Hawaiian Endemic Species Propagation Project


New Member
Dear Online Fish Friends,
I am interested in breeding an endemic species for the ornamental aquarium industry. I would like to be able to develop a breeding system and fish supply that could one day have a positive impact to reduce the numbers of a wild captured species. I know this might sound impossible and might actually be impossible for me to do, but I would like to at least try, try, and try some more.
I am hoping that if I let you all know what I have to work with, you could assist me with some advise and direction. I have two 55g tanks, one 40g tank, and two 10g tanks. I live next to the ocean on the north shore of Oahu where I can collect sea water and other supplies. I have plenty of time and energy but very little financial resources. I will be gathering information, advise, and ideas from this site, other sites, Waikiki Aquarium, and any other sources I can find.. and then executing on what I think are the best ideas. This is a start-up project and your feedback will have a heavy influence on where the project begins, and the directions it goes. I will post the project at http://endemicfishproject.blogspot.com/
Based on this information, I would like to ask you for help on the selection of species, foods, and practical care for each stage of the project. Your responses will provide the direction and focus of my research. Please keep in mind that the project will fall within my personal limitations.
- Which endemic species would I have the best chance at captive breeding (esp. one that has never been captive bred already. A few options would be nice)?
- I need to use natural sea water I collect at low tide. I have been looking all over the internet (without any luck) to learn an easy (free) way to use natural sea water for my tanks, and use to grow food sources (rotifers, phytoplankton, zooplankton, etc.). Is this possible?
- Is there a way I can collect food sources to grow on my own, or should I simply collect it daily?
I know you are all busy and may not be able to offer any advise, but if you could I would be very grateful. Thank you for any of your time and help.


Well-Known Member
Wow, what an ambitious plan! I honestly don't know WHERE you would start, but I should say you're treading into waters that are very technical. Which is not to say it can't be done, but you'll be looking at some long term investments here.
Many of the fish in Hawaii waters that are are of interest to the aquarium trade are (unfortunately) animals that have a protracted pelagic plankton phase. This has been one of the big hurdles that need to be overcome in a captive breeding environment. Fish like the ubiquitous Yeloow Tang, Hummuhummu trigger, Chevron tang, etc are all currently extremely difficult to raise, to say nothing of getting them to spawn in controlled situations.
You sound like someone who could use some research materials. I would recommend you contact the seahorse breeders at Ocean Rider on the big island in Hawaii....they will be able to help give you some idea of the effort involved with captive breeding programs. Another fantastic person to seek out via email would be Matthew Wittenrich, a marine biologist here in Florida who has pioneered a number of captive bred fish that were previously thought to be "impossible."
Once you have some research under your belt, I would actually think you might be able to get a business plan in order and consider seeking out investors. The type of program you're considering will probably not be something that's done "on the cheap," however, there are many activists on the Hawaii conservation front who might be willing to help. Look up old Snorkel Bob...he's been a thorn in the side of the Hawaii Aquarium Fisheries trade for years now, but he has SOME valid points (he has no valid research to back it up, but that's another story). Snorkel Bob has quite a large chain of stores, so he might be able to pony up some capital in the name of conservationism.
Of course, if you get so far as to build a business plan, you should also bend the ear of Bob Fenner (Snorkel Bob's arch-enemy, BTW) regarding your aspirations. These are people who have been in the water and on the front lines of conservationism vs the fishing economy for many years, and they will have quite a lot to tell you about how you might go about the project.
Sustainable fisheries are very often nearly impossible to achieve, given the third world economies that most of our collecting occurs in. The idea of captive bred aquarium fish is IMO the only truly sustainable solution, and certainly something we should all work towards. I commend you in your idea, and hope you can take it somewhere!


Active Member
Wow, that's amazing. Very much respect gained from me on what your attempting to do. Please keep us informed of your successes. One fish that is heavily collected (and people are trying to stop the collection of) are yellow tangs.
Good Luck
PS: Start something where people can donate to your actions (like fundables.com), it'll at least getcha started. Also, make a facebook page. You'll get a lot of supporters.