How Displaying Fish Can Save the Amazon

Project Piaba, a nonprofit with a 25-year history of protecting the Amazon rainforest, has partnered with World Pet Association, which unites the pet community through knowledge, integrity, innovation and leadership.  The World Pet Association and Project Piaba offered a two-week expedition to Brazil to a lucky attendee of Aquatic Experience, the industry’s premier show featuring “everything aquatic under one roof,” for hobbyists, retailers and consumers.   Contestants recorded a short video and with so many exceptional entries, it was very difficult to make a final decision.  Contestants discussed how they would make a difference contributing to Project Piaba’s important work with the Rio Negro aquarium fishery. 

Project Piaba, studies and fosters the Rio Negro aquarium fishery in Brazil’s Amazon. This fishery is a beneficial trade that helps protect the rainforest, while also offering fair prices for fish and sustainable livelihoods for the people of the region. Years ago, Project Piaba recognized the aquarium fish trade of the Amazon had the potential to foster stewardship of the surrounding rainforest, and coined the phrase “Buy a Fish, Save a Tree”. The fish are captured with extremely low impact methods, using handheld nets from dugout canoes. Studies show that the fish populations continue to thrive as long as their environment remains intact. The whole community understands that the fish are healthy when the forest is, which incentivizes habitat protection. In fact, this area of Brazil boasts one of the most pristine areas of rainforest because the people spur the industries that cause destruction, such as mining, ranching, and timber harvest.

Hoping to inspire new generation of conservation-minded fish hobbyists, the World Pet Association developed a partnership with Project Piaba.

“I’m so honored the World Pet Association, is helping us with our important work, alongside fishing communities, conservation groups, scientists, and government,” said Scott Dowd, Executive Director of Project Piaba. “Conservation succeeds when all stakeholders work together and the World Pet Association is an important partner in the work we do.”

Dowd was an Indianapolis Prize nominee and is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. He leads a team of Project Piaba volunteers in Brazil, USA, Europe and other countries who have dedicated years to research Amazon fisheries and protect the Amazon.

“Project Piaba brings a whole new meaning to new fish owners around the world,” says Jacinthe Moreau of the World Pet Association, “we look forward to our continued support and doing whatever we can to encourage consumers to buy a fish to save a tree.”

The World Pet Association and Project Piaba are pleased to announce the winner of the Expedition trip to help Project Piaba with the important work, Alex Wenchel!  Alex is a documentary producer and science communicator based in Washington, DC. He’s spent the majority of his career working for National Geographic, producing entertaining and educational stories for television, the web, and the stage. In 2017, after more than 20 years in the aquarium hobby, he created a YouTube channel on aquascaping and aquarium care for amateurs and professionals alike. His channel, Tank Tested, reaches hundreds of thousands of viewers every month, delivering cinematic footage of aquatic life and in-depth interviews from experts in the aquarium world.

Follow Alex on his trip via Instagram project_piaba and the Tank Tested YouTube Channel.

About the World Pet Association (WPA)

The World Pet Association (WPA) is the oldest industry organization promoting responsible growth and development of the companion pet industry and related products and services. WPA works to inform and educate the general public in order to ensure safe and healthy lifestyles for our animal friends. WPA is the host of America’s Family Pet Expo, the world’s largest consumer pet and pet products expo, held annually in Costa Mesa, California. The organization also produces SuperZoo, an annual pet industry trade show that showcases a comprehensive collection of exhibits and offers a variety of informative educational seminars. For more information, please visit

About Project Piaba

Project Piaba is a 501(c)(3), non-profit with a mission to increase the environmental, animal welfare, and social sustainability of the Amazonian aquarium fish trade, to develop and incorporate metrics through which this progress can be assessed, and to provide mechanisms to promote this industry. Learn more about Project Piaba at