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Nematodes as live food in larviculture of marine fish

Breeding and producing fish faces notable challenges particularly in rearing of larvae because due to their higher sensitivity to exterior influences compared to adult individuals. Therefore hatcheries are well advised to adjust parameters such as temperature, oxygen, or water quality ideally according to their needs. This is particularly the case for larval feeds. Larvae usually feed on their natural food at the beginning of exogenous feeding after completing the yolk sack phase which consists typically of different kinds of plankton particles such as algae or small crustaceans. Many species need therefore live food in this early stage. Therefore the production of live food organisms that fulfill certain preconditions is needed. Suitable live food organisms need to have a favorable nutrient composition, a suitable size range, high reproductive rates, a cost-efficient cultivation and acquisition, and a high robustness of the food organisms. In an ideal case it should be possible to adjust the chemical composition to the individual needs of different fish species. So far none of the established methods fulfill all of these preconditions. Hence, there is a lot of research potential.

This gap may be filled with nematodes (roundworms) which are already used as larval food in fishkeeping. Nematodes can be easily produced and harvested in large quantities. Their applicability in aquaculture has been already proven in the past. In many aspect mentioned above nematodes are equivalent or better than conventional live food organisms. Unfortunately previous studies in this field were limited to small scale research and so far no complete procedure for application in commercial aquaculture has been developed yet.

This is the goal of my research project. Techniques for mass production, enrichment of nutrients, harvest and feeding in large scale will be developed. This project focuses on raising marine fish larvae using nematodes as live food because previous studies were limited to freshwater fish species. In addition a gene database of the tested nematodes will be established.

This project is carried out at the Institute for Marine Ressources (IMARE GmbH) and at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI) in cooperation with Impetus GmbH & Co. Bioscience KG in Bremerhaven.



This project is funded by the promotion program “Applied Environmental Research” of the federal land Bremen and by the European Regional Development Fund ERDF 2007-2013.

EUROPEAN UNION: Investment into our Future – European Regional Development Fund.

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