When we think of dyed corals and anemones in the aquarium trade, the first thing we picture is grainy low quality images from the generic reef aquarium books of the 1980s and 1990s. Imagine our surprise when we saw the image above showing the recent import of a big group of neon sebae anemones, Heteractis crispa, clearly dyed in unnatural pink and yellow colors. The dealer who was promoting these anemones was very honest with reason for the artificial coloration of these anemones, but seemed ambivalent to their compromised long term health.
“Pink or yellow dyed (full disclosure here – yes, they are dyed in Indonesia by our supplier!) sebae anemones add lots of color to your tank”,
Obviously well aware that these animals have been dyed. Answering some negative comments they also stated that:
“We certainly understand and agree that dyed anemones are not for everyone and there are excellent reasons why… as a wholesaler, we offer the choice to the retailer and his/her customer: the individual hobbyist”
Basically blaming the LFS and individual hobbyist, to which we agree to an extend. If there is no market for these dyed anemones there would be no money to be made and no dyed anemones would be imported. However many hobbyist buying these dyed anemones are completely unaware that these animals have been dyed in the first place. The wholesalers are obviously also at fault, they are directly supporting this practice just to make an extra buck, motivating the suppliers to dye their animals.
Not only is the dying of animals a very big ethical question, these animals are also doomed to die in captivity with low long term survival rates. Most dyed anemones and corals that do survive eventually loose their impressive colors, leaving behind the not so impressive natural colors. The practice is not limited to corals and anemones either,with many freshwater falling subject to “tattooing”. Ironically, the newest CORAL magazine deals with the problems we discussed above so we recommend checking it out
Quite simply, we urge LFS and to avoid doing business with these kinds of reef animals, and urge hobbyist to simply avoid buying these animals – the reef aquarium hobby already has its fair share of criticism as it is.