Sunday, December 29, 2013

day 45 of P. venusta larval run

We're at Day 45 today.
Two smaller larvae have died in the past week and the rest (22 of them) look great.
Two are swimming in and out of the magic rock and here is some really lousy video of them.
The food in the water column is day 1 and day 4 Artemia enriched with Selco.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Just want to say Happy Holidays to all you larval fish lovers out there!
I hope the holidays are wonderful for you all and that the New Year is filled with fish successes!

The P. venusta larvae are doing well and are 41 days old today on Christmas Day.
There are still 24 left and they haven't changed much in development over the past week but some are really pulling away from the rest in size. I have put my magic rock in the tank in hopes that they will settle in it. It is the rock my first clownfish pair spawned on back in the early eighties and the rock the G. personatus settled on over ten years ago. Last year at this time the G. watanabei were playing in it just after settlement.

The larger larvae are orienting to the sides and bottom of the tank and were so cute a couple of days ago as twelve of them were lined up in a row at the edge where the bottom meets the side of the tank. They all had their tails towards the tank side, facing the middle of the tank with even spacing of  a couple of mm between each larva. I tried to get a photo but there was too much reflection. They looked like tiny synchronized swimmers!

They are consuming amazing amounts of Artemia and I am equally amazed by (and proud of) the amount of feces they are producing! Good quality poop = good quality larvae!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 33 of Paracentropyge venusta trial 5

The P. venusta larvae are doing great and eating more food than I can grow! They have pretty much stopped eating food items less than 100 microns in size and have been eating the larger adults of the Parvocalanus copepods. I'm running out of cultured foods so yesterday I started introducing small amounts of newly hatched Artemia and they snapped them up.

I moved them to a clean tank yesterday and we still have 24 larvae. :) I'm very happy with this number at this age. It's a good precent survival and hopefully they'll all make it to settlement...
They are less active now since they can easily catch the Artemia and that makes focusing much easier for the camera.
Here is a video taken this evening.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day 26 of P. venusta trial 5

I moved the larvae to a clean tank again yesterday and we now have 24 left. I was surprised and a little disappointed since I had not seen any dead bodies the past week and I was hoping we still had 31. The 24 larvae that I moved all look to be the P. venusta and I think all of the C. acanthops were lost a few days after the last transfer. I think the C. acanthops died when they went though a developmental phase. I did see 4 bodies on the bottom of the old tank after I moved all the larvae and drained most of the water. The dead were the smaller larvae but were now taller bodied than when I last saw them. Hopefully we will have more C. acanthops eggs to work with in the future.

Here is a video of the larvae today. Check out how fat this little larva is!

I also took some video from the surface of the tank. It is not very clear (as usual) but I thought some of you might be interested in seeing the fish from this angle as well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 20 of P. venusta trial 5

This larval trial is still doing well. :)

On Day 15 I transferred all of the larvae (33) to a new/clean tank.
They continue to grow and develop. One thing I've noticed is that they seem more sensitive to light now so I'm adding more algae to the water which seems to make the larvae more comfortable.

There are 4 larvae that are smaller in size, longer bodied and have a jaw line that looks heavier than the other larvae. I'm assuming these are the African Flameback larvae (C. acanthops) and am happy that out of 20 Flameback eggs we have 4 larvae. That's a good percentage!

Here is another out of focus video taken today of the larvae.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 12 of P. venusta trial 5

This larval run is on track when compared to larval trial 3 (Our best P. venusta run to date). Temps are running about the same and  the larvae are close in development as well. This run does have less uniformity in development with a few larvae being slightly deeper bodied than the rest. We do have a few of the flame back angel larvae included in this run and that could be what I'm seeing.
We started this run with approximately 30% of the amount of eggs we started trial 3 with and I expected to see less larvae in this run. I am counting close to the same numbers of larvae on the same days post hatch as trial 3 but I am cheating in that I have a third of the bottom a lighter color so that I can see into the water column better. I'll feel more confident in the numbers after their first tank move when I can get an accurate count.
Sorry, no photos or video this time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick update

I've been collecting eggs all week planning on starting a new larval run with a higher stocking density than the last.  There were small spawns all week with lower fertility rates (50% t0 60%). I ended up starting a new run with 284 eggs which isn't much more than the last batch! The spawn is again from the P. venusta and there are also 20 eggs from the flame back angels that were donated as part of the Fabio project. The flame back male has been involved in pre spawning behavior for a while and the female was somewhat interested. This last week the female has been initiating the spawns. There have been 50 or so eggs with each spawn and the spawn I used had 20 fertile eggs. I'm sure they will continue to improve their production and we'll have more of their eggs added to the larval runs in the future. Today is day 4 for this new run.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

sad news

Yesterday I could not find the lone surviving larva.
The tank she is in is a 6 gallon (24liter) bare bottom tank with just an airstone. How could I not find the larva in that? I took the air stone out and looked with a flashlight even though the room is brightly lit. I searched around the tank wondering if she could have jumped out! I wondered if my dog had drank out of the tank and lapped her up! I even wondered if someone had broken in and stolen her!! This is crazy, I thought!

Then I noticed the water level was a few mm higher than normal because I had added a little algae to the water I had returned to the tank after siphoning. I wiggled the plastic frame that's around the top edge of the tank and out she came, swimming erratically. She had gotten herself stuck in there. She looked a little weak and tippy as she swam around and I took some video which I had intended to do anyway since I wanted to share where she was at in her development. She has been so tough that I hoped she would pull through. I added Euterpina acutifrons copepods which are easier to catch and hoped for the best.

Here is the video of her swimming soon after being released from "the trap".

Today she was swimming in spirals and I couldn't let her suffer so I euthanized her at 34 days old and 7mm total length (you can't see all of her tail in the photo). I feel that her development had slowed as a result of the bacterial problem and lower temps this last week.

I learned a lot from this batch and in some ways it was my personal best up until the 50 larvae die off. Although it is sad there is value in what I have learned and it will help us to get further on the next run.

I still have the next larval run going which is at day 6 today. We started with a small number of larvae and I'm only seeing two or three larvae each time I work on the tank. They do look good with nice full guts. I will continue on with it and also continue to check for eggs to start a new larval run.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

day 30 for the lone survivor

Just want to give a quick update that our lone survivor is doing well. She developed her caudal peduncle over the weekend (day27 and 28 of her life). She's hunting and clearing out much more food than I expected. I'm changing water in her tank daily and cleaning her tank every 3 days. She's such a trooper, I just scoop her up in a beaker and set her on the side while I do her house cleaning. I'm still treating her with antibiotics and using wild plankton. Tomorrow I plan to introduce newly hatched Artemia to her menu.

I've collected eggs from the P. venusta brood stock over the last four evenings and only had one spawn with fertile eggs and in that spawn only half the eggs were fertile. I did start our next trial with those eggs. There were 211 fertile eggs (compared to just over a thousand last time) and today is day 2. The protocol for this run will be the same as the last and I will be more vigilant for signs of bacterial problems and nip them in the bud!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Lone Survivor

The lone survivor P. vebusta is responding well to antibiotics. Yesterday the larval tank which had a cleaning two days prior had a golden colored bacterial slime on the walls and floor. I've moved our survivor to a new clean tank and am continuing antibiotic treatment. She is being fed wild caught plankton at 1 food item per ml. She looks a little thin to me but is hunting and exploring her environment.

I've chlorinated everything having to do with the larval tank and am ready to start another run when fertile eggs are available. I collected eggs the last two nights and both batches were infertile.

Here is a video taken yesterday at 26 days old.
Sorry for the quality but it's better than nothing! :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Today was a real bummer.
I woke up to the larvae just under the surface with rapid respiration and hanging in the water column, not hunting.

I pulled them all out and put them in the holding tank. Dumped the larval tank and cleaned it. By then there were 20 dead and 30 still alive. I put the live larvae back into the larval tank with new food and headed to Waikiki to get more water. When I got home there were only 2 survivors left.

I wondered if an external parasite had been introduced with the wild plankton but could not find any evidence of that. I treated the remaining two larvae with antibiotics in an effort to learn something. Tonight I can only see one live larva left. How can one larva survive when 49 died today?

I wasn't expecting this but that is the nature of the beast. The good news is that I learned a lot from this larval run. I've also got the cultured feeds in good shape so we should have a quick turn around time.

Here is a photo to show the size of the larvae at day 24. The average body size was 4.5 mm and total length was 6 mm (the tail is clear and difficult to see in the photo).

Here is a close up of the scales starting to form. those arrow like points in between the black dots on the skin of the larva are the beginnings of scales.
Note also the dark pigmented line running through the dorsal fin. That indicates the larvae are close to settlement. (Which makes this loss even more of a bummer!)

Please keep your fingers crossed for more fertile eggs!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ups and Downs... and Ups

The P. venusta larvae gave me a little trouble this week.

I've been counting larvae every day and the number that I could see in the tank was always somewhere around 23 larvae so I was estimating I had 30 larvae. Several days ago when siphoning the tank I sucked up 5 dead larvae, and still counted 23. The next siphoning, I sucked up 5 dead larvae again, and again still counted 23 larvae. The live larvae did not look 100% good to me and I started to worry about the deaths. I went to check the tank and with the water a little clearer than normal and I saw 10 dead larvae on the bottom! So I did what any professional larval culturist would do and I FREAKED OUT!!

I slowly scooped out each larva into a holding tank. Then dumped and cleaned the larval tank and carefully moved all the larvae back in one by one. I felt like I might lose all the larvae by handling them this way but I also knew I would lose them if I didn't make a change.

In moving the larvae I counted 58 and only one died the next day.  :)

Here's a video taken today of a 20 day old P. venusata.

If you have difficulty watching the video here, try it here

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 14 P. venusta video

Here is a link to a video I took this afternoon. It's taken with a point and shoot camera so the focus goes in and out as the larvae swim by but you can get a good look at how they are developing. The larvae were messin' with me and as soon as I'd get myself together on one side of the tank they would go to the other side. I think I went back and forth at least ten times and this is what I got for my efforts!
At least there are glimpses in focus.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 11 for the P. venusta

Today is day 11 post hatch and the P. venusta larvae are still looking strong and developing well.
I had to be brave today. I've been changing water daily but have not siphoned the bottom for fear of sucking up larvae since I can't see a thing down there in the darkness. Got a good cleaning done today and only sucked up 4 larvae which were in good shape and returned to the larval tank.

Here is a photo of one of the larvae at day 11. This larva was 4 mm in total length which is now too large for photos on the compound scope so here is an anterior photo followed by a posterior photo.

The larvae are still being fed a combination of cultured copepods and wild plankton and we will be shifting to more cultured feeds since we've had some thunder storms with rain that have resulted in an algae bloom in Kaneohe Bay where I collect the plankton.

Monday, October 14, 2013

So Far So Good with P. venusta

Today is day 8 for the P. venusta larvae and they're doing well. Because I have a dark floor on the tank I cannot see the deeper larvae and I have no clue how many we have left. There are definitely quite a few less than we started with and that is expected. I am happy with the numbers I am seeing and not being able to get a good count just makes things difficult in terms of collecting data.

The following photos were taken yesterday at day 7.

Most of the larvae are fairly uniform in their development. When viewed from the top the gut is plump and the larvae are looking strong. Here is a larva viewed from the side. Notice the pink/red hue which is the vascular development at 40x.

Here is a closer look at 100x of the vascular development, (the red veins).

I always like to check the gut and here is a nice plump tummy.

Here is the gut at 100x and you can make out some semi digested copepod body parts.

The larvae are certainly feeding well and yesterday I had to add 117,150 food items which consisted of both cultured copepods and wild caught plankton.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Paracentropyge venusta again

Eggs collected last night from the venusta tank were fertile so I started the next larval run this afternoon with the eggs just before they hatched.
Here is a photo of an egg 15 hours after spawn and an hour before hatching.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Behavior issues

I have to say that the P. venusta larvae died due to their behavior. Not bad behavior, but different behavior which I was not prepared for. These larvae like to sit on the bottom and I have not seen that in other larvae that I've worked with. Normally I clean the bottom of the larval tank on a regular basis but could not do so while they were sitting there. They were strong and fed well and I had plenty of food to offer but could not clean up after them well enough to keep water quality up. So I have made some changes to the larval rearing tank for the next run. Basically darkening the bottom and brightening the surface to see if that will help keep them off the bottom. I did have the opportunity with two small spawns to test if the larvae are attracted to light and they do seem to be which is why I am going with a darkened tank bottom on the next run.

Monday, September 30, 2013

While we're waiting.....

While we're waiting for Fabio and Faith to produce more eggs, the Paracentropyge venusta pair that also lives with us has produced a good fertile spawn.

The venusta larvae are heavily pigmented and look much darker than other angelfish larvae I have worked with. Below is a larva 22 hours after hatching.

Here is a larva at 46 hrs post hatch. You can see that the yolk sac is smaller and the eyes are developing. Soon the larvae will be ready to catch their prey and start feeding.

Today is day 3 post hatch and here is a not very good photo but you can get an idea of the developmental stage of the larva. Eyes and mouth are now developed and the larvae are feeding. This larva has a full gut but it's difficult to see at this angle.

Here is a close up of the gut taken at 400x to check gut content. Unfortunately we cannot identify anything in the gut because the content of this gut is very well digested and that's a good thing. The reddish spots show that this larva is consuming some copepods.

This batch of larvae are being fed wild caught plankton and cultured parvocalanus copepods and ciliates. They are being fed more cultured than wild food since I was ready with copepods in hopes of a Faith/Fabio spawn. These larvae look healthy but it's only day 3 so keep your fingers crossed for them to continue on strong in their development.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Still waiting.....

We are still waiting for another spawn from Fabio and Faith. Faith has not looked hydrated in the past week and Fabio continues to do the spawning dance each evening but it is not as intense as when Faith is hydrated and ready to spwan. Hopefully we'll have a spawn with the next new moon.

Meanwhile, the African Flameback Angelfish pair have been moved to a larger and taller tank. The male flameback has begun a nightly spawning dance and we could have eggs from them soon as well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting for eggs....

Just letting you all know that I've set up the larval tank and have food cultures ready.
Faith and Fabio have not produced any eggs in the last several days and I will continue to check each night for eggs. I do often get the largest spawns from angelfish around the new moon which is two weeks away but I hope to get even a small spawn soon.

patience is a virtue :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 6 of Faith and Fabio's first larval run.

Today is day 6 and unfortunately I have decided to stop this run.
Over the last two days the number of larvae have dwindled down to about three. It is time to clean everything up and restart. I feel that this was most likely caused by a bacterial infection that I didn't catch soon enough. We had plenty of food items of the correct size which is less than 100 microns. (Translation- the hole size in regular window screen is about 1000 microns (or 1 mm). So 100 microns is one tenth of the hole size of window fly screen.)

I did get photos of the remaining larvae for you to see.
Here is a 6 day old C. interrupta. Keep in mind that these larvae were not developing well over the last 2 days and you should see a difference in future photos of 6 day old larvae.

Here is a closer look. You can see that there is food in the gut but in a healthy larva the gut would be more full than this. Also note the pinkish hue which is vascular development. We should be seeing more of that if this were a healthy larva at 6 days old.

It should take about a week to clean up and get the live food cultures at the right stage. We need to have the adult copepods producing nauplii (baby copepods) for the larval fish to eat as their first food when they are at 3 to 4 days old.

Try Try Again!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 4 of the Faith and Fabio first larval run

The larvae are looking good today and have full tummies :).

I'm trying to keep the smaller food items at a density of at least 5 per ml. I'm using cultured parvocalanus nauplii and ciliates as well as sized screened wild plankton. The ciliates are from older copepod cultures and are the same size as parvocalanus nauplii but move a little differently, (quick and random but not moving very far). I'm also adding small amounts of microalgae. Just enough that the water has a tinge of color.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Faith and Fabio's first larval run.

Today is day 1 of the first larval run of Faith and Fabio. The eggs for this run were collected on Thursday evening, September 5 at 10:30 pm about 20 minutes after spawning. I estimated approximately 500 to 600 eggs were collected.
On Friday morning I siphoned out 118 dead eggs and the rest of the eggs spent the rest of the day incubating in an eight liter plastic tub. (large pretzel jar from Costco). It was a warm day and the eggs hatched before I got home from work so I was not able to get an accurate count. (It's much easier to count eggs than newly hatched larvae). The newly hatched larvae were transfered by beaker to the larval tank.
This morning the larvae look good and most are hanging vertically in the water column which is normal. Some ciliates from an old copepod culture were added to the larval tank so that they may reproduce and be available as food for the larvae when the larvae are ready to feed which will most likely be the end of day 3 or beginning of day 4. I also added some wild plankton screened to less than 100 microns that I collected from Kaneohe Bay. And some microalgae was added to keep the plankton fed.
This is considered a small number of eggs to start a larval run with but is worth doing to get a feel for this species of larvae and I hope I learn something from it! :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Faith and Fabio produce fertile eggs!!!

This has been an amazing journey with all of the help to acquire Faith, fly her to Hawaii, get her through quarantine and introduce her to Fabio. And Five days after meeting each other Faith and Fabio produce their first fertile eggs!!

I thought this blog would be slow to start but here we go...
While I was doing fish chores last night and watching Faith and Fabio out of the corner of my eye I thought Faith looked a little more plump than normal. I set an egg screen on the outflow thinking that Faith was probably just plump from all I had fed them that day and the possibility that she had hydrated eggs was crazy. Setting this egg screen is just to check for spawns and not to actually collect the eggs since the eggs tend to get damaged with so much water going through the outflow. I checked the screen this morning and couldn't believe my eyes, There were eggs! Just a few and mostly damaged or infertile but they were eggs and a few were fertile.

This photo shows a fertile egg (the egg at the top) and two infertile eggs.

Next is a closer look at the fertile egg where you can see the developing larva within.

I was not prepared for this and so will not attempt to raise these eggs. I plan to collect any fertile eggs starting Thursday night and that will be our first larval run!
I still can't believe things are going this fast!
Huge thanks to Wayne and his connections for 'finding Faith' (move over Nemo here comes the next Disney film) and another huge thank you to all of you who made donations to get Faith and Fabio together!!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fabio gets his groove on

It has taken all of three days for Fabio to get over Mattie the female bandit and fall head over fins for Faith his new tank mate.
Watch Fabio as he shows off his pre-spawning moves.

I don't think Faith can resist that!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Faith meets Fabio

This morning Faith was introduced to Fabio!
A divider was placed in the tank so that Faith would be safe if things did not go well.
As you watch the video you will see that Faith is a very confident and relaxed fish.
The female bandit "Mattie" on the other hand is not very happy with the change.

Several minutes after the first video, Faith slipped through the divider in an effort to meet Fabio.
Mattie was not pleased but Faith is a tough little thing and stood her ground pretty well.

While watching the fish as I videoed it became clear that Mattie the female bandit did not want Faith interacting with Fabio. Faith is doing a good job of getting away from Mattie while not giving in too much. Watch Fabio at the end of the video where he's staying as far away as he can from the ladies.  I didn't know he was such a chicken!

I felt that Mattie was getting in the way of the introduction between Fabio and Faith so I put the divider back in with Mattie on one side. It appears that Fabio has a stronger relationship with Mattie than I had realized and he hangs out near the divider ignoring Faith.

At the end of the day I moved the bandits to their own tank so that Fabio and Faith could be alone and hopefully get to know each other better.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Well this morning has been a trying time of fish wars! And thankfully all has ended well. :) As we wait for Faith to complete her quarantine we have additional fish that were donated to this project. Two Centropyge joculators (Jaws, the Jersey joc and Connie from Connecticut) as well as a bonded pair of Centropyge acanthops (not named yet if anyone has suggestions). Because they have been in captivity and came from very good homes their quarantine period was shorter. Three of the fish had lived together previously and today I tried to introduce all four fish into the same tank in the hopes that they could all get along. I have had positive results doing this in the past, but not today! Here is a video taken minutes after the introduction.

The tension mounts....

So the species were devided and here we have Jaws and connie. Connie is putting up with Jaws and letting him know by her posture that he can be the dominant fish.

Here they have settled down a bit. I've added my pair of mandarins as tank mates as they are a calming influence.

And here is the C. acanthhops pair. They have moved into a short term apartment and will be upgraded soon.

All fish have calmed down and ate this afternoon. It will be a while before Jaws and Connie are mature enough to spawn. The acanthops pair will most likely spawn sooner. And next weekend is when Faith meets Fabio. So tune in again!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

today's video 8/13/2013

Here is a short video of Fabio with his roommates the bandit angels. For perspective on their size, the clay flower pot on it's side is 6 inches in diameter.

And here is Faith in her quarantine tank.
Fabio and Faith will be introduced to each other when Faith finishes her quarantine which will be the end of August.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fabio and Faith

My name is Karen Brittain and I am passionate about raising marine fish to help take pressure off of our coral reefs and to provide happy and healthy pets for marine aquariums. I was born and raised in Hawaii and have been involved with the breeding of fish for over 30 years both professionally and personally. This is the niche where I feel I can make a difference and contribute towards something important to our planet. On this blog you can follow the story of Fabio and Faith, two Japanese pygmy angelfish brought together by an amazing group of people. Read how it all started here

Future updates will feature marine aquarium fish including Fabio and Faith and the journey of captive breeding these fish from egg to fry. I hope you all enjoy the posts and sharing of larval rearing information as we progress.