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Experimental system for studying
lobster diets in small American lobsters

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Close up of experimental rearing system

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An 18 month old lobster
eating an experimental diet

American lobsters, have been successfully reared in hatchery operations for over a century, yet commercially formulated diets were never developed. In recent years however, commercial Artemia replacement (CAR) diets have been developed and marketed for use in aquaculture production of postlarval marine shrimp.

Three experiments assessed the utility of rearing American lobsters on these shrimp CAR diets. First, survival and growth of stage IV American lobsters fed one of three CAR diets (Artemac 5, Economac 4, or Progression 3) was compared to those of animals fed frozen adult n-3 fatty acid enriched Artemia.

Survival was highest for animals fed Progression 3, while animals fed Artemia had the greatest growth. A cost/benefit ratio analysis showed that Economac 4 was the most cost efficient for juvenile production because of its low overall purchase cost.

Second, stage IV lobsters were fed either Economac 4 or frozen adult n-3 fatty acid enriched Artemia exclusively, or in combination (2:5, and 5:2). Again, Economac 4 was the most cost effective feed to use, even as a partial replacement for Artemia. Survival was higher in diets that included Economac 4, and feeding it two days per week compensated for low quality Artemia.

Finally, 1.5 year old lobsters fed Economac 4 for six months survived and grew equally well compared to lobsters fed Artemia or a custom formulated maintenance diet. Overall, this study demonstrates that commercial feed developed for marine shrimp can also be used to grow out both early benthic and older juvenile American lobsters. Additional benefits of formulated feeds include consistent quality, low cost-to-benefit ratios, and the potential to match animal color to the substrate where animals will be released, thus potentially increasing the effectiveness of enhancement programs.