FSG helps increase hatchery production of Sunray Venus clams

PI: Dr. Susan Laramore, Florida Atlantic University

Recap: Researchers have developed, tested and demonstrated technical methods to culture the sunray venus (SRV) clam to help expand and diversify the state’s aquaculture industry for jobs and increased domestic seafood.

Relevance: Florida’s Gulf Coast was once home to large populations of SRV clams. During the 1960s and 70s, two million pounds of SRV clams were harvested from the Panhandle. Insufficient natural stocks of the species and the small size of fishing grounds limited the development of the fishery. Recent efforts by the state to improve local water quality conditions gives promise towards expanding and diversifying the Florida’s hard clam industry.

Response: Florida Sea Grant researchers worked to answer fundamental questions about how to optimize hatchery conditions for SRV clams so they can be spawned on demand year-round. They studied the clam’s response to temperature, a variety of diets and feeding rates and the rate at which tank water was replaced. They also conducted the first genetic analysis of wild SRV clam populations and cultured lines and bred new crosses to maintain diversity in cultured stocks.

Results: The team defined maturation and conditioning protocols for reliable SRV seed production and were able to spawn SRV clams year-round. The typical hard clam commercial diet resulted in the highest survival rates of SRV clams. The team also determined that water in tanks only needs to be replaced every other day, resulting in an estimated labor savings of 6-8 hours per week. They developed five lines of SRV for hatcheries to help maintain genetic diversity.

Partners: Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI); Florida Atlantic University