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

Introduction to the 2015 Captive-Bred Marine Fish List in CORAL Magazine, by Tal Sweet. Rudarius ercodes filefish image courtesy ORA

Introduction to the 2015 Captive-Bred Marine Fish List in CORAL Magazine, by Tal Sweet. Rudarius ercodes filefish image courtesy ORA


CORAL Magazine’s Annual Listing of captive-bred marine aquarium fish species, current through December 2014

“Success,” the great Winston Churchill once quipped, “consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Little known is that the gruff Mr. Churchill loved exotic animals, from captive-hatched butterflies and black swans to pond life and tropical fishes. He knew that his charges could be difficult to tame, even exasperating at times, and he probably would have marveled at the list of marine aquarium fishes bred in captivity for the first time in the past year.

2014 turned out to be a year of gathering momentum among saltwater breeders, who report some interesting successes with ornamental marine fishes. While the majority of new species added to the list of those that have been successfully bred aren’t among the most revolutionary, there are some noteworthy accomplishments. As of the beginning of December 2014, when this list was compiled, 17 new species had been added to CORAL’s list.

In stark contrast to last year’s list, one hatchery, Florida-based Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums (ORA), can claim the lion’s share—over 40 percent—of this year’s captive-bred firsts. Those reaching the podium are as follows:

ORA (Oceans Reefs and Aquariums)

  • Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish (Rudarius ercodes)
  • Orbic Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia orbicularis)
  • Girdled Goby (Priolepis cincta)
  • Fleck fin Dottyback (Pseudoplesiops wassi) – accomplished in 2013, but not publicly mentioned until 2014
  • Spotnape Cardinalfish (Apogon notatus)
  • Red Sea Mimic Blenny (Ecsenius gravieri)
  • Jaguar Goby (Gobiopsis quinquecincta)
  • Kamohara Blenny (Mieacanthus kamohari)

Bali Aquarich:

  • Zebra Batfish (Platax batavianus)
  • Scribbled Angelfish (Chaetodonotplus duboulayi)

Sustainable Aquatics:

  • Staghorn Damselfish (Amphyglyphidodon curacao)

Fisheye Aquaculture:

  • Smallmouth Grunt (Haemulon chrysargyreum)

Steinhart Aquarium

  • Bargibant’s Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti)

Ross DeAngelis

  • Madagascar Clownfish (Amphiprion latifasciatus)

Karen Brittain

  • Purplemask Angelfish (Paracentropyge venusta)

Other Scientists / Researchers

  • Two-striped Cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus quadrifasciatus) – Published in 2013, but only came to our attention now
  • Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)

As we reported last year, Karen Brittain of Hawaii began working with the Purple Masked Angelfish, Paracentropyge venusta. In 2014 she managed to raise juveniles well past settlement, including successful larval rearing using only cultivated feeds. She is continuing to perfect the protocols for raising more of them (see page 82 of this issue).

One of the most exciting successes of the year came in a tiny package. In June it was announced that Richard Ross and Matt Wandell of the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco were the first to breed and rear the smallest species of seahorse currently in captivity, Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti. This was a complicated project that entailed being able to keep the fish’s host gorgonian, Muricella paraplectana, alive in captivity for three years, another first. Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorses spend their entire lives on this species of coral.

There has been speculation that the historic inclusion of two species on the list might have been invalid. Koumansetta hectori (Hector’s Goby) and its sister goby species, K. randalli, have been on captive-bred lists for so long that it is difficult, if not impossible, to pin down the origins of claims of breeding success, causing aquarists to question whether they had ever actually been bred in captivity. As of late 2014, captive-bred Hector’s Gobies have been fully documented and proven by not one, but two U.S.-based commercial marine fish breeders. Both Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums (ORA) and Sustainable Aquatics (SA) have been working with the species, and both report they should be available for purchase in 2015.

Two species added to the captive-bred list this year could be considered provisional. Sustainable Aquatics’ addition of the Staghorn Damselfish, Amblyglyphidodon curacao, is tentative because, the company says, the species identification is not concrete. The broodstock was purchased as A. curacao, but Sustainable Aquatics is not 100 percent convinced.

Another event raising eyebrows is the potentially groundbreaking captive spawning and rearing through settlement of the Purple Firefish, Nemateleotris decora. Some aquarists view the peer-reviewed journal article by India’s Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute that documents this success with skepticism. Among other things, the lack of photographs that record the late larval and settlement phases leaves skeptics wanting more.

This is not the first time that a scientific journal article has been called into question; since 2011, the ongoing work in Taiwan on the captive breeding of the Regal Blue Tang, or Blue Hepatus Tang, Paracanthurus hepatus, has been challenged by some, who cite lack of documentation and photographic evidence, as well as larviculture timelines and claims that are in stark contrast to the well documented efforts of others. Nevertheless, many published breeding accomplishments, particularly with the damselfishes, are based on claims backed by far less documentation than that available for Nemateleotris decora, so until proven wrong, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute’s claim will stand.

It is also noteworthy that two “proofs of concept” came in the form of tank-raised fishes this year, the subtle distinction being that they aren’t considered captive-bred because they were reared from wild-collected eggs. In short, the spawning happened in the wild. Tom Bowling succeeded in rearing the first parrotfish larvae in the form of the Bumphead Parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum, and Frank Baench was able to bring the Schooling Bannerfish, the butterflyfish known as Heniochus diphreutes, from egg to fully settled juvenile in captivity. While some speculated that 2014 would be the year we saw the first captive-bred butterflyfishes, it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps 2015 is the year?

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 2015 Captive Bred Marine Fish Species List now supersedes the 2014 list, and the 2013 list.  Color coded perceived availability during 2013 has been included this year:

Orange  Common Name = new to the list this year.

Green = Commonly Available. Easy to find as a captive-bred fish, often from more than one source, throughout 2014 and/or into 2015.

Blue – Moderate to Low. Might have taken some searching, and availability may have been limited, but was reasonably obtainable as a captive-bred fish in 2014.

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 2014.

Black = None. The authors and consulted parties were unaware of any retail availability of this species from a captive-bred source during 2014.

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

Chaetodonotplus duboulayi, Scribbled Angelfish

Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis, Bluestriped Angelfish

Genicanthus personatus, Masked Angelfish

Genicanthus watenabei, Blackedged Angelfish

Holacanthus clarionensis, Clarion Angelfish

Paracentropyge multifasciata, Multibar Angelfish

Paracentropyge venusta, Purplemask 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 bativianus, Zebra Batfish

Platax pinnatus, Pinnatus Batfish

Platax orbicularis, Orbiculate Batfish

Blennies (Blenniidae) 

Chasmodes bosquianus, Striped Blenny

Ecsenius gravieri, Red Sea Mimic Blenny

Enchelyurus flavipes, Goldentail Comb-tooth Blenny

Hypsoblennius hentz, Feather Blenny

Meiacanthus atrodorsalis, Forktail Blenny

Meiacanthus bundoon, Bundoon Blenny

Meiacanthus grammistes, Striped Fang Blenny

Meicanthus kamohari, Kamohara 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)

Apogon notatus, Spotnape Cardinalfish

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

Ostorhinchus quadrifasciatus, Two-striped Cardinalfish

Pterapogon kauderni, Banggai Cardinalfish

Pterapogon mirifica, Sailfin Cardinalfish

Sphaeramia nematoptera, Pajama Cardinalfish

Sphaeramia orbicularis, Orbic 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 latifasciatus, Madagascar 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

Amphyglyphidodon curacao, Staghorn 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) 

Nemateleotris decora, Purple Firefish

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

Pseudoplesiops wassi, Fleck fin 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

Rudarius ercodes, Whitespotted Pygmy 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

Gobiopsis quinquecincta, Jaguar Goby

Gobiosoma bosc, Naked Goby

Koumansetta hectori, Hector’s Goby

Koumansetta rainfordi, Rainford’s Goby

Lythrypnus dalli, Catalina Goby

Priolepis cincta, Girdled Goby

Grammas (Grammatidae) 

Gramma loreto, Royal Gramma

Gramma melacara, Blackcap Basslet

Lipogramma klayi, Bicolor Basslet

Groupers (Serranidae) 

Chromileptes altivelisPanther or Humpback Grouper

Epinephelus lanceolatus, Giant or Bumblebee Grouper

Pectropomus leopardus, Coral Trout

Serranus subligarius, Belted Sandfish

Grunts (Haemulidae) 

Anisotremus virginicus, Porkfish

Haemulon chrysargyreum, Smallmouth Grunt

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 bargibanti, Bargibant’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

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

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