New approaches for growth improvement in pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis (Valenciennes, 1835) culture (Atherinomorpha: Atherinopsidae)

Patricio J. Solimano Javier R. Garcia de Souza Tomás Maiztegui Claudio R. M. Baigún Darío C. Colautti About the authors

Abstracts

The pejerrey is the most important recreational species in shallow temperate lakes and reservoirs of Argentina and the attempts to develop its culture have started a century ago. A common constraint of pejerrey aquaculture is its poor growth under traditional intensive rearing techniques. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possibility to achieve and maintain high growth rates of pejerrey throughout the rearing process by semi-intensive culture method . Four floating cages were installed in La Salada de Monasterio Lake and each one was stocked with 300 juveniles (10.22 ±0.38cm; 6.52 ±0.82g). From January through March all fish were exposed to natural zooplankton as food source, whereas from April to September two cages were supplied daily with artificial food. The fish exposed to artificial supplementary diets exhibited significantly higher growth (17.5 ±0.98cm; 41.05 ±8.55g) than those in the control cages (15.02 ±0cm ; 23.5 ±0.84g), and exceeded the known values in pejerrey culture. The results suggest that the species potential growth is not fully achieved by common intensive methods and it can be improved by semi-intensive techniques. Accordingly a better understanding of the species nutritional requirements is needed to improve growth rates and enhance pejerrey culture.

Aquaculture; Fish growth; Floating cages; Growth rate; Zooplanktivorous


El pejerrey es la especie de mayor importancia deportiva en lagos someros templados y embalses de Argentina y el desarrollo de su acuicultura data de cien años atrás. Un impedimento común para el desarrollo de la acuicultura del pejerrey es el pobre crecimiento que manifiesta bajo cultivo intensivo. El objetivo de este estudio fue evaluar la posibilidad de alcanzar y mantener altas tasas de crecimiento en el pejerrrey mediante cultivo semi-intensivo. Se instalaron cuatro jaulas flotantes en la laguna La Salada de Monasterio, sembrándose cada una con 300 juveniles (10.22 ±0.38cm; 6.52 ±0.82g). Desde enero hasta marzo los peces se alimentaron con el zooplancton natural de la laguna, mientras que desde abril hasta septiembre dos jaulas fueron suplementadas diariamente con alimento balanceado, dejándose las otras dos como controles. Los peces bajo dietas suplementadas mostraron crecimientos significativamente superiores (17.5 ±0.98cm; 41.05 ±8.55g) a los de las jaulas control (15.02 ±0cm ; 23.5 ±0.84g), excediendo incluso los conocidos en el cultivo de pejerrey en períodos similares. Los resultados obtenidos sugieren que el potencial de crecimiento del pejerrey no está siendo explotado en su totalidad bajo las técnicas de cultivo tradicionales y puede mejorarse mediante el cultivo semi-intensivo. En consecuencia es necesaria una mejor comprensión de los requerimientos nutricionales del pejerrey para incrementar sus tasas de crecimiento y así mejorar su cultivo.


Introduction

The domestication of native species for aquaculture purposes has been stressed as an objective of high priority (Ross et al., 2008Ross, L. G., C. A. Martinez Palacios & E. J. Morales. 2008. Developing native fish species for aquaculture: the interacting demands of biodiversity, sustainable aquaculture and livelihoods. Aquaculture Research, 39: 675-683.). The common practice of the introduction of exotic species for culture is fraught with several problems for the environment (Naylor et al., 2000Naylor, R., R. Goldburg, J. Primavera, N. Kautzky, M. Beveridge, J. Clay, C. Folke, J. Lubchenco, H. Mooney & M. Troell. 2000. Effect of aquaculture on world fish supplies. Nature, 405: 1017-1024.). Nevertheless, the development of native-fish aquaculture is relatively recent since 97% of the species that have ever been cultured were domesticated during the last one hundred years (Duarte et al., 2007Duarte, C. M., N. Marba & M. Holmer. 2007. Rapid domestication of marine species. Science, 316: 382-383.). In the case of Argentina attempts to develop aquaculture for native species had been started a century ago with the pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis (Valenciennes, 1835), but there are still several constraints to be solved to establish its culture as a productive activity (Somoza et al., 2008Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793.).

The culture of pejerrey has been considered a main priority, since in the shallow Pampean lakes and reservoirs of Argentina this species represents the main target for most recreational and commercial fishing (Baigún et al., 2006, 2009Baigún, C. R. M., R. Bernal, D. Barrientos, L. Muñoz, E. Barros & J. Sauad. 2006. The recreational fishery in Cabra Corral Reservoir (Argentina): a first comprehensive analysis. Biocell, 30: 125-130.; Somoza et al., 2008Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793.). Because in the last century the natural abundance of the species has changed over time, in accordance with the limnologic and hydrologic conditions (Colautti et al., 2003Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384. ), governmental research programs have been directed to develop different culture techniques for the pejerrey. The main technologies currently in use comprise the use of tanks and ponds under intensive and semi-intensive rearing conditions, respectively. Both are mostly directed to produce larvae or fingerlings (Luchini et al., 1984Luchini, L., R. Quirós & T. Avendaño. 1984. Cultivo de pejerrey (Basilichthys bonariensis), en estanques. Memorias de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Acuicultura, 5: 581-587.; Berasain et al., 2001Berasain, G., D. C. Colautti & C. Velasco. 2000. Experiencia de cría de pejerrey, Odontesthes bonariensis, durante su primer año de vida. Revista de Ictiología, 8: 1-7.; Miranda et al., 2006Miranda, L. A., G. E. Berasain, C. A. M. Velasco, Y. Shirojo & G. M. Somoza. 2006. Natural spawning and intensive culture of pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis juveniles. Biocell, 30: 157-162.), being these fish mainly used for restocking and population enhancement (Schenone et al., 2011Schenone, N. F., L. Vackova & A. Fernández Cirelli. 2011. Fish-farming water quality and environmental concerns in Argentina: a regional approach. Aquaculture International, 19: 855-863.).

Currently, a genuine interest exists from farmers and governmental agencies in developing pejerrey commercial aquaculture. Nevertheless, culture of the species must overcome certain problems to arise from its historical status of developmental stagnation and becomes a productive activity (Somoza et al., 2008Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793.). According to the same authors, the main constraints can be tentatively classified as those of biologic nature, gaps in scientifically based technology, and others of socio-cultural and economic origin. One of the main biologic constraints is the poor growth rate exhibited under traditional methods of culture, pointing out that reaching a minimum commercially viable size, of 25cm and 200g, could take more than 2 years. In addition, Somoza et al. (2008)Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793. stated that the slow growth of the pejerrey is a fundamental biologic limitation, unlikely to be completely or readily solved. In turn, the technologic gaps include the absence of species-specific culture methods, and the pejerrey's inability to adapt easily to the technology developed for other widely cultured species, such as salmonids, cyprinids, and cichlids.

However, in search of alternative culture techniques for pejerrey, Colautti et al. (2010)Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384. and Garcia de Souza et al. (2013)Garcia de Souza, J. R., P. J. Solimano, T. Maiztegui, C. R. M. Baigún & D. C. Colautti. 2013. Effects of stocking density and natural food availability on the extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow Pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research. Available from: DOI:10.1111/are.12286.
https://doi.org/10.1111/are.12286...
have experimentally tested pejerrey extensive cage culture in Pampean shallow lakes obtaining encouraging results. This method takes advantage of the natural water supply and benefits from the natural zooplankton production, which is the main source of food for pejerrey populations in the wild (Freyre et al., 2009Freyre, L. R., M. E. Maroñas, E. D. Sendra & A. A. Dománico. 2008. Dinámica de la biomasa poblacional para evaluar el uso de los indicadores de la perfomance de crecimiento en el pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis. Biología Acuática, 24: 17-20.; Diovisalvi et al., 2010Diovisalvi, N., G. Berasain, F. Unrein, D. C. Colautti, P. Fermani, M. E. Llames, M. E. Torremorel, L. Lagomarsino, G. Perez, R. Escaray, J. Bustingory, M. Ferraro & H. Zagarese. 2010. Chascomús: estructura y funcionamiento de una laguna pampeana turbia. Ecología Austral, 20: 115-127.). Moreover, through this method, Colautti et al. (2010)Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384. obtained the best mean daily growth rate of 0.86mm day-1 ever recorded for juveniles of 45-60 days of age, and survival rates between 59-65%, which are within the range registered by intensive and semi-intensive culture practices. Nevertheless, those authors pointed out that during the months of autumn and winter, when the productivity of these lakes decreases (Torremorell et al., 2009Torremorell, A., M. E. Llames, G. L. Pérez, R. Escaray, J. Bustingorry & H. Zagarese. 2009. Annual patterns of phytoplankton density and primary production in a large, shallow lake: the central role of light. Freshwater Biology, 54: 437-449.), pejerrey growth in extensive cage culture becomes limited by low temperatures and by the zooplankton availability. As extension of this findings, Colautti et al. (2010)Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384. suggested that those rates could be improved by supplying artificial food during the periods when the lakes productivity diminish. This statement assumes that poor growth rate in pejerrey is not an intrinsic biologic limitation of the species and that growth could likely be improved by means of alternative approach involving different culture systems. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the possibility to achieve and maintain high growth rates of pejerrey throughout the rearing process by semi-intensive culture method.

Materials and Methods

During the first fortnight of January 2009, four floating cages (3.45m in length, 3.45m in width and 1.4m in depth -1m effectively submerged), totaling 11.9m3, constructed following the design of Colautti et al. (2010)Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384., were set up in La Salada de Monasterio Lake (35.8331ºS, 57.8871ºW) which is an eutrophic shallow water body located in the Pampean plain, Argentina. The cages were randomly distributed in a macrophyte-free area of around 5 hectares leaving at least 50 meters of distance between them. On January 15, each cage was stocked with 300 individuals taken randomly from a pool of fish reared extensively from larvae, obtained from the Estación Hidrobiológica Chascomús, until 111 days old, in a common cage, placed in the same lake. Stocking density was 25.2fish/m3 and 0.16kg/m3, with a total length (TL) of 10.22 ±0.38cm (mean ±SD) and total wet weight (W) of 6.52 ±0.82g, respectively.

The experiment was divided into two periods. During the first one, named pretreatment period (P), from January 15 until March 31, which is the most appropriated period for the extensive culture of pejerrey (Colautti et al., 2010Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384.), fish were left under extensive culture conditions. The second one, called the treatment period (T), elapsed from April 1 to September 15, was carried out during the period of the year when unfavorable conditions for pejerrey growth under extensive cage culture prevail (Colautti et al., 2010Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384.). For this stage of the experiment, the cages were separated randomly in two groups, referred to as the fed cages (FC Group: FC1 and FC2) and the non fed control cages (CC Group: CC1 and CC2). Before the beginning of the T period all cages were sampled and statistically tested by nested ANOVA for differences in length and weight.

The FC Group cages were supplied daily with a fixed ration of 36g of artificial food, divided into four portions per day, through the use of artisanal automatic feeders. Such starting amount represented around the 5% of stocked fish biomass as is suggested for intensive pejerrey culture (Toda et al., 1995Toda, K., N. Tonami, N. Yasuda & S. Suzuki. 1995. Culture Techniques of Pejerrey. Tokyo, Japan, New Fish Development Association. 86 p. (in Japanese). Available as a translation into Spanish as follows: Toda, K., N. Tonami, N. Yasuda & S. Suzuki. 1998. Cultivo del Pejerrey en Japón. Buenos Aires, Asociación Argentino Japonesa del Pejerrey.; Velasco et al., 2008Velasco, C. A., G. E. Berasain & M. Ohashi. 2008. Producción intensiva de juveniles de pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis). Biología Acuática, 24: 53-58.). The balanced food supplied was Shulet(tm) (Shulet S.A., General Las Heras, Buenos Aires, Argentina), presented as pellets and consisting of 42.9% crude protein, 1.5% crude fat, 43.8% carbohydrates, 7.5% ash, and around 4% vitamins, phosphorus, and minerals. The ration remained unchanged all over the experiment to find out if the supply portions of artificial food similar or less than 5% of fish biomass could induce relevant growth rate changes by synergistic effects between natural and artificial food, and to assess its potential value as a management tool for improving production in pejerrey cage culture.

The physicochemical parameters of the water and the zooplankton community were sampled every fortnight. Water conductivity, pH, and temperature were measured with a multi parameter sensor (Horiba U10, Kyoto, Japan) and dissolved oxygen by an oxygen meter (Lutron DO-5508, Taipei, Taiwan). The transparency was estimated by a Secchi disk and the depth registered by immersion of a graduated bar. Zooplankton samples were obtained by filtration through a 50µ mesh plankton net, 60 liters of water taken in 20 liter subsamples from the upper, middle and lower layers of the water column. Samples of zooplankton were counted to obtain the mean densities per liter (ind.L-1) of the different taxonomical groups of Rotifera, Copepoda and Cladocera, while the individuals from the subsamples of each group were measured to estimate their size (length) distribution.

The biomass per liter by dry weight (µg dw.L-1) of the zooplankton was calculated according to Dumont et al. (1975)Dumont, H. J., I. Van De Velde & S. Dumont. 1975. The dry weight estimate of biomass in a selection of Cladocera, Copepoda and Rotifera from the plankton, periphyton and benthos of continental waters. Oecologia, 19: 75-97. and Bottrell et al. (1976)Bottrell, H. H., A. Duncan, Z. M. Gliwicz, E. Grygierek, A. Herzig, A. Hillbricht-Ilkowska, H. Kurasawa, P. Larsson & T. Weglenska. 1976. A review of some problems in zooplankton production studies. Norwegian Journal of Zoology, 24: 419-456.. Limnological measurements and zooplankton samples were obtained within the immediate surroundings of the cages.

At the end of period P and T, twenty fish per cage were weighed (W) and measured (TL) at a respective precision of 0.01g and 0.1cm. Nested analysis of variance (ANOVA) (Sokal & Rohlf, 1995Sokal, R. R. & F. J. Rohlf. 1995. Biometry: the Principles and Practice of Statistics in Biological Research. 3rd ed. New York, USA, W.H. Freeman and CO.) was performed at the end of both periods following the recommendations of how to treat individual measurements inside of a treatment (Ruohonen, 1998Ruohonen, K. 1998. Individual measurements and nested designs in aquaculture experiments: a simulation study. Aquaculture, 165: 149-157.) to avoid pseudoreplication (Hurlbert, 1984Hurlbert, S. H. 1984. Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecological Monographs, 54: 187-211.). The normality and homogeneity of variance were checked by the tests of Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Levene. The first comparison was made to assess if the culture conditions during period P (e. g., cage location) had affected significantly the fish growth in TL and W between the cages FC and CC after its random separation and just before the start of period T. The second comparison was made to assess differences due to only the food treatments, as cage location was the same during all the experiments.

In order to evaluate the differences in fish growth, the specific growth rate (SGR) (Ricker, 1979Ricker, W. E. 1979. Growth rates and models. Pp. 677-743. In: Hoar, W. S., D. J. Randall & J. R. Brett (Eds.). Fish Physiology London, UK, Academic Press. v. 8.) and the thermal-unit-growth coefficient (TGC) (Iwama & Tautz, 1981Iwama, G. K. & A. F. Tautz. 1981. A simple growth model for salmonids in hatcheries. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 38: 649-656.; Cho, 1992Cho, C. Y. 1992. Feeding systems for rainbow trout and other salmonids with reference to current estimates of energy and protein requirements. Aquaculture, 100: 107-123.) were estimated according to the following formulas:

SGR = 100 (LnW2 - LnW1) D-1

TGC = 1000 (W2 1/3 - W1 1/3) (Tº D)-1

Where W is the mean weight of the fish in the cage either at the end (W2) or the beginning (W1) of the period evaluated, D the total amount of days elapsed, and Tº the mean temperature registered.

To test for differences in SGR and TGC between the mean values of the groups, Student t test was used (Sokal & Rohlf, 1995).

In order to make comparable the present results with those of previous studies, transformations from standard length (SL) to TL were made, when was needed, by means of the equation proposed by Berasain et al. (2000)Berasain, G., D. C. Colautti & C. Velasco. 2000. Experiencia de cría de pejerrey, Odontesthes bonariensis, durante su primer año de vida. Revista de Ictiología, 8: 1-7..

Results

The study periods P (pretreatment period) and T (treatment period) involved different ranges of temperature, with a decrease occurring over the course of the experiment. During period T, the depth of the lake became shallower followed by an increase in the conductivity, pH, and turbidity. The dissolved-oxygen concentration remained high during the whole experiment. The zooplankton abundance was higher during period P, but the biomass became greater in period T (Table 1). Therefore, during the summer (period P) this community was dominated by smaller-sized individuals (mainly rotifers, being the most common species found Brachionus havanaensis and B. caudatus, and nauplii larvae of Copepoda) than during the autumn and winter (period T) (with increasing values of abundance of the Cyclopoida copepod Acanthocyclops robustus and the Cladocera Bosmina huaronensis, towards the end of winter).

Table 1.
Water-quality parameters and zooplankton availability in Period P (January through March) and in Period T (April through September). SD = standard deviation. Max indicates the maximum value and Min the minimum value for the variables considered in each period.

At the end of period P, the growth of the fish in terms of TL and W showed no significant differences (p>0.05) among the randomly grouped cages. The respective mean values and standard deviations of TL and W for the fish before the beginning of period T were 12.19 ±0.75cm and 11.6 ±2.3g in the FC cages, and 11.9 ±0.72cm and 10.9 ±2.3g in the CC cages. At the end of period T the total TL and W values obtained by the fish in the FC cages, were significantly higher (p<0.05) than those recorded for the fish in CC cages (Table 2).

Table 2.
Length and weight and growth rates of Odontesthes bonariensis obtained in Period T (March-September). FC1 and FC2 cages with provision of artificial food, CC1 and CC2 cages without provision of artificial food. TL, total length; W, total wet weight; Max, maximum value for the variable; Min, minimum value for the variable; SGR, specific growth rate; TGC, thermal-unit-growth coefficient.

The average SGR and TGC during period P were 1.02 and 0.30, respectively, for the FC group and 0.93 and 0.27, respectively, for the CC cages. No significant differences in these rates, were detected between the cage groups (p>0.05). In contrast, the SGR and TGC for the period T were significantly higher in the FC cages (p<0.05). A comparison of the results from both periods indicated a remarkable 50% decrease in the SGR of the CC cages during period T over the values seen in period P. The TGC values in the CC cages were similar during both periods P and T, but in the FC cages were approximately 50% higher in period T than in period P (Table 2).

The comparison of growth achieved in other studies with pejerrey indicated that the semi-intensive technique in cages applied in this work, allowed to obtain the highest length and weight ever recorded for pejerrey of similar age, reared during similar periods (Table 3).

Table 3.
Length and weight reached by pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis in different studies, under several culture methods, after a rearing period of approximately 1 year. Lt, range of mean total lengths; W, range of mean wet weights; Age, of the fish at the end of the cultivation period.

Discussion

The Pampean lakes where pejerrey originally evolved (Heras & Roldán, 2011Heras, S. & M. I. Roldán. 2011. Phylogenetic inference in Odontesthes and Atherina (Teleostei: Atheriniformes) with insights into ecological adaptation. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 334: 273-281.) are highly productive temperate environments (Claps et al., 2004Claps, M. C., N. A. Gabellone & H. H. Benítez. 2004. Zooplankton biomass in an eutrophic shallow lake (Buenos Aires, Argentina): spatio-temporal variations. International Journal of Limnology, 40: 201-210.; Torremorell et al., 2009Torremorell, A., M. E. Llames, G. L. Pérez, R. Escaray, J. Bustingorry & H. Zagarese. 2009. Annual patterns of phytoplankton density and primary production in a large, shallow lake: the central role of light. Freshwater Biology, 54: 437-449.). The values of limnologic parameters registered during the experiment were in agreement with the natural environmental variation described for those lakes (Quirós et al., 2002Quirós, R., A. R. Renella, M. B. Boveri, J. Rosso & A. Sosnovky. 2002. Factores que afectan la estructura y el funcionamiento de las lagunas pampeanas. Ecología Austral, 12: 175-185.) and centered around the median values within the pejerrey´s tolerance limits (Gómez et al., 2007Gómez-Requeni, P., M. N. Kraemer & L. F. Canosa. 2012. Regulation of somatic growth and gene expression of the GH-IGF system and PRP-PACAP by dietary lipid level in early juveniles of a teleost fish, the pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis). Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 182: 517-530.).

The respective mean values of the temperature during the periods P and T were 24ºC and 12.8ºC in agreement with the range expected for this type of lake. The reduction in temperature from April through September could explain the poor growth registered in the fish of the CC group during the period T but would hardly have predicted the results observed in the FC cages, where the fish showed similar growth rates during both periods P and T. The TGC recorded values (two times higher in the FC cages than in the CC cages during period T) confirmed this difference in growth kinetics and furthermore indicated that growth could proceed unimpeded within that lower temperature range.

Observed results also confirm the critical influence of zooplankton on pejerrey food preferences. Moreover, the zooplankton abundance during period P was about ten times higher than during period T, suggesting an increase in the probability of the fish encountering prey during that period. Although the zooplankton in period T was not registered at high densities, the higher biomass at that time can be accounted for by the presence of larger-sized individuals (mainly Cyclopoida copepods) than those recorded in period P. Thus, this larger zooplankton could be more able to escape from planktivorous fish (Drenner et al., 1978Drenner, R. W., R. J. Strickler & W. J. O`Brien. 1978. Capture probability: The role of zooplankter escape in the selective feeding of planktivorous fish. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 35: 1370-1373.; Walls et al., 1990Walls, M., I. Kortelainen & J. Sarvala. 1990. Prey responses to fish predation in freshwater communities. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 27: 183-199.) and despite being lower in density, the encounter probability could also decrease. These latter observations would explain the low growth rate observed in the fish in the CC cages during the period T. In fact, the fish in the FC cages grew significantly more during the period T, thus demonstrating that the natural food supply as the sole source of nutrients was insufficient to maintain high a growth rate during the unfavorable period. According to Jensen (1985)Jensen, J. W. 1985. The potential growth of salmonids. Aquaculture, 48: 223-231., temperature and food availability are the main variables affecting fish growth. However, in the case of pejerrey, the influence of temperature can be assumed to be secondary, whereas the food availability can be considered the main growth regulator in cage culture, at least during the low-temperature periods. This particular hierarchy of variables is not in agreement with the suggestions of Somoza et al. (2008)Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793. that the pejerrey is a temperate fish with narrow temperature optimum for growth. In fact, the atherinids are a group of fish that adapt easily to new and changing environments and as such are abundant in temperate areas of the world where fluctuations in the environmental temperature are common (Bamber & Henderson, 1988Bamber, R. N. & P. A. Henderson. 1988. Pre-adaptative plasticity in atherinids and the estuarine seat of teleost evolution. Journal of Fish Biology, 33: 17-23.). Therefore, the availability of appropriate food could act as a critical factor in regulating growth performance in environments where the pejerrey has evolved.

According to Table 3, the pejerrey growth under a facultative feeding regime in cages outperformed the results previously obtained during similar rearing periods by Luchini et al. (1984)Luchini, L., R. Quirós & T. Avendaño. 1984. Cultivo de pejerrey (Basilichthys bonariensis), en estanques. Memorias de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Acuicultura, 5: 581-587., Berasain et al. (2000, 2001)Berasain, G., D. C. Colautti & C. Velasco. 2000. Experiencia de cría de pejerrey, Odontesthes bonariensis, durante su primer año de vida. Revista de Ictiología, 8: 1-7., Colautti & Remes Lenicov (2001)Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384. and Colautti et al. (2010)Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384. through different culture methods, based either on artificial or on natural foods. In this study, the maintenance of higher growth rates over the entire culture period was achieved through an adaptation of the rearing methods to the ecology of the species, on the basis of the year-round cyclical environmental fluctuations. Thus, following this approach, the species putative poor growth could not represent a critical biologic limitation for the successful development of its aquaculture. The results have demonstrated that the production of fish of average 18cm up to a maximum of 21.8cm TL in less than one year is totally feasible, breaking the traditional assumption that more than two years are required to reach a proper plate-size of 25 cm TL (Somoza et al. 2008Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793.). This is in agreement with the high growth performance achieved by several atherinid species (Bervian & Fontoura, 2007Bervian, V. & N. F. Fontoura. 2007. Growth of the Silverside Atherinella brasiliensis in Tramandaí Estuary, Southern Brazil (Actinopterygii: Atherinopsidae). Neotropical Ichthyology, 5: 485-490.) and even observed in wild pejerrey populations (Saint-Paul, 1987Saint-Paul, U. 1987. Recent developments and prospects of cultured indigenous freshwater fish in Latin America. Pp. 9-22. In: Verreth, J. A. J., M. Carrillo, S. K. Zauny & E. A. Huisman (Eds.). Investigación Acuícola en America Latina. Wageningen, the Netherlands, Pudoc.; Espinach Ros et al., 1998Espinach Ros, A., A. Dománico & G. Seigneur. 1998. Piscicultura extensiva del pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis). Pp: 51-52. 1er Taller Integral Sobre el Recurso Pejerrey en la Provincia de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Ministerio de Asuntos Agrarios de la Provincia de Buenos Aires.; Espinach Ros & Dománico, 2006Espinach Ros, A. & A. Dománico. 2006. Growth of argentine silverside (Odontesthes bonariensis) stocked at low densities in two oligohaline shallow lakes (Buenos Aires province, Argentina.). Revista de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, 18: 75-80. ; Freyre et al., 2008Freyre, L. R., M. E. Maroñas, E. D. Sendra & A. A. Dománico. 2008. Dinámica de la biomasa poblacional para evaluar el uso de los indicadores de la perfomance de crecimiento en el pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis. Biología Acuática, 24: 17-20.). Thus the maximum growth rates obtained in this study contributes to solve one of what was referred to as the "techno-scientific knowledge gaps in pejerrey aquaculture" (Somoza et al., 2008Somoza, G. M., L. A. Miranda, G. E. Berasain, D. C. Colautti, M. Remes Lenicov & C. A. Strüssmann. 2008. Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America. Aquaculture Research, 39: 784-793.) through the development of species-adapted culture. The benefit of the use of a facultative artificial-food phase could promote a synergistic effect, where the zooplankton supplies the main part of the nutrients for growth (essential aminoacids and lipids) and the artificial food contributes to sustain the growth rate during scarce zooplankton availability periods, providing the extra energy for maintenance of metabolic functions. This is coincident with the statements of De Silva (1993)De Silva, S. S. 1993. Supplementary feeding in semi-intensive aquaculture systems. Pp. 24-60. In: New, M. B., A. G. J. Tacon & I. Csavas (Eds.). Farm Made Aquafeeds. Proceedings of the FAO/AADCP, Bangkok, Thailand. Rome, Italy, FAO. and Shiau & Peng (1993)Shiau, S. Y. & C. Y. Peng. 1993. Protein sparing efect by carbohydrates in diets for tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, O. aureus. Aquaculture, 117: 327-334. for other species. A similar effect on tilapias (Oreochromis sp.) in semi-intensive systems was also reported by several authors (Green, 1992Green, B. W. 1992. Substitution of organic manure for pelleted feed in production of tilapia. Aquaculture, 101: 213-222.; Diana et al., 1994Diana, J. S., C. K. Lin & K. Jaiyen. 1994. Supplemental feeding of tilapia in fertilized ponds. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 25: 497-506.; Tacon & De Silva, 1997Tacon, A. G. J. & S. S. De Silva. 1997. Feed preparation and feed management strategies within semi-intensive fish farming systems in the tropics. Aquaculture, 151: 379-404.; Waidbacher et al., 2006Waidbacher, H., D. M. Liti, M. Fungomeli, R. K. Mbaluka, J. M. Munguti & M. Straif. 2006. Influence of pond fertilization and feeding rate on growth performance, economic returns and water quality in a small-scale cage-cum-pond integrated system for production of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.). Aquaculture Research, 37: 594-600.). In view of pejerrey growth results, it is possible to affirm that the poor growth performances registered by previous intensive culture experiments can be attributed to the lack of essential nutrients in artificial diets, that currently only zooplankton can provide. This assertion is supported by the results of Velasco et al. (2008)Velasco, C. A., G. E. Berasain & M. Ohashi. 2008. Producción intensiva de juveniles de pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis). Biología Acuática, 24: 53-58., who obtained high initial growth rates in early stages of pejerrey development through intensive culture but involving the provision of live food. Similar results were also reported for extensive culture based on only zooplankton intake resulted in higher length and weight values (Colautti et al., 2010Colautti, D. C., J. R. Garcia De Souza, L. Balboni & C. R. M. Baigún. 2010. Extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research, 41: 376-384.; Garcia de Souza et al., 2013Garcia de Souza, J. R., P. J. Solimano, T. Maiztegui, C. R. M. Baigún & D. C. Colautti. 2013. Effects of stocking density and natural food availability on the extensive cage culture of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) in a shallow Pampean lake in Argentina. Aquaculture Research. Available from: DOI:10.1111/are.12286.
https://doi.org/10.1111/are.12286...
). However, since nutritional requirements of the pejerrey are still unknown (Gómez-Requeni et al., 2012Gómez-Requeni, P., M. N. Kraemer & L. F. Canosa. 2012. Regulation of somatic growth and gene expression of the GH-IGF system and PRP-PACAP by dietary lipid level in early juveniles of a teleost fish, the pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis). Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 182: 517-530.), growth rates attained under intensive culture conditions without a proper formulation of an artificial food cannot be as higher as the one achieved in cages in natural environments. This statement reinforces the idea that the current situation of pejerrey culture is still far from having reached a state of optimal development and that zooplankton supply represents an essential diet component for obtaining a good growth performance.

Within this context, the problem of the pejerrey growth in extensive culture systems can be overcome by transforming them into semi-intensive ones during low zooplankton availability periods. In turn, and more important, intensive aquaculture limitations can expected to be solved, by enhancing pejerrey growth through a better understanding of the species nutritional requirements, and development of appropriate artificial food formulations.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Susana Sampietro for providing field and logistic help and facilities at La Salada de Monasterio lake and to the Estación Hidrobiológica de Chascomús for the pejerrey larvae supplied. This study was carried out by the financial support of CONICET (PIP 5442 and 0259) and ANPCyT (PICT 2005/38352 and 2010/1579). We also acknowledge Donald F. Haggerty for the revision the final English version of the manuscript.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    24 Mar 2015
  • Date of issue
    Jan-Mar 2015

History

  • Received
    28 May 2014
  • Accepted
    22 Oct 2014
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