The California Academy of Sciences is finding success in decompressing reef fish from depths around 300 ft. thanks to a unique hyperbaric decompression chamber that provides a safer alternative to piercing the swim bladder. The CAS’s Matt Wandell used a modified version of the chamber used by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to bring this Redstripe Anthias (Pseudanthias fasciatus) up from 300 ft that is now on display.
According to Wandell, the chamber is fairly simple in design and can bring a fish up to surface pressure in around 20 hours or so without having to put the fish at unnecessary risk from complications due to puncturing the swim bladder.
“It creates pressure by pushing water in with a diaphragm pump, then releasing it at a set pressure with an adjustable pressure relief valve,” he noted on his Facebook page. “This allows us to dial in exactly what pressure (depth) we hold the fish at while allowing flow through and provide constant clean water.”
Wandell had the insight and feedback to guide his build thanks to Joe Welsh of MBA, helping with the parts and planning to slim down the version as needed by the team at CSA for its recent Philippines expedition. The original design traces back to Jeff Smiley at the Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute and was typically used to decompress fish at the surface caught on a hook and line. With delicate deepwater reef fish caught while diving, Wandell and team designed this to be used underwater. The team is currently working on the next build that will allow them to decompress fish from depths up to 500 ft.
[Anthias photo by Tim Wong]