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Hatcheries are now able to spawn barramundi in captivity year-round with controlled lighting and temperature. Juveniles mature first at 3-4 years as males and change at 6-8 years to females; however, under aquaculture conditions maturation occurs in about half that time.
Females are capable of multiple spawnings and generally produce 3-6 million eggs per season. The sexually mature broodstock can be induced to spawn by injection with an appropriate hormone. (Note that many chemicals used in aquaculture, such as hormones, require veterinary advice and prescriptions. Check before use.)
Fish spawn 24-36 hours after the injection. The eggs and larvae require salt water for successful fertilisation and survival. Larvae can be raised using tanks but are more often grown in extensive rearing ponds.
The larvae metamorphose at 8-10mm and are then called fry. Weaning the fry onto artificial feeds starts at about 18mm. Once the fry are over 20mm (2-3 weeks of age) they are normally called fingerlings.
Cannibalism in fingerlings can cause massive losses unless they are regularly graded (every 7-10 days for smaller fingerlings). Grading normally starts at 30-50mm, or earlier if there is a large size variation in the batch, and continues until the fingerlings are at least 100mm long.
- You will need to discuss technical and licensing aspects of any proposed aquaculture venture with staff from Fisheries Queensland and the Department of Environment and Science before proceeding with site selection, design and, where applicable, land purchase.
- The Australian Barramundi Farmers Association has more information on barramundi production.
- Download the latest report to farmers for aquaculture industry statistics and production data.