A 1-year-old captive-bred Copperband Butterflyfish residing at the IRREC research facility in Florida.
A one-year-old captive-bred Copperband Butterflyfish residing at the University of Florida’s Indian River Research facility.

Captive-bred Copperband Butterflyfish, Chelmon rostratus, weren’t a reality until just last year. Ongoing research at University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS) Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) has been successful under the leadership of Dr. Cortney Ohs. The result? A lot of captive-bred fish, and all those baby fish have to go somewhere to make room for future generations! Some of the first to leave the lab were given a cushy ride around south Florida with some help from Reef Aquaria Design (RAD), but so many more were in need of new places to live!

As detailed in a forthcoming update on this fascinating marine fish aquaculture research, Dr. Ohs explains that the “University of Florida is a land grant university; its mission is to help agriculture in the state. Doing research [within this system] is about giving the technology to producers to commercialize. This is about having producers create additional products and diversify their farms, and the goal of providing a healthy, high-quality cultured animal versus one that came off a reef. That is our goal, to whatever percentage they can achieve. I don’t withhold any information.

“We’re about helping Florida producers, U.S. producers, and ultimately aquaculture efforts worldwide. Other universities would be different, privatizing such discoveries [and capitalizing on them monetarily]. We take zero revenue; ours is 100% from grants and state funding. We do nothing to compete with producers. Anything we produce in our lab would be given away or used as a promotional display, in public aquaria such as Sea World and Busch Gardens facilities that display fish which came out of Rising Tide.”

As shown in the following video, 12 public aquariums across the United States were recently shipped approximately 100 captive-bred Copperband Butterflyfish. These fish will be ambassadors for the conservation of reef fishes and the benefits of aquaculture. And, as Dr. Ohs and his team hope to demonstrate, there is hope for a future where captive-bred Copperband Butterflyfish are a commercially viable option for the marine aquarium trade.

Watch 100 Captive-Bred Copperband Butterflyfish Journey Out of the Lab to Florida Reef Aquariums!

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