The ongoing cold snap not only is frustrating to beachgoers and theme park patrons, it also is putting unwanted stress on Florida’s tropical fish business.
Popular breeds such as platies, mollies and guppies that are raised in outdoor ponds do not respond well to sudden drops in the temperature and become vulnerable to sickness and water borne diseases.
Florida is the nation’s primary source of farm raised tropical and ornamental fish and cold snaps affect that industry much as the citrus and strawberry crops.
“We have tremendous challenges with the cold,” fish farmer Fran Drawdy, who has owned the central Florida farm with her family for 40 years told reporters.
“The last three winters in a row it seems like we have been just clobbered,” said David Boozer, executive director of the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association. Florida’s tropical fish sales were $32.2 million in 2007.
Hillsborough and Polk counties in central Florida sell the most fish and both are far enough north to be impacted by winter cold snaps.
Tropical fish farmers raise their fish in small outdoor ponds and greenhouses. If the company’s breeding fish are also impacted the recovery period can be lengthy.
Consumers should be aware that cold snaps in the sub-tropics can impact both the prices and health of fish they buy. It is best to buy specialty fish from established outlets with a solid consumer reputation. Discussing the origins of the fish they sell with store management to determine if they endured cold weather also can help determine their activity levels and long-term health.