The South-East Asian countries are well known for the global impact they have on the greater aquaculture industry. Majority of the aqua-cultured livestock in the S.E Asian market includes food fish and freshwater ornamentals, with a much smaller focus on the saltwater industry. Case in point – Singapore. Being a very small country with one of Asia’s largest appetite for ornamental fish, the need for aqua culture becomes pivotal, especially in the saltwater fish segment.
In recent years, two post graduate local breeders from the school of Marine Biology and Aquaculture of James Cook University, Townsville Australia, have begun turning their interest of aquaculture into a sustainable dream.
Owner of the 6 gallon SPS tank, JunKai Ong has also bred the nefarious Cypho purpurascens. Joined by Russell Ee, the two breeders from Singapore started as a joint venture between Reef Estuary LLP and Aquafauna Supplies. Their aquaculture facility started out as a R&D ground for clownfish genetics, and progressed to successful attempts at breeding and producing many of the sought after designer clownfishes to satisfy the local market.
Some of the clownfishes bred for sale include the Black ocellaris, Black Ice and various other percula clowns. What’s nice to know is that JunKai and Russell have other species in their broodstock arsenal, including a pair of very unique Thiellei clownfish.
Apart from clownfish, several species of dottybacks and gobies have been bred and sold, such as Pseudochromis flavivertex, Pseudochromis fridmani and Elacatinus oceanops. Although the facility isn’t full scale and large, the basic equipment and set up is proper enough to culture and sell these marine ornamentals on a small scale basis, with just enough to meet the local demands.
The success and income generated from the breeding and supply of these fish have prompted JunKai and Russell to venture into a SeaHorse conservation project. Having successfully bred and raised Hippocampus barbouri, they are currently attempting with H. reidi, H. erectus and H. zosterae.
As far as we know, H. zosterae has not been imported into Singapore until now, and this could be one of the few shipments of this species in S.E Asia as well. With the bloodline and brood stock of H. zosterae now in custody, it is with hope that future progeny of this species can be obtained via captive breeding, and this would hopefully provide an ex-situ conservation alternative for this species, which was in danger of extinction during the 2010 BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico.
Junkai and Russell are doing a great job here locally but they are still looking for opportunities to collaborate with larger conservational organizations with regards to aqua culture projects that could lessen the burden on wild caught populations. Although a small step in the master plan of global conservation efforts and aqua culture, it is by no means unrecognizable. It is great that more hobbyists are taking the initiative to conserve what is in the ocean and we would like to applaud the efforts of JunKai and Russell, as well as all other breeders in their respective countries. For more information, you can contact Russell or JunKai at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively.