From all of us here at Kenya Marine Center, Happy 2019! Any new year resolutions for your tanks, fish or feeding methods? Our wish this year is to have even more opportunities to serve you better, expand to more regions, engage more people with our livestock and participate more in projects that help inspire appreciation for our marine life and their conservation.
Aquarama: the ultimate marketplace for aquarium and fish-keeping industries
Launched in 1989 in Singapore, Aquarama is an international exhibition for aquarium and terrarium supplies, ornamental fish and reptiles, garden and pond products. It covers most of the aquarium supply chain and applications (private home aquariums, public aquariums & zoo, etc.). The show is co-located with high level conferences (Aquarama Forum, public seminars), fish competitions, aquascaping masterclass, etc.
Transportation of fish is a tender loving care process that is needed to ensure fish arrive safely and alive to their destinations. Tolerance of fish to transport is related to their ability to resist or adapt to stressful conditions.
The determinant of a successful shipment therefore lies in the packaging materials used; are the materials watertight, do they prevent rapid changes in temperature and will they withstand handling during shipping?! All the above measures should be considered when settling for shipping materials.
A watertight element is most vital in placing the fish for transportation. The packing material should be of the best quality with the ability to withstand temperature changes and not susceptible to expanding at higher temperatures.
Fish bags are made of transparent polyethylene plastic and should be at least 3mil thick to withstand some abuse without leaking. Common “pillow slip” bags have a single bottom seal that creates sharp corners when filled with water. Small fish can sometimes become trapped in these corners during shipment and die. You can “square up” the corners by folding them up and taping them to the side of the bag (however this is much work and will take up time when packing large shipments).
Some bags have square bottoms so that they sit flat on the bottom of the box. Square-bottom bags are more expensive but have become standard in the industry because they do not trap fish in the corners and use the space in the box more fully. The packing bags are available in many sizes to cater for different fish sizes.
At Kenya Marine Center we use food grade quality polythene bags able to withstand friction and handling better than any other forms of bags. The fish contained cannot therefore rip or tear the plastic easily. We do realize however that, even the sturdiest bags can be punctured during shipping and so we double fish our bags to maintain the permeability. The rubber bands we use to seal the bags are also of great quality to avoid breakage when significantly stretched.
We also should note that we take control of the quality of our bags by producing our own plastic bags through a reliable manufacturer. We therefore produce our bags with the gazette bottom shape for shipping fish to avoid losing fish that tend to stick at the corners of the bags. Our bags which are double sealed with the right thickness of plastic are produced up to about 0.6tons monthly.
Kenya Marine Center is located at Kikambala, Kenya; the heart of tropical marine fish. Kenya was the 1st country involved in the aquarium trade in Africa. The ornamental fish trade here dates back to the 1960s, with up to 15 companies exporting in the 1980s. Today, there are only about five exporters operating in the trade. With more than 10 years in the industry, we have grown to establish ourselves as the leading exporter in the region, having built trust with our customers and always providing the quality that we promise.
So why do we stand out from the rest?
Location: Kikambala is a pristine unspoilt oasis of palm fronds and white sands north of Mombasa. The area is not marred by development and has therefore maintained a sense of tranquility and sereneness conducive for a good work environment. Marine life here is also intact and protected aided by the sustainable fish catching methods that we practice. Kikambala boasts of beautiful brightly colored fish on the reef.
Our location allows us short transit time both from the fishing grounds and to the airport thus our fish do not undergo a lot of stress due to many hours on the road. The fact that we are also very close to the ocean means that we have access to good water quality for our fishes at the holding facility.
Experienced team: Kenya Marine Center constitutes a team of highly experienced individuals in the aquarium and fishing trade. We have a team of divers and snorkelers, some having over 15 years under their belt in the profession. Our packing team is also very efficient and adept at their work. There is good communication between the management and the rest of the team which provides for a good environment for great team work ensuring that we only offer quality to our customers.
Kenya Marine Center has established an international supply network ensuring that we reach a wide variety of customers globally. We are also affiliated with a number of trade associations including OFI, IATA & OATA amongst others.
In-house Functioning: While other exporters mainly rely on freelancers, we have ensured that all our functions are in-house so as to maximize on productivity and maintain a smooth running process. In doing so, our fishermen are permanently contracted, we have in-house maintenance team to ensure we have functional equipment; we have invested in a number of transport company cars enabling fast logistics for quality healthy fish.
Company Growth: Over the years we have been able to grow our market share exponentially not only in Africa but Worldwide. Our export power is seen in the supply of estimated thousands of boxes monthly. Our rates are unbeatable! This coupled with quality fish, good customer relations, supply satisfaction and good relations with authority; Makes us the leading exporter in the region.
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.
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.
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.