Source: UNIV OF HAWAII submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Oct 1, 2008
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2013
Grant Year
Project Director
Malecha, S. R.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
This project seeks to establish design criteria for diversifying the Hawaiian open ocean sea cage industry--which currently uses only a mono-cultured fish crop--with ?co-cultured? second crops of high market value, but previously unexploited, native Hawaiian spiny and slipper lobsters and marine shrimp. Such co-culture crops are raised in separate confinement under the main fish cages and make ocean sea cage aquaculture (figure right) more sustainable by cost reduction that advantages the positive economy of scale of the existing sea cage physical and business infrastructure and by reducing sea cage environmental impact with a biological solution. The latter is due to the scavenging feeding habits of the co-cultured species, which, along with diets fed directly to them, utilize uneaten fish food, fish feces, and the biological productivity these materials induce around the cages. In years 1-3, the design criteria will be determined from experimental populations established from wild caught life forms of the target lobster and shrimp species using Best Management Practice (BMP)-based testing. This includes husbandry regimens for induced spawning, larvae rearing, nursery growth, and grow-out to market size. The latter will be tested under field conditions using ?microcosm? sea cages that will simulate the larger scaled-up systems that will be used in commercial production. The results of the proposed work will be developed, in year three, into a pro forma business plan for sea cage co-culture and into other technical outreach materials that will be transferred to the sea cage aquaculture stakeholder producers, potential producers and others.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The long-term goal of the proposed project is to develop an economically viable co-culture sector of the Hawaii open ocean sea cage aquaculture industry in order to position it more favorably with foreign competitors. The near term goal is to develop design criteria for a product line of high market value, but heretofore unexploited, native Hawaiian lobster and shrimp species under the following supporting objectives: 1. Species screening and base population creation. To establish experimental culture populations using Best Management Practices (BMP) of the juvenile and adults of selected native Hawaiian lobsters and shrimp. 2. Field testing. To assess the economic feasibility of the selected species to grow to commercial harvest size in co-culture with fish sea cages using experimental "microcosm" sea cages. 3. Pro-forma business plan and outreach materials and conduct outreach technology transfer based on design criteria for hatchery, nursery, and grow out production of the target species in commercial co-culture systems.
Project Methods
Objective 1. Experimental populations. We will establish suitable sea water systems at the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium or other venues to house the collected and spawned animals. We will use Best Management Practice (BMP) regimens designed from the literature and expert opinion to establish animal holding and rearing systems characterized by controlled levels of photoperiod, water flow, social interactions, diet, feeding and water quality parameters that, a priori, will likely give the best result. Similarly, best BMP will be applied to rear collected juveniles to adult stage as well as the larvae to the post larvae stage from eggs hatched from collected gravid females. Objective 2: "Microcosm" sea cage trials. Six to eight (6-8) submerged experimental "microcosm" sea cages (~2-3/m3) to accommodate replicated treatments, will be constructed, and placed in on-land tanks. Similar systems may also be tested on the aquaria level. Objective 3. Outreach. Information developed from the proposed project will be released to the commercial industry in the form of a pro-forma business plan, presentations, hands-on workshops, technical publications, instructional material and, hard copy printed and computer based reference material for demonstrating the use and further development of the technology.

Progress 10/01/11 to 09/30/12

OUTPUTS: 1. Analysis of the exuvia (molted exoskeleton) of a Hawaiian spiny lobster that had been kept in the laboratory for 4 years. This animal molted regularly and the exuvium from each molt was collected. Lobsters, like all crustacea, grow after each molt so by measuring the dimensions of the exuvia, one can describe accurately the growth through time of the animal. 2. Two native Hawaiian slipper lobsters (Syllarus sp), one native Hawaiian spiny lobster (Panulirus pennenculatus), and one native Hawaiian spiny lobster (P. marginatus) were mainatined in the laboratory and their feeding, social behavior, and growth patterns were observed. 3. The animals were also the subject of teaching and mentoring demonstrations for undergraduate classes. 4. Publication of an important review paper on the culture of all-female prawns PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

The growth pattern analysis of the captive spiny lobster and the behavior and feeding observations showed that it is possible to maintain native Hawaiian lobsters care under controlled, ie. aquaculture, conditions. This indicates that these market-desirable species have potential for commercial culture. The work also resulted in the development of physical facilities for the holding and growth of Hawaiian lobsters under controlled conditions for long periods of time. The publication of the Malecha (2012) paper resulted in the change of knowledge about how prawns may be raised commercially.


  • Malecha, S. R. (2012) The case for all-female freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii (De Man), culture. Aquaculture Research 43: 1038

Progress 10/01/10 to 09/30/11

OUTPUTS: Activities: data for laboratory growth of the Hawaiian slipper lobster, Hawaiian spiny lobster (Panularis penicelatus) is being analyzed using the molted exuvia (shell) of the live lobsters growth in the laboratory. Products: a data base has been created for the Hawaiian spiny lobster and video clip library has been created for the live phyllosoma I and II stages of the Hawaiian Regal lobster. PARTICIPANTS: 2. Developing other innovative technologies for prawn culture such as low temperature warehousing technology for prawns. The U.S. industry needs a way to hold prawns, from the low prices paid at harvest in October, until the holidays when higher prices are paid. In this regard we have presented our finding at the 2008 and 2009 annual meeting of the U. S Prawn Growers Association, Tunica Mississippi: Design Challenges in Low-Temperature Warehousing of Freshwater Prawns and Chillin' til Christmas: Feasibility of Warehousing Prawns from Harvest to the Holidays. With Jenilee Dowda, undergraduate research student. 3. Assessment of the aquaculture potential of native Hawaiian lobsters as co-culture crops in commercial fish sea cages. Aquaculture in submerged, "open ocean", sea cages has world-wide importance as a promising new aquaculture technology. Currently these systems have comprised only monocultures of a primary fish crop but they could readily support invertebrate (lobsters and shrimp etc.) species. This would help mitigate sea cage environmental impact with a biological solution and provide valuable second crops. 4. Collaborative research: 1. Nationally with colleagues at Mississippi State University (Louis D'Abramo) and Auburn University William Daniel and Davis Rouse). Field research resulting in results described in publication listed above. "Are Female Freshwater Prawns, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, Superior Under Intensive Culture Conditions" William Daniels, Louis D'Abramo, David Rouse and S.R Malecha. Presented Annual Meeting World Aquaculture Society San Antonio Texas, February 2007. 2. Nationally with colleague Dr. Andrew Christie of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Salisbury Cove, Maine regarding valuable proteins in shrimp and prawn culture. See above publications and grant proposals pending. 3. Locally with University of Hawaii colleagues such the collaborative grant proposal with Dr. Petra Lenz of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC ) and with Departmental Colleagues Dr. Y. S. Kim Department of Human Nutrition Food and Animal Sciences (HNFAS) described above and student research (AnSc 499) resulting in presentation at the UH CTAHR Student Research Symposium, 2008. Partial characterization of the prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) sex determining androgenic hormone. Samuel Hwang, Spencer Malecha, and Yong Soo Kim. TARGET AUDIENCES: Target audiences are aquaculture farmers that can benefit from the results obtained. The latter can change the current production to higher levels. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Change in knowledge regarding the laboratory growth of Hawaiian lobsters. This will impact the development of culture techniques for these lobsters in cultivo.


  • Christie A. E. , M. C. Chapline, J. M. Jackson, J. K. Dowda, N. Hartline, S. R. Malecha and P. H. Lenz. 2011. Identification, distribution and oerexigenic activity of neuropeptide F (NPF) in the penaeid shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei and Melicertus marginatus. Journal of Experimental Biology 214: 1386-1396. Caesar, J. R. de Oliveira, B. Zhao, S. Malecha, H. Ako and J. Yang. 2006. Morphological and biochemical changes in the muscle of the marine shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei during the molt cycle. Aquaculture 261(2): 688-694
  • Hetrick, W. M., L. Cox, S. Atkinson and S. Malecha. 2010. Survival of the red crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) juveniles in natural and artificial substrates. Journal of Life Sciences 4(3):1-8)
  • Ma M, A.L. Gard, F. Xiang , J. Wang , N. Davoodian, P.H. Lenz ans, S. R. Malecha, A. E. Christie and L. Li. 2008. Combining in silico transcriptome mining and biological mass spectrometry for neuropeptide discovery in the Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, Peptides, 31:27-43. Malecha, S. R., P. Mather, D. Hurwood. 2010. Genetics. Ch. 16 in Freshwater Prawn Culture. 2nd edition. M. B. New and W.C. Valenti (eds.). Blackwell Science, Oxford, England. .
  • Malecha, S. R. 2012. The Case for All-female Prawn (Macrobrachium rosenberghi) Culture. Aquaculture Research 0:00-00

Progress 10/01/09 to 09/30/10

OUTPUTS: During the past year activities include conducting and analyzing experiments to assess the potential culture of moi fish in cages with the native Mercertus marginatus shrimp and the continual monitoring of the native spiny, slipper, and regal lobsters including collection of feeding and molt/growth data. The shrimp work involved operating a in-lab model fish cage-shrimp system whereby fish were grown in a cage enclosure located above free living and individually housed shrimp. Products include the data from the above activities and the construction of a partial emergency back-up aeration system to keep the valuable lobster and shrimp stock alive in UH laboratory during power outage so that research could be continued on them. In addition, collaboration between the PI of the project and Dr. Petra Lenz of the Pacific Bioscience Research Center (PBRC) was established and two grant proposals were written, one was unsuccessful during the period and the follow-on is pending. The work resulted in a physical collections of valuable living spiny, slipper and Regal lobster adults for use in bridge research to generate additional data for including in extra-mural grant proposals. In addition a valuable collection of the molted exoskeletons of the spiny and two slipper lobsters has been obtained and preserved in an archive. Also a still photo, and video data base has been created documenting the culture of a Hawaiian spiny and Regal lobster phyllosoma larvae. This information is stored on an external 1 TB disk drive. The data base and the physical material awaits detailed analysis for publication and acquisition of additional grant funds from extra-mural proposals. The results of the preliminary trial reported last year was written up in a report to the extra-mural funder (State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture)of one year of a two year project involving preliminary work and State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR, the compliance agency issuing the collection permit for the lobsters used in the study. The information was also disseminated to the project cooperators: the private sector firm Hukilau Foods (an ocean fish sea cage company) and the Waikiki Aquarium, where part of the preliminary work was conducted. PARTICIPANTS: Spencer R. Malecha, Principal investigator/project director: Professor Department of Human Nutrition Food and Animal Sciences (HNFAS)/CTAHR; Jenilee Dowda, undergraduate student Department HNFAS: senior research lobster larvae rearing (UH lab); Jason Chow, undergraduate student Department HNFAS: senior research, lobster larvae rearing (Waikiki Aquarium) Chris Hirano, undergraduate student Department HNFAS: senior research, native shrimp growth (UH lab); Keith Kaneko, casual hire expert, lobster larvae larvae rearing (Waikiki Aquarium); Andrew Rossiter, Director Waikiki Aquarium, collaborator larvae rearing systems. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: The UH aquaculture lab needs to be upgraded to protect the living lobster and shrimp stock during emergency and scheduled power outages that have occurred during the year. One outage lasted 9 hours and extraordinary measures had to be taken to protect the valuable laboratory lobster stock.

In as much as the second year of the two year extramural funded Hawaii DOA project was cut due to the economic downturn in the State, a significant outcome of the activities described above ("Outputs") include a change in knowledge focused on: (1) the clear need to maintain the laboratory lobster stock, and even increase them, in preparation of additional preliminary "bridge" research, (2) the data bases and physical molt material mentioned above must be analyzed for publication in order to draw in additional funding, (3) additional preliminary research is needed based on the reviews we have gotten to our unfunded grant proposal, and (3) the UH aquaculture lab needs to be upgraded to protect the living lobster and shrimp stock during emergency and scheduled power outages that have occurred during the year. One outage lasted 9 hours and extraordinary measures had to be taken to protect the valuable laboratory lobster stock.


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 10/01/08 to 09/30/09

OUTPUTS: We completed a pilot project that was directed at establishing the basic physical infrastructure and capacity at the University of Hawaii in order to assess the aquaculture potential of spiny and slipper lobsters. This included obtaining a collecting permit for gravid females from the Hawaii State Department of Natural Resources (DLNR), installing sea water storage and algae rearing systems in the St. John laboratory on the Manoa campus for conducting individual-static and small-scale mass larval rearing, a flow-through sea water facility at the Waikiki Aquarium to conduct mass rearing, and installing systems for microscopic examination and video and still recording of larval development. Using this capacity we obtained gravid Panulirus penicillatus females and individual and mass-reared their released larvae through their initial instar periods using published protocols. In addition, we obtained a gravid Hawaiian Scyllarid regal slipper lobster (Arctides regalis) female and reared her larvae in an individually-housed system for 74 days and in a mass rearing system at the Waikiki Aquarium for 82 days through two stages and 4-6 instar molts. A photograph of a laboratory reared larva is shown in the figure. Preliminary results have also been obtained on animals living under conditions similar to what may be found around/under ocean sea cages. Live specimens of the Hawaiian slipper lobster and a juvenile of one species of the Hawaiian spiny lobster are being cultured in laboratory aquaria. The spiny lobster has tripled its size under controlled growing conditions. Similarly the slipper lobsters tolerate confined conditions, molt frequently, and eat a variety of foods. Based on our preliminary results under the contract we have submitted a proposal for funding to the CTAHR/TSTAR program titled: Development of co-cultured second crops for open ocean sea cage technology: effects of diet and tank design on growth and survival of larvae of Hawaiian lobsters. This proposal reflects our major finding under the work funded by the contract which is that post larval characteristics of Hawaiian slipper and spiny lobsters are favorable for culture in captivity, the focus for developing an aquaculture co-culture technology should begin with increasing larval survival,increased larval survival best accomplished with better larval rearing tank design and an improved dietary regimen involving a combination of natural and artificial foods, and the non-gregarious characteristics of the Hawaiian marginated shrimp may be problematic for shrimp-fish co-culture. PARTICIPANTS: Spencer Malecha, Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition Food and Animal Sciences(CTAHR) is project director and supervises the work conducted at the Waikiki Aquarium and the St. John laboratory on the Manoa campus. This work has resulted in the future collaboration with Dr. Petra Lenz who is an Associate Researcher in the Pacific BioSciences Reseach Center (PBRC). Dr. Lenz has world class experience in the field of zooplankton ecology, the culture of zooplankton in the laboratory, the development of live food-based systems for the culture of new aquaculture species, and zooplankton behavior. In future work Dr . Lenz will be in charge of the feeding tests on natural zooplankton diets. Andrew Rossiter (Phone: 808-440-9005, Email: Handrewro@hawaii.eduH) is the Director of the Waikiki Aquarium, a world class aquatic culture organization. Dr. Rossiter will consult with Drs. Malecha and Lenz regarding the establishing and husbanding the experimental populations of the life forms of the collected targeted species. This includes assisting with the arrangements for animal collection, deposition, handling and rearing at the Waikiki Aquarium. Randy Cates is President of Hukilau Foods (originally Cates International) a major ocean sea cage business (P.O. Box 335, Kailua, Hawaii 96734, E-mail:, Phone: 808-841-4956, Cell: 808-479-710). Mr. Cates is the project's industry advisor and cooperator and will consult on the design, execution and evaluation of the on-land brood-stock management, ocean trials, and outreach objectives. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for the work is the Hawaiian fish sea cage industry who will use the lobster-fish co-culture technology. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Our preliminary observations - to be expanded under the aegis of follow on work to assess the potential of the lobster and shrimp species to growth economically under ocean sea cage conditions - show that the post larval characteristics of slipper and spiny lobsters are favorable for culture in captivity and that the focus for developing an aquaculture technology for them begins with larval culture. The outcomes of the work will lead to the identification of specific natural feed zooplankton species and species combinations and design criteria for tank systems that support increased spiny and slipper larvae growth and development. This will lead, in follow-on work, to the analysis of the nutrient content of the selected natural feed species and the development of systems to culture these live organisms, followed by larval culture systems that utilize them, to achieve survival that would support a commercial larval culture technology. We estimate that in 3-6 years the most promising spiny or slipper lobster species for co-culture will be identified and a proto-type larvae rearing system will emerge which is capable of achieving commercial production level on a per unit (~10-20 juveniles/liter) basis. This will be then scaled up and coupled with grow-out trials to develop a prototype co-lobster-fish sea cage co-culture technology in collaboration with our industry cooperator, Hukilau Foods to be developed into a full scale commercial level for transfer to the industry. Continual success, initiated with the proposed seed project, will stimulate appropriate additional funding to achieve these goals.


  • No publications reported this period