Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Group Title: Circular - University of Florida. Florida Cooperative Extension Service ; 702
Title: A first look at Florida aquaculture
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072584/00001
 Material Information
Title: A first look at Florida aquaculture
Series Title: Circular
Physical Description: iii, 19 p. : ill. ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Shireman, J. V
Lindberg, William J
University of Florida -- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agriculture
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1989
Subject: Aquaculture -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: Jerome V. Shireman and William J. Lindberg.
Funding: Circular (Florida Cooperative Extension Service) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00072584
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 15893240

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title page
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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    Back Cover
        Back cover
Full Text
. G c Circul!

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'liqtU O'H

eman and William

University of Florida John T. Woest

Operative Extension Service

Institute of


The front cover photograph is reprinted with permission from the North Carolina State
Museum of Natural History and appeared in that agency's Atlas of North American Fresh
Water Fishes. Other art and publication design are by Darrae Norling.

flqzmt Q okat

Sla7 de qftmacultut&

Jerome V. Shireman and William J. Lindberg

Jerome V. Shireman is Chairman and William J. Lindberg is Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries
and Aquaculture, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

1984 Florida Aquacultural Review Council

Mr. Bill Dwight
Southern Tropical Fish

Mr. Frank Godwin
Gatorland Zoo

Mr. Robert Ingle
Apalachicola, FL

Dr. John Ryther
Center for Bio-Technology

Ms. Fran Hanan
Sunland Aquatic Nurseries

Mr. Timothy K. Hennessy
Ekk-Will Tropical Fish Farm

Mr. David Shuler
Bristol, FL

Dr. William Behrens, Jr.
Florida Institute of Oceanography

Aquaculture Interagency Coordinating Board

Dr. William W. Behrens, Jr., Director
Florida Institute of Oceanography

Dr. William Bigler
Department of Health and
Rehabilitative Services

Mr. Ed Cox
Florida Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services

Mr. Don Duden, Assistant Executive Director
Florida Department of Natural Resources

Mr. John Girvin, Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Department of Commerce

Mr. Dennis E. Holcomb, Director
Division of Fisheries
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission

Ms. Helen Hood
Regional Planning Councils

Mr. Pete Rhoads
South Florida Water Management District

Ms. Aletta Shutes, Executive Staff Director
Department of Labor and
Employment Security

Mr. O. T. "Tom" Stoutamire
Division of Vocational,
Adult and Community Education
Department of Education

Mr. William K. Hennessey
Division of Environmental Permitting
Department of Environmental Regulation

Table of Contents

Florida Aquaculture Review Council

and Interagency Coordinating Board

Forew ord .........................

Introduction ......................

Florida Natural Resources ..........

Aquaculture Regulations and Public

Policy Issues ...................

Land Use Planning ................

Economics .......................

M marketing ........................

Florida Aquaculture Species .........

Tropical Fish ....................

C atfish .. . .. .. .. . .

Tilapia ................ ......

A lligators .......................

A m erican Eels ..................

Striped Bass/Hybrids .............

Sport F ish ......................

B aitfish .... ..... ............. ..

Chinese Carp ....................

A quatic Plants ..................

C rustacea .......................

M ollu sks ......................

Marine Finfish ...................

M arine Algae ................ ..

Sum m ary .........................

Additional Information .............












































This Extension circular is a revision of the Florida
Aquaculture Plan submitted to the Florida
Legislature by the Commissioner of Agriculture in
accordance with the Aquaculture Policy Act of
1984. That plan, originally drafted within IFAS'
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, was
prepared by the Florida Aquaculture Review Coun-
cil and the Aquaculture Interagency Coordinating
Committee. Participants in these groups are
acknowledged on page i, and we sincerely thank
them for their many contributions.

The purpose of this circular is to educate citizens
about aquaculture in Florida, its current status, and
its prospects for future development. In contrast to
the state plan which emphasizes what government

agencies should do to facilitate aquaculture develop-
ment, this bulletin concentrates on general informa-
tion of interest to persons considering entry into
aquaculture. Much of the information has been pro-
vided by cooperating industry leaders, in addition to
being taken from university and government
reports. Assertions made in this publication about
the risks or future prospects for a given type of
aquaculture reflect professional opinions of persons
contributing to the Florida Aquaculture Plan, and
may change as technical, regulatory, or economic
conditions change. We encourage you to use this
publication simply as an introductory guide on your
way toward making fully informed decisions about
Florida aquaculture.
Jerome V. Shireman
William J. Lindberg
May 1985

Florida's semitropical climate, long coastline, and
abundant water supplies in certain areas make it an
ideal state for aquaculture. State law defines
aquaculture as the cultivation of animals and plant
life in a water environment (Chap. 253.67 (1) F.S.),
which implies that the organisms are grown in
water, the natural habitat of the organisms is water,
and some part or all of their life cycle or culture
period is influenced or manipulated by man. The
degree to which the life cycle and environmental
needs of an organism are controlled by the culturist
may range from simply relaying coon oysters for
grow-out on a leased site to artificially maintaining
fish from egg to harvestable size in a tank. Aqua-
culture may be undertaken to produce food and fiber
(both plants and animal) for human consumption,
bait and stockers for recreational fishing, ornamen-
tal fish and plants for the aquarium hobbyist,
juveniles for enhancing natural fisheries, and raw
materials for energy and biochemicals. In Florida,
aquaculture could be considered as an alternative
use of land that was previously unsuited for tradi-
tional agriculture or as a highly intensive, diver-
sified crop for small landowners.
Aquaculture is not a new industry. Asian and
European fish culture systems have existed for cen-
turies. Although aquaculture is a large and growing
industry over much of the world, it is relatively new
and undeveloped in the United States. U.S. produc-
tion contributes only about 2% of worldwide
aquaculture yields. In 1975 U.S. production reached
65,000 metric tons and with proper support should
reach one million metric tons by the year 2000 (Na-
tional Research Council, 1978). Private aquaculture
produces over 40% of U.S. oysters, most U.S. cat-
fish and crawfish, nearly all rainbow trout, and
small quantities of several other species.
The outlook for the U.S. aquaculture industry is
encouraging for several reasons: 1) wild fish stocks
are finite and declining because of overfishing and
loss of habitat, 2) fish imports to the U.S. have in-
creased, and 3) world demand is increasing as per
capital consumption of fish is increasing. During the
past 20 years, per capital consumption of seafood in
the U.S. has increased almost 25% and is predicted
to increase at an average rate of 3.4% annually.

Aquaculture in Florida is currently a valuable in-
dustry but traditional food species do not contribute
substantially to it. Specialty items such as tropical
fish and ornamental aquatic plants are important to
the Florida economy. Florida is the only state where
large amounts of these products are grown. Aquatic
plants generate between 3.5 and 5 million dollars an-
nually, while the annual retail value of Florida
tropical fish exceeds 75 million dollars.
Florida's aquaculture potential has not been
realized. Culture facilities to produce food fish,
plants, and recreational fish have not been fully
developed. Nevertheless, individual aquaculturists,
or persons contemplating entry into this business,
must carefully consider all of the elements needed
for profitable aquaculture. Available natural
resources must be appropriate for the species to be
cultured. The aquaculture facilities and operations
must conform to a wide variety of regulations, often
involving permits. The products must be
economically grown and effectively marketed. And
of course, the life cycles of the desired species must
be subject to an adequate amount of control under
practical aquaculture conditions. This booklet will
give you an introduction to such considerations, an
overview of species with aquaculture potential, and
additional sources of information.

Florida Natural Resources
Florida's climate and natural resources are well
suited for aquaculture when such ventures are
selected to match prevailing local conditions and to
tolerate infrequent environmental extremes. For in-
stance, mild winter temperatures with only sporadic
freezes enable the tropical fish industry to flourish
in the Tampa-Lakeland-Bradenton and the Miami
areas. Mild spring and autumn temperatures con-
tribute to early spawning and a long growing
season. Thus, tropical fish farmers produce several
crops per year. On the other hand, high
temperatures and low dissolved oxygen in south

Florida ponds during summer could be impediments
to commercial catfish production there. Warm
springtime water temperatures, however, allow ear-
ly spawning so that Florida fish farmers can pro-
duce fry and fingerling stocks earlier than other
U.S. farmers.
Florida has seasonally abundant water supplies,
especially in the north central portion of the state.
The Floridan Aquifer provides abundant ground
water of high quality in some areas. In many areas,
spring water from the aquifer is abundant and
might be developed for aquaculture pursuits. For
example, the National Fish Hatchery at Welaka
receives all of its water from Blue Springs. Spring
water is of high quality and has a constant
temperature of 70-74F (21-23C). Surface water
is also plentiful, and in many areas high water levels
combine with soils that hold water all year round to
make aquaculture practicable. The tropical fish in-
dustry centered near Tampa uses ponds of this type.
Lowlands of central and north central Florida could
be developed in a similar manner. The soils of the
Florida panhandle contain considerably more clay,
and in these areas perched ponds are used.
In areas with abundant water supplies and soils
with limited water-holding capacities, intensive
culture systems could be utilized. This might apply
to mariculture adjacent to high energy beaches,
where seawater could be drawn in and filtered
through the beach system, e.g. Marineland.
However, economic constraints would likely prevail
in such settings.
The diversity of conditions encountered
throughout Florida dictates that a given
aquaculture venture will be better suited to some
portions of the state than to others. Thorough con-
sideration should be given to such factors before in-
itiating an aquaculture business. An excellent sum-
mary of Florida's climate, soil types, and water
resources can be found in the Atlas of Florida
(Fernald, E.A. 1981. Atlas of Florida. Florida State
University Foundation, Inc., Tallahassee.), which
should be available in local libraries or bookstores.
However, general reading is no substitute for on-site
surveys of soil and water resources during the plan-
ning phase of an aquaculture venture.

Aquaculture Regulations and
Public Policy Issues

Aquaculture requires access to arable land, or
submerged land and water resources, which are
under the combined jurisdiction of local, state, and
federal regulations. These regulations may range
from compilation of a complex environmental im-
pact statement involving a number of agencies to
the purchase of a simple freshwater fish farm license
from the local tax collector. Traditional farming
began long before the initiation of regulations and
so laws governing farming evolved along with farm-
ing technology. Laws governing the hunting and
gathering techniques of commercial fishermen and
the protection of native and recreational stocks also
evolved long before aquaculture was given serious
consideration. Because aquaculture has been in-
cluded with the commercial and sportfishing in-
dustries, it is often governed by commercial fishing
and wildlife protection laws. The appropriate place
for aquaculture in our regulatory system is cur-
rently a public policy issue.
Sea farming means farming the seas' coastal
margins, bays, and estuaries, where nearly 90% of
the world's food fish spawn, mature, and get cap-
tured. The conditions which make mariculture at-
tractive to a given coastal area are the same condi-
tions which make the area attractive for people to
live and play. Conflicts among competing users are
a significant threat to the development of
aquaculture along the coastal zone. The most
significant public issue is whether or not an in-
dividual should be allowed to privately own (lease)
and make a profit from a commonly held natural
resource such as the sea. This will involve basic
changes in the legal and regulatory system to
develop this wholly new economic activity.
In 1978, the National Research Council found that
constraints on the orderly development of
aquaculture tend to be political and administrative
rather than scientific and technological. This state-
ment was reaffirmed in the 1983 National
Aquaculture Development Plan. There are few laws
designed to promote and protect aquaculture. That
is, aquaculture does not explicitly fit into existing

agricultural programs and, as a result, is regulated
at each level of government by a number of agencies
having their own range and scope through different
state and federal programs. The number of agencies
participating in permitting an individual
aquaculture facility is often large; regulations are
highly complicated and often require legal expertise
to understand.
Basic information on aquaculture as an industry
is not readily available; consequently, it is often
unclear which regulations pertain to a specific
aquacultural situation. This leaves regulators uncer-
tain as to whether or not a permit is needed and
whether or not specific rules are applicable. Many
well intended laws have been written to meet
legitimate public needs at local, state, and federal
levels, but without consideration for aquaculture.
Regulatory processes affect aquaculture in a
number of areas including land and zoning regula-
tions, water and water quality regulations, en-
vironmental, including dredge and fill, placement of
structures in navigable waters and facility
discharges, fish and fisheries management, facility
and hatchery management, Federal Food and Drug
Administration drug registration and shellfish
sanitation, coastal protection, wildlife protection,
introduction of non-native species, transport of live
animals, and normal business functions such as
taxes, workmen's compensation, and safety.
Table 1, at the end of this circular, summarizes the
regulations which currently affect Florida
aquaculture. These may be subject to change as the
aquaculture industry and State Legislature work to
develop Florida's aquaculture potential.

Land Use Planning
Aquaculture projects using natural resources can
quickly become involved in land use conflicts. Land
areas which are potential locations for aquaculture
can be also used for homes, agriculture, industry,

and recreation. In Florida, two types of areas seem
best suited for aquaculture: low relief areas and
coastal areas. Nevertheless, most aquaculture
development in Florida will likely occur on existing
agricultural lands, uplands, and waters already ap-
proved for shellfish harvesting.
Land use conflicts associated with a growing
population are a major constraint on marine
aquaculture ventures requiring waterfront or
shoreside facilities. The state's population of more
than 10 million is increasing by 6000 people per
week, and over 79% of the residents live adjacent to
the seacoast. Consequently, 10 of the nation's 25
fastest growing metropolitan areas are along
Florida's shoreline. Water-dependent businesses of
all kinds are subject to considerable economic
pressure by high-valued residential and urban
Even rural counties are not immune to land use
problems of a burgeoning state population. Many
coastal rural counties are undeveloped because they
lack the high-energy beach systems attractive to
high-density residential development. Those tradi-
tionally rural counties with such beaches (e.g.
Flagler, Santa Rosa, or Walton) are now experienc-
ing rapid coastal construction.'The remaining coun-
ties typically have low-energy coasts with extensive
fringing wetlands of mangroves or salt marshes.
The value of these habitats to the natural produc-
tion of marine fisheries is being recognized by the
economically important and politically influential
sportfishing and commercial seafood industries as
well as government agencies. Aquacultural projects
will face many regulatory hurdles if they are sited
directly in mangroves and salt marshes. However,
projects sited in waters adjacent to or along borders
of such areas may prove to be compatible.
The land requirements for marine and freshwater
aquaculture will be increasingly squeezed between
full urban development and the preservation of
already productive and/or natural habitats.
Aquaculturists must be aware of the land use-
planning mechanisms at all levels of government
and the extent to which they include provisions for
aquaculture and the spectrum of water-dependent


For the aquaculture industry in Florida to
develop, individual ventures must operate profit-
ably. All ventures require capital secured from
private, public, and/or commercial sources.
Aquaculture is generally perceived as being risky,
due to the newness of the industry, the lack of ade-
quate data to assess costs and returns, the limited
number of species with proven track records, and
the limited number of persons with necessary
management skills. Profitability is therefore dif-
ficult for a lender to assess, and consequently the
necessary capital may be difficult to obtain.
The large amounts of energy, materials, and
capital often necessary for an aquaculture venture
add to the industry's high risk profile. Start-up
costs to purchase land, construct ponds and
buildings, and drill wells are considerable. Intensive
culture systems, although requiring less land, are
costly to construct, require more energy to operate,
and require greater management skill. Feed and
labor costs are high and account for the majority of
operating expenses. Interest rates are high and a
period of time must pass before the product is
harvested and cash flows into the operation. Se-
curity must be provided to prevent theft. Insurance
underwriters lack the expertise to assess risks and
have too few aquaculture businesses among which
to spread the cost of the risks. Regulations are both
costly and time consuming, diverting considerable
entrepreneurial energy away from the main focus of
establishing a business. Each of these factors
creates an added risk to an aquaculture venture,
making the securing of a loan difficult.
Commercial banks are aware of these risks and are
generally not yet considered to be a prime source of
capital. Public sources include the Farmers Home
Administration, Farm Credit Administration, and
Small Business Administration. These sources may
be adequate for small and intermediate size opera-
tions, but do not completely cover all start-up and
operating costs, and must be supplemented with
other sources of capital. Private sources include
family loans and personal savings which are usually
inadequate for a full scale operation. Venture

capitalists will accept the higher risk, but require a
high and rapid rate of return on their investment.
When planning an aquaculture venture, financial
considerations must receive as much, if not more, at-
tention as the technical and biological aspects of
production. Additional economic decision-making
information is available through the Cooperative
Extension Service or Sea Grant Extension Pro-

Markets and market potentials for food fish pro-
duced on Florida aquafarms are not established.
Florida freshwater aquaculture products are sold in
Florida primarily by small firms with sales made
through private negotiations. Marketing of food
fish is complicated because few processing plants
exist in Florida for freshwater aquacultural prod-
ucts, whereas processing and wholesaling plants for
marine products are common. A major portion of
the marine species landed in Florida are sold di-
rectly to out-of-state buyers. Overall, at least 60% of
total products are exported; however, Florida is not
self-sufficient in seafood production, e.g. two-thirds
of the shrimp processed in Florida were imported to
Florida for processing.
It is evident that processing plants and market
corridors exist for marine seafood products.
Mariculture products could fit into this marketing
scheme, provided that costs to produce these
organisms do not greatly exceed the cost of wild-
caught products. Alternatively, cultured species
could enter the market during off seasons or a profit
could be made by buying and reselling from
freshwater processors. It is difficult for us to predict
if freshwater cultured species such as catfish could
enter the current Florida seafood market. Catfish,
although a popular product in the Mississippi River
delta area, has not been cultured, extensively in
Florida. This small industry has relied upon local
sales outlets. It is doubtful that catfish produced in
Florida can enter the major market networks that
currently exist in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisi-
In order for Florida freshwater aquafarms to be

successful, markets must be established for these
products. If farming is done on a large scale,
markets other than local ones must be established.
Because seafood markets for marine species exist, it
might be beneficial for Florida farms to develop
Florida-specific products. For example, striped bass
hybrids are suitable for culture, and because one of
the striped bass hybrid parents is a marketable
marine species, hybrids could possibly enter marine
market corridors.
The total retail value generated each year from
ornamental fish shipped from Florida totals over 75
million dollars and 1 million boxes. Between 15,000
and 20,000 boxes of live fish are shipped by air each
week from Florida. Potential buyers for Florida-
raised fish include large and small jobbers and
farmer-wholesale suppliers. These suppliers subse-
quently sell and ship fish to regional pet shops. Pet
shops require a wide variety of species, more than
produced in Florida. For this reason, jobbers handle
not only Florida fish but also imported species.
Wholesalers, when possible, ship fish in full boxes to
decrease shipment costs. In addition to the above-
mentioned distribution, some special breeders also
ship fish; however, these breeders cannot usually
provide the variety needed by pet shops. Local
distributors transport fish by truck. These
distributors may also handle dry goods and provide
supportive services.
The tropical fish industry has been successful
through established market channels. Advertising
is done by direct mail, telephone solicitation, or
advertisements in trade magazines. However, the
tropical fish industry has faced serious problems
over the past few years, which has resulted in loss of
markets. The problems stem from the use of out-
dated technology and foreign competition.
Upgrading culture technology by borrowing and
employing practices common in other forms of fish
culture will improve farm efficiency and allow
Florida farmers to offset competitive advantages
now enjoyed by foreign sources of tropical fish.
Florida farmers could also enhance their com-
petitive position in the marketplace by learning how
to culture additional species such as clown loaches,
cyprinids (red-tailed rainbow, albino rainbow, bala,

and black sharks), and red-tailed tinfoil barbs.
Sport- and baitfish are usually produced by small
farms in Florida. Sales by these firms are usually ac-
complished through private negotiations which
arise through telephone solicitation, personal con-
tacts, and advertisement in trade magazines. Sale of
live fish usually requires that the product be
transported to the buyer. The buyer then becomes
the producer of another product for recreational
services (e.g. bait organisms).
If aquaculture of food and sportfish species is to
expand in Florida, an improvement in marketing is
required. Marine aquaculture products, through
product development, might be channeled through
existing markets. The tropical fish industry,
through industry involvement and experience, has
established a substantial marketing system. This
system is actually quite sophisticated. Market im-
provement will come through development of in-
creased international markets and by adding to
product lines new species cultured in Florida. The
expansion of markets, especially in Europe, would
increase the tropical fish industry substantially.
Sportfish and baitfish markets are usually
developed through personal contact and advertise-
ment in trade magazines.

Florida Aquaculture Species
Selection of the species used for aquafarming is
important and can determine the success or failure
of an operation. This list of species includes some
species that might have potential as aquaculture
organisms, but need additional research and
development before they can be raised economically.
Included in this discussion are species which are or
have been used in Florida. This is not intended to be
a comprehensive listing.

Tropical Fish
The tropical fish industry is centered in
Hillsborough County, south of Tampa, with a much
smaller center of some 35 farms extending from
southern Dade County near Homestead, north to
about Melbourne. Fish are grown for the most part

in small earthen ponds, averaging about 2000
square feet in area and dug into the shallow water
table to minimize water requirements. In hot
weather, ponds may require aeration; in cold
weather, they may require continuous pumping of
deep, relatively warm well water and/or enclosing
the pond with polyfilm to create a greenhouse effect.
The fish are fed prepared rations that vary con-
siderably in formulation and quantity applied. Anti-
biotics, drugs, and chemicals are used as needed for
disease, pest, and weed control, but applications are
far from standardized in the industry and tend to be
administered from empirical observations.
There is some trend toward the use of above-
ground tanks and ponds within greenhouse-type
buildings for at least the more delicate stages or
species of fish, to provide some degree of
temperature, predator, and general water quality
control. Such intensification of management is
directed towards the hatchery and nursery phases of
the industry and for improved survival and cultiva-
tion of a broad spectrum of the more delicate
Research needs of the industry are in the areas of
marketing and product promotion, reproductive
biology (the ability to care for more species
throughout their life cycle), genetics (selection for
growth rate, size, disease and low temperature
resistance, color and general appearance, and the
ability to maintain these selected characteristics in
pure breeding lines), nutrition (improved and less
costly diets), disease diagnosis, prevention, and con-
trol, predator and aquatic weed control, general
water quality control and management, and effluent
management to ensure that exotic species do not
The present domestic tropical fish market may be
nearing saturation, but the ability to breed more
species in captivity, species currently available only
through import, would allow the industry to ex-
pand. There are also indications that wild stocks in
many foreign countries are becoming scarce and
that many species from those sources may disap-
pear from the market unless they can be reared ar-
The single most important short range goal, with

immediate benefit for the tropical fish industry in
Florida, is the expansion of domestic and interna-
tional markets, particularly into European markets.
Expansion in new areas will allow the industry to
garner a greater market share.
Presently, the farming of marine tropical fish in
Florida is restricted to two or three growers produc-
ing two or three species. The marine segment of the
industry is impeded somewhat by technological and
biological constraints. Saltwater species are in high
demand, however, and account for 10% of the total
U.S. market and 20% of its value. Cultivation of
more marine species is therefore a challenging
technological problem that would expand existing
markets and probably open new ones. The need for
such cultivation of marine tropical fish can be ex-
pected to increase as more harvesting pressure is
placed on the wild stocks.

Channel catfish farming has become a successful
aquaculture industry in many southeastern states.
Although commercial catfish farming has been at-
tempted here, several factors are responsible for this
lack of industry development. A major problem for
the commercial producer has been product
marketing. Lake Okeechobee, the St. John's River,
and several other large lakes and rivers of the state
have traditionally yielded large quantities of
bullheads (speckled catfish) for the consumer
market. The in-state market for this wild-caught
product has demonstrated a preference for a
smaller-sized (2-5 oz.) dressed carcass commonly
termed a "sharpie" by the commercial fish industry.
In addition to marketing a product form not nor-
mally available from the farm-raised industry, the
wild harvest of catfish and imports of wild catfish
from South America has established a non-
competitive price in the market for cultured fish.
Established catfish farming industries cultivate fish
to the 1- 2-pound round weight stage. This size fish
suits markets in regions accessible to that industry.
Marketing is presently the greatest constraint on
the development of catfish farming in Florida.

Catfish products generally exhibit a "price
elasticity" in the marketplace; this dictates that, if
the price per pound is significantly increased over
what the consumer is accustomed to paying, then a
proportional decrease in volume of sales will follow.
Farm-raised catfish products require a higher price
in the marketplace than wild-caught catfish due to
basic costs of production. Three states with viable
catfish farming industries have passed "truth-in-
labeling" legislation to distinguish cultivated prod-
ucts from wild-caught or imported fish and to pro-
tect the fish farmer's opportunity to compete in the
marketplace. Although cultured catfish are con-
sidered a higher quality product than wild or im-
ported fish, if product identification is the same for
all catfish, aquaculture enterprise is at a disadvan-
The lack of adequate processing facilities catering
to Florida's farm-raised fish industry and the fact
that in the past no commercial fish feed was pro-
duced in the state represented additional con-
straints on the expansion of the industry. Never-
theless, an important variable may be related to
Florida's soil characteristics. Clay or impermeable
soils suitable for large pond construction are
available in the panhandle region, but sandy soils
and high water tables are found in most of central
and southern Florida. The cost of large pond con-
struction in such areas creates a marginal invest-
ment for this production technology. Pond manage-
ment practices of periodic draining and drying to
allow for the decomposition of organic sludge that
rapidly accumulates during intensive farming are
not feasible in large ponds in the water table, but
would be feasible in small fingerling ponds where
organic accumulation can be removed.
A few small farms in Florida produce catfish
fingerlings for sale to growers and owners of recrea-
tional ponds. These catfish hatcheries could also of-
fer a solid business prospectus by producing
seedstock for the more northern commercial in-
dustry earlier than is possible in that region. There
are an undetermined number of small catfish farms
producing fish for both recreation and food, but only
three larger commercial operations have been
started. In 1981, 275,000 pounds of food-size catfish

products were raised on 87.5 acres. This represents a
mean annual production of 3200 pounds per acre per
year, identical to average yields of pond production
in the Mississippi delta region. Such information in-
dicates that the previously mentioned environmen-
tal constraints facing the farmer in Florida may be
overcome but with unknown additional production

Species of Tilapia are of great importance in
aquaculture, particularly in tropical-subtropical
developing countries, and it is the dominant
cultured genus in Israel and Taiwan, two countries
which rely heavily on aquatic farming as a major
protein source. The attributes which make Tilapia
suitable for fish farming are general hardiness,
resistance to diseases, high yield potentials due to
resistance to overcrowding, and the ability to with-
stand low dissolved oxygen levels. Tilapia can
utilize a wide range of natural and artificial feeds
and, when reared under good aquatic farming prac-
tices, represent an excellent table fish with firm
white flesh and no intermuscular bones.
Constraints on the development of Tilapia as a
viable type for aquatic farming enterprise in Florida
are in the areas of 1) marketing, 2) the technology re-
quired to cope with abnormally cold Florida winters,
and 3) the technology required to resolve the issue of
escape from aquaculture facilities. With respect to
Tilapia culture, the regulatory environment has
been created to reduce introductions of the non-
native fish and to minimize the opportunity for
spread of wild populations. Tilapia have been re-
ferred to in the context of being a potential en-
vironmental hazard, resulting in regulations speci-
fying design and construction criteria for the
aquaculture facility and species permits for culture
under terms and conditions of those regulations. In
treating Tilapia culture farms under such condi-
tions, regulations have done more to discourage the
industry than to assist in its development. With
respect to the marketing issue, the blue tilapia
(Oreochromis aurea) introduced into Florida waters

in the late 1950s has become an important commer-
cial fish species in Central Florida, setting
precedents for Tilapia pricing and edibility
characteristics in the marketplace. This wild
harvest of Tilapia has created a noncompetitive
price for potential fish culturists.
Research by industry and institutions with
Tilapia hybrids has created the phenotypic red col-
oration in certain genetic lines and hybrids that can
provide the consumer with an obvious color in-
dicator to distinguish wild-caught fish from the
domestically cultured animal in the marketplace.
Hybridization of Tilapia species has become a com-
mon practice in the international aquaculture com-
munity to improve wild stocks and to create genetic
varieties suitable for domestic aquaculture. Institu-
tional research with hybrids is stimulating the
development of private industry in other
southeastern states.
Another major constraint to commercial cultiva-
tion of Tilapia is early sexual maturation and the in-
clination of the species to spawn regularly which
may result in overpopulation and stunting in con-
ventional pond production systems. Research to
control these phenomena has been in the area of
hybridization of pureline species to produce
monosex populations and the use of androgen hor-
mones in the early life cycle to sexually differentiate
postlarvae into all male populations. Research on
reproductive control is continuing on a broad inter-
national front but no work has occurred in Florida.
Cultivation of the non-native Tilapia in Florida
may be done only by Florida Game and Freshwater
Fish Commission permits, of which 24 have been
issued, eight for research and the rest for commer-
cial culture. The majority of commercial permits are
currently inactive. Certain Tilapia aquaculture
enterprises employing high-density culture tech-
niques and improved red hybrid stocks have
demonstrated the marketability of this species.
There are existing water bodies in Florida where
Tilapia might be grown economically in cages or


Intensive alligator culture is a new industry in
Florida encouraged by the legal protection of the
species and the worldwide effort to control
diminishing crocodilian populations. At present
there are 18 farms in the state in various stages of
development. Investment in these farms is well over
4 million dollars with many in their start-up phase.
The animals are sold for their hides (presently
$23-28 per foot) and their meat ($5-10 per pound).
Over the three-year period of 1985-1987, these
farms are projected to harvest approximately
16,000 animals for combined gross sales exceeding
$5 million at today's prices.
Alligators grown intensively reach a marketable
(at present) size of six feet (60 pounds) in three to
four years. During this time they are fed a variety of
mostly waste meat, fish, and poultry products.
Yields of about 500 animals per acre (3000 ft of hide,
10,000 lbs of marketable meat) can be achieved over
this growth period.
Cultivation of the species, both biologically and
economically, hinges on the continued development
of advanced alligator husbandry techniques and
technology. Only a small amount of research has
been conducted over the last four years in Florida on
intensive alligator culture. Most of this research has
been conducted through the University of Florida
(IFAS) and is financed by the Florida Alligator
Farmers Association. Results have been very en-
couraging. For example, preliminary nutrition
research has shown that a length of nearly four feet
can be achieved in the first year, thus producing a
marketable six-foot animal in two rather than three
to four years.
A program jointly sponsored by the Florida
Alligator Farmers Association, Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission, and the University
of Florida (IFAS) is showing (in the early results of a
five-year study begun in 1981) that a percentage of
alligator eggs or hatchlings can be removed from
populated alligator habitats and can be placed in
commercial grow-out facilities. This research is ex-
pected to show that a sustained, controllable
alligator population can be achieved and also pro-

vide the alligator culturist with a supply source.
Successful artificial insemination research has pro-
vided information in the area of captive breeding
and reproduction. Superior, faster growing animals
have been produced through this method.
This limited amount of research, coupled with ex-
isting working operations, has shown that intensive
alligator cultivation is feasible and practical.
However, low reproductive efficiency and high em-
bryonic death on farms with captive breeding pro-
grams, high start-up costs (the average farmer waits
three to four years before receiving a return on his
investment), availability of broodstock and hatch-
lings, and high costs and market instability are
some of the areas concerning and depressing the ex-
pansion of the industry.
Alligator cultivation has the potential to become
an important industry for Florida, providing jobs
and a new source of untapped revenue. With
wetlands utilization, with the alligator as a
renewable resource, and with proper funding for
research and development of markets, it is
foreseeable that the industry can become a major
aquaculture industry within the next decade.
Improvement of technology is needed in the areas
of captive breeding, nutrition, and disease preven-
tion and control, but no major technological prob-
lems constrain the development of the industry,
which expects to double or triple by 1990, a goal
that would require the production of more than
40,000 animals annually. Still further expansion is
anticipated beyond 1990 but this would require
penetration of the world market for crocodile and
other reptile hides, a strong probability in view of in-
creasingly effective international protection of such

American Eels
Eel culture, although widely practiced in the Far
East and Europe, is in its infancy in the United
States where only a few eel farms exist. A wild
fishery for eels does exist in the U.S. with an
estimated production in excess of 6 million pounds
per year which is roughly equivalent to the output of
cultured eels from Italian farms. Production of wild

eels in Florida is estimated to be 250,000 pounds per
year average. Although most eels are exported to
Europe from the U.S., a domestic market does exist
for 4-9-inch fingerlings which are considered ex-
cellent bass bait and for adult (one-half pound or
more) eels as food in cities with large European or
Oriental ethnic populations.
Eels are not routinely spawned in captivity. The
Japanese have done in vitro fertilization and have
reared larvae for five days. Russian scientists have
obtained fertile eggs from eels grown in captivity.
All commercial eel farms worldwide depend on
elvers captured on their upstream migration as a
starting point for the culture operation. They are
usually captured with traps or nets. No evidence ex-
ists to suggest that taking of seedstock from the
wild will deplete the resource.
Eel culture is being conducted in Florida using
methods similar to those employed in Japan.
Juvenile eels are captured by dip net from local
waters and transported to the farm. Following
disinfection with formalin to remove parasites con-
tracted in the river, the juveniles (250 eels/pound)
are placed in fiberglass tanks measuring 5 X 11 X
112 feet where they are fed a natural diet of crab
eggs, fish eggs, etc. Gradually over a period of
weeks, the eels are weaned to a compound fish diet
which has fish meal as the major component. As the
eels grow to a size of 100 eels/pound, they are
transferred to larger circular fiberglass tanks 15 feet
in diameter with a water depth of 3 feet. Eels are
sorted every six weeks during the grow-out period.
Bait-size eels are available in four to six months, and
food-size eels are ready in 1.5-2.5 years.
Cultured eels can bring a farm price of $2.50/lb
which is about $1.00/lb more than similar-sized wild
eels. Cultured eels are considered a better product
because of a higher fat content which keeps the flesh
from drying excessively when cooked (smoked).
Bait-size fingerlings may wholesale for $4-8 per
dozen. Most eels are shipped live to market, but may
be frozen and/or processed.
Constraints on eel culture in Florida include in
order of priority 1) lack of a steady supply of
juveniles, 2) lack of basic nutritional research, 3)
lack of expertise and facilities for disease research,

4) lack of research on the male-female sex ratio as it
affects growth rates, 5) lack of adequate nonstop
flights to Europe and Japan from central and north
Florida, 6) regulatory conflicts between the Game
and Fresh Water Fish Commission and Department
of Natural Resources due to the catadromous nature
of eels, and 7) lack of marketing information and
Florida is an ideal location for eel culture because
of climate and abundant ground water. Although eel
production costs are high owing to feed, equipment,
labor, and energy, the value of eels is high enough to
have a profitable operation.
For food-size eel culture to be profitable, nutrition
research, to reduce the conversion ratio and thus
bring the price of cultured eels to a value com-
parable to the wild product, must be conducted.
Spawning research should take low priority until
the traditional way of obtaining seedstock is en-
sured and basic nutritional research is conducted.
Marketing would be a small problem if the sales
price of cultured eels were comparable to that of the
wild product.
Because survival of juvenile eels is substantially
increased under culture conditions, large quantities
of cultured eels can be produced with virtually no ill
effect on the wild fishery. Cultured eels can fill
shortages in the market during the winter months,
and fingerling eels can be used as bait for bass
It is estimated that a 30-acre intensive eel culture
farm can produce 100,000 pounds of food-size eels
per year and employ three people. Several eel farms
of this size could operate in Florida without depress-
ing the market price.

Striped Bass/Hybrids
Hybrid striped bass result from a cross between
female striped bass Morone saxatilis and the white
bass Morone chrysops. The reciprocal cross also pro-
duces a viable hybrid. Institutional research in
other states with the striped bass/white perch
Morone americanus hybrid is underway as well.
Striped bass ranks as one of America's most
desirable game and food fish species. Striped

bass/white bass hybrids have demonstrated hybrid
vigor in growth rates, disease resistance, improved
survival, and better overall hardiness. These
hybrids also have become popular as a recreational
species and valued for their food qualities. Hybrids
have outstanding potential for culture as a food fish
in Florida.
Commercial landings of striped bass on the
eastern seaboard have drastically declined since
1973. In 1982, landings from North Carolina to
Massachusetts were only 15% of the 1973 level. Cur-
rent mandatory recommendations of the Interstate
Fishery Management Plan call for a 55% reduction
in fishing rates. Commercial fishing for striped bass
in Florida is prohibited. Concurrent with the decline
in the availability of striped bass, the demand for
striped bass in the marketplace has increased five-
fold since the early 1970s. The characteristics of this
demand and the pricing structure of striped bass
products in the marketplace create opportunity for
aquaculture enterprise. The demonstration of
aquaculture potential for striped bass hybrids is
currently underway in other southeastern states.
Work with striped bass hybrids in Florida has been
restricted to providing seedstock for recreational
fisheries although the fish have been successfully
reared in ponds, raceways, and pens in marine en-
vironments. Commercial sale of the fish in Florida is
restricted under current regulations. The hybrid's
status as a game fish is presently under revision to
allow its culture and sale as a food fish.
Spawning in captivity is a routine procedure by
using hormones and stripping the eggs from the
ovulating female. Striped bass can spawn naturally
in circular tanks, but manual methods are used to
produce hybrids. The acquisition of gravid
broodstock represents the greatest constraint on
private hatchery development as state and federal
hatcheries have taken the position of not supplying
the commercial industry with seedstock. The availa-
bility of seedstock for private industry represents a
limiting factor for aquaculture development of the
Production of phase I fingerlings from larvae is
the most critical stage in the culture of the animal
because survival is influenced by the natural food in

the aquatic environment used to cultivate the
postlarval fish. Training phase I fish to accept
prepared rations is important to producing phase II
stocker fish for grow-out ponds. Conventional pond
production of hybrids for food fish will benefit from
greater availability of phase II stocker fish.
Hybrid bass culture offers good potential to
develop a food fish industry for Florida. However,
production technologies suitable to the breed's
biological requirements and particular market
demands need research and identification. Conven-
tional freshwater pond production methods of an-
nual stocking and harvesting may not produce a fish
of the size and character required by the market. Re-
cent market testing by private industry has in-
dicated that a pan-size 1-pound fish is not
marketable at premium prices common to striped
bass markets. The preferred sizes for this type fish
are in the 3-4-pound range. Production
technologies and market studies must address this
issue when one considers a commercial enterprise
with this species.

Sport Fish
Fish farms can produce sport fish (largemouth
bass, bluegills, redears, etc.) and the potential for
this type of farm is good although only a few farms
currently exist. The Florida largemouth bass is an
ideal species for export to other states with
moderate climates. Northern species (spotted bass,
walleye, smallmouth bass) could be imported for
spawning purposes during the fall and winter, and
then the fingerlings could be shipped north before
that species spawns in more northern waters. Pro-
ducing stockers for marine recreational fishing
(snook, trout, redfish, etc.) may become an
aquaculture business in the future. The industry
could be expanded considerably if governmental
agencies did not compete with the private sector.
Coordination and leadership are needed by state
agencies to resolve such constraints.

The culture of baitfish began in the early 1900s;
however, significant progress and expansion were
not attained until the 1950s and 1960s. Most bait-

fish are cultured in freshwater and as a result most
available information is derived from the freshwater
baitfish industry.
The baitfish industry in Florida is not large. The
primary fish raised is the golden shiner, with limited
fathead minnow production. The fish are sold
primarily to bait dealers who finally sell them to
recreational fishermen. Presently the majority of
baitfish are brought into Florida, but could be
cultured here.
This portion of the industry can be expanded con-
siderably, especially in the area of new species
development. In the freshwater area, for example,
eels, freshwater shrimp, and crawfish culture should
be investigated. Saltwater fishermen also fish with
live bait, most of which is trapped in shallow
estuarine areas. Penaeid shrimp, killifish (Fundulus
grandis), and mullet are likely candidates. Research
and development are needed, however, for the in-
dustry to prosper.
Chinese Carp
Grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella, bighead
carp Aristichthys nobilis, and silver carp Hypo-
pthalmichthys molitrix are all potential candidates
for aquaculture. These species, especially the grass
carp, are valuable for biocontrol of algae and
macrophytes and are used for this purpose over
much of the world. Both the bighead and silver carp
consume algae and are used as a biological control
for these plants. The food value of these fish has not
been fully realized in the U.S., but a market exists in
metropolitan areas with large oriental ethnic
Chinese carp are easily spawned in captivity
through hormone injections and can be grown to
stocking or food size rapidly, using vegetation and
prepared food. Procedures exist to produce sterile
triploid grass carp, and sterile fish may be used in
Florida for weed control.
For this species to be cultured in Florida, pro-
cedures must be established whereby fish farmers
could produce only sterile triploid fish. Verification
of sterility would have to be made before fish were
sold, and permits from the Freshwater Game and
Fish Commission are required to possess these fish.

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants for Aquarium Use: In the state of
Florida the cultivation and harvesting of aquatic
plants represent a well established, viable industry
that generates 5 million dollars yearly. Farmers
need only regulatory encouragement and support to
double that figure.
Florida is the only state where aquatic plants can
be commercially grown profitably because of its
favorable climate and ease of transport via air
freight. Plants are shipped to all areas of the U.S.
and Canada, as well as to many locations in Europe,
where the aquarium hobby is very well developed.
The industry is constrained by the following:
1) importation of plastic plants from the Far East;
2) need for a facility for taxonomic identification,
growth problem research, and disease identification
and treatment; and 3) the need to coordinate all
government activities regulating and affecting the
aquatic plant industry.
Industry and government are in agreement that
state waters should be kept free of obnoxious
aquatic weeds. Many exotic plants presently found
in the state have been present for 30 years and it
would be a benefit to all concerned if commercial
uses were found for these plants.
Aquatic Plants for Food: The potential exists for
aquatic food plant production to become a reward-
ing endeavor in this state. The climate, the vast
wetland areas, and crop demand interact to create
an optimistic outlook. However, this industry seg-
ment needs research and development to succeed.
Presently, there are 10,000 acres of rice being
cultivated in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Rice
culture developed because of a need to slow the sub-
sidence of organic soil in the area. Further research
in this region on aquatic plants could help to
preserve natural peatland while continuing to pro-
duce food and fiber for future generations.
There are a demand and ready market for certain
aquatic food plants. The following plants have food
value and economic importance in developing coun-
tries, especially in the tropics, and also have poten-
tial for Florida aquatic plant growers.
Floating rice (Oryza sativa) is grown over much of

Asia in areas where water depths are too great for
standard rice varieties. Seeds are broadcast on a dry
or moist soil before the rainy season. As the water
rises the plants grow to keep up with the water level.
Up to 3 tons per hectare are produced; however,
yields might be increased through research into
varietal selection, factors that limit production, and
genetic improvement. In Florida, growing sites
must be determined.
Wild rice (Zizania aquatica) grows in Canada and
the western U.S. and is cultivated for market. Field
tests over a three-year period at Belle Glade indicate
that this crop can be successfully grown in Florida.
Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is grown for its
tuberous roots which are used in certain areas of the
tropics as a carbohydrate food. Roots are used as
rice substitutes in Pacific and Asian countries. The
flesh is mealy and has a nutty flavor. Flour can be
made that is used in baby foods and hypoallergenic
foods and as a cereal substitute for people suffering
dietary problems. In Hawaii a paste is made called
poi. It is also sliced and fixed into taro chips.
Taros require hot humid conditions with an
average daily temperature of 69.8-80.60F
(21-27C) and must have a 6-7-month frost-free
period. The plant responds well to intensive
agriculture and in Hawaii may bring an income of
$4000 per hectare. Water control is necessary.
Another species, swamp taro (Cyrtosperma
chamissonis), grows in both fresh and brackish
water with little care, but grows best in slowly mov-
ing water less than 1 m (39.37 inches) deep.
Taros could be an aquatic crop for Florida if
proper varieties are selected, disease research is
undertaken, and genetic improvement is developed.
Mechanization of the industry is also needed to im-
prove crop management and harvest. Taro could be
processed to develop hypoallergenic specialty foods.
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is another plant that
has edible rhizomes and seeds. It is commonly eaten
in the Orient and the rhizomes are in demand among
Chinese populations. The rhizomes can be harvested
after 9 months and yields up to 4600 kg per hectare
have been reported. This plant grows in standing
water and mud with very little land preparation. If a
market is established in the U.S., the lotus might be

a suitable plant for Florida aquatic plant growers.
Arrowhead (Sagittaria trifolia) corms, which are
about the size of water chestnuts, are boiled and
used like potatoes. Oriental cooks use the corms in
meat dishes. This plant grows wild over much of
Asia and is often considered a weed. U.S. species S.
sagittifolia also has potential crop value. Research
is needed to determine market potential in U.S.
oriental markets.
Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) is prob-
ably one of the most well known of the tuberous
plants used for food. The tubers from this plant are
sold in international markets and bring high prices.
Water chestnuts are a common ingredient in
Chinese meat and fish dishes. This plant is
cultivated in flooded fields. Small tubers are ob-
tained from nursery stock, raised in beds, and
transplanted to fields where they are allowed to
grow for six months prior to harvest. Yields can ex-
ceed 7 tons per hectare. This plant is currently
grown in the southern U.S. and is a potential plant
for Florida growers.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a member of
the mustard family and native to Europe and
northern Asia. It is widely cultivated in temperate
and tropical regions. It is eaten as a fresh salad
vegetable or a cooked green vegetable. Research
would be needed to locate desirable cultivation areas
and plants with greater temperature tolerance.
Spirulina (Spirulina platensis), a blue-green alga,
is cultured for animal and human food. This plant is
very high in protein (up to 72%) with a good balance
of amino acids. Because it is a large algae it can be
recovered through filtration. A production system
for Spirulina currently exists in Mexico where 5 tons
(dry weight) are produced daily. This product is used
as food for livestock, but can be used for a meat
substitute or a protein complement. Under optimum
conditions the yield of protein from Spirulina may
be 10 times that of soybeans. Research into mass
cultivation techniques is needed, and improvement
of harvesting and processing techniques must occur
to decrease costs. Feeding tests are also required to
determine safety and acceptability of the product.
The above list does not include all aquatic plants
that have been used or have potential for human

food, nor does it include plants that can be used
solely for animal foods. Spirulina, in addition to its
value for human populations, has potential as
animal feed, especially for tropical fish and birds,
because it enhances their color when placed in food.
Other plants such as water hyacinths, cattails, and
duckweeds might have value for water purification
and energy production. Cattails and duckweeds
have also been used for human food. Currently such
plants as water chestnuts, watercress, and taro have
economic importance in the U.S. Potential crops
must also be evaluated, not only for wetland cultiva-
tion, but also for minimum labor and fertilizer re-
quirements, marketability, and environmental com-
Certain species of marine algae are high-priced
luxury foods in Far East countries. Others contain
gelatinous polysaccharides (agar, carrageenin) that
are extracted and used as emulsifiers and stabilizers
in the food, drug, cosmetic, and other industries.
Still others produce hydrocarbons, glycerol, and
other unusual chemicals that may be used for fuel,
chemical feedstocks, and other industrial purposes.
All of the above may be grown in Florida, in most
cases better than elsewhere in the world, due to the
region's high incidence of solar radiation, benign
climate, and abundance of freshwater and marine
habitats. Most of the aquatic plants described have,
in fact, already been grown in Florida, at least on an
experimental basis. There is presently a small com-
mercial watercress farm and an ornamental
aquarium plant industry in the state.
Aquatic plants, grown for food or for industry, for
local consumption or for export, are another exam-
ple of potentially high-priced specialty products of
aquaculture that may be particularly appropriate
for Florida.

Penaeid Shrimp: Shrimp are an extremely
valuable fishery product in the U.S. The consumer
market exceeds 1 billion dollars which is probably
limited by supply. White (Penaeus setiferus), pink
(P. duorarum), and brown (P. aztecus) shrimp are the
three commercially important species.

In 1983, nearly 60% of all shrimp consumed in
this country were imported. Shrimp consumption is
projected to increase while harvests from natural
stocks are approaching their maximum sustainable
yield. Prices will continue to rise due to increased de-
mand, limited supply, and escalating cost of fuel.
Shrimp farming, therefore, will play an increasingly
important role in supplying shrimp for the U.S.
market. In 1983 Ecuador exported over 50 million
pounds of farm-raised shrimp into the U.S.
Using methods developed in Japan, gravid female
shrimp of all the local marine species can be
spawned routinely and the young reared to maturity
in captivity. A chronic problem, however, was the
inability to achieve sexual maturation of captive
adults; gravid females were obtained from the com-
mercial fishery. Through the establishment of
separate research facilities in Florida by two major
companies engaged in shrimp culture, that problem
has gradually been solved and each company now
has the ability to rear any species of shrimp through
its entire life cycle.
Commercial cultivation of shrimp in coastal em-
bayments, ponds, and tanks along Florida's
coastline, however, has proven uneconomical. Thus,
the industry has moved to Central and South
America, where extensive estuarine pond systems
may be inexpensively built and operated. Shrimp
culture in that part of the world, now successfully
and profitably practiced by a number of large U.S.
firms, is an interesting example of the "de-
intensification" of aquaculture. The small, densely
stocked tanks and ponds dictated by the high land
costs in Florida required rapidly circulating and fre-
quently exchanged seawater and heavy feeding with
costly, artificial, pelleted feed. Such systems have
given way to extensive pond systems in Latin
America, similar to those used for many years in
Southeast Asia, in which sparse natural populations
of shrimp larvae, brought in with the seawater while
filling the ponds, grow naturally with little or no
supplemental feeding. Three crops per year may
thus be reared in that tropical setting. Yields are
low, 1500 pounds per acre per year or less, in con-
trast to 3000 pounds per acre per year in the more
intensive systems formerly used in Florida. In Latin

America huge areas and the manpower to farm them
are cheap and profits are high.
The maturation laboratories in Florida not only
developed the technology for rearing the postlarval
shrimp in captivity but also provided the young for
their own grow-out facilities in Latin America until
they were able to build hatcheries at the farm sites,
as one of the companies has now done. Two hatch-
eries currently exist in Florida and are selling
postlarval shrimp.
There remains a secondary role for shrimp
aquaculture in Florida. The sizeable bait industry
for sports fishing requires live animals that nor-
mally come from the shrimp fishery. These live
shrimp, considerably smaller than those normally
marketed as food, command a significantly higher
per capital price. They are also unavailable from the
fishery during the warmer months when sports
fishing is particularly active. Cultivation to bait
size, which could be done in 60 to 90 days at little
cost during the warmer months, could be a profit-
able small industry in Florida. Improved methods of
handling and transportation (i.e. packing the live
animals in dry sawdust, as is done in Japan, rather
than moving them in large, aerated water tanks)
could materially decrease transportation costs and
increase profits of such an enterprise.
There are many technical areas of shrimp culture
that can be improved through research. More needs
to be known about natural reproduction and nutri-
tional requirements of different species even though
much has already been discovered and is presently
being applied. Comparative studies on growth and
behavior of different species under different culture
conditions are needed. Least cost diets for specific
species need to be developed for each stage of
growth and for different culture systems. More in-
formation is needed on predation and control of
diseases. A lack of sites and competition for
available sites have constrained development as has
the complexity of the permitting process. Inclusion
of mariculture into coastal zone planning could
minimize these constraints.
Macrobrachium: Culture of the giant freshwater
shrimp or prawn (Macrobrachium) in Florida has
suffered from many of the same problems as has

penaeid shrimp culture. In addition, Macrobra-
chium is a truly tropical species and does not sur-
vive even in southern Florida under normal winter
conditions. Several attempts to grow Macrobra-
chium in Florida in the past were unsuccessful, and
no one is attempting to do so in the state at present.
However, aquaculturists in several other southern
states have approached Macrobrachium as a
seasonal (summer) crop, maintaining broodstock in-
doors in heated facilities in winter or, more com-
monly, buying post-larvae in the spring. If that
practice proves profitable further north (e.g. the
Carolinas), it should be even more so in Florida with
its longer growing season. Aquaculturists growing
other species (tropical fish, Tilapia, catfish) should
be made aware of this possibility and of the success
achieved in other countries (e.g. Israel) and else-
where in the U.S. (Hawaii) of polyculture systems
involving the culture of Macrobrachium and non-
predatory fishes. Sources of Macrobrachium post-
larvae should be identified and the information
made available. Perhaps one hatchery in Florida
would prove economically viable for producing post-
larvae to aquaculturists both within and outside the
state. Possibly such a facility could be combined
with a penaeid shrimp hatchery for the same pur-
pose. A marketing survey of the entire field (marine
and freshwater) would be useful.
Other Crustacea: The Florida (spiny) lobster has
never been grown in captivity throughout its long
and complex larval life cycle. Post-larvae can be cap-
tured in large numbers with suitable collecting
devices in coastal waters, particularly around well
protected embayments, during most of the year.
These could be grown in captivity to normal market
size for the species or even to a smaller size (e.g.
comparable to large penaeid shrimp) for a specialty
restaurant product (such as lobster cocktail).
However, legal problems of catching post-larvae,
growing the species in captivity, and marketing
small or out of season shellfish would need to be
The stone crab has now been reared throughout
its life cycle in captivity and should be considered a
candidate species for aquaculture in Florida. More
research is needed, however, before its commercial

potential can be assessed. The problem of cannibal-
ism, common in all clawed crustacea, particularly
needs to be considered. The feasibility of "ranch-
ing" large populations of stone crabs reared in cap-
tivity for periodic harvesting of their claws might
also be investigated. Stone crab post-larvae may
also be captured from the wild using the same
methods as described above for lobsters.

The discussion provided here reflects only current
conditions and takes no note of perhaps hundreds of
mollusks that conceivably could be cultivated for
human food or for some other purpose at a later
date. The few that receive attention do so because
they appear to be the most likely to be farmed when
aquaculture begins to find its rightful place in
Florida's economy.
Oysters: These shellfish have a long history of
cultivation in Europe, Asia, and Australia. More
research probably has been done on them than on
any other saltwater creature. Hatchery and grow-
out methods are well developed and there is a bright
future for oyster farming in Florida, if present im-
pediments can be removed, but these are imposing.
First, there is a policy unfavorable to the concept of
oyster leases within the Department of Natural
Resources; second, there is no strong tradition of
private lease cultivation in Florida as there is in
such states as Louisiana and Washington; third, the
oyster industry generally is very conservative and
basically unwilling to engage in a departure from
traditional methods of operation (i.e. harvest from
public reefs); and fourth, the industry is composed
of mostly small, sometimes almost cottage-sized,
operators who would have great difficulty financing
an oyster cultivation enterprise.
Oyster cultivation holds the greatest potential for
marine aquaculture in Florida. Florida could easily
produce enough oysters to satisfy the present de-
mand nationwide and have sufficient supplies re-
maining to develop a foreign export market. A need
exists to develop methodology for construction of
artificial reefs. A demonstration program evaluat-
ing new and existing reef construction methods,

developing off-bottom culture methods suitable to
Florida, establishing economic feasibility, and
monitoring environmental factors correlated with
community settlement, succession, and climax
should be a high priority.
Clams: As with oysters, there is precedent for
clam farming in the U.S., but it is a much more re-
cent development. Hatchery methods are well
perfected and provide virtually all of the seed that is
planted on clam leases, which are few in number in
the U.S. and now nonexistent in Florida. Develop-
ment of private clam farming has the same prob-
lems and same solutions as those of oyster cultiva-
tion. Clam farming also has potential in Florida.
Queen Conch: The queen conch (Strombus gigas)
provides subsistence for human populations of the
Caribbean areas where it is found and, as it becomes
a luxury item of importance, it is increasingly being
exported to the U.S. The same demand has resulted
in overfishing of Florida stocks that are found in
waters off the southernmost part of the state.
Wherever it exists it has been overexploited.
To sustain production and perhaps to increase it,
the possibility of cultivation, using hatchery-reared
stock, has been investigated. So far, no attempts
have been made to stimulate spawning. Rather, egg
capsules have been brought into the laboratory
where embryology, hatching, planktonic life, and
juvenile production are under controlled conditions.
While present exploratory methods are considered
to be uneconomical, it is expected that further
studies will refine them and make them more prac-
Scallops: Two species are currently caught com-
mercially in Florida, the calico scallop and the bay
scallop. The latter is an important recreational
resource. The calico lives offshore in waters 5 to 200
fathoms deep. It has not received any attention
from the standpoint of cultivation, but has recently
become an established commercial fishery product
on the east coast.
Bay scallops, being easily available close to shore
and having a very long range (Nova Scotia to the
northern parts of both coasts of Florida), have been
the subject of strong research effort from scientists
interested in their cultivation. This has been found

to be a very promising species for farming and tech-
niques for artificial spawning and grow-out have
been developed. No commercial scale ventures or
demonstrations have been attempted, nor has the
economic feasibility been established.

Marine Finfish
Florida undoubtedly leads the country in the
number of unsuccessful attempts at commercial
marine finfish aquaculture. Most marine fishes have
extremely small eggs and larvae that are difficult to
feed and rear in captivity. Gradually, however, these
problems have been solved in the United States and
elsewhere, and now a host of marine finfish species,
including several species of grouper and snapper,
red drum, black sea bass, dolphin, and seatrout, can
be grown routinely throughout their entire life cycle
in captivity.
Dolphin, the culture of which was developed
independently in North Carolina and Hawaii, is a
particularly attractive species. Gravid fish can be
captured throughout the year in Florida. They are
easily managed, they can be sexually matured and
easily spawned in captivity, and the larvae can be
reared with low mortality rates. The young feed on a
variety of natural foods including fishery wastes
and have a high food conversion efficiency. Most
striking, they grow rapidly, attaining a size of 3 lbs
in as little as three months, much faster growth
than any other fish now in culture. Pilot projects
assessing production yields per unit area, use of ar-
tificial feeds, and other commercial considerations
are now locally in progress.
If pilot testing of dolphin culture appears promis-
ing, commercial application in Florida could follow.
More likely, the culture methodology will be another
example of technology transfer to other areas where
inexpensive coastal land and labor and other advan-
tages exist.
Other highly desirable marine finfishes, such as
red snapper, await similar pilot-scale evaluation of
their commercial culture potential. Some of these
command a price (several dollars per pound) that
puts them in a far different class from catfish and
Tilapia and could make their cultivation profitable
even in high-value coastal areas of Florida.

In order for the marine finfish industry to
develop, expanded information is needed pertaining
to selective breeding, larval rearing, nutrition of lar-
val fry, fingerlings, and adults, demonstration of
production methods and capabilities, and location of
commercial sites. The potential of hatcheries to pro-
duce stocker-size fish to enhance marine recreational
fisheries should be investigated.
Florida leads the nation in the number of artificial
reefs. Research efforts are now being consolidated
to optimize this practice of habitat enhancement.
Part of that effort is toward designing reefs for pro-
duction of targeted species. The possibilities of ar-
tificial reef development in the context of commer-
cial aquaculture leases and ocean ranching opera-
tions should be explored.

Marine Algae
Certain species of unicellular algae (phytoplank-
ton) and macroscopic algae (seaweeds) have poten-
tial or existing value as human food, animal feed,
soil conditioners, fertilizers, and biomass for conver-
sion to fuel and for their chemical constituents such
as pigments, biologically active compounds useful
as pharmaceuticals or agricultural agents, and
gelatinous polysaccharides (agar, alginic acid, car-
rageenin) widely used as emulsifying or suspending
agents in the food, drug, and cosmetic industries.
Large-scale algae culture for these various pur-
poses is already a reality in several other countries
as well as in other parts of the United States
(California, Hawaii). Its mild climate and abundant
sunshine make Florida particularly well suited for
such aquaculture practices. Basic knowledge is
needed pertaining to storage and procurement of
seedstock, seaweed production potentials, fertiliza-
tion strategies and nutrient requirements, and
engineering strategies. Lack of marketing informa-
tion for this broad and complex field is a primary

The tropical fish industry illustrates that inten-
sive aquaculture for specialty, high-value products
can be highly successful in Florida. Similar efforts

should be equally profitable in the following areas:
cultivation of luxury foods, chemicals, drugs, and
fuels; production of post-larvae and fingerlings for
export to aquaculture projects outside Florida;
sports fishing, bait, and other uses; and develop-
ment of a modern aquacultural biotechnology for
food organisms, for local consumption where ap-
propriate, but particularly for export.
The high-priced, high-demand "luxury" food
species might be grown profitably in Florida. Re-
cent technological advances in the controlled spawn-
ing and larval rearing of marine finfishes, together
with their rapidly escalating value, may make such
species as pompano worth a second look. Dolphin,
red snapper, and striped bass fit into the same
More favorable prospects may exist for the few
species that combine high value with a position low
on the food chain. Littleneck clams and penaeid
shrimp are good examples of species that can be
grown extensively, with little or no extraneous
feeding or management. Unfortunately, in such
practices, one trades the high cost of food and
management for that of the required large areas of
coastal wetlands. It is for that reason that the
penaeid shrimp industry has migrated to the vast
uninhabited estuarine regions of developing Latin
American countries. There may, however, be room
for modest operations of this kind in Florida if
restricted coastal areas can be designated and pro-
tected for that purpose, or for more intensive culture
operations. The state has, in fact, a far-sighted
aquaculture law and policy with respect to the leas-
ing of such sites for aquaculture, though its im-
plementation has been severely limited.
On the other hand, the repeated lack of success in
growing conventional, moderately priced food
species, freshwater or marine, and the absence of
any significant aquaculture-for-food industry in the
state suggest that there may be special problems in
Florida despite its long coastline, extensive
freshwater resources, and seemingly benign climate.
Most of these problems have been identified and
need to be investigated.
We submit that there are such problems but that
they are, for the most part, social, legal, and

economic rather than technical. Some, such as the
high value of coastal lands and the heavy and often
conflicting demands upon coastal and inshore
waters, are facts of life that will not change except
to the further detriment of aquaculture and its pros-
pects. Others might be resolved or ameliorated by
appropriate legislation or other means that would
create a more favorable climate in the state for
aquaculture development.

Additional Information
The information presented in this publication is a
bare overview of the knowledge and resources (both
financial and natural) that one would need for a

profitable aquaculture venture. More specific infor-
mation can be obtained through local Cooperative
Extension Service offices or Sea Grant Extension
Agents. Extension publications currently being pro-
duced include Aquaculture in Florida: Some General
Economic Considerations, Management of Water
Quality for Fish, Weed Control in Aquaculture and
Farm Ponds, and Introduction to Fish Parasites and
Diseases and Their Treatment. Other Extension
publications will continue to be developed.
Cooperative Extension Agents can also refer to ex-
perts in other state or federal agencies, such as the
Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, Depart-
ment of Natural Resources, Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Soil
Conservation Service.

Table 1. Regulations Affecting Aquaculture.

Statute or License, Permit,
Agency* Rule Description Lease
GFC 372.0225 FS Regulate aquaculture facilities Yes
372.76 FS Search, inspection, seizure
372.83 FS Penalties for violations
39-23.09 FAC Sale and transportation of fish Yes
39-12.09 FS Killing depredating birds Yes
372.65 FS Fish farm, wholesale, and exotic dealers Yes
372.26 FS Imported fish Yes
39-405 FAC Non-native fish Yes
370.112 FS Striped bass possession Yes
39-23.08-12 FAC Non-native protection devices Yes
39-4.05 FAC Diseased fish
39-23.08 FAC Diseased fish
39-25.04 FAC Alligator farm operation Yes
39-25.05 FAC Harvest and sale of alligators Yes
39-25.07 FAC Sale of alligator products Yes
39-25.051 FAC Sale of alligator meat Yes
DNR 370.16 FS Shellfish leases Yes
253.67 FS Water column leases Yes
161 FS Beach and shore preservation Yes
16B-28 FAC Shellfish sanitation
16C-52 FAC Aquatic plants Yes
USEPA PL95-217 NPDES discharge Yes
40CFR 121-125
DER 403 FS Water quality discharges Yes
17-4, 17-12 Dredge and fill Yes
17-45 FAC
PL92-583, 380 FS Coastal zone management
WMD 373 FS Consumptive use water Yes
373 FS Storage and management surface water Yes
373 FS Wells Yes
*Abbreviations: GFC = Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission; DNR = Florida Department of Natural Resources; USEPA
= U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; DER = Florida Department of Environmental Regulations; WMD = Water Management
District; NPDES, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

This publication was produced at a cost of $1,473.00, or 73.6 cents per copy, to provide information about
opportunities for development of the Florida aquaculture industry. 11-2M-89

Zachariah, director, in lent of Agriculture, publishes this information to
May 8 and June 30, ( U I CH ^ Ko provide research, educational information an.
individuals and institute aolor, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Sin
publications (excluding 4- s) are avai ee to Florida residents from county extension office
rates or copies for out-of-sta s available from C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building of
Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing this publication, editors MhijtCntact this address to determine availability.
i~j ab -I



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