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20 Ju N e 2010
Spotted rose snapper (Lutjanus guttatus)
aquaculture research and development
as socio-economic alternative for Costa
Rican ﬁshing communities
a. he r r e r a -uL L o a 1, j. ch a c ó n -Gu z M á n 2, G. zú ñ i G a -ca L e r o 2, r. ji M é n e z -
Mo n t e a L e G r e 3
In Costa Rica, sheries are a small component of the na-
tional economy (< 0.5 percent GDP); 5.8 kg/person was the
average seafood consumption by 2001 (FAO 2004). Figure
1 shows sh landings and freshwater aquaculture produc-
tion in Costa Rica. Aquaculture showed an average growth
of 26 percent from 1998 to 2004, and tilapia represented 80
percent of total production (19,000 t by 2004). At the same
time, the artisanal shing sector showed decreasing captures
rates year by year (INCOPESCA 2006).
Spotted Rose Snapper
The spotted rose snapper (Lutjanus guttatus) is one of the
main target coastal species, but landings are decreasing in
quantity and size. Reports include a mean capture size of
50 cm with gill nets and 38 cm with bottom long lines, but
mean capture size has diminished to 43 cm with gill nets.
This shows that the shing effort on the population is ex-
cessive and requires protection management for sustainable
exploitation (Vargas 1999).
Distribution of spotted rose snapper extends from the
Gulf of California to Peru; adults live on coastal reefs to a
depth of 30 m (Fischer et al. 1995) or in rocky areas. The
species has asynchronous development of the gonads with
partial spawning (Arellano-Martínez et al. 2001). Spawn-
ing peaks in April and October (Rojas 1996). The sh is
caught by artisanal shermen using gill nets and bottom
long lines and as by-catch by shrimp trawlers. Most land-
ings of the spotted rose snapper occur in the Costa Rican
northern Pacic and in the southern zone of the Gulf of
Nicoya (Figure 2).
Spotted rose snapper have many attributes suitable for
aquaculture, such as spontaneous reproduction under ap-
propriate captive conditions, high value and an unsatised
demand on international markets. Surveys of sh markets
determined that dressed spotted rose snapper wholesale
price ranged from US$2.91 to US$4.50/Kg. Ofcial statis-
tics show prices from US$2.33 by the sh receiver, up to
US$5.14 in supermarkets (INCOPESCA 2006). In Miami,
which is the main fresh sh export market, prices go from
Fig. 1. Fish landings and aquaculture production (tons) along
the Costa Rican coast, 1998 to 2004 (INCOPESCA 2006).
Fig. 2. Costa Rica and the Gulf of Nicoya.
Wo r l d Aq u A c u l t u r e 21
US$4.00 to US$6.50/Kg. Exports by 2002 to the US
were 521 t (Seafood Watch 2004).
Spotted Rose Snapper Aquaculture Feasibility
Research in Costa Rica on spotted rose snapper
began in the 1980s by INCOPESCA, and the Univer-
sidad Nacional (UNA). By 2002, a marine larval pro-
duction laboratory was opened at the Parque Marino
del Pacíco (PMP), a coastal management agency in
the Ministry of Environment (MINAET).
By 2003, PMP developed studies on the aqua-
culture sector that showed weak effectiveness of the
public agencies, limited research and promotion, low
enforcement, weak public policy and lack of interest from
the private sector. An ecosystem-based-management (EBM)
strategy was chosen and joint efforts were established among
PMP, UNA, International Cooperation and Development
Fund (ICDF) from Taiwan, INCOPESCA, MINAET and
the Asociación de Pescadores de Isla Venado. The main ob-
jective was the establishment of local sustainable mariculture
with artisanal sheries focusing on spotted rose snapper.
Broodstock and Spawning
Wild spotted rose snappers (1-2 kg; 40-60 cm) to be used
as broodstock were caught in the Gulf of Nicoya using long
lines and maintained in 20 t berglass tanks. The sh were
fed squid, shrimp and polichaetes (Americonouphis reesei).
A second batch of broodstock was maintained as a backup.
Hormonal induction of spawning was attempted but
the results were not acceptable. By 2004, with spontaneous
spawning as the goal, environmental manipulations were ap-
plied in the broodstock holding facility. Noise was avoided
as much as possible by moving tanks to indoors, light inten-
sity was decreased, a recirculating system was applied and
the seawater pumping and treatment system was improved.
By 2005 spontaneous spawning became frequent and the
quantity of eggs increased. The larval rearing process was
begun under controlled conditions.
Three to four months was determined to be an adequate
amount of time for adaptation of the broodstock. About
3,000,000 eggs were produced in 2005, 7,000,000 in 2006
and 15,000,000 in 2007 (Figure 3). December to February
showed decreased production, probably because of low wa-
Eggs were collected using a surface drainage system;
buoyant eggs were skimmed and transferred to the larval
rearing area. Total numbers of eggs were determined volu-
metrically. Fertilized eggs were placed in rearing tanks (500
L), with light aeration and a low rate of seawater exchange
(400 percent per day). Larvae hatched about 17 hours af-
ter fertilization. Aeration was removed and water exchange
stopped at the time of hatching. When the larvae ascended
to the surface, they were collected and moved to 6 m3 larval
tanks at density at about 33 larvae/L.
Larval rearing was difcult phase because of the small
Fig. 3. Spontaneous spawning productions since June 2005 to June
mouth (100 µm) of the spotted rose snapper. From 2005-
2007 viable eggs were stocked in 6,000 L round berglass
tanks, without any water exchange from day one to four.
Hatched larvae were fed from day 2 post hatch with about
500 L per day of Tetraselmis chui (100-200 cells/mL) and
renriched rotifers (5-20/mL) until day 20 post hatch.
The rotifer, Brachionus plicatilis, was unsuccessful and was
substituted with B. rotundiformis (about 10-20/mL). Rotifers
were grown at 32 ppt salinity in a batch culture system and
fed with Tetraselmys chui. Rotifers and algae in the rearing
tanks were monitored daily and replenished as necessary.
Enriched Artemia nauplii (1/mL) were added from day
15 to day 16 post hatch until day 30, and adult Artemia (2/
mL) from day 25 to day 35 post hatch. Daily water exchange
was 30 percent, from day 5 to day 25. The weaning phase was
about eight days, day 30-32, depending water temperature,
The Artemia supply was decreased gradually until day 42. A
diet of shrimp and sh was added. Daily water exchange was
100 percent from day 25 to day 40. Fingerlings were move to
6,000 L round berglass tanks from day 38-40 to day 55-60.
Daily water exchange was 150 percent from day 40 to day 50.
After the weaning phase, juveniles were maintained from three
to 10 days before being move to a sh farm. The average rate
of survival was two percent. Daily records were kept on water
temperature (average 28.6ºC), salinity (average 33.8 ppt), pH
(average 8.1) and dissolved oxygen (average 6.5 mg/L).
By 2005, 10,000 juveniles were produced That was in-
creased to 20,000 by 2006 and 70,000 by 2007 (Figure 4).
The production was used at the pilot farm and by 2007, ju-
veniles were also being released in the Gulf of Nicoya.
Pilot Sea Farm
Spotted rose snapper aquaculture areas along the Gulf
of Nicoya were established based on biological, chemical
and physical variables, waves, currents, wind protection,
seaoor, beach distance, pollution, marine transport and
information from INCOPESCA, UNA and Kapetsky et al.
(1987). A community-based management approach was car-
ried out for all the phases of the project including the pilot
farm project. By 2005, a social survey and participatory pro-
cesses were conducted in coastal communities of the Gulf
of Nicoya. After six months a sherman’s association from
Venado Island was chosen. Financial and technical support
22 Ju N e 2010
Fig. 4. Spotted Rose Snapper juveniles production.
spotted snapper is possible and can provide a sustainable
alternative to other species from the tropical American
Pacic countries for increased marine production. In the
future, the focus of spotted rose snapper culture will be
to increase links with the private sector and international
agencies, to increase production at the laboratory level,
growth at the farm level and spread low cost biotechnol-
ogy from Mexico to Ecuador.
1Corresponding autor, Parque Marino del Pacico, Puntarenas
60101, Costa Rica. email@example.com
2Parque Marino del Pacíco – Universidad Nacional, Costa
3Biological Sciences Department, Universidad
Nacional, Costa Rica
Our gratitude to ICDF from Taiwan,
especially to Mr. Hui Chen for all the ef-
fort and support he gave to
the program. Thanks to the
Universidad Nacional, Min-
isterio de Ambiente, Energía
y Telecomunicaciones, and
the Instituto Costarricense
de Pesca y Acuicultura.
Arellano-Martínez, M., A.
Rojas-Herrera, F. García-
Domínguez, B. Cevallos-Vázquez
and M. Villarejo-Fuerte. 2001.
Reproductive cycle of the spot-
ted rose snapper Lutjanus gut-
tatus (Steindachner, 1869) in the
Guerrero coast, Mexico. Revista de Biología Marina y Ocean-
Fischer, W., F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K. Carpenter
and V. Niem. 1995. Guía FAO para la identicación de especies
del Pacíco centro-oriental. Volumen III. Vertebrados-Parte
2, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
2004. Fishery country prole. http://www.fao.org//oldsite/
INCOPESCA (Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura).
2006. Estadística Pesquera. Departamento de Estadística, IN-
Kapetsky, J., L. McGregor and H. Nanne. 1987. Geographical
information system to plan for aquaculture: A FAO-UNEP/
GRID study in Costa Rica. Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Rojas, J. 1996. Fecundidad y épocas Fecundidad y épocas de re-
producción del “pargo mancha” Lutjanus guttatus (Pisces: Lut-
janidae) en el Golfo de Nicoya, Costa Rica. Revista Biología
Seafood Watch. 2004. Commercially important Gulf of Mexico/
South Atlantic Snappers, Final Report. Monterey Bay Aquari-
um, Monterey, California USA.
Table 1. Fish artiﬁcial food composition (percent of diet) in diets 1 and 2.
Fish Food Moisture Ash Protein Lipid Phosphorus Calcium
1 11.314 8.680 42.5 5.191 1.33 1.54
2 6.927 12.363 43.9 13.168 2.34 3.29
Table 2. Spotted rose snapper sales during ﬁrst 18 months.
Kilos Nº of ﬁsh Average $/K Income Cost Proﬁt
Weight (Kg) US$ US$ US$
Sale 1 800 2,000 0,40 3,87 3,095 2,166 928
Sale 2 900 2,571 0,35 3,50 3,150 2,205 945
Sale 3 800 2,286 0,35 3,50 2,800 1,960 840
Sale 4 1,120 3,200 0,35 3,50 3,920 2,744 1,176
Sale 5 700 2,000 0,35 4,20 2,940 2,058 882
Average 1,207 2,411 0,36 3,71 3,181 2,227 954
Total 4,320 12,057 15,905 11,133 4,771
was provided to the shermen by IDCF, including the dona-
tion of pilot farm facilities. The PMP claimed three aqua-
culture areas. After day 45 post hatch, juveniles were moved
to the co-management pilot sea farm.
Prepared feed evaluations were conducted by Corpo-
ración PIPASA using two cages (6x6x6 m, 108 m3) contain-
ing 4,000 juveniles each. Two diets were tested at different
times during the culture period (Table 1).
The rst trials at the pilot farm produced mixed results.
During the rst 18 months, 12,057 spotted rose snapper
(4,320 Kg) were sold from ve partial harvests. Fish were
sold to local markets at an average weight was 0.36 Kg for
US$3.71/Kg for a total of US$4,771 in sales (Table 2).
Using a participatory process and management strategy,
Parque Marino del Pacíco and the Universidad Nacional
created a pilot laboratory juvenile production program. Lack
of expertise and nance were avoided by joining efforts with
other public agencies. Cooperation from ICDF helped sup-
port the critical phases, including the creation of a marine
pilot farm that allowed larger production. Culture of rose