Details are sparse, but mere hours ago, Bali Aquarich founder Wen-Ping Su shared undeniable proof that his pioneering marine ornamental aquaculture company had produced the world’s first captive-bred Purple Tangs, Zebrasoma xanthurum. Mr. Su shared several photos illustrating the fish pre- and post-settlement.
With the news of this success, Bali Aquarich becomes only the third institution worldwide to have succeeded in producing a captive-bred Acanthurid, behind the Oceanic Institute (OI) at Hawaii Pacific University (Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens) and University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory (the Pacific Blue Tang, Paracanthurus hepatus). Add in the successful culture of tank-raised tangs by Reef Culture Technologies at the hands of Frank Baensch (Convict Tangs, Acanthurus triostegus, from wild-collected eggs) and it’s safe to say we’re well on our way to a future with many more tangs being cultured in captivity.
Su reports that only a “few” Purple Tangs have been produced, so while this species first is uncontested, it’s not yet time to rush out and presume that captive-bred Purple Tangs will suddenly just be at your local fish shop. However, subsequent efforts could certainly refine the process, particularly if there is any collaboration between tang breeders.
Update: With captive-bred Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens) now becoming a more routine offering thanks to the partnership of Biota Aquariums and OI, we are cautiously optimistic that we could see more captive-bred Purple Tangs in the future. Given its perennial popularity but fluctuating availability (due to their origins from the Red Sea in the Middle East), Zebrasoma xanthurum often retails for $200 or more, easily several times the price of a Yellow Tang. A more restricted and sporadic natural supply, and a market already accustomed to paying more for this species, potentially makes the Purple Tang a more economically viable commercial breeding target, with less price objection should they ever appear on the aquarium market.
Update #2: A day later, and coloration in the juveniles is even deeper!
Update – 6/7/19
Marine aquarium wholesaler, Netherlands-based De Jong Marinelife shared an updated look at the world’s first captive-bred Purple Tangs, sharing this update on Facebook. See more at https://www.facebook.com/dejongmarinelife/photos/a.516368551792316/2241698392592648/?type=3&theater
Our special thanks to Wen-Ping Su for this collection of images, shared here exclusively with permission.