Live feeds are an integral component in the cultivation of most
marine finfish species during larval stages. The first live feed that
has demonstrated acceptability for most marine species, and which can typically be raised on a commercial scale, is the rotifer Brachionus spp. While approximately two thousand species of rotifers have been identified, most culturists rely upon the marine rotifers Brachionus plicatilis (L-strain) with a size range of 200 to 360 μm and B. rotundiformis (s-strain) with a size range of 150 to 220 μm (see figure 1). Rotifers are favored due to their size, their ability to be raised in mass cultures, and the fact that their nutrient composition can be quickly improved through the use of specialized enrichment diets.
As the initial food source provided for larval marine finfish, rotifers must be clean and nutritious. Rotifer cultures can represent a significant potential vector for the introduction of unwanted pathogens into the fish culture tanks. Therefore, it is important to maintain hygienic production protocols to minimize this risk.
There are two general methods for culturing rotifers: 1) the batch method, where a given volume of water is added or exchanged each day and the culture is restarted at regular intervals (see figure 2); or 2) the continuous method, which often employs recirculation-based technology to increase the density of rotifers cultured while minimizing the need to restart cultures.
Rotifer, finfish, first feed
Brendan Delbos, Research Specialist, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center
Michael H. Schwarz, Extension Aquaculture Specialist, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center
Virginia Cooperative Extension. Publication 600-105, 2009.
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