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Summary

Despite the great interest of red porgy as a new species for Mediterranean aquaculture, its commercial production is constrained by the high incidence of skeletal deformities occurring in this species under culture conditions. Several studies have been conducted to better understand the origin of these anomalies in this species, using different system intensiveness, rotifers enrichment products or rotifers docosahexaenoic acid content. The first study showed that culture intensification increased the number of fish with an extra vertebrae, what was probably related to the different nutritional quality of live preys employed in each treatment, since water temperature, salinity and genetic background were identical for the different batches of fish studied. Total incidence of skeletal abnormalities was higher in the intensive system, particularly cranial abnormalities and kyphosis in the cephalic vertebrae. In both rearing systems the most common skeletal anomalies were vertebral column disorders, lordosis and fused vertebrae, their localization along the column being affected by the culture intensiveness. Rotifer enrichment, predominantly its docosahexaenoic acid content significantly affected deformities occurrence. A marked positive effect of rotifer docosahexaenoic acid content was found on larval survival. X-ray studies denoted elevated levels of bone abnormalities associated, in both trials, to low docosahexaenoic acid content in live preys. Among different anomalies, the presence of fused vertebrae was the most frequent deformity for both rearing trials. A 50% reduction in the number of deformed fish for each type of deformity was obtained when the larvae were fed higher docosahexaenoic acid levels, denoting the important role of this fatty acid in bone development. Further studies are needed to elucidate the importance of essential fatty acids on the development of bone deformities in fish, since the functions of these fatty acids differ among them and can lead to very different effects in fish metabolism, including bone formation.