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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center » Research » Research Project #435991

Research Project: Improving Hatchery Techniques of Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) for Use as a Cleaner Fish to Control Sea Lice

Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Project Number: 8030-31000-005-006-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2019
End Date: Dec 31, 2021

Objective 1: Optimizing lumpfish hatchery techniques for early life history stages. Ho 1: Declumping the naturally, sticky lumpfish eggs will increase survival and hatching. Ho 2: Eliminating live feed for newly-hatched lumpfish larvae will not affect their growth and survival. Objective 2: Optimizing lumpfish larval and juvenile nutrition parameters through protein to energy studies to identify protein and fat levels that improve growth and survival. Ho 3: Varying protein and fat levels will affect the growth and survival of larval lumpfish. Ho 4: Varying protein and fat levels will affect the growth and survival of juvenile lumpfish. Objective 3: Conveying research findings to stakeholders by developing lumpfish husbandry guides and standard operating procedures and holding workshops.

Lumpfish have been shown to be an effective cleaner fish and biological control for sea lice in salmon netpens in Europe. Lumpfish culture for the salmon industry is currently done throughout Europe and in Newfoundland. Discussions with hatcheries about culturing lumpfish eggs and larvae provide a range of techniques with no two facilities using the same techniques. This project will examine two critical early life stage issues: improving hatchery techniques and early nutrition. Extension activities will be used to transfer the improved techniques to industry. Two primary bottle necks in the hatchery will be addressed. (A) Are survival and hatching higher in eggs reared in masses like in the wild, or in eggs that are declumped and reared as individual eggs, which is standard aquaculture practice for other species that lay egg masses. (B) Does offering live feed for 1-2 weeks post-hatch increase larval survival compared to start feeding directly onto commercial feeds? Very little is known about the nutrition requirements for lumpfish. Current practice is to feed them standard generic marine fish diets that are high in fish meal but expensive. To start understanding their nutritional requirements we will conduct protein to energy studies to identify the optimal protein and fat levels to achieve optimal growth. This information will allow for future research into other dietary requirements. Finally the information learned will be transferred to industry. Despite the numerous organizations developing lumpfish culture techniques globally, very little information is available in either the peer reviewed literature or the gray literature on husbandry practices. The information developed through this project will be complied into a series of Extension and NRAC Factsheets and a set of standard operating procedures, and shared via direct involvement with the salmon industry.