UF Researchers Help Write New Book on Rare Tropical Fish

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Newswise — GAINESVILLE – A new book gives readers a plethora of information about an Indonesian tropical fish that’s popular globally but threatened by the aquarium industry, says a University of Florida professor who helped write it.

The book, “Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History,” is described on the cover as a manual for aquarium enthusiasts, divers and breeders interested in the Banggai Cardinalfish. It’s available online at www.banggai-rescue.com.

“It’s kind of an educational update,” said Roy Yanong, an associate professor and extension veterinarian at UF’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “It’s a review of all we learned, scientifically and anecdotally.”

Scientists went to Indonesia last year to study the Banggai Cardinalfish, a black and white creature with what Yanong calls a beautiful stout body, big eyes and long, speckled fins.

“It’s one of the iconic tropical fish out of Indonesia,” Yanong said. “It’s a fish people like to have and see. The appearance, behavior and unique shape make it popular.”

As well, it’s inexpensive. In a store, the Banggai Cardinalfish sells for about $15 to $20 apiece, he said.

A large part of the 304-page book gives breeding advice for marine aquarists who want to keep Banggai Cardinalfish and perhaps produce them to supply local demands for captive-bred fish.

Found in coral reefs, the Banggai Cardinalfish may become the first such fish driven to local extinction by Indonesian collectors, who supply the world’s marine aquarium trade, the books’ authors suggest.

The Banggai Cardinalfish is well-known to tropical fish enthusiasts, just like Clownfish and Bblue Tangs, Yanong said.

Known for its uncommon mouth brooding reproductive habits, the species was first brought to the United States in the mid-1990s, Yanong said. It was listed as threatened in 2007 by the International Union of Concerned Scientists.

When they visited Indonesia in 2012, the researchers tried to find the source of a mysterious viral disease killing some of the Banggai Cardinalfish populations in captivity, but Yanong said they never pinpointed it. He and other colleagues hope to trace the source of the virus in the supply chain between the islands and facilities in the U.S.

In addition to the disease issue, Indonesians harvest more than allowed by the local government, Yanong said, further endangering the fish.

The soft cover edition of the book, which came out in September, is available for $34.95; hard cover sells for $44.95.

In addition to Yanong, other UF contributing authors were assistant professor and veterinary virologist Tom Waltzek and larval fish physiologist Matt Wittenrich.


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