Soon,a goldfish in a bowl may be a thing of the past. Goldfish,and indeed all fish,must only be kept in rectangular tanks,not bowls,and as a starting point,aquarium animals should never be touched or petted,frozen or flushed down a toilet. And no more artificially coloured fish a rage in public places where aquariums are used for decoration purpose.
Putting in place draft rules for the lucrative fish and aquarium industry,the Ministry of Environment and Forests has put in the public domain specifications for the trade. This is the first time India has attempted to consider the conditions under which fish are sold. While there are rules in place for the selling and breeding of cats and dogs,the same is not true for fish,which have largely been considered decorative.
According to the draft rules,all breeders and sellers of aquarium fish have to be registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India. The rules specify that the animals should be kept in rectangular tanks five times the size of the fish,and not in bowls. Fish cannot be artificially coloured,or caught using drugs. Spurred by animals rights activist and MP Maneka Gandhi,the rules will be adopted after circulation and discussion.
The fish and aquarium trade earns big bucks all over South East Asia,with fish also sold for Feng Shui. But theres an illegal dimension to the trade: protected corals and turtles are also sold for aquariums with very little monitoring. There are two kinds of aquariums: freshwater and salt aquariums.
The new draft rules specify that apart from corals,starfish and Indian turtles,eels cannot be traded either. Certain species of angel fish,cuttlefish and butterfly fish have also been banned. While trade in any kind of Indian turtle is banned,turtles are being sold for aquariums. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau had recently put out an alert on the sale of star tortoises.
A recent study shows that fish from the tropical waters,especially around coral reefs,are being emptied for the aquarium trade. The numbers are shocking. What we consider an innocuous trade is very large. Fish which are caught for marine aquariums are essentially wild fish: these are the fish of the coral reefs and they are being taken out in an unchecked way. The trade needs to be regulated, says a senior official from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.
In Japan,neon-lit phosphorescent fish for aquariums had been created. But if the new rules are adopted,such experiments will be banned on Indian fish. The rules specify that the fish tank should not be kept in places with vibrations,loud sounds,or in a place that is always exposed to light or always exposed to the dark.