DNA sequencing reveals two Genicanthus species almost raised at the Long Island Aquarium

by | Feb 27, 2013 | Conservation, Fish, Industry, Science | 3 comments

mystery angel93sm

Last summer I reported on reefs.com that I had raised a number of marine angelfish (around a dozen in all) to more than one month of age using only cultured copepods obtained from Algagen. In each case, the late-stage larvae began to show a marked increase in pigmentation and changes in behavior that often coincide with settlement.  Although I have yet to get any angelfish to settlement, I do consider this to be something of an accomplishment. I had no way of knowing which species of angelfish I was dealing with as we have at least five species in our reef tank that may be mated pairs. As I reported in an earlier post, I sent a couple of specimens off to Dr. Andrew Rhyne at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.  The plan was that he would have their DNA sequenced so that we could get a positive species identification while waiting to finally get some through metamorphosis.

angel larva4sm

In the months that followed, shifts in priority related to a different kind of rearing (our son, Finn), and recovering from our brush with a massive hurricane (Sandy), took some attention away from my aquaculture efforts and little progress has been made. The angelfish specimens were starting to fade into distant memory when, a few weeks ago while eating dinner, I received a text from Dr. Rhyne telling me that the results of the sequencing were back and that the two specimens I had sent him were actually two different species: Genicanthus melanospilos and Genicanthus bellus.  This was exciting news as very few Genicanthus species had been raised in captivity and the two well-established pairs in our reef tank would likely give me more opportunities to try.

Angel IDsm

This well-timed news came just as I was gearing up to get some of my larval tanks back on-line, and restart the copepod cultures that had been lost in the wake of the storm.  This week we made our first pelagic egg collection from the reef tank since things are back to normal, and although I have no idea which species are represented by this latest haul, perhaps there will be some more Genicanthus in the mix.

mystery angel92sm

  • Todd Gardner

    Todd Gardner is a professor of Aquaculture and Marine Biology at Carteret Community College in Morehead City, North Carolina where he oversees a partnership between the college and The Biota Group, a world leader in sustainably cultured marine life. Todd's life and career have been shaped by his passion for ocean 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 makes music.

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  1. James

    This is so cool. Todd, you are my reefing hero.

  2. JimWelsh

    Which species of copepod was that, Todd?

  3. Todd Gardner

    Acartia, Parvocalanus, and Pseudodiaptomus.


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