Marine Fish Egg Collection and Larval Rearing for Sustainability

Marine tropical fish serve as important ambassadors of the reef environment in public aquariums. The Aquarium has partnered with SeaWorld San Diego, The Florida Aquarium and other members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) in a project to address the long-term sustainability of our aquatic animal collections.

Marine tropical fish aquaculture has long been challenged by difficulties in egg production, larval rearing, and food availability for early development. These challenges have resulted in very limited production of tropical fishes, both in species diversity and in total numbers. This project seeks to study the issues of egg production, hatchability, and larval feeding for tropical fishes in AZA aquariums.

Staff at the Aquarium and at other participating facilities opportunistically collect eggs using collecting devices designed at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. Staff package and mail these eggs, via overnight delivery, to the University of Florida's Tropical Aquaculture Lab in Ruskin, Florida. At the lab, researchers study hatchability and larval morphology to develop optimal techniques for egg collection, shipping, and incubation. Researchers also raise specialty live-food items and compare them with larval fish development to determine best feeding practices.

The Aquarium continually works to improve the long-term sustainability of our aquatic animal collections by promoting responsible collecting operations and supporting the development of innovative aquaculture programs.