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Spadefish Aquaculture


Spadefish cultured by Mike Oesterling and Dan Sennett at VIMS. ©Gabriella March/VASG

Virginia Marine Resource Bulletin
Volume 42, Number 2, Summer 2010

View the spadefish aquaculture slideshow.

Virginia Sea Grant and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) aquaculture specialists Mike Oesterling and Dan Sennett have made a breakthrough in growing spadefish in the lab. They are the first researchers to raise spadefish from eggs to adulthood and then spawn those fish, leading to a second generation of lab-raised fish. This slideshow shows the steps Oesterling and Sennett followed.

Spadefish are popular with Virginia sport fishermen because of their large size, attractive striped appearance, and the fight they put up on the line. Aquacultured juvenile spadefish could potentially be sold as ornamentals, while larger farmed fish might be marketable as food. The ability to grow the species in the lab also means that farmed fish can be released into the wild for stock enhancement if necessary in the future.

To raise larval spadefish in the lab, Oesterling and Sennett produce a mini food chain in the lab. They grow not only the microscopic rotifers and brine shrimp (Artemia) that spadefish larvae eat but also the single-celled algae that the rotifers eat.

Here’s a movie of spadefish feeding.
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