Unfortunately most animals in the ocean which are of economic value to humans are over fished. This is not the case with marine ornamental fish. The reproduction strategy employed by reef fish is to produce hundreds of thousands of eggs and the ultimate survival to adulthood is more dependent on reef density and predation than collection pressures from humans. There are certainly cases where specific species in specific places have been over fished, bangaii cardinalfish are a prime example and Yellow tangs in Hawaii, though never really endangered, were shown to be impacted by the collectors there when less than half of the natural numbers where tallied at the height of under regulated collecting practices. Those exceptions noted, the ornamental trade has minimal impact on fish, invertebrate, and coral depletion. Things like over nutrification from runoff and over fishing of top level predators such as sharks and game fish are causing the critical ecosystem imbalances causing general declines across the. The changing climate and warming trends with acidification raise more concerns for long term survival of reefs and their inhabitants. Now more than ever it is critical for people to be acknowledge the larger indirect threats to our angelfish and gobies, corals and seahorses. Appreciating the fish in aquariums builds compassion and understanding of these animals and can build momentum to drive conservation. The small percentage collected acts as ambassadors for our future scientists and conservationists to learn and become passionate. Unfortunately, in 100 years the only reef fish left may be the ones in our aquariums, and while I hope this does not happen, we should focus on addressing poor collection practices, improper transport, and education of proper aquarium care to do right for the fish which we remove from nature.

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