Fish Introductions

A very common question we get is "Do the big fish eat the small fish?"  The answer is no. Well, not usually anyway. (It happens sometimes. These are wild animals, after all.) It's not completely avoidable, but we do our best to keep it to a minimum by following a few simple rules.

  1. Feed, feed, and feed some more. If the big fish aren't hungry they are less likely to graze. 
  2. Introduce new fish into the exhibit in acclimation enclosures. 

Here are some examples of these acclimation enclosures, from yesterday's addition of porkfish, jackknife fish, chromis and wrasses.

Originally a container for peppers, that green barrel houses a jackknife fish

We have a number of these cages—originally intended for poultry—well-hidden inside the GOT.  This one has 8 juvenile porkfish in it presently

Inside this barrel sponge (1 of 2 in the GOT) lives about 30 blue chromis

A closer look - when the chromis are released, the center aperture will be opened and they will exit when they feel ready
OK, and now for the mac daddy of acclimation enclosures.  This one is called a wrasse pen. Also known as a "Francisco" (our ex-intern who built 3 of these pens) or "Hanzl" (the architect) pen. Way back when the GOT was empty and all of our critters lived in the penguin exhibit, these pens were created to fit perfectly in its shallow waters. This one here is at 23' depth, the bottom of the GOT, so one modification had to be made—it needed a lid!

Wrasse pen sitting on the bottom of the GOT, in the area known as "turtle alley"

Diver Chris (uh, that's me) observing the wrasses in their new pen a few hours after introduction

Visitors and curators alike appreciate this finely constructed "Francisco"


Reef Residents: Balloonfish

It only seems fitting to do a feature on the balloonfish, since, well, it is a very prominent fish at the Aquarium these days... here's what I'm talking about:

The New Aquarium Experience billboard on the front of the building

Balloonfishes, Diodon holocanthus, are classified in Family Diodontidae, which includes porcupinefishes, burrfishes and swelltoads. Diodontidae literally means two-toothed, one upper and one lower. They use these teeth and strong jaws to crush their prey: hard-shelled invertebrates.

Balloonfish, Diodon holocanthus

Probably the coolest thing about balloonfishes is that they have the ability to inflate their bodies to twice their size by ingesting either water or air. This, along with the fact that their spines become erect during this inflation, is a defense mechanism, making them tougher to swallow by predators.

Speaking of eating, check out this video of me feeding krill to one of the balloonfishes in the GOT.

-- Chris