Last weekend in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, well over 50 marine fish and invertebrate breeders from the US and Canada came together for the 2nd Annual MBI Breeder’s Workshop. This one-day conference was held at the Cranbrook Institute of Science situated on the beautiful Cranbrook campus.
This workshop is perhaps the only hobbyist-facing marine ornamental breeding event in the country, or maybe even the entire hemisphere. The MBI Workshop grew this year from a small 2 speaker event, to a full day with 5 speakers and lunch included. Informal ad-hoc gatherings both the evening before, and the day following, extended this one day event into a full-blown weekend for many attendees.
Several companies came together with donations and financial support for the MBI conference, including the MASNA Speaks Program, Reef Nutrition, Rod’s Food, Reef Hobbyist Magazine, Piscine Energetics, Drs. Foster & Smith, a last minute contribution by CORAL Magazine and no doubt, others as well. Individual contributions were also critical to the success of this event. As a matter of full disclosure, I should once again reiterate that I do sit on the MBI Council, a group of volunteers that helps build this program and handles day-to-day operations.
For those who didn’t make the 2011 MBI Breeder’s Workshop, here’s a rundown on what you missed.
Todd Gardner, of Atlantis Marine World, kicked off the talks with insights into how you tackle the unknown. His talk rounded things off with a recap of the 46 day success with Liopropoma basslets.
I gave a special MBI edition of my marine fishrooms talk. Other than a few tweaks and revisions, I’ll be giving this talk one more time at this year’s MACNA.
Jay Hemdal of the Toledo Zoo talked about their work in breeding a temperate species, the Boarfish. Interestingly, Jay relayed the collaborative approach to rearing this species with Altantis Marine World, who ultimately closed the cycle on this species. Perhaps the most interesting insight came from the fact that other than temperature differences, the techniques attempted were very similar to those we’d use with tropical marine fish.
After lunch, Randy Reed got us back into the action with an in-depth Rotifer talk.
Randy also gave us a sneak peak at the results of feeding trials for their forthcoming new breeder-line of larval and growout feeds.
Last up to close the day was Dr. Matthew L. Wittenrich. Of course, no conference would be complete without some sort of technical difficulties.
But, after a good laugh, Matt dug into a great history of where marine fish breeding has been, and where it needs to go. He closed with updates from his new role at the Rising Tide project (which we reported on just last week).
Wittenrich offered some insights into alternative approaches for larval feeding, honing in on the Mesocosm approach, where not only are larval fish stocked, but a myriad of food options allowing the larvae to selectively feed from a buffet of options. While this methodology may not have been viable a few years back, with the advent of commercially available new copepod varieties, this shotgun approach may help more breeders tackle previously difficult or unaccomplished species.
Of course, I should not forget what the MBI is really all about. At its core, the MBI is a marine breeders award program (BAP) in a universal format that any marine aquarium club or organization can participate in. For those of you familiar with the freshwater aquarium club circuit, no doubt you are already familiar with the concept of a BAP as most clubs have been running them for decades. However, marine breeding is still just starting out as a hobbyist activity, and that offered the perfect opportunity to learn from the pitfalls of traditional BAPs in order to create a modern, universal approach to the base concept.
So, for those who attended the MBI, MASNA sponsored this year’s Breeder’s Awards, recognizing participant’s achievements as they progress through the ranks of the MBI. Yes, even I was a little bit excited to have moved forward this year and to be recognized with the MBI’s first “Species First” award for my work with the Harlequin Filefish. To paraphrase Chad Penney (Co founder of the MBI for MASM), he had never seen such big smiles as people came up to accept their awards. While I can’t speak for all of us, I believe that outside of monetary gain, this recognition for achievement is one of the strongest motivating factors the hobby and industry can offer to encourage hobbyists to pursue the breeding of marine fish and invertebrates.
While a date for the 3rd annual Marine Breeder’s Workshop has yet to be set, I wait with eager anticipation. I already know that the crew behind the MBI Workshop is learning and listening to attendees with the express goal of making 2012 that much more of a success.