Please see the updated captive-bred marine fish species list for 2023!

One of the newest “species firsts,” and the last to make it onto the list from 2012, was Karen Brittain’s successful spawning and rearing of Genicanthus wantanabae.

One of the most prevalent topics among marine aquarists first learning of captive breeding is this relentless question: “Which marine fish species have been bred?”  This simple-sounding query routinely defies a valid answer as numerous partial lists, and varying definitions of what constitutes “captive breeding,” has ensured that no one really could see the big picture.

Even our German counterparts at KORALLE recently published a “captive-bred” species list that encompassed some 90+ species.  While impressive, CORAL editor Matt Pedersen, with the advantage of a ringside U.S. seat perspective, immediately knew there were dozens of species missing from that list.  By the time we were done, the number of absent species approached 150.

As 2012 drew to a close, CORAL Magazine teamed up with marine fish breeder Tal Sweet, co-founder of the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI), to bring to you a truly comprehensive list of captive-bred species, which resulted in Captive-breeding: State of the Art 2013, as published in our newest issue, the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of CORAL Magazine, pages 54-57.

Sweet's List - Tal Sweet's Captive Bred Marine Aquarium Fish Species List through 2012

Sweet’s List – Tal Sweet’s Captive Bred Marine Aquarium Fish Species List through 2012

Sweet’s list was driven, first and foremost, by the MBI’s own species database, which is derived by open submissions that are curated  and researched by a small team of long-term experienced marine fish breeders.

While the main goal of this process  is to assign a difficulty ranking to each species submitted (for the purposes of scoring breeding accomplishments for MBI participants), an offshoot of the data collected includes maintaining records of any species which has been successfully spawned and reared to a juvenile, salable size, solely under captive aquaculture conditions (tanks and larger scale ornamental fish farms).

The upshot of this MBI list is that not one, but several aquarists and scientists are routinely taking note of any new success and finding old ones we’ve collectively overlooked, and submitting them into the database for inclusion.  While older, established species may lack references to their first captive-breeding successes (no one doubts that Ocellaris Clownfish have been captive-bred), modern or obscure species often include fully documented references to the captive-breeding efforts, resulting in one of the most reliable and expansive aggregations of marine aquarium fish breeding success data in the world.  To be certain, MBI council members don’t post a species as a “captive-bred success” unless they can be certain it has been.

Inspired by Inken Krause’s German list, Tal Sweet took it a step further.  As Krause had done in Germany, Sweet combined collaboration with commercial marine fish breeders and retailers in the US with input from other experienced breeders, as well as his own general awareness with the marine fish breeding community, to create a snapshot of availability for each species over 2012.

With over 233 species verified as captive-bred, it should surprise no one that many of these successes have only been one-time, experimental accomplishments.  Still, Sweet’s survey of availability suggests that over 100 species of marine fish were available (at some level) as captive-bred specimens during 2012.

Errata, Omissions, Addendums, and Explanations….

We categorized this post in our CORAL Errata blog to note that no sooner did we print our list, than it was no longer complete! Between the time this list went to press, and the time the print magazine arrived on our doorsteps, news broke about ORA’s successful captive breeding of Randall’s Assessor (Assessor randalli) and the Finespotted Jawfish (Opistognathus punctatus)—captive breeding is definitely progressing at a speed like never seen before.

We’d also like to emphasize the photo credit for this article goes to Daniel Knop.  The credit is there, but is obscured by the image behind it.

We’d like to point out that some fish were included in our list that perhaps are not truly suited for aquarium life, and yet for the same reason other species may have been omitted.  Consider the Tasseled Frogfish, Rhyncherus filamentosus, which is technically a temperate species that should serve more as an inspiration that yes, frogfish breeding is indeed possible (there are also two non-aquarium wrasse species which have been successfully bred, and may find their way onto the list next time). One of our challenges for the next compilation of this species list may be a stricter (or clearer) definition of what qualifies a species to be on an marine ornamental species listing.

We are also aware of at least one glaring mistake in the Panther Grouper (Chromileptes altivelis) being listed as a goby and not a grouper (fixed below), as well as the omissions of handful of grunt species (not typically home aquarium fare) and potentially several rabbitfish species (which are direct relatives of our foxfaces).  We noticed that our three listed rabbitfish species show “scarce” availability color coding in our print edition; this is likely an oversight that occurred during our color selections.  We are not aware of any aquarium-trade availability of these species during 2012, but they certainly may have been available through the foodfish industry. Does it surprise anyone to learn that foxface-like fish are in fact routinely cultured as foodfish? Perhaps it’s time that some intrepid aquarist takes up the challenge of breeding foxfaces (such as Siganus vulpinus) at home; if you succeed, we’d be delighted to talk about an article and will make sure to get your documented success added to next year’s list!

Correction from Tal Sweet (2/1/2013): “Leafy Seadragons, Phycodurus eques, have not been captive bred “completely” as per the terms of our list. They have been “raised” in captivity but not “bred” in captivity.

We’ve included Tal Sweet’s 2013 list of species below, but to view the list including the magazine’s color-coded availability assessments for 2012, you’ll need to get the January/February 2013 issue of CORAL Magazine. Please support your local aquarium retailer and pick up this issue from one of our many fine independent retailers!  Or, if you prefer but don’t already have a subscription, you can easily subscribe online to CORAL Magazine, and if you can’t wait, view your digital edition!

We hope to make the updating of this list, and availability assessments, an annual tradition.  We encourage you to share and enjoy what we feel is the most comprehensive and accurate captive-bred marine aquarium fish species list to-date, and we look forward to bringing you an ever expanding list each year to come. – The Team at

Captive-breeding: State of the Art 2013

CORAL Magazine’s definitive captive-bred marine aquarium fish species list through 2012, by Tal Sweet

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 Angelfish

Centropyge joculator, Joculator Angelfish

Centropyge loricula, Flame Angelfish

Centropyge multicolor, Multicolor Angelfish

Centropyge multifasciata, Multibar Angelfish

Centropyge resplendens, Resplendent Angelfish

Genicanthus personatus, Masked Angelfish

Genicanthus watenabei, Blackedged 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) 

Platax pinnatus, Pinnatus Batfish

Platax orbicularis, Orbiculate Batfish

Chaetodipterus faber, Atlantic Spadefish

Blennies (Blenniidae) 

Parablennius marmoreus, Seaweed Blenny

Chasmodes bosquianus, Striped Blenny

Enchelyurus flavipes, Goldentail Combtooth 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 (Tonga) or Combtooth Blenny

Petroscirtes breviceps, Mimic Fang Blenny

Salaria pavo, Peacock Blenny

Scartella cristata, Molly Miller Blenny

Boxfishes (Ostraciidae)

Acanthostracion quadricornis, Scrawled Cowfish

Cardinalfishes (Apogonidae)

Apogon compressus, Ochre-Striped Cardinalfish

Apogon cyanosoma, Yellow-Striped Cardinalfish

Apogon margaritophorus, Copper-Lined Cardinalfish

Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus, Five-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, Fire/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 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

Frogfishes (Antennariidae) 

Rhycherus filamentosus, Tasseled Frogfish

Gobies (Gobiidae) 

Amblygobius phalaena, Banded Sleeper Goby

Coryphopterus personatus, Masked 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

Serranus subligarius, Belted Sandfish

Grunts (Haemulidae) 

Anisotremus virginicus, Porkfish

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 dactyliophorus, Ringed Pipefish

Dunckerocampus pessuliferus, Yellow Banded Pipefish

Haliichthys taeniophorus, Ribboned Pipefish

Syngnathus scovelli, Gulf Pipefish

Puffers (Tetraodontidae) 

Sphoeroides maculatus, Northern Puffer

Canthigaster rostrata, Sharpnose Puffer

Lagocephalus spadiceus, Half-Smooth Golden Puffer

Rabbitfishes (Siganidae) 

Siganus canaliculatus, White-Spotted Spinefoot

Siganus lineatus, Golden-Lined Spinefoot

Siganus rivulatus, Marbled Spinefoot

Assessors (Plesiopidae) 

Assessor flavissimus, Yellow Assessor

Assessor macneilli, Blue Assessor

Assessor randalli, Randal’s Assessor*

Calloplesiops altivelis, Marine Betta, Comet

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

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) 

Parajulis poecilepterus, Rainbow Wrasse*

Lachnolaimus maximus, Hogfish*

Source: CORAL, Vol. 10, Number 1, January/February 2013

* Did not appear in the published list

Please see the updated captive-bred marine fish species list for 2016!

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