From Reef to Aquarium

Before your fish finds itself in your top of the art aquarium, do you ever wonder where in the world it must have come from? How does it get from fishing point to you?

Despite how fascinating the aquarium might make your space look, mimicking the tropical ocean in one little breathing space, many hobbyists/enthusiasts know little about where their fish come from, and/or what methods are employed to catch, maintain and import for long term sustainability.

Kenya marine center aquarium

Image: decoholic.org

No doubt that fixating your eyes on a marine aquarium is mesmerizing; filling you with wonder and amazement at the creation of the beautifully decorated underwater creatures. How do their patterns and shapes come to be? How much more beautiful must it be in the ocean with the multitude of fish and inverts? What an incredible world it must be. Perhaps the admiration of Mother Nature’s most exotic and ornamented creatures is what has seen the marine aquarium industry, which started off as a hobby rise into a multi million dollar industry.

Whereas majority of the marine aquarists are aware that the greater population of tropical marine fish are caught from the wild (The industry is shifting more towards captive breeding), travelling across the world for export, they must be in tune with the process involved from reef to aquarium to better place them as keepers of healthy sustained fish.

So what exactly is the journey from reef to aquarium?

Where the fish comes from

Kenya is host to some of the most bio-diverse coral reefs with high fish diversity supporting species such as the mantis shrimp, potato grouper, hump-head wrasse and sea urchins.

It is estimated that there are 200 coral types and 1500 fish species in the east Africa marine eco-region that extends for about 4,600km of coastline from southern Somalia, through Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique to the north-eastern shores of South Africa. Our center however obtains its fish from the vast Kenyan coastal region; Ukunda, Kilifi, msambweni, Tiwi, Kindondo, Diani, Majaoni, shelly, shariani, kanamai, malindi amongst others. Species commonly available include; Anthias, butterflyfish, Clownfish, anemonefish, damselfish; the list is endless.

How Tropical Marine Fish are caught

 

Kenya Marine Center is well aware of the dangers of using crude live fish-catching methods on the marine ecosystem. Use of chemicals is detrimental to the fish as they are not only subjected to severe internal damage – killing them but their habitat is destroyed as well. To better help conserve and maintain our coral reefs and the ecosystem, we use traditional hand-net catching. We take full control of the entire fishing process and our fishermen are under strict orders and observation. The divers catch the fish one or several at a time using the barrier nets and scoop nets therein handling the fish from the reef in much the same way as we would remove them from the aquarium. The safe methodology that we use is one of the main reasons that our customers commend us on always providing them with quality healthy fish.

From Kenya marine center to your aquarium

Once the fish are with the fishermen, we ensure short transit time from the fishing point to our saltwater aquarium systems. We only use modern transport systems (trucks) fully equipped to sustain the fish during transportation.

We then acclimatize and quarantine the marine fish before their shipment with our marine biologist constantly checking on their health. Once ready for shipping, the fish are not fed for at least 24 hours to help minimize the accumulation of waste during transport. Our UV-C filtration + Chiller system used to purify our packing water improve our packing water quality and ensure that our fish survive the export ride.

At this juncture, the fish are packed and shipped off to importers’ facility. Since the journey tends to be tedious, 24 hrs or more, we pack our fish with plenty of pure medical oxygen to give them a favorable environment for sustainability.

Once at the importers’, the procedure should be to examine the tropical marine fish so as to make sure the trip was not overly stressful to them and that they were not injured along the way. Once the import facility is confident that the fish in their care are healthy, they are offered for sale. In some cases they are sold directly to hobbyists via the Internet, and in other cases they are sold to retail facilities at wholesale prices.

Heat pack

New stock arrival!! Heat Packs

To combat cold temperatures and avoid stressful conditions for fish during shipping over the cold season, Kenya
Marine Center has brought in new stock of Heat Packs. These will help the fish maintain a standard temperature of 24 degrees Celsius for up to 40 hours and KMC can guarantee quality shipment to all our existing and potential clients. These packs help control the temperature of the fish during shipping in case there is a layover at an airport
as well as during harsh weather conditions thereby helping prevent them from climatic impact.

Our heat packs are normally imported outside the country so as to ensure that we only offer quality for our customers. Aside from the heat packs, at Kenya Marine center, we can provide double insulation upon the customers’ request.

Kenya Marine center is committed to providing quality products and service and we are also open to more suggestions on how we can better serve our customers in terms of packaging.

Image: ©-Jaromír-Chalabala

Live Fish delivery delays due to unpredictable air freight space over the festive season

December brings a lot of pomp and color all over the world. For Kenya Marine Center however, this means unpredictability of air freight space. The festive season is very commercial which results to increase in shipping of goodsacross the world as people rush to ensure that their Christmas gifts arrive in time. Furthermore, passengers also tend to carry more baggage than on other occasions –and passenger baggage always has priority – which unfortunately results to commercial cargo being cancelled from flights when there’s not enough space.

Keeping this in mind, we would like to inform our live fish customers that they are bound to experience some shipping delays this month.we are not in a position to guarantee that goods will arrive as scheduled.To ensure on-time delivery however, we plead our customers to kindly cooperate with us by making sure that they plan ahead and make their orders early so as to facilitate early bookings.  Make certain that you also provide the correct descriptions for your orders to avoid last minute changes and therefore delay in shipping.

We apologize in advance for any inconveniences caused. Thanks for your cooperation.

Our Live Fish packing process

Increase in aquaculture has made shipping of live fish a very important activity in the fish industry. The success of shipping however depends on the methods of packing and careful handling.  Exporters take care of a number of factors to ensure that only quality fish is shipped to customers.

Diving for tropical marine fish

First off is ensuring that only quality water is used. Secondly, they also have to ensure that temperatures are controlled when transporting the fish and last but not least, exporters make sure that pure oxygen supply is available for the fish as this is the most sensitive factor for their survival. Ornamental fish caught for shipping also need to be handled and packed by skilled people who understand their needs.

Before shipping, the fish that have been caught are kept in clean water, separate tanks. The marine biologist checks on the fish constantly to make sure they are comfortable and healthy. We do not feed the fish a day before they are scheduled for shipping. This helps to reduce their metabolism and oxygen intake as well as avoid contamination of water with metabolic waste during transportation.

Once all these conditions are met, then comes the packing. Ornamental aquarium fish are packed in a polythene bag filled to 1/3 of its volume. The polythene bags are filled with three parts oxygen to one-part water. After filling with water and fish the upper part of the plastic bag is compressed to drive out the air and then inflated with pure oxygen. The top of the bag is then bent and tied with two or three rubber bands and then placed in Styrofoam boxes standardized specifically for fish.

Kenya Marine center

Styrofoam is mainly used for insulation to keep the temperatures controlled during shipping. Ornamental fish exporters either use Styrofoam boxes or line their cardboard box with Styrofoam panels – Kenya Marine Center uses the panels for packing. The Styrofoam boxes or panels are then placed inside another outer container – cardboard box to protect the shipment from damage.

One major challenge that Kenya Marine Center faces is access to the Styrofoam boxes. Kenyan manufacturers are reluctant to produce Styrofoam boxes due to low demand. This makes the production of Styrofoam boxes in Kenya to be very expensive. Importing them on the other hand would also result to increase in shipping costs.                                     

At Kenya Marine Center, we have been able to overcome this challenge of control of temperature by using heat and cold packs. These packs help control the temperature of the fish during shipping in case there is a layover at an airport as well as during harsh weather conditions thereby helping prevent them from climatic impact. Our heat packs are normally imported outside the country so as to ensure that we only offer quality for our customers. Aside from the heat packs, at Kenya Marine center, we can provide double insulation upon the customers’ request.

Kenya Marine center is committed to providing quality products and service and we are also open to more suggestions on how we can better serve our customers in terms of packaging.