Raising Fish at the Aquarium

As promised in this blog post, we're returning to explain how we attempt to collect the eggs and raise damselfish!

Nocturnal pelagic egg collector

So, we were talking about raising damselfish from eggs laid right here in our Giant Ocean Tank (GOT). There are two main ways to collect eggs in the GOT. One way is with a floating device (seen above) used at night that picks up the eggs and larvae left behind by pelagic spawners. One such collection from the floating device seems to have collected a larval porkfish (which is not part of the damselfish breeding project but it does show that lots of fish are breeding in the GOT)!

Porkfish (photo credit: Brian Gratwicke via Wikimedia Commons)

The other collecting method is to go to damselfish nesting spots on the coral and scrape or suction the eggs off. Divers track and find the sessile eggs using flashlights and a mirror on a stick since they are often laid on the underside of corals as seen in this previous post.

Diver checking for sessile eggs using flashlight and mirror

They remove the eggs during the last dive of the day so that the eggs can be quickly sent to Roger Williams University. Depending on the species, divers may collect anywhere from 500 to 5,000 eggs at one time and the Aquarium has been able to send out eggs on almost a weekly basis.

Although much of this process is still in the trial-and-error stage, Roger Williams has had some success with raising the eggs and larvae and it is hope that at some point a certain percentage of our GOT fish will come from our very own breeding program. Until then everyone on the project is learning a great deal about how to raise many different species of larval fishes, which is contributing to the scientific data available throughout the world.

DID YOU KNOW? We received the Edward H. Bean Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for successfully raising a queen triggerfish! Check out a baby picture and video here.

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