Standards of Practice
In order to promote environmentally responsible aquarium keeping, members of the Aqualife Dealers Lounge recommend the following Standards of Practice.
Basic Techniques of Captive Husbandry
Animals shall at all times be kept in accommodations that are adequate in construction, size, amenities and position in the premises.
No organism should be exposed to excessive light or to temperatures significantly different from those in its natural habitat.
No fish or other organism should be subject to rapid fluctuation in light intensity, temperature or chemical composition of aquarium water, other than for the controlled treatment of disease or as part of a breeding program.
All holding systems should be designed to facilitate visual inspection of all livestock.
Holding systems should be evaluated daily and should be serviced as often as necessary to maintain conditions as specified in these Standards of Practice, consistent with stocking densities and the rate of turnover. Particular attention should be paid to removal of uneaten food and dead livestock.
The holding system’s filtration equipment’s performance should be evaluated at reasonable intervals by chemical analysis.
Food should be offered to livestock on a regular basis, taking into account the biology of the species being fed. Food should be stored in insect- and rodent-proof containers which can be easily cleaned.
It is virtually impossible to determine the number of fish or other organisms to be housed in a given holding system purely on a weight or number of individuals per unit volume or surface area of water. Therefore, maintenance of water quality standards, based on regular testing and periodic maintenance, can be used to determine practical stocking densities for any given system.
Water quality should be managed so that the appropriate parameters as listed in Tables 1(freshwater), 2(marine) and 3(outdoor pond) can be maintained. Systems should be designed to maintain these parameters irrespective of stocking and husbandry functions.
[Insert Tables of Water Quality Parameters Here]
Livestock Management Best Practices
Accept responsibility for any fish ordered, even if the order is delayed. After-hours contact information should be made available to key service providers, e.g, airline cargo terminal personnel.
Unpack fish promptly, in dim light, and acclimate per guidelines in Procedures Schedule.
Hold new fish separately from previously introduced fish, for a minimum of 48 hours or until feeding and otherwise behaving normally, whichever is longer.
Dispose of used packing materials properly, or disinfect all materials if they are to be re-used.
Acclimate all new fish to holding system and feed with appropriate food prior to selling.
Maintain system stocking levels and conditions with regard to the biological needs of each stocked species, in terms of space, food type and tank mates.
Use all reasonable precautions to prevent the outbreak and/or spread of disease.
Treat promptly and appropriately any organism showing signs of disease and/or distress.
Utilize antibiotics with the guidance of a veterinarian.
Evaluate the water quality in all holding tanks on a regular basis.
Records of purchases and mortalities, from each batch of livestock received, should be kept to permit tracking of trends in sourcing, species performance and disease problems.
Avoid stocking species with a poor record of survival in captivity.
Offer captive-raised specimens rather than wild stock when possible.
If species with special dietary needs are stocked, the appropriate food items should also be made available to consumers who purchase these fish.
Retail Sales Best Practices
All store staff should be able to demonstrate the ability to communicate correctly the information a consumer needs in order to maintain a healthy aquarium.
All fish should be in good health, i.e. eating and swimming normally and not exhibiting signs of disease, before sale. Any specimen with a condition(s) that could affect its ability to survive in captivity should not be offered for sale.
Fish should be caught in such a manner as to minimize stress and physical damage.
Staff should attempt to verify that all fish sold are reasonably suitable for the aquarium intended to receive them.
Both resources (print or online) and senior staff should be available for consultation by both staff members and customers.
Customers should be informed of risks associated with venomous or potentially harmful species, including appropriate first aid measures.
Fish (or other organisms) should be transported in appropriate containers with sufficient oxygen, water and (if necessary) insulation to protect from temperature variations. Livestock packed for transport should be able to survive for at least 150% of the anticipated transport time, or 24 hours, whichever is greater.
Instructions for proper acclimation for the fish upon arrival of its new home should be made available to the customer.
Accurate instructions for the care and of the livestock purchased should be made available to the customer.
After-sales advice and support should remain available to the customer.
Schedule of Recommended Procedures
Unpacking Fish Shipments
Unpack the shipment promptly on arrival.
Suitably trained or experienced staff should carry out unpacking procedures.
Unpack in dim light conditions.
Acclimate to the physical and chemical water conditions of the holding facility using an approved method (see below).
Fish showing overt signs of distress, injury or disease should be treated immediately as appropriate. These fish should not be sold until their condition has normalized and they are feeding in the aquarium.
All reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease, including disinfecting nets, using separate nets for different tanks, and isolation of holding tanks for new fish from those holding older fish (or alternatively, using a properly sized and maintained ultraviolet sterilizer as part of the filtration system).
Acclimating New Livestock
[Insert procedure here.]