Biological bases for whitebait culture Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns, 1842): a review

Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns, 1842), is a gourmet fish of great commercial importance with overexploited fisheries. So, studies of its biology are essential in order to develop a technology for its cultivation (galaxiculture), which is at a pilot stage. The goals of this work are: 1) to provide a synthesis of the literature information on the biology of the species, and 2) to identify the lack of scientific knowledge and critical points for the development of a technology for mass commercial culture. G. maculatus is a small carnivorous fish with euryhaline populations differentiated between diadromic and freshwater. Diadromic populations spawn in the estuaries, and then the larvae migrates to the sea, returning aged 6 months and metamorphosing into adults. Studies of their systematic, populations and larvae stage in Chilean waters are scarce, but studies on feeding, reproduction and diseases are more numerous. One year old females lay about 1,200 adhesive eggs and an important number of them die after the first spawning (40%). G. maculatus has rapid growth (1.1% day(-1)) and a high metabolism, with an average life of 2 years. They can be cultivated in captivity, spawn and incubate their eggs to obtain larvae; adults eat salmon starter pellets and grow in tanks. The ciliate protozoa Ichtyophthirius multifilis (ich) produces high mortality in larvae and adults in confinement; mortality can be controlled with salt bath. The problems to be solved by research for future commercial fish farming are: recognising and selecting suitable populations for cultivation; increasing the number of eggs spawned by females; develop suitable diets for larvae and broodstock; and controlling ectoparasitic diseases. The critical point is achieving mass production by improving the techniques of reproduction and larviculture.

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