Owning a tropical fish tank could generate as many greenhouse gases as driving thousands of miles, study finds
- The most important environmental factors include the heating of the water and the country of origin.
- An average tropical aquarium produces between 85.3 and 635.2 kg of CO2 per year
Keeping a tank of tropical fish could generate as many greenhouse gases as driving thousands of miles in a car or motorcycle, according to a study.
The Cardiff University Water Research Institute has for the first time calculated the carbon footprint and environmental impacts of keeping fish as pets.
Dr William Perry, Research Associate at the Institute, said: “In the UK, 4 million households have a fish as a pet and an estimated 70% of those with fish have a tropical freshwater aquarium.”
“The carbon footprint of keeping pets such as cats and dogs has been calculated previously, but we provide the first estimates of carbon dioxide emissions from running a tropical aquarium, as well as estimated water consumption.”
Dr. William Perry developed estimates of the environmental impacts of aquaculture in several Northern European countries (France, Poland and the UK).
Keeping a tank of tropical fish could generate as many greenhouse gases as driving thousands of miles in a car or motorcycle, according to a study (file image)
The estimates are discussed in the context of freshwater and marine aquaria.
Using UK estimates, depending on size and operating conditions, an average tropical aquarium produces an estimated 85.3 to 635.2 kg of CO2 per year.
This is the same as traveling 3,483 miles on an average motorcycle, official data shows, and 2,265 miles on an average gasoline-powered car.
The Department of Transportation says that the average motorcyclist makes about 440 trips per year on his machine and an average of 4,800 miles per year.
This equates to around 875 kg of CO2.
The most important environmental factors included heating the water, especially in larger aquariums, as well as the country of origin, due to the different levels of decarbonization in power grids in different countries.
Dr Perry added: “Farming ornamental fish may be a more environmentally friendly pet choice than keeping an average-sized dog or cat, who are likely to produce many more emissions through their meat consumption.”
“However, the environmental impacts of fish farming can also be substantial depending on the size of the aquarium, how it is managed and even what country it is in.
The Department of Transportation says the average motorcyclist makes about 440 trips per year on his machine and an average of 4,800 miles per year (file image)
‘There are still improvements that can be made to ensure the environmental sustainability of the hobby.
“The environmental impact of the energy needs of fish farming will improve as national energy grids begin to decarbonise, but reducing the environmental impact of high water consumption will not be easy and will require individual ingenuity.
“These are important considerations as we face a climate emergency related to our energy demands, as well as water insecurity related to our water demands.”
The research, The Environmental Impact of Keeping a Tropical Aquarium in Northern Europe, is published in the Journal of Fish Biology.