Justin Perlow is a rare fish enthusiast who previously shared with us his yellow anthias and orange-margin butterflyfish. This time J-dog is back with an awesome story of how he came to own possibly one of the coolest, aquarium-suitable sharks in the sea.
The chain catshark, Scyliorhinus retifer, is a fish I wanted for years but to have one I would need a baby or eggs. For years I searched high and low but never was able to find the chain catshark. Sometimes when you really want a rare fish, it doesn’t suffice to have a pile of money because luck can play a bigger role in finding it.
On August 1st, 2009 I was headed for a two day canyon/off-shore wreck fishing trip. On the second day we stared to do our wreck fishing about 90 miles off shore when my fishing line became stuck in 800 feet of water. After working on the line for about 10 min I gave up and went to go break the line. I wrapped the line around the reel and told the captain to move the boat forward.
The fishing line stretched to its breaking point and all of a sudden, I felt it moving with the boat. The fishing line was extremely heavy now so I put it in the rod holder on the boat and started to reel in my catch. I figured that my fishing line had snagged a part of the wreck. To my amazement when I reeled the line all the way to the surface I was surprised to see an 8ft conger eel (Conger conger) that appeared to be all wrapped up in a mat of Sargassum. I knew that it couldnt be an algae mat because sargassum seaweed is only found on the surface.
Once I cut the eel out of the tangle and set it free I started looking over the grass looking stuff. I picked it all up and placed it in a bucket. Then I grabbed the hose to clean off the deck when I saw something out of the corner of my eye wiggling around on the deck. I went over and picked it up and to my amazement it was a baby chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer).
Once I had the baby catshark in another bucket with water, I went back to the other bucket with all the grass in it. Upon closer inspection of the brownish mat I noticed that it wasn’t Sargassum at all, it was a cluster of chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) eggs!
The only eggs that survived the ascent were the eggs that were only yoke with no embryo; all the others including the shark that was found on the deck died due to decompression issues. Two eggs were placed in my deep water tank that is kept at a temperature of 68-70F. The other five pups were placed in a 24G aquapod that was kept 62-64F. The first egg hatched November 9th, 2009.
The second egg hatched November 19th, 2009. Both eggs were in my deep water tank that was kept 68-70F. The next three hatched within a day of each other starting January 10-12th, 2010 in the aquapod that was kept at 62-64F. As of this writing I now have 5 chain catshark pups and 2 more eggs waiting to hatch. All sharks are currently doing great and eating mysis shrimp two times a day.
As I wait for the last two to hatch every time I see them I smile and remind myself you never know what treasures you might find, even if it by accident.