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RHM baggani 112008

RHM baggani 112008

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Published by Richard Ross

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Published by: Richard Ross on Jul 22, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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anggaiCardinals (Pterapogon kauderni) are beautiful,peaceful fish. Their large, seemingly expressive eyesare hypnotic. And their dramatic finnage, bold black stripes, and white dots over a silver background makethem a stunning addition to any aquarium. They are also one of the only marine fish that is considered easy to breed and rear inthe home aquarium. So much so that they have been called “TheGuppy of Marine Fish Breeding” and were the focus of this year’seasy category in the Marine Ornamental Fish & Invert Breeders Association annual breeder’s challenge.Breeding animals at home is always rewarding, but Banggais area special case. Banggais often ship very poorly, resulting in a lotof deaths for recently imported animals. Each wild-caught fishoffered for sale can represent several that died en route. Stronghobbyist demand for the Banggai Cardinalfish has led to theirover-collection. According to some estimates, nearly half of the wild population may be harvested for the aquarium trade in2008 alone. Unfortunately, and unlike most marine fish, BanggaiCardinalfish produce relatively few offspring over the course of their lives, so over-collecting can dramatically impact their wildpopulations. In fact, Banggai Cardinalfish were listed on theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Listas an endangered species in 2007. This listing resulted largelyfrom the work and research of Dr. Alejandro Vagelli, a BanggaiCardinalfish researcher and advocate. Dr. Vagelli frequently travelsto the Banggai Islands to conduct census surveys and monitorthe population status of Banggai Cardinalfish.If you take nothing else away from this article, we hope thatanyone interested in keeping Banggai Cardinalfish will ask theirlocal store to help them seek out captive-bred specimens (whenavailable) although they may not be the least expensive option atthe time of purchase. Any extra up-front expense is quickly offsetbecause captive bred Banggais are more successful than wildspecimens at adapting to aquarium conditions. More importantly,every captive bred Banggai produced and purchased means notone fish, but several fish, can be left on the reef to help preventthe extinction of this treasured species. Best of all, for the newmarine breeder, the Banggai Cardinalfish represents an idealpoint of entry into marine fish breeding, and a great way to obtainyour first success.
It’s so easy,
 anyone can do it!
By Richard Rossand Matt Pedersen
Banggai Cardinalfish are naturally found around Banggai Archipelago, as well as the Lembeh Strait off Sulawesi, Indonesia.It seems these fish were introduced to the Lembeh Strait between2000 and 2002, perhaps for commercial purposes. In nature,Banggai Cardinals commonly occur in pairs or small groupsand are often found amongst sea urchin spines, presumably forprotection. They are also found hosting in sea anemones, sharingthe anemone with one or more clownfish.Banggai Cardinalfish are one of only a handful of marine fishspecies that feature direct development of their offspring, meaningthere is no pelagic or planktonic larval phase during the early lifeof a baby Banggai. This makes them incredibly easy to raise.Male Banggais carry fertilized eggs to term in their mouths, andthe babies are released as fully formed miniatures of the adults.Newly released babies are immediately ready to eat small foodsthat are relatively easy to produce.Based on the notion that most Cardinalfish species naturally formlarge schools, many people will make the mistake of purchasinga group of adult Banggai Cardinalfish to school in their aquarium.Sadly, this is typically a recipe for disaster. Once the group settlesin, a pair forms, and in short order the pair attempts to eliminateall the others. Only in larger aquariums, 100 gallons or more,may the keeping of multiple pairs be possible (and even then itis risky).While juveniles will school, once they start to sexually mature,individuals will become aggressive to the point of murderingconspecifics, so it’s best to keep Banggai Cardinalfish in pairs.Banggais may be ready to breed as early as 4 months of agefor males, with most becoming mature somewhere between 6months to 1 year. It is useful to note that Banggai pairs are non-monogamous so it is possible to keep two males in separatetanks, rotating the “bachelor” in with the female when thebrooding male is isolated.
Does size mat
ter to you?
Two Little Fishies Inc.1007 Park Centre Blvd.Miami Gardens, FL 33169 USAwww.twolittlefishies.com
Two Little Fishies
is an itsy-bitsy, lean, high-energy,flexible window-cleaning apparatusthat slips safely between polypsand viewing windows. It’s got theumph needed for cleaningwindows up to 3/8” thick, and itglides across the curved surfacesof fish bowls, wiping off algal filmswith ease. It’s so much fun to useyou just might have to take turns.
Male Banggai Cardinal-fish reorganizing theeggs in his mouth. Notethe swollen mouthand gills indicative of abrooding male. Imageby Matt Pederson.
For people with limited space, the best method for obtaining a pairis to simply purchase a compatible pair from a reputable source. They are available, but it may take some persistence and patienceto acquire a breeding pair.If you cannot find a pair, don’t despair. Though some claimdifferently, there is no proven sexual dichromatism or dimorphismto reliably distinguish males from females. However, sexes canusually be identified by observing the fishes’ behavior. The most effective manner to sex Banggai Cardinalfish is to “test”them against fish of known gender. When placing a banggai withanother of the same sex there is typically a relatively quick fightreaction. If they ignore each other, or hang out together, then theodds are good that they are of different sex and can be pairedfor breeding.Many aquarium stores house Banggai Cardinalfish in groups whileon display for retail sale. If the fish are mature and healthy, it ispossible to observe the group and make a good guess as to thesex of an individual. The ‘ringleader’ of the group should be thefemale. In extreme cases, she may dominate a large portion of the aquarium with all the other fish occupying the left over space.Watch which fish the ‘ringleader’ chases, and pay special attentionto those that she doesn’t chase. There is a good chance that anyfish being allowed to routinely remain in the ‘ringleader’s’ vicinityis likely a male. Ask the LFS to catch the suspected male first, asit will be easier to find the ‘ringleader’ female again after the fishcalm back down.
 Although it is possible to breed this fish in a ‘community’ tank, tomaximize reproductive activity, pairs should be kept in isolatedquarters. A young pair can successfully be kept in as small asan 18-gallon tank with moderate to high flow. They often tend toprefer to have some macro algae to hide under, so floating a ballof chaetomorpha may be helpful. Put the tank in a low traffic areaif at all possible.It may also be possible to isolate the pair within an existing reef set up. Sumps and refugiums are often underutilized as areas tokeep fish, and they may be perfect areas to house a breeding pairof Banggai Cardinalfish. These areas often have an abundance of live foods and may be hidden away in stands, giving the happycouple the privacy that can help them get in the ‘mood’. Banggaisare generally easy to feed, eating a wide variety of prepared foodsincluding frozen mysis, brine shrimp and just about any choppedmeaty food or small crustacean.Banggai Cardinalfish, once established as a pair, prove to bewilling and reliable spawners. They may spawn as frequently asevery 30 days if given the opportunity, although there is evidencethat females are capable of producing eggs as rapidly as every 2weeks, faster than a single male can handle. After a year or two,this reproductive behavior can slow down dramatically – a fish atthis age is likely past its natural life span and could be considered“old”, though Banggais can live up to 6 years in captivity.Courtship starts in the afternoon and is initiated when the femaleswims parallel to the male, and begins to quiver rapidly. She willthen drop behind the male and quiver rapidly along his other side. This back and forth vibrating dance may occur on the day of,or the days preceeding spawning. The courtship dance in itself does not mean the fish will mate on that day, only that the fishare getting ready to mate. Interestingly, the courtship dance mayeven continue in the hours immediately after spawning.Banggai Cardinalfish are paternal mouth brooders, meaning themale keeps and incubates the eggs in his mouth as they develop.During spawning, the transfer of eggs from the female into themale’s mouth takes only seconds, so it may not actually be seen.Confirming a spawn, however, is very easy because its effects arequite obvious. The male’s mouth and the area behind and belowthe gill plate become distended (giving him the appearance of afat mouth), and he will also refuse to eat any food. The femalemay “guard” the male following spawning typically for at least acouple days.Make sure to note the date of the spawn, so you will have a goodidea of when to expect the baby fish to leave the safety of themale’s mouth. This is especially important because the male canactually eat the babies once they hatch.Incubation will typically last between 21 and 25 days, duringwhich time the male will continue to refuse to eat. Many breederswill isolate the male completely during incubation. Some isolatehim after the first few days after spawning, some starting aroundday 15 and some don’t isolate the male at all, preferring to strip(more on this below) the babies just before he would normallyspit them out.Extreme care must be taken when moving a brooding male asthe stress of moving him may cause him to spit out the eggs orbabies before they are mature. A clear plastic bag, deli containeror plastic cup rather than a net should be used to catch andmove the male to the ‘nursery’. A refugium makes a particularlygood nursery as it is filled with good potential first foods for newlyhatched Banggai Cardinalfish. As fry release becomes imminent you will begin to see the fry’seyes or fins popping up above the lip of the father’s open mouth –a very exciting and satisfying experience. Some breeders will putthe male into a freshwater livebearer breeding box for the release. These breeder boxes can be obtained from your local aquariumstore. Once the fry emerge, they will swim down through the slatsin the box into the nursery tank while the father remains trappedin the box, unable to eat the newborns. Some breeders will allowthe release of fry to occur naturally, while providing cover, often inthe form of a fake or real sea urchin, where the babies can hidefrom predators. Other breeders ‘strip’ the babies from the mouthof the males as soon as they are observed peeking out in orderto remove any possibility of the father eating the fry.Stripping sounds scarier than it really is. Usually, all it takes toget the male to spit the fry is netting, or touching him with yourfinger. If netting or touching is unsuccessful, gently hold the malein wet hands; gently pry his mouth open with your fingernail, orthe round end of a paperclip like a tongue depressor. Dunk themale head first into a container of tank water, and then pull himbackwards, up and out of the water. The water should back-flushthrough his gills and out his mouth, causing the fry to spill right out.Make sure to open the mouth and look inside for any stragglers. Afterward, make sure to return the male to the water face up, andopen the mouth one last time to allow any air trapped inside hismouth to escape. After he calms down from this activity, makesure to feed him so he can begin to recover from all the time hedidn’t eat while brooding.
Banggai eggs in a homemade ‘egg tumbler’ at14 days of develop-ment. A simple eggtumbler can be madefrom a glass and anaqua lifter pump tokeep the eggs tum-bling. Image by MattPederson.

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