Epaulette Shark Pups Now Available

ORA Epaulette Shark pups are a new addition to the growing list of ORA aquacultured fish. The Epaulette Shark, Hemiscyllium ocellatum, is a benthic shark species with a beautiful spotted pattern and a characteristic pair of large spots above their pectoral fins. This conspicuous marking resembles the shoulder décor used on military uniforms to signify rank, lending the “epaulette” term to their common name.  Adults reach a maximum size of 42 inches, making them an excellent choice for advanced aquarists looking to keep a shark.

Native to the shallow reefs of Northern Australia and New Guinea, this shark species has evolved extraordinary adaptations to survive the harsh, fluctuating environment of tide pools and coral flats. As the tide goes out and isolated pools of water form, the Epaulette shark exploits their confines as easy hunting grounds. In a motion similar to land based amphibians, Epaulettes can use their paired pectoral and pelvic fins as arms and legs to maneuver around coral and rock formations. They can also tolerate high temperatures and very low oxygen levels as exposed tide pools become increasingly more inhospitable.

We consider the Epaulette Shark to be an expert only animal. They must be provided with a low stress environment with limited disruption, an easy to consume diet with multivitamin supplementation and excellent water quality. Despite their relative small size and relaxed disposition, a full sized Epaulette will need to be housed in a tank with a minimum size of 200 gallons and carefully chosen tank mates. We strongly urge anyone looking to keep a shark to thoroughly research the species prior to purchase. This is a long term commitment!

Our Epaulette parents arrived at ORA in 2013 as large juveniles and took several years to reach sexual maturity. First housed in a 15 foot round fiberglass tank with coarse sand substrate, they were given even more space as they continued to grow and now reside in a 15 foot by 25 foot raceway with sand and structures for shelter. They eat a large quantity of vitamin enriched squid and shrimp three times per week.

Check out the species profile page for more info and photos.


Success! Our First Ruby Red Dragonets

Behold! The first aquacultured Ruby Red Dragonets from ORA!  We are excited to announce our progress with this strikingly beautiful fish as we work to bring them into commercial production. Did you know that this is a new species that has yet to be named by taxonomists? Since their initial introduction to the aquarium hobby just over three years ago, this bright red fish has been simply known as Synchiropus sp. or the Ruby Red Dragonet. However, they are often misidentified as Red Scooter Dragonets (Synchiropus stellatus) or Moyers Dragonets (Synchiropus moyeri), both completely different species.

As this is only our first batch of true Ruby Red Dragonets, we still have a lot to learn and a long way to go before they will be available for sale.  Here is what we do know:

This species does not spawn as frequently, or produce eggs in the quantities that its Regular and Red Scooter counterparts do.  Additionally, the larvae are smaller and develop slower. In spite of these exciting challenges, we are confident we will be able to get them into commercial production in late 2016 or early 2017.

In the meantime please enjoy our other wonderfully charming Dragonet species. You can read more about them HERE.


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Scooter Dragonets

Scooter Dragonet

Scooter Dragonets, or Scooter Blennies as they are often called, have always been one of our favorite fish.  Way back in 2010 when we were intensively raising Mandarins we tried our hand with Scooters countless times with little luck.  We were only able to raise roughly 1 Scooter for every 5000 mandarins!  We were frustrated to find that we were missing a suitable prey item for their first feeding.

Juvenile Red Scooters
Juvenile Red Scooters

We learned something important from the few Scooters that we managed to raise though: they grew quite fast once the larvae settled to the bottom of the tank.  With Mandarins, under our culture conditions, you will have a few fish that shoot up to 1.25” in around 8 months but the majority of the batch will take up to 14 months to reach that size and 18 months or more to reach 1.5”. Much to the chagrin of hobbyists, this timeframe is the reason we are not actively culturing Mandarins today; their slow growth makes them too costly to raise.  Scooters on the other hand start spawning at less than 1″ in length and reach 1.5” in just 4 to 6 months!

A few years ago we made significant improvements to our Live Feeds program allowing us to increase the variety, quantity and quality of the food we were raising for our larvae.  Our most important addition was a consistent supply of a variety of copepod species. These new copepods were just the thing we had been missing for our beloved Scooters.

Once we began setting up spawns from regular and red Scooters with our new supply of copepods we started observing excellent survival and high settlement rates.  It was encouraging to see the juveniles accept a pelleted diet at a very young age.

With their rapid growth and eager acceptance of a prepared food diet, Scooter Dragonets are proving to be very receptive to our aquaculture conditions and will thrive in a wide array of hobbyist home aquariums.

We are excited to announce that retailers have access to the first batch of Scooter Dragonets now.  The Red Scooter Dragonet will be available soon.

To learn more about species of Dragonets we’ve raised, check out their livestock page here: http://www.orafarm.com/products/fish/dragonets/

New! ORA Radial Filefish

Radial Filefish

Several years ago, two Radial Filefish were collected from a coral reef around Cebu in the Philippines. Shortly after, they were flown 7,340 miles across the entire Pacific Ocean to a marine wholesale facility in Los Angeles, California. Following a brief stay, these small fish were bagged, boxed and flown another 1,727 miles to Rhinelander, Wisconsin where they finally settled into the established 28 gallon reef aquarium of LiveAquaria’s own Kevin Kohen. They thrived there, eating three to four times a day, surrounded by a variety of Goniopora, Clavularia, Zoanthids and Mushrooms. Continue reading

2014 Year In Review

ORA 2014 Year In Review

As the curtains fall on 2014, ORA looks back on our most productive year to date. While other ornamental aquaculture facilities spent the year figuring out how to put more stripes on a clownfish, ORA has been focused on the development of new species; aggressively pushing the boundaries of marine aquaculture. While clownfish remain the cornerstone of our operation, the aquarium hobby deserves and requires more than just designer clowns.

This year we have added over 16 new items to our lineup. Including 13 new fish, eight of which are industry firsts. We even completed our second entire genus. Not all of these new fish are colorful, not all of them are particularly remarkable by hobbyist standards, but each of them have been important stepping stones. Each new species provides us with insights that help us overcome the challenges we face as we work with new and more difficult species. We even learn new things that improve our ability to raise the species we currently work with. Continue reading

Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish (Rudarius ercodes)

Found naturally in waters around Japan and south to Taiwan, the ORA Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish is an exciting addition to our expansive collection of captive bred animals. Typically hidden in temperate waters surrounded by macroalgaes and sea grass beds, this diminutive filefish only reaches a maximum length of 3 inches. They have the amazing ability to adjust their coloration and patterns depending on their surroundings, from distinctly spotted to solid shades of green.

Continue reading