Reef Builders is elated to bring you this news – the Liopropoma Event Horizon is within sight! 43 days post hatch! Check out those INSANE dorsal extensions, the first one like a string of weather balloons providing for buoyancy presumably! Nothing even comes close to the wild dorsal fin on this fish! Keep it up Todd Gardner; you are the man of the hour at the moment. All eyes (and good vibes) are on YOU and your tiny miracle in water! We’re not worthy! More on the story after the break.
The genus Liopropoma, the “Reef Basslets”, has long been a favorite at Reef Builders for its many rare and bejeweled species. One need only say “Candy Basslet” and any good caricature artist would draw Jake Adams drooling, with $$$ for pupils. Being secretive and often living deep, as well as naturally uncommon, these fish constantly fall into the category of bragging rights. It should come as no surprise that more than one marine fish breeder has set sights on this remarkable genus.
Ronald Thresher’s 1984 book, Reproduction in Reef Fishes, includes a remarkable illustration of a post-settlement larval Liopropoma. This outlined illustration of a 17 mm specimen shows that the first two dorsal rays are extremely extended, possibly twice as long as the total length of the fish itself. Marine breeder, author and MASNA 2010 Aquarist of the Year Matt Wittenrich set his sights on Liopropoma in the last decade. In his book, he clearly points to the genus as a worthwhile pursuit for the home hobbyist. Research suggested that these fish may even be simultaneous hermaphrodites. If that is the case, it proves to be a windfall for the breeder who chooses to work with the rare species of this genus, as often times it’s difficult simply to locate two specimens, let alone worry about what sex they might be. Matt Wittenrich is quick to point to the difficulties encountered with rearing these larvae and claims no success to date. The difficulties stem from feeding refusal and those crazy long dorsal fins.
Todd Gardner of Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead New York is now pushing the envelope even further. I believe he has surpassed Matt’s best successes at this point. At the time of this writing, Todd is at 43 days post hatch with larval Liopropoma. While he has largely stated that these are Liopropoma rubre, the beautiful Swissguard Basslet, Todd has relayed that in fact, there is an outside chance that the larvae (now getting their first bits of coloration) could also be from the aforementioned Candy Bass, Liopropoma carmabi.
With settlement possibly only days or hours away, the “Liopropoma Event Horizon” is now clearly within sight. As of today, Todd is down to one baby at 43 days, but as I like to say, it only takes one. He has many younger fish going as well, and each run seems to go longer than the last. Everyone here at Reef Builders is having heart palpitations…the thought of captive bred Liopropoma Basslets rivals, if not surpasses, many of the other possible pelagic spawning candidates folks often muse over. At this point, we all need to send good vibes to the handful of baby Reef Basslets in Todd Gardner’s care…collective good will may be the final missing link completing this crazy journey!
If the image of the old larvae above isn’t enough, check out the video of a 40 day post hatch larval Liopropoma Basslet, spawned and raised by Todd Gardner, shot by Chris Paparo and posted over on Youtube.