Culturing the oceanic seahorse, Hippocampus kuda

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2002

Authors: Job, S, Do HH, Meeuwig JJ, Hall HJ

Journal: Aquaculture

Volume: 214

Issue: 1-4

Pagination: 333 - 341

ISSN: 00448486

Keywords: Artemia enrichment, growth, Hippocampus kuda, Seahorse aquaculture, survival

Abstract:

Seahorse aquaculture has received widespread attention due to concerns over declines in wild seahorse populations, and in recognition of their high economic value and marketability. Seahorse aquaculture has great potential to integrate both conservation and sustainable development goals by providing an alternative livelihood option for fishers in source countries who, in the absence of alternatives to fishing, continue to exploit declining seahorse populations. To date, few culturing protocols have been established for tropical species exploited in Indo–Pacific source countries. We here present data on culturing Hippocampus kuda, one of the more heavily exploited species in both traditional medicines and marine aquarium trades. We also present results of an experiment testing the effects of three locally available Artemia enrichments on H. kuda survivorship, sex ratios, and growth to market size (14 weeks of age). Our results indicate that H. kuda grows rapidly from birth to 14 weeks, at a rate of 0.9–1.53 mm day−1. Survivorship to market size varied among Artemia enrichments and was highest (73%) when seahorses were fed Artemia enriched with an emulsion derived from Acetes sp., a locally available planktonic crustacean, and lowest (40%) when seahorses were fed Artemia enriched with an emulsion derived from local fish. Growth, however, did not vary among enrichments. Sex ratios were not significantly different from the expected ratio of 1:1 nor did enrichment affect sex ratio. The seahorses were only marginally sexually dimorphic at market size (males 3 mm>females in standard length). The rapid growth rate and high survival of H. kuda on readily available local Artemia enrichments is promising for the development of seahorse aquaculture in source countries.

DOI: 10.1016/S0044-8486(02)00063-7