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Rare fish breeding an Australian first

Central Regional TAFE‘s (CRTAFE) Batavia Coast Maritime Institute (BCMI), in an Australian first for marine ornamentals aquaculture, have successfully spawned and cultured a rare Australian coral reef fish species.

The broodstock of Rainfordia opercularis, otherwise known as the Flathead Perch, were sourced from the Dampier region of Western Australia, and within ten months of care, staff were surprised to find the trio of fish releasing eggs (spawning).

This is the first time in the world that a large volume of the species has successfully been brought to market size. The species have been raised previously once before, in 2011 in the United States of America, however it was of limited numbers.

Each fish retails in the marine ornamentals industry for approximately $5000.00 US dollars.

Daniel Hoare, BCMI Hatchery Technician and part of the successful project team said CRTAFE and the BCMI (widely known for its forte in breeding marine ornamental fish) are very excited about the accomplishment.

“The complexities associated with rearing this species is something we have been wanting to trial for a long time, and to see the project succeed is a fantastic achievement for students and staff at CRTAFE’s BCMI” Mr Hoare said.

“We now have a blueprint to tackle other hard to culture species, exposing students to cutting edge aquaculture techniques” he said.

“The Larvae were raised using a variety of live feeds and began to exhibit settlement behavior at around thirty days after hatching” he said.

“Juveniles were transferred into a new glass tank to aid in weaning them from live feeds (plankton) to frozen feed types, and have now jumped onto our custom made food quicker than what we expected” he said.

“Currently our perch are exhibiting juvenile colouration with only two stripes on display but since beginning the weaning process their colours have begun to change to more closely resemble the bright orange colour and horizontal purple stripes of their parents.” he said.

CRTAFE Portfolio Manager – Marine, Environment and Technology, Dr Suresh Job said the project is a significant achievement not only for CRTAFE and the BCMI but also for the Marine Ornamentals industry in Australia.

“The fact that we have again achieved an Australian first, and commercially a world first, right here in Geraldton is just fantastic” Dr Job said.

“We have a great team of staff at the BCMI, who are specialists in their field and passionate about teaching students the intricacies of the marine science world. We couldn’t be prouder of the efforts students and staff have put into this project and for the dedication they give to all of the species in our care” he said.

Tours of the BCMI are offered as part of the Marine Discovery Tour organised by CRTAFE Tourism and Hospitality students, and can be booked through the Geraldton Visitors Centre. Customised site visits can be organised on a case by case basis by calling the BCMI directly.

Those interested in studying Maritime, Aquaculture or Fishing Operations are encouraged to visit the courses page here for more information. Qualifications start at Certificate I to Diploma level, in addition to a range of short courses.

Enrolments for semester two are currently open. Enquiries are welcome by calling 1800 672 700 or email or by visiting the link below. 


Page last updated July 19, 2019