Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Update on Yellow Tang Research at OI

It’s been about a year since we reported our best success to date with rearing yellow tang, having gotten larvae through to day 83. Since then we’ve had some repeated successes getting the larvae past the first month or so, but never any quite as far along as that cohort from last January. Frustratingly, we seem to have taken a few steps backward again (as seems more common in this field than not), and are now struggling to keep the larvae going past the first week.  We have been revisiting the protocols used from that successful period to ask a lot of questions pertaining to why that worked then, and not now.
Yellow Tang larvae reared at OI. A=14 dph, B=24 dph, C=36 dph,
D=45 dph, E=50 dph, F=60 dph. Scale bar = 1mm

Hawaii Pacific University Graduate Students (left to right) Aurora Burgess, 
Emma Forbes & Erin Pereira-Davison
I have a great group of ambitious graduate students working on some key aspects of this challenge. Emma Forbes is focusing her research on the microbial community associated with the live feeds and rearing environment, which may have huge effects on larval survival.  Erin Pereira-Davison is investigating several key environmental parameters that could affect first feeding success. She’s looking at the effects of photoperiod, light intensity, turbidity and prey density on first feeding in the larvae. Aurora Burgess will be focusing on the development of the feeding mechanisms in the early larvae, and how this development impacts prey selectivity and feeding ability. She will also be looking at alternative prey items from the wild, compared to our cultured copepods, and testing their use in the culture process.  On top of all this, we have also recruited new broodstock from partner institutions in Hawaii and have recently obtained good spawns from these new stocks.  This will help us determine if perhaps our recent challenges are egg quality-related.

All of these projects working together will hopefully reveal some important insights into the culture processes that will help us better understand the unique requirements of these larvae. Stay tuned for updates from our work, and hopefully some more success to report soon!


The Rising Tide crew at the Oceanic Institute 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rising Tide Has A Facebook Page!!!

Rising Tide has caught up to the times and, thanks to Huntley, finally has a facebook page.  We're only a week old so there's not a lot on there, but it'll fill up fast.  It's a great way to keep up with all the things going on at Rising Tide facilities that may or may not make it on the blog.  There will also be a link posted on the facebook page every time something is posted on the blog.  Below is the link to the page, check it out and pass it on to your friends.

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rising-Tide-Conservation/850675348332972

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Breaking The Internet: Check Out Our Wrasses! (safe for work)

As mentioned in our previous post, six adult melanurus wrasses (3 male, 3 female) were moved to the Tropical Aquaculture Lab back in February.  After settling into their new environment and being offered a conditioning diet of LRS Reef Frenzy, PE mysis shrimp and Otohime EP1 pellets, the wrasses have quickly got back into their routine of spawning nearly every night.  While we continue to work through some kinks in production, we wanted to share some of our excitement with our latest group of captive bred melanurus wrasses.  

Video 1:  Melanurus wrasse broodstock spawning at dusk.  Notice in slow motion all three males can be seen making an attempt at fertilizing the female’s eggs.

Figure 1.  10 dph melanurus wrasse larva.

Figure 2. 14 dph melanurus wrasse larva. 

Figure 3. 36 dph melanurus wrasse juveniles.

Video 2:  Melanurus wrasse juveniles, 36dph.

The Rising Tide Team at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Huntley Penniman Joins Rising Tide

A student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I’m currently working through a Masters program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.  I graduated from Boston College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and shortly thereafter, began working for the Navy Marine Mammal Program, where I have been fortunate enough to work with an awesome group of California sea lions and bottlenose dolphins.

After graduation, I hope to explore the realm of business and marketing within the marine conservation community. There’s some incredible research being done, and I would like to help bridge the gap between the science and the public. It’s a steep learning curve, but my goal is to focus on market research and social media for Rising Tide – so please stay tuned to like the up-and-coming Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

In my time away from studies, I enjoy continuing to work for the Navy Marine Mammal Program, hitting the trails with our two horses, and working my way down an ever-increasing list of must-reads.

I look forward to working with the Rising Tide Conservation team to help develop marketing material and getting the word out about Rising Tide’s incredible work. Rising Tide is accomplishing game-changing research, and I’m grateful for this amazing opportunity!

Huntley Penniman

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pomacanthus Angelfish Update

One of our first Rising Tide successes was harvesting eggs from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (CZA), shipping them to UF’s Tropical Aquaculture Lab, and successfully raising what turned out to be semicircle angelfish.  We had samples from that first cohort DNA analyzed for identification.  We have since raised multiple cohorts shipped to us from CZA; which has been well documented in previous blog posts (late 2011-early 2012).  Ramon Villaverde at CZA has also raised multiple cohorts of angelfish in house.  When space got limited we arranged for those juvenile angelfish to be sent to public aquariums which not only had adequate space to house them, but also could effectively inform the public about Rising Tide’s endeavors.  We were always curious what other Pomancanthus species (if any) may be spawning in that exhibit.  During that time CZA housed two Pomacanthus semicirculatus, two P. annularis, one P. asfur, one P. imperator, two P. maculosus, and two P. xanthometapon in their Discovery Reef exhibit.  We have kept some angelfish from those previous spawns and although we definitely have some semicircle angelfish, we also have angelfish displaying coloration not indicative of that species.  Below you will find a series of photographs of angelfish on display in public aquariums as well as some from our own facility.  Tell us what you think?
Figure 1.  Angelfish (2-3 years old) on display at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Photo credit: Ramon Villaverde.

Figure 2.  Two angelfish (2-3 years old) on display at SeaWorld Orlando. Photo credit: Joe Moynihan.

Figure 3.  Angelfish (2-3 years old) on display at SeaWorld Orlando. Photo credit: Joe Moynihan.

Figure 4.  Angelfish (~2 years old) on display at SeaWorld San Antonio. Figure 4 and 5 are the same fish.  Photo credit: Nick Ireland.

Figure 5.  Angelfish (~2 years old) on display at SeaWorld San Antonio. Figure 4 and 5 are the same fish.  Photo credit: Nick Ireland.

Figure 6.  Angelfish (~1.5 years old) kept at UF's Tropical Aquaculture Lab. Photo credit: Kevin Barden.

Figure 7.  Angelfish (~3 years old) kept at UF's Tropical Aquaculture Lab. Photo credit: Kevin Barden.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Early Success with a Halichoeres Wrasse!

Figure 1. Halichoeres melanurus egg on a 1 mm Sedgewick
Rafter cell.  
Here at the Tropical Aquaculture Lab we’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in a field we’re truly passionate about.  That passion inspires me to not only work on captive breeding of marine species here at work, but to also explore other fish by working from home.  I’m pleased to announce that the first project I’ve taken on as an at-home aquaculturist resulted in the successful captive rearing of the melanurus wrasse, Halichoeres melanurus, using only cultured prey items.  Although only a few fish were brought through metamorphosis, survival should be higher when larvae are raised in the controlled environment of a dedicated facility as opposed to the chaos of a household living room.  I strongly believe this fish, and others in this genus, will have significant commercial potential.  We now have broodstock at the Tropical Aquaculture Lab because of this early success.  The work done so far will stand as strong supportive evidence to move forward with other wrasses as well.

Figure 2. First feeding (~3 days post hatch) Halichoeres
larva on a 1 mm Sedgewick Rafter cell.
This species is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning fish transition from females to males as they mature based on social structure.  Females can be identified by the presence of the third black spot at the front of the dorsal fin.  The first step these fish make in transitioning from female to male is the loss of that particular spot, so this acts as a great way to identify females.  Females can get along fine in groups, however males will compete for territory and only the largest terminal phase male will survive.  Spawning these fish in small harems of one terminal phase male with three to four females seemed to work well for me.

One to two hours before the tank lights turned off the male would rise to the highest point of structure in the tank and begin a vibrant display for the females followed by continuous chasing.  The male would then find an accepting female and the pair would spawn hundreds up to several thousand pelagic eggs into the water column.  The eggs were about 660µm in diameter. Despite this small size, larvae hatch out relatively large (~2.5mm) but with a very small mouth gape (~125µm).  Larvae were reared in a static 5 gallon aquarium and were ready to feed at 3dph (days post hatch).  At that point, the rearing water was darkened with T-ISO and larvae were fed Parvocalanus crassirostris nauplii at 1-2 nauplii/mL.  Lights were on continuously until larvae were 12dph and over the next 8 days lights were transitioned down to a 14 hour light: 10 hour dark schedule.  Varying size fractions of copepod nauplii were maintained in the tank throughout the rearing process and at 14dph Otohime A micro diet (75-250µm size) began being fed to larvae.  Larvae reached flexion by 15dph (see video) and were settled juveniles by 22dph.

With work on this species now being conducted here at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, we look forward to bringing more information on optimized rearing protocols for this species in the near future.

A slightly better quality video can be found by following this link: http://youtu.be/oGuXR2t7lNI

Kevin Barden

The Rising Tide Team at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory

Monday, January 19, 2015

Commercially Available Porkfish

Figure 1. Captive bred Porkfish juvenile available from
FishEye Aquaculture.
Three years ago we posted a blog stating the commercial production potential of Porkfish, Anisotremis virginicus (Porkfish Protocol – Rising Tide’s First Commercial Species).  As you’ll recall, researchers at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory collected eggs spawned at SeaWorld Orlando and grew them to the juvenile phase and beyond.  This was not the first time that Porkfish had been grown in captivity (again credit goes to Martin Moe and company).  It was, however, the first time that Porkfish had been grown from eggs spawned in captivity using standard commercial production protocols; including the use of hatchery grown live feeds (rotifers and Artemia).  This proved inspiring to one of Rising Tide’s industry partners who decided to add this fish to their list of available species.

Figure 2. Captive bred Porkfish juveniles available from
FishEye Aquaculture.
Jonathan Foster of FishEye Aquaculture is making available for the first time aquacultured Porkfish based on the information provided to him via Rising Tide.  Shortly after that Rising Tide success, Jonathan acquired Porkfish broodstock (each around 12-15” in length and weighing up to 2 lbs) in the hopes of spawning them.  For the past three years he has been conditioning them and waiting….and waiting….and waiting.  He confided in us that they may, indeed, need a public aquarium sized tank to spawn.  If you’ve been to a public aquarium then you’ll know that those tanks are quite large and not realistic for his facility.  Then, as he describes it “late one evening, while checking on our breeders, I noticed quite a bit of commotion and splashing coming from their tank…they were spawning!  And here we are today, collecting eggs frequently, and raising Porkfish!”.  This marks the first time that this species has been conditioned, spawned, eggs hatched and larvae grown all in one facility; increasing the number of pelagic spawning species available from FishEye Aquaculture to four. 

This is a great example of the goal put forth by Rising Tide; making all marine ornamental fish species an aquaculture reality.  It’s also a great example of what can be accomplished given time, perseverance, and collaboration.  Our hats are off to you Jonathan for believing in Rising Tide and those that wish to move forward.  One day it’ll be captive bred tangs coming out of your facility…that’s our goal.

The Rising Tide team at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory