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How Do You Like Your Eggs?


Paul Anderson

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Filling the Open Source Marine Fish Egg Catalog with high quality eggs takes talent, practice, and dedication. 

Members of the Egg Catalog Team have invested their time and talents, first, in egg collector design.  There are a few ways to collect eggs from aquarium habitats.  Our aquarists have experimented with floating collectors, plankton net collectors, and skimmer collectors.  Any way you cut it, collectors usually need to be customized to the size and shape of the habitat, so our aquarists have manufactured their own collectors to fit their habitats, trying them out, evaluating the results in terms of the quantity and quality of eggs collected, and refining their designs.

Once egg collector designs have been optimized and put in use, next comes the fine art of forecasting when deploying the egg collector will produce the best results; and fine tuning details like water flow to make sure that enough flow is passing through the collector in order to collect enough eggs without being too turbulent so as not to damage them.  If the collector produces a good haul, it’s a delicate practice to transfer eggs from the collector to a container in order to work with them under the microscope, and, subsequently, preserve them for shipping to the DNA Barcoding Lab at the California Academy of Sciences.

Egg photodocumentation is also a new skillset that our aquarists have learned to master over the course of the project.  Our Egg Catalog Team has learned from each other skills like egg handling and transfer, and experimenting with microscope optics like focus and lighting to produce the highest quality photos.

Sign up or login to the Larval Culture Project and check out the results of their talents!  Oh yeah, we’ve also added some new species to the catalog since our last update.  See if you can find them.

Photo:  Members of the Egg Catalog Team collecting and photodocumenting eggs collected from mating fishes in their habitats for inclusion into the Catalog.  From L to R:  New England Aquarium’s Laura Anderson checks for eggs collected in her skimmer collector; Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Ramon Villaverde rinses eggs out of his skimmer collector; and Aquarium of the Pacific’s Jenn Anstey and Alex Bohardt harvest and photodocument eggs collected from their habitat.  Photos by (L to R):  M. Schmuck/New England Aquarium, Mia S./Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and J. Burney/Aquarium of the Pacific. 

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