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Cardinals in the Wild

Dave K wrote:

> The thing about cardinal tetras is they are becoming
> very rare at pet stores,  their supply is completely
> dependent on taking them from the wild.  I would
> hate to discourage anyone from trying to breed a
> fish which could easily vanish from the hobby.
> Maybe if more took the effort to breed cardinals
> a breakthough would be discovered and we would
> no longer have to take wild caught fish?

Excuse me, but this is just incorrect.  First, while it is unusual to breed
Cardinals in a planted aquarium because the conditions where they breed are
not conducive to aquatic plant life, Cardinals can and have been bred by
experienced aquarists on a repeated (though infrequent because of the work
involved) basis for many, many years.  If it made sense economically to
breed Cardinals, the fish breeders would be doing it.

The second, and much graver mistake in your post is the implied idea that
Cardinals are somehow likely to become unavailable from the wild in the
foreseeable future.  Of all types of aquarium fish, the habitat and
population numbers of Cardinals have been, and continue to be the most
closely studied and monitored.  This is due to Dr. Labbish Chao and Project


The greatest danger to Amazonian aquarium fish is habitat destruction.  The
best way to prevent habitat destruction is to give local fisherman a
sustainable source of income that DEPENDS on the flooded forest remaining
intact.  Then the local people have a reason to fight to protect their own
forests.  Native fisherman who are part of the aquarium fish industry make
more than twice as much as their counterparts in the cities and larger
towns.  By local standards they are quite well off, and work hard to protect
the forest they depend on for their livelihood.  Their business is a cottage
industry, completely dependant on the slow work of hand-collecting these
fish.  This process cannot be automated because of the nature of the

As far as the Cardinals themselves are concerned, while these fish are
strikingly pretty, they are very close to the bottom of the food chain.
They are plentiful in their native habitat.  Dr. Chao's work has shown that
the current level of harvest is having _no_ negative impact on the wild

The slogan of Project Piaba is, "Buy a fish, save a tree."  The truth of the
matter is that with very few exceptions, when you buy wild-caught Amazonian
fish, you are helping to SAVE the rainforest, which, in the end will save
these species and many others.  When you buy captive bred Amazon fish, you
are doing NOTHING to contribute to the long-term survival of these species.

Oh, and the reason that Cardinals are in short supply at certain times of
the year is that they can only be collected during low water periods, when
the fishermen can get to them.  It has nothing to do with the supply running
out.    Some of the larger importers and exporters have begun to keep
Cardinals on hand in large grow-out facilities to be sold during the times
of year when they are not collected to even out the supply somewhat.  If
your LFS has the right contacts, you should be able to get hold of Cardinals
almost any time of year.

Please make sure you are fully informed before taking a stance on protecting
the environment.  Things are not always as simple as they seem on the