Should we corral reefs?

TANKS IN THE DARK. An enthusiast’s aquarium, filled with various fish species, is situated within the four walls of his bedroom. Photo by Kelly Veneracion

In the world of aquarium keeping, beauty has a price.

Scientists and environmentalists are concerned with the alarming status of coral reefs in the Philippines, which was confirmed in a nationwide survey held this year. According to a Philippine Journal of Science report on initial findings on the nationwide assessment of coral reefs from 2015-2017, 74 of the 166 coral sampling stations in the country were deemed to be in peril—damaged due to climate change and pollution.

This 2018 is proclaimed to be the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR). With the state of coral reefs, along with recent coastline violations, our country has had a rough start.

The Philippines has the third-largest coral reef system in the world. Spanning over thousands of square kilometers, it is home to a flourishing variety of underwater species. From the common bangus milkfish (chanos chanos) to the vibrant picturesque dragonet (synchiropus picturatus), coral reefs provide habitats for aqualife that paint the picture of biodiversity.

However, certain developments in the country have posed a threat to reefs. The need for greater harvest in the fishing industry leads to men opting for destructive illegal fishing. Urbanization, though progressive in nature, has the entirety of marine life as its bargaining chip. And now, the spotlight has yet again shifted to another issue: aquarium hobbies. Could it be, that the hobby meant to appreciate the beauty of underwater nature is its own predator?

Enthusiasm or exploitation?

Aquascaping and fishkeeping make up the aquarium hobby, and both go hand-in-hand. Aquascaping involves arranging aquatic plants and rocks to create an underwater garden of sorts. The task lives up to the expectations of what modern aquariums are like today: visual and aesthetically pleasing. Most hobbyists don’t stop at aesthetics and decide to add aquatic life—unique species like clownfish and cichlids into their tanks. Aquascaping, which lays groundwork for the aquarium, and the added element of fishkeeping immediately color a tank with majestic life.

Filipinos are no stranger to this hobby. Online forums and Facebook groups have emerged to […]

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Should we corral reefs?
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Should we corral reefs?
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The reef spotlight has shifted to aquarium hobbies. Could it be that the hobby, meant to appreciate the beauty of underwater nature, is its own predator?
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The Guidon
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