Clownfish and Jellies Born at the Texas State Aquarium
August 1, 2018
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Tiny baby clownfish and jellies, each smaller than a fingernail, currently swim in the Texas State Aquarium’s Aquatic Nursery, the latest success stories to come out of the Aquarium’s ongoing sustainable aquaculture program.
Two tomato clownfish, one a month old and another two weeks old, have so far hatched from eggs laid by the Aquarium’s adult clownfish while they were on exhibit. When staff discovered the eggs, they were relocated to the Aquatic Nursery, where their hatching process could be closely monitored. As each baby fish, or “fry,” was born, it was collected into a “critter keeper,” where it’s fed microscopic animals called rotifers and crustacean larvae called nauplii. Even at a young age, the clownfish already have their distinctive maroon color and white stripes. While they’re both currently smaller than a dime, they could one day grow to be about 3.5 inches in length.
Minuscule young spotted lagoon jellies also float in a round tank called a kreisel that helps keep them suspended. These jellies began life as nearly microscopic creatures called “polyps” before detaching and swimming away to become immature jellies, known as “ephyra,” They are now two months old, and already are able to propel themselves through their exhibit with their bells, making them easily recognizable as jellies. They are now being fed brine shrimp, which will make up their main diet throughout their lives. While currently only a few millimeters wide, they can eventually grow to as much as 6 inches in diameter.
Aquaculture, the practice of hatching and raising fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic species in a controlled environment, makes up a significant share of how the Aquarium maintains its fish collection. Approximately 50 percent of the species in Caribbean Journey, the Aquarium’s newest collection of exhibits, originated from aquaculture. By raising these species in the Aquarium, there is less need to collect animals from the wild.
As a side benefit, the use of aquaculture also allows guests to get a unique view of these species during their earliest life phases. From a display window at the Aquatic Nursery, located near the Aquarium’s “Tentacles” exhibit, guests can also see moon jellies, brine shrimp and upside-down jellies. Unhatched white-spotted bamboo sharks can also be seen moving inside their egg cases. Most of the animals will eventually grow to the point they can be placed on exhibit or in the case of the moon jellies and brine shrimp, to supplement the diet of the Aquarium’s other animals.
The Aquatic Nursery can be viewed at all times during the Aquarium’s regular daily hours of 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday. Parking is included in your admission price. To purchase tickets in advance and skip the line or to learn more about exhibits, hours and other visitor information, visit www.texasstateaquarium.org.