clubhouse, east hampton, indoor, tennis, cornhole, bar, happy hour, bowling, mini golf

Story - News

Jun 10, 2019 10:26 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton High School Students Become First In World To Raise Species Of Goby In Marine Lab

Gregory Metzger in the Marine Science lab.    DANA SHAW
Jun 11, 2019 11:45 AM

Students in Southampton High School’s aquaculture and hatchery management classes waited anxiously to discover if they were going to be the first class in the world to successfully raise a certain species of fish in their marine science lab. Their teachers, Gregory Metzger and Daniel Elefante, spent four days last month seeking an answer, being asked each day, “Did you hear yet?” Mr. Elefante, the lab aide and aquarist, reached out to numerous international experts to check if anyone else had accomplished the feat.

Experts eventually confirmed that the students were, in fact, the first to spawn, hatch and raise in captivity lagoon shrimp goby, cryptocentrus cyanotaenia, a small-sized species of ray-finned fish.

“I found it really exciting, because we also had a moment where it was like, okay, we may be the world’s first for it, but we had to double check. So we were kind of holding our breath,” said Scott Healey, a junior aquaculture student and treasurer of the affiliated Aquaculture Club. “And then, once they came to us with that information, I was really excited. I was happy. I told my parents.”

“Those four days that we were waiting, [the students] were just literally as excited as we were about finding out,” Mr. Metzger said. “It’s rewarding. It’s very rewarding to see students genuinely excited about something school-related.”

Renowned marine scientists, industry professionals and hobbyists in online forums offered their congratulations to the class on the accomplishment.

In the school’s 2,000-square-foot lab, where students in the aquaculture and hatchery management classes manage dozens of aquariums, one tank in the back corner of the room houses a male and female lagoon shrimp goby. Mr. Metzger said he purchased them as adults from a fish store in Bay Shore more than a year ago, primarily because of their unique appearance.

“Because it was a visually different species from what we normally see, and they were exhibiting all the classic characteristics of a pair, I thought, well, what the heck, might as well try them,” Mr. Metzger said, adding that finding a pair can sometimes be the most difficult step, because genders are recognized through behavior rather than appearance.

Sam Schneider, a junior aquaculture student and treasurer of the Aquaculture Club, became their caretaker following a name grab from a hat—the class’s procedure for assigning tanks—and was responsible for feeding them and maintaining the hygiene and water quality of the tank.

He did not see them that often, however, because they enjoyed hiding for most of the day inside PVC pipes sitting in their tank, he said.

On April 10, students checked on their tanks first thing in the morning, as aquaculture is their first period class, and they found an egg mass floating in Sam’s tank. His fish had spawned eggs about a month prior, but they did not survive. So when these eggs were found, students said they were hoping to get them to metamorphose this time, which was the biggest challenge.

It took them about a month of trial-and-error, testing different chemical levels, temperature and light exposure levels and types of food, until they discovered the right formula. Two of their four buckets of eggs, carrying about 150 larvae, successfully metamorphosed and are now in the juvenile stage.

“[Mr. Metzger and Mr. Elefante] had always talked about how this fish has never been raised before, so we knew that if we could do this, that we might have a chance,” said Luke Collum, a senior aquaculture student and president of the Aquaculture Club.

The fish’s first batch of eggs, released about a month prior, did not survive because conditions were not suitable. Most larvae need 24 hours of light exposure to metamorphose, the students explained, but this species did not react favorably to that, as seen in the first batch. They reduced the exposure to 16 hours for two buckets in the second batch, and, two days later, noticed that was the key variable.

“It shows that our technique, the tweaks and the changes that we made from the first batch to the second batch, really were instrumental,” Mr. Metzger said.

When the goby become adults, students in the club will sell them to local pet and fish stores, as they do with other fish they raise.

This accomplishment is not only rewarding for those who helped make it possible but also to those in the larger aquaculture community who appreciate all research discoveries related to breeding and raising.

“The more fish we figure out how to raise, the less we have to pull out of the ocean,” Mr. Elefante said. “So that’s the main goal.”

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Absolutely awesome!! Great job!! Can't wait for my kids to get in there. This is an amazing resource and Metzger and Elefante are doing a spectacular job.
By Barley Dunne (21), Southampton on Jun 14, 19 6:35 AM
1 member liked this comment
Congratulations to Teachers and Students alike!!!
By RUOK2 (15), Water Mill on Jun 14, 19 11:05 AM
What an exceptional program! Good job all! Keep up the cool work.
By Corwin1879 (40), Southampton on Jun 14, 19 8:59 PM