Common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) is a relatively new species for aquaculture; considered as a recreational species and not commercial. The aim of this study was to develop common snook larval rearing techniques for stock enhancement. Common snook culture has two main bottlenecks, broodstock management and larval culture. High mortality during the first 6 days is the main limitation for successful larval survival. Broodstock management of common snook is still developing and the only source of common snook eggs is from wild broodstock. Securing a regular supply during the natural spawning was essential to reach the main objective. Finding the optimal spawning sites, as well as optimal spawning time was achieved. Results showed Terra Ceia, Longboat and Cayo Costa to be the best sites for wild broodstock collection. The onset of spawning was triggered by a rise in water temperature. During the 4 years of this study spawning started at the end of May and finished in September. Total capture results and egg quality results, such as fertilization, hatching rate and lipid analysis, indicated June and July as the peak months during the spawning season. Common snook follow a lunar spawning cycle. Results showed that one to three days after the new and full moon were the peak spawning periods and therefore the best days to capture wild stock. Common snook egg lipid composition fits the general marine fish fatty acid composition with saturated fatty acids predominating. On the other hand, the omega 3, omega 6 (n-3/n-6) ratio was lower than the typical marine fish and arachidonic acid values were significantly higher than other marine species. This egg fatty acid profile will be helpful in the future to compare it with captive spawned eggs for egg quality purposes. Description of the common snook embryonic and larval development for the first 14 days was carried out. This has strengthened knowledge for this species’ development, and should provide a helpful tool to identify common snook embryos and larvae in the wild. Novel improvements to existing common snook larval culture protocols were implemented. Larval lipid analysis throughout development, and high mortality around day 6 post hatching, suggested that common snook larvae were dying of starvation. Gross morphological development and ultra-structure findings in the digestive and eye system development during the first three days indicated that day 2 post hatching larvae were capable of capturing and digesting food. Additionally, larval nutritional improvements were made, increasing the larval survival. The most significant ones were: finding a smaller and more nutritional prey (SS type rotifers and copepods), finding an optimal stocking and feeding density and the importance that green water technique has on larval survival. Overall, larval success was improved from a zero percent survival during the first 14 days to a 2% survival rate.
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