Marine aquarium Maldives Six spot goby Valenciennea sexuguttata

Sixspot goby (Valenciennea sexguttata)

Fish Lab & Aquaria -Marine Life in the Maldives

Fish Lab

Our Fish Lab at Landaa has had a productive month, with new ideas being implemented and developed. We have increased the population of the main tank, added displays of new breeding species, sourced and ordered products that have taken months to find, restarted our plankton cultures, installed a much-needed UV lamp in the jellyfish tank, and induced a new batch of jellyfish polyps.

Our new breeding species include: Orange Basslets, Blue Damsels and Blue Streak Gobies. These species are commonly sold for the global aquarium trade, and successfully breeding our own stock is a great way to populate our large marine aquarium. The breeding tanks also provide increased visual focus in our Fish Lab, with both sides of the fish tanks having some sand-filled displays.

  • Tanks 11-15: Common Clownfish, Seahorse, Lobster, Common Pipefish.
  • Tanks 31-35: Blue Damsels, Orange Basslets, Blue-Streak Goby, Pipefish, Blue Damsels.
Fish Lab breeding tanks

Large Aquarium

We have introduced several new species of fish to our large marine aquarium this month, adding a large school of Yellow Sweepers (60 individuals), some Blue-Streak gobies, False Cleaner Wrasse, and a Convict Tang.
The Sweepers have been an instant favourite with our guests, displaying their characteristic tightly-packed schooling behaviour. We have also introduced more coral into the tank, which has made it look like a natural, diverse reef. Once we can maintain the fish stock levels, we will not have to add anything new for a while, and will allow the tank to grow naturally.

There seemed to be a mystery decline in the population of smaller-sized fish inhabitants, and then one day we spotted a resident crab in the process of eating a Basslet. We have been trying to catch the crabs with fish-traps, but with no success so far.

We have continued experimenting with our new water pumps, and have positioned them with a varying pulse to maintain full coverage with more random flow. We have ordered a new lighting system for the main tank, as the manufacturer no longer sells spares for the models we have.

Marine aquarium Maldives

Our large 4000L aquarium at the Marine Discovery Centre, Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

Plankton Production

On 26 March, we restarted the Nannochloropsis cultures from our 2L storage bottles. This has resulted in an increased density of algae that appear much healthier than the inconsistent first few weeks of the month.
Artemia – We have started to add Artemia to our 100L algae buckets, to use as feed for our new display tanks.
Rotifers – Struggled to recover from February’s crash. We placed the remains of the rotifers in a few bottles of algae (500-1500ml) which has seen the numbers increase. We have also ordered the concentrated ‘nanno’ paste, along with a ‘Rotifloss’ filter. Both these products are from Reed Mariculture who specialise in rotifer cultures, and we are confident this will aid in a more stable and consistent production of rotifers.

Zooplankton Study

We are waiting for delivery of sampling equipment to start our new zooplankton study. We are kindly supported by the Marine Biological Association (MBA), who have been at the forefront of global oceanic plankton sampling for the last 60 years. We will continue to stay in contact with the MBA for future collaboration opportunities.

We have also been in discussions with the new resident Assistant Manager at the Manta Trust, who is interested in studying plankton in Hanifaaru bay for a PhD. We are confident that we can provide mutually beneficial data, methodologies and ID development in this new inter-agency collaboration (that we hope to grow and develop).

Small Aquarium One

  • Mini coral frame – the remaining seven fragments are healthy and encrusting slowly to the cable ties and frame.
  • Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) breeding pair – we observed a single batch of eggs this month.
  • Added a new Mushroom coral specimen (from Gulhi Falhu coral rescue project).

Small Aquarium Two

  • Mini coral frame – overall healthy; the fragments are encrusting slowly onto the frame and the cable ties.
  • Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkia) – laid 3 egg batches.
  • Peacock manta shrimp – recently moulted; it will be several weeks before the new armour is fully protective.

Linckia multifora sea stars

  • SS3 (large specimen) – growth in only one of the arms (maybe as it prepares to split again).
  • SS4 (new Jan-21) – growing steadily; the shortest arm continues to grow the fastest.
Marine aquarium Yellow Sweepers (Parapriacanthus ransonneti)

Yellow sweepers (Parapriacanthus ransonneti) often spotted in rocky crevices swimming in large schools.
Harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera picta) attempts to dislodge a Sea Star from the base of our mini coral frame.

Marine aquarium Yellow Sweepers (Parapriacanthus ransonneti)

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

After water quality issues at the start of the month, we installed the Fish Lab’s general UV-sterilising light into our jelly tank. We now run the light during working hours, with the tank on an open system, and then close the system overnight before adding feed. The water quality has remained consistently good, with less algal growth than when ran on a closed circuit. We have noticed that the jellyfish have reduced in size, but this may be in response to changes in salinity (now 100% saltwater).

After months of searching, we have successfully sourced a suitable and affordable home jellyfish tank – an 8L half-cylinder enclosure, capable of holding 4 jellyfish comfortably. As a result, we have begun to induce the strobilation process on a new tile from tank 20.

Marine aquarium Maldives Sargassum frogfish Histrio histrio

Sargassum frogfish (Histrio histrio) rescued from a drifting ghost net and released after 1 week in our Fish Lab

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Regeneration in the Maldives

Monthly Progress

During March, we transplanted 21 new coral frames into the lagoons around both Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru. With the seasonally hottest time of year now upon us (Feb-May, peaking end of April) we are closely monitoring the health of our frames. Currently, none of our coral colonies present any bleaching (as has been recorded elsewhere in the Maldives).

The global NOAA Bleaching Alerts categorise the Maldives at “Watch” status, rising to “Warning” in the upcoming weeks as ocean surface temperatures are expected to rise (but thankfully to lower peaks than last year).

Check out our Reefscapers Diary for further details and all our latest photographs, including updates on our autonomous catamaran and coral identification project that uses bespoke artifical intelligence.

NOAA bleaching alerts Maldives

Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation in the Maldives

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of March, we were caring for 8 Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa. At Kuda Huraa, our turtle patients include 3 rescued Olive Ridleys, plus our rehabilitating hatchlings: 6 Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and 7 Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata).

After spending one month in the ocean pen, Varu regained her ability to dive and rest at the bottom. She was fitted with a satellite tracker and released from the beach in front of our Centre on 26 March. Sadly, we lost the tracking signal just 2 days later (35km travelled). Unusually, there were 471 transmissions on the last day; stress might have caused the return of Varu’s buoyancy syndrome (unable to dive), or sadly she may have been injured by a boat strike.

Flying Turtles

With the global pandemic restrictions slowly lifting, we have restarted discussions with several of our long-term overseas partners, who are interested in housing our non-releasable turtle patients as part of our Flying Turtle initiative.

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During March, we received 3 submissions from the public to our Sea Turtle ID project. Our current database catalogues 5,000 photographic sightings, and to date has positively identified and named a total of: 1290 Hawksbills, 271 Greens and 98 Olive Ridleys.

Submissions consist of close-up photographs of the turtle facial profile, enabling us to outline the unique pattern of scales (scutes) that act like a human fingerprint.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle ID Maldives photo submissions Hawksbill male

Our Unreleasable Turtle Residents

Our Current Turtle Patients

Our Juvenile Turtle Patients

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