We want to thank Matthew L. Wittenrich for contributing the following post. Matt is the author of Breeder’s Guide to Marine Fish and he is the founder of the awesome Aquatic Pixels website.Â Photo of Queen trigger larvae by Andy Rhyne
Today’s marine aquarium hobby has come a long way since the first pioneers attempted raising coral-reef fishes in plywood boxes. Recent years have met a huge surge of hobby-level and scientific interest in raising marine ornamental fishes for profit, self satisfaction, and research. Each year more and more success stories are uncovered and shared, and with each success comes renewed excitement that coral-reef fishes are not impossible to breed in captivity after all. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the hobby as a whole is sharing in this excitement and coming closer to our common goal of sustainability by sharing in the passion that is the marine aquarium hobby. It is no longer uncommon for hobbyists in Colorado and Iowa to be successful in raising dottybacks, gobies and clownfish and more exotic captive bred species are introduced to the trade each year.
One of the major bottlenecks of commercial propagation is the heavy reliance on easy-to-culture food organisms such as rotifers and Artemia. This has greatly limited the number of captive bred species making their way into the trade and slowed the progress of achievement overall. Mother Nature is a dynamic and complicated setting that surely can not be replicated with foregin foods and glass boxes. Recently, Dr. Andrew Rhyne, a research scientist at the New England Aquarium and Assistant Professor at Roger Williams University began experimenting with new rearing methods and food organisms for coral-reef fishes. In an unprecendented collobaration Dr.Rhyne has access to dozens of species spawning in the aquariums cumulatively millions of gallons of seawater. It is an incredible accomplishment to mesh the various disciplines of science and hobby into a common arena of sharing so that we all may learn and become inspired. Not many of us have access to an aquarium large enough to house spawning pairs of triggerfish, aggregations of permit, spadefish, butterflies and angels, but for Andy Rhyne this is his playground.
Andy has recently begun posting some of these journeys on MOFIB and I encourage everyone to pay close attention to these stories. Perhaps most interesting is the pair of queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula) that spawn in the aquariums Giant Ocean Tank. So far the queen trigger larvae are 11 days old and represent a significant leap in the direction of collaboration and helping unravel the mysteries of coral-reef fish reproduction. I am personally, very excited to follow Andy’s daily struggle to bring the first captive raised triggers through to metamorphosis as these techniques will surely apply to other difficult to rear species.
Andy Rhyn’es queen trigger journey can be found here: http://www.marinebreeder.org/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=190&t=5375