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The Effect of Vitamins on Weight Gain and Organ Production in the Sea Urchin, Lytechinus variegatus (Echinodermata: Echinoidea)


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We investigated the requirements for a commercial vitamin premix in diets of Lytechinus variegatus. Small L. variegatus (ca. 28 mm diameter) were collected from Saint Joseph Bay, Florida, and acclimated to laboratory conditions (32 ppt salinity, 22 C, 12:12 photoperiod) for 3 wk, then placed individually into plastic mesh cages (n = 16 per treatment). Sixteen urchins were dissected to obtain initial weights of organs (gut, gonad, test). Each treatment was fed one of five semipurified diets supplemented with levels of a commercial shrimp vitamin premix ranging from 0 to 0.9% dry weight. At 4-wk intervals, wet weights and test diameters were measured. At 16 wk, urchins were dissected and organs weighed. Significant weight gain and 100% survival was observed with all diets. At 16 wk, urchins fed 0% vitamin premix exhibited no noticeable pathology but had significantly less weight gain than those fed the 0.6% vitamin premix. Those fed the 0.6% vitamin premix had significantly greater weight gain than all other diets (P < 0.0001). Gonad weights increased in all treatments, but did not vary significantly. Under the conditions of this study, L. variegatusexhibited a satisfactory nutritional response. Experiments are planned to determine specific dietary vitamin requirements for L. variegatus.

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