University of Florida breeds spotted green puffer fish

by Owen James

Scientists at the University of Florida (UF) have bred the seldom-spawned spotted green puffer fish using a new method that might work for other difficult species:

A UF team investigated the species at the request of producers, who hope to breed some of the estimated quarter million spotted green puffers sold annually to North American hobbyists and researchers, said Craig Watson, director of UF’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“The supply has been variable and sometimes quite limited because they’re wild-collected, mostly in Thailand,” Watson said. “So this was a good species for us to investigate.”

Watson has now secured U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to see whether the captive breeding method works in goldfish.

The method, known as ovarian lavage, is a twist on an older approach to breeding commercially valuable fish that won’t spawn naturally in captivity, Watson said.

In the standard approach, breeders inject female fish with a chemical that promotes egg development. The eggs are gently removed and fertilized.

Spotted green puffers aren’t suitable for injection because they have little muscle mass and their skin is unusually elastic. So the UF team used a catheter to introduce the chemical directly to the female’s ovaries. After several trials they reached nearly 100 percent success in egg fertilization and hatching, he said.

Watson and his team have demonstrated the breeding method for several Florida aquaculture specialists.

Check out Katy's Tropical Fish Guide for more aquarium info.

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