Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Biology


Joshua Stoll

Second Committee Member

Nishad Jayasundara

Third Committee Member

Aaron Strong

Additional Committee Members

Christine Beitl

Douglas Rasher

Heather Hamlin


Industry and academic conversations on aquaculture’s role in the marine aquarium trade are often centered on production advancements, biological and reproductive constraints of concerned species, and conservation deliverables and often overlook the possible socioeconomic consequences of aquaculture production. Due attention is yet to be spent on understanding broader stakeholder sentiment on aquaculture production and the toll it may have on specialized suppliers such as those in the Sri Lankan marine ornamental fishery. Utilizing a framework derived from Coupled Human and Natural Systems, research found suppling stakeholders predominantly unable to participate in aquaculture production due to various access limitations. When viewed alongside increases in aquaculture effort and production in the United States, these limitations indicated disproportions in vulnerability and the adaptive capacity of marine aquarium trade stakeholder groups, warranting concerns of stakeholder obsolescence. To better describe access limitations, a small-scale marine ornamental aquaculture lab was constructed and tested for efficiency using the yellowtail anemonefish. Literature on aquaculture methodologies and recirculating system construction often fall short of describing knowledge and resource barriers faced by practitioners, indicating blind spots in the industry’s approach to advancing production methods of marine ornamental species. Aquaculture efforts demonstrated barriers to educational, technological, and monetary resources necessary to successfully complete the life cycle of commonly aquacultured species. The resulting recirculating aquaculture system may serve as a model for use by practitioners seeking to culture a variety of demersal spawning fishes. This research indicates greater attention should be given to underrepresented stakeholder groups who are presently marginalized by current development trends in marine ornamental aquaculture. Additionally, negative feedback loops generated by environmental and socioeconomic relationships in the described systems suggest extreme caution and immediate action should be taken to preserve the roles and associated livelihoods of key stakeholder groups in the marine aquarium trade.