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Marie Barton University of Alabama 2013 DISL

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1 Marie Barton University of Alabama 2013 DISL
Seahorse Aquaculture Marie Barton University of Alabama 2013 DISL

2 Taxonomy Captive-bred seahorses first recorded in 2002
Family: Syngnathidae Hippocampus kuda H. reidi H. erectus H. barbouri H. abdominalis H. breviceps H. comes H. ingens Captive-bred seahorses first recorded in 2002 In past decade, risen from 1% of total seahorse trade to 99% today 99% of internationally traded captivity-bred, live animals

3 Economic importance, market price, locations, country
Conservation H. capensis in Hawaii Mote marine lab Dried seahorses- traditional medicine $ /kg Live- ornamental fish $ /animal Australia, NZ, MX, China, Ireland and UK, India, Indonesia, USA, S. Africa, Thailand, Vietnam Developed and developing countries

4 Life cycle & larval stages
Males carry eggs for days Larval development stops one week before release from pouch Juvenile seahorses exit pouch as miniature independent adults

5 Reproduction in Captivity
Complex mating process Male courts female with dancing, color change, clicking sounds Male carries fertilized eggs for days Up to 10 broods/yr animals/brood Monogamous Courting- dance, color change, clicking sounds Do it with entwined tails and floating- female puts eggs in males belly Same ritual every morning even after male pregnant Sexual maturity at 14 weeks

6 Production Methods Hatchery: Broodstock are kept in cages in calm bay or indoor tanks Nursery: 1 day after spawning, fry transferred to tank with biofilter, UV sterilization and ozone Stocked 1-2/L Growout: 40 days later, transferred to cages or indoor tanks Initial density 500/m³, after growth 200/m³ Harvested by 40 cm diameter net

7 Production methods

8 Large-scale production
in Vietnam Hippocampus comes Fry production tank Adult tank

9 Feeds and feeding Larvae eat plankton, juveniles and adults eat small crustaceans, full grown adults need some small fish too All prefer live food Expensive Conservation growers commonly grow plankton for larvae on site Most commercial aquaculture uses frozen food Harder to train/wean but if successful, will be hardier Artemia Varied diet important to health Supplements, alternate live and dead/frozen food Estuarium

10 Water chemistry and environmental requirements
Pristine water Salinity: ppt Ammonia and nitrite: 0 ppm Nitrate: <20 ppm DO: 6-8 ppm Temperature 20-28°C pH 8-8.3 Tall tank Current flow in part Floating space

11 Advantages & Disadvantages
High market value, low production cost Protected when most vulnerable by male’s pouch Quick growth in some species 3-6 months High fecundity 1000 babies/brood Fast gestation ~8 broods/yr Some species hardy Cage raised Disease susceptible High risk Must maintain pristine water conditions if grown indoor Poor digestion of food Quick fouling If stressed at all, no productivity Easily stressed Requires much understanding

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