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, firstname.lastname@example.org.