It seems that breeding news comes in spurts. While the vast majority of marine fish have never been spawned in captivity, with even a smaller fraction being reared, it is undeniable that the early 21st Century is proving to be the next rennaisance in tropical marine aquaculture.
With news of Regal Tangs possibly being reared in Taiwan by a governmental organization, Frank Baensch’s success at Reef Culture Technologies breeding the Crosshatch Triggerfish, Todd Gardner’s Reef Basslet success at the Long Island Aquarium, and the collaborative efforts via Rising Tide producing a near win with breeding the Schooling Bannerfish immediately followed up by the successful first captive-bred Koran Angelfish, one might think that breeding breakthroughs are only happening on the commercial and institutional level this year.
And then you stumble across Darren Nancarrow (CaptCrash), a hobbyist who manages to spawn, incubate and hatch the Regal Blue Tang, Paracanthurus hepatus, using nothing other than standard hobby equipment. But the most important part – he doesn’t have the 20,000 gallon reef tank of Joe Yaiullo, no sir. His broodstock reside in a community reef tank of approximately 175 gallons (roughly 70″ x 24″ x 24″). And even more surprising, the pair of fish was only together for about 18 months before he had his first reported spawning in May of 2011. Only now has CaptCrash made himself known via his breeding journal on the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI) website, and the early egg and prolarval photographs being shown are simply amazing.
Even if he makes it no further, let this be a lesson that marine breeding is not only the domain of commercial entities and large institutions – real progress and discoveries are made every day by the hobbyist. Even more important is the revelation that these fish produced viable, fertilized eggs in a tank that was only 24 inches deep – yet another example that is suggestive that perceived insufficient tank height may not necessarily cause fertility problems for pelagic spawning fishes.
Be sure to follow CaptCrash’s Regal Blue Tang breeding journal on the MBI – with a bit of luck and perserverance maybe he could be the first to rear a tang at home! We wish him the absolute best luck should he try, and if he succeeds, you can be sure you’ll hear about it here on Reef Builders.