Increasing the reliability, nutritional value and economic viability of large-scale copepod production for marine fish larviculture

End Date: 8/31/16


Aquaculture cannot supply the demand for marine fish in part because of low survival rates and/or high rates of deformities in culture due to sub-optimal nutrition. Current commercial production of marine fish larvae relies on the use of nutritionally enriched rotifers and/or Artemia as first feed items, but rotifers and Artemia are nutritionally inadequate and too large for many marine fish species.

Copepods, the natural prey items for most larval fish, are smaller in size and more nutritionally complete than traditional live foods. However, the large-scale culture of copepods for commercial aquaculture has been limited by high cost, the need for accompanying facilities for extensive microalgae culture, inconsistent results, and the inability to store and ship the products. We propose to create a public-private partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi and Reed Mariculture, Inc. to increase the viability of commercial copepod culture for marine aquaculture using Acartia tonsa (Gulf of Mexico isolate) and Parvocalanus crassirostris (Hawaii isolate) and thereby relieve a major constraint on the development of domestic marine aquaculture.


  1. Evaluate the effects of temperature, salinity, density, and diets on the nutritional profile (carbon and nitrogen content, fatty acid, amino acid), growth, and reproductive output of both copepod species
  2. Develop commercial algae concentrate diets for the culture of both species of copepods to reduce or eliminate the need for live algae
  3. Determine the optimal conditions for large-scale intensive production for both species of copepods and compare the cost of production among species and culture conditions
  4. Demonstrate the use of copepods produced in the manner developed by this project in the rearing of marine species relevant to the Gulf of Mexico region such as spotted seatrout, red snapper, Florida pompano and greater amberjack as well as those to the nation as a whole