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Raising most species of ornamental marine reef fishes is still difficult. Martin Moe raised French Angelfish 20 years ago in commercial quantities, but the pygmy angelfishes, tangs, butterflyfishes (etc.) that are in high demand have eluded our technology for decades because they hatch very small. There are some pretty fish that are easy to raise: the 5 day old fish pictured at left were one of my favorites, but they came from large eggs and could eat brine shrimp nauplii when they hatched. My friend Linda found the eggs attached to a log at sea after a big storm. Can you guess what they are? A picture of them at 3 weeks is at the end of this page.

Most reef fish have not been raised because larval feeds need to be less than 50um in at least one dimension (smaller than rotifers). It is hard to find food that small that can be cultured dependably without fouling the larval environment. Shown with this damselfish larva are brine shrimp cysts, brine shrimp metanauplii, rotifers, copepodites and nauplii (not the first stage) of Euterpina acutifrons. The cluster of eggs at the top right fell off a Euterpina.

One of our larval feeds at Pacific Planktonics is the 1st stage copepod nauplius of E. acutifrons, shown here under attack by a 4 day old longnose butterflyfish (lnbff) larva. That's about the largest food that this class of fish will eat at first. Other small foods work, but they are harder to provide to larvae dependably in large quantity. Getting the larvae to eat (1 nauplius in gut of 2 day old lnbff) is not the end of the problem. These pictures were taken in 1981, so it has been possible to feed reef fishes for over 20 years. Water quality and food quality (and size and quantity) are issues that have only recently been solved.

Clockwise, from left are yellow tang eggs, day 7, day 13 side view, day 13 top view. These fish hatched May 5, 2004.

Picture above by Les. Long dorsal spine and pelvic fins develop by day 10. Larvae are 1cm long at 35 days, and spines reach caudal peduncle.
Why Yellow Tangs?

Hawaii exports several species of marine ornamental reef fishes, but the Yellow Tang Zebrasoma flavescens provides the bulk of our sales. This fish brings a reasonable wholesale price here because it is one of the few tropical fishes that is not found in Southeast Asia. Yellow Tangs are relatively abundant here, so they can be priced low enough for high volume retail sale.
Most Yellow Tangs are collected from West Hawaii. Due to public concern about diminished numbers, collection of tangs and other aquarium fish is now prohibited along 35% of Kona's coast. Aquaculture of this fish might take some of the pressure off of reef collection. This project is partially funded by the Pacific Tropical Ornamental Fish Project.


Australian Museum Larval Fishes.
Reef Culture Technology Frank Baensch's website.
Breeder's Net and Advanced Aquarist On-Line magazine
Manual on the Production and Use of Live Food for Aquaculture
larviculture newletter
Stockly's Aquariums
Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association
Kraul's Fish Links
Mark's Reef Page
Reefballs for artificial reefs
Dive/Yellow Tangs
Aquaria Central/Yellow Tangs
Secret Filtration Technology

Other Information:
Good journal articles on surgeonfishes include:
1. Jack Randall's " A contribution to the biology of the convict Surgeonfish of the Hawaiian Islands, Acanthurus triostegus sandvicensis." Pacific Science XV(2), 1961.
2. Bill Walsh's "Patterns of recruitment and spawning in Hawaiian reef fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 18(4). 257-276, 1987.
3. SEAGRANT's Makai May 2001 report on a Centropyge fisheri hatchery
4. Hawaii's Fishes John Hoover's books and CDs.

Mahalo nui to Lytha for scanning and digitizing these slides.
Here's the mystery fish again, 25 days old. Need another hint? Even though they were easy to feed, they all died by flying and getting stuck on the wall of my tank. Next time we'll use constant water spray to rinse them back into the water. Hawaiian name is malolo. Luis Magnasco says this is Hirundichtys spp.

Talk fish, email: Syd Kraul
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