90-day-old captive-bred Blue Tuxedo Urchins (Mespilia globulus) rest in a drop of water in Chad Vossen's hand.

Ninety-day-old tiny, perfect, captive-bred Blue Tuxedo Urchins (Mespilia globulus) rest in a drop of water in breeder Chad Vossen’s hand.


by Tal Sweet and Matt Pedersen

CORAL Magazine’s first annual listing of captive-bred marine aquarium invertebrate species, current through the end of 2017

Excerpt from the March/April 2019 issue of CORAL Magazinesubscribe today!

The propagation of fishes and corals is a high-profile endeavor, but aquarists seldom give a second thought to the clean-up crews—the inverts, occasionally well-endowed aesthetically, that we invite to live in our reef tanks. But, as some researchers have cautioned, little is known about the sustainable harvest of wild invertebrates.

While today’s Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI) certainly supports aquarists working to breed invertebrates, nothing has really replaced the momentum generated by Project DIBS (Desirable Invertebrate Breeding Society). Some think it’s high time to bring the breeding of these often-overlooked invertebrates to the center stage. The MBI’s nearly 10-year-old database has yielded a preliminary list of marine aquarium invertebrate species that have been bred in captivity. Those original data have been augmented by insider knowledge and insights from other aquarists. The result? For the first time, CORAL is offering a comprehensive look at the captive breeding of motile tropical ornamental invertebrates for the marine aquarium hobby and trade.


This list intentionally excludes invertebrates cultured as food organisms, whether for adult or larval fishes and invertebrates; you won’t find brine and Mysis shrimps, rotifers, or copepods on the list. Also intentionally excluded are those that propagate asexually (by fragmentation and division); we have focused squarely on the often-difficult task of sexually propagating marine invertebrates, many of which exist as captive-propagated organisms only as byproducts of other research or food production (for example, Tridacnid clams).

This list also excludes the propagation, sexual or otherwise, of all sessile Cnidarians (stony corals, soft corals, anemones, and so forth), at least for this first year, but does include some examples of captive-bred sea jellies. In the future, the list may expand to include a proper accounting of sexually-propagated corals.

It must be acknowledged that this list is incomplete; some species that have been propagated have very likely been missed. However, the hope is that this list will spark discussion and information-gathering. Please review it, then comment and share additional data that may be incorporated into a more robust offering for 2019 and beyond.

The new 2018 Captive-Bred Marine Invertebrate Species List. Color-coded perceived availability in the United States from November, 2016, through January, 2018, has been included this year:


Orange  Common Name = Starting in 2019; all species are “new to the list” this year!
Pink Common Name = Starting in 2019; all species are “new to the list” this year!
Green = Commonly Available. Easy to find as a captive-bred marine invertebrate, often from more than one source, throughout 2017.
Blue = Moderate to Low. Might have taken some searching, and availability may have been limited, potentially only with one source, but was reasonably obtainable as a captive-bred marine invertebrate in 2017.
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 marine invertebrates during 2017.
Black = None. The authors and consulted parties were unaware of any retail availability of this species from a captive-bred source during 2017.



Euprymna scolopes, Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Octopus bimaculoides, California Two-Spot Octopus

Octopus briareus, Caribbean Reef Octopus

Octopus chierchiae, Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus

Octopus mercatoris, Caribbean Dwarf Octopus

Sepia bandensis, Dwarf Banded Cuttlefish

Sepia latimanus, Broadclub Cuttlefish

Sepia officinalis, Common Cuttlefish

Sepia pharaonis, Pharaoh Cuttlefish

Sepioloidea lineolata, Striped Pajama Squid

Sepioteuthis lessoniana, Bigfin Reef Squid

Metasepia pfefferi, Flamboyant Cuttlefish



Hippopus hippopus, Bear Paw Clam

Hippopus porcellanus, China Clam

Tridacna crocea, Boring Clam

Tridacna derasa, Smooth Giant Clam

Tridacna gigas, Giant Clam

Tridacna maxima, Maxima Clam

Tridacna noae, Teardrop Maxima Clam

Tridacna squamosa, Fluted Giant Clam

Tridacna squamosina (syn. T. costata)



Mithraculus forceps, Red-Ridged Clinging Crab

Mithraculus sculptus, Emerald Crab

Petrolisthes galathinus, Banded Porcelain Crab


Hermit Crabs

Calcinus laevimanus, Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab

Calcinus latens, Hidden Hermit Crab

Clibanarius digueti, Mexican Red Leg Hermit Crab

Clibanarius tricolor, Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab

Paguristes cadenati, Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab


Sea Cucumbers

Holothuria fuscopunctata, Caledonian Sand Sifting Cucumber

Holothuria scabra, Golden Sandfish


Sea Jellies

Aurelia aurita, Moon Jellyfish

Cassiopea spp., Upside-Down Jellyfish

Mastigias papua, Spotted Lagoon Jellyfish

Phyllorhiza punctata, Australian Spotted Jellyfish

Rhopilema esculentum, Flame Jellyfish

Sanderia malayensis, Amakusa Jellyfish


Sea Slugs

Aplysia brasiliana, Mottled Sea Hare (may be Aplysia fasciata; see http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12545)

Aplysia californica, California Sea Hare

Aplysia oculifera, Spotted Sea Hare

Berghia verrucicornis or Aeolidiella stephanieae, Berghia or Aiptasia-Eating Nudibranch

Bursatella leachii, Ragged Sea Hare

Elysia clarki, Lettuce Nudibranch


Sea Urchins

Diadema antillarum, Black Longspine Urchin, Long-Spined Sea Urchin

Lytechinus variegates, Variegated Sea Urchin

Mespilia globulus, Blue Tuxedo Urchin



Ancylomenes pedersoni, Pederson’s Anemone Shrimp

Hymenocera elegans, Harlequin Shrimp

Hymenocera picta, Harlequin Shrimp (Hawaiian/East-Central Pacific form)

Lysmata amboinensis, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata ankeri, Peppermint Shrimp

Lysmata boggessi, Peppermint Shrimp

Lysmata debelius, Fire Shrimp

Lysmata grabhami, Caribbean Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata kuekenthali, Kükenthal’s Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata pederseni, Pedersen’s Peppermint Shrimp

Lysmata prima, Striped Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata rafa, Rafael’s Peppermint Shrimp

Lysmata rathbunae, Rathbun Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata seticaudata, Mediterranean Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata vitatta, Indian Lined Shrimp

Lysmata wurdemanni, Peppermint Shrimp

Periclimenes yucatanicus, Spotted Cleaner Shrimp

Rhynchocinetes durbanensis, Camel Shrimp

Stenopus scutellatus, Gold Coral Banded Shrimp

Thor amboinensis, Sexy Shrimp



Cerithium atratum, Dark Cerith Snail

Columbellid cf. euplica, DIBS Columbellid Snail

Haliotis sp., Abalone*

Lithopoma tectum, Astrea Snail, West Indian Starsnail

Nassarius cf. pauperi, Nassarius Snail

Scutus unguis, Black Scutus

Stomatella varia, Variable Stomatella Snail

Strombus alatus, Florida Fighting Conch

Strombus costatus, Milk Conch

Strombus gigas, Queen Conch

Strombus maculatus, Pacific Spotted Conch

Strombus raninus, Hawkwing Conch

Trochus niloticus, Giant Top Shell

Trochus sp. “Blackfoot Trochus,” Blackfoot Trochus Snail

Turbo argyrostomus sandwicensis, Hawaiian Top Shell, Hawaiian Turbo Snail


*This species was added after the print edition in 2018.

We welcome your comments and feedback on this inaugural list. You may also wish to review the 2018 Captive-Bred Marine Ornamental Fish List, Part I of our annual recap.

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