Trachinops taeniatus, the Eastern Hulafish, is the latest species-first in the marine breeding world to be claimed by ORA (Oceans Reefs & Aquariums). We have good reason to celebrate the introduction of this rarely available temperate fish as captive bred. Details have yet to be shared regarding HOW the species is propagated, but it’s worth noting that the Hulafish are relatives of the Assesors and Comets (Marine Bettas), both of which are groups now routinely available as captive-bred fish.
A few years ago the Eastern Hulafish, a temperate-water endemic to New South Wales, Australia, made some brief appearances in the aquarium trade, most notably coming through the LiveAquaria Diver’s Den (at least one specimen recently was sold in October, 2013, but more in 2010 and 2011). It’s never a common fish, but has a lot going for it.
The Eastern Hulafish is active, peaceful, likes its own kind, and stays small (3 to 4 inches). The biggest detractor might be it’s “temperate” or “coldwater” species status – for example check out the specimen living in Steve Weast’s 55F coldwater reef from 2011. That said, more than one reference suggests that the native habitat of the Eastern Hulafish can reach temperatures in the upper 70F range, one local Aussie even suggested 81F as a natural extreme.
ORA’s announcement today suggests 78F as a good maximum temperature, and notes that the broodstock used for breeding is kept under the same conditions as their other tropical broodstock, ultimately stating that the Eastern Hulafish is “somewhat forgiving in regards to temperature”. If you are running your reef on the cooler side, this species is sure to make an eye-catching addition, particularly if kept in groups as it should be.
This species will require frequent feedings with smaller foods, particularly when kept at warmer temperatures (which elevate metabolism). ORA recommends “copepods, artemia, small pellets and flake”; one surefire addition we’d like to suggest are fish and prawn eggs, particularly Nutramar Ova.
ORAs care recommendations should be carefully considered. “Eastern Hulafish have very placid dispositions and it is not recommended to keep them with boisterous tankmates such as dottybacks. Their fast swimming habits make them susceptible to jumping out of aquaria that are not properly covered. If these conditions are considered and the water temperature is kept below 78 degrees Fahrenheit in their tank, our experience suggests they will do quite well in reef aquaria.”