Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daniel D. Benetti

Second Committee Member

Maria Estevanez

Third Committee Member

Yonnathan Zohar


These experiments will be conducted in order to refine and implement reliable techniques for larval rearing of Florida stone crab (Menippe mercenaria). The aim is to secure the technology for production of large quantities of stone crab larvae for transfer to nursery growout environments to support domestic aquaculture production. Establishing a successful larval rearing protocol that maximizes total survivability and growth is essential for all aquacultures species. This experiment sought to define optimal larval rearing parameters from the first zoeal stage through the megalope stage (settlement). Four treatments, which included instar 1 Artemia (T1), decapsulated instar 1 Artemia (T2), enriched instar II Artemia (T3), and enriched rotifers (T3 and T4) were utilized to establish a proper feeding regime that maximizes larval growth and survival. Data revealed that survival through the zoea 3 stage of development (day 7) was higher when using enriched rotifers or decapsulated Artemia, and were not statistically different from each other. It was also shown that the fastest time (11days) to reach megalope stage, as well as the highest survival of megalops (1122.50 ± 24.85) was obtained when crab larvae were fed decapsulated Artemia (T2) from zoea 1 through the megalope stage. Crab larvae fed only instar I Artemia throughout the rearing experiment suffered the highest levels of mortality through the megalope stage. T4 which was fed only enriched rotifers, reached the zoea 5 stage, but never molted to the final megalope stage after 22 days. This trial showed that while enriched rotifers alone were an acceptable food prey during early stages of development, dacpsulated Artermia’s small size increased nutritional profile was ideal for maximizing growth and survival.


Stone Crab; Menippe mercenaria, Aquaculture; larval rearing; hatchery technology