Malabar Grouper

Epinephelus malabaricus

Epinephelus malabaricus (Malabar Grouper)
Taxonomy
    • Osteichthyes
      • Perciformes
        • Serranidae
          • Epinephelus malabaricus
Distribution
Distribution map: Epinephelus malabaricus (Malabar Grouper)

Information


Author: Maria Filipa Castanheira
Version: 2.0 (2021-12-23)

Cite

Reviewers: Pablo Arechavala-Lopez, Jenny Volstorf
Editor: Billo Heinzpeter Studer

Cite as: »Castanheira, Maria Filipa. 2021. Epinephelus malabaricus (Farm: Short Profile). In: FishEthoBase, ed. Fish Ethology and Welfare Group. World Wide Web electronic publication. First published 2019-03-07. Version 2.0. https://fishethobase.net.«





FishEthoScore/farm

Epinephelus malabaricus
LiPoCe
Criteria
Home range
Depth range
Migration
Reproduction
Aggregation
Aggression
Substrate
Stress
Malformations
Slaughter


Condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.

Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential

FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)

Legend

High
Medium
Low
Unclear
No findings



General remarks

Epinephelus malabaricus is a highly valued fish in Asian markets, farmed commercially in ponds and net cages. Its great potential comes from easy rearing, fast growth to commercial size, and excellent texture and flavour of its flesh. There are no FAO aquaculture statistics referring to E. malabaricus, and in general there is limited information on current farming conditions making it difficult to assess this species' potential in aquaculture. Several biological aspects such as reproduction without manipulation, sensitivity to handling, and humane slaughter are limiting welfare.




1  Home range

Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAEWILD: no data found yetLAB: tanks: in Epinephelus marginatus, 6,000 L 1 and 60,000 L 1. Further research needed to establish whether this applies to E. malabaricus as well.

JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yetFARM: cages: 50 m3 2LAB: tanks: 4 m3 3; cages: 18 m3 4.

ADULTSWILDno data found yetFARM: JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.




2  Depth range

Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?

It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: WILD: 0-150 m 5. Found nearshore and in estuaries 5 6. In E. marginatus, estuary populations in the Indo-Pacific 7. Further research needed to establish whether this applies to E. malabaricus as well. FARM: tanks: 1.5-2 m 8 9; cages: 2-3 m 8 9. LAB: tanks: 1.1 m 10; cages: 2 m 4.

ADULTS: JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.




3  Migration

Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

AMPHIDROMOUS 5.

LARVAE: WILD: found in a variety of habitats: coral and rocky reefs, tide pools, lagoons, estuaries, mangrove swamps, and sandy/mud bottom 5. FARM: brackish water 31-33 ppt 11For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

JUVENILESWILD:  LARVAEFARM: brackish water 20-32 ppt 2For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

ADULTSWILD:  LARVAEFARM JUVENILES.

SPAWNERSWILD:  LARVAEFARM: no data found yet.




4  Reproduction

A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

WILD: 50% of the population mature at 79 cm (females) or 97-113 cm (males) 12. Spawn September-February 12. FARM: natural reproduction through shift of environmental stimuli 11 or induced reproduction through hormonal injections 13.




5  Aggregation

Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: tanks: 20-50 IND/L 11.

FRY: WILD: no data found yetFARM: 500-800 IND/m2 8.

JUVENILESWILD: solitary 14. FARM: cages: 30-125 IND/m3 8, 58-100 IND/m3 2.

ADULTS: JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD: spawning aggregations 15. FARM: no data found yet




6  Aggression

There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: FARM: no data found yet. LAB: cannibalistic 16 17.

JUVENILES: FARM: no data found yet.

ADULTS: FARM: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS: FARM: no data found yet.




7  Substrate

Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD:  crit.3. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1.

JUVENILES: WILD:  crit.3. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

ADULTS: WILD:  crit.3. FARM:  JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD:  crit.3.  FARM: no data found yet.




8  Stress

Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: stress-related disease due to poor environmental conditions, inadequate diet, poor husbandry techniques, and handling 18.

JUVENILES: stress-related disease due to poor environmental conditions, inadequate diet, poor husbandry techniques, and handling 18. Stressed by sudden salinity changes, namely 24 ppt to 14, 19, 29, and 34 ppt 19

ADULTS LARVAE.

SPAWNERS LARVAE.




9  Malformations

Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: FARM: exophthalmia 18, hyper-inflated swim bladder 18. Further research needed on frequency of malformations.

JUVENILES: FARM: skeletal deformations 20, hyper-inflated swim bladder 18. Further research needed on frequency of malformations. LAB: in E. marginatus, 75.8% skeletal deformations when reared at 28 IND/L as LARVAE 1. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to E. malabaricus as well.

ADULTS: FARM: hyper-inflated swim bladder 18. Further research needed on frequency of malformations.

SPAWNERS LARVAE.




10  Slaughter

The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?

It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Common slaughter method: hypothermia in ice-water slurry 4. High-standard slaughter method: no data found yet.




11  Side note: Domestication

Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?

DOMESTICATION LEVEL 2 21, level 5 being fully domesticated.




12  Side note: Forage fish in the feed

450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?

All age classes: WILD: carnivorous 22. FARM: fish meal and fish oil may be partly* replaced by non-forage fishery components 23 24 25.

* partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%




Glossary


LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
WILD = setting in the wild
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
FARM = setting in farm environment
ADULTS = mature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SPAWNERS = adults that are kept as broodstock
AMPHIDROMOUS = migrating between fresh water and sea independent of spawning
IND = individuals
FRY = larvae from external feeding on, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 2 = part of the life cycle closed in captivity, also known as capture-based aquaculture 21



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