previous post. This project is intended for all aquarists, but I'll focus more on the U.S. because it's the area I know best, and when I said all fish that weren't considered a food source, I meant all of them everywhere, including U.S. native fish. Since my tiny sample of people mainly consider those fish food or bait, I want to open them up to a better use for them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wonder if this would be my niche ?

    Today I looked at some sources involving ornamental fish conservation. It's great they exist, but I do indeed need something to set my thesis apart from them. They mention that efforts in the Amazon to preserve and sell discus fish and neon tetras provide a source of income that spares the forests and helps the natives survive. I'll expand this to ALL non-food freshwater fish worldwide.
    This is a win-win situation for all involved. Fishkeepers want to keep and breed new, exotic fish. Ichthyologists can learn some of the natural history of ethically-raised fish from the hobbyists. Fish collectors gain a source of income, as ornamental fish are much more monetarily valuable than food fish. If fish collecting becomes more widespread and lucrative, it would be a boost to any economy near a body of freshwater. Ecosystems are preserved, as nobody would want to build a mall, road, etc. over a large, beautiful, and hopefully sustainable source of income.
    I also have an idea for a survey to add something of an argument for conservation: ask random people in the fish section a couple of short questions regarding the conservation status of several common fish. Even though my sample would be a bit biased towards Dallas-area fish owners, I'd get firsthand knowledge about how in the dark most fishkeepers are about the fish they, well, keep. This project involves everyone involved with ornamental fish to take steps in preventing our stocks from becoming depleted or worse, and aquarists are key sources of knowledge, like amateur birdwatchers to ornithologists.


The page from the New England Aquarium mentioned Monday.
Talks about conservation objectives. Probably won't feature too much in final project.

One of the two conservation groups for ornamental fish I found. Pro-wild capture. Helped solidify my idea.

The other group about ornamental fish. UK-based. Requires membership.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Business as Usual

     I need to mention again the two driving questions about this thesis project: Why don't people care about freshwater fish? How can we make them care?
   With no unexpected counselor visits and the above statement out of the way, I was able to get more research done today. Using Google Scholar, I found many promising-looking sources. However, I need an institutional login, and I don't have one. Looks like I'll have to borrow one from someone else. The research papers' abstracts had a few useful facts, like ornamental aquaculture being a rather lucrative business in the US.
   Using ideas my adviser gave me, I looked at things birdwatchers and marine fish conservation groups did to raise awareness of their favored animals. Birdwatchers have around 47.7 million others making observations on avian behavior patterns. They have a code of ethics.They have large networks of like-minded people. All aquarists really have are internet forums and pet stores.
   Marine fish have a whole Department of State devoted to them. People can lobby for their support. They can talk to Congress and get legislation written to protect them. Steps are being taken to reduce overfishing. Obviously, freshwater fish conservation groups don't have a DoS to lobby for them.
   The New England Aquarium has a website mentioning the importance of ornamental fish, but I don't have time to go into it much. I'll edit this post soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

College Stuff, Mostly

    Today, my counselor, Mrs.Marberry took up most of the period talking about admissions and transcripts. I wasn't able to really do anything involving thesis besides email Mrs.Marchio.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Making Contact

   Today I fully committed to the freshwater fish advocacy group. No real modifications were needed to the idea. I also want to have a video to go alongside the final presentation, shown at a separate time. This is because of possible length issues, because it's likely to go over 20 minutes (the maximum length of our final presentation), and to have the audience pay more attention to it. I'll give video details after I do much more research.
   I also contacted Elizabeth Marchio as a mentor. Mrs. Marchio is an ichthyologist who studies swordtails and other livebearers in Belize. She is currently working on her doctorate at Texas A&M University.
   Links :
Identifying freshwater ecosystems with nationally important natural heritage values: development of a biogeographic framework is about the diversity of New Zealand freshwater ecosystems. It's kind of long, so I had to skim through it somewhat. It talks about the effects of catastrophic events like earthquakes on recolonizing the ecosystem, as well as the worth of conserving some specific habitats.
A basic overview of freshwater habitats. Provides a small background on the diversity of the habitats.