Researchers hatchOceanic Institute scientists have achieved another aquaculture breakthrough -- raising the ornamental flame angelfish in captivity.
angelfish in captivity
The Oceanic Institute raises flame
angelfish from the larval
stage -- an aquaculture first
By Helen Altonn
Leading research on the popular, high-value aquarium fish were Charles Laidley, reproductive specialist, and Robin Shields, larval physiologist.
They obtained natural spawns of flame angelfish, Centropyge loriculus, and nurtured the larvae through the hatchery. Their first babies are about 3 months old.
Laidley and Shields last year achieved the first recorded spawns of red snapper in captivity and the first spawning outside the red snapper's natural reproductive season.
Anthony Ostrowski, the institute's finfish program manager, said the scientists now are applying their expertise in food fish aquaculture technology to the culture of ornamental fish.
"The key to this recent success was in culturing suitable microscopic organism (zooplankton) as prey for the angelfish larvae," he said, explaining conventional diets are too large for the tiny larvae.
He said ongoing research to isolate plankton from the reef environment "will benefit the culture of other difficult marine ornamental and food fish species, such as deepwater snappers."
Researchers at the Makapuu institute and Waikiki Aquarium are collaborating on the work, he said. Other groups of flame angelfish are expected this year in continuing research in larval rearing and captive reproduction.
Scientists at the institute recently obtained the first recorded fertilized natural spawns of yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, under aquaculture conditions and recorded early development of the larvae.
Ostrowski said, "The challenge now for our researchers is to convert these early achievements into reliable technology that will allow commercial cultivation of high-value species such as the flame angelfish and yellow tang."
He said these developments will enhance employment opportunities and reduce the impact on Hawaii's coral reef ecosystem by the aquarium trade.
Research seed money from the National Marine Fisheries Service and Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture allowed "a rapid advance in the field of marine ornamental fish culture," Ostrowski said.
"We are now ready to go forward to the next stage of research and development of this important technology," he said.