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An interesting article in Practical Fish keeping

Stu1407

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I've seen Japanese Rice fish being recommended for patio ponds. To me it's too cautious given the likelihood of a successful escape but worth a read.

 

Tim Harrison

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It's a another dead donkey, PFK have got to write about something. The furore surrounding so called invasive species is a little hysterical. The introduction of alien species the world over is centuries, if not millennia, old. Overall, it’s often difficult to determine which species were originally native and which were introduced.

Often there is very little impact on natural ecosystems, especially if they are robust since the native species will be very well adapted to their niche and hard to usurp.

Alien species often thrive where there are vacant niches and therefore not at the expense of native species. Or where the natural balance has been disturbed by human intervention and therefore the damage has already been done.

The concern is often little more than propaganda to further the agenda of various environmental NGOs, provide copy for media outlets, and to displace government disregard for the environment.

So although alien species are often blamed for the demise of native species it’s not always the case. In fact some ecologists think the introduction of alien species adds to the diversity of increasingly impoverished ecosystems helping to maintain complexity and therefore stability, not to mention amenity.

Human introduction of alien species is just an extreme example of a dynamic equilibrium often seen in nature, where an ecosystem sees a turnover of different species over time. For example MacArthur and Wilson’s Theory of Island Biogeography. The introduced species are often opportunists that are simply more able to adapt to ecosystems degraded by human intervention.
 

tiger15

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There is a myth that anything exotic is bad. Not always though, according to this book that explore migration and intermingling of exotic species. Some are even beneficial and enrich the ecological resilience, not to mention that migration is often associated with and as natural as climate change and continental drift.

 

castle

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@Tim Harrison are you also discarding your plant cuttings down the river? Or perhaps to a local stream?

I mean, probabaly won’t do much harm, will it? While you’re there, throw in some Medanka 😉

Edit, posted in good humour
 

Tim Harrison

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@castle For sure there are many examples where alien introductions have wreaked havoc amoungst native communities and ecosystems, but most of these have suffered degradation first and at best can be called semi-natural as opposed to natural.

What I’m trying to express is that there is a much wider context to these introductions that is often ignored, usually for political gain, or some other expediency, as mentioned above. I’m not necessarily expressing a personal opinion, just an often ignored but well documented alternative to the mainstream narrative.

Further, I understand that this subject can be emotive and that you’re trying to get your point across but in future it’s perhaps better to stay clear of the second person “you” perspective. It can be perceived as a little insulting and isn’t really in the spirit of a UKAPS discussion, and contrary to more than one of the forums rules and guidelines. Supposedly posting in good humour doesn’t really alter that fact.

Except for cases such as Signal crayfish
Signal crayfish - Wikipedia
That is a good example of what I’ve described above. That species alone can not be solely blamed for the demise of our native white clawed crayfish. Pollution had played a significant role, as has habitat degradation and destruction, and groundwater mining for potable supply and irrigation. Again it’s just very easy for our government to spin it’s appalling record on environmental issues by displacing the blame on to alien introductions.

Further the persecution of apex predators such as the otter has meant that the signal crayfish has proliferated unchecked. Again an example of government spin on its appalling environmental and conservation record.

It’s very easy to overlook subtle interconnections and complex webs of cause and effect. And it’s just as easy and often convenient to accept on face value that which is presented as fact according to conventional wisdom.
 

castle

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Sentiment is often hard to understand in a sentence; sorry you’ve seen this as a sly dig @Tim Harrison. In any case, I’m still waiting to know what you’re doing with your plant cuttings 😉
 

Yugang

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Perhaps I am entirely wrong, but PFK is just reporting on an OATA position.
I am reading the OATA mission https://ornamentalfish.org/about-us/ and would fully subscribe to that.

The key question for me is "Are we sure these fish will not be harmfull to the environment if accidentally released"?
If we are not entirely sure, I would expect UKAPS to take a clear position where wellbeing of lifestock and our natural environment is prioritised.
 

Tim Harrison

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Sentiment is often hard to understand in a sentence; sorry you’ve seen this as a sly dig @Tim Harrison. In any case, I’m still waiting to know what you’re doing with your plant cuttings 😉
I either compost them or give them away to fellow hobbyists, and UKAPS members in lieu of optional donations to the forum. Why would you question that I’d do anything else, and why do you insist on making this personal?
Perhaps I am entirely wrong, but PFK is just reporting on an OATA position.
I am reading the OATA mission about oata and would fully subscribe to that.

The key question for me is "Are we sure these fish will not be harmfull to the environment if accidentally released"?
If we are not entirely sure, I would expect UKAPS to take a clear position where wellbeing of lifestock and our natural environment is prioritised.
UKAPS has a very clear position on the welfare of livestock. I’m surprised that you insinuate otherwise. However, there really isn’t such thing as a natural environment any more, unfortunately.
 

Yugang

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UKAPS has a very clear position on the welfare of livestock. I’m surprised that you insinuate otherwise. However, there is no such thing as a natural environment any more. But perhaps you’d like to qualify that statement.
I really don't insinuate anything, hope you won't feel offended.

Sometimes as an organisation you need to be very clear, eventhough members will still take their individual positions and decisions based on their subjective assessments.

I am reading this thread, and focus on a very basic question
"Are we sure these fish will not be harmfull to the environment if accidentally released"?

All the rest follows from that. UKAPS should be clear, and indeed you and I are still entitled to our own opinion.

It's a another dead donkey, PFK have got to write about something. The furore surrounding so called invasive species is a little hysterical. The introduction of alien species the world over is centuries, if not millennia, old. Overall, it’s often difficult to determine which species were originally native and which were introduced.
I am not very impressed by this, quite frankly, and it should not reflect UKAPS position IMHO.

To make a very clear point, and not intended to offend. We are now in the middle of the globe's 6th mass extinction. Mass extinctions are indeed no exception, they keep repeating. I am sure you agree we are not going to support further chopping down the Amazone rainforest? So we need to be clear about principles here.

In summary, we all agree that UKAPS prioritises lifestock and conservation of natural environment. I am then not so sure if this thread is fair to OATA and PFK. I guess some of us are more focussed on practical issues, while I and others may place more emphasis on the principles we want to uphold.
 

Tim Harrison

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I'm not entirely sure what Oryzias species being sold exclusively for indoor aquariums has to do with mass extinctions and slash and burn agriculture in the Amazon basin?
And really, why would presenting a well documented argument regarding the introduction of alien species be unfair to PFK or the OATA? Unless your intention is to censor other points of view, and shut down further discussion.
And furthermore, why would you assume that argument represents my personal opinion, or is a reflection of UKAPS' position?

 

Yugang

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I'm not entirely sure what Oryzias species being sold exclusively for indoor aquariums has to do with mass extinctions and slash and burn in the Amazon basin?

It illustrates that rational reasoning can conflict with ethical positions.

I hope @Tim Harrison that you understand my point. If you don't agree, no problem at all, and hope you will not feel offended.
 

Tim Harrison

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Yugang

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Please explain what you mean exactly. Really I'm none the wiser.
Don't get me wrong, much of your posts above make a lot of sense. I also believe we have both made our point, one more of a practical nature, mine more from the perspective of what I believe UKAPS should embody and a slightly more ethical perspective.

Your point that invasive species are everywhere (just take Australia as one example) is perfectly valid. But from an ethical perspective I challenge your reasoning that
The furore surrounding so called invasive species is a little hysterical
You can apply the same reasoning to mass extinctions, that happend 'everywhere in time', but we would never accept a conclusion that we should not worry about chopping down a rainforest. So to make this debate easier, and find the right guidance for my own ethical compass I just ask one simple question, to which you have not given a for me satisfactory answer
"Are we sure these fish will not be harmfull to the environment if accidentally released"?

@Tim Harrison I am actually quite sure we all agree. I get your point (which is probably also a bit targeted to PFK :)), and I hope you understand the argument I bring as well.
 
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Tim Harrison

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Don't get me wrong, much of your posts above make a lot of sense. I also believe we have both made our point, one more of a practical nature, mine more from the perspective of what I believe UKAPS should embody and a slightly more ethical perspective.
Sorry Yugang still not really sure what you’re getting at. And I’m really not sure what UKAPS’ ethics has to do with this discussion.

Your point that invasive species are everywhere (just take Australia as one example) is perfectly valid. But from an ethical perspective I challenge your reasoning that
It’s a clearly laid out perspective and you obviously understand it. I’m still not sure what your perspective is since you haven’t explained it.

You can apply the same reasoning to mass extinctions, that happend 'everywhere in time', but we would never accept a conclusion that we should not worry about chopping down a rainforest. So to make this debate easier, and find the right guidance for my own ethical compass I just ask one simple question, to which you have not given a for me satisfactory answer
Still not sure what mass extinctions has to do with the discussion. They were natural phenomena. Of all the species on earth 99.9% were wiped out by cataclysmic events long before Homo sapiens evolved. And talk of the so called 6th extinction event just goes to prove my point. It’s habitat loss and degradation that is the major cause of extinction not introductions of alien species. So no you most certainly can not apply the same reasoning to mass extinctions. Nor can you compare it to TRF clearances.
 

Yugang

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My last post on this, I tried to make my point as clearly as possible, and we may agree to disagree.

I’m still not sure what your perspective is since you haven’t explained it
"Are we sure these fish will not be harmfull to the environment if accidentally released"?
My key point is that when there is no clear evidence that it will not be harmfull to the environment, UKAPS should take the position that this practice should be discouraged. I made this point already in my first posting, apologies if that was not clear enough.
 
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PARAGUAY

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Sometimes it's difficult to say what's invasive. Last year's Springwatch species of birds returning and not migrating as usual . But in general we need some kind of regulation. Examples of "invasive" having devastating effect Mink on Water Voles or Crayfish on our native Crayfish . Japanese Knotweed . Dutch Elm etc the positive side the colony of Wallabys in the wilds of the Derbyshire Peak District apparently escaped from a private zoo around 1912 the thought of trying to catch and round them up would cause quite a reaction😄
 

Tim Harrison

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Sometimes it's difficult to say what's invasive. Last year's Springwatch species of birds returning and not migrating as usual . But in general we need some kind of regulation. Examples of "invasive" having devastating effect Mink on Water Voles or Crayfish on our native Crayfish . Japanese Knotweed . Dutch Elm etc the positive side the colony of Wallabys in the wilds of the Derbyshire Peak District apparently escaped from a private zoo around 1912 the thought of trying to catch and round them up would cause quite a reaction😄
Yes all good examples. Mink are being displaced along the riverbank across the country by otters for the first time in 40 years. Otters are strictly protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), and conservation organisations are actively creating habitat for them.

As a keystone species they can exert top down pressure through predation. Otters are stone turners and very fond of signal crayfish. In some areas their spraint is completely composed of crayfish remains. It's highly likely that water vole populations will also recover as a result of the above too. But more will need to be done to protect its habitat to ensure this. The reintroduction of the beaver is a huge step in the right direction though.

It goes back to what I mentioned in a previous post, if the balance is right it's often very hard for alien species to get a foothold. But unfortunately in many cases the damage has already been done and subsequent management is often ineffectual, akin to closing the stable door once the horse has bolted.

I think government, quangos, and conservation NGOs could do a lot more to restore ecosystems not just for wildlife but also system functions, goods and services, but the current paradigm doesn't really allow for that. It's too fragmented and peacemeal and doesn't work on the larger landscape scales needed to ensure system robustness and stability.
 

Simon Cole

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But in general we need some kind of regulation.
The Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980 does make it a statutory offence to release Oryzias species in the UK. It doesn't matter whether you are a license holder or whether you did it accidentally, the law is already quite strict, even excluding mens rea as a defence when committing environmental damage. Although, if you can find the specific statutory order that mentions this species and informs this act, then you have done better than me.

Everyone:
The problem that <I often suffer from> is that this is not very clear. Oryzias latipes is at least on the DEFRA website as a "pest" - this time around. But lets be clear, I can find no guidance, no searchable website results nor scientific literature, and nothing on the GB Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) website about this species. How well the government, NNSS, CEFAS, and the Fish Health Inspectorate have actually communicated on these risks is summarised as one re-tweet on Twitter, and a re-post on Facebook. I simply think that Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association Limited drummed-up the press. Where is the risk assessment, where are the facts??

This is precisely hysterical, because it's all either very poorly thought-out or simply badly communicated. They may still have a severe magnitude of impact on UK ecosystems/biodiversity, but at the moment decisions are centred upon the "precautionary principle". The implied risk being, that a tub or pond in somebody's back garden could get flooded and wash into a nearby watercourse, or that eggs transmit via birds feet etc. The implied consequence - that they are an "invasive" species. Well I do not see them included in schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. I'm especially baffled by this interpretation. Outside of Dominic Whitmee from Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association Limited - who else has indicated that this species could even become invasive? Statements need to have some veracity, and if not, a level of authority. Where is the work on Oryzias? I would hope that some degree of risk assessment would have been publicised by now - or perhaps I missed that memo. Perhaps I am a buffoon, but it would be nice to know what the hoo-ha is all about. If it is "invasive", then it would need to be capable of spreading, presumably at a momentum faster than slow treacle. This is the part I never got about The Day of the Triffids.

It's not that necessary that UKAPS (or Tim for that matter) needs to be dragged into this debate. If members want to contact one of the relevant parties and let us know why a position needs to be established, then be my guest. I don't mind supporting a poll that expresses some sort of communal viewpoint if somebody wants to do this on another thread. It would be great if somebody could author an article explaining these issues first, with a risk assessment, if it is plausible and well-evidenced. Terms of reference could include whether the species predates on fish eggs and fry, what could predate upon it, survivability, reproductive potential, pathways for spread, mechanisms for control etc. Not easy work, and again, if serious conservation ecologists had looked at this species then there would be at least some evidence coming to light by now. Yes it is potentially illegal to allow them to be released, but the UKAPS rules and guidelines do not need to be revised just to tell us to follow every law that exists. This is not my website. It is offered free and maintained by the hard work of people like Tim. I don't think it is necessary to generate debate when it is suppositional, adversarial, and has no intended outcome. Please believe me, from the bottom of my heart, I would love to see more work on this topic and on conservation or biosecurity as a whole. It is something I am already studying in my own time and would be worth the merit of investigating, because as has been pointed out, we cannot rely upon the government to resolve environmental issues on their own.
 
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castle

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I suspect @Tim Harrison you're just a bit passionate about this, probably as much as I am. The reason why I question, is because what you have posted reads a little sympathetic to invasive species. You're certainly right - in some cases - an invasive species will have filled a gap, but I don't think there are many shining examples.

The reason I asked what you're doing with the tank cuttings is because after reading this post (I'll redact some, to show the key bits that seemed odd):
... The furore surrounding so called invasive species is a little hysterical. ...

Often there is very little impact on natural ecosystems, ...

It just felt a bit "pro-invasion", or you think we should be more lax (or maybe a bit more educated) with this, and again possibly wrongly, I compare it to the dispersal of aquarium plant cuttings, which I won't mention again.

"You" and the second person is inherently personal as it's directed at you. I can see why that can be uncomfortable, but when someone posts on such an emotive topic, it is hard to remain impersonal, or at least alter perspective. It really has never been personal, but I'm questioning your opinion that is very personal to you. I think I went about this in the wrong way, instead of the route I took, I should have just said I don't agree because A,B,C...Z.
 
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