For many, the Wrought Iron Butterflyfish, Chaetodon daedalma, is likely something they have never seen, let alone encountered alive. And they may never see one again, given its general rarity in the trade. This one greedily ate Mysis shrimp while in the display aquarium of Sea Dwelling Creatures & Exotic Reef Imports.
For many, the Wrought Iron Butterflyfish, Chaetodon daedalma, is likely something they have never seen, let alone encountered alive. And they may never see one again, given its general rarity in the trade. This one greedily ate Mysis shrimp while in the display aquarium of Sea Dwelling Creatures & Exotic Reef Imports.

For all the observations made regarding the first MACNA in a “post-pandemic” era, if we can call it that now, was a dramatic decrease in the number of large-scale temporary reef tanks and livestock exhibits that dominated past shows. I recall being able to share long posts of “display reefs”, and they were notably lacking at MACNA 2022. No doubt this is in part due to the inherently higher shipping costs currently associated with moving livestock around the country at this time, and perhaps a general hesitance to go “all-in” on the first MACNA show since COVID rocked the planet.

However, MACNA never seems to disappoint in the fish department. Mostly, it’s whatever the latest captive-breeding breakthrough has been, but importers often like to showcase highly-coveted rarities, a bit of “flexing” (as my 12-year-old son calls it when showing off the latest shiny pokemon in a Po-go Gym).

No doubt, as shown above, Sea Dwelling Creatures and Exotic Reef Imports intended to dazzle with fish like the Wrought Iron Butterflyfish shown above. While there were several other wild-caught rarities and uncommon specimens in their tank, two others really stood out.

A beautiful individual Bicolor or Bicolored Foxface, Siganus uspi, was another showstopping rarity spied in the display of SDC/ERI.
A beautiful individual Bicolor or Bicolored Foxface, Siganus uspi, was another showstopping rarity spied in the display of SDC/ERI.
I heard many aquarists swooning over this gorgeous pinnate-tailed male Scott's Fairy Wrasse, Cirrhilabrus scottorum, a highly variable species.
I heard many aquarists swooning over this gorgeous pinnate-tailed male Scott’s Fairy Wrasse, Cirrhilabrus scottorum, a highly variable species. (Note white, stringy feces: a sign of potential health issues.)

Captive-Breeding Highlights

Wild-caught fish aside, three marine aquarium aquaculture companies made it to MACNA 2022: Proaquatix, ORA, and Biota.

First, from ORA:

Rudarius ercodes, the Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish, is a species that would effectively be absent in the aquarium hobby were it not for the dedicated breeding efforts of ORA.
Manonichthys splendens, the Splendid Dottyback, a perennial favorites, and a species more advanced hobbyists might hope to keep and breed themselves!
ORA continues to trickle captive-bred Lemonpeel Angelfish, Centropyge flavissima, into the aquarium trade.
ORA’s classic, round, Zero-Edge display aquarium looks great, but it’s an absolute nightmare to try to photograph within. This is ORA’s newest hybrid clownfish, the mating between a Mocha Ocellaris and a Lightning Maroon Clownfish, photographed through the water’s surface!
We hope to tell you more soon about the successful captive-breeding of the Chalk Bass, Serranus annularis.
While it's not a species first, seeing ORA's captive-bred Golden Domino Damsels, Dascyllus auripinnis, made my heart race. While "humbug" damsels were too often used as cheap fish for new aquarists in the past, often resulting in untold numbers being returned to pet stores when they grew too large or too belligerent, perhaps if we thought of them more along the lines of countless larger, rough and tumble fishes, and treated more like true pets, we'd find a much deeper appreciation for these inherently rock-hardy and personable fishes.
While it’s not a species-first, seeing ORA’s captive-bred Golden Domino Damsels, Dascyllus auripinnis, was a welcome surprise. While “humbug” damsels were too often used as cheap fish for new aquarists in the past, often resulting in untold numbers being returned to pet stores when they grew too large or too belligerent, perhaps if we thought of them more along the lines of countless larger, rough and tumble fishes, and treated more like true pets, we’d find a much deeper appreciation for these inherently rock-hardy and personable fishes.

Proaquatix, Diversifying

Proaquatix showcased now-classic designer clownfishes. However, if you looked a bit more closely at the display, you would have been pleasantly surprised to find a few species first reared “experimentally” making their way into the commercial aquarium trade.

A smattering of assorted captive-bred clownfishes were on display by Proaquatix.
You can now get a “storm” clownfish in almost any shade of orange to black you like!
What are these captive-bred angelfish mixed in with all the clownfishes?
What are these captive-bred angelfish mixed in with all the clownfishes?
Did you guess that they were captive-bred Passer Angelfish (Holacanthus passer)?
After a bit of an absence in the marketplace, Proaquatix has stepped into the commercial production of White Ray or Yasha Hase Gobies, Stonogobiops yasha.

Biota for the Trifecta

The Biota Group has embraced the notion of both hatchery and distributor of third-party aquaculture sources, including their own network of facilities in the US and abroad. As a result, their tanks housed an large diversity of captive-bred fishes produced both by Biota proper, but also from Bali Aquarich in Indonesia.

Another interesting twist: while Proaquatix and ORA continue to invest a large portion of their energies into clownfish, they are all but absent in Biota’s current offerings. Instead, Biota has a complimentary selection, placing emphasis on species that the other producers aren’t working on with the additional input of hybrids coming out of Bali Aquarich’s farm. At a time when the future of marine aquarium fisheries is always debated, reef aquarists have a multitude of options when seeking captive-bred fishes for their tanks, particularly if the goal is an aquarium stocked with 100% cultured specimens.

These stunning small Pavo Damsels, Pomacentrus pavo, are particularly interesting given their rarity in the aquarium trade as wild-caught fishes. Gorgeous and peaceful (for damsels), they are absolutely worth the $35 price tag.
A captive-bred (CB) Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), CB Royal Gramma (Gramma loretto), and CB Cuban Basslet (Gramma dejongi), shared a small cube aquarium among the Biota displays.
A captive-bred (CB) Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), CB Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto), and CB Cuban Basslet (Gramma dejongi), shared a small cube aquarium among the Biota displays.
One can remember when Cuban Basslets, Gramma dejongi, sold for thousands of dollars and were squarely off limits to U.S. hobbyists given the trade embaro with Cuba. Now, the going retail price is just $600, and anyone in the United States can own them thanks to the efforts of the Biota team.
One can remember when Cuban Basslets, Gramma dejongi, sold for thousands of dollars and were squarely off limits to U.S. hobbyists given the trade embaro with Cuba. Now, the going retail price is just $600, and anyone in the United States can own them thanks to the efforts of the Biota team.
While they're considered the same species, Bali Aquarich and Biota now offer a new crop of captive-bred Harlequin Tusks (Choerodon fasciatus) using the more colorful Australian variety for broodstock.
Bali Aquarich and Biota now offer a new crop of captive-bred Harlequin Tuskfish (Choerodon fasciatus) using the more colorful Australian variety for broodstock.
Yes, that’s right, you’re seeing blue. Captive-bred Pacific Blue Tang (aka. Blue Hep Tang, Blue Hippo Tang, Regal Tang, etc.).
Admittedly, it was challenging to get a good photo of Biota's captive-bred Paracanthurus hepatus, as they behaved as baby Blue Hep Tangs do, often wedging themselves into tight places should the feel the least bit insecure!
Admittedly, it was challenging to get a good photo of Biota’s captive-bred Paracanthurus hepatus, as they behaved as baby Blue Hep Tangs do, often wedging themselves into tight places should the feel the least bit insecure!
I was told that Biota had some $75 yellow damselfishes that they were selling, and I thought I had overlooked something. Turns out they were captive-bred Pink Square Anthias, Pseudanthias pleurotaenia!
Multibar or Multibarred Angelfishes, Paracentropyge multifasciata, are challenging to keep successfully when wild-caught. Purchasing captive-bred specimens like this, already eating prepared foods and adapted to aquarium life, are truly the better option from a husbandry and risk standpoint.
A true rarity, a tiny captive-bred Asfur Angelfish, Pomacanthus asfur.
This is the tang that everyone was talking about, dubbed the "Yurple Tang", it is the Bali Aquarich hybrid of the Purple and Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma xanthurum x flavescens). My hypothesis is that these turn out to be absolute stunners. This is a perfect example of ornamental aquaculture creating something that simply doesn't otherwise exist in nature, allowing producers to ask whatever pricing that the market will support, often resulting in profits that subsidize the production of other species or finance research into new projects.
This is the tang that everyone was talking about, dubbed the “Yurple Tang”—the Bali Aquarich hybrid of the Purple and Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma xanthurum x flavescens). These may turn out to be absolute stunners. This is a perfect example of ornamental aquaculture creating something that simply doesn’t otherwise exist in nature, allowing producers to ask whatever pricing that the market will support, often resulting in profits that subsidize the production of other species or finance research into new projects.
Captive-bred Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, with unusual striping that may or may not carry into adulthood.
Captive-bred Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, with unusual striping that may or may not carry into adulthood.
Hybrids of the Goldflake and Flagfin Angelfishes (Apolemicthys xanthopunctatus X trimaculatus) are vibrant as juveniles—quite fetching!
Another specimen of hybrid Goldflake X Flagfin Angelfish.
You can't get much more "bread and butter" than Blue Hep Tangs, Pink Square eAnthias, Yellow Tangs, and a blue damselfish species (P. pavo in this case), all being offered into the aquarium trade as captive-bred. Marine ornamental aquaculture has come a long way in just the past 10 years.
You can’t get much more “bread and butter” than Blue Hep Tangs, Pink Square Anthias, Yellow Tangs, and a blue damselfish species (P. pavo in this case), all being offered into the aquarium trade as captive-bred. Marine ornamental aquaculture has come a long way in just the past 10 years.

Free CORAL Newsletter

Join our email list to get the latest on new species, aquatic news and brilliant images chosen by our editors.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed to the CORAL Magazine e-newsletter.