Differences in Livestock / Species Popularity and Availability across the world?

Zionas

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I’ve always been curious as to whether there are noticeable differences in the availability and popularity of different fish and corals across the world. Does it vary a lot between Europe, North America, Asia, Australia etc. ? Are there any noticeable differences when it comes to how people prefer to do their tanks? (Bare bottom vs substrate, topless vs covered etc.)

As a Chinese reefer, we hardly get any fish from the Western Hemisphere (tropical Atlantic). The hobby here is in total maybe just approaching 15 years old, less than the lifespan of a Clownfish. We sometimes do get fish from Australia and the Red Sea, Maldives, or the Pacific Islands, but generally we don’t get frequent imports from anywhere but the Western Pacific / Indo-Pacific. Maldivian imports come in relatively small quantities.

For example, for many of you guys the Royal Gramma is a fish that your run-of-the-mill LFS will carry on almost any given day and it’s expensive. Here we get them sporadically (but by our standards it’s about the only Atlantic fish we get on a semi-regular basis, even then it’s not common) and for prices significantly higher than most Indo-Pacific species. Blackcaps are even more sporadic and cost over twice as much as a Royal Gramma. Other standard offerings for you guys like the Chalk Bass, Lantern Bass, Swissguard Basslet, Harlequin Bass, and so on. I have never seen a live Chalk Bass here. I have never seen a Lantern Bass here. Swissguard Basslets come very sporadically (very rare), and Harlequin Bass I have only seen on one occasion and at a fairly high price.

In terms of wrasses here many sellers sporadically import the Melanurus and Red Lined Wrasses (and to my annoyance both are listed as Christmas Wrasses, plus I had to see pics to make sure), I have seen H. Ornatissimus on 2 occasions and the Adorned Wrasse on one or two. Never seen an H. Claudia in person. Sometimes we do get H. Iridis from East African imports.

In terms of wrasses, the most frequently seen in my place are the Yellow Coris and the Six-Line. Fairy and Flasher Wrasses are imported from time to time but I wouldn’t say frequently. The Yellow Fin Fairy Wrasse and Lubbock’s seem to be the most common here, among the Flashers it’s the McCosker’s and Carpenter’s. I have seen C. Rubrisquamis, C. Cyanopleura, C. Solarensis, C. Isosceles, C. Katherinae, C. Jordanian (from Hawaii, sometimes in pairs and sometimes as singles, very expensive), C. Lutteovitatus etc. and a couple others before but they aren’t overly common. Cleaner Wrasses are unfortunately a common sight and are some of the cheapest fish here.

Clownfish are about the only fish we get Captive bred on a regular basis. Tomato, Maroon (including Lightning and Gold Striped), Ocellaris, and Clarkii are the most common species and most are captive bred. The Cinnamon, Red Saddleback (Fire), Skunk (Orange and Pink species), True Percula, and Saddleback and Sebae Clowns are somewhat less common. We get both the orange and Darwin varieties of A. Ocellaris though the Darwin Ocellaris seem to come in a bit larger. As I want 1 orange and 1 Darwin, it looks like my Darwin will certainly end up the female.

As for Dartfish we get the Red Firefish and Purple as the most common. I’ve also seen the Scissortail, Zebra, and Blue Gudgeon on a variety of occasions. Helfrichi’s are offered fairly sporadically and at higher prices, Exquisite Firefish are labeled as “Indian Ocean Purple Firefish”, are sporadically seen and slightly more expensive than the Purple.

Angelfish, we get regular imports of Queen Angels, Koran Angels, Passer (King) Angels, Captive-Bred Maculosus Angels (from breeding facilities in Taiwan), Captive Bred Scribbled Angels (I presume from Bali Aquarich), Captive Bred Goldflake Angels too. I have seen some very rare ones like the Bandit Angel and the Clarion, both were of course too expensive for me to risk it. Dwarf angels we get Coral Beauty and Rusty on a fairly regular basis. Others like Eibli, Half-Black, Lemonpeel (not sure from which source), Golden, and Bicolor appear from time to time. Knowing better I avoid the Lemonpeel, Golden, and Bicolor though I have seen Captive Bred Lemonpeels on one or two occasions. The other species tend to be more rare. For the Pygmy angels sometimes we get the African Flameback and occasionally we get C. Argi and C. Fisheri or C. Flavicauda but none are commonly imported. We also get Regal Angels semi-regularly but they’re another fish to avoid for me especially considering that they’re the Indo-Pacific variety. Majestic Angels are another relatively common import and some are captive bred, but I wouldn’t want to try one until I’m an experienced hobbyist with an 8’ tank. Before the virus in the US was in full swing we regularly got Flame Angels, which I assume are often processed through Hawaii.

Tangs, we almost never run of stock for Z. Flavescens (I assume Hawaii is still collecting) and Blue Hippos. Tomini Tangs, Yellow Eye Koles aren’t too rare either. The really large Tangs like the Sailfin (I assume Indo-Pacific), Naso varieties are common. Sohal Tangs appears from time to time. Acanthurus sp. like the Powder Blue and Powder Brown and Clown Tangs are unfortunately a common sight. I’ve also seen the Eibli and Lemonpeel Mimic Tangs and Convict Tangs. Achilles used to make more appearances before the virus.

In terms of butterflies, none are that common except H. Acuminatus. H. Polyepsis has been making more appearances in recent years while H. Zoster is more rare. Klein’s, Raccoon, Auriga, Citrinellus seem to be the more common among Chaetodon sp. Falcula for some reason is more common than the Double Saddle (the latter of which is the hardier species). The Vagabundus is more common than Decussatus (again, the latter of which is hardier). Unfortunately a number of obligate corallivores are imported, a sight that I hate to see. I’ve seen Mitratus, Tinkeri, the Hawaiian Lemon, Burgess and Declivis a couple of times.

Just as unfortunate is that I see Moorish Idols frequently imported (I know they’re not a butterfly).


In terms of other fish:

Triggers- Blue Throat and Clown (most common)

Gobies- Yellow Watchman (common), Orange Spotted (relatively common), Sleeper Banded (somewhat common), Diamond Watchman (common, and unfortunate), others (more rare)


Blennies- Bicolor and Lawnmower (most common), Midas (sporadic), Starry (somewhat sporadic), others (more rare)


Lionfish- Longfin (most common), others (more rare)


Anglers- All sporadic to somewhat sporadic


Rabbitfish- Foxface Lo (most common, some are being captive bred if the seller’s claims are true), One Spot (somewhat rare), others (somewhat rare)


Cardinalfish- Pajama and Bangaii (most common, not sure if Bangaiis are captive bred), others (more rare, I have never seen a live A. Maculatus)


Roundheads- Marine Betta (sporadic), Assessors (all rare)


Puffers and Filefish- Saddled Valentini Puffer (relatively common), Bluespotted Puffer (sometimes seen), others (more rare)


Genicanthus Angels- Lamarck’s (relatively common), others make sporadic appearances and males can be hard to find

Generally I wouldn’t say we have a great selection of livestock. Corals wise most reefers aspire to keep SPS at one point or another. For me I’m content with softies and LPS for now at least.


Many people advise starting tanks with Tangs, and I see Tangs in very small tanks here. Infuriating.

I see an online seller selling captive bred Pilotfish, a fish that gets too big for the vast majority of tanks!


Bare bottom VS substrate- 50/50

Covered tank VS topless- 35/65


I have seen bare bottom + topless. Makes me cringe every time!
 
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revhtree

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Wow this is very interesting and honestly something a lot of us don't really consider. A royal gramma is not common? This could make for a great discussion!
 

Leo_ian

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one of my LFS gets in royal grammas once a month, that's the place you can find them the most often in my country

on the other hand borbodious anthias are $180 SGD, so $130 USD? for a small fish

we get quite good things in but its quite generic, considering what I am interested in... mystrey wrasse are bout USD200

I found swissguards for about $20 USD... before I was interested in those fish ._.
 
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Leo_ian

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the hobby here is probably slightly older than in china, mainly because we are near indo and Australia. hobby is very old fashioned though, kill all nutrients, nothing below 10 gallons to keep coral, impossible to keep sps, goniopora are difficult, feedig corals is useless etc

usually I find barebottom ugly unless its covered in enctusting corals
 
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Zionas

Zionas

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I see. No SPS? There is a decent SPS scene in China. We only get Australian and Caribbean / Atlantic stuff sporadically. As for SPA myself if my tank does well after a year I might consider only the easiest SPS, until then softies and LPS only.
 

Leo_ian

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clowns and blue tangs, its so annoying. its always the same inbred fish in everyone's tank, no one keeps the rare species. blue tangs i have seen in a 20 gallon by some people, tang police please attack them
 
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Zionas

Zionas

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Same in China. I see people keep not just one Yellow or Blue Tang in a way undersized tank, but I know a guy who kept FOUR Tangs (including a Clown and Powder Brown) in his 55 gallon. Needless to say, the Powder Brown got ich and wiped out his tank except his two original Clowns. I was too lazy to even scold him about it.

I have 3 pet peeves when it comes to tanks:

1. Corner / Bow Front tanks (Okay I get it you may not have enough space but I have a right to think they look horrible)

2. Bare bottom tanks (substrate contains beneficial nutrients, and why limit your choices when it comes to fish?)

3. Topless tanks (I, as a human, would appreciate it if I had someone who cared enough and had the mechanisms to prevent me from committing suicide. I’d want the same for my fish.)
 
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maroun.c

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Interesting discussion, im from Lebanon (middle east) and have seen such differences in the country as well as nearby Gulf countries.
Some common fish in the US like yellow tangs, flame angel, royal gramma... are not commonly available here. We get them in shipments but as u can imagine prices get inflated due to a longer chain of custody and shipping/customs and other related costs. A purple tang can sell for 1/4 of the price of a yellow in some countries where they are found typically.... other fish like Sohal can also be way cheaper here.
On the coral side the hobby just started shifting from colonies to frags sold with little fragging or hobbyists selling frags to each other, which has led over the past to cheaper sps colonies only being imported with less colors. We still have nice shipments of indo and aussie colonies but prices can get steep. We also see reefer shifting more to buying frags over last couple years which is changing dynamics and prices...
 
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Zionas

Zionas

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That’s very interesting and by the way your tank is amazing. I know you’re a software engineer so I don’t have nearly the same skills as you do when it comes to not only keeping a tank with so many fish, but a tank that’s somewhat SPS dominant. Good job!

It makes sense when you consider Purple Tangs and Sohal Tangs are Red Sea fish. In China we get them at high prices too though not “Western” prices because after all we’re a developing country. The Tangs we seem to get fairly regularly are Yellows (because we’re still in the Pacific region), Blue Hippos, Tominis, Scopas, Sailfins (not Desjardini), some Acanthurus (including the infamous Powder Blue and Powder Brown, Mimic too). Our fish stocks are generally Western Pacific, with sporadic imports of Atlantic and Red Sea species. Overall I’d say in terms of livestock we align closer to the US than to the EU or the Middle East.

It pains me that a lot of fish suggestions given to me by people here aren’t really doable for me because of availability issues. It’s going to be my first tank and I’m not even going for anything super rare (95G), but yeah when I look at the selection of species available to hobbyists in the US and EU and even you with all the Red Sea species I’m like.... yeah, this sort of limits me.

So in the Middle East would you say the hobby is big? If so in which countries?
 

maroun.c

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That’s very interesting and by the way your tank is amazing. I know you’re a software engineer so I don’t have nearly the same skills as you do when it comes to not only keeping a tank with so many fish, but a tank that’s somewhat SPS dominant. Good job!

It makes sense when you consider Purple Tangs and Sohal Tangs are Red Sea fish. In China we get them at high prices too though not “Western” prices because after all we’re a developing country. The Tangs we seem to get fairly regularly are Yellows (because we’re still in the Pacific region), Blue Hippos, Tominis, Scopas, Sailfins (not Desjardini), some Acanthurus (including the infamous Powder Blue and Powder Brown, Mimic too). Our fish stocks are generally Western Pacific, with sporadic imports of Atlantic and Red Sea species. Overall I’d say in terms of livestock we align closer to the US than to the EU or the Middle East.

It pains me that a lot of fish suggestions given to me by people here aren’t really doable for me because of availability issues. It’s going to be my first tank and I’m not even going for anything super rare (95G), but yeah when I look at the selection of species available to hobbyists in the US and EU and even you with all the Red Sea species I’m like.... yeah, this sort of limits me.

So in the Middle East would you say the hobby is big? If so in which countries?
Thanks for the kind words, not a sw engineer here. I studied nuclear medicine imaging and work in a health care company....

As for red sea, unfortunately most its fish aren't reefsafe or are aggressive. Corals are a pain to acclimated as they come from higher salinity and sps isn't the nicest. To make it worse most red sea countries nearby ban collection and import of livestock, so not really a sustainable solution for us.

Most of my fish/corals i have purchased while on travel due to limited quality arrivals here. So having fish or corals on ur fish list, although a pain can be worked around maybe. I see a huge supply of fish and corals in far East which I had assumed would make it easy for you to get quality livestock.

Yes hobby is growing very fast in middle east, still its relatively small countries and populations.... UAE (dubai) would be the fastest growing country in reefing, I was based there last 3 years and travel there monthly so saw the hobby grow exponentially. Saudi is a very big market as well yet hobby growth has been limited by difficulty to get coral shipments there, I travel there frequently and there are some very nice tanks. Turkey has its share of good reefs bymut we don't see them much on forums or social media due to language barrier mostly... Lebanon where I'm from is the smallest country in the region , has the smallest population and the worst financials... which has been a limit for the hobby, yet there is a growing reefer community and some breathtaking tanks that unfortunately owners don't share much on forums.
 
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