How do you make collecting fish eggs in an aquarium a bit easier? You put them up in a hotel!
If you’ve paid a visit to the Tropical Travelers exhibit at The Maritime Aquarium recently, you may have noticed a few pipes inside the tank. What you may not have realized is that they’re housing precious cargo.
The three bound PVC pipes, affectionately called the “baby hotel,” were put together by one of our aquarists who decided it was a time for a safer and more efficient way to harvest the eggs deposited by the exhibit’s damselfish.
Before the “baby hotel” was introduced, the damselfish would lay their eggs on the kelp in the exhibit, making collection difficult. The pipes were dropped in and they soon learned it was the safest place to lay them. It may not be the Ritz Carlton, but hey, it gets the job done. Five stars!
The pipes, which have three transparencies cut into them, provide a safe area for the female to spawn. The male then comes by and fertilizes them.
Take a closer look at the photo to the left. You can see how the damselfish swim through the tube and fan the eggs to replenish the oxygen, as well as get rid of any debris.
The males especially have been seen fanning and aggressively defending their eggs. Their behavior isn’t all that surprising – damselfish are generally known for being territorial and aggressive fish.
Once the aquarist notices the fanning behavior, she’ll take out the transparency containing the eggs and replace it with a clean one.
Check out the male damselfish in action (he’s the black one circling the pipes):
The eggs then journey behind the scenes of the Aquarium. After they’re collected, they’re placed in a bucket of water from their tank and fed rotifer, a nearly microscopic animal, which look more like white specs floating in the water than a hearty meal. But, the growing damselfish eat it right up.
Once they hatch, which takes about four to six days, the baby fish are removed, but are raised behind the scenes.
They go through a lot of changes in just a few short days! These four photos show the development of 24-hour-old eggs to 5-day-old ones.
When they’re ready, they’ll be reintroduced to their exhibit, spawn and the entire process begins again!
Learn all about damselfish here.