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by Chatham Callan, research associate, Finfish Dept

 

The predominant source of marine aquarium fish is a wild collection from coral reefs, as less than 5 percent of all marine ornamental fish are commercially cultured. Astonishingly, an estimated 30 million tropical marine fish, comprising more than 1,000 species, are harvested from the world’s coral reefs annually. Of these, between eight and 15 million are sold in the United States every year. The majority of exports into the aquarium trade are from developing nations such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. All of the yellow tangs sold in the trade originate from our backyard right here in Hawai‘i.

Research at Oceanic Institute, an HPU affiliate, seeks to develop culture technologies for raising these highly prized fish in captivity, in order to reduce pressures on the local environment. OI already developed technologies for rearing the flame angelfish, another Hawaiian marine ornamental species. By utilizing the knowledge attained developing culture methods for angelfish, we hope to be able to develop techniques for raising yellow tang. Some challenging areas of research include:

· Developing and maintaining robust broodstock populations to consistently supply us with high quality eggs,

· Recreating the correct environmental parameters to ensure high survival during the early larval stages, and

· Identifying appropriate first-feed organisms for the very tiny (about 2 mm) larvae as they are ready to feed.

Despite these challenges, we believe the development of culture technologies for yellow tang, and other marine ornamental species, will facilitate the sustainable continuation of the marine aquarium industry while helping to protect our ocean environment.

For volunteer or internship opportunities, contact Gary Karr, director of communications and education, at 259-3146, gkarr@oceanicinstitute.org.

 

 

 

 

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