The diminutive, hardy and brilliantly colored pygmy or dwarf angels (genus Centropyge) are the most heavily traded angelfishes in the aquarium hobby today. The genus is the largest within the Pomacanthid family, comprising a total of 232 described species. While small-scale breeding has been accomplished for a number of Centropge species, the complicated rearing phase of the larvae prevents Centropyge from being mass cultured. To date, the large demand for these popular aquarium fishes is still largely met by wild collection.
The Centropyge group was the main focus of my research at Reef Culture Technologies between 2000 and 2011.
Successful rearing of Centropyge has also been accomplished by the following groups:
The Oceanic Institute (Waimanalo, Hawaii, USA), resolved a number of key bottlenecks in the captive breeding of the flame angelfish (C. loricula) between 2002-2008. Year round broodstock spawning of 18 pairs that produced up to 45,000 eggs/day was finally achieved. The researchers discovered that the small calanoid copepod, Parvocalanus crassirostris, produced the suitable nauplii to culture first feeding C. loricula larvae and developed a technique to mass culture this copepod species. Finally, they succeeded in producing 1,000’s of C. loricula larvae through the early stages (to day 14) in 1000 L-tanks and reared several dozen juveniles to market size.
In 2003, Black Pearl Inc., (Kona, Hawaii) reported raising close to 200 C. loricula juveniles using the cultured copepod P. crassirostris . No further efforts to raise the species were apparently made.
Syd Kraul of Pacific Planktonics (Kona, Hawaii) has been intermittently producing C. loricula juveniles for the aquarium trade since 2004. The company reported achieving survival of several hundred individuals per run in 725 L larval rearing tanks using cultured P. crassirostris (Syd Kraul, pers. com.).
In 2013, Karen Brittain (working for the Rising Tide Initiative on Oahu, Hawaii, Kuali System 31497) raised 25 Paracentropye venusta juveniles and one C. acanthops juvenile using cultured and wild-collected copepods from a limited supply of eggs. Five percent survival of P. venusta larvae was reported (Karen Brittain, pers. com.).
In 2015, mega ornamental fish producer Bali Aquarich announced the successful rearing of the lemonpeel angelfish (Centropyge flavissima). Less than a dozen individuals were produced (Bali Aquarich, pers. com.).
In 2016, Kathy Leahy raised four Coral Beauties (Centropyge bispinosa) at here home-based hatchery in St. Louis, Missouri. Kathy reported that C. bispinosa larvae begin to settle after 30 days and are fully colored juveniles 60 days after hatching. She used P. crassirostris to raise the larvae.
Tom Bowling of Biota Marine in Palau has been commercially producing Coral Beauties (C. bispinosa) for the aquarium trade since 2016 (Tom Bowling, pers. com.).