Survive or Thrive?

Discussion in 'Fish Diseases & Treatments' started by Woodstock, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Woodstock

    Woodstock The Wand Geek was here. ;)

    Nov 20, 2003
    Likes Received:
    North Carolina
    Survive or Thrive?

    Just some ramblings of an old timer. . .[​IMG]

    Definitions of survive on the Web:
    continue to live; endure or last; continue in existence after (an adversity, etc.); exist: support oneself; outlive: live longer than.

    Definitions of thrive on the Web:
    boom: grow stronger.


    Are the fish in your marine system thriving or surviving? I see countless numbers of marine fishes in captivity that are surviving, but not thriving. Everyone is fairly familiar with fish that don’t survive. If you’ve been in the hobby for more than a year, you probably know fish that didn’t survive. But what is your goal? Survive or thrive?

    From the above definitions found on the web, I think you can perceive the difference between survive and thrive. Survive is living on the edge, close to death but not quite there. Thrive is a life of growth, expansion and prosperity.

    Many aquarists are satisfied to have their fish survive. Most of those aquarists aren’t reading this post. If they are likely online looking for information and continually seeking news and ideas on marine life, then they most likely are interested in their marine fish’s thriving. I’ve seen countless numbers of marine systems that are considered a piece of furniture in the home/office with little else attention given to the system other than to have the marine life survive. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion to having a nice, attractive aquarium, but it should be treated as part of the family, rather than furniture. It is often easier for people to think of a cat or dog as part of the family, but that isn’t carried over to the marine life in an aquarium. I wish that would change.

    What are some of the signs of a ‘surviving fish’ as opposed to a ‘thriving fish?’ Here’s a partial list of the thriving marine fish:
    1. Nourished properly
    2. Proper environment provided (temperature, pH, salinity, etc.)
    3. Enough space
    4. High water quality
    5. Proper lighting
    6. Tank mates
    7. Under low stress

    Part of the ‘disconnect’ between the aquarist and the ornamental marine fish industry is the perspective of survive and thrive. The fish is a commodity to the collector, exporter, importer, and wholesaler. These people definitely hope the fish survives and usually provide the minimum requirements to see to this. Next-to-last in the chain is the local fish store (LFS). Some differentiation now occurs, but very little. Most LFSs are interested in the fish’s survival. They want it to live long enough to get it to the home or office aquarium. I have found a few that seem to have a greater interest in the fish’s thriving, but they are not in large enough numbers yet. Still, many new aquarists swear their LFS is the exception and really wants the fish to thrive. These are the successful LFSs. Not because they really care the fish thrives, but because they have convinced the aquarist that they care.

    Now the point of this post. . .If the aquarist would remember that the marine fish system is more interested in the fish surviving to get to your home (rather than thriving), then the aquarist should put the advice on the above listed thriving matters from the LFS and product-pushers, into perspective. The aquarist should seek out forums, fellow experienced aquarists and clubs to obtain information from those who wish the fish to thrive, not from those who want the fish to survive. This can be said of almost any pet and hobby, but it certainly applies to captive marine fish and all captive marine life.

    The next thing to take notice is that the fish has come from its natural home to the LFS by people who only want the fish to survive. Some didn't survive that part of the journey. The condition of the living fish when it gets to the aquarists display aquarium is one of survival. It is up to the aquarist to turn things around for that fish -- to get it to thrive. To successfully do this, the aquarist has to 'over react' to balance out the survival tactics. This means to overcompensate for what the fish hasn't been getting by providing and meeting exceptional nutritional needs, environment, and all the others on the above list.

    The above is one step closer to treating the wild marine life forms with greater respect and care, which leads to their conservation.

    One very important 'key' to measuring whether or not the captive marine fish is thriving or surviving is their growth. A properly cared for marine fish continues to grow. It can grow retina from damaged retina (that is, the fish grow to see again if blinded!). Humans can regrow their eyes after adulthood. Fish can replace torn fins in a blink of an eye. A human loses a hand, and so far at least that person is known as 'Lefty' or 'Righty' the rest of their lives. The marine fish can grow almost every part of its body. BUT it needs the proper environment and nourishment to do this. So if you see a marine fish about the same size year after year -- it is surviving, not thriving. Such fish should be growing to the full size of their species, even in small display tanks.

    Have you witnessed this survive vs. thrive situation? Gotten survival (or even less) advice? Maybe you can share your observations and/or experience with this. [​IMG]

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2016
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