Rearing larvae of dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834), (Pisces: Serranidae) in a semi-extensive mesocosm


  • Maria Emília Cunha INRB, I.P. / IPIMAR, Estação Piloto de Piscicultura de Olhão
  • Hugo Quental INRB, I.P. / IPIMAR, Estação Piloto de Piscicultura de Olhão
  • Ana Barradas INRB, I.P. / IPIMAR, Estação Piloto de Piscicultura de Olhão
  • Pedro Pousão-Ferreira INRB, I.P. / IPIMAR, Estação Piloto de Piscicultura de Olhão
  • Elsa Cabrita CCMar, Universidade do Algarve
  • Sofia Engrola CCMar, Universidade do Algarve



larval rearing, Epinephelus marginatus, dusky grouper, feeding requirement, mesocosm


One of the major obstacles to propagating dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus, is the difficulty of rearing the early larvae. We have successfully raised dusky grouper larvae in mesocosms using a mixed diet of endogenous plankton grown in the rearing tank and an exogenous supply of Brachionus plicatilis and Artemia sp. Newly hatched larvae at an initial density of 1.3 ind.l-1 were stocked in partially shaded 3 m3 circular outdoor tanks during the summers of 2007 and 2008. Before introducing newly hatched larvae, the water was left for six days to promote plankton growth. Larval growth occurred at two different rates: i) a faster rate from first feeding to the beginning of metamorphosis, and ii) a slower rate at transformation. Survival at the beginning of metamorphosis was less than 10% (33 DPH) in 2007 and between 25 and 50% (25 DPH) in 2008. High mortalities were observed during larval transformation. The estimated minimum food requirement per grouper larvae increased more than 300% from the beginning of the notochord flexion to the beginning of metamorphosis. To meet such a high feeding requirement the number of larger prey organisms/copepods in the mesocosm should be eight times higher during this time period.


Download data is not yet available.


Cabrita, E., S. Engrola, L.E.C. Conceição, P. Pousão-Ferreira and M.T. Dinis. – 2009. Successful cryopreservation of sperm from sex-reversed dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus. Aquaculture, 287: 152-157. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2008.10.019

Colin, P.L., C.C. Koenig and W.A. Laroche. – 1998. Development from egg to juvenile of the red grouper (Epinephelus morio) (Pisces: Serranidae) in the laboratory. In: F. Arreguín-Sánches, J.L. Munro, M.C. Balgos, and D. Pauly (eds.), Biology, fisheries and culture of tropical groupers and snappers. ICLARM Conf. Proc., 48: 399-414.

Dhont, J. and G. van Stappen. – 2003. Biology, tank production and nutritional value of Artemia. In: J. Støttrup and L.A. McEvoy (eds.), Live feed in marine aquaculture, pp. 65-112. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Divanach, P. and M. Kentouri. – 2000. Hatchery techniques for specific diversification in Mediterranean finfish larviculture. In: B. Basurco, (ed.), Mediterranean marine aquaculture finfish species diversification. Cah. Options Méditerr., 47: 75– 87.

Doi M., J.D. Toledo, M.S.N. Golez, M. de los Santos and A. Ohno. – 1997. Preliminary investigation of feeding performance of larvae of early red-spotted grouper, Epinephelus coioides, reared with mixed zooplankton. Hydrobiologia, 358: 259-263. doi:10.1023/A:1003193121532

Duray, M., C. B. Estudillo and L.G. Alpasan. – 1997. Larval rearing of the grouper Epinephelus suillus under laboratory conditions. Aquaculture, 150: 63-76. doi:10.1016/S0044-8486(96)01467-6

Folkvord, A. – 1991. Growth, survival and cannibalism of cod juveniles (Gadus morhua L.): effects of feed type, starvation and fish size. Aquaculture, 97: 41-59. doi:10.1016/0044-8486(91)90278-F

Glamuzina, B., B. Skaramuca, N. Glavic, V. Kozul, J. Dulcic and M. Kraljevic. – 1998. Egg and early larval development of laboratory reared dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834) (Pisces, Serranidae). Sci. Mar., 62(4): 373-378. doi:10.3989/scimar.1998.62n4373

Gracia López, V. and F. Castelló-Orvay. – 2003. Preliminary data on the culture of juvenile of the dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834). Hidrobiológica, 13: 321-327.

Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall. – 1993. Groupers of the world (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species know to date. FAO Species Catalogue, FAO Fisheries Synopsis, 125, Rome.

Hunter, J.R. – 1981. Feeding ecology and predation of marine fish larvae. In: R. Lasker (ed.), Marine fish larvae: morphology, ecology and relation to fisheries, pp. 33-77, University of Washington Press.

IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. . Downloaded on 15 August 2008.

Kendall, A.W., Jr., E.H. Ahlstrom and H.G. Moser. – 1984. Early life history of fishes and their characters. In: H.G. Moser, W.J. Rochards, D.M. Cohen, M.P. Fahay, A.W. Kendall, Jr. and S.L. Richardson, (eds.), Ontogeny and systematic of Fishes. Am. Soc. Ichthyol. Herpetol., Spec. Publ., 1: 11-12.

Kentouri M., and P. Divanach. – 1986. Sur L’importance des ciliés pelagiques dans l’alimentation des stades larvaires de poisson. Année Biologique, 25: 307-316

Kohno H., R.S. Ordino-Aguilar, A. Ohno and Y. Taki. – 1997. Why is grouper larval rearing difficult?: an approach from the development of the feeding apparatus in early stage larvae of the grouper, Epinephelus coioides. Ichthyol. Res., 44: 267-274. doi:10.1007/BF02678706

La Mesa, G., A. Longobardi, F. Sacco and G. Marino.- 2008. First release of hatchery juveniles of the dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834) (Serranidae: Teleostei) at artificial reefs in the Mediterranean: results from a pilot study. Sci. Mar., 72(4): 743-756. doi:10.3989/scimar.2008.72n4743

Lubzens, E. and O. Zmora. – 2003. Production and nutritional value of rotifers. In: J. Støttrup and L.A. McEvoy (eds.), Live feed in marine aquaculture, pp. 17-52. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Marino, G., E. Azzurro, C. Boglione, A. Massari and A. Mandich. – 1998. Induced spawning and first larval rearing in Epinephelus marginatus. In: B. Melchior (ed.), Symposium International sur les mérous de méditerranée, pp. 139–142. Mémoires de l’Institut Océanographique Paul Ricard.

Marino, G., E. Azzurro, A. Massari, M.G. Finoia and A. Mandich. - 2001. Reproduction in the dusky grouper from the southern Mediterranean. J. Fish Biol., 58: 909–927. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2001.tb00544.x

Marino, G., E. Panini, A. Longobardi, A. Mandich, M.G. Finoia, Y. Zohar and C.C. Mylonas. – 2003. Induction of ovulation in captive-reared dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834), with a sustained-release GnRHa implant. Aquaculture, 219: 841-858. doi:10.1016/S0044-8486(03)00036-X

McEvoy, L., T. Næss, J.G. Bell, and O. Lie. – 1998. Lipid and fatty acid composition of normal and malpigmented Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) fed enriched Artemia: a comparison with fry fed wild copepods. Aquaculture, 163: 235-248. doi:10.1016/S0044-8486(98)00237-3

Morioka, Y. – 1985. Growth, respiration and food requirement of flounder, Paralichthys olivaceus, in its early life history. Bull. Seikai Reg. Fish. Res. Lab., 62: 67-77.

Pierre, S., S. Gaillard, N. Prévot-D’Alvise, J. Aubert, O. Rostaing-Capaillon, D. Leung-Tack and J. P. Grillasca. – 2008. Grouper aquaculture: Asian success and Mediterranean trials. Aquatic. Conser: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst., 18: 297-308. doi:10.1002/aqc.840

Øiestad, V. – 1985. Predation on fish larvae as a regulatory force, illustrated in mesocosm studies with large groups of larvae. NAFO Sci. Counc. Studies, 8: 25-32.

Planas, M. and I. Cunha. – 1999. Larviculture of marine fish: problems and perspectives. Aquaculture, 177: 1-15. doi:10.1016/S0044-8486(99)00079-4

Rainuzzo, J.R., K.I. Reitan and Y. Olsen. – 1997. The significance of lipids at early stages of marine fish: a review. Aquaculture, 155: 103-115. doi:10.1016/S0044-8486(97)00121-X

Russo, T., C. Boglione, P. Marzi and S. Cataudella. – 2009. Feeding preferences of the dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus, Lowe 1834) larvae reared in semi-intensive conditions: A contribution addressing the domestication of this species. Aquaculture, 289: 289-296. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2009.01.021

Sargent, J.R. and S. Falk-Peterson. – 1988. The lipid biochemistry of calanoid copepods. Hydrobiologia, 167/168, 101-114. doi:10.1007/BF00026297

Spedicato, M.T. and C. Boglione. – 2000. Main constraints in the artificial propagation of the dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834): three years experimental trials on induced spawning and larval rearing. In: E. Chioccioli (ed.), Recent Advances in Mediterranean Aquaculture Finfish Species Diversification, 47: 227– 234.

Spedicato, M.T., G. Lembo, P. Di Marco and G. Marino. – 1995. Preliminary results in the breeding of dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834). Cah. Options Méditerr., 16: 131-148.

Sawada, Y., K. Kato, T. Okada, M. Kurata, Y. Mukai, S. Miyashita, O. Murata and H. Kumai. – 1999. Growth and morphological development of larval and juvenile Epinephelus bruneus (Perciformes: Serranidade). Ichthyol. Res., 46(3): 245-257. doi:10.1007/BF02678510

Støttrup, J. – 2003. Production and nutritional value of copepods. In: J. Støttrup and L.A. McEvoy (eds.), Live feed in marine aquaculture, pp. 145-205. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Toledo, J.D., D. Chavez and J. Rodriguez Jr. – 2004. Studies on Semi-intensive seed production of grouper (Epinephelus coioides). In: M.A. Rimmer, S. McBride and K.C. Williams (eds.), Advances in grouper aquaculture. ACIAR Monograph 11: 55-60.

Tucker, J.W. – 1999. Species profile: Grouper aquaculture. South. Reg. Aquac. Centre: 1-721

Uie, S. – 1982. Length-weight relationships of important zooplankton from the inland Sea of Japan. J. Oceanogr. Soc. Japan, 38: 149-158. doi:10.1007/BF02110286

van der Meeren, T. – 1991. Selective feeding and prediction of food consumption in turbot larvae (Scophthalmus maximus L.) reared on the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis and natural zooplankton. Aquaculture, 93: 35-55. doi:10.1016/0044-8486(91)90203-J

van der Meeren, T. and T. Næss. – 1993. How does cod (Gadus morhua L.) cope with variability of feeding conditions during early larval stages? Mar. Biol., 116: 637-647. doi:10.1007/BF00355482

van der Meeren, T. and K.E. Naas. – 1997. Development of rearing techniques using large enclosed ecosystems in the mass production of marine fish fry. Rev. Fish. Sci., 5: 367-390. doi:10.1080/10641269709388606

van der Meeren, T., R. E. Olsen, K. Hamre and H. J. Fyhn. – 2008. Biochemical composition of copepods for evaluation of feed quality in production of juvenile marine fish. Aquaculture, 274: 375-397. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2007.11.041

Watanabe, T and V. Kiron. – 1994. Prospects in larval fish dietetics. Aquaculture, 124: 223-251. doi:10.1016/0044-8486(94)90386-7

Yoseda, K., K. Yamamoto, K. Asami, M. Chimura, K. Hashimoto and S. Kosaka. – 2008. Influence of light intensity on feeding, growth, and early survival of leopard coral grouper (Plectropomus leopardus) larvae under mass-scale rearing conditions. Aquaculture, 279: 55-62. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2008.04.002

Yoshinaga, K., J. Hiromi and S. Kadota. – 1994. Respiration and food requirement by larvae and juveniles of red sea bream, Pagrus major. Bull. Coll. Agr. & Vet. Med., Nihon Univ., 51: 174-181.




How to Cite

Cunha ME, Quental H, Barradas A, Pousão-Ferreira P, Cabrita E, Engrola S. Rearing larvae of dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus (Lowe, 1834), (Pisces: Serranidae) in a semi-extensive mesocosm. scimar [Internet]. 2009Oct.30 [cited 2022Aug.12];73(S1):201-12. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)