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Female maturation, egg characteristics and fatty acids profile in the seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus

Planas, M., Quintas, P., Chamorro, A., Silva, C.
Animal reproduction science 2010 v.122 no.1-2 pp. 66-73
sexual maturity, lipid content, morphometry, threatened species, Hippocampus (Syngnathidae), body weight, egg masses, fatty acid composition, ambient temperature, female fertility, egg yolk, fish, photoperiod, clutch size, females, dimensions
Knowledge of the biology and ecology of seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) is scarce, but has been increasing in recent years due to their conservation status. Captivity breeding programmes can be a valuable source of information on the reproductive biology of seahorses. A captive broodstock of Hippocampus guttulatus Cuvier 1829 was established in 2006 and kept under natural-like photoperiod and temperature. Female maturation was studied during the whole reproductive season in 2007. Most egg clutches were released from May (17°C; 15L:9D) to October (18°C; 13L:11D), with peak releases occurring in June-August (20°C; 16L:8D-14L:10D). Throughout the study, four egg morphotypes were found; two regression equations were proposed for estimating egg/yolk volume based on measurements of egg and yolk biometrics. Female weight was positively correlated with yolk volume/egg volume ratio (Y v/E v) (r s =0.523, n =21, P <0.05) but not with E v or Y v. Egg dry weight (567±141μg) was correlated with Y v (r s =0.384, n =31, P <0.05). Mean clutch size and clutch biomass were 242±142 eggs and 137±87mg dry weight, respectively. Clutch size was positively correlated to female weight (r s =0.479, n =25, P <0.05). Inter-clutch intervals (days) were affected by temperature (°C) as described by the following equation: Interval =357.55e⁻⁰.¹²⁸³ Temp. Estimated inter-clutch intervals at 16, 18 and 20°C were 45.9, 35.5 and 27.5 days, respectively. Egg total lipids accounted for 31.9±3.1% dry weight. Absolute lipid content in eggs was correlated with egg dry weight (r s =0.907, n =41, P <0.001) and Y v (r s =0.384, n =41, P <0.5). In decreasing order of relative percentage, the most important fatty acids, were 18:1n9, 16:0, 18:2n6, 20:5n3, 18:0 and 22:6n-3. The level of n-3 HUFA was 18.5±0.7% (38.4±3.3mg/g dry weight). The profile of fatty acids in eggs resembled that displayed by the broodstock diet (enriched adult Artemia).