Su Wen-Ping is a real dark horse in the industry that really deserves tremendous applaud and accolades for the work that he is doing. Owner and founder of Bali Aquarich, Mr. Su and his company are well known for supplying high quality designer clownfish to the world over. Not only are they adept in their work and status in the industry, Mr Su has also single handedly changed the game with numerous “industry firsts” in the light of success regarding the rearing and raising of Platax pinnatus, Labroides dimidiatus, Holacanthus clarionensis, Chaetodontoplus duboulayi, Pomacanthus annularis and a whole slew of other species.
Trailblazing the aquaculture scene and having already mastered the art of clownfish production, Bali Aquarich began dabbling into Angelfish territory in the recent years and the results are nothing short of amazing. Being the first ever to raise some of these angelfish on an industrial scale is no small feat, especially if you’ve visited Bali Aquarich and walked the grounds. Having been there on numerous occasions, it still baffles me how everything is run and operated like a well oiled machine in the most unlikely of places, and in the most unexpected way.
Mr. Su, quiet and reserved as he may be, is on par with the likes of Karen Brittain, ORA, and many others in the aquaculture scene. Some might argue that he’s even an amalgamation of a few of these great entities, being able to combine angelfish rearing with mass scale production. With the seat still warm from his latest success with Holacanthus clarionensis, Mr. Su is back to claim that throne again with yet another industry first, this time of a second Holacanthus species.
The spawning and raising of H. passer in captivity makes this the first for its species and second for its genus. What you are looking at here are babies just past the one month post settlement mark. At this stage it is actually pretty remarkable how much coloration it is already showing, well enough to even put a guess right down to generic level even if you didn’t already know what they were.
The usual striations and coloration corresponding to a few species of juvenile Holacanthus is quite evident, and we won’t fault you if you’ve guessed H. ciliaris or H. bermudensis. These H. passer are babies of the first batch, with a little over twenty specimens representing this success. Note that all species, including the brood stock parents are housed, spawned and raised in large ceramic ponds and vessels that are not chilled. These are all left either in sheltered or unsheltered conditions at the mercy of the hot Balinese climate. If you had the idea that sensitive angelfish are only raised in space age laboratories with silver machines, you would be wrong. These, along with everything else, are housed in pools that are anything but sterile as you can see above.
The notion that a sterile environment for fish rearing is one that is best disproved by Bali Aquarich’s success.
It’s always a humbling experience visiting Mr. Su and his huge facility. Not to mention fun. Bali Aquarich is located in Singaraja, along the northern territory of Bali. An arduous four hour drive from the Bintang-slinget clad tourist district will see you passing beautiful mountains as you make your way to Mr. Su and his many feathered cavalier hat – which by now looks more like a large bird than anything else. That was supposed to be funny, please laugh.
I always enjoy the journey there more than anything else, and I can feel my mandarin improve leaps and bounds with each visit. I’m a terrible excuse for a Singaporean with a nearly non functional command of mandarin, and I can feel Mr. Su laughing at me every time I try. That being said, it’s adequate for a few questions over lunch.
As mentioned before these are photographed one month post settlement, and are the first images of this species as a captive raised offering. Mr. Su has been cautiously quiet about these, but felt that now is a good time to show them. We managed to get a few photos on our last visit just a couple days ago.
Seeing as this is only the second species of Holacanthus to be raised in captivity, there is little for Mr. Su to compare against and to go on for reference. The only other species in this genus to be bred successfully is H. clarionensis, which was also done by him. The growth rate is pretty much equal for the two species, but unlike H. clarionensis, H. passer develops a stronger coloration at an earlier stage.
We managed to get a photo of H. clarionensis in the same life stage, and the juvenile pictured above is at the same one month post-settlement mark. Notice the drastic lack of vertical barring in H. clarionensis as compared to H. passer. The ground colour is also more yellowish. The two species will grow up looking more homogenous in the juvenile stage.
Another noted difference between the two is their temperament. H. passer is well known for being an extremely bellicose species that is intolerant of conspecifics and most everything else. Even at this fingernail size it is not uncommon to see some light sparring on and off. With a pond to live in that could comfortably house me and a TV, the group of baby angels choose to huddle near the outlet of a pipe where they occasionally wrestle for the best spot.
What’s interesting is that the brood stock parents for both species are housed in the same body of water. Now both species are documented to hybridise in the wild, and it is not unlikely that this could happen in captivity too, especially with two fertile sets of parents in the same compound. In this case it is more likely to arise from accidental cross fertilisation more than anything else, seeing as each species is already pair bonded with its own kind.
It will take at least another three to four months before these babies reach marketable sizes, or for any unusual traits to start manifesting themselves. Until then, we wait with bated breaths for the continuous updates regarding these babies. We’re sure Mr. Su has more installed for us, and having been with him a couple of times, that’s actually not a far fetched idea.