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Open AccessArticle

Harmful Fouling Communities on Fish Farms in the SW Mediterranean Sea: Composition, Growth and Reproductive Periods

1
Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (CoNISMa), Piazzale Flaminio 9, 00196 Roma, Italy
2
Institut de Ciències del Mar, ICM-CSIC, E-08003 Barcelona, Spain
3
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, 90142 Palermo, Italy
4
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
S.P. and V.L.F. are joint senior authors.
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7(9), 288; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse7090288
Received: 31 July 2019 / Revised: 18 August 2019 / Accepted: 22 August 2019 / Published: 24 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Environment-Aquaculture Interactions)
Biological fouling organisms on fish cages represent a major issue and costly factor in marine finfish aquaculture. Cnidarians have been identified as one of the most problematical groups, contributing significantly to the occlusion and structural stress of the cage nets, but also dramatically affecting farmed species health in aquaculture facilities worldwide. Recently, significant relationships were established in different Spanish aquaculture facilities between hydrozoans and juvenile fish affected by gill injuries and mortality episodes. Community composition, growth rate and reproductive potential of biofouling were monitored on fish cages over two seasonal periods of fry cages farming, located in southern Spain (SW Alboran Sea), with a special focus on cnidarians. Biomass and community composition of biofouling changed with time and between studied periods, with a marked seasonality in colonization periods and taxonomic composition, particularly for the colonial hydrozoans. The hydroids Ectopleura larynx and Pennaria disticha were found at the highest densities. P. disticha was responsible for major biomass contribution to total hydroid biomass with the fastest growth rates. In addition, actinulae larvae of E. larynx were identified in zooplankton samples at high densities especially during periods of fry introduction in sea cages (when fish are highly vulnerable). These results corroborate evidence of the detrimental influence of fouling cnidarians in Mediterranean finfish aquaculture due to a direct harmful impact on fish health. Investigations on population dynamics, reproductive biology and envenomation potential of fouling hydrozoans should be regarded as key component of best monitoring practices to ensure good farmed fish welfare, maximization of aquaculture production and overall marine spatial planning. View Full-Text
Keywords: marine aquaculture; jellyfish; biofouling colonization; farmed fish health; sessile Hydrozoa; stinging meroplankton marine aquaculture; jellyfish; biofouling colonization; farmed fish health; sessile Hydrozoa; stinging meroplankton
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Bosch-Belmar, M.; Escurriola, A.; Milisenda, G.; Fuentes, V.L.; Piraino, S. Harmful Fouling Communities on Fish Farms in the SW Mediterranean Sea: Composition, Growth and Reproductive Periods. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7, 288.

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