ABOVE AND RIGHT: ‘Tattooed’ fish have been laser treated to produce crude colours and patterns in any combination, from Chinese characters signifying good luck, to simple pink and blue stripes.
ABOVE AND RIGHT: ‘Tattooed’ fish have been laser treated to produce crude colours and patterns in any combination, from Chinese characters signifying good luck, to simple pink and blue stripes.

Pet shop owners dunk fish craze

IT'S THE latest aquatic pet craze taking the world by storm which pet retailers on the North Coast just aren't buying.

Visit most aquariums and pet shops these days and among the many species of fish you might find some bearing colours and patterns so exotic they seem unreal. And they are.

Painted fish or coloured fish are terms for a new variety of pet fish whose scales have been transformed from monochrome silver into vivid pigmentations in a process termed "juicing".

Similarly, so-called "tattooed" fish have been laser treated to produce crude colours and patterns in any combination, from Chinese characters signifying good luck to simple pink and blue stripes.

Incredibly popular in China where they emerged some years ago, such "ornamental" fish have quickly become a global craze in the aquarium trade.

But according to several pet store owners here on the North Coast, it's a barbaric practice and they refuse to stock such fish.

Owner of DJ's Aquarium and Pets John Bailey said the tattoo process "burned straight through the flesh with a laser" and had a death rate of 90%.

"It burns their internal organs," he said.

Even if the fish survived, the fish's health was severely compromised and they would often die young anyway, Mr Bailey said.

And the verdict on painted fish was not much better.

"They actually get a needle and inject the fish with a colour dye. About half of them die," he said.

"If they're not a true fish, we won't stock them."

Alex Noreika from Ballina Aquarium Wonderland said the buying public was often not told about the practice behind colouring fish or whether the exotic colour was real or not.

"Unless people ask if it's a real colour they aren't really told," Mr Noreika said.

"And the fish they use for it are not a particularly social fish either."



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