This weeks Fish of The Week is a beautiful fish that is popular addition to reef aquariums. The Bangaii Cardinalfish is a peaceful, vividly patterned fish that poses no threats to invertebrates and corals.
Their common name eludes to their distribution in the wild. They are found only around the Banggai Archipelago near Sulawesi, Indonesia. They were discovered in 1933 but only began to be exported for the aquarium industry in the mid 1990’s. Due to their instant popularity, they quickly became exported in huge numbers, peaking at nearly 900,000 in the mid 2000’s. With the wild population estimated at only 2.4 million, it is easy to see how their numbers were decimated. The species became listed as endangered by the IUCN in 2007. In the same year, a motion was put forward to add them to a list of species protected under the CITES Appendix II. Export of CITES II species requires a permit, designed to limit and regulate the number of animals taken from the wild. Indonesia blocked the passing of the motion, stopping the species being protected under CITES. They too blocked a second attempt in 2016. That is not to say Indonesia are not trying to protect and conserve this endemic species, but it does beg the question why not do it under an internationally recognised scheme such as CITES?
Luckily for the aquarium industry, the Banggai Cardinalfish proved easy to breed in captivity. They form monogamous pairs, led by the female instigating the courtship. She builds the nesting site and chooses her mate, signalling her desires by ‘dancing’ around him in a ‘vigorous trembling’ motion. If she is successful, the male will respond by opening and closing his mouth. After spawning occurs, the males carries the fertilised eggs in his mouth for up to 30 days. This paternal mouth-brooding behaviour is similar to the maternal mouth-brooding techniques seen in many species of African cichlids. The female cardinalfish will remain by her mates side during the incubation period. Unlike most marine fish, the young do not go through a pelagic larval phase, but emerge from the mouth as miniatures of their parents. It is the larval phase of development in many species of marine fish that make them difficult to rear in captivity. Advances in techniques and technology are allowing more species of salt water fish to be bred in captivity. This will allow the aquatic industry to rely less on wild populations and slightly ease the strain our hobby puts on the oceans.
Do you own a Banggai Cardinalfish? Check out our Ocean Flake with Garlic, specifically formulated for omnivorous species such as these!
Tagged in: Fish of the Week Archive - Marine