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Banggai of Choice
What Choice Will You Make?

Banggai Cardinalfish
Banggai Cardinalfish ( Pterapogon kauderni)

When the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) hit the marine aquarium trade in the 1990s, it made quite a splash. It seemed to have everything going for it in terms of an aquarium species. Individual fish that arrived healthy proved easy to care for and hearty, and their bold markings and showy finnage quickly made this fish a marine aquarium favorite. Unfortunately, the popularity of this fish, combined with its limited known range, have pushed wild populations to the point of being threatened. Luckily, due to the ease with which this fish is bred in captivity, a growing number of suppliers of captive bred Banggai are giving conscientious aquarists a chance to own this fantastic fish without negatively impacting the wild population.

A Threatened Species

In 2007 the Banggai cardinalfish was listed on The World Conservation Union IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to over collecting, but it has yet to be regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). As such, wild caught Banggai cardinalfish are still commonly available in the trade and relatively inexpensive. This is a concern to many aquarists and marine scientists based on the fact that real questions remain about the sustainability of this fishs populations in the wild.

Captive Bred Banggai Cardinalfish

Unlike many marine fishes, Banggai cardinalfishes are fairly easy to breed in captivity, and captive bred specimens have a lot going for them. In addition to reducing overfishing in the wild, tank-raised Banggai cardinalfish tend to be far heartier than wild caught specimens. They are also generally more expensive (around $30 each as opposed to $20), which is one major reason there is still such a demand for wild caught Banngai cardinalfish. The other major reason has to do with lack of education.

Education and Responsibility

The Conscientious Aquarist Restricted Entry (CARE) displays a Banggai Cardinalfish as emblematic.

In order for aquarists to be conscientious and promote a sustainable hobby based on sustainable ecosystems, they need to have reliable information accessible to them. At Blue Zoo Aquatics, we believe the retailer is in a unique position to be able to educate the customer about a range of important issues affecting the sustainability of the marine aquarium hobby. In fact, we believe it is our responsibility to provide educational information. That is why we have this newsletter, and it is why we recently launched the CARE initiative, whereby we have chosen to self-regulate certain species such as wild caught Banngai cardinalfish. While we still sell wild caught Banggai cardinalfish as broodstock to breeders, scientists and public aquaria, if you visit the wild caught Banggai cardinalfish product page, you will see that we strongly encourage the purchase of captive bred individuals. We believe that this is the responsible thing to do in the best interest of both the animal itself and the hobby at large.

Teaming Up for the Hobby and Conservation

We have now teamed up with a local breeder, who is providing us with outstanding fish at a reasonable price. Ryan Greathouse runs the Banggai Island Ornamental Fish Farm in San Diego. Greathouse received his Bachelors of Science degree in environmental studies from the University of Oregon, and while there, he developed a strong conservation ethic. He eventually decided he wanted to focus his passion for conservation towards marine biology and, most importantly, fisheries conservation. Moving to Florida to attain a Masters degree, Greathouse became a technician at Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums (ORA).

ORA is located at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, a world renowned organization dedicated to marine research and conservation, and is the largest producer of tank bred marine tropical fish in the United states. This experience proved invaluable in terms of Greathouses career trajectory. While employed with ORA, Greathouse conducted his Masters research on aquaculture production of the blue devil damsel (Chrysipters cyanea).

After finishing his Masters, Greathouse chose to return to his native West Coast, where he took a job at Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. He served as the larval rearing manager working with over 15 different fish species. Most notably, he played an important role in developing techniques for rearing California yellowtail, Seriola lalandi.

Banggai Island Ornamental Fish Farm

Banggai Cardinalfish
Banggai Cardinalfish ( Pterapogon kauderni)

In January of 2007, Greathouse decided it was time to strike out on his own and start his own small hatchery called the Banggai Island Ornamental Fish Farm. Having worked with Banggai cardinalfish while at ORA, this was the logical choice fir aquaculture in his mind. As he puts it, I was driven to base my hatchery on the production of this species as a model for conservation through aquaculture.

Greathouse is now providing Blue Zoo with healthy, hearty, West Coast raised Banggai cardinalfish, and we are offering them to our customers as the Banggai of Choice.

Published 1 July 2008. Blue Zoo Aquatics

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