The following is contribution from Jon Gordon of TerraReef Aquariums, an aquarium installation and maintenance company with an interest in how our hobby is represented in the mainstream
I always try to keep up with current events in the industry, reading magazines and frequently checking sites such as ReefBuilders, and I pay particular attention to topics which represent the aquarium hobby and industry to the general public. Sadly, this news often involves question concerning our impact on Yellow tangs in Hawaii or comments from individuals such as Snorkel Bob questioning if we should even keep aquariums at all. While many aquarists may have taken recent news of Animal Planet’s “Tanked” as a positive thing for the industry, I am not so sure it is.
I obviously have not seen the entire series and I have not met anyone from the show personally. That being said, I do not believe what I have seen of the show (so far) is a positive reflection of the hobby and industry. What I saw was more like a scene from a popular movie where a dentist’s niece incessantly pokes at the glass of a tank. I am not an ichthyologist, that is to say I do not study fish for a living or have a related degree; however, it is my understanding that neither Porcupine Puffers (Diodon sp.) nor Frog Fish (Antennarius sp.) should be lifted into the air. I have heard this can significantly harm these animals and should never be done.
It is not often we hear about the educational value of aquariums or the positive impact they have on our lives and society. Having never lived or traveled to a tropical location growing up, I may have only known about corals as white chalky “rocks” used as decorations if I had not kept an aquarium. I certainly wouldn’t have paid significant attention to imminent dangers to our natural coral reefs.
While it is seems that this show is geared more towards ratings then educating the public about animals, I hope that the series promotes aquarium keeping in a more positive manner (and more respectful to marine life) than we have seen so far. I believe anyone who calls themselves a professional aquarist takes on a responsibility of educating those around them. There is a lot more to animals that come from coral reefs then just pretty colors. It is important that we share with the public how humans are impacting the coral reefs, and the animals in it, with our day to day activities (think CO2 emissions). I hope that those involved with the show realize this and reflect this more then we have seen so far.