As more fishermen turn to aquacultured seed to support or supplement their farms, the demand for aquacultured oyster seed to support the farming industry has increased in recent years. Spatial allowances and labor force in hatcheries, however, have not been able to keep up with demand. The reemergence of fluidized nursery systems, here called coke bottle upwellers, have the potential to increase production with the same footprint and labor force due to their higher stocking density at a much smaller size. Several commercial facilities in the northeast are beginning to evaluate these systems, yet, limited collaboration and minimal published data leave a lot of basic questions that still need to be answered. We will be comparing different volumes of oyster seed at various flow rates to determine the parameters that will have the greatest potential to increase oyster production. Percentage growth and overall health of the animals will be evaluated for each replicate. Upon completion of this project, the results will be shared at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition in 2021.Our findings will also be incorporated into Dr. Dale Leavitt’s lectures in his Applied Shellfish Farming course.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to determine the growth potential of the eastern oyster cultured in a coke bottle upweller system. In order to do this, small juvenile oysters (less than 1mm) will be put away at different population densities in bottle upwellers. They will be fed increasing amounts of algae every day. After 7-9 days, they will be individually evaluated and percentage growth will be calculated. The juvenile oysters will also be inspected for overall health and condition. We will determine what the ideal and practical stocking densities are. The ideal density will be the density which produces the highest % growth. The practical density will be the density of which they produce reasonably good growth with a good health assessment and supports increasing production.
If we can prove that this system produces healthy oysters with good growth, it is likely that we as well as other hatcheries will, in the future expand and build more bottle upwellers. A potential of one million plus small oysters could occupy one bottle unit. If this is the case, the increase in oyster population capacity would be tremendous given that this system is space efficient.