Spiny lobsters have a range of complex chemical communication pathways that contribute to feeding behaviour. Feed intake is modulated by feed availability and feed characteristics, such as attractiveness and palatability, with behavioural factors, such as social competition and circadian rhythm, providing an extra layer of complexity. In this study, we investigated the effect of feed frequency on survival and growth of early-stage (instar 2–6) juvenile Palunirus ornatus. In addition, we investigated the interactive effect of feed frequency and circadian rhythm on lobster feed response. Lobsters were fed a set ration at a frequency of either one, two, four, eight, sixteen or thirty-two times per day over 49 days. The effect of feed frequency on growth and survival was determined. Circadian feeding activity under these feeding treatments was assessed by time-lapse photography. Increased feed frequency from one to sixteen feeds daily improved growth by increasing apparent feed intake (AFI) and feed attraction, as confirmed by the increased presence of lobsters in the feeding area. The rapid leaching of feed attractant, particularly free amino acid, suggests a beneficial effect of multiple feeding frequencies on feed intake and growth. However, more than sixteen feeds per day resulted in decreased feed intake and a subsequent reduction in growth. The decrease in feed intake is thought to be associated with saturation of the culture environment with attractants, resulting in a reduced
behavioural response to feed supplies. This may indicate the need for depletion of attractants to retrigger a feeding response. As lobsters were grown communally, faster growth at sixteen rations per day was also coupled with increased cannibalism, likely driven by increased vulnerability with the occurrence of more frequent ecdysis events. Whereas circadian rhythm indicated more activity at night, an interaction between daytime activity and feed frequency was not observed.
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Kropielnicka-Kruk, K.; Fitzgibbon, Q.P.; Codabaccus, B.M.; Trotter, A.J.; Giosio, D.R.; Carter, C.G.; Smith, G.G. The Effect of Feed Frequency on Growth, Survival and Behaviour of Juvenile Spiny Lobster (Panulirus ornatus). Animals 2022, 12, 2241. https://doi.org/10.3390/ ani12172241
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