Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not Too Happy: Wild Caught Banggai Cardinalfish

I recently had a client ask me to restock his 875 gallon aquarium with some more Banggai Cardinalfish since he had lost a few that I added nearly four years ago. The half a dozen that I added were from Rian & Arlan at UC Davis. See THIS post here that I did about their captive breeding success. Unfortunately the couple no longer breed the specie. I spent good time looking for a new source of the captive reared fish and their are plenty of suppliers out there; Inland Aquatics, ORA, Blue Zoo Aquatics and Branham Aqua Farms to name a few. My clients aquarium hosts many larger species, an Emperor Angel, Niger Trigger and Powder Blue Tang and I have seen them harass smaller new fish. After being unable to secure a tank bred specie of a LARGE size I was forced to go with the wild caught fish. I spent a good time talking with a multitude of salespeople in Los Angeles in an attempt to secure a half a dozen healthy fish. So I purchased 24 fish, twelve from two different suppliers. In less than a week, I had lost all two dozen fish.

There are many articles on the web about boycotting the specie. This one located on the Microcosm™ Aquarium Explorer website sums up the problems with importing the wild caught fish the best. "The mortality rate of wild Banggais is horrible. It is not uncommon to lose entire shipments of wild fish, and the ones that survive long enough to sell seem to last only weeks. The reason is still a bit unclear, but crowding, stress and holding conditions are the primary concerns. Banggai Cardinals are imported in huge batches, and their immune systems are likely overrun by disease, possibly a newly identified virus."

With the latest Coral Magazine featuring the "Mouthbrooder" species, I can imagine that many local fish stores will have an influx of customers looking for the specie. I hope that store owners will look into purchasing the easily bred Banggai. The male holds the fertilized eggs in his mouth through full development, and releases them as juveniles. Banggai Cardinals have a spawn size of anywhere from 12-43 fry, which develop in the male's mouth for 20-24 days. They will spawn every 30 days and it is not uncommon to observe this in the home aquarium. The juveniles emerge ready to take newly hatched brine shrimp. For these reasons, this is a species many home aquarists have bred and reared.

I will be purchasing a dozen of these wonderful fish next week from one of the suppliers listed above and will quarantine the fish until they are large enough to stock. And who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to have a fry.

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