Syd Kraul embraces the challenges that come with cultivating reef fish in captivity.
Kraul, a biochemist turned fish farmer, is trying to grow yellow tang in a tank on his property at the northern end of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. He pays the bills by growing food fish, such as moi stock for aquaculture endeavors, and by working on grant-funded projects on other species.
“I would like to be able to raise reef fish of all kinds, particularly ornamentals,” said Kraul during a recent tour of his facility. “That’s difficult to do.”
Earlier this year, Kraul was working with yellow tangs and flame angels, waiting for the fish to spawn and trying to raise the offspring to maturity. Yellow tang in particular are very difficult to raise in captivity, he said. His just weren’t spawning all that frequently.
A study published earlier this year in the PLOS ONE journal, with authors from the New England Aquarium, among others, said the United States takes about 60 percent of the tropical fish collected worldwide.
While he said he could see himself selling captive-raised reef fish, he’s not out to replace fish collectors on the reef.
What he’s doing with his fish breeding program “might fill a need,” he said. “It certainly could help the reef.”