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Animal news
March 30, 2022


Update 30 March 2022:

The start-up company RoffaReefs, which was founded in Rotterdam Zoo, is going to test its floating breeding system in Bonaire. A contribution from the World Wildlife Fund’s INNO-fund made it possible for us to test and improve the functioning of the unique floating nurseries on the reef. At the moment, testing is going on in Rotterdam Zoo, and also in colleague aquaria in the Netherlands and France.

21 October 2021


Rotterdam Zoo has developed a floating breeding system in which the larvae of marine organisms can be grown not only in aquaria but also on reefs. This is a breakthrough in breeding of reef inhabitants, such as the well-known surgeon fish ‘Dory’. With this breeding system, the chance of survival of the larvae on the reef is higher and reefs can be better protected. Corals are seriously threatened with extinction by overfishing, pollution and global warming, among other things. Many species, found on the reef, are not or hardly cultivated by aquaria, so fish from reefs are also caught for aquaria. This inspired Sander van Lopik, marine officer at Rotterdam Zoo’s Oceanium, to develop a system of floating nurseries.

Establishment Roffareefs

To further research the new, unique breeding method, Rotterdam Zoo founded the start-up ‘RoffaReefs’. With TU Delft as a partner and the work of students in Rotterdam Zoo, the breeding system is further improved. In cooperation with NGOs and universities, Rotterdam Zoo and RoffaReefs will soon test the system in other zoos that are members of the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria). In addition, experience will be gained on the reef in the wild.

Floating nurseries

This breeding system has now been put into use in Rotterdam Zoo. Previously, breeding was often done in a separate area where the eggs/larvae had to get used to water with different parameters. By breeding in a floating nursery in the water where the eggs/larvae come from, there is less disturbance for the larvae during the breeding process and more larvae will survive. Equipped with solar panels, the system can also run autonomously in the wild. We can then use the knowledge we gain from this in aquaria and vice versa.

Reefs seriously threatened

It is estimated that all coral reefs will be threatened with extinction by 2050, while crucial inhabitants, who have various ‘tasks’, continue to be caught from the reef. For example, surgeon fish ‘Dory’ is not only a pretty fish, but also an important gardener who removes rampant algae that would otherwise damage the coral.

Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp) is actively committed to nature conservation. It does so by inspiring its visitors to take good care of the earth we all share. And also by actively contributing to research for nature conservation.