Fisheries Research Articles

Stocking density and shelter type for the optimal growth and survival of western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus (George)

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Rock lobster, Density, Shelter, Survival, Growth, Aquaculture


Animal Studies | Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


The growth and survival of three size classes of wild caught western rock lobster, Panulirus cygnus (post-pueruli: mean 2.14 ± 0.07 g, 13.2 ± 0.1 mm CL; year 1: post-settlement juveniles, 57.1 ± 1.1 g, 38.7 ± 0.28 mm CL; and year 2 post-settlement juveniles, mean 138.2 ± 2.26 g, 51.9 ± 0.25 mm CL) were examined at combinations of two stocking densities (post-pueruli: 50 and 100 m− 2; year 1: 11 and 23 m− 2; year 2: 10 and 19 m− 2) and two shelter types (a novel rigid plastic mesh shelter or bricks) over a period of 6 months. Survival of lobsters held at the lower densities (90–95%) was significantly greater than for lobsters held at higher densities (post-pueruli = 78%, year 1 = 86%, year 2 = 88%). Post-pueruli survival was significantly higher in tanks with mesh shelters (91.7%) than brick shelters (75.8%) with a similar trend exhibited by year 1 and year 2 lobsters. Densities tested did not significantly affect lobster growth for any size class. Growth of post-pueruli was considerably higher in tanks with mesh shelters (641.7% weight gain; specific growth rate 1.07 BW day− 1) (p < 0.05) but there was no difference in the growth of year 1 and year 2 lobsters between mesh and brick shelters. Feed intake (g pellet dry matter lobster− 1 day− 1) was not significantly different between densities. This study has shown that P. cygnus is well suited for aquaculture based on the collection and ongrowing of wild caught pueruli, as this species exhibits good survival at high densities (up to 100 m− 2) without adverse effects on growth, and shows no captivity-related health problems. We recommend mesh shelters, with stocking densities of 50 m− 2 for post-pueruli and between 20 and 25 m− 2 for year 1 and year 2 juveniles, to maximise survival and production.