Conferences@UWI, 11th Faculty of Science and Technology Conference, Science for Society: F.I.T. for purpose

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No more horsing around: Captive breeding and rearing of the longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi in Jamaica

Sophia Davis, Karl Aiken, Mona Webber

Last modified: 2018-04-10


The longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi, which is found in Jamaican waters, is in high demand for the ornamental aquarium and traditional medicinal trades (Hercos, 2007; Lourie et al., 2004; Vincent, 1996). The main challenge with captive rearing of seahorses has been the inability to find a reliable source of first-food for newly released juveniles (Woods, 2000). This has often been demonstrated by the low survival and growth rates of juveniles (Lin et al., 2007; Scarratt, 1995).

This project focused on the preliminary stages of breeding seashores, with experiments conducted using different food types, water quality, photoperiods, as well as fecundity in brood stock.

In the study, juveniles born in captivity were fed exclusively on a diet of wild zooplankton and sub-adults and adults on Mysids collected from the Port Royal lagoons. Brood stock were observed to confirm the 14 days gestation period and other fecundity parameters which included batch size, batch frequency and inter-batch (Koldewey, 2005; Rosa et al., 2002). At all stages of the life cycle, behaviour was observed to design the ideal captive rearing environment to simulate the natural environment. At the end of a six week experiment with UV treatment and photoperiod of 12L:12D, the % survival was 42.67% ± 5.33. The number of newborns per brooding pair ranged from 200-600 indivduals with the highest number of batches and individuals per pair at 10 and 2834 respectively in a single year.

The study reinforces the potential for seahorse and other marine ornamental aquaculture in captivity by increasing the survival and growth, and promoting the broader goals of sustainable aquaculture through an increase in the number of commercial enterprises rearing seahorses (Hora and Joyeux, 2009; Koldewey and Martin-Smith, 2005) and overall marine conservation of natural populations (Payne and Rippingale, 2000; Vincent, 1996).

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