Captive breeding continues to grow in many ways, and one of the newest barometers of captive-breeding influence might be the amount of pelagic-spawning marine fishes becoming routinely commercially available. Fisheye’s Jonathan Foster really hits this point home, stating that here in the US, both Proaquatix and Fisheye currently have pelagic-spawning species in commercial production with four species each.
ORA was for a time producing two pelagic spawning species as well (Synchiropus splendidus and S. picturatus), although these have since left production. Nevertheless, add to this the growing count from Bali Aquarich overseas, as well as past and present offerings from other Asian producers. There are now well over a dozen of the arguably most difficult types of fish to rear now in commercial production.
The latest in this growing list, is the addition of captive-bred Porkfish, Anisotremus virginicus, introduced this week by Fisheye Aquaculture, adding to their offerings of pelagic spawners including French and Smallmouth Grunts, and Monodactylus sebae. A few years back, Fisheye Aquaculture successfully produced porkfish in conjunction with eggs provided by the Rising Tide Conservation / Tropical Aquaculture Lab at University of Florida / Seaworld. As Foster tells it, “ever since we first raised porkfish from Sea World eggs, I have had requests for aquacultured porkfish.”
Of course, Fisheye’s success didn’t come easy. Foster continued, “Our breeders are large, averaging between 12″-15″, and weighing up to 2lbs! Feeding these fish a fresh mix of meaty seafood is a costly expense. They’re also aggressive…towards each other, and to the hands that feed them. For the past three years we have been conditioning them, and trying scenario after scenario….every attempt to convince them to spawn failed. I was certain these fish must need an aquarium the size of a small family home (that’s the size of the display at Sea World that we originally got eggs from) and that wasn’t feasible at our facility.”
It turns out, Foster’s problem wasn’t space related, but as he relays, a change in broodstock diet was the missing key. For obvious reasons, Fisheye will be keeping what they changed to themselves, but let this be yet another anecdotal example of how broodstock diet can have a huge influence on reproduction.
Captive-bred Porkfish will be available very soon. The question is, will public aquaria be snatching them all up, or will hobbyists get a chance too?! While Porkfish may not be for everyone, they are stunning adults well suited for larger fish only aquariums (not unlike other popular captive-bred pelagic-spawners like Lookdowns).