Intermediate Topic Breeding the Banggai Cardinalfish in your Home Aquarium

35ppt

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Breeding the Banggai Cardinalfish in your Home Aquarium

DSC03817.jpg


Introduction
The Banggai Cardinalfish or Pterapogon kauderni is a species of cardinalfish endemic to a small area of Central Sulawesi Indonesia around the coasts of 33 islands in the Banggai Archipelago. They are a striking, hardy, disease resistant fish making them a great choice for aquariums. They can be kept singly or in a mated pair as once sexually mature they are no longer tolerant of conspecifics in smaller aquariums. They are an excellent community fish leaving all other fish, coral and invertebrates alone and will even be hosted by long-spined sea urchins (Diadema antillarum) as well as various corals. I have seen video of them being hosted by anemones in the wild but have not observed this is aquariums. Due to their demand, limited distribution in the wild, and the ease of raising their fry they are an excellent choice for captive breeding. They form non-monogamous pairs with the females willing to mate with multiple males. The following is my personal experience with breeding these amazing fish in my home aquarium over the past three years.


Male Banggai.jpg


Getting a Mated Pair and Encouraging them to Breed
The Banggai Cardinalfish lacks any easily visible sexual dimorphism when young but develops some differentiating characteristics once mature such as males having a larger more “bull dog” looking mouth as well as growing longer second dorsal fins and broader pelvic fins. The easiest way for the average hobbyist to get a mated pair is to purchase 4-5 fish and let them form pairs on their own. Once you see a pair form you can re-home the remainder of fish. There is however another way. Between the pelvic and anal fins there will be either one or two small vents. Females having one vent and males having two. These vents are exceptionally hard to see when young but I have been able to identify sex by taking photos with a DSLR camera and macro lens. Feeding heavily will help the vents become more visible. See the photos below, single vent on the female (left) and two vents on the male (right).

DSC01933.jpg
DSC01994.jpg


There is no secret to getting them to breed. Give them a quality diet and an appropriately sized and maintained aquarium and they will reward you with a new fry every 2-4 weeks. The male will hold the eggs anywhere from 23-30 days and release anywhere from 10-20 fry at a time. Once the male is holding the eggs the female will become more territorial and protect the male.

DSC02943.jpg


Collecting the Fry
When the male is close to releasing I put in a several fake sea urchins made of epoxy and zip tie clippings and remove mechanical filtration as well as making sure all pumps have foam guards to prevent fry from getting sucked into pumps. Alternatively you could somehow prevent them from entering the sump but all methods I tried restricted the flow and it was ultimately easier to just remove the socks and rescue any that ended up down there. You'll know he's close because you will see the little baby fish trying to push their way out of the male's mouth in the days before he lets them go as seen below.

DSC03104.jpg


The male will tend to release the fry in the hours before the lights turn on or just after they’ve turned off. The fry will tend to go to the sea urchins and especially the ones in lower flow areas. The sea urchins provide shelter from predatory fish and groups them together for you to easily collect. On several occasions I've turned the flow off and been able to just slowly lift the sea urchin up and the fry will travel up with the urchin, then I just put a net under and slowly lift them out, setting the fake urchin aside once out of the water.

20190528_200302.jpg

(Fake sea urchins made of epoxy and zip tie clippings)

I check just after lights out, in the middle of the night if I'm up, and first thing in the morning every day until they are all released. Also, it's common for fry to be released over the course of a couple or a few days so don't assume he's empty until you see him eat again. As he releases them I snatch them up with a small net trying to damage a few corals as possible. A bright flashlight after lights out will be key with this method. And I put them into either a breeder net or a Tupperware with slits cut into it, just enough to provide some flow but not large enough for them to escape. I keep them in there for the first couple weeks or so before transferring to a 10 or 20 gallon of their own. While the fake sea urchin method is effective for display reef systems a dedicated breeding system for just the Banggai pair and their fry is obviously ideal.

DSC03761.jpg

(Baby Banggais with tiny Fungia corals in a Tupperware)

Banggai_Fry-03783-2.jpg


Feeding the Fry
Once released the fry will readily eat Artemia nauplii (Baby Brine Shrimp) and culturing them was the easiest way I found to keep the fry fed. It's important to note however that Artemia alone is not the best source of nutrition so you should enrich the Artemia with Selcon and its included HUFA's. The newborn fry will be prone to shock events known as “Sudden Fright Syndrome”. When shocked by the lights turning on or some other stressor they will sink to the bottom of the tank and lay on their side often times breathing heavy and will sometimes die from the ordeal. The supplementation of HUFA’s to their diet will decrease sudden fright syndrome occurrences and dramatically decrease or prevent mortality from those instances. In my case it was dramatic, before I started enriching I would lose 1-2 from each fry and have several sudden fright syndrome episodes. But early on I found out I could enrich the Artemia. After I started enriching my Artemia, I did not lose a single one for the remainder of the time I bred these fish and did not observe any episodes of sudden fright syndrome. Artemia will hatch in 12-24 hours depending on temperature, hatching faster when kept at a higher temperature. I found any standard 40w Incandescent bulb will produce adequate heat in my home. Artemia will be most nutritious in the first 12 hours after hatching when they still have their egg sacks attached but will need enrichment after that. For me it was easier to just enrich every batch on a set schedule.
20180704_141008.jpg

(My live food setup, the 10 gallon was a holding tank for blackworms)

For the first two weeks I feed Artemia heavily every 3 hours during the day. Once transferred to the grow-out tank I begin weaning them off life foods and onto either frozen or Reef Nutrition TDO. I start offer very small amounts of prepared foods and less and less of the Artemia and eventually they will switch over. I’ve had the best luck with frozen spirulina brine shrimp. Then once I have them eating prepared foods they are ready to be sold to local hobbyists or to the local fish store.
 
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Surfzone

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Great wright-up. This will be of great help to people who are just getting into breeding, or have a male that is holding eggs and don't know what to do.

I have often thought about feeding Tiger pods to the young rather than bbs to see how that works out. I would think that it would be a better food. I'm still waiting to get a female, but with all this Covid stuff California is still closed and my lfs doesn't really want to do an ORA order right now so it's a waiting game for me. The only thing I have to work with are neon gobies.

I've been meaning to put together a write-up on my experiences with spotted manderins.
 
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Great wright-up. This will be of great help to people who are just getting into breeding, or have a male that is holding eggs and don't know what to do.

I have often thought about feeding Tiger pods to the young rather than bbs to see how that works out. I would think that it would be a better food. I'm still waiting to get a female, but with all this Covid stuff California is still closed and my lfs doesn't really want to do an ORA order right now so it's a waiting game for me. The only thing I have to work with are neon gobies.

I've been meaning to put together a write-up on my experiences with spotted manderins.
Thank you!
 

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I tried them a few times but the males would always spit the eggs out or eat them before hatch. I assume I never fed them enough (and I generally feed a lot) to stay without food for 2 weeks...
 
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I tried them a few times but the males would always spit the eggs out or eat them before hatch. I assume I never fed them enough (and I generally feed a lot) to stay without food for 2 weeks...
Perhaps a more varied diet would help? I don't know what you're currently feeding obviously. I usually feed a home made mix of mostly clams and muscles but have also fed LRS Reef Frenzy/Nano Frenzy/Fertility Frenzy at times. Though, I do remember reading at some point, I forget where, that some males are just better at carrying the eggs full term than others.
 

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Perhaps a more varied diet would help? I don't know what you're currently feeding obviously. I usually feed a home made mix of mostly clams and muscles but have also fed LRS Reef Frenzy/Nano Frenzy/Fertility Frenzy at times. Though, I do remember reading at some point, I forget where, that some males are just better at carrying the eggs full term than others.
I don't have a Banggai pair right now, only plenty of large long-spine urchins...
I read that commercial breeders separate the males from the females after spawning or, after a few days, use paperclips to take the eggs out of the male's mouth to incubate them in a tumbler.
 

Useful_Idiot

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Any more advice on switching off bbs? I'm on day 26 any they are starting to show bursts of SFS. I'm mixing the tdo with the bbs before I add it to the tank and they bite at everything. But if I feed tdo separate they just ignore it.
 
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Any more advice on switching off bbs? I'm on day 26 any they are starting to show bursts of SFS. I'm mixing the tdo with the bbs before I add it to the tank and they bite at everything. But if I feed tdo separate they just ignore it.
If you enrich the BBS with Selcon that should help reduce or eliminate instances of SFS. For getting them eating prepared foods, I would try frozen spirulina brine shrimp and once on that get them on the TDO. Alternatively if you want to go straight to TDO it helps if you hydrate the pellets before putting them in so that they are soft when the Banggai taste it. It also helps to have plenty of flow to bounce the TDO around giving the Banggai plenty of chances to get it. You can also skip feeding for a day then try TDO. If they still don't eat it feed BBS lightly and try again. Reducing the amount of BBS available and reducing feedings should help encourage them to try the pellet food.
 

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Any more advice on switching off bbs? I'm on day 26 any they are starting to show bursts of SFS. I'm mixing the tdo with the bbs before I add it to the tank and they bite at everything. But if I feed tdo separate they just ignore it.
If you have the space, culture some tigger pods. They make good alternative food for juvenile fish and have very good nutritional value. All you need are a few 5-gallon buckets, old saltwater, rat food (cheaper than fish food flakes), and a starter culture. Outside works best, but inside works as well. Light is optional.
 
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If you have the space, culture some tigger pods. They make good alternative food for juvenile fish and have very good nutritional value. All you need are a few 5-gallon buckets, old saltwater, rat food (cheaper than fish food flakes), and a starter culture. Outside works best, but inside works as well. Light is optional.
Copepods are definitely a better food source if you want to go that route.
 
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Useful_Idiot

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Ok, thank you both I'll give that a try and look into the tiggerpods. I had been adding the selcon but to fresh hatched bbs. Looked into it more and now see bbs need to consume it after they are 24 hours old.

IMG_20200506_165445.jpg
 
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Ok, thank you both I'll give that a try and look into the tiggerpods. I had been adding the selcon but to fresh hatched bbs. Looked into it more and now see bbs need to consume it after they are 24 hours old.

IMG_20200506_165445.jpg
Oh ya, at that size they need to be on prepared foods. You shouldn't have to be dealing with SFS at this stage. Next batch try to get them weaned off the BBS sooner. I always try to get them off the BBS ASAP because like @ThRoewer alluded to, the BBS is not the most nutritious food for them.
 
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Breeding the Banggai Cardinalfish in your Home Aquarium

DSC03817.jpg


Introduction
The Banggai Cardinalfish or Pterapogon kauderni is a species of cardinalfish endemic to a small area of Central Sulawesi Indonesia around the coasts of 33 islands in the Banggai Archipelago. They are a striking, hardy, disease resistant fish making them a great choice for aquariums. They can be kept singly or in a mated pair as once sexually mature they are no longer tolerant of conspecifics in smaller aquariums. Larger groups may be able to be kept in larger tanks but you should still keep an eye out for aggression and remove as needed. They are an excellent community fish leaving all other fish, coral and invertebrates alone and will even be hosted by long-spined sea urchins (Diadema antillarum) as well as various corals. I have seen video of them being hosted by anemones in the wild but have not observed this is aquariums. Due to their demand, limited distribution in the wild, and the ease of raising their fry they are an excellent choice for captive breeding. They form non-monogamous pairs with the females willing to mate with multiple males. The following is my personal experience with breeding these amazing fish in my home aquarium over the past three years.


Male Banggai.jpg


Getting a Mated Pair and Encouraging them to Breed
The Banggai Cardinalfish lacks any easily visible sexual dimorphism when young but develops some differentiating characteristics once mature such as males having a larger more “bull dog” looking mouth as well as growing longer second dorsal fins and broader pelvic fins. The easiest way for the average hobbyist to get a mated pair is to purchase 4-5 fish and let them form pairs on their own. Once you see a pair form you can re-home the remainder of fish. There is however another way. Between the pelvic and anal fins there will be either one or two small vents. Females having one vent and males having two. These vents are exceptionally hard to see when young but I have been able to identify sex by taking photos with a DSLR camera and macro lens. Feeding heavily will help the vents become more visible. See the photos below, single vent on the female (left) and two vents on the male (right).

DSC01933.jpg
DSC01994.jpg


There is no secret to getting them to breed. Give them a quality diet and an appropriately sized and maintained aquarium and they will reward you with a new fry every 2-4 weeks. The male will hold the eggs anywhere from 23-30 days and release anywhere from 10-20 fry at a time. Once the male is holding the eggs the female will become more territorial and protect the male.

DSC02943.jpg


Collecting the Fry
When the male is close to releasing I put in a several fake sea urchins made of epoxy and zip tie clippings and remove mechanical filtration as well as making sure all pumps have foam guards to prevent fry from getting sucked into pumps. Alternatively you could somehow prevent them from entering the sump but all methods I tried restricted the flow and it was ultimately easier to just remove the socks and rescue any that ended up down there. You'll know he's close because you will see the little baby fish trying to push their way out of the male's mouth in the days before he lets them go as seen below.

DSC03104.jpg


The male will tend to release the fry in the hours before the lights turn on or just after they’ve turned off. The fry will tend to go to the sea urchins and especially the ones in lower flow areas. The sea urchins provide shelter from predatory fish and groups them together for you to easily collect. On several occasions I've turned the flow off and been able to just slowly lift the sea urchin up and the fry will travel up with the urchin, then I just put a net under and slowly lift them out, setting the fake urchin aside once out of the water.

20190528_200302.jpg

(Fake sea urchins made of epoxy and zip tie clippings)

I check just after lights out, in the middle of the night if I'm up, and first thing in the morning every day until they are all released. Also, it's common for fry to be released over the course of a couple or a few days so don't assume he's empty until you see him eat again. As he releases them I snatch them up with a small net trying to damage a few corals as possible. A bright flashlight after lights out will be key with this method. And I put them into either a breeder net or a Tupperware with slits cut into it, just enough to provide some flow but not large enough for them to escape. I keep them in there for the first couple weeks or so before transferring to a 10 or 20 gallon of their own. While the fake sea urchin method is effective for display reef systems a dedicated breeding system for just the Banggai pair and their fry is obviously ideal.

DSC03761.jpg

(Baby Banggais with tiny Fungia corals in a Tupperware)

Banggai_Fry-03783-2.jpg


Feeding the Fry
Once released the fry will readily eat Artemia nauplii (Baby Brine Shrimp) and culturing them was the easiest way I found to keep the fry fed. It's important to note however that Artemia alone is not the best source of nutrition so you should enrich the Artemia with Selcon and its included HUFA's. The newborn fry will be prone to shock events known as “Sudden Fright Syndrome”. When shocked by the lights turning on or some other stressor they will sink to the bottom of the tank and lay on their side often times breathing heavy and will sometimes die from the ordeal. The supplementation of HUFA’s to their diet will decrease sudden fright syndrome occurrences and dramatically decrease or prevent mortality from those instances. In my case it was dramatic, before I started enriching I would lose 1-2 from each fry and have several sudden fright syndrome episodes. But early on I found out I could enrich the Artemia. After I started enriching my Artemia, I did not lose a single one for the remainder of the time I bred these fish and did not observe any episodes of sudden fright syndrome. Artemia will hatch in 12-24 hours depending on temperature, hatching faster when kept at a higher temperature. I found any standard 40w Incandescent bulb will produce adequate heat in my home. Artemia will be most nutritious in the first 12 hours after hatching when they still have their egg sacks attached but will need enrichment after that. For me it was easier to just enrich every batch on a set schedule.
20180704_141008.jpg

(My live food setup, the 10 gallon was a holding tank for blackworms)

For the first two weeks I feed Artemia heavily every 3 hours during the day. Once transferred to the grow-out tank I begin weaning them off life foods and onto either frozen or Reef Nutrition TDO. I start offer very small amounts of prepared foods and less and less of the Artemia and eventually they will switch over. I’ve had the best luck with frozen spirulina brine shrimp. Then once I have them eating prepared foods they are ready to be sold to local hobbyists or to the local fish store.
Great thread I had a pair but gave one away so only got one left,,, I’ve noticed that it seems like they don’t sleep. No matter what time of night I look in tank they are up n actively swimming around and eating,,Is this normal
 
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Great thread I had a pair but gave one away so only got one left,,, I’ve noticed that it seems like they don’t sleep. No matter what time of night I look in tank they are up n actively swimming around and eating,,Is this normal
Thank you! I've noticed the same thing. I think I remember reading that they are nocturnal.

/Yeah I checked, nocturnal.
 

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Banggais also don't get really old. I think 3 to 4 years is the most you get out of them. For that reason breeding them is a good idea. Just make sure, if you want to continue breeding with the offspring, to get one of the new pairs partners from another breeder who has unrelated broodstock.
 
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Banggais also don't get really old. I think 3 to 4 years is the most you get out of them. For that reason breeding them is a good idea. Just make sure, if you want to continue breeding with the offspring, to get one of the new pairs partners from another breeder who has unrelated broodstock.
Good advice. However their lifespan cited in books is usually 4-5 years IIRC but I bet if you made a thread asking people to post how old their Banggais are you would find some that lived much longer.
 
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