Installation and operation of a modular bivalve hatchery

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 492

Installation and operation of
a modular bivalve hatchery

Prepared by
Samia Sarkis
FAO Consultant

Compiled and edited by
Alessandro Lovatelli
FAO Inland Water Resources
and Aquaculture Service

Rome, 2007

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Table of Contents

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ISBN 978-92-5-105595-3

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FAO 2007

Sarkis, S.; Lovatelli, A. (comp./ed.)
Installation and operation of a modular bivalve hatchery.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 492. Rome, FAO. 2007. 173p.
Contains a CD-ROM.


Limiting factors such as minimal capital investment, lack of technical support or expertise, and available physical space, may put severe restrictions on setting up a hatchery. Not all investors have the means or the will to take the risk to support a large commercial aquaculture operation without substantial proof of its production capacity. For these reasons, the setup of an inexpensive modular hatchery may be a simpler option to the start-up of a large commercial operation, or maybe sufficient to the needs of a smaller operation.

This manual is intended to stand on its own, as a guide for installation and operation of a bivalve hatchery. Based on years of experience in a resource-limited region, the need for optimal space usage coupled with a restricted budget, has resulted in a modular portable hatchery/nursery complex housed in insulated fiberglass containers. With its only requirement being access to clean seawater, this model may be easily adaptable to any region. Although the described facility is compact, it is by no means an experimental laboratory, but a hatchery geared towards production. Its functionality has been repeatedly tested over a four-year period, focusing on culture of subtropical/tropical scallops. The developed procedure is suitable for commercial production, the scale of which is dependent on the tankage capacity. In other words, the modular hatchery described here may be expanded by the addition of identical modules, increasing the number of tanks available and hence production.

The described hatchery comprises basic culture facilities for the rearing of bivalve species such as a dedicated seawater system providing a continuous supply of filtered seawater, a temperature control system for seawater, larval rearing tanks for closed or flow-through systems, and flexible usage stacked raceways for spat rearing. The detailed to scale drawings provide a clear guide intended for ease of replication of the facility. An accompanied written text provides further description of the physical facility. Nonetheless, it is not the intent of this guide to dwell into engineering details, but simply to describe a system that works.

This guide also considers the operation of the hatchery, and for this reason contains simple stepwise protocols. These protocols include both maintenance of the hatchery, such as the cleaning of raceways during spat rearing, and culture procedure, as spawning induction.

The modular hatchery is designed for flexibility and may be used for a range of bivalve species and some gastropods. However, protocols given for culture techniques are based on rearing procedures of subtropical/tropical scallop species developed in the pilot hatchery. For additional support, at times necessary in more isolated regions, concise scientific information is provided on various biological aspects of bivalve reproduction and growth.

The manual is divided into chapters for each stage of rearing: broodstock conditioning, algal culture, hatchery, nursery, growout and economic considerations. Every chapter is an entity, and the first five include both the physical requirements and culture considerations and procedures for the relevant rearing stage. The final chapter on economic considerations provides an insight into the labour involved for each stage of production, along with a list of equipment and supplies, which may be used as a template for a new installation.

Keywords: modular hatchery, installation, operation, culture, bivalves, technical drawings, rearing protocols.