Banggai cardinalfish threats
In the wild, Banggai cardinalfish numbers have plummeted. Their surging popularity in the aquarium hobby sparked a goldrush in overharvesting, with fish bombs made from cyanide, fertilisers and phosphorus used to stun and catch as many as possible. The precariousness of the Banggai cardinal population is confounded by their small native range in Indonesia of 5,500km2, around the size of Venice! As a result, their numbers in the wild has decreased by more than 80%. This makes every new arrival vital to establish a back-up population, but breeding Banggai cardinals is tricky.
Banggai cardinalfish breeding
Unusually for marine fish, Banggai cardinals only raise a few fry (baby fish) at a time. The male protects the fertlised eggs by carrying them in his mouth until the eggs hatch, and from then on, the fry are on their own. These tiny fry require microscopic foods to survive, which our Zookeepers must carefully cultivate to keep them going. In the wild, fry survive by hiding between sea urchin spines, which is thought to be the reason for their striking black and white camouflage. Our zookeepers replicate this by creating artificial urchins to ensure they feel secure. Once large enough, our fry are added to our seven-metre-long reef aquarium at London Zoo’s Tiny Giants.
Coral reef fish conservation
At the Zoo they are ambassadors for their species, raising awareness for the importance of sustainable practices in the pet industry. We’re also advancing aquarium breeding success of more species that are key to the ongoing health of coral reefs in collaboration with Bangor University. Together we are collaborating to raise species that have never been successfully bred in aquariums before. The support of Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery is helping us raise future generations of endangered coral reef fish.
As human activities push our planet to its limits, it’s more vital than ever to bring people with us to drive nature’s recovery. You can be part of it too. Help power solutions to save our living world at ZSL.
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Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions.
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