Nancy H. Marcus, Ph. D.
Jeffrey A. Wilcox, Ph. D.
This website is a guide for the daily production of a few million A. tonsa nauplii for feeding to marine vertebrates and invertebrates. It is best viewed in Internet Explorer 9 or Firefox 9.
Download the complete manual here.
This scale of production is greater than most research would require, but smaller than commercial production, hence the term meso-scale production. This site briefly describes the biology of Acartia tonsa Dana that is relevant to culture, the culture methodology for meso-scale production of their eggs and nauplii, the system components used in production, and how to construct a few simple tools useful for this scale of production. Commercial production of copepods requires much greater feed production than is described, or the development of an efficient artificial feed, and, therefore, is not the focus of this manual.
Throughout this site, “Acartia” and “Acartia tonsa” are used interchangeably; as if there were only one species of Acartia. This is for the sake of simplicity. It is understood that there are other species in this genus; and procedures for culturing A. tonsa may or may not work for any other species of Acartia. We make no claims either way.
Meso-scale production refers to the process of batch culturing adult A. tonsa copepods with the goal of harvesting a few million eggs per day, during peak production; and to the staging of batch cultures to provide a continuous supply of nauplii. Depending on the species being fed and the hatch ratio of nauplii from eggs, sustaining from 5,000 to 20,000 fish larvae from the productivity of a half dozen 200L tanks is possible. Research conducted at Florida State University has shown for southern flounder (P. lethostigma), that copepods may be “diluted” with rotifers while still retaining the beneficial effects of a copepod-rich diet (Wilcox et al 2006). Thus, the potential to sustain even greater numbers would exist for other species that can consume both effectively.
While copepod nauplii are typically used to feed early life stages of larval marine fishes, they are appropriate for many other culture purposes. A tonsa are also readily consumed, both as nauplii and as adults, by economically important invertebrates, such as corals and stone crabs (M. mennippe).
A. tonsa was selected as the target species for culture at Florida State University due to its cosmopolitan distribution, relatively hardy nature in culture, and beneficial nutritional profile. A. tonsa freely release eggs that are slightly negatively buoyant, therefore collection of eggs is simple; and the eggs from our local stocks tolerate storage for two to six weeks. A different copepod species may be more nutritious, or even required, for the growth of a specific fish or invertebrate; but few other copepods are eaten by as many different species as A. tonsa. In northern Florida, A. tonsa is the dominant coastal copepod during the summer months, thriving in dense populations, which makes wild collection easy, and indicates a tolerance for crowding that is useful in culture conditions.
This guide is based on research supported by three separate agencies: the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) through the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI) via a sub-contract (#20021007) to N. Marcus, G. Buzyna, and J. Wilcox , the State of Florida Department of Agriculture through a grant to the Mote Marine Laboratory and a sub-contract (MML-185491B) to N. Marcus; and a grant from the Florida Sea Grant College Program (project R/LR-A-36) to N. Marcus. Appreciation is also expressed for the labors of Alan Michels, Patrick Tracy, Chris Sedlacek, Cris Oppert, Laban Lindley, Guillaume Drillet, and Glenn Miller, as well as for the support of the Florida State University Marine Laboratory staff.
The development of this site was supported by the National Sea Grant College Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Grant No. NA16RG-2195. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of these organizations. Additional copies are available by contacting Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida, PO Box 110409, Gainesville, FL, 32611-0409, (352) 392.2801, www.flseagrant.org.
This digital resource, “A Guide to the Meso-Scale Production of the Copepod Acartia tonsa,” is protected by copyrights, freely accessible for non-commercial and non-derivative use, and available for download. Any reuse or distribution of this digital resource manual requires permission of owner, Florida Sea Grant, and must include author/creator. US Copyright Laws are applicable.