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Keywords:

  • feeding ecology;
  • formulated feeds;
  • gelatinous zooplankton;
  • nutrition;
  • phyllosoma;
  • puerulus

Abstract

The closed-cycle rearing of palinurid lobsters in commercially relevant quantities currently represents one of the most difficult challenges facing modern-day aquaculture. The length and complexity of the larval life cycle exacerbate the problem, comprising the major bottleneck to their successful aquaculture. The general consensus is that developments in the key research area of nutrition will provide the necessary breakthroughs to make the closed-cycle rearing of lobster a reality. Due to the cryptic nature of feeding preferences and complex larval morphology, a commercially formulated feed for their culture does currently not exist. Nevertheless, there has been a wealth of research conducted to elucidate many of the unknowns concerning larval nutritional requirements. This review presents a synthesis of this information, ranging from investigations of larval morphology and feeding behaviour, hatchery nutrition practices, the elucidation of wild prey items and the nutritional content of wild-caught larval species. Based on the information available, this review culminates with a ‘best guess’ formulation for a larval spiny lobster diet, taking aspects concerning both the physical and chemical attributes of formulation into consideration. It is concluded that larval spiny lobsters are likely comparatively low in relation to other larval species with respect to their quantitative dietary requirements. Ultimately, the overall success of the larval cycle appears to be dictated by the stockpiling of lipids to fuel an energy-demanding metamorphosis and a subsequent nonfeeding puerulus phase. These insights provide valuable direction for the formulation of nutritionally complete feeds to permit the closed-loop culture of spiny lobster species.