Intensive larval husbandry and fingerling production of cobia Rachycentron canadum

Daniel D. Benetti, Bruno Sardenberg, Aaron Welch, Ronald Hoenig, M. Refik Orhun, Ian Zink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Methods and results of two larval rearing trials of cobia (Rachycentron canadum) are presented. These trials were designed to test the efficacy of protocols developed over several years of research in cobia larviculture at the UMEH. The protocols incorporate the use of probiotics and prophylaxis, minimize microalgae use, and include commercially available ingredients for live feed enrichment. During the trials, fertilized eggs were stocked at 400/L and incubated in 1000-L cylinder-conical tanks with flow-through seawater at 500% daily exchange rate. Moderate aeration and pure oxygen were used to maintain dissolved oxygen concentrations above saturation (6.5 mg/L at 26 °C). Hatching occurred at 22-24 h post fertilization. Two day-post-hatch (dph) yolk-sac larvae were stocked in four 12,000-L cylinder-conical tanks at 5 and 10 larvae/L. Beginning on 3 dph, larvae were fed microalgae (Isochyrsis galbana C-strain) at low concentrations (5-10,000 cell/ml) and enriched rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis) at 3-5/mL through 9 dph. Beginning on 7 dph, enriched Artemia (Artemia franciscana GSL Strain) nauplii were fed to larvae at 0.1-1/mL. Cobia larvae were reared at water temperatures ranging from 24.3 to 31.8 °C. Water quality parameters were within normal ranges for seawater: salinity 26-34 ppt, pH 7.92-8.16, and NH3 < 0.18 mg/L. Vigorous aeration and supplemental oxygen were used at all times during both larval rearing trials to maintain adequate water movement and levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) (7.0-9.0 mg/L). Water was filtered down to 10 μm using standard sand filters filled with broken glass media and bag filters prior to entering the tanks. Daily water exchange rates in the tanks ranged from 100% at 3 dph to 500% from 17 dph onwards. Between 20 and 22 dph, all post-larvae were fully weaned onto dry starting diets. Survival rates of post-larvae measuring 1.5-2.0 cm SL and weighing 0.5 g at 20-22 dph were estimated to be ≥ 50%. Further mortality during the nursery stage to 3-5 cm and 1-3 g fingerlings prior to shipping at 27 dph brought the overall survival rate to an average of 25.7%. Survival rates of fingerlings cultured in tanks initially stocked at lower densities (5 larvae/L) was significantly higher (P = 0.0078). From 15 dph, post-larvae and fingerlings were daily graded by size with large individuals singled out and stocked into another tank. These trials generated 125,328 fingerlings in four tanks in just two months, levels of production that could sustain a commercial operation and indicate that cobia aquaculture can be viable in the Americas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


  • Cobia
  • Fingerling production
  • Larval culture
  • Rachycentron canadum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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