Blog, captive bred fish

Reflections in Aquaculture

captive-bred-yellow-tangs1

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of our Aqua cultured Yellow tangs I am taken back to a year ago. When i opened an email from Segrest farms that talked about the first aquacultured yellow tangs being available for sale. I remember telling my mom and dad about it and thinking that we had to get some. It was such an amazing piece of history.
I had no idea in that moment that our lives would shift to a different path. One with endless opportunities and one of giving back to this amazing industry that has been our life for years. In the past year we have brought in so many amazing aquacultured species and our goal is 100 % aquacultured fish.

I love how this industry is at a turning point and that there is so much support. Rising Tide Conservation is the driving force behind this turning point. They have been a part of these historic accomplishments and continue to lead the way in research and most of all education of the public. This is where we need to really step up. Aquacultured fish are an amazing accomplishment and have changed the industry forever, but all of that work will be nothing without the education of the public to buy these fish. We need to shout from the rooftops how amazing aquacultured fish are and how they are healthier and happier, how they will not only survive, but thrive! We need to tell the story of Tango our captive bred pacific blue tang. We need to make it known that the oceans are dying and if we want our kids and grand kids to know what its like to have saltwater fish, then captive bred fish have to be the answer.

Our Yellow tangs have been here a year and are thriving, not surviving. How could they not thrive? All they know is aquarium life.  They eat frozen food, pellets, flakes, nori, and any other type of food we throw in there. They are not afraid of us. I imagine that they do not look out longingly and think of ocean life, they just keep swimming.

Maybe the 14 year old clown fish tells them stories from her ocean days but she likely has forgotten them too. I can imagine the tangs all sitting in their caves tucked in after the lights are out and listening to her stories, in awe. Maybe she had adventures like Marlin and Dory did. Maybe she tells of the day she was caught and thrown into a tank. Whatever the story is I hope its epic.

These are the days we will look back on in history and our story could go one of two ways.

The first could be:

Wow the beginning of the century sure was great for aquatic life and that’s when we started to get serious and save the oceans. Aquarium fish are now being mostly raised in captivity, and everyone can still enjoy them in their homes.

Here is the second way it could go.

Wow they made such advancements in aquacultured fish back then but not enough people cared and bought them.  Now the only way to see these beautiful fish is in public aquariums, or in books and online. Home aquariums are a thing of the past.

These two scenarios are of course extremes, but they can turn into reality if we don’t change our ways.

I support aquaculture, will you?

Blog, captive bred fish

Why is aquaculture the future?

We love the ocean and everything it has. We love it so much we want a piece of it in our own homes. We make movies about sea adventures of fish that are box office masterpieces. We write books about sea adventures in the deep with scary sea creatures. A vacation paradise usually starts with white sandy beaches and reading a good book while listening to the waves crash on the shore. We walk for  miles on the beach collecting remnants of ocean life in the form of empty shells or starfish that have washed up on the sand.

The ocean is vast and undiscovered. There is more water on our planet then land. I think we need to keep her as healthy as we can, don’t you? There have been changes in the oceans lately, but they are not good. Coral reefs have been dying and that is pretty serious. Fish live on the coral reefs and they need each other to survive. We all know that this is a big problem but we are not sunk yet. Biologists are working hard to figure this out. They are also working hard to make coral farms in the ocean. A lot of the corals that are in fish tanks these days are aquacultured or (raised in captivity). This is great news for coral keepers and coral in general.

Some coral frags that we have had at our store

Many people will not care about fish in an aquarium and will think that they only belong in the ocean. That is a fine opinion, but not at all realistic. Human beings are so infatuated with the sea and sea creatures. It makes sense that you see aquariums in so many hospitals, doctor’s offices, and children’s hospitals. A fish tank is so relaxing. They can calm down a scared child, lower blood pressure, help with anxiety, and more. Public aquariums are always a busy place that captivate anyone. So let’s think about what would happen if we leave all the fish in the ocean. Everything I just said would be gone unless you raise these fish in captivity.

Our trip to the Long Island Aquarium

Aquacultured or captive bred means that these fish or corals are raised in closed systems where they can monitor water quality, food intake, temperature of water and more. These fish are acclimated to live in these conditions that vary from ocean life. They are given the perfect environment to spawn and everything is documented so this can happen again and again. The eggs are collected and put into a different tank. These researchers have to figure out what the newly hatched baby fish (called fry) will eat. Then they wait, and see who will survive. Many people don’t understand why fish are still taken from the ocean, but here is why. There is so much research that goes into successful captive breeding. Lots of trial and error also, because each type of species may need different food, water movement, temperature or  whatever else.

Three of the first aquacultred Yellow Tangs from the Oceanic Institute in Hawaii.

These amazing people are really trying to get these fish bred in quantity but it takes money and time. Its not just researchers that are making a difference. There are many hobbyists that are trying their hand at captive breeding too and making huge leaps. The industry is also on the right track as a whole.

Aqua cultured Banggai Cardinal

I think one of the biggest challenges is education of the public. Education that most saltwater fish are still wild caught. Education to choose the aquacultured fish over wild caught even though they cost more. Education to demand better from the average pet store or online retailer. Most stores don’t carry aquacultured fish because they don’t think they will sell. We need to convince them that yes they will sell. One organization is a shining star in this education. Rising Tide Conservation is amazing, they work so hard on educaton of the public. They are also the driving force behind all the tangs being aquacultured and so many other fish.

Tango one of the first aquacultured pacific blue tangs

This is where Tango comes in. One of the 27 original aquacultured pacific blue tangs. So many people have been educated at our store and through our blogs about the importance of aquaculture. Most of our customers will choose them over wild caught when they have a chance because we educate them. Tango is our shining star and the face of aquaculture. Tango is the future and Aquaculture is the future!

Blog, captive bred fish

Tango the Tang: One of the first Captive Bred Pacific Blue Tangs

bluetangbreeding0008

Once in a lifetime a fish comes along that changes everything……

Some people wont see our passion about these fish and some people wont care about a fish raised in captivity. But those people don’t see the future in the eyes of this Pacific Blue Tang that is swimming around in my tank. I look at this fish and I see the future of our hobby. I see my daughter and her sons or daughters sitting in their living room staring at these fish that are all raised in captivity. They do not know the harsh journey that a wild caught fish goes through to get to their tank. I see people forgetting that we ever took fish from the ocean and the ocean flourishing again. I see the fish in the future happy and healthy because of this tang staring at me. The reason I am so passionate about aquaculture is all about the fish. They are the reason I come to work everyday. Now for a fish geek like me, it doesn’t get any better then the first aqua cultured tangs. Look what aquaculture did for the clown fish. They were almost an endangered species and now they flourish. Being aqua cultured took the pressure off of the wild clownfish and made a sustainable source for the hobby. This is why its so amazing and important. I love showing our customers all of our aqua cultured fish. The list is getting longer and now I can introduce them to aquaculture with Tango our Pacific Blue Tang.

Aqua cultured or captive bred means that they were bred, hatched, and raised up in aquariums. They were not taken from the ocean so they are usually stronger.

blue-tang-eggs
Tango and his siblings as eggs…Cute huh?
blue-tang-5dph
5 days after hatching
blue-tang-29dph
At 29 days after hatching

I have to say this is not the first tang breakthrough that we have displayed in our store. You cannot forget the amazing work they did with the aqua cultured yellow tang months before. The three aqua cultured yellow tangs in our 150 display tank are a thing of beauty and they helped to unlock the key to success for the aqua cultured Pacific Blue Tang.

 

Blog, captive bred fish

Aquacultured Yellow Tangs

featured-yellow-tang-pic

Walking around anywhere that has a saltwater aquarium you will hear excited little voices say “Look, I found Nemo” and “There is Dory”! The next fish they will recognize is Bubbles the yellow tang. He was the one in the the aquarium obsessed with the bubbling ornament.

The yellow tang is one of the most recognized saltwater fish by children and adults alike. That bright yellow color is what makes them a staple in most home aquariums. What most people dont realize is that there are very few captive bred saltwater fish, most of them come right from the ocean. Luckily there are aquariums and research facilities out there working very hard to change this. The most recent triumph was 10 years in the making, they have successfully bred yellow tangs in captivity. The Oceanic Institute in Hawaii won the prize.

After months of special care and love the captive bred babies were ready to go to their new homes. Most of them went to public aquariums and research centers. 3 swam their way to their new home at Colchester Pet.  We are so honored and excited to have these special and historic fish at our store. They live in a 150 gallon reef tank with Jock (the shrimp) and Nemo.

If we keep taking these popular fish out of the ocean for our own aquariums then someday there wont be any left. There is still a long way to go until we have captive bred yellow tangs in every fish store, but at least its a start on the way to “Saving Bubbles”.