The effects of temperature and salinity on early life stages of black sea bass Centropristis striata

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Along the Atlantic coast black sea bass occur from the Gulf of Maine to Florida and support important commercial and recreational fisheries. Interest in commercial production of black sea bass has increased in recent years due to high demand and limited seasonable availability. Efforts towards large-scale production have been hampered by a high incidence of early larval mortality. Two of the most important environmental variables affecting hatchery production of marine finfish larvae are temperature and salinity. In the wild, larval black sea bass are found in waters with temperatures of 12-24 C and salinity levels of 30-35 ppt. Studies were conducted to define the temperature and salinity ranges that support growth and development of black sea bass during early life stages. Three developmental phases were investigated: 1) fertilization to hatch; 2) hatch through yolk sac absorption; and 3) during the initial exogenous feeding stage (5-14 days post hatch; DPH). Fertilized eggs were obtained by manual spawning of fish following administration of LHRHa. Fertilized eggs were transferred to 300-mL glass Petri dishes or 500-mL beakers to assess the effects of salinity and temperature through hatch and yolk sac absorption, respectively. To determine environmental effects on growth and survival during initial exogenous feeding 400 actively feeding larvae were cultured in green water and fed enriched rotifers for a 9-d period. For investigation of the effect of salinity, sea water (35 ppt) was diluted gradually to 15, 20, 25, and 30 ppt and maintained at 21 C. For examination of the effect of temperature, seawater was adjusted from 21 C to 12, 15, 21, 27, or 30 C at a rate of 3 C/h. No eggs hatched at 12 C or when salinity was maintained at 0 or 5 ppt. Hatching was uniformly high (≥ 85%) at temperatures between 15 and 27 C and at salinities ≥ 15 ppt. Survival through yolk sac absorption was greatest at temperatures between 18 and 27 C and at salinities ≥ 20 ppt. Survival through first feeding stage was highest at temperatures ≥ 18 C and 30 ppt salinity. Larval growth through first feeding was not significantly affected by salinity level but did increase with rearing temperature. The results indicate that survival and development of black sea bass during early life stages are most favorable at temperatures >18 C with salinity levels approaching full strength seawater. © by the World Aquaculture Society 2004.

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Journal of the World Aquaculture Society