Just over two months ago we took delight in reporting that the highly coveted and gorgeous Clarion angelfish had been successfully bred and reared, in Bali, Indonesia of all places. From a distance it may seem odd that Holacanthus clarionensis would be propagated so, so far from home but when you realize that Bali Aquarich took the honor of being first, it’s no surprise that Mr. Wen Ping Su and his staff were able to raise this darling marine fish species.
Then, just about two weeks ago we visited Bali Aquarich for ourselves and got to see first hand the massive fish breeding enterprise at Bali Aquarich, how the broodstock are kept and conditioned, how the fish are raised and of course, the fruits of their labor being currently crowned by these never-been-in-the-wild Clarion angels.
We actually got to visit Bali Aquarich twice, first when we handled and filmed the pair of tiny H. clarionensis and then again later in the week when one of these little gems was packed up and fixing to travel to the UK too be received by Tropical Marine Centre. The neat thing about visiting the birthplace of the captive bred clarion angelfish (and Pinnatus batfish, and annularis angels, and cleaner wrasses, and galaxy clownfish) was that we really got a feel for how Bali Aquarich raises its fish, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the clean-room laboratory style settings that many other marine fish hatcheries aim for.
Where others aim for a very sterile environment aside from beneficial bacteria, Bali Aquarich fosters a very pro-biotic condition of marine ponds with natural seawater flowing and lots and lots of diverse life for young reef fish fry to feed on. The result of this more naturalistic approach is many first time breedings including the two species of angelfish, cleaner wrasses and some other fish that Mr. Su is hard at work to breed on a commercial scale.
The best part of seeing and studying Bali Aquarich was the eye opening idea that there are not two ways to rear marine aquarium fish in captivity, but there are many. Even without much collaboration between his peers, due mostly to language barriers, Mr. Su and the Bali Aquarich staff have had much success not only at rearing difficult species but also at raising and selling tens of thousands of clownfish which look really great, even the domesticated ones. We have been infused with faith in the prospects for captive fish breeding and it will only be a matter of time before challenging species like surgeonfish and tangs are commonly available captive bred all over the world.