Baby Banggai cardinalfish have been born after parents were rescued from Heathrow Airport
The team at Sea Life Brighton are celebrating welcoming a brood of baby Banggai Cardinalfish, named after their native waters off the Banggai Islands in central Indonesia.
The parents of the juveniles were rescued by the aquarium from Heathrow Airport back in 2016, after a call from the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre trying to rehome the creatures that were left after being seized.
The species is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and the ICUN red list has them listed as endangered. In order to take the strain off wild populations, several aquariums around the world have seen success in breeding them in captivity.
Joe Williams, Lead Aquarist at the aquarium explains “The reason for their endangered status is due to them being found in relatively shallow calm waters, making them extremely easy to catch. Their attractiveness to the home aquarium industry means their demand often exceeds their supply.”
A behaviour unique to Banggai Cardinalfish is that the fathers are mouth brooders. The female will spawn multiple eggs, which are fertilised, then immediately swallowed by the male, and kept inside a special pouch in its mouth. The eggs will take approximately 20 days to hatch, and continue to develop in the male’s mouth pouch.
After another 10 days, or when the young fish have reached about 5 to 6 millimetres in length, the male releases them from his mouth. During this mouth brooding period, the male does not eat. He also regularly turns the eggs to provide them with aeration, and removes any dead eggs and embryos.
Joe continues: “The whole breeding process has been fascinating to be a part of. It’s great they have settled into their new home and we are very excited that they have produced their offspring.”
The new residents are currently in the attraction’s Behind the Scenes Tour for ongoing observation until they go on public display.