Recirculating aquaculture system for high density production of the calanoid copepod Acartia tonsa (Dana)

Minh Thi Thuy Vu, Gunvor Øie, Helge Reinertsen

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The calanoid copepod Acartia tonsa (Dana) is one of the most promising copepod species for marine larviculture. This species has a wide tolerance to temperature and salinity, small size, can produce resting eggs. All their nauplii, copepodites and adults can be use as excellent feeds for marine fish larvae. Yet, the biomass and egg production of A. tonsa has been limited mainly due to the challanges to culture them at high density. The development of recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) in recent decades has opened a new culturing system that is expected to provide more stable environmental conditions to favor the production of A. tonsa at high density. The current study was initiated to preliminarily apply a recircultating aquaculture system (RAS) for A. tonsa production. A flow through aquaculture system (FTAS) was also run in parallel to evaluate the capacity of RAS compared to the FTAS.
Both RAS and FTAS (3 replicates per system) were set up in the same room to ensure the equal condition. The initial densities of copepods were 20000 nauplii L-1 for investigation of growth and development in the early phase and 5000 ind L-1 in the copepodite and adult stages for testing reproduction capacity. A. tonsa fed the unicellular algae Rhodomonas baltica were registered for four weeks in triplicate 50 L tanks in each system. Water quality parameters were recorded daily for temperature, oxygen, pH, salinity, particles and every five days for nitrogenous waste and bacteria through the experimental period in both systems. Unexpectedly, the hatching ratio of eggs was lower in RAS compared to FTAS that may be explained by a higher concentration of nitrite, nitrate and bacteria including Vibrio spp., haemolytic bacteria and fast growing bacteria. A. tonsa cultured in both RAS and FTAS had the similar survival, growth, and reproduction, yet the nauplii developed into copepodites faster in RAS (110h) compared to FTAS (158h). This can be an indication for the potential for culturing or maintaining A. tonsa nauplii and early copepodite stages at higher densities before feeding larvae of marine species. The RAS also needs a further optimisation of water quality by a denitrifying filter component to stabilize for copepod cultivation and an implementation of disease control treatment is also required.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date10 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2013
Event2nd workshop on Recirculating Aquaculture Systems - Aalborg Congress & Culture Centre, Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 10 Oct 201311 Oct 2013


Conference2nd workshop on Recirculating Aquaculture Systems
LocationAalborg Congress & Culture Centre
Internet address


  • recirculating aquaculture system
  • copepod cultures
  • water quality
  • high density production
  • Acartia tonsa

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