Clownfish. The increasing trade in coral, reef fish, live rock, and other reef organisms contributes significantly to the decline and destruction of coral reefs. A research program at the University of Maine (see link at left) is attempting to reduce the need for the wild harvest of tropical reef fish by raising them in captivity. Fish coloration is important to the attractiveness and healthy appearance of fish and can affect the marketability of fish raised in captivity. Thus, a major challenge for aquarists interested in culturing ornamental reef fish as an alternative to wild harvesting is to produce fish that have the same vibrant color as those found in the wild. Methods for raising clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in captivity are well-established and include a variety of diets that promote growth and survival. We have designed a classroom-based project that allows students to ask what effect dietary carotenoids have on the color of clownfish by feeding juvenile clownfish diets with very different nutritional profiles. This activity can also be used to cover other concepts in ecology, conservation, mathematics; follow the link at left to explore how the activity addresses these topics.

The University of Maine