Enhancement of survival rate of Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) larvae by aeration control in rearing tank
High levels of larval mortality are a significant barrier to the artificial mass production of Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis). Mortality may occur when larvae sink and come into contact with the bottom of the rearing tank during the first 10 days after hatching. We evaluated the effect of flow control by aeration on the survival of T. orientalis larvae. These larvae were held in 500-L tanks in which the aeration rate was varied during the night. Larval survival increased with air supply. We documented the cross-sectional flow pattern and gravitational sinking velocities of larvae to assess the correlation between survival and circulation patterns in the tank. The sinking velocity of T. orientalis larvae at night increased with larval body density, which varied with swimbladder volume. Larvae with uninflated swimbladders sank significantly faster than larvae with inflated swimbladders. Both water circulation speed and survival increased at higher aeration rates. Our results suggest that aeration rates >900 ml min–1 may increase larval survival by counteracting sinking.