The Wonderful World of Mariculture, Part I
As long as I can remember, I have dreamt of one day living on an island.
An island far from the mainland, where the cool trade winds blow and the sweltering sun bakes my skin; where the echoes of cars racing by would only be a faint memory of the wretched concrete jungle where I once lived.
As shimmering waters dance harmoniously on the sea floor, above the surface, ocean mist sprays off wave crests from the outer reef to catch a free ride in and land gently upon my face.
Then I take a deep breath and free dive down to check on my babies below, only to find that my loved ones are now so far along they are ready to harvest. This fantasy is a way of life for many native islanders, although they might not romanticize their lifestyle with such dream-like prose.
Welcome to the world of mariculture.
Mariculture, according to the Water Environment Federation, is the cultivation of marine organisms in their natural habitats, usually for commercial purposes.
Wikipedia defines mariculture as the cultivation of marine organisms for food, either in their "natural environment", or in seawater in ponds or raceways. An example of the latter is the farming of marine fish, prawns, or oysters in saltwater ponds. By definition, mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture.
Non-food products produced by mariculture include: fish meal, nutrient agar, jewelries (e.g. cultured pearls), cosmetics and corals.
The Convention on Biological Diversity says mariculture production worldwide is growing at the rate of about 5 to 7 per cent annually. Currently, the main types of marine organisms being produced through mariculture include seaweeds, mussels, oysters, shrimps, prawns, salmon, fish and corals.
Mariculture plays a very important role in the marine and fresh water hobby.
It has prolonged the rate at which poachers and locals displace these beauties by allowing them to remove cretin species from the wild to grow and cultivate.
Hand selecting fish and corals can be a daunting task that requires time and knowledge of surrounding reefs. Mariculture has inspired a new way of thinking that saves time and energy, all the while conserving our extraordinarily delicate, complex ecosystem and biotopes.
As the hobby has progressed through the past decade, knowledge and awareness of the preservation of reefs and bodies of water has become a focal point, changing the way we look at the world and the place we live.
More and more hobbyists are beginning to endure the challenging and rewarding task of mariculture.From a small time frag tank operation to a full-scale greenhouse facility, more and more individuals want their own in-house reef that can house and sustain all types of corals, fish and invertebrates.
Most saltwater hobbyists think of one thing when they hear the word mariculture: corals. The increase of mariculture corals has shot up dramatically with the demand—and actual success rate—of keeping corals, which previously came from maricultured farms and/or tanks.
The benefits of maricultured corals are incredible. Cultivating corals yourself can actually be a safe way to protect them against unwanted pests. Corals introduced and grown in synthetic or less than perfect conditions are more prone to defending themselves from unwanted diseases. These corals will also be able to withstand the sub par conditions of an aquarium better than most corals captured in the wild. Keep in mind that this is not because wild corals are weak; they simply have a tougher time adapting to the conditions of your tank than maricultured corals.
On the other hand, corals retrieved from quarantine are even more likely to flourish in your aquarium. Quarantined corals kept under strict conditions and guidelines can thrive in a tank because they have been prepped for synthetic conditions. This will not protect your aquarium from flat worms or red bugs, but it will surely lessen the chances of transmission of such pathogens because most quarantine systems are under close scrutiny.
Remember, corals are the bread and butter of many cash crop owners, who depend on these sites to survive. They will therefore do whatever is necessary to protect themselves and their crop from these pathogens and parasites in order to be successful.