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The marine aquarium trade is a global multi-million dollar industry and has an important educational role in creating an appreciation of the marine environment. Presently the aquarium trade relies predominantly on wild collected specimens, with over 90 per cent of the traded species being taken from coral reefs.

Although collection can be carried out on a substantial basis, the increasing growth in marine aquarium ownership is creating demand for more and more specimens. Many highly desirable and high value species are also rare in the wild.

Aquaculture production is one option to increase supply and decrease the collection of rare wild species. However, most species are difficult to rear in captivity due to long larval development and poor survival rates.

The expertise and knowledge of tropical hatchery technology at AIMS is being applied to aid domestic production of marine ornamental species for the aquarium trade. Researchers have been able to close the life cycles of several ornamental species, ensuring their sustainability but also increasing their domestication to provide a product that provides greater customer satisfaction.

Research is conducted under the AIMS @ JCU postgraduate research program and focuses on organisms of high value to the aquarium trade such as decapod crustaceans, including ornamental shrimp and lobsters. The commercial partner, Cairns Marine Aquarium and Fish, helps direct research by providing market assessments and information on the wild ecology of key species.

Further reading:
Marine Ornamental Species