Successful Aquaculture of the Reef Butterflyfish

February 9, 2017 – Rising Tide Conservation, in partnership with the University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center, is thrilled to announce the aquaculture of the Reef Butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius)! This success is the first of 2017 for Rising Tide Conservation and Dr. Cortney Ohs and his fabulous team, including researchers Isaac Lee, Jason Broach, and Andrew Palau. Dr. Ohs writes the following about the history, procedure, and specifications for this fantastic accomplishment:

“We have one pair of Reef Butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) broodstock inside an 1800 liter round tank. They were acquired in May of 2015 from Marathon, FL, and were originally collected by Dynasty Marine. They began spawning three months later in August. They are fed four times a day with an Otohime EP1 pellet, PE Mysis, mullet roe, and Larry’s Fertility Frenzy. They spawn once every 2-3 days and produce approximately 3000-5000 eggs per spawn with >90% viable eggs. For this run, 3000 eggs were stocked out into a 440L fiberglass tank with black sides and a black bottom. The larval system was equipped with a 80 W UV sterilizer, two bag filters with 50 and 10 μm felt bags, a protein skimmer and trickle filter. One direct LED light was set on a 12 L: 12 D cycle and an ambient fluorescent light from an indirect source was on a 24 L: 0 D cycle. The tank was overturned 6x per day. Larvae were fed Parvocalanus crassirostris copepod nauplii (5.3/mL) twice a day and Brachionis plicatilis rotifers enriched with Selco S.presso (8.6/mL) once a day beginning 4 days post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 1 day post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 4 days post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 7 days post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 11 days post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 14 days post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 17 days post hatch.

T-Isochrysis was added twice a day and timed with feedings of copepod nauplii. At 20 dph, we incrementally began adding newly hatched Artemia nauplii to the diet twice a day starting at 0.01 /mL and reaching 0.2/mL over the course of 8 days.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae 20 days post hatch.

Reef butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae at 24 days post hatch.

Reef Butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae at 26 days post hatch.

Reef Butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae at 28 days post hatch.

At 28 dph, we stopped feeding rotifers. At 34 dph, we stopped feeding copepod nauplii.

Reef Butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) larvae at 38 days post hatch.

We began feeding Otohime A1 dry diet at 43 dph. The last mortality was recorded at 36 dph. Survival for this trial was 0.1% for three individuals. The larvae remained a bland grayish coloration and then begin developing a black band that goes vertically across the eyes. The posterior edges of the dorsal and anal fins began to darken up. Then they developed a yellow ridge across the top of the dorsal fins. The body then began to turn a brighter white.”

Juvenile Reef Butterflyfish (Chaetodon sedentarius) at 108 days post hatch.

This photo of the juvenile Reef Butterflyfish is at 108 days post hatch. The fish begin to take on the adult coloration at about 70 days old. Photograph opportunities were limited from 70-108 days old, but we look forward to replicating the success and getting more pictures! We hope that you’ll continue to follow our successes and support Rising Tide Conservation!


UF TAL Wrasse Update

The University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory (TAL) is currently working with two species of wrasses; the Melanurus wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus) and the Yellow wrasse (H. chrysus). Three separate broodstock populations of the Melanurus wrasse are being maintained in various sex ratio and fed a varied diet 4-5 times per day to promote spawning behavior and ensure the production of high quality eggs. Consistent daily spawning from two of the Melanurus wrasse populations yields from 100 to over 2,000 fertile eggs, averaging 0.604mm in diameter. Preliminary larval rearing trials exploring the effects of varying environmental conditions in both large (125L) and small (13L) culture tanks have recently resulted in one successful larval run. Nine healthy, post metamorphic juveniles were raised during this run representing a survival of 1% from egg to juvenile. These juveniles are now over two months old (wrasses shown in the video are from this run and the video was taken two weeks post settlement). The first larvae from this run settled and completed metamorphosis at 37 days post hatch. While settlement appeared to be somewhat delayed when compared with our previous efforts, this cohort is the largest group of Melanurus wrasses raised thus far at the TAL. Efforts to repeat and improve upon this success are underway and will involve investigations into optimal incubation and larval rearing temperatures, stocking densities, light intensities, live feeds densities, and other culture parameters.


Melanurus wrasse eggs.


Melanurus wrasse, 2 days post hatch.


Melanurus wrasse, 22 days post hatch.


Three separate broodstock populations of the Yellow wrasse are also currently maintained and fed the same diet as the Melanurus brood stock. Highly variable spawning has been observed from both of the actively spawning populations resulting in eggs of poor quality and low fertilization. Egg diameters are currently averaging 0.575mm. Investigations focused upon improving egg quality and fertility are also under way.


Rising Tide Conservation and the team at the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory are extremely proud to introduce the first ever captive-bred Pacific Blue Tangs.

Pacific Blue Tang Fry

55 days post hatch!! Pacific Blue Tangs, from the UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory! Image courtesy of the UF IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory.

The collaborative success was over six years in the making. Dr. Chad Callan and his team at the Oceanic Institute at Hawaii Pacific University reared the first captive-bred Yellow Tangs in October of 2015.  Kevin Barden, a researcher with the UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, traveled to Hawaii to gain first-hand knowledge of the procedures used to raise captive-bred Yellow Tangs. Bringing this information back to Florida, Barden worked with colleagues Eric Cassiano, Matthew DiMaggio, and Cortney Ohs to replicate aspects of Callan’s methods.

In previous attempts, the team at UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory consistently had a survival rate of Blue Tangs to four days post hatch before the larvae would die. At most, the Blue Tang larvae would survive to 21 days post hatch.

To push the Blue Tang larvae through the bottleneck, conditions needed to be perfect. Watson explains: “During the first three days, the Pacific Blue Tangs develops eyes and a mouth. If the food for the parents isn’t just right, the yolk won’t be enough or of the right consistency to carry the larvae through. Water quality, including temperature, is critical, and if anything goes wrong [the larvae] can be dead in hours.”

On day 52, photographs captured a captive-bred Pacific Blue Tang and 26 of his siblings, all with dazzling black and blue coloring, for the first time. Using information from Dr. Callan’s success, and from previous attempts at the UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, “the fish started behaving and growing like nothing seen before,” said Watson.

“This is a new chapter in ornamental fish aquaculture,” commented Dr. Judy St. Leger, President of Rising Tide Conservation.

Pacific Blue Tang Fry at 33 days!

Pacific Blue Tang Fry at 33 days!

“Without the support of the SeaWorld-Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and the overall pet industry, the advances of Rising Tide would not be possible. We chose these program researchers because they showed commitment to advancing culture of the most difficult fish.” “This team is a can-do part of Rising Tide Conservation,” said Watson. “We are committed to improving the science of raising fish and we are proud to be part of Rising Tide. Our folks are a successful team because of their knowledge, commitment, and ability to work with others to reach a common goal. Eric and Kevin gave up their weekends and holidays this summer to make this happen. I could not be more proud of them than I am today.”

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