Why Breed Invertebrates? Where's Nemo?
Some of you might be wondering, why breed invertebrates? Why leave out fish? What about poor little Nemo? While Project DIBS members are certainly free to post any information about fish they breed, Project DIBS is not working to centralize information on fish breeding. There are already many books on the subject, and other websites have developed that focus on fish breeding, most notably www.marinebreeder.org and www.fish base.org.
Project DIBS is focusing on invertebrates because information on breeding invertebrates is very limited, and their popularity is increasing rapidly in the marine aquarium hobby. With the exception of a few species of shrimp, snails and crabs, almost nothing is known about breeding invertebrates, especially marine ornamentals, and marine aquarists are in a unique position to contribute valuable new knowledge to this area of research.
Breed invertebrates? I can't even keep snails alive for a month.
I have communicated with many hobbyists at conferences, presentations and over the Internet. Invariably, as soon as I mention the word breeding I see a mixture of reactions from anxiety to excitement.
Many say it rant be done, with repeated stories of needing to replenish dead invertebrates on a regular basis. I'm quick to point out many motile invertebrates sold in this hobby are inappropriate for survival, let alone reproduction, in captivity. Many of the grazers sold in the hobby are from cold-water locations, or their diets are unknown, so they frequently perish from heat stress or starvation.
If appropriate invertebrates are located and cared for properly, they can thrive and reproduce in our tanks. So how does one go about breeding an invertebrate? Considering inverte-
Project DIBS is currently creating a catalog of species in the hobby that are already breeding or have the possibility of being bred. Some easy species, such as the DIBS Turbo sp. and Stomatella varia, are now established in multiple locations in the U.S. and should continue to reduce the need for wild collection. (The DIBS moniker helps to distinguish snails found" through the Project that have hazy taxons and that have never enjoyed wide circulation in the hobby.) Some of the more difficult species we are working with are Manicina areolata and Trochus stellatus. If you have a species breeding in your system, we would love to hear about it!
Trochus stellatus is one of the best grazers in Project DIBS, but broadcast spawning of sperm (left) and eggs (right) decreases the survival chances of larvae.
A current list of all the species being examined by Project DIBS breeders: R
• Trochuisstellatus (Gmelin, 1791)
• Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758) ftk^ DIBS Turbo sp.
• Ophiactidae spp. (four species)
Being researched: Anemones:
• Entacmaea quadricolor (Ruppell and Leuckart, 1828)
• Actinodendron sp. (sand anemones) Corals:
• Manicina areolata (Linnaeus, 1758)
• Euphyllia spp. (frogspawn and hammer corals) Cleanup crew:
• Trochus niloticus (Linnaeus, 1767)
• Thor amboinensis (sexy shrimp)
• Hymenocera elegans (Harlequin shrimp)
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brates make up more than 95 percent of the species on Earth, this is the wrong question to ask — it is much too general. There is no "typical" invertebrate. A better question to ask is: How do I go about breeding X? With X representing an invertebrate you are interested in breeding, be it a shrimp, snail, coral or crab.
Conceptually, breeding invertebrates is a simple series of steps:
1) Research the invertebrate you want to breed to the degree it is known by hobbyists and others.
2) Provide the conditions necessary for them to reproduce in captivity based on your research.
3) Help them to reproduce.
The DIBS Foundation is currently conducting educational research on how to better utilize classroom aquariÜÉg for increasing ocean literacy. As a teacher and curriculum developer, I have visited many classrooms containing aquariums. In a few classrooms the aquariums are utilized extensively, but in many there are a lack of supporting materials and clear-cut ways to integratefexciting experiments into the overwhelming demands of science standards and high-stakes testing.
At The DIBS Found||||nwe are examining ways to integrate long-term inquiry-based experiments into the kindergarten through 12th-grade curriculum. Each experiment is based on the overall need to raise awareness of the decline of the oceans and how we can individually work to reduce our impact on the oceans. Utilizing aquariums and interesting captive-bred invertebrates allows students to take responsibility for their learning and build personal connections to organisms they otherwise would never encounter. The DIBS Foundation discussion forums connect students to experts that help them understand the process of scientific inquiry. Student reports and Internet podcasts are shared beyond the classroom to utilize student efforts to raise awareness and spread solutions outside of the classroom.
The DIBS Foundation is looking for volunteers with experience in developing, teaching and assessing marine science, marine biology and environmental science curricula. Volunteers, typically classroom teachers, can choose to participate in two ways:
1) They can apply to be on the curriculum development committee that examines ways to develop new lesson plans for future experiments in marine invertebrate breeding.
2) They can apply to be part of a classroom experiment that is coordinated through The DIBS Foundation website. In the experiment, classrooms from around the country work together on a single project, developing a group understanding of the project and the related environmental issues.
If you are a classroom teacher in grades eight through 12 and are interested in participating, please contact The DIBS Foundation via email at [email protected].
The DIBS Turbo snail is moderately sized, reproduces readily and is an excellent grazer. It would make an easy and worthwhile project for a DIBS classroom aquarium.
Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) are currently one of many species being researched by DIBS data miners to find out the viability of breeding them in captivity and possibly reducing pressure on .wld populations.
4) Take care of the offspring until they mature.
In theory, by following these simple guidelines you'll achieve a self-sustaining population that you can even export to other hobbyist. While the steps are simple, the practical difficulty of each step varies widely depending upon the invertebrate 'being smdB ied. For more details, read the sidebar "Being a Project DIBS Breeder."
ngli|ngljQgeiher as a Community
I have encountered reluctance by some to actively participate in Project DIBS for fear of looking foolish, but one of the founding principles of Project DIBS is respect of all levels of education and awareness. All community members join to learn and are encouraged to pursue whatever interests them and matches their abilities.
Caribbean rose coral (Manicina areolata) is a brooding coral that is only available in the hobby through live rock aquaculture sites. It is on the wish list of species Project DIBS would like to successfully propagate in aquaria though.
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Some become breeders to focus on raising new animals, some become data miners to search for information and others become educators that can helpfchare information with other interested parties.
Data miners are key members in Project DIBS, as finding already existing knowledge in the scientific litejatUr^B and on the Internet can avoid hours of wasted effort by breeders.The DIBS Foundation educators are important to the ultimate success of our education and outreach efforts.
Beyond aquarium hobbyists ani the scientific community, public awareness of coral reef decline is very pponM Saltwater aquarium hobbyists make up less than two percent of the U.S. population and even less of the international community. Raising the awareness of the general public is the only way the needed support for reversing the
Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora damicornis) is one of the species that Project DIBS breeders have successfully propagated in captivity.
decline of coral reefs will be found. For more information on how to help in this ultimate challenge, see the sidebar "Being a DIBS Foundation Educator."
This has been a brief introduction to the Project DIBS community and its current structure and focus. A lot of work remains to be done, and the DIBS community will continue to progress by incorporating new ideas and solu-tiOnS^Pjoposed by its members. Learning how to breed invertebrates is a long-term challenge, best suited to a col-
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