The Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association is a trade Association of professional ornamental tropical fish and aquatic plant breeders, the mission of which is to represent its members in governmental matters, provide a cooperative for purchasing necessary materials to produce member products, and support research and development for the production of ornamental species.
The Association does not breed fish or grow plants, if you are looking for a supplier please use our Member Directory to find and contact the farms directly.
"FTFFA and Florida Tropical Fish Farms – a Partnership for the Future"
It’s been around for some time, but the role of the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association (FTFFA) is always changing. Way back in 1964, FTFFA was little more than a cooperative that helped members purchase the materials they needed to run their farms. A co-op store was started and today it services virtually every need a farm may have. Other aspects of the industry are now addressed by FTFFA in an equally effective manner. John Skidmore, president of the association says, “FTFFA helps and supports the fish farmer in a wide variety of ways.” In particular, it conducts marketing for the farmers, getting the word out to customers that the fish from Florida are superior in every way.
“The Best Tropical Fish Come From Florida” has become the slogan for this industry. That means if you are looking for fish to buy and sell you can’t do any better than buying them from Florida. It’s a fairly bold claim, but one that is backed up by the superiority of the product. New technologies and breeding techniques have increased both the quality and quantity of fish that FTFFA farms deliver to their customers. There are over 120 farms in Florida raising a wide variety of fish, aquatic plants, and assorted invertebrates. These items are all of the highest quality. Domestically raised livestock is much easier to handle than what comes from overseas. In fact, tropical fish are the number one cargo commodity out of Tampa International Airport where 8,000 to 10,000 boxes are shipped weekly.
Every year in Orlando, FTFFA has a massive display at the APPA Global Pet Expo in a display known as the Aquatic Lounge which showcases Florida tropical fish and aquatic plants to perfection for those attending the largest pet industry trade show in North America. Fully decorated aquarium tanks highlight the fish and plants as can be seen nowhere else.
FTFFA has recently partnered with the World Pet Association to showcase a large display of tropical fish and aquatic plants at the Aquatic Experience held in Chicago in early November. This event includes a thriving tradeshow floor of more than 85 exhibitors showcasing the latest in aquatic trends and products. Attendees include everyone from the general public to the most sophisticated aquarium keepers, local and national hobbyist groups, livestock and equipment experts, and the industry’s best and trend-setting manufacturers. FTFFA is excited to be a part of this ‘everything aquatic event’ with a ‘wall of fish’ display of nearly 150 tanks under the theme - ‘Best From Florida’ to show fish enthusiasts of all levels the superiority of Florida tropical fish.
Fish farming in Florida is big business and it has come a long way in the past 50 years. FTFFA has given farmers the ability to deal with a variety of problems they could not have tackled on their own. Environmental concerns, government regulations, local economic growth, and changing business strategies are just a few of the topics that FTFFA handles for its members. FTFFA is the only professional organization to represent tropical fish producers. The association is headed by a 15-member board of directors. Anyone with an interest in tropical fish can join either as an in-state producer, or an associate member from out of state. Over 220 members are on the roster and they include farmers, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, and importers.
Funding for FTFFA comes from membership dues, a fee from the FTFFA coop store, and commissions on sales of a styrofoam shipping box developed by the association. Proceeds are channeled into many marketing and research projects.
David Boozer is FTFFA’s executive director and he has watched the industry grow over the years. In fact, production in Florida has doubled in a period of time when the aquatics industry has been flat. This means that Florida is doing a better job than its overseas competitors. A warm climate and an abundant supply of groundwater make the environment perfect for raising ornamental fish. Customers want quality fish at competitive prices and Florida fish give them the most bang for their buck. With the help of FTFFA, Florida’s fish are the highest value in quality, quantity, and variety.
The State of Florida is firmly behind FTFFA and the fish farming industry. In Ruskin, Florida, the Tropical Aquaculture Lab has been established by the state to aid farmers with problems they encounter. It focuses on a wide variety of issues including fish production, nutritional requirements, genetic enhancement, and disease diagnosis and treatment. A full-time veterinarian is on staff and available to farmers who require such services. This lab is actively researching problems, not merely responding to specific complaints. Also, FTFFA has a partnership with the University of Florida’s College of Fisheries and Aquatic Science at Gainesville which also promotes such activities.
Fish farming has many similarities with growing other agriculture commodities and with that philosophy in mind, FTFFA was instrumental in adding a definition of tropical fish as part of aquaculture in the Federal Farm Bill. With this definition in place, the industry now qualifies for Federal and State disaster relief should it become available. Also, FTFFA has worked closely with the Florida Department of Agriculture, the EPA, Florida water management districts, OSHA, and the FDA. Such ties to government agencies are key to protecting the interests of the Florida fish farming community. FTFFA has a strong presence in the lobbying arena at both State and Federal levels.
So, you can see that FTFFA and the fish farms are working hand in hand, not only to bring you a better product, but also to secure the future of the industry as a whole. When new challenges are made, FTFFA will be there to meet them.