Raising fish in captivity an alternative to collection


By ERIN MILLER

Stephens Media

Syd Kraul embraces the challenges that come with cultivating reef fish in captivity.

Kraul, a biochemist turned fish farmer, is trying to grow yellow tang in a tank on his property at the northern end of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. He pays the bills by growing food fish, such as moi stock for aquaculture endeavors, and by working on grant-funded projects on other species.

“I would like to be able to raise reef fish of all kinds, particularly ornamentals,” said Kraul during a recent tour of his facility. “That’s difficult to do.”

Earlier this year, Kraul was working with yellow tangs and flame angels, waiting for the fish to spawn and trying to raise the offspring to maturity. Yellow tang in particular are very difficult to raise in captivity, he said. His just weren’t spawning all that frequently.

A study published earlier this year in the PLOS ONE journal, with authors from the New England Aquarium, among others, said the United States takes about 60 percent of the tropical fish collected worldwide.

Kraul didn’t start out in the fish breeding industry to try to replace the people who collect tropical fish from the reefs, and while he said he could see himself selling captive-raised reef fish to collectors, he’s not out to replace fish collectors on the reef. He doesn’t hate fish collectors, either, he said.

What he’s doing with his fish breeding program “might fill a need,” he said. “It certainly could help the reef.”

Email Erin Miller at emiller@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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