Fate or independency: is batch-specific larval performance determined by egg traits? A case study in farmed pikeperch (Sander lucioperca)

  • Fabian J. SchaeferEmail author
  • Moritz Tielmann
  • Julia L. Overton
  • Angela Krüger
  • Sven Wuertz
  • Werner Kloas
  • Carsten Schulz
  • Stefan Meyer
European Percid Fish Culture


Fish embryos and larvae undoubtedly depend on maternal provisioning of essential egg components, such as fatty acids (FA), during early ontogeny. But which aspects and stages of batch-specific larval development are modulated by these inherent oocyte traits? This question is of major importance from an ecological, as well as from an aquacultural perspective. We examined the effects of batch-specific non-nuclear-genetic egg traits (fatty acid (FA) profiles, egg size, mtDNA fragmentation, cortisol content) already in unfertilized oocytes of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) and studied their influence on survival (15 dph) and larval performance (length at hatch, stress resistance, first feeding, swim bladder inflation rate, yolk sac and lipid droplet size, growth in weight and length) after hatching under stable laboratory conditions (n = 12 batches). While larval survival and performance were independent of mtDNA fragmentation and cortisol levels, FA profiles affected specific larval traits. Especially, FA of the neutral fraction were positively correlated with larval size and growth (16:0, 18:0, 22:1n-9, total saturated FA), swim bladder inflation (arachidonic acid 20:4n-6, total FA), and early first feeding (16:0, 18:0, total saturated FA). Important FA of the polar fraction included 15:0 and 16:1n-7, which showed alternate effects on larval survival, first feeding, and growth (length). Furthermore, larval length at hatch was positively correlated with egg diameter. Other larval parameters (yolk sac and lipid droplet size and stress response) were not or only marginally affected by egg traits. Consequently, high oocyte FA deposition fuels fast rates of growth and development during early ontogeny. On the other hand, larvae develop independently of assumed disadvantageous properties (cortisol content, mtDNA damage). Knowledge of this relation allows for the improvement of aquaculture practice, as well as predicting recruitment success in the wild.


Aquaculture Egg quality Embryogenesis Fatty acids Hatching Larval development Reproduction 



Arachidonic acid


Body weight


Docosahexaenoic acid


Day post hatch


Eicosapentenoic acid


Fatty acid


Fatty acid methyl esters


Highly unsaturated fatty acid


Monounsaturated fatty acid


Swim bladder inflation


Standard deviation


Saturated fatty acid


Standard length



We would like to thank our cooperation partner AquaPri and the members of the IGB and GMA, who have supported this study.

Funding information

This study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG KL 745/6-1 and SCHU 2308/3-2).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Fish rearing and reproduction were performed in accordance with EU and national legislation for animal welfare in fish production.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecophysiology and AquacultureLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Gesellschaft für Marine AquakulturBüsumGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Marine AquacultureChristian-Albrechts-University KielKielGermany
  4. 4.AquaPri Denmark A/SEgtvedDenmark
  5. 5.Department of Chemical Analytics and BiogeochemistryLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Thaer Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Faculty of Life SciencesHumboldt University BerlinBerlinGermany
  7. 7.Institute of Biology, Faculty of Life SciencesHumboldt University BerlinBerlinGermany

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