Evidence of sustained populations of a small reef fish on artificial structures. Does depth affect production on artificial reefs?


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The length frequencies and age structures of resident Pseudanthias rubrizonatus (n = 407), a small protogynous serranid, were measured at four isolated artificial structures on the continental shelf of north-western Australia between June and August 2008, to determine whether these structures supported full (complete size and age-structured) populations of this species. The artificial structures were located in depths between 82 and 135 m, and growth rates of juveniles and adults, and body condition of adults, were compared among structures to determine the effect of depth on potential production. All life-history stages, including recently settled juveniles, females and terminal males, of P. rubrizonatus were caught, ranging in standard length (Ls) from 16·9 to 96·5 mm. Presumed ages estimated from whole and sectioned otoliths ranged between 22 days and 5 years, and parameter ±s.e. estimates of the von Bertalanffy growth model were L = 152 ± 34 mm, k = 0·15(±0·05) and t0 = −1·15(±0·15). Estimated annual growth rates were similar between shallow and deep artificial structures; however, otolith lengths and recent growth of juveniles differed among individual structures, irrespective of depth. The artificial structures therefore sustained full populations of P. rubrizonatus, from recently settled juveniles through to adults; however, confirmation of the maximum age attainable for the species is required from natural populations. Depth placement of artificial reefs may not affect the production of fish species with naturally wide depth ranges.