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Re: Fish Patents

I've been seeing all the discussion here about Fish-o-Rama.  At first, it
didn't interest me much.  Some fish, like mollies make the salt to fresh
transition easily, and bull sharks have been found far up the Mississippi
River.  It was old news to me.  I read a long time ago that salt water fish
could be acclimated to fresh water.  Anyone with a little experience knows
that this would just serve to make keeping alive a fish already notoriously
difficult and short lived, even harder.  It was the patented part of it that
got my attention, as it seems to have gotten everyone else's attention.  The
thing is, I already knew that anyone with a little money to waste can patent
anything that hasn't been patented before, or a slight variation on anything
that has been patented.  The patent, in this case, is just an attempt to
lend some aura of professionalism or secrecy to the sales pitch.

I decided to do a little search at www.uspto.gov and find out just what the
secret is.  This is what I came up with, patented by Jerold Fisher of
Delaware in January of last year.

From Patent No. 6,016,770


The natural habitat for salt-water fish generally has a salt content of
about 1.022. The process for acclimating a salt-water fish to water that
contains substantially less salt than its natural habitat, requires placing
the salt-water fish in water having about one half the salt content of its
natural habitat. The salt content is then slowly reduced to the desired

In a preferred embodiment, fish is initially placed in water having a salt
content of about 1.012 to about 1.01. The salt content is reduced by
increments of about 0.0005 to about 0.003 specific gravity while the fish is
allowed to acclimate to each new environment for at least about one week per
0.0005 specific gravity increment.

In a more preferred embodiment, the fish is initially placed in water having
a salt content about 1.011. Then, the salt content is reduced by about 0.001
approximately every two weeks.

One can stop the acclimation process at any desired intervening salt
concentration. For example, one can acclimate the salt-water fish to fresh
water or to water having a salt content of about 1.001 to about 1.003.

It is expected that this acclimation process is applicable to most
salt-water fish. Exception may include the more primitive fish such as
sharks, rays, coral or anemone. Preferred fish for the process include
chromis, damsel, clown, tang, surgeon and grouper. Particularly preferred
fish for this acclimation include Chromis viridis, Chrysiptera starcki,
Chrysiptera cyanea, Paraglyphidodon oxyodon, Pomacentrus coelestis, Premnas
biaculeatus, Amphiprion leucokranos, Amphiprion percula, Amphiprion clarkii,
Amphiprion ephippium, Amphiprion sebae, Dascyllus aruanus, Dascyllus
trimaculatus, Dascyllus melanurus, Zebrasoma veliferum, Zebrasoma flavescens
and Cromileptes altivelis.

The pH of salt water is about 8.0 to about 8.4 while that of pure water is
7.0. The pH of natural fresh water is often less than 7.0 because of
dissolved acidic solutes in the water. As one lowers the salt content,
especially from about 1.003 down, the pH also drops. In order to keep the
salt-water fish in good vigor, the pH of the water should be maintained at
about 7.4 to about 7.5. This is accomplished by methods well-known in the
art, such as by placing a dead coral in the aquarium to act as a natural
buffer, or by adding small amount of sodium bicarbonate to the tank.

In all other respects, care of the salt-water fish is the same as if they
were in salt water. A varied diet, maintaining the temperature at about
78.degree. F., use of vitamins are examples of normal salt-water fish care.

In addition, when salt-water fish is introduced to an aquarium, one must
equilibrate the temperature of the initial water holding the salt-water fish
with the temperature of the aquarium water by methods known in the art. For
the purposes of the invention, every time one introduces the salt-water fish
to water having a different salt content, the temperature of the old water
and the new water should be in equilibrium. As an example, when the
salt-water fish is carried in a plastic bag to an aquarium, the bag is
placed in the aquarium water for about 20 minutes before the contents of the
bag is released into the aquarium.

The invention also provides a salt-water fish that can live in water that
contains substantially less salt than its natural habitat. Preferably, the
salt-water fish can live in fresh water or water having a salt content of
about 1.001 to about 1.003.

Further, the invention provides the ability to keep both salt-water fish and
fresh-water fish within the same aquarium.

* * * * *

As you can see, this is no secret.  It's the same process that has been
described for at least 20 years.  The whole thing is very much like the
cut-flowers analogy used in an earlier post.  Me, I prefer to keep fish like
I have kept dogs and cats, happy, healthy and in a good environment until,
at some point well past what is considered their normal life span, they are
so decrepit that I find I am arguing with myself that putting them down is
probably more humane than hoping their health will improve.

No doubt, there are others to whom fish are little more than cut flowers,
and unfortunately, some who will be taken in by a sales pitch, experience
failure and go on to keep pets that suit them better, like beanie babies or
ceramic cats.