Unusual male fish gives birth at Oregon Aquarium
By TERESA BELL / kgw.com
SEASIDE, Oregon – At the Seaside Aquarium, dozens of fish have been born from what many would consider quite an unlikely source: a male fish.
A baby pipefish.
Pipefish are long, rounded creatures related to the sea horse, that have an unusual life process. The female pipefish has the eggs originally, but transfers them to the male. He fertilizes them, and then he is the one responsible during the remaining gestation period.
"We are not sure how long the baby pipefish will be on display," said Tiffany Boothe, an education specialist with the Seaside Aquarium. "The aquarium has had pipefish in the past give birth, but because of their size and fragility when born, we have had no luck keeping them alive. We are going to try a slightly new tactic, though we are not too optimistic that it will work. Because of this we also plan on releasing some of the babies into a local estuary."
The new tactics involve leaving them where they are this time, Boothe said. In the past, they've tried a variety of approaches to help these babies survive, mostly involving taking them out of the tank and putting them in another by themselves. They've tried variations on that theme, such as a tank with filtered water, without filtered water, and other combinations.
"Instead of putting them in another tank, we'll just do nothing," Boothe said. "We'll leave them in there, because that tank is a lot like the environment they come from, with its fauna and so on. It's also got raw water pumping in there, so there's lots of phytoplankton."
In natural habitat, pipefish live in shallow water among eelgrass, algae, and other types of vegetation in estuaries and bays.
Boothe said they're expecting even more babies. With the eggs of as many as three females involved, it could mean there are dozens more waiting to be born, all inside the male in various stages of gestation.
"Spawning for pipefish begins in May when the female pipefish passes her eggs to the male," Boothe said. "The courtship between the male and female tends to be an elaborately choreographed display, where female and male entangle themselves around each other over and over again. They look as if they are dancing. The male may receive eggs from two to three different females and can carry up to 225 eggs."
COMMENT: I have kept Pipefish, however I have never bred them (I have bred their cousins the seahorse). These are interesting although delicate fish to keep in an aquarium. I only recommend them in a non-competitive reef or nano-reef aquarium as most fish will out compete them for food and make them nervous. I have generally fed Brine Shrimp and Mysis Shrimp and have also kept them in tanks with a lot of hiding places including live rock and caulerpa algae.
"Marine Aquarium Basics" can provide more information and links to keeping these and other marine/saltwater fish.
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Freshwater Aquarium Basics
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A Clear Pond: Information
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Aquarium UV Sterilization
- Use of TRUE level one or higher UV Sterilizers in an aquarium or pond