Hello Wise People,
Our University lab has taken upon itself to attempt to rear the bicolor damselfish, Stegastes partitus, and we're seeking advice on getting the larvae to survive.
After giving our wild-caught brood stock (we have 2 adult females, 2 adult males, and 5 juveniles in a large colony tank) plenty of love for several months, they have begun to lay eggs.
I should mention this is a flow-through tank that receives water directly from the bay adjacent to our university in Miami, and it is set up with 4 distinct piles of rocks/conch shells. The eggs are laid approximately weekly, and they consistently prefer to lay the eggs on the outer lips of two of the larger conch shells that are in the tank.
When the eggs appear near-hatch (day 3-4, it seems to vary), we have been removing the conch shells from the tanks, keeping them submerged in water in a bucket, and transferring them to black rearing bin. This is set up with a very low surface flow and a vertical PVC
pipe (topped with a fine mesh) fitted into a bulkhead at the bin's center that allows overflow to drain out from the surface. Temperature is around 80-82 F and salinity is 35 ppt, similar to the colony tanks, though the temperature is controlled so that there is no variation throughout the day.
We have rotifer colonies which we sample, enrich, and stock in the rearing bin at an approximate density of 10 rotifers/mL once a day. We do this on the night before the eggs hatch and then again every night at approximately 5pm.
We can't get our larvae to live past 3 days.
We are fairly new to rearing, and are absolutely novices with rearing damselfish larvae. We are also well aware that this species has been attempted (without success) in the past. We would GREATLY appreciate any advice that anyone on this forum has to offer (colony care, rearing conditions, rotifer densities, whatever). We have a few ideas we will be testing in the next few months, but I'd prefer to hear what you all have to say without feeding any of our ideas first!