Artificial reproduction of eels: Phase III (ROE III) (38187)

Project Details


The steady decline of the European eel stock has adverse consequences for the Danish eel aquaculture as all eel farming is at present capture based relying on wild caught glass eels. In 2005, DTU Aqua, University of Copenhagen and the eel aquaculture industry started to build up a research and technology platform for the development of methods to reproduce European eel in aquaculture.

The focus of ROE III was to follow up the pioneering work on artificial reproduction of European eels performed in the preceding pilot projects ROE I and II. The projects ROE II and III were a collaboration among DTU Aqua, University of Copenhagen and the eel aquaculture industry following up an initial survey ROE I of suited methodology lead by University of Copenhagen.

ROE III comprised the following activities:
1. Experimental series with different treatment schemes and hormone dosage to improve the maturation process and optimize gamete quality.
2. Development of methods to monitor the maturation process on individual level using ultrasound scanning technology and ovary biopsy.
3. Analysis of broodstock fishes and improvement of the dietary fatty acid composition.
4. Investigation of parameters determining egg quality during incubation.
5. First-feeding trials with eel larvae testing both artificial and live feed.

Three experimental series were completed focusing on methods for broodstock enhancement, maturation and fertilization plus culture of eggs and larvae. Already during the first experimental series, larvae accomplishing the entire yolk sac stage were achieved for the first in history for European eel. The yolksac larvae developed successfully during the period were they entirely depend on nutrition sources i.e yolk and lipid of maternal origin. The larvae were ready to start feeding day 12 post hatch. During the second experimental series, larval longevity was extended to 18 days during first feeding experiments. These recent results are a major breakthrough because they show for the first time that artificial hormone treatment can lead to viable offspring in European eel. Eggs and yolksac larvae were obtained from different hormonal treatments and mass hatchings were regularly obtained. Larval feeding using live and artificial larval feeds developed in collaboration with the food company BioMar were developed towards the end of the experiments and are ready for testing in new and coming projects.

The success of this project on improved methods, quality criteria and larval survival has led to form the basis of the project: Reproduction of European eel in aquaculture: Consolidation and new production methods and later (REEL) (38398) and later the EU FP project: Reproduction of European eel in Aquaculture: Towards a self-sustained aquaculture (PRO-EEL) (38793).

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua.

Research area: Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics
Research area: Fish Biology
Effective start/end date01/01/200731/12/2009

Collaborative partners

  • Technical University of Denmark (lead)
  • University of Copenhagen (Project partner)
  • Bioneer A/S (Project partner)
  • Billund Aquaculture Service Aps (Project partner)
  • Danish Eel Farmers Association (Project partner)


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