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Tropical Fish can Cope with Global Warming


Evey person that tries his (her) hand at keeping a saltwater fish tank, whether only fish or with the delicate corals and invertebrates that are found inhabiting the reefs of our world, has been warned that the fish will not be able to tolerate sudden changes in their environment.  I was always warned to go as large as possible when purchasing a fish tank for the marine eco-system.  And now, with years of experience with these and so many other fish, I must agree that there is no substitute for the forgiveness of as much water capacity as possible.  I personally will not try to do a marine system in anything less than 30 gallons, although many people will try with Nanos and other small capacities.

The reasons for these warnings is the simple fact that the reef environment is extremely stable in all water characteristics.  The habitat doesn’t change  over time, and the fish and other lifeforms have evolved to take advantage of the exact water variables that they have found for eons.  It has always been a question whether tropical fish can cope with global warming.

This leads to the “logical” and common sense conclusion that the changes that are going to occur in our oceans as the polar icecaps melt and the temperature starts to warm, the inhabitants of our coral reefs are going to be the first to suffer and probably will not be able to withstand these changes.  It would be a tragedy to suddenly find that gradually warming water has destroyed the natural beauty of the reef and the environmental protection that they afford the globe.

But it may be a conclusion that is not supported by the facts of research.

Acanthochromis polyacanthus

Used under the creative commons agreements from Wikipedia

In a recent study conducted on damselfish found:

The authors of this report discovered that offspring phenotypes fully adapted to the increase in temperature within a mere two generations, which finding, in the words of the authors, “could indicate that some tropical marine species are more capable of coping with global warming than has been suggested and illustrates a potential limitation of short-term experiments in predicting the long-term impacts of climate change”

Tropical Fish can Cope with Global Warming

This report provides the heartening conclusion that present day fish will suffer, but their offspring will improve and adapt to the rising temperatures in a generation or two. Of course this doesn’t conflict with our findings that fish are intolerant of sudden changes, that is mainly because we are only concerned with the individual and we do find that tank bred species are getting more and more used to the conditions they find themselves in captivity. If man can stay out of the mix and not interfere, it does seem that tropical fish can cope with global warming on their own, if we let them.

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About

Steve Pond, of Tropical Fish Aquarist, has kept fish both personally and professionally for over 50 years.  He writes regularly on the wide range of current topics that are important to people who keep tropical fish tanks as a passion and a hobby.

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About blueram

Steve Pond, of Tropical Fish Aquarist, has kept fish both personally and professionally for over 50 years.  He writes regularly on the wide range of current topics that are important to people who keep tropical fish tanks as a passion and a hobby.

View all posts by blueram →

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