Marine Life Montage: New Exports from Ecuador

25 May, 2016

Passer or King Angelfish, Holacanthus passer, collected off the coast of Ecuador. Images by M. Tuccinardi.

Passer or King Angelfish, Holacanthus passer, collected off the coast of Ecuador. All images by M. Tuccinardi.

Traveling in the Amazon basin doesn’t usually afford much chance to see marine life—aside from a brief  stop in Lima, Peru, I hadn’t seen the ocean in months. But towards the end of my travels, I had the opportunity to embrace my love of all things salty and return to Ecuador to work with an up-and-coming marine exporter.

Ecuador, with an extensive coastline along the Eastern Pacific, boasts a rich assortment of marine fish and invertebrates near shore. And of course, a few hundred miles from Ecuador’s coast are the famed Galapagos Islands, a world-renowned hotbed of biodiversity. Although its waters are somewhat less tropical than the Indo-Pacific reefs we tend to think of when imagining aquarium fishes’ native habitat, there are still hundreds of species of fish, invertebrates, and corals that can be found just offshore. Some of the native marine life will be familiar to hobbyists, with ranges extending North to the Sea of Cortez, while others are likely new to the trade and hobby.

The following photos are a selection of some of the species regularly encountered in the country’s waters. Most of the collecting occurs in Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces, along the north-central coast—an area dominated by rocky habitat and deep, crystal clear turquoise waters. This fishery is relatively new and currently is shipping mainly to Europe. It will be some time before fish and inverts from Ecuador will be seen in the U.S., but for now enjoy a sampling of the beautiful marine life found off the Ecuadorian coast.

Blackbanded Butterfly (Johnrandallia nigrirostris)

Blackbanded Butterfly (Johnrandallia nigrirostris)

Cortez Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)

Cortez Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)

Three-banded Butterfly (Chaetodon humeralis)

Three-banded Butterfly (Chaetodon humeralis)

Ruby Red Creolefish or Paranthias, a deepwater schooling fish (Paranthias colonus)

Ruby Red Creolefish or Paranthias, a deepwater schooling fish (Paranthias colonus)

The colorful juvenile form of Cortez's Angelfish (Pomacanthus zonipectus)

The colorful juvenile form of Cortez’s Angelfish (Pomacanthus zonipectus)

Stunning red "volcano" sea stars (Pentaceraster cumingi) are a common sight

Stunning red “volcano” sea stars (Pentaceraster cumingi) are a common sight

Two of the barnacle-dwelling blenny species commonly seen in shallow waters

Two of the barnacle-dwelling blenny species commonly seen in shallow waters

Ecuador also boasts a huge diversity of colorful Zoanthus species

Ecuador also boasts a huge diversity of colorful Zoanthus species.

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About the author

Mike Tuccinardi
Mike Tuccinardi

With a background spanning retail, wholesale, and aquarium fish import, Mike Tuccinardi began working at a local fish store in his early teens and has been following the fish ever since. After a stint in Florida working for a major importer and tropical fish farm, Mike has traveled through Asia and South America visiting aquarium fish exporters, collectors, and fishing communities. He currently serves on the advisory board of Project Piaba as well as the steering committee for the IUCN’s Home Aquarium Fish Sub-Group (HAFSG). When not traveling, Mike resides in Boulder, CO with his wife and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science. He is a Senior Editor of AMAZONAS and CORAL Magazines.

1 Comment

  1. May 26, 2016

    Mike,
    Do you have any contact information for the new collectors in Ecuador? I would love to figure out a way to import these fish and Zoanthids.

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