Kenya Marine Center delves into new venture

2018 has seen us fully delve into a new venture; fresh water fish export. This has seen us travel many miles, as far as Lake Victoria to the south, to source for our fresh water so as to ensure that we have the capability to provide a wide variety of quality fish for our customers. L. Victoria and small water bodies in the L. Victoria basin have numerous indigenous colorful fish which have never been exploited for ornamental fish business. We therefore feel that our exploitation of those water bodies will provide a wide variety of aquarium fish to the trade.

Freshwater ornamental fish culture is fast emerging as a major branch of aquaculture globally. In Kenya, this industry is still at its infancy stage accounting for only 3% of fish under aquaculture in Kenya. The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute estimates there to be about 20,600 pieces fresh water ornamental fish in the country.

Our country has many indigenous fish species with great potential of being ornamental fish especially the fresh water Cichlids Haplochromis spp. found in the Lake Victoria basin i.e. Haplochromis nubilus, Haplochromis sp. “blue obliquidens, Haplochromis sp. “Kenya gold”, Haplochromis sp. “carp”, Neochromis omnicaeruleus, Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor victoriae, Pundamilia nyererei and Astatoreochromis alluaudi. The freshwater ornamental fish trade is however dominated by the non-indigenous species comprising of Gold fish (Carassius auratus), Koi carps (Cyprinus carpio) and Mollies (Poecilia spp.)

Freshwater ornamental fish production here is majorly done in captivity whereby fish farmers propagate and rear the fish in ponds, hapas and tanks. Farmed species are dominated by the Cichllidae and Cyprinidae. This includes different varieties of Gold fish (Carassius auratus), Koi carps (Cyprinus carpio) and Mollies (Poecilia spp.). The varieties of goldfish farmed include Black moor, Bubble eye, Fantail, Oranda, Lion head, yellowcomet. As exporters, ourmain supply is from wild collection. However, whilst our fish is wild caught; in order to ensure variety, we also work together with local ornamental fish farmers spread out all over the country so as to maximize our stock.

kenya marine center floating

How to acclimate your new salt water aquarium tank arrivals –Floating Method


  1. Turn off aquarium lights.
  2. Dim the lights in the room where the shipping box will be opened. Never open the box in bright light – severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.
  3. Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes (Fig. A). Never open the shipping bag at this time. This step allows the water in the shipping bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium, while maintaining a high level of dissolved oxygen.DC
  4. After floating the sealed shipping bag for 15 minutes, cut open the bag just under the metal clip (Fig. B) and roll the top edge of the bag down one inch to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will enable the bag to float on the surface of the water (Fig. C). For heavy pieces of live coral that will submerge the shipping bag, place the bag containing the coral in a plastic bowl or specimen container.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the shipping bag (Fig. D).FE
  6. Repeat step 5 every four minutes until the shipping bag is full.
  7. Lift the shipping bag from the aquarium and discard half the water from the bag (Fig. E).
  8. Float the shipping bag in the aquarium again and proceed to add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the shipping bag every four minutes until the bag is full.
  9. Net aquatic life from the shipping bag and release into the aquarium (Fig. F).
  10. Remove the filled shipping bag from the aquarium   and discard the water. Never release shipping water directly into the aquarium.

Process source: Live Aquaria

kenya marine center acclimation

How to acclimate your new salt water aquarium tank arrivals – Drip method

There are varied ways of acclimating saltwater fish & inverts. On this series we will start with the most intricate; the drip method. Always remember acclimation process should never be rushed. Also, remember to keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.

Things you will need:

  1. A clean 3 or 5-gallon bucket designated for aquarium use only. If acclimating both fish and invertebrates, use a separate bucket for each.
  2. Air pump tubing long enough to reach from tank to bucket

The process

  1. Turn off aquarium lights.
  2. Dim the lights in the room where the shipping box will be opened. Never open the box in bright light – severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light
  3. Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes (Fig. A). Never open the shipping bag at this time. This step allows the water in the shipping bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium, while maintaining a high level of dissolved oxygen.
  4. Carefully empty the contents of the bags (including the water) into the buckets (Fig. G), making sure not to expose sensitive invertebrates to the air. Depending on the amount of water in each bag, this may require tilting the bucket at a 45 degree kenyamarineacclimationangle to make sure the animals are fully submerged (Fig. H). You may need a prop or wedge to help hold the bucket in this position until there is enough liquid in the bucket to put it back to a level position.
  5. Using airline tubing set up and run a siphon drip line from the main aquarium to each bucket. You’ll need separate airline tubing for each bucket used. Tie several loose knots in the airline tubing, or use a plastic or other non-metal airline control valve, (Fig. I), to regulate flow from the aquarium. It is also a good idea to secure the airline tubing in place with an airline holder.
  6. Begin a siphon by sucking on the end of the airline tubing you’ll be placing into each of the buckets. When water begins flowing through the tubing, adjust the drip (by tightening one of the knots or adjusting the control valve) to a rate of about 2-4 drips per second (Fig. J).
  7. When the water volume in the bucket doubles, discard half and begin the drip again until the volume doubles once more – about one hour.
  8. At this point, the specimens can be transferred to the aquarium. Sponges, clams, and gorgonias should never be directly exposed to air. Gently scoop them out of the drip bucket with the specimen bag, making sure they’re fully covered in water. Submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and gently remove the specimen from the bag. Next, seal off the bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the bag and the enclosed water. A tiny amount of the diluted water will escape into the aquarium; this is OK. Also, to avoid damage, please remember never to touch the “fleshy” part of live coral when handling.

Things to note:

  • Be patient – never rush the acclimation procedure. The total acclimation time for your new arrival should between 1-3hrs.
  • Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead. Some fish and invertebrates can appear as though they are dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the above procedure is followed correctly.
  • Never place an air stone into the shipping bag when acclimating your new arrival. This will increase the pH of the shipping water too quickly and expose your new arrival to lethal ammonia.
  • Keep aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the new arrival is introduced into the aquarium.
  • Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than fish to salinity changes. It is imperative to acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result.
  • Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonias should never be directly exposed to air. Follow the acclimation procedure, but instead of netting the specimen out of the shipping bag, submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and remove the marine life from the bag. Seal off the shipping bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the shipping bag and the enclosed water. A tiny amount of the diluted shipping water will escape into the aquarium. Don’t be alarmed; this will have no adverse affect on the tank inhabitants.

In some instances, your new tank mate will be chased and harassed by one or all of your existing tank mates.

Solution 1: A plastic spaghetti strainer (found at your local discount store) can be used to contain a tank bully within the aquarium for several hours until the new arrival adjusts to its surroundings. Just float the perforated plastic basket in the aquarium. Net the tank bully and place in the floating basket for approximately four hours while the new arrival adjusts to your aquarium. Never place the new arrival in this basket; the new specimen must get familiar with your aquarium. By placing the tank bully in a perforated basket, you’ll reduce the stress on your newest tank mate.

Solution 2: A perforated plastic lighting grid can be purchased at your local hardware store to cut down the width of your aquarium. This grid may be used to section off a small portion of the aquarium to separate territorial or aggressive fish from the newest tank mate. After the new addition adjusts to the unfamiliar environment, the divider can be removed.

  • Some live corals produce excess slime when shipped. After the acclimation procedure is followed, hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and gently shake the coral in the shipping bag before placing into the aquarium. To avoid damage, please remember never to touch the “fleshy” part of a live coral. Many species of coral will not open for several days after introduction into their new home. Please allow several days for the coral to adapt to the new conditions in the aquarium.

Though not a requirement of our acclimation procedures, we highly recommend that all aquatic life be quarantined in a separate aquarium for a period of two weeks to reduce the possibility of introducing diseases and parasites into your aquarium and to ensure they are accepting food, eating properly, and are in optimum health before their final transition to your main display.

Process source:


Acclimation Series: 6 Things you are probably doing that stress your fish in the tank

1.Bullying from other fish and lack of hiding spaces:

Create suitable hiding spaces for every fish in the tank, otherwise, there are going to be fish that are stressed and bullied. Unlike their wild environment, these fish are confined and cannot get away from aggressors. Aggression is a very real problem in many tanks that leads to many injuries, infections, and death.

2. Overstocking

Do not overstock your tanks. Overstocking of the tank is a common problem that contributes to almost all of the stresses in the above list, from water pollution to oxygen depletion to harassment. If you want to stress your fish, put too many in the tank and it will happen every time.

3. Keeping lone schooling fish

If you do not have a large enough tank to keep an entire school of fish, stick to fish that do fine as solitary fish or in pairs or trios. Keeping a schooling fish alone is not a good idea. These fish will tend to develop depression and may stop eating and swimming enough to stay healthy when kept by their lonesome. They also tend to express aggressive behavior towards their tank mates whereas they are actually peaceful in their group.


4. Water Treatment

Adding stuff to the water to treat a disease or water condition can be stressful to your fish. Try to avoid treating the water if at all possible and always use a quarantine or treatment tank. Copper is an excellent treatment for ich or velvet, but it can be toxic and stressful to fish. Of course, using it is much better than letting a fish die from velvet, but it should never be used in a tank with healthy fish.

5. Nutrition

Improper nutrition is also a commonly overlooked stressor of fish. Many fish can live on minimal nutrition with old or stale flake foods, but this poor nutrition is a chronic stress. A variety of well-preserved dry foods as well as freeze-dried, fresh, and frozen foods specifically designed for individual species are necessary to prevent chronic nutritional stress.

6. Disturbance of the tank

Disturbing the tank through banging on the glass, constantly netting fish, or rearranging decor stresses fish. This should be kept to a necessary minimum.

Acclimation Series: What is acclimation? why should you acclimate?

So you are pretty excited about your new arrivals, can’t wait to get them into your tank. But a short while after you get them into their new home, your new fellows just lies there, dead. What could be the problem?

There is probably nothing more stressful to fish & inverts than bringing them from the wild through the wholesaler to your home. Within a short period of time, the fish was captured, held, packaged, shipped, sorted, handled, and packaged again, and so on through the collector, exporter, importer, wholesaler, and retailer to your tank. Throughout this process the livestock have undergone drastic changes in temperature, ammonia, pH, salinity, diet, medications etc. and arrive at your tank completely stressed.

What some hobbyists do not realize is that if the fish are not handled very carefully and placed in an optimum environment, their stress levels will increase making them sick and they will eventually die. You first need to understand the stress factors and how one can eliminate them. A smooth transition is therefore to your tank is facilitated through proper acclimation.

What is acclimation? Acclimation is the process whereby fish or invertebrates are transferred successfully from the shipping bag of water into your home aquarium.  Why is acclimation important? Your new arrivals from the ocean are used to stability and any abrupt change to their environment could lead to stress, disease, or even death.   It is very necessary to spend some time acclimating them to avoid any of the above scenarios.

Temperature, pH and ammonia levels often go awry during shipping and long duration in a closed bag.  You must also be aware of the salinity differences between the shipping water and your aquarium water; this can only be achieved through Acclimation.

Stress factors to be aware of and how to deal with them:

1) Temperature- The proper way to slowly adjust the temperature of your newly arrived fish or invertebrate is to float the bag in your existing aquarium water under dim lighting conditions only.  Do NOT float a bag under a set of intense and hot lights!!  This will cause the water in the bag to heat up too rapidly, and can shock the new arrival due to the intensity of the light at the water’s surface.  The best way to temperature acclimate is in a sump, refugium, or main tank with the lights out (or turned very dim if possible).  Do not open the bag and start exchanging or dripping until the temperatures are equal inside the bag and inside the aquarium.

2) pH- The pH often drops during shipping, due to fish respiration and waste released into the shipping water.  Acclimation will bring the pH in the bag gradually up to the pH level of your aquarium.  The proper pH for your saltwater aquarium is 8.0-8.4; the proper pH for your freshwater aquarium is 7.0.  The higher your tank pH the longer you should acclimate, but don’t generally exceed 60 minutes. On average, this process should last 20-45 minutes.  It’s also important as you bring the pH up to add ammonia neutralizer, because as the PH increases in the bag, so does the toxicity of the ammonia.

 3) Ammonia- Ammonia builds up in the shipping water due to fish and invertebrate waste in the bag. The lower pH in the shipping bag renders the ammonia less toxic.  After temperature acclimation, we recommend a few drops of a commercial ammonia neutralizer, such as amquel, be added to the bag water. Once the neutralizer is added, begin adding tank water to the bag and removing shipping water gradually until you have exchanged at least 75% of the water, or proceed with drip acclimation at this time.  So as you acclimate the pH will rise back up to tank levels and the ammonia will be diluted out.  Never acclimate without ammonia neutralizer because as the pH in the bag rises, the ammonia in the bag becomes more toxic and will cause excess respiratory stress to the fish / invertebrate.

4) Salinity- Salinity or specific gravity, the amount of salt contained in the seawater, will generally not fluctuate during shipping.  However, acclimation is very important to ease the transition from the bag salinity to the aquarium salinity.  Wild fish live within very specific salinity levels. Their bodies work hard to maintain the osmotic gradient between themselves and their environment. If their environmental salinity is not specific to their needs and is not held at a steady level, they have to work harder to maintain their osmotic gradient, which generates chronic stress. We generally recommend at least 10-15 minutes of acclimation for every point difference between the two salinities.  Example:  The bag salinity is 1.026, the tank salinity is 1.022, that’s a 4-point difference in salinity, therefore acclimate for 40-60 minutes.  Salinity of our shipping water will generally run 1.018-1.020 for fish, and 1.023-1.025 for inverts.  We recommend testing the water upon arrival with a reliable refactometer, and not placing the fish or invert into the tank until the salinities are equal.

Fish Spotlight: The beautiful yet very elusive, Diamond Tail Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus attenuatus)

Image: reef central

The Diamond Tail Flasher wrasse, Paracheilinus attenuatus, is one of the most attractive yet lesser known species of Fairy Wrasses /Fairy Flasher from the Indian Ocean. This fish is very much sought after and why not, with all its vibrancy and stunning hypnotic colors, rendering it the most photogenic of the flasher wrasses.

The Paracheilinus genus are known as flasher wrasses because males put on an extraordinary display of exaggerated movements and intensifying “flashing” colors when courting and mating.  Aside from the display, male Diamond Flasher Wrasses look great even without being in full nuptial coloration making them great acquisition candidates for aquariums. Aquarists debate the exact number of flashers due to geographical variations and hybridization issues, but it currently stands at approximately 16 species spread out from East Africa and the Red Sea, throughout all of the Indo-Pacific, and into the western Pacific Ocean.

Diamond Tail Flashers are the only species of Paracheilinus in which the adult males sport a lanceolate or pointed caudal fin, hence the name diamond tail wrasse. The females and young males have the more common round caudal fin.

Due to the flasher wrasses desirability – they are common in the aquarium trade- we have received many requests to source for the diamond flasher. However, despite the fact that the flasher wrasses maybe common, it is unknown to some of the aquarists that some of the flasher wrasses are rarely available; the diamond tail flasher being one of them.

Image: Brad Syphus

Why the Diamond Tail flasher is difficult to source

While we may be able to offer a few Diamond Tail Flashers to the trade, these species are few and far between. The fish which is found in East Africa, particularly our country Kenya, may only be found one or two in shipment with other wrasses after a long period of time. These fish appear in very low density and stays between 12- 25 Meters meaning that they must be decompressed so as to reach the surface, this can be very difficult for the smaller the fish.

Moreover, out in the fishing ground, it may take our diving team a whole week sourcing for the Diamond Tail Flasher without even finding 1 piece. When you consider its rarity plus the retail cost of this fish compared to the cost used up in sourcing the fish, it makes little sense as we the fish would have to go at a very expensive rate. We find it therefore difficult to do business with this fish and have previously dropped all requests to source for this fish.

Freight delays and postponement as a result of bad weather  

We would like to inform our clients’ of the disappointing start to 2018 in some parts of the world where bad weather conditions are causing delays and cancellation of shipments thereby resulting in operational challenges, inefficiencies and increased cost.

Heavy snowfall and below-freezing temperatures have highly affected our trade due to flight re-routing and cancellation of many carriers. Temperatures in affected countries are sinking below -20 degrees Celsius and forecasters predict they would continue to sink.

To our beloved clients who are affected we apologize in advance and hope that the weather conditions clear up soon. In case of a delayed or a postponed delivery, we kindly request our clients to bear with us as these are unforeseen situations beyond ours or our carrier’s control.



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