Linking fatty acids in the diet and tissues to quality of larval southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma)
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Essential fatty acids are necessary for growth, survival, and development of larval fishes, but there is limited information on the essential fatty acid requirements of larval southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma). The objectives of this study were to elucidate connections between dietary supply of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) and deposited fatty acids in the head or body, and then link diet and stored fatty acids in the head or body with larval quality traits. From 4-15 days posthatch (dph), southern flounder larvae were fed rotifers enriched with four different combinations of DHA-rich Algamac 3050 and ARA-rich Algamac ARA. Fatty acid concentrations in the head and body were measured at 15 dph, and relationships between fatty acids in head or body and in the diet were determined. Larval quality traits, including specific growth rate (SGR), survival, and eight behavioral performance variables were measured. Results showed that concentrations of DHA and ARA in the head and in the body were correlated with concentrations of DHA and ARA in the diet. Growth rate did not vary among the four diets, but survival was positively correlated with the amount of lipid in the diet. Responsiveness to a visual stimulus was positively correlated with the concentration of DHA in the diet, the ratio DHA:EPA in the head, and total energy content of the diet. Turning rate during routine swimming was correlated with body DHA. This study demonstrates the influence of DHA content, total lipid content, and energy levels in the diet of southern flounder and provides a foundation for future studies examining causal factors of recruitment variability or larviculture production success.