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Information Resources for Marine Fish Breeders

Marine fish breeders can use these information resources to succeed in breeding fish.

By Tim Hayes |

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Supplement to “Breeding and Raising Marines” by Tim Hayes, Aquarium Fish International magazine, August 2011, Vol. 23, No. 8.

There are plenty of sources of useful information out there for the aspiring breeder. The majority of this information is about fish, as information about the sexual reproduction and raising of invertebrates is fairly limited. Apart from the books listed here, there’s plenty of information available on the Internet from a variety of sources (hobby sites, aquaculture and academia).

Online Resources
Marine Ornamental Fish & Invert Breeders Association (MOFIB)
MOFIB is an organization comprised of like-minded individuals with a keen interest in breeding and raising marine ornamental species. A recently formed organization, MOFIB is a work in progress that is slowly accumulating information about breeding protocols for many different species. It’s not limited to fish; it includes corals and other invertebrates. However, as far as corals go, it is not a frag site – it’s all strictly sex here.

The Breeders Registry
This organization has been promoting aquarium propagation through articles and a spawning report database since 1993. It hasn’t been very active of late, but the articles and the database still constitute a valuable resource.

Fishbase is a marvellous resource containing a wide range of information on more than 30,000 species of fish. This vast database can, depending on species, give you plenty of useful information, including scientific and common names, maximum size, ecology, distribution, vulnerability, Red List status, morphology, biology, reproduction and more.

Google Scholar
This online resource has information for the scientifically minded breeder. It gives you access to scientific papers from all over the world, enabling you to find research from aquaculture and science pertaining to raising marine organisms and their associated live foods. It can also be a source of frustration, as you may be required to make payment to access many interesting-looking papers if you are not associated with an educational or scientific institution.

Not all the books listed below should be considered “how-to-breed” books. I’ve included many them because they contain an accessible overview of what is known about the reproduction of various species in the reef aquarium hobby. I recommend using these books as a research tool to learn about the organisms that you’re interested in breeding; often they represent a starting point and nothing more. Indeed, for many of the species that we’d like to raise in captivity, the books have yet to be written. If you persevere with your chosen species, perhaps you’ll end up writing a chapter in one of these yet-unwritten books.

Clownfishes by Joyce D. Wilkerson
A practical, common-sense read that presents information on raising clownfishes in a friendly, accessible manner. This book will give you a good grounding in the protocols required for breeding many different marine fish. Importantly, this book is also a mine of information on live foods.

Breeder’s Guide to Marine Fishes by Matthew L. Wittenrich
This valuable recent addition to the literature of breeding marine fish details mating, spawning and rearing methods for more than 90 species.

Reef Fishes Vol. 1 to 8 by Scott Michael
Reef Fishes is an ambitious series packed full of information on identification, behavior and captive care. Although not specifically dealing with breeding, there is a lot of useful information on the subject for a large number of species.

For more advanced reading, try these two from the fathers of ornamental marine fish breeding:
Conditioning, Spawning, and Rearing of Fish with Emphasis on Marine Clownfish by Frank H. Hoff
This is far more scientific in basis. Although it may be a bit dated now, if you want to learn about breeding in depth, have a look at this book, though it may be a difficult read if you’re not scientifically inclined.

Breeding the Orchid Dottyback by Martin Moe
This book is a diary of trying to breed one of the more difficult species of “easy” fish. This book demonstrates the difficulties that often accompany a breeding program but also highlights how rewarding it can be when your perseverance pays off.

Aquarium Corals by Eric Borneman
For my money, this is still currently the best book on coral identification and care. It contains excellent information on coral reproduction in both stony corals and soft corals.

The Book of Coral Propagation by Anthony Calfo
This book describes techniques of coral propagation and gives a good overview of corals, their captive requirements and their potential for sustainable propagation. It’s not just for expert aquarists — the information contained in this book will benefit beginners, and it’s an easy, entertaining read. The recently revised edition is packed full of photos.

The Reef Aquarium Volumes 1 and 2 by Delbeek and Sprung
These two volumes contain useful information on coral reproduction, Volume 1 covering stony corals, and Volume 2 covering soft corals and anemones.

The Modern Reef Aquarium Volume 2 by Fossa and Nilsen
The second volume of The Modern Reef Aquarium contains information on cnidarian reproduction, including stony corals, soft corals, anemones and jellies.

The Modern Reef Aquarium Volumes 3 and 4 by Fossa and Nilsen
These two volumes contain a wealth of information on reproduction of noncnidarian species. This is probably the nearest thing to a marine biology textbook that most aquarists are going to read, but it's still understandable to the average intelligent reader (most of the time!).

Other Invertebrates
How to Raise & Train Your Peppermint Shrimp by April Kirkendoll
This unique book is the only hobby book solely about breeding crustaceans. The techniques work (I know; I’ve tried them) and would be appropriate starting points for species other than Lysmata shrimp. It’s an easy read that’ll tickle your funny bone in places.

Giant Clams in the Sea and the Aquarium by James Fatheree
Did you know that all the giant clams in the hobby are farmed? This book contains plenty of detail on clam reproduction, both wanted and unwanted.

Live Food Culture
Plankton Culture Manual by Frank H. Hoff and Terry W. Snell
This is an important resource that looks at the various live foods that can be cultured for raising larval animals. This book is more in-depth than the chapters on live food culture found in the other books listed.

And of course, don’t forget about the role that magazines, such as Aquarium Fish International and Marine Fish and Reef USA, play in the dissemination of information on breeding. Articles written by advanced hobbyists and professionals appear in these magazines, detailing how some particular species have been spawned and raised. These hands-on articles can help you get started as a breeder.

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