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by Dee Montgomery-Brock, Oceanic Institute


At Oceanic Institute, an affiliate of Hawai‘i Pacific University, a breeding program of ornamental fish species is underway within the Finfish Department. Researchers Chad Callam and Melissa Carr are joined by colleagues in trying to find out the best ways to breed, hatch, and sustain fish such as the flame angel and the yellow tang.

Because the demand for beautiful and exotic oriental fish continues to grow, Oceanic Institute is pursuing ways to help raise these fish in captivity. Successful breeding would mean not having to harvest wild fish from reefs that are dangerously close to depletion and where there are no regulations in effect.

Importing and breeding freshwater ornamental fish is an increasingly lucrative aquaculture practice in Hawai‘i. Unfortunately, on occasion, fish enter Hawai‘i carrying parasites, resulting in the infection of healthy fish within our ornamental fish populations. Many times an aquaculturist will treat the compromised fish without full knowledge of what disease they are treating.

Through funding provided by CTSA (Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture), a survey is being conducted on fresh-water fish imported into Hawai‘i. Ideally, the outcome of this survey will provide valuable information to the ornamental fish culturists as to what pathogens are entering their facilities. Also, we hope to provide information to government agencies regarding what parasites are being introduced into Hawai‘i as they are imported with ornamental fish populations.

Today, 360 imported freshwater ornamental fish have been examined for the presence of parasites. The 360 specimens were from 14 different species of fish that originated from such locales as Malaysia, Singapore, Ecuador, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the United States. The work plan called for the examination of the gills, skin, intestine, kidney, liver, spleen, gall bladders, muscle, and brain of each fish.

Parasites were observed only on the skin, gills, and in the intestine. No parasites were observed in the other organs or muscles. Ciliates, flagellates, and monogenean trematodes were observed microscopically on the skin and gills of seven species of fish. A flagellate was observed in the intestine of one species of fish.

Those intrigued by such research are encouraged to explore the possibilities of an internship at Oceanic Institute. Contact Gary Karr, director of education and communications, at 259-3146, or e-mail gkarr@oceanicinstitute.org.





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