Ctenophore Diet and Aquaculturing
Aquaculture is also known as aquafarming, which entails the farming of aquatic organisms, particularly, a brine shrimp. The latter can produce dormant eggs that are known as cysts that can be stored for a long period and hatched on demand. When hatched, they form good feed for crustaceans, ctenophores and larval fish. It is the primary reason they are widely used in aquaculture. After they hatch out from the cysts, brine shrimp nauplii are used for feeding just in a day’s incubation period. The nauplii have a large reserve of yolk in their body masses. The yolk is rich in vitamins necessary for the growth and development of ctenophores.
Ctenophores and Their Diet
Ctenophores are also referred as comb jellies and belong to the Phylum Ctenophora kingdom. They are simple creatures that live in marine waters and can be easily found in most aquatic habitats. The latter may include the Polar region, tropical zones and areas near the surfaces of the deep ocean. The bodies of ctenophores have eight rows of joined cilia, which they use for locomotion. Ctenophores are exclusively carnivorous and heterotrophic. They feed on animal plankton as well as other microscopic organisms. A few ctenophore species feed on other ctenophores. Nevertheless, some species eat crustaceans, fish larvae, and mollusks.
When food is in plenty, they can consume ten times more than their body weight in a single day. Ctenophores have various means of trapping their prey. In some instances, they catch it using their tentacles, which act as webs. Once trapped, they ambush their prey. After the latter is consumed, it is liquefied by ctenophores’ enzymes and passed to the canal system. The nutritive cells eventually digest it. The reproduction system of ctenophores is dependent on the amount of food available in their habitat. If food becomes scarce, they stop producing sperms and eggs, leading to a decrease in their body volume.
Ciliary rosettes found in ctenophores aid in getting rid of waste products produced in cells. They remove materials from the mesoglea and help adjust the ctenophores’ buoyancy through pumping water inside and out of it. The mouth of ctenophores is located at one end. They have a transparent gut that stretches down halfway through their bodies. The Euplokamis contains tentacles that enable them to coil themselves around their prey and control the latter so that it cannot escape.
Phytoplankton and Their Importance
Phytoplankton produces much oxygen during the process of photosynthesis since they absorb energy from the sun and combine carbon dioxide and water molecules into simple food particles. During this process, carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere where it is produced. This carbon dioxide cycle aids in regulating the temperatures of the planet.
Figure 1. Carbon dioxide cycle and the role of phytoplankton. This figure illustrates the importance of phytoplankton organisms for the production of oxygen and absorption of carbon dioxide.
The phytoplankton is imperative for transferring most of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean. In the ocean, carbon dioxide is then consumed during the process of photosynthesis. During the latter, carbon is incorporated in the phytoplankton. Most of it is returned to the near-surface waters when phytoplankton organizms are eaten or decompose. Nevertheless, some amount of carbon falls to the ocean floor.
The plankton is the primary source of food for larger animals. Phytoplankton organisms are their first link in a food chain. The zooplankton and small microorganisms that graze on phytoplankton are referred to as the primary producers in a food chain. Phytoplankton organisms include one-celled freshwater microalgae as well as other plant-like microorganisms (Creswell, 2010). They are used in the creation of pharmaceuticals, biofuels, and supplements. They also produce pigments and serve as feeds in aquaculture.
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General Overview of Aquaculture
Aquaculture refers to the cultivation of aquatic organisms like fish, crustaceans, aquatic plants and mollusks. In this process, both saltwater and freshwater populations are cultivated in controlled environments. It involves breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals that thrive in water. Water habitats can be ponds, rivers, oceans, and lakes. Aquaculture produces baitfish, food fish, crustaceans, algae, fish eggs, and sea vegetables. Stock restoration is a form of aquaculture whereby shellfish and fish populations are released into water habitats to rebuild wild populations and coastal habitats. An example of the latter in such a case would be oyster reefs.
There are two principal examples of aquaculture, namely, marine and freshwater. Marine aquaculture entails culturing living organisms that thrive in the ocean. It is done in cages built on the ocean floor. The U.S. marine aquaculture produces shrimps, sea bream, clams, oysters, mussels, and yellowtails. Freshwater aquaculture creates aquatic species living in rivers, lakes, and streams. The U.S. Marine Corps chiefly produces catfish in its freshwater aquaculture practices. There are two methods used in aquaculture, mariculture and integrated multi-tropic aquaculture. The first involves the cultivation of marine animals in sheltered seawaters, while the second is a practice, whereby waste from one species is recycled into food for other marine species.
There are various impediments to aquaculture. The primary one is cost (Borowitzka, 1997). Aquaculture can have damaging effects on the environment. Issues that may trigger this phenomenon may include poor waste handling when performing aquaculture practices and rivalry between domesticated and wild animals. It can lead to the introduction of invasive species into a habitat. For example, the introduction of the Nile perch in the sea can lead to a decrease in small fish species in the long run. If not well managed, aquaculture practices can lead to the total reduction of marine species. For example, some aquaculture methods can use small fish species to feed large marketable fish like the tilapia and the Nile perch. A culturing experiment can be performed using the Parvocalanus crassirostris fact sheet (Welsh, n.d.).
Why a Mix of Brine Shrimps and Rotifers is Good for Ctenophores
The usage of Branchionus plicatilis (rotifers) and Artemia salina (brine shrimp) is widespread in numerous fisheries across the world. The mixing of the two is important in aquaculture because of their nutritional advantages. However, rotifer mass culture is unstable since they occasionally crash during the rearing period because of unproven reasons. For this reason, if they are used alone in aquaculture, their crash will reduce the larva production levels. It may eventually lead to the starvation of aquatic organisms being farmed. Nevertheless, Euryhaline rotifers are crucial in order to rear marine fish larvae (Fielder, Purser, & Battaglene, 2000).
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Importance of Aquaculture for Marine Science
Marine science entails the study of oceans, aquatic life forms, and marine ecosystems. It is also characterized by the terms “oceanology” or “oceanography”. The study of aquaculture has several advantages in marine science. First, it enables researchers to learn how to maintain a balanced ecosystem in the aquatic environment (Chew & Lim, 2005/06). It helps in attaining the knowledge of seafood production both for domestic and commercial use. Fishing and fisheries have a key significance to some nations. For example, in New Zealand, aquaculture is a remarkable tourist attraction activity. When visitors go sightseeing aquaculture facilities in the coastline, they benefit the country through tourism. Finally, aquaculture should be researched by marine scientists for them to be in a position to protect organisms living in water, since they play a vital role in the food web.