Stellate sturgeon

Acipenser stellatus

Acipenser stellatus (Stellate sturgeon)
Taxonomy
    • Osteichthyes
      • Acipenseriformes
        • Acipenseridae
          • Acipenser stellatus
Distribution
Distribution map: Acipenser stellatus (Stellate sturgeon)

Information


Author: João L. Saraiva
Version: 2.0 (2021-12-21) - Revision 1 (2022-07-20)

Cite

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

Cite as: »Saraiva, João L.. 2022. Acipenser stellatus (Farm: Short Profile). In: FishEthoBase, ed. Fish Ethology and Welfare Group. World Wide Web electronic publication. First published 2017-12-12. Version 2.0 Revision 1. https://fishethobase.net.«





FishEthoScore/farm

Acipenser stellatus
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

Acipenser stellatus is found in the Black and Caspian seas and connecting rivers, to where it migrates for spawning in spring and summer. It is a critically endangered species, driven to near extinction by overfishing, habitat destruction, and disruption of river connectivity. Although it has been in the focus of aquaculture because it is the source of the sevruga caviar, there is a severe lack of knowledge concerning biology and behaviour in the wild (home range, aggregation, aggression for example) and also many aspects of farming (aggression, environmental enrichment, stress, and slaughter). This lack of knowledge not only severely hinders the assessment of its welfare state but also impedes almost any perspective for improvement.




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

LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: rectangular troughs: ca 0.2 m3 1; ponds: 0.5 ha 2. For sturgeons in general, rearing tanks or trays: 2-4 m2 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to A. stellatus as well.

JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: tanks: 25-70 m 4; ponds: 15-25 ha 2. For sturgeons in general, ponds: 1-4 ha 3; cages: 20-100 m2 (15-20 m2 for overwintering) 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to A. stellatus as well.

ADULTS: WILDno data found yet. FARM:  JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: maturation ponds: 0.1 ha 5. For sturgeons in general, pre-spawn holding in "Kazansky" type earthen ponds: 120-130 m 3 or "Kurinsky" type earthen ponds: 30-60 x 12 m 3; long-term holding in concrete tanks: 30-50 m2 3 or cages: 20-100 m2 3; overwintering of breeders in plastic and concrete tanks: >40 m3 3 or "Kurinsky" type concrete ponds: 105 x 17 m or 1,000-4,000 ha separated into different compartments 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to A. stellatus as well.




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 medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.

LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: tanks: ca 0.2 m3 1, <50 cm 4; ponds: 1.8 m 2.

JUVENILES: WILD: shallow habitats during first summer 6: 3-5 m, winter: 10-80 m 7. FARM: tanks: <1.5 m 4; ponds: 1.5-1.8 m 2. For sturgeons in general, ponds: 2.3-2.5 m 3; cages: 2.5-3.5 m 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to A. stellatus as well.

ADULTS: WILD: in the sea 3-4 m 8 but can remain at 80-300 m 7 9, especially in winter 8. FARM:  JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD: 4-8 m 10-11. FARM: maturation ponds: 1.2-1.7 m 5. For sturgeons in general, pre-spawn holding in "Kazansky" type earthen ponds: 0.5-2.5 m 3 or "Kurinsky" type earthen ponds: 1.5-2.5 m 3; long-term holding in concrete tanks: 2 m 3 or cages: 3-3.5 m 3; overwintering of breeders in plastic and concrete tanks: >1.5 m 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to A. stellatus as well.




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?

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

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

ANADROMOUS 6.

LARVAE: WILD: riverine habitats, drift downriver with current 6FARM: fresh water 1 2. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

JUVENILES: WILD: overwinter in river deltas 12 or migrate to sea during first year, remain there until maturity 6FARM: fresh water 2 4. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

ADULTS: WILD: live at sea outside of breeding season 6FARM: fresh water 4. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

SPAWNERS: WILD: migrate to spawn upriver 6 at 7.5 km/day upstream, and 10-20 km/day downstream when spawning finishes 13FARM: fresh water 5 4. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.




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 and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

WILD: first reproduction at the age of 6-12 years for males, 8-14 for females 7. Males spawn every 2-3 years, females 3-4 years, in spring-summer and only under stable current conditions 7 8. For spawning substrate crit. 7. FARM: hormonal induction of final maturation 5.




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: ca 6,000-8,000 IND/m3 1; ponds: 5,000 IND/ha 2.

JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: ponds: 50-73 IND/ha 2, 10 kg/m3 in high-standard farms. Increasing density does not seem to affect growth but apparently decreases immune response and survival 14; further research needed to confirm poor quality data.

ADULTS: WILDno data found yet. FARM JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: maturation ponds: ca 1 IND/m2 divided by sex 5.




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: cannibalism at 8,000 IND/m3, but not at 6,000 IND/m3 1.

JUVENILES: no data found yet.

ADULTS: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS: 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 medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: WILD: adhesive, laid on beds of scattered stones, pebbles, and gravel 6 9 or in its absence over sand 9 or clay 6. FARM: undergo a mechanical de-adhesion process 3.

LARVAE: WILD: PELAGIC while in yolk-sac phase (2-3 days), then settle in coarse substrate 8. FARM: no shelter or enrichment reported in literature; bottom grids in hatching trays may mimic natural conditions 4.

JUVENILES: WILD: at sea use substrate to prey on benthic animals 6, prefer silt and sand 15FARM: for details of holding systems crit. 1 and 2. Ponds are able to provide natural substrate 4.

ADULTS: JUVENILES.

SPAWNERS: WILD: use substrate to spawn 6, mainly on stony ridges on the riverbed 15FARM: ponds are able to provide natural substrate 4.




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?

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

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs and LARVAE: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: for stress and stocking density crit. 5.

ADULTS: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS: no data found yet.




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?

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

Eggs: morphological deformations, structural malformations of envelope and yolk with overall frequency of 50-100% 16. Frequencies can be expected to decrease with increasing farming experience 17.

LARVAE: malformations in body shape, internal and external organs, tissue and functional abnormalities, mechanical damages with overall frequency 20-100% 16. Frequencies can be expected to decrease with increasing farming experience 17.

JUVENILES: structural abnormalities in external organs, internal tissues and structural deformities occur with undescribed frequency 16. Frequencies can be expected to decrease with increasing farming experience 17.

ADULTS: no data found yet.




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

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Common slaughter method: for the related A. baerii, hypothermia by immersion in ice-water slurry 18. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to A. stellatus as well. High-standard slaughter method: percussive stunning through manual spiking or percussive gun performed by experienced staff, followed by bleeding 19.




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 4 20, 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 11 9 6 8. FARM: fed with live feed supplements, dislike pellets 2. No replacement of fish meal and fish oil reported in literature. 




Glossary


LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
WILD = setting in the wild
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
ADULTS = mature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SPAWNERS = adults that are kept as broodstock
ANADROMOUS = migrating from the sea into fresh water to spawn
IND = individuals
PELAGIC = living independent of bottom and shore of a body of water
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 = entire life cycle closed in captivity without wild inputs 20



Bibliography


[1] Oprea, Daniel, and Lucian Oprea. 2009. Acquired Results on Rearing of Sevruga Larvae (Acipenser stellatus–Pallas, 1771) in Superintensive System. Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca. Animal Science and Biotechnologies 66.
[2] Patriche, Neculaí, Constantin Pecheanu, Mircea Vasile, Marlena Talpes, Dan Mirea, María Fetecau, Victor Cristea, and Roland Billard. 2002. Rearing the Stellate Sturgeon Acipenser stellatus in Mono- and Polyculture with Chinese and Common Carps in Ponds. International Review of Hydrobiology 87: 561–568. https://doi.org/10.1002/1522-2632(200211)87:5/6<561::AID-IROH561>3.0.CO;2-W.
[3] Chebanov, Mikhail S., and Elena V. Galich. 2011. Sturgeon hatchery manual. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 558. Ankara: Food and Agriculture Organization of the  United Nations.
[4] Saraiva, João L. 2018. Personal communication.
[5] Semenkova, T., I. Barannikova, D. E. Kime, B. G. McAllister, L. Bayunova, V. Dyubin, and N. Kolmakov. 2002. Sex steroid profiles in female and male stellate sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus Pallas) during final maturation induced by hormonal treatment. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 18: 375–381. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1439-0426.2002.00368.x.
[6] Kottelat, Maurice, and Jörg Freyhof. 2007. Handbook of European freshwater fishes. Publications Kottelat.
[7] Khodorevskaya, R. P., and Ye. V. Krasikov. 1999. Sturgeon abundance and distribution in the Caspian Sea. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 15: 106–113. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0426.1999.tb00218.x.
[8] Reinartz, Ralf. 2002. Sturgeons in the Danube river: biology, status, conservation; literature study. IAD.
[9] FAO. 2017. FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Species Fact Sheets - Acipenser stellatus (Pallas, 1771).
[10] Veshchev, PV. 1994. The Scale of Natural Reproduction of Volga Starred Sturgeon under Current Environmental Conditions. Ekologiya: 59–68.
[11] Zykova, G.F., and Yu. A. Kim. 2017. Acipenser stellatus, Pallas. http://archive.iwlearn.net/www.caspianenvironment.org/www.caspianenvironment.org/CaspBIS/Taxons/Taxon010f.html?taxonid=6. Accessed November 14.
[12] Nelson, Troy C., Phaedra Doukakis, Steven T. Lindley, Andrea D. Schreier, Joseph E. Hightower, Larry R. Hildebrand, Rebecca E. Whitlock, and Molly A. H. Webb. 2013. Research Tools to Investigate Movements, Migrations, and Life History of Sturgeons (Acipenseridae), with an Emphasis on Marine-Oriented Populations. PLOS ONE 8: e71552. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071552.
[13] Kynard, B., R. Suciu, and M. Horgan. 2002. Migration and habitats of diadromous Danube River sturgeons in Romania: 1998–2000. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 18: 529–535. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1439-0426.2002.00404.x.
[14] Dicu, Maria D, Victor Cristea, Marilena Maereanu, Lorena Dediu, SM Petrea, and others. 2013. The effect of stocking density on growth performance and hematological profile of stellate sturgeon (A. stellatus, Pallas, 1771) fingerlings reared in an industrial ‘flow-through’aquaculture system. Bulletin UASVM Animal Science and Biotechnologies 70: 244–254.
[15] Palatnikov, GM, and RU KASIMOV. 2010. Sturgeons–Contemporaries of Dinosaurs. Baku.
[16] Ruban, G. I., N. V. Akimova, V. B. Goriounova, E. V. Mikodina, M. P. Nikolskaya, V. G. Shagayeva, M. I Shatunovsky, and S. A. Sokolova. 2006. Abnormalities in Sturgeon gametogenesis and postembryonal ontogeny. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 22: 213–220. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0426.2007.00954.x.
[17] Ruban, G. I., N. V. Akimova, V. B. Goriounova, E. V. Mikodina, M. P. Nikolskaya, A. V. Novosadova, H. K. Rosenthal, S. A. Sokolova, V. G. Shagayeva, and M. I. Shatunovsky. 2015. Atlas of abnormalities in gametogenesis and early life stages of sturgeons. Vol. 7. Special Publication. World Sturgeon Conservation Society.
[18] Williot, Patrick, Mikhail Chebanov, and Guy Nonnotte. 2018. Welfare in the Cultured Siberian Sturgeon, Acipenser baerii Brandt: State of the Art. In The Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser baerii, Brandt, 1869) Volume 2 - Farming, 403–450. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-61676-6_19.
[19] Anonymous farmers. 2018. Personal communication.
[20] Teletchea, Fabrice, and Pascal Fontaine. 2012. Levels of domestication in fish: implications for the sustainable future of aquaculture. Fish and Fisheries 15: 181–195. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12006.






© 2022 fair-fish international

Imprint
Data privacy