HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Experiments in Algal Feeds for the Penaied Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), Sea Urchin (Lytechinus variegatus), and Marine Rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis and B. rotundiformis)

Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Bart Baca

Second Advisor

Curtis Burney

Third Advisor

Tom Capo

Fourth Advisor

Martin Moe


The suitability of eight species of marine phytoplankton as feed were tested for: the marine rotifers Brachionus plicatilis and Brachionus rotundiformis, larval stage penaeid shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, and larval stage sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. The species selected were Dunaliella sp., Isochrysis sp., Micromonas pusilla, Nannochloris sp., Nannochloropsis salina, Pavlova pinguis, Porphyridium cruentum, or Rhodomonas lens. These species were selected as genera or representatives of classes (divisions) rarely or never used in aquaculture but which have unique and/or abundant fatty acids, polysaccharides, and vitamins. Three experiments were designed to test these algal diets:

1. Algal feed trials for the marine rotifers Brachionus rotundiformis and Brachionus plicatilis.

Brachionus plicatilis had the greatest increase in population (729%) when fed M. pusilla than with the other seven species. The replicates fed R. lens decreased to only 16% of their initial concentration, this indicates that this algal species is not suitable for cultivation of B. plicatilis. Growth of the replicates fed the other six algal species ranged from 127% (P. pinguis) to >300%.

Brachionus rotundiformis had the greatest increase in population (1441%) fed M. pusilla than with the other seven species. The replicates fed P. cruentum and P. pinguis had negative population growth (24% and 6% respective). Growth of the replicates fed the other five algal species ranged from 177% (R. lens) to >275%.

2. Algal feed trials for Litopenaeus vannamei.

In the initial (single algal species) feed trial, Litopenaeus vannamei larvae (nauplii IV and V, protozoea I, II, and Ill, and mysis I) fed the algal species P. cruentum and P. pinguis produced the highest larval survival of ~100% and 85% respective, and therefore may be suitable for penaeid larviculture. The larvae fed Dunaliella sp., Nannochloris sp., and N. salina all died before the end of the nine day feed trial period. The larvae fed R. lens and Isochrysis sp. had survival rates of 47% and 20% respective. The larvae fed M. pusilla had the lowest rate of survival (12%).

For the second feed trial, a dual algal combination was fed to L. vannamei larvae (nauplii IV and V, protozoea I, II, and III, and mysis I). Each combination included either P. pinguis or Isochrysis sp. and one of the other algal species that had supported survival in larval feed trial one (M. pusilla, P. cruentum, and R. lens) for a total of six combinations and a seventh combination of both P. pinguis and Isochrysis sp.

The dual algal combination of P. pinguis + M. pusilla had a significantly greater percentage of survival (53%) and rate of larval development (30% to mysis I) than the other combination algal diets. A somewhat lower percentage of survival was achieved with the combinations of Isochrysis sp. + P. cruentum and Isochrysis sp. + M. pusilla (34% and 33% respectively). The four remaining combinations had limited success (P. pinguis + P. cruentum 16%) (P. pinguis + Isochrysis sp. 8%) (P. pinguis + R. lens 7%) (Isochrysis sp. + R. lens 5%).

3. Initial feed trial for Lytechinus variegatus.

This feed trial examined the potential of four of the algal species i.e., Micromonas pusilla, Pavlova pinguis, Porphyridium cruentum, and Rhodomonas lens in sea urchin culture. The sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus was chosen as a representative of the Echinodermata to establish protocols for future research of this and other classes of Echinoderms with similar larval stages and with potential commercial viability for the marine ornamental and sea urchin roe industries.

Beginning one day after fertilization the sea urchin larvae were fed one of the four algal species until termination of the experiment at day nine. At the algal concentrations used in this research R. lens produced the best results, with larvae having either fully developed rudiments or had settled as juveniles. Larvae fed P. pinguis had reached the fully developed pluteus stage. Those fed P. cruentum were slightly less developed, but had reached the eight-arm pluteus stage. Larvae fed M. pusilla were approximately evenly divided between the six-arm and early eight-arm stages.

These results indicate that, of the algal species tested:

  • Micromonas pusilla is a superior algal species for the production of the marine rotifers Brachionus rotundiformis and Brachionus plicatilis.
  • Pavlova pinguis is a superior algal feed for the larval survival and development of the penaeid shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, either singularly or in combination.
  • Rhodomonas lens is a superior algal species for the larval development of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus.

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