November 24, 2008

Living reef aquariums endangering reefs

Conservationists say living reef aquariums may be endangering Florida's coral reefs.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the use of crabs, snails and other invertebrates in high-end aquariums could upset the ecology of Florida's reefs, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Monday.

There has been a change in consumer demand, biologist Jessica McCawley told the newspaper. People used to just keep a fish in a tank with some dead coral. They want invertebrates now, especially the cleanup crew: snails, crabs.

Divers landed 1.8 million crabs last year, compared to 117,889 in 1994, the newspaper said.

The commission is considering quotas for several species, including trip limits of 400 emerald crabs, 2 gallons of the snail Lithopoma tectum and 200 Condylactis anemones.