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Comparative survival and growth performance of European lobster larvae, Homarus gammarus, reared on dry feed and conspecifics

Journal article
Authors Adam Powell
James Hinchcliffe
Kristina Sundell
Nils-Gunnar Carlsson
Susanne P. Eriksson
Published in Aquaculture Research
Volume 48
Issue 10
Pages 5300–5310
ISSN 1355-557X
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Kristineberg
Pages 5300–5310
Language en
Keywords hatchery, homarid, cannibalism, nutrition, composition
Subject categories Aquaculture


A bottleneck of crustacean larval culture concerns nutrition and associated cannibalism in communal rearing systems, which impact on larval survival, development and growth. For early stage European lobster, Homarus gammarus larvae, feeding ecology and body composition is largely unknown. We initiated four progressive feeding experiments (novel feed types, feeding regime and feed size) on growth and survival, to inform and update husbandry protocols. Performance of larvae offered a dry commercial feed was not significantly different compared to a conventional wet plankton feed of the same ration and size grade (both within 600-1000 µm). Further experiments found that the same ration of dry feed offered 6 times daily improved development and growth, over the conventional regime of 3 times daily. Small grade dry feed (particles 250-360 µm) improved larval performance compared to a larger feed (360-650 µm). Larvae were also fed different proportions of dry feed and/or conspecifics in both communal and individual rearing systems (the latter preventing cannibalism via segregation). Individually reared larvae, fed only dead conspecifics, displayed the greatest survival (80%) to post larvae. This underlines the impact of cannibalism on survival and nutrition in H. gammarus larviculture. A final experiment analysed H. gammarus zoea 1 composition, identifying deficiencies in ash and carbohydrate in lobster feeds. This suggests a need for a species specific, formulated dry feed for H. gamarus larviculture. Our research represents the first investigation of H. gammarus larval composition and dietary requirements, and highlights decreased growth potential associated with providing nutrition solely from generic commercial feed.

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