Aquariums and Zoos can play an active role educating visitors about this beneficial fishery

Exhibits Inspiring Visitors to become Conservation Minded Fishkeepers – Buy a Fish, Save a Tree

Exhibits Inspiring Visitors to become Conservation Minded Fishkeepers – Buy a Fish, Save a Tree

This terrific video was produced by Oceanário de Lisboa!




Sample Rio Negro Aquarium Fishery Wording

Buy a Fish, Save a Tree

Every year the Amazon Rivers rise as much at 30 feet (10 meters) and inundate thousands of square miles of tropical forest.  Many species of fish spawn early in the flood season and dramatically increase their numbers. After the floods recede and the rivers return to their channels, the fish populations go into an annual decline; only to experience the population explosion again during the next year’s flood event.

The largest tributary flowing into the Amazon River is the Rio Negro.  Many Brazilian communities earn their livelihoods from collecting and exporting brilliantly colored fishes left stranded after annual floodwaters recede along the black water river.  Using a net made of wood from the itauba tree and mosquito mesh, fish collectors gently guide the tiny fishes into the net with a hand-carved paddle.

This environmentally responsible process provides income for the rural people, an incentive for them to protect the tropical ecosystem, and a sustainable source for the home aquarium trade.

_________(insert institution name) always seeks display specimens from responsible sources like the Rio Negro aquarium fishery. If you have a home aquarium, or you are considering starting one, please look for environmentally friendly fishes. For more information, visit

Let us help you with your graphics.  We have many vivid pictures, videos and other materials available.

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Request for Proposals:  

Rio Negro Aquarium Fishery Themed Exhibits 

To qualify for this award, completed applications must meet the following criteria:

– Inspiring Exhibit Proposal

– Exhibit to include a small home aquarium (off the shelf)

– Strongest possible message

– to inspire conservation minded fish hobbyists

– Collaborate on messaging research

– Submission from AZA certified institutions

Special consideration will be given to submissions which include:

– Creative ways that you plan to engage young people with technology through this exhibit

– Exhibit plans which include Educator programming tied to the Exhibit

Please submit your application by sending a pdf document to the email below with your institution’s responses to these questions:

Application Questionnaire: 

1) Provide an example of the strongest wording your institution would approve for the exhibit your institution plans to build:  (three examples are:  “Buy a Fish, Save a Tree”, “Tiny Fish, Big Impact”, “From Rivers to Retail”)

2) Send a rough drawing including the wording proposed and layout which your institution will support:

3) What is the proposed opening date of the exhibit?

4) How long is it expected that the exhibit will be in place?

5) How big is the space you have planned for the exhibit?

6) Please include a “before” photo of this space and attach it to your submission.

7) If your institution plans to engage young people through technology with this exhibit, what would the plans include (you can also submit drawings or pictures to support your reply)?

8) If your institution plans to include an educator program tied to the exhibit, what would those entail?

9) Does your institution plan to include information about the exhibit on your website?  If yes, how?

10) Would the Project Piaba Website be included as a reference at your exhibit?

11) If your institution has a retail fish store nearby, please mention it in your application.

12) If your institution hosts a fish club, please mention it here:

13) Name of person submitting, Contact phone number, Email, Name of institution, Institution physical address, web address.

Notes and Requirements on Funds Use:  

These funds must be used for a Rio Negro Aquarium Fishery Exhibit build at selected institutions.  The funds can be used for materials purchased to support the exhibit such as sign printing, photo finishing, building materials.  Funds can be used for physical materials educators used to support the exhibit such as tablets and TV monitors.  Funds cannot be used for travel costs, staff time costs or overhead.


Questions regarding the application can be mailed to

A pdf document with your institutions responses to these questions including supporting materials can be emailed to RFPExhibit@ProjectPiaba.Org.

About the Rio Negro Aquarium Fishery in Brazil and Project Piaba’s work with the Fishery:

For decades, the global trade in freshwater fishes for home aquariums has provided livelihoods for rural people, often serving as the economic base in regions of critical biological importance. These fisheries generally consist of low biological off-take, especially when considering the revenue generated for fishing communities and others. In addition, there is evidence that these fisheries drive environmental protectionism and therefore help maintain more vital ecosystem services. However, the social and environmental benefits from these fisheries are threatened by many external factors. For example, animal rights organizations and other NGOs are actively encouraging ex-situ captive breeding. The IUCN’s Freshwater Fish Specialist Group recently established a sub-group with the objective to better identify and catalogue case studies of fisheries which result in socioeconomic and environmental benefits.

Public aquariums and zoos have an opportunity to educate and foster environmental outcomes by showcasing such fisheries. Adding to pioneering exhibits that highlight home aquarium fisheries case studies and the impacts to inspire visitors, particularly young people is one of our focus areas. There are opportunities for future exhibits, honing messaging and deepening educational programming and engaging young people with the goal of inspiring passion for science and conservation.