Summer newcomers

Summer newcomers

Thirteen species of fish and invertebrates have been brought to Vladivostok from Moscow. Some of them will be displayed at the Primorsky Aquarium for the first time.

The travellers have stood the long flight well, and now they are being held in quarantine, which is mandatory for all arrivals.

“The main goal of this acquisition is to create complete biotopes in marine tanks,” said Mikhail Streltsov, Head of the Tropical Marine Organisms Department. “We want our Small Coral Reef not only to look attractive but also to fully illustrate to visitors how a natural reef community is organized.”

Juvenile Bangaii cardinal fish (Pterapogon kauderni) are headliners of the summer addition. The distributional range of this small fish is restricted to the eastern coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and covers an area of 25,000 square kilometers.

“It is a tiny portion of the ocean,” Mikhail Streltsov stressed.  “And it is the only place where the Bangaii cardinal fish is found in the wild! It was first described in 1920 and became threatened with extinction in the course of just a hundred years.”

The coloration of Bangaii cardinals consists of two colours - black and white; the tabby pattern of bars across the body and along the tail makes the fish’s beauty exquisite. Due to this and also because of their peaceful nature, Bangaii cardinal fish are much sought after by aquarists worldwide. Today the species numbers 1.2 million individuals at most. Biologists at the Primorsky Aquarium are planning to incorporate these newcomers into the breeding program for rare species of exotic fish.

“Bangaii cardinals have an amazing reproductive strategy – the female lays several eggs on a rock, the male takes them into his mouth and incubates the eggs for exactly 25 days,” said Mikhail Streltsov. “The female initiates spawning but if the male is not well-nourished enough to survive such a long fast, he avoids courtship.”

In the future, the breeding program will include another new resident of the Aquarium – a young female round ribbontail ray (Taeniura meyeni). She can be called a welcome arrival for the male of the same species living in the Ocean Abyss exhibit. As soon as the “new girl in town” grows larger (now her weight is 3.2 kg, and the disk is 48 cm wide), they will be able to form a mating pair.

The summer addition to the Primorsky Aquarium features some other tropical fish species such as the mandarin dragonet and the sixline wrasse, as well as the pincushion tuxedo urchin, corals, and cleaner shrimps, including the peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni). This plain looking crustacean can destroy Aiptasia anemones that are deadly to corals and fishes.