Mystery larvae from pelagic egg collectors at the Long Island Aquarium

By Todd Gardner 9 years ago3 Comments

For me, the most exciting part of collecting pelagic eggs and larvae from a large community tank like the 20,000-gallon reef tank at the Long Island Aquarium, is watching the larvae grow and trying to figure out what they are before they reach settlement.  Recently we got a great haul of eggs that hatched into some very interesting larvae.  As we watched them grow – unusually fast, our excitement grew proportionately.  Their relatively deep bodies and large, heavily pigmented pelvic fins really set them apart from the rest of the larvae in the tank.  I could tell by their morphology that they weren’t angelfishes or tangs, but there are so many species from so many families in that tank, that that didn’t help to narrow it down much.  They reminded me of damselfish larvae, but I knew that was unlikely because these larvae came from pelagic eggs and as far as I know, all damselfishes are benthic spawners.

Well, luckily we didn’t have to wait too long.  After a couple of more weeks, these things were overwhelming the 250-gallon rearing tank and had outcompeted all of the other species for available food. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t disappointed when I finally figured out what they were, but of all the species in this tank – one of the most impressive reef tanks in the world…did it have to be the monos (Monodactylus argenteus)?


Captive-bred Monodactylus argentius at the Long Island Aquarium

Really – who puts monos in a reef tank. 

  Aquaculture, Fish

 Todd Gardner

  (71 articles)

Todd Gardner is a professor of marine biology at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, NY. His life and his career have both been shaped by his passion for marine life and he has written numerous scientific and popular articles about his research and experiences collecting, keeping, and culturing marine organisms. Todd’s professional background includes work on a National Geographic documentary, commercial aquaculture at C-quest Hatchery in Puerto Rico, and an 11-year term at the Long Island Aquarium where he spent much of his time developing techniques for rearing marine fish larvae. To date he has raised more than 50 species. In 2013 Todd received the prestigious Aquarist of the Year Award from the Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA). In his spare time, Todd dives, photographs marine life, runs marathons, and plays in a blues band.


  • Jared Goldenberg says:

    Uggghhhh I hate those things! I’m sure disappointed is an understatement.

  • Todd Gardner says:

    If you care at all about the future of aquaculture, write to Joe Yaiullo and ask him to get the monos out of his reef tank.

  • Jared Goldenberg says:

    I’ll just come over with my scuba gear and remove them if you want. Small shaped charges are ok or should I bring the spear gun?

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