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steve wright 04-07-2009 08:49 AM

The Reef-Keeping Hobby In China
The Reef-Keeping Hobby In China
One person's perspective on keeping reef aquariums in China.

Personal history:
  • I have kept aquariums of one form or another for almost 30 years now, with only 2 short breaks during this period – marriage break up in 1992 ( 6 months sorting myself out and started again) and 1998 – moved to China semi permanent ,but due to less frequent visits home, had to get rid of 2 x reef tanks that I had run for over 5 years in UK and it took me a couple of years to re establish myself in the hobby in China – with FW , progressing to breeding Discus and eventually in 2007 decided to start a SW fish tank
  • Obstacles - In 2007 , there where no LFS that dealt in Salt water, in 2009 there is 1 establishment , which I do use infrequently and this shops choices on dry goods is very limited , although the live stock it carries is reasonably well looked after and they do have 30 or so SW tanks


  • Fangcun is the name of a town just outside Guangzhou, which is the capital city of the Guangdong province , and Fangcun is important from a aquarists perspective because...
  • Fangcun aquarium and pet market is the centre of the aquatic trade importation into Guangdong province (along with all other imaginable creatures – if you want to buy an alligator, snake, monkey, etc this is where you shop) –
  • Fangcun consists of 200 – 300 shops, stalls and street vendors , with the majority being biased towards the FW side of the aquatic hobby ( the vendors that sit outside with a couple of bowls, selling small fish or live plants – right up to large stores with massive display tanks and all manner of dry goods
  • Fangcun was discovered by accident by me during a day out to visit a potential new suppliers factory – they had FW tanks in reception, we got chatting and they told my driver about the aquarium market
  • Fangcun was naturally a closely guarded secret amongst the FW shops that I had been purchasing from since 2000
  • Of most significant interest to me at present are the dozen on so shops that concentrate on the SW side of the hobby, and its these particular shops that the rest of my article will focus on ( if anyone from 3reef wants another article let me know)

Aquarium Goods

  • Almost all the stores that focus on SW – have at least 1 very large display tank –
  • Some of the stores do specialize in just wet goods including corals
  • Some of the stores are fish only – whilst some only have corals and offer no fish at all.
  • Imported goods, or goods destined for export and siphoned off to here are also available ( I purchased a Visitherm heater with a 3 pin UK plug !)
  • Lighting – MH and T5 are both available with Aquamedic being quite a popular brand amongst the imported goods
  • Filtration – Ehiem, Fluval, are in many shops along with the Jebo etc
  • Power heads – no Korilas for me – but there are 2 or 3 clones available, not tried any yet personally as I like to use fixed Power heads with the 2 way adaptor that rotates
  • Skimmers – naturally the Jebo and a few other local brands – Azoo for example but again if you look around you can find some more westernized popular brand names and I purchased my Deltec here 15 months ago – and reef octopus models where on display in many shops when these images where taken
  • Test kits, and equipement its all here, refractometers, PH probes ORP probes, Salifert, Hagen, Hippo ( no API seen though)
  • Foods , Tropic marin, reef nutrition, Tetra, Sera – again multiple choices

  • As most of you reading this will be aware, China is / has been described as a famine culture, without going into specific details on this issue – the fact is money is an important motivator because when it stops coming in, you have a major problem
  • For someone educated in the hobby in the west, and having a basic understanding of the needs of many of the easier to keep species, its not a problem for me to ignore the pestering you get to buy a Goniopara, or a Mandarin dragonet ( my recent conversation on the day I collected these images with a sales person from one shop, naturally keen to take my money went like this:
Sales lady: These are nice.
Steve: Yes I know, but my tank is only 16 months old and I don’t have enough small shrimps to feed it and nobody sells pods in China?

Sales lady: It will be fine.

Steve: No not in my tank it wont and that’s why I don’t want one.

Sales lady: What’s the problem? They are only cheap! (Point being- If it dies you can buy another one.)

You could have the same conversation about Gonis, Regal angels, many other species that most of the people reading this will know are not great in reef set ups

They would sell you a bag of salt, some sand, some rocks and as much live stock as your where daft enough to pay for- in the same day! There is no advice given and certainly no advice given that would deprive them of your currency.

Customer is king in China – or emperor with no clothes on – if you aren’t clued up before you start in the hobby

For someone with some knowledge – it's not so bad though.

Hope this article was interesting.

Steve Wright

Brandon1023 04-07-2009 09:22 AM

Cool write-up! Very interesting indeed. Thanks for the insight.


Originally Posted by steve wright (Post 593996)
the fact is money is an important motivator because when it stops coming in, you have a major problem

It's the same over here, I assure you. Money money money. LFSs here for the most part will sell you a lion and a blood red fire shrimp knowing full well they're going in the same tank. All the while telling you the shrimp will actually clean the lion!

amcarrig 04-07-2009 09:25 AM


Originally Posted by steve wright (Post 593996)
( if anyone from 3reef wants another article let me know)

Yes please! :D

Great article! We want more!!

ZachB 04-07-2009 09:42 AM

Very cool write up man. I love hearing perspectives (and especially seeing photos) from other areas of the world. Awesome, would love to hear and see more. K+

stepho 04-07-2009 09:45 AM

Very interesting.

Jason McKenzie 04-07-2009 12:45 PM

Great report, Look forward to more. Would love to see some of the crazy stuff for sale.

slocal 04-07-2009 01:06 PM

I want more! That was really a great read, Steve. Reminds me of Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations" that airs here in the states. He gives the lowdown on hard to find places and underground commerce in different countries.

China must be hard on the beginner SW hobbyist unless they have a connection to the net and a good bookstore it seems.

Oh yah, congrats on your shiny new badge

szrazzt 04-07-2009 01:56 PM

Thats a pretty interesting read. Thanks for taking the time to write it up.

GuitarMan89 04-07-2009 02:15 PM

It's kind of funny, I just though about this exact topic the other day. I was thinking if livestock and rock were a lot cheaper because they are so much closer to the origin.

coral reefer 04-07-2009 02:21 PM

Excellent info and very interesting and educational. I think that other aquarists from other parts of the globe should take this and run with it and introduce us and enlighten us with customs, pictures and other practical tidbits that can be related to and compared to the hobby here in the states, especially!

Steve, can you send me one of those sharks please??!!!!!!!!
Sweet and a couple egg rolls while we are ordering things! hahha

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