A Sea Change in Seahorse Taxonomy

Seahorses have seen a major shakeup overnight with the publication of a major revision to the group’s taxonomy. For about as long as we’ve known about them, these whimsical creatures have challenged our ability to accurately recognize their true species diversity,...

The Search For Seahorses In Thailand

Hippocampus mohnikei found during Thailand survey. My name is Lindsay and I’m a PhD candidate and researcher with Project Seahorse. I study seahorses in their natural habitat to understand threats to seahorses and ultimately aid in conservation efforts. I’m currently working in Thailand and wanted to share a little bit about my current research. Last year I spent eight months in Thailand gathering baseline information on seahorse populations along the Andaman (western) coast. The first month I spent building relationships with my new Thai partners and training my research assistants. In the three months that followed, I searched for seahorses by diving and snorkeling at various locations to determine several ideal locations for future research. The results of our intensive searches for seahorses yielded only eight individuals, an unexpectedly low number for the area surveyed. On a positive note, two of these individuals were sightings of a seahorse species never before seen on the Andaman coast; the Japanese Seahorse Hippocampus mohnikei. This was a very exciting discovery – and I’m in the final stages of submitting a paper discussing the increase in range of this species. Hippocampus mohnikei among seagrass. The overall low numbers of seahorses found in our initial survey lead me to question why we found so few seahorses. Was it because we were surveying in the wrong habitats? Using inappropriate methods (Even though they had worked elsewhere)? Or was there so much fishing, and therefore accidental capture of seahorses in fishing gear, there were few seahorses remaining in the areas surveyed? Understanding how to answer these questions has now become the central question to my PhD research. Not to be discouraged, I spent the next four months interviewing fishermen, asking for their input on how often they catch seahorses, what habitats they live in, and creating maps where seahorses can are found. With this information, I have been able to identify many locations on the Andaman coast where fishers report high occurrences of seahorses. I’m now starting my second field season, in which I will test the efficiency of different underwater sampling methods. By searching in areas where divers and fishers have reported sighting seahorses, I can evaluate what conditions increase the likelihood of finding seahorses as well as determine which methods are the best for sampling. Hippocampus trimaculatus found during survey. By combining the data from fishers regarding the incidental capture rate of seahorses along side the mapping of fishing grounds; I will now be able to estimate how many seahorses are captured by fishers each year. This finally allows me to assess if there is a link between fishing and low numbers of seahorses. I’ve just returned to Thailand and have started my second year of research (diving) this week. Our first site is a place in Phuket called Kata Beach – where several dive instructors have reported constant seahorse sightings over the past six months. We’ve been diving here for a week so far and have seen six seahorses – mostly Hippocampus kuda and Hippocampus spinosissimus! Looks like this season is off to a good start. Thanks again to everyone who helped support my research last year. It was an exciting and challenging year and I’m looking forward to more seahorse adventures in 2014. Lindsay is raising funds to support her assistant’s salary. Assistants are the unsung heroes of conservation research and dedicated field assistants are priceless. They willingly put up with the demands of field research – long hours, remote locations, and physical exhaustion with little financial reward. Working in a foreign country can challenging; a local assistant knows his or her community, and will help build bridges between researchers and their communities. Donate ifyou can, and please share the link:https://experiment.com/projects/searching-for-seahorses-sustainability This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 at 1:18 pm and is filed under Conservation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

CORAL Magazine’s Captive Bred Marine Fish Species List for 2014

Green Chromis, although frequent spawners in the reef aquarium, finally made the Captive-Bred List in 2013. Captive-breeding: State of the Art 2014 CORAL Magazine’s updated and definitive captive-bred marine aquarium fish species list current through December 17th, 2013, by Tal Sweet. As soon as CORAL Magazine’s 2013 Captive-Bred Marine Fish Species List was published last year, new additions started to show up. Several species that were left off the 2013 list have now been added, as well as new species that were confirmed as being captive-bred during the year. More than 30 new species have been added to the list, bringing the total to over 250. While there haven’t been a lot of new species released commercially by the large aquaculture facilities this year, there have been some exciting developments. From ORA: Black Cardinalfish (Apogonichthyoides melas) Black Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus fasciatus) Randall’s Assessor (Assessor randalli) From Bali Aquarich: Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) Clarion Angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis) Maze Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus cephalareticulatus) From Rising Tide: Green Chromis (Chromis viridis) French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum) One of the more exciting additions to the list is the Red-Striped Pipefish (Dunckerocampus baldwini) bred by Jim Welsh in Northern California. Welsh’s work with the species yielded market-sized offspring in less than six months from the beginning of the project. (A report on this project will appear in the March/April 2014 issue of CORAL.) Following up her success last year with Genicanthus watenabei, Karen Brittain in Hawaii has continued to pursue angelfish breeding projects. She started off revisiting Reef Culture Technology’s success with Centropyge interruptus as part of her “A Girlfriend for Fabio” IndieGoGo campaign, and promising progress was made in the second half of 2013 pursuing a species first with Paracentropyge venusta. Hopefully we will be able to put the Venustus Angelfish the list next year. During 2013, in an effort to narrow down the definition of “what is” a captive-bred marine fish (along with other trade jargon), Richard Ross dedicated an issue of his Skeptical Reefkeeping series to the subject. See http://packedhead.net/2013/skeptical-reefkeeping-viii-animal-origins-some-proposed-definitions/. Ross, along with Kevin Erickson, has compiled a detailed list of terms and definitions used when referring to the origins of our marine livestock. The Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI) is in agreement with this “captive-bred” definition: “Captive bred fishes are organisms that were spawned and raised in tanks or other captive facilities on land.” We augment this to simply state that captive-breeding, to be regarded as truly successful, must at a minimum raise offspring to a juvenile, marketable size. The term “tank-raised” is often used in the freshwater aquarium livestock trade and likely predates any use of the phrase in the marine trade. In the freshwater trade, “tank-raised” is often synonymous with the aforementioned definition of “captive-bred” marine fish, but over the past several years “tank-raised” has become a very confusing, and perhaps unreliable or even abused, term when applied to marine fishes. Given the advent of harvesting the pre-settlement larvae of wild fishes, many species of marine fishes are now captive-grown without being captive-spawned. These fishes should, it is widely agreed, be sold as “tank-raised” and never as “captive-bred” or “CB.” Per Ross and Erickson, “tank-raised” carries its own definition in the marine trade: “Animals from eggs or pre-settlement larvae collected in the wild, then grown or raised in tanks in facilities on land.” As more focus is being placed on pelagic-spawning species such as tangs, butterflyfishes, and angelfishes, it is likely that we will be seeing a much broader range of captive-bred fishes available in the near future. It is truly an exciting time in the realm of captive breeding of marine fishes, and we look forward to what the future has in store. This list is as up to date as possible at the time of publication and was compiled with the help of Live Aquaria, ORA, Sustainable Aquatics, and Matthew Pedersen. Tal Sweet is a marine fish breeder whose company, Fishtal Propagations, produces clownfishes, dottybacks, gobies, and Banggai Cardinalfish in Waterford, Michigan. He is one of the founders of the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI). The new 2014 Captive Bred Marine Fish Species List now supersedes the 2013 list.  Color coded perceived availability during 2013 has been included this year: Green = Commonly Available. Easy to find as a captive-bred fish, often from more than one source, throughout 2013. Blue – Moderate to Low. Might haven taken some searching, and availability may have been limited, but was reasonably obtainable as a captive-bred fish in 2013. Purple = Scarce. Generally only one source or breeder is known, and potentially only a handful of specimens may have been available. You may have “had to know someone” or even know the breeder directly in order to obtain them as captive-bred fish during 2013. Black = None. The authors and consulted parties were unaware of any retail availability of this species from a captive-bred source during 2013. Angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) Apolemichthys arcuatus, Bandit Angelfish Centropyge acanthops, African pygmy Angelfish Centropyge argi, Cherub Angelfish Centropyge colini,  Collins or Cocos Keeling Angelfish Centropyge debelius, Debelius Angelfish Centropyge fisheri, Fisher’s Angelfish Centropyge flavissima, Lemonpeel Angelfish Centropyge interruptus, Japanese Pygmy Angel Centropyge joculator, Joculator Angelfish Centropyge loricula, Flame Angelfish Centropyge multicolor, Multicolor Angelfish Centropyge resplendens, Resplendent Angelfish Chaetodontoplus cephalareticulatus, Maze Angelfish*,** Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis, Bluestriped Angelfish* Genicanthus personatus, Masked Angelfish Genicanthus watenabei, Blackedged Angelfish Holacanthus clarionensis, Clarion Angelfish Paracentropyge multifasciata, Multibar Angelfish Pomacanthus annularis, Annularis Angelfish Pomacanthus arcuatus, Gray Angelfish Pomacanthus asfur, Asfur Angelfish Pomacanthus maculosus, Yellowbar Angelfish Pomacanthus paru, French Angelfish Pomacanthus semicirculatus, Koran Angelfish Basslets (Serranidae)  Liopropoma carmabi, Candy Basslet Liopropoma rubre, Swissguard Basslet Batfishes (Ephippidae)  Chaetodipterus faber, Atlantic Spadefish Platax pinnatus, Pinnatus Batfish Platax orbicularis, Orbiculate Batfish Blennies (Blenniidae)  Chasmodes bosquianus, Striped Blenny Enchelyurus flavipes, Goldentail Comb-tooth Blenny Hypsoblennius hentz, Feather Blenny Meiacanthus atrodorsalis, Forktail Blenny Meiacanthus bundoon, Bundoon Blenny Meiacanthus grammistes, Striped Fang Blenny Meiacanthus mossambicus, Mozambique Fang Blenny Meiacanthus nigrolineatus, Blackline Fang Blenny Meiacanthus oualanensis, Canary Fang Blenny Meiacanthus smithi, Disco Blenny Meiacanthus tongaensis, Fang Blenny (Tonga) Parablennius marmoreus, Seaweed Blenny Petroscirtes breviceps, Mimic Fang Blenny Salaria pavo, Peacock Blenny Scartella cristata, Molly Miller Blenny Boxfishes (Ostraciidae) Acanthostracion quadricornis, Scrawled Cowfish Cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) Apogonichthyoides melas, Black Cardinalfish* Apogonichthyoides nigripinnis, Bullseye Cardinalfish* Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus, 5 Lined Cardinalfish Ostorhinchus compressus, Ochre-striped Cardinalfish Ostorhinchus cyanosoma, Yellowstriped Cardinalfish Ostorhinchus margaritophorus, Copper Lined Cardinalfish Pterapogon kauderni, Banggai Cardinalfish Pterapogon mirifica, Sailfin Cardinalfish Sphaeramia nematoptera, Pajama Cardinalfish Zoramia leptacantha, Threadfin Cardinalfish Marine Catfishes (Plotosidae) Plotosus lineatus, Striped Eel Catfish Clingfishes (Gobiesocidae)  Gobiesox punctulatus, Stippled Clingfish Gobiesox strumosus, Skilletfish Clownfishes (Pomacentridae)  Amphiprion akallopisos, Skunk Clownfish Amphiprion akindynos, Barrier Reef Clownfish Amphiprion allardi, Allard’s Clownfish Amphiprion barberi, Fiji Barberi Clownfish Amphiprion bicinctus, Red Sea (Two-Barred) Clownfish Amphiprion chrysogaster, Mauritian Clownfish Amphiprion chrysopterus, Orangefin Anemonefish Amphiprion clarkii, Clarkii Clownfish Amphiprion ephippium, Red Saddleback Clownfish Amphiprion frenatus, Tomato Clownfish Amphiprion latezonatus, Wide Band Clownfish Amphiprion leucokranos, Whitebonnet Clownfish Amphiprion mccullochi, McCulloch’s Clownfish Amphiprion melanopus, Cinnamon Clownfish Amphiprion nigripes, Blackfinned Clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris, Ocellaris Clownfish Amphiprion percula, Percula Clownfish Amphiprion perideraion, Pink Skunk Clownfish Amphiprion polymnus, Saddleback Clownfish Amphiprion rubrocinctus, Australian Clownfish Amphiprion sandaracinos, Orange Skunk Clownfish Amphiprion sebae, Sebae Clownfish Amphiprion tricinctus, Three-Band Clownfish Premnas biaculeatus, Maroon Clownfish Convict Blennies (Pholidichthyidae)  Pholidichthys leucotaenia, Convict Blenny, Engineer Goby Damselfishes (Pomacentridae) Abudefduf saxatilis, Sergeant Major Acanthochromis polyacanthus, Orange Line Chromis Amblyglyphidodon aureus, Golden Damselfish Amblyglyphidodon ternatensis, Ternate Damselfish Chromis nitida, Barrier Reef Chromis Chromis viridis, Blue Green Chromis Chrysiptera cyanea, Blue Devil Damselfish Chrysiptera hemicyanea, Azure Damselfish Chrysiptera parasema, Yellowtail Damselfish Chrysiptera rex, King Demoiselle Chrysiptera taupou, Fiji Blue Devil Dascyllus albisella, Whitespot Damselfish, Hawaiian Dascyllus Dascyllus aruanus, Three Stripe Damselfish Dascyllus trimaculatus, Three Spot Domino Damselfish Hypsypops rubicundus, Garibaldi Damselfish Microspathodon chrysurus, Jewel Damselfish Neoglyphidodon crossi, Cross’s Damselfish Neoglyphidodon melas, Bowtie Damselfish Neoglyphidodon nigroris, Black and Gold Chromis Neopomacentrus bankieri, Lyretail Damselfish Neopomacentrus cyanomos, Regal Damselfish Neopomacentrus filamentosus, Brown Damselfish Neopomacentrus nemurus, Yellow-Tipped Damselfish Neopomacentrus violascens, Violet Demoiselle Pomacentrus amboinensis, Ambon Damselfish Pomacentrus caeruleus, Caerulean Damselfish Pomacentrus coelestis, Neon Damselfish Pomacentrus nagasakiensis, Nagasaki Damselfish Pomacentrus pavo, Sapphire Damselfish Dartfishes (Ptereleotridae)  Parioglossus cf. dotui, Dotui Dartfish Dottybacks (Pseudochromidae)  Congrogadus subducens, Wolf Blenny Cypho purpurascens, Oblique Lined Dottyback Labracinus cyclophthalmus, Red Dottyback Labracinus lineatus, Lined Dottyback Manonichthys alleni, Allen’s Dottyback Manonichthys polynemus, Longfin Dottyback Manonichthys splendens, Splendid Dottyback Ogilbyina novaehollandiae, Australian Pseudochromis Oxycercichthys veliferus, Sailfin Dottyback Pictichromis diadema, Diadem Dottyback Pictichromis paccagnellae, Bicolor or Royal Dottyback Pictichromis porphyrea, Magenta Dottyback Pseudochromis aldabraensis, Neon Dottyback Pseudochromis bitaeniatus, Double Striped Dottyback Pseudochromis cyanotaenia, Blue Bar Dottyback Pseudochromis dilectus, Dilectus Dottyback* Pseudochromis elongatus, Red Head Elegant Dottyback Pseudochromis flavivertex, Sunrise Dottyback Pseudochromis fridmani, Orchid Dottyback Pseudochromis fuscus, Dusky or Yellow Dottyback Pseudochromis olivaceus, Olive Dottyback Pseudochromis sankeyi, Sankey’s or Striped Dottyback Pseudochromis springeri, Springer’s Dottyback Pseudochromis steenei, Flamehead or Steen’s Dottyback Pseudochromis tapeinosoma, Blackmargin Dottyback Pseudochromis tonozukai, Tono’s or Orange Peel Dottyback Dragonets (Callionymidae)  Callionymus bairdi, Lancer Dragonet Callionymus enneactis, Mosaic Dragonet Synchiropus ocellatus, Scooter Blenny Synchiropus picturatus, Spotted Mandarin Synchiropus splendidus, Green Mandarin Synchiropus stellatus, Red Scooter Blenny Drums (Sciaenidae)  Equetus lanceolatus, Jackknife Fish Equetus punctatus, Spotted Drum Pareques acuminatus, High Hat Pareques umbrosus, Cubbyu Filefishes (Monacanthidae)  Acreichthys tomentosus, Bristletail Filefish Oxymonacanthus longirostris, Orange Spotted Filefish Flagtails (Kuhliidae) Kuhlia mugil, Barred Flagtail* Frogfishes (Antennariidae)  Rhycherus filamentosus, Tasseled Frogfish Gobies (Gobiidae)  Amblygobius phalaena, Banded Sleeper Goby Coryphopterus personatus, Masked Goby Cryptocentroides gobiodes, Crested Oyster Goby* Cryptocentrus cinctus, Yellow Watchman Goby Cryptocentrus fasciatus, Y-Bar Watchman Goby Cryptocentrus leptocephalus, Pink-Speckled Shrimp Goby Cryptocentrus lutheri, Luther’s Prawn-Goby Elacatinus chancei, Shortstripe Goby Elacatinus evelynae, Golden Neon or Sharknose Goby Elacatinus figaro, Barber Goby Elacatinus genie, Cleaning Goby Elacatinus horsti, Yellowline Goby Elacatinus louisae, Spotlight Goby Elacatinus macrodon, Tiger Goby Elacatinus multifasciatus, Green Banded Goby Elacatinus oceanops, Neon Goby Elacatinus prochilos, Broadstripe Goby Elacatinus puncticulatus, Red Headed Goby Elacatinus randalli, Yellownose Goby Elacatinus xanthiprora, Golden Goby Gobiodon citrinus, Citron Clown Goby Gobiodon okinawae, Okinawan Goby Gobiosoma bosc, Naked Goby Koumansetta hectori, Hector’s Goby Koumansetta rainfordi, Rainford’s Goby Lythrypnus dalli, Catalina Goby Grammas (Grammatidae)  Gramma loreto, Royal Gramma Gramma melacara, Blackcap Basslet Lipogramma klayi, Bicolor Basslet Groupers (Serranidae)  Chromileptes altivelis, Panther or Humpback Grouper Epinephelus lanceolatus, Giant or Bumblebee Grouper Pectropomus leopardus, Coral Trout* Serranus subligarius, Belted Sandfish Grunts (Haemulidae)  Anisotremus virginicus, Porkfish Haemulon flavolineatum, French Grunt* Hamlets (Serranidae)  Hypoplectrus gemma, Blue Hamlet Hypoplectrus guttavarius, Shy Hamlet Hypoplectrus unicolor, Butter Hamlet Jacks (Carangidae)  Gnathanodon speciosus, Golden Trevally, Pilot Fish Selene vomer, Lookdown Jawfishes (Opistognathidae)  Opistognathus aurifrons, Pearly Jawfish Opistognathus macrognathus, Banded Jawfish Opistognathus punctatus, Finespotted Jawfish* Labrasomid Blennies (Labrisomidae) Paraclinus grandicomis, Horned Blenny Pipefishes (Syngnathidae)  Doryrhamphus excisus, Bluestripe Pipefish Doryrhamphus janssi, Janss’s Pipefish Dunckerocampus baldwini, Flame Pipefish, Red Striped Pipefish* Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, Ringed Pipefish Dunckerocampus pessuliferus, Yellow Banded Pipefish Haliichthys taeniophorus, Ribboned Pipefish Syngnathus scovelli, Gulf Pipefish Puffers (Tetraodontidae)  Arthoron nigropunctatus, Dog-faced Pufferfish* Canthigaster rostrata, Sharpnose Puffer Lagocephalus spadiceus, Half-Smooth Golden Puffer Sphoeroides annulatus, Bullseye Pufferfish* Sphoeroides maculatus, Northern Puffer Rabbitfishes (Siganidae)  Siganus canaliculatus, White-Spotted Spinefoot Siganus guttatus, Oranged-spotted Rabbitfish* Siganus lineatus, Golden-Lined Spinefoot Siganus rivulatus, Marbled Spinefoot Siganus vermiculatus, Vermiculated Rabbitfish* Assessors (Plesiopidae)  Assessor flavissimus, Yellow Assessor Assessor macneilli, Blue Assessor Assessor randalli, Randal’s Assessor Calloplesiops altivelis, Marine Betta, Comet Trachinops taeniatus, Eastern Hulafish* Seadragons (Syngnathidae)  Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, Common Seadragon Seahorses (Syngnathidae)  Hippocampus abdominalis, Bigbelly Seashorse Hippocampus barbouri, Barbour’s Seahorse Hippocampus breviceps, Short-Head Seahorse Hippocampus capensis, Knysna Seahorse Hippocampus comes, Tiger Tail Seahorse Hippocampus erectus, Lined Seahorse Hippocampus fuscus, Sea Pony Hippocampus histrix, Thorny Seahorse Hippocampus ingens, Pacific Seahorse Hippocampus kelloggi, Great Seahorse Hippocampus kuda, Yellow or Common Seahorse Hippocampus procerus, High-Crown Seahorse Hippocampus reidi, Brazilian or Longsnout Seahorse Hippocampus trimaculatus, Longnose Seahorse Hippocampus whitei, White’s Seahorse Hippocampus zosterae, Dwarf Seahorse Bamboo Sharks (Hemiscylliidae)  Chiloscyllium hasseltii, Hasselt’s Bamboo Shark Chiloscyllium plagiosum, Whitespotted Bamboo Shark Chiloscyllium punctatum, Brownbanded Bamboo Shark Hemiscyllium hallistromi, Papuan Epaulette Shark Hemiscyllium ocellatum, Epaulette Shark Cat Sharks (Scyliorhinidae) Atelomycterus marmoratus, Coral Catshark* Bullhead Sharks (Heterodontidae)  Heterodontus francisci, Horn Shark Shrimpfishes (Centriscidae)  Aeoliscus strigatus, Razorfish, Shrimpfish Snappers (Lutjanidae)  Lutjanus sebae, Red Emperor Snapper Whiptail Rays (Dasyatidae)  Taeniura lymma, Bluespot Stingray Toadfishes (Batrachoididae)  Allenbatrachus grunniens, Grunting Toadfish Opsanus tau, Oyster Toadfish Triggerfishes (Balistidae)  Balistes vetula, Queen Triggerfish Xanthichthys mento, Crosshatch Triggerfish Triplefins (Tripterygiidae) Enneapterygius etheostomus, Snake Blenny Wrasses (Labridae)  Labroides dimidiatus, Cleaner Wrasse* Parajulis poecilepterus, Rainbow Wrasse Lachnolaimus maximus, Hogfish *New to the list for 2013.  May have been first captive-bred in 2013, or may be a species accomplishment occurring prior to 2013, only coming to our attention or confirmed in 2013. ** Name validity of Chaetodontoplus cephalareticulatus is under debate; some consider the Maze Angelfish it to be a variant of C. chrysocephalus (the Orangeface Angelfish) or even a naturally occurring hybrid of one or more Chaetodontoplus spp. Source: CORAL, Vol. 11, Number 1, January/February 2014

CORAL Featured Video: The Tiniest Seahorses

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXLu6vEyCBk A fabulous must-see video by CORAL photographers Denise Nielsen Tackett and Larry Tackett posted by Wakatobi Dive Resort and narrated by Denise herself. Includes never-before-seen live birth of pygmy seahorses. Denise is reputed to have exceptional “critter eyes” and the ability to spot tiny organisms on the reef. She was honored in the naming of Hippocampus denise, Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse, for having been the first to find and photograph this species.