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Chapter: Aquaculture Principles and Practices: Reproduction and Genetic Selection

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Reproductive cycles - Aquaculture

The large majority of aquaculture species are seasonal breeders, although some breed inter-mittently or continuously. Seasonal breeding is generally related to climatic seasons.

Reproductive cycles

The large majority of aquaculture species are seasonal breeders, although some breed inter-mittently or continuously. Seasonal breeding is generally related to climatic seasons. For example, most fresh-water fish of temperate zones spawn in spring and early summer, but the salmonids spawn in autumn. Rainy season and flood waters are associated with the spawn-ing of fresh-water fishes of tropical and sub-tropical regions of Latin America and Africa. Obviously the fishes integrate their own reproductive functions with environmental cycles. The breeding season appears to coincide with environmental conditions that are most conducive to the survival of the offspring. These favourable factors, that act as cues for a suitable breeding season, affect the central nervous system and through it the pituitary and the gonads. Photoperiod, temperature and rainfall are important factors involved in regulation of the reproductive cycles.

 

Mechanisms of reproductive timing vary very considerably among species. For example, in salmonids that spawn in the autumn, gradually increasing photoperiods followed by short photoperiods or decreasing photoperiods have a major role in regulating the cycle. Temperature has an important role in the reproductive cycle of cyprinid species. Gonadal recrudescence takes place in Indian carps during the period of the year when both photoperiod and temperature are increasing. Changes in the volume and velocity of water, flooding of shallow areas and dilution or replacement of water are also considered to be important factors. Warm temperatures and long photoperiods appear to affect also the reproductive cycle of Chinese carps. A review of available information would appear to show that in the majority of cases gonadal recrudescence is regulated chiefly by seasonal variations in photoperiod and temperature, while spawning may be controlled by temperature and/or rainfall.

 

The age of sexual maturity varies widely between species. For example, tilapia species become mature within a few months, whereas others may take a few years. The same fish may mature earlier in a warm climate and much later in colder climates; examples of this are the common carp and the Chinese carps. The common carp, which takes three to four years to mature in Europe, takes only a year to attain maturity in tropical regions. Chinese carps that take five to seven years to mature in Europe become mature in one to three years in tropical and subtropical conditions.

 

Some species have only one spawning season, during which they may spawn several times. Others may have two or more spawning seasons. Some species of finfish exhibit well developed parental care, which may consist of incubating fertilized eggs in the buccal cavity of the parent, or guarding the eggs and larvae during development. Many of the species that exhibit parental care lay eggs in nests made of plant or other available material or in hollows dug out on the bottomSome of the species like the Chinese and Indian carps that are essentially riverine spawners would not spawn in the confined waters of fish ponds or other enclosures. Their gonads develop only up to a certain stage and then remain dormant until resorption sets in. They have however, been observed to spawn in special types of ponds (called bundhs in India) that have a flow of fresh rainwater, inundating shallow marginal areas where the conditions are favourable for the fish to breed. The simulation of conditions in natural spawning grounds may serve to induce certain fish to breed in confined areas. The provision of nest-building material for nest-breeding species and the provision of artificial substrates for the attachment of eggs required for certain species are also believed to induce spawning.

 

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