Fish Welfare

Nearly all fish living in saltwater aquarium tanks began their lives thousands of miles away on warm tropical reefs. Many of these fragile fish and other wildlife taken from the reef die before reaching personal aquariums from poisoning, the stress of captivity or the inhumane practices used in handling and transport to the pet store.

For the lucky few that survive the tough journey from reef to tank, the stress of capture and transport, combined with cramped or poor tank conditions, improper feeding, and incompatible tank mates, all common challenges for novice fishkeepers, contribute to the deaths of most fish within weeks or months in personal aquariums.

Gregg Yan, Best lternatives Campaign


  • Denying or downplaying the widespread use of cyanide in fish capture.
  • Starving fish for transport from reef to pet store in order to ship in minimal volumes of water and save on freight costs.
  • An industry-sanctioned standard allowing a 5% Dead on Arrival rate for every reef fish shipment.

Suppliers and retailers of wildlife for personal aquariums turn a profit on the impacts of industry-sanctioned animal cruelty. Wildlife is said to have a ‘shelf-life’, and their ill-treatment generates profits, from reef to retail, in a constant flow of new orders to replace the millions of fish that die prematurely each year.

  • A recommended practice of sacrificing inexpensive and so-called “hardy” fishes  to develop the proper chemistry necessary for new saltwater tanks.
  • Bringing fish to the surface too quickly after capture, causing barotrauma to internal organs, and then puncturing their expanded swim bladders with hypodermic needles, as an attempted remedy.
  • Consumer pressure has made the cruel and inhumane practices of fin and spine trimming, starvation and organ piercing illegal in some parts of Hawaii.


Help RESTORE coral reefs.

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20 to 30 Million

Tropical fish are taken from coral reefs each year for display in personal aquariums.

2 Million

Saltwater aquarium owners buy coral reef fish each year.


Cyanide-caught fish die within weeks of exposure.