Spike in demand for blue tangs, clownfish after launch of Finding Dory

SPCA urges all potential pet owners to make sure they are ready to invest the time and energy before buying them.
Lee Li Ying, Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: Blue tangs and clownfish have been in demand following the release of animated feature film "Finding Dory" last week.

According to an aquarium shop owner whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to, he has seen a 10 per cent increase in demand for blue tangs and clownfish over the weekend.

He usually brings in 10 blue tangs each time and it takes nearly two weeks to clear them. However, he sold nine over the last weekend and all his clownfish were also sold out. More than 10 have been restocked on Tuesday morning (Jun 21).

Blue tangs and clownfish are marine animals, so it takes more effort to ensure that the water condition in the aquarium is suitable for them. So while the price of a clownfish may be below S$6 and a blue tang costs under S$30, the cost of setting up such an aquarium is at least S$500.

Director of Fresh 'N' Marine Aquarium, Edmund Lim, explained: "You need to have a proper tank with seawater, which is properly measured on the salinity level. Make sure there is a filter system running and that it is matured, cycled properly before introducing any livestock, corals or fish. It typically takes about three weeks to be safe."

Pet shops can guide new owners, but they have to be in it for the long run. “We'll educate them on what to do and ask them not to be so impulsive,” Mr Lim added. “We'll guide them step by step in order to arrive at the final stage where they can actually put in the fish. It's not a very difficult hobby. It's more about the money and cost involved in setting up this marine system.”

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) fears that impulse purchase of pets can lead to neglect and even abandonment once the initial excitement wears off.

Executive director of SPCA, Jaipal Singh Gill, said: "Those species are marine species and a lot of people may not realise that when your release them into ponds or freshwater environments, they’re not going to survive.

“Even if they are not released into the marine animal environment, they are not from this area, and the chances of them surviving is extremely low and they’re likely to suffer a slow and painful death."

SPCA urges all potential pet owners to make sure they are ready to invest the time and energy before buying them.

It is also unclear if birds and terrapins have seen a spike in demand following the release of films like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Angry Birds", as pet store owners Channel NewsAsia spoke to declined to comment.

- CNA/xk

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