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Coral eeef off the island of Siquijor, Philippines.

Aquarium Hobbyist Tour
of the Philippines

By Tony Griffitts

The Philippines is a enjoyable place to visit for aquarium hobbyist.  Many of the marine and brackish water fish found in the hobby can be found in the natural waters of the Philippines.  Besides the ocean, the Philippines has mangroves, fish ponds, tide pools, and pet stores to explore.  The Philippines plays a major role in the tropical fish industry.  Many of the marine fish seen in your local fish store were exported from Manila.

On the island of Negros I had a opportunity to visit commercial fish ponds for raising Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), Milkfish (Chanos chanos), and Snub Nose Grouper (Epinephelus macrospilos) for the fish markets.  I was surprised to find many types of aquatic life in and around the ponds. 

Commercial fish ponds Bias City, Negros Oriental (Negros Island), Philippines.Milk Spotted Puffer (Chelonodon patoca)

Commercial fish ponds Bais City, Negros Oriental, Philippines.  A juvenile Milk Spotted Puffer (Chelonodon patoca) in one of the fish ponds.

The fish ponds are generally brackish and close to the cost line of the island.  The fish ponds not only had the fish they intended to farm, but also Milk Spotted Puffers (Chelonodon patoca), Green Scats (Scatophagus argus), Ghost Shrimp, Red Claw Crabs, Mud Skippers, Hermit Crabs, and Moray Eels.

Snub Nose Grouper (Epinephelus macrospilos) farmed at a commercial fish pond at Bias City, Negros Oriental (Negros Island), Philippines.Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) for sale at the Alona Tropical Beach Resort restaurant, Panglao Island, Philippines.

Snub Nose Grouper (Epinephelus macrospilos) caught with a bamboo fishing pole from one of the ponds.  Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) for sale at the Alona Tropical Beach Resort restaurant, Panglao Island.

Filipino aquarist enjoy the hobby as much as any other around the world. The tropical climate of the Philippines allows the hobbyist to have an aquarium without a heater, and in some cases without filtration.  Most of the hobbyist in the Philippines maintain freshwater aquariums, or ponds with freshwater tropical fish, Koi, or Goldfish. 

A planted aquarium keep out doors on a patio without filtration.Tony Griffitts with a Filipino hobbyist collection of aquariums.

A planted aquarium without any filtration.  The author with a Filipino's collection of aquariums kept outdoors which included a pond with a Black Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus), livebearers, and fry from Flower-horn Cichlids.

It is not uncommon to see aquariums or ponds at resorts. The Coco Grove Beach Resort on the Island of Siquijor has a restaurant called Salamandas with an indoor Koi pond and beautiful view of the beach.

Salamandas indoor Koi pond.Salamandas' beautiful view of the beach at Coco Grove Beach Resort.

Salamandas indoor Koi pond and beautiful view of the beach at Coco Grove Beach Resort on the Island of Siquijor.

Mangroves are another interesting place to explore for hobbyist.  The Philippines has many mangroves to see aquatic life.  Many species of fiddler crabs can be found on the exposed flats, as well as fish in tide pools around the mangroves.

Mangroves on the island of Siquijor, Philippines.Yellow, black, and white fiddler crab on the island of Siquijor, Philippines.

Mangroves on the Island of Siquijor.  Yellow, black, and white fiddler crab (Uca sp.) found at the mangroves of Siquijor, was one of many species  which could have a market place in the aquarium hobby if they were exported.

Tide Pooling offers the aquarist an aquatic safari with out having to get wet.  The tide pools are teaming with sea life.  Many species of sea urchins, starfish, crabs, juvenile  damselfish, wrasses, cardinal fish, blennies, moray eels, and many other fish can be found in the tide pools.

Tide pools on the island of Siquijor, Philippines.Juvenile Moray Eel in the tide pools on the island of Siquijor, Philippines.

Tide pools on the island of Siquijor.  Many of the locals are looking for sea urchin for personal consumption and for sale.  One of many Moray Eels found in the tide pools, most were between 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 cm) long.

Pet stores offer a unique insight into how Filipino aquarist enjoy the hobby.  Most aquariums in the retail stores are 20 gallons or less.  Fish offered for sale are sometimes displayed in bowls or in the case of bettas, rum bottles.

Melanochromis auratus for sale in a pet shop on the island of Negros, Philippines.Flower Horn Cichlid in a bowl in a pet shop on the island of Negros, Philippines.

African Cichlids (Melanochromis auratus) for sale in a pet shop on the island of Negros, Philippines.  Flower Horn Cichlid in a bowl for sale.

While there are many great places to SCUBA dive and snorkel in the Philippines, there is plenty to keep the aquarist busy with out having to get wet.  If you do plan on making a trip to the Philippines, you would be missing out on some spectacular scenery if you did not take time out to explore the reefs.  The water off of the islands are often very calm and easy to swim in even for the novice swimmer.   If you do not bring your own fins, snorkel, and mask, you can always rent them from the resort dive shop.

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