At the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association (AAAA), we are proud to be a part of the CARES Preservation program, a combined effort of hobbyists to support and preserve fish that come from areas around the world that are at risk due to environmental concerns. You don’t need a fish room, or even a large empty aquarium, to make a huge difference for the outcome of an at risk species of freshwater fish, and it is our goal at AAAA to help support our members interest in being a part of the conservation of at risk species.
This program allows you not only to gain new education and knowledge, but to feel truly good about helping to preserve species that may otherwise be unavailable for future generations to enjoy.
What is the CARES Preservation Program?
The CARES Preservation Program challenges aquarium hobbyists to devote tank space for one more more species of at risk fish, attempt to breed and distribute offspring to fellow qualified hobbyists, share information with other hobbyists, scientists, and conservationists and help educate the general public about the critical nature of fish in nature.
Preserving At-Risk Species
Species designated as “at risk” come in every size and shape. You can find a list of current priority species by visiting the CARES website on a regular basis. You might be surprised to find that you already keep a species on this list,or you might find inspiration to expand your collection, as there are some really interesting fish on the list. The list is updated on a regular basis, with new species added all the time. In addition to the priority species found on the CARES website, any fish found on the IUCN Red List also qualifies for the program.
“At Risk” species come in several subdivisions and are categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These categories are, from least to most critical:
- Least Concern (LC)
- Near Threatened (NT)
- Vulnerable (VU)
- Critically Endangered (CR)
- Extinct in the Wild (EW)
Species that qualify for our award program are those listed on the NT through EW lists.
The AAAA CARES Program’s mission is to encourage our club members to commit to provide space for at-risk species in their tanks and to encourage breeding, while distributing any offspring to other qualified hobbyists who are able to support these fish.
Additionally, we seek to assist in locating both fish and information for our participating members to help increase their chances of success within the program.
Tenets of AAAA CARES Program
As a program:
- We embrace awareness of the increasing risks to fish in nature, education of the public on these issues, and embracing our responsibilities as aquarists.
- We recognize, support, and celebrate hobbyists who seek to preserve at-risk species.
- We share not only experiences and information, but actual fish as possible.
- We keep logs and notes and make those available to help educate others who seek to learn how to properly care for fish in the program.
- We wish to preserve and potentially restore these species so they may be enjoyed by future generations.
How to Participate
Participating in the CARES Fish Preservation Program is easy! Once you have a species on the Priority List or IUCN Red List, you’ll need to register it.
Step 1: Fill out the CARES Species Identification form here.
Step 2: Upload a clear photograph of the fish in your aquarium. Photos found online will not count. Name the file as follows: species name_your name_AAAA_date. For example: Betta coccina_JohnDoe_AAAA_10-11-19. This photo will be reviewed by the CARES coordinator and once positively identified, will be added to the CARES registry.
Step 3: Reach out to the AAAA CARES Coordinator at a meeting or by email to let us know that you’ve submitted your identification. Please fill out the AAAA Cares form located here and update us at meetings or by email when you have a point earning activity as outlined below.
Step 4: Update the CARES Coordinator when you have fish available for sale or trade or if you stop keeping the species, even if you don’t plan to participate in the awards program.
Program Rules and Regulations
Maintaining your standing in the CARES Fish Preservation Program is essential, as we seek to build and maintain legitimacy in the overall community. To that end, the following requirements apply to every member of the program.
- You must remain a member of AAAA in good standing.
- You must complete all information on the species registration form you submit. If you are missing information, contact the CARES Coordinator for help.
- You must submit a clear photo of your species that will be used for identification purposes.
- Every quarter, the CARES Coordinators will contact you to follow up on your progress. If you are no longer working with that species, it’s okay, but we need to update that information regularly in the master database quarterly in order to remain in good standing with CARES. If you fail to submit quarterly information when requested, you may have your membership in the awards program revoked.
AAAA CARES Award Program
You will be awarded points based on your progress with species preservation, as long as you continue to care for the species and regardless of breeding outcome. Points will be awarded as follows:
5 Points per instance:
- Successfully register a new CARES species (may claim once per species)
- Keep a species for a full calendar year (may claim once per year per species, on the anniversary of the initial registration)
- Share species specimens (at minimum, a male/female pairing) with other AAAA members. This may be a gift, trade, or sale that results in the new owner registering the fish with CARES.
- Submit at least five juvenile fish or one male/female pairing for one of the AAAA auctions
- Providing knowledge and education to other members through short presentations at meetings
- Submit an article for Fish Talk or the resource database
10 points per instance:
- First successful breeding of a species you keep, which must survive for over 30 days. You must either submit juvenile fish for BAP or submit photographs of the 30 day old fry if you are not participating in BAP.
Award levels and titles granted at each point level:
- 25 points: CARES Participant (Award level 1)
- 50 points: CARES Supporter (Award level 2)
- 100 points: CARES Enthusiast (Award level 3)
- 200 points: CARES Authority (Award level 4)
- 400 points: CARES Master (Award level 5)
- 500 Points: CARES Grand Master (Award level 6)
An annual CARES Member of the Year award will be granted each year. This member will be chosen by the support team and is the person who is seen to have best exemplified the CARES program spirit. Their name will be submitted to CARES, and they will receive recognition from the club for outstanding service.