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Rare Banggai babies born at Blue Reef Aquarium

August 10, 2015

Banggai cardinalfishA rare species of fish that is found in only one place in the world has given birth for the first time at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

The tropical fish – which is black and white with long fins – is a species of cardinalfish and is found only on the coral reefs of the Banggai islands midway between the Philippines and Australia.

Known as mouth brooders, cardinalfish are among the world’s most attentive parents. Following a complex mating ritual the father holds the fertilised eggs in his mouth until they hatch.

The six tiny babies – each measuring just a few centimetres in length – are being fed a special diet of microscopic artemia by aquarists who are confident more will be born in the coming weeks.

Blue Reef’s Hannah Butt said: “Banggai cardinalfish were first discovered in the 1930s living among coral reefs off a series of tiny Indonesian islands.

“To date they have not been discovered anywhere else in the world. This obviously makes them extremely rare and it is great news that we are now able to breed them in captivity.

“The babies are still tiny but they’re feeding well and we’re very optimistic they will continue to thrive. We’re also pretty sure one of the other males is also carrying eggs in his mouth,” she added.

Once the young have hatched their fathers spit them out among the spines of a long-spined sea urchin where they will continue to live, without any further parental care but protected by the spines of the urchin.

Their black and white stripes allow them to be perfectly camouflaged amongst the spines of their nursery sea urchin safe from the unwanted attentions of any would-be predators.

Issued on behalf of the Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews and picture opportunities please contact Hannah Butt or Lindsay Holloway on 02392 875222.