It has to be said that 2016 has been a year of amazing developments in marine species aquaculture, and now, in the closing moments of the year, the first tank bred Hawaiian Cleaner wrasse, Labroides phthirophagus, have arrived at an aquatic wholesaler in the USA.
These captive bred fish have come to California-based Quality Marine fresh from the research team at Oceanic Institute in Hawaii, with support from Rising Tide Conservation.
These wrasse have been vigorously feeding on enriched brine shrimp, frozen Cyclop-eeze, commercial weaning diets, and even flake food at the Oceanic Institute. They began exhibiting their natural cleaning behaviour on other fish housed in the grow-out tanks just a few days after settlement, around 40 days post hatch.
In the wild, the Hawaiian Cleaner wrasse inhabits the coral reefs primarily in the surge zones. They are a cleaner species that feeds on parasites, mucus and dead skin on other reef fish and will even create cleaning stations.
Traditionally, this species of wrasse has been considered sensitive and challenging to care for, as wild caught fish have been difficult to feed properly. Their aquacultured counterparts have been reared on readily available diets, and don't have these same feeding issues. They are a very active swimming fish multiple feedings a day are recommended. They aren't aggressive, so house with tank mates of similar temperament; however, they can be territorial towards other fish that look similar.
This is the first time Labroides phthirophagus has been reared in captivity as a result of this project, and it is yet another triumph for Oceanic Institute and Rising Tide Conversation as they continue to make strides in aquaculturing an even more diverse collection of species.
Other recent successes for the Oceanic Institute and Rising Tide Conversation partnership include Yellow and Regal tangs, Potter’s angelfish and the Milletseed butterflyfish.