Baby sticklebacks

Bristol-born stickleback babies go on display 

More than a dozen captive-bred stickleback babies have gone on display in a special nursery tank at Bristol Aquarium.

The tiny sea sticklebacks, which measure just three centimetres in length, were born at the Harbourside attraction last month.

Visitors were able to witness the complicated breeding process, which involved the aquarium’s resident male stickleback ‘Spiny Norman’ building an underwater nest for the unborn babies using artificial seaweed.

Bristol Aquarium’s Jake Graham said: “Ever since the BBC Springwatch programme featured ‘Spineless Si’ on their ‘Stickleback Cam’ the level of interest in our resident sticklebacks has gone through the roof.

“The fact ‘Spiny Norman’ has been rather more successful than ‘Spineless Si’ has also added to his fame.

“All the babies are now on display in a specially-designed nursery tank in our Learning Lab area which they share with a group of captive bred pipefish which were born at Bristol Zoo,” he added.

The fifteen-spined, or sea stickleback, is the largest member of the stickleback family and can reach length of up to 20cms.

Native to UK waters they are most commonly found in the brackish waters of the Atlantic Ocean living among seaweed.

The males build a nest by digging a small pit and then using special thread-like mucus around plants causing them to come together to create a nest.

They then perform a zig-zag like mating dance around this nest to attract a female.

Once inside the nest the female lays up to 300 peppercorn-sized eggs which the male externally fertilises.

He then guards the eggs and fans them with his fins until they hatch. He continues to care for the fry until they have absorbed the contents of their egg yolks and can feed for themselves.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange filming or photo opportunities please contact Sarah Moore or Jake Graham on 0117 929 8929.