Fisheries Science

, Volume 85, Issue 5, pp 801–809 | Cite as

Evaluation of optimum temperature for the early larval growth of Japanese eel in captivity

  • Mari KurokiEmail author
  • Akihiro Okamura
  • Yoshiaki Yamada
  • Shunsuke Hayasaka
  • Katsumi Tsukamoto
Original Article Aquaculture


Early larval growth of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica reared at five different water temperatures (19, 21, 23, 25, and 27 °C) is described for the first month post-hatching, a critical period of time in the culture of these sensitive larvae. After 3 weeks of culture, larvae reared at 27 °C attained the greatest total length and body height of all temperature treatments. Larvae reared at higher temperatures developed rapidly due to active feeding, despite higher metabolic costs. At lower temperatures of 19–21 °C, sudden mortality 12–16 days post-hatching coincides with the transition of larvae from endogenous to exogenous feeding. A linear relationship between water temperature and otolith diameter for cultured eel larvae otoliths suggests that the mean ambient water temperature experienced by wild larvae during their first month after hatching is about 23 °C. This temperature corresponds to mean water temperatures likely experienced by larvae during diel vertical migrations in the North Equatorial Current. We propose rearing early stage Japanese eel larvae at variable temperatures throughout the light/dark cycle to enhance their survival and growth in captivity.


Freshwater eel Growth Leptocephalus Mortality Otolith Seedling production Temperature 



We are grateful to the members of the IRAGO Institute for their kind support during experimentation. This work was supported in part by KAKEN grants (nos. 26252030, 17H03859) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.


  1. Ahn H, Yamada Y, Okamura A, Horie N, Mikawa N, Tanaka S, Tsukamoto K (2012) Effect of water temperature on embryonic development and hatching time of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica. Aquaculture 330–333:100–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aoyama J, Watanabe S, Miller MJ, Mochioka N, Otake T, Yoshinaga T, Tsukamoto K (2014) Spawning sites of the Japanese eel in relation to oceanographic structure and the West Mariana Ridge. PLoS One 9:e88759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Butts IAE, Sørensen SR, Politis SN, Tomkiewicz J (2016) First-feeding by European eel larvae: a step towards closing the life cycle in captivity. Aquaculture 464:451–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chang S-L, Kou G-H, Liao IC (2004) Temperature adaptation of the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) in its early stages. Zool Stud 43:571–579Google Scholar
  5. Han Y-S (2011) Temperature-dependent recruitment delay of the Japanese glass eel Anguilla japonica in East Asia. Mar Biol 158:2349–2358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hjort J (1914) Fluctuations in the great fisheries of northern Europe viewed in the light of biological research. Rapp P-V Reun Cons Perm Int Explor Mer 20:1–228Google Scholar
  7. Imsland AK, Foss A, Sparboe LO, Sigurdsson S (2006) The effect of temperature and fish size on growth and feed efficiency ratio of juvenile spotted wolffish Anarhichas minor. J Fish Biol 68:1107–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ishikawa S, Suzuki K, Inagaki T, Watanabe S, Kimura Y, Okamura A, Otake T, Mochioka N, Suzuki Y, Hasumoto H, Oya M, Miller MJ, Lee TW, Fricke H, Tsukamoto K (2001) Spawning time and place of the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica, in the North Equatorial Current of the western North Pacific Ocean. Fish Sci 67:1097–1103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kurokawa T, Okamoto T, Gen K, Uji S, Murashita K, Unuma T, Nomura K, Matsubara H, Kim SK, Ohta H, Tanaka H (2008) Influence of water temperature on morphological deformities in cultured larvae of Japanese Eel, Anguilla japonica, at completion of yolk resorption. J World Aquacul Soc 39:726–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kuroki M, Fukuda N, Yamada Y, Okamura A, Tsukamoto K (2010) Morphological changes and otolith growth during metamorphosis of Japanese eel leptocephali in captivity. Coast Mar Sci 34:31–38Google Scholar
  11. Kuroki M, Miller MJ, Tsukamoto K (2014) Diversity of early life-history traits in freshwater eels and the evolution of their oceanic migrations. Can J Zool 92:749–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kuroki M, Seo MY, Okamura A, Watanabe S, Tsukamoto K, Kaneko T (2016a) Morphofunctional features of ionocytes in Japanese eel Anguilla japonica leptocephali acclimated to half-diluted and full-strength seawater. Ichthyol Res 63:487–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kuroki M, Okamura A, Takeuchi A, Tsukamoto K (2016b) Effect of water current on the body size and occurrence of deformities in reared Japanese eel leptocephali and glass eels. Fish Sci 82:941–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lokman PM, Young G (2000) Induced spawning and early ontogeny of New Zealand freshwater eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii and A. australis). NZ J Mar Freshw Res 34:135–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Miller MJ, Tsukamoto K (2004) An introduction to leptocephali: biology and identification. Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  16. Miller MJ, Otake T, Aoyama J, Wouthuyzen S, Suharti S, Sugeha HY, Tsukamoto K (2012) Observations of gut contents of leptocephali in the North Equatorial Current and Tomini Bay, Indonesia. Coast Mar Sci 35:277–288Google Scholar
  17. Miller MJ, Chikaraishi Y, Ogawa NO, Yamada Y, Tsukamoto K, Ohkouchi N (2013) A low trophic position of Japanese eel larvae indicates feeding on marine snow. Biol Lett 9:20120826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morita K, Fukuwaka M, Tanimata N, Yamamura O (2010) Size-dependent thermal preferences in a pelagic fish. Oikos 119:1265–1272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Okamoto T, Kurokawa T, Gen K, Murashita K, Nomura K, Kim S-K, Matsubara H, Ohta H, Tanaka H (2009) Influence of salinity on morphological deformities in cultured larvae of Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica, at completion of yolk resorption. Aquaculture 293:113–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Okamura A, Yamada Y, Horie N, Utoh T, Mikawa N, Tanaka S, Tsukamoto K (2007) Effects of water temperature on early development of Japanese eel Anguilla japonica. Fish Sci 73:1241–1248Google Scholar
  21. Okamura A, Yamada Y, Horita T, Horie N, Mikawa N, Utoh T, Tanaka S, Tsukamoto K (2009a) Rearing eel leptocephali (Anguilla japonica Temminck & Schlegel) in a planktonkreisel. Aquac Res 40:509–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Okamura A, Yamada Y, Mikawa N, Horie N, Utoh T, Kaneko T, Tanaka S, Tsukamoto K (2009b) Growth and survival of eel leptocephali (Anguilla japonica) in low-salinity water. Aquaculture 296:367–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Okamura A, Yamada Y, Mikawa N, Horie N, Tanaka S, Tsukamoto K (2011) Notochord deformities in reared Japanese eel Anguilla japonica larvae. Aquaculture 317:37–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Okamura A, Yamada Y, Mikawa N, Horie N, Tsukamoto K (2012) Effect of starvation, body size, and temperature on the onset of metamorphosis in Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica). Can J Zool 90:1378–1385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Okamura A, Yamada Y, Horie N, Mikawa N, Tanaka S, Kobayashi H, Tsukamoto K (2013) Hen egg yolk and skinned krill as possible foods for rearing leptocephalus larvae of Anguilla japonica Temminck & Schlegel. Aquac Res 44:1531–1538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Okamura A, Horie N, Mikawa N, Yamada Y, Tsukamoto K (2014) Recent advances in artificial production of glass eels for conservation of anguillid eel populations. Ecol Freshw Fish 23:95–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Okamura A, Horie N, Mikawa N, Yamada Y, Tsukamoto K (2018) Influence of temperature and feeding regimes on growth and notochord deformity in reared Anguilla japonica leptocephali. Fish Sci 84:505–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Oliveira K, Hable WE (2010) Artificial maturation, fertilization, and early development of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). Can J Zool 88:1121–1128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Otake T, Inagaki T, Hasumoto H, Mochioka N, Tsukamoto K (1998) Diel vertical distribution of Anguilla japonica leptocephali. Ichthyol Res 45:208–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Przeslawski R, Byrne M, Mellin C (2015) A review and meta-analysis of the effects of multiple abiotic stressors on marine embryos and larvae. Glob Chang Biol 21:2122–2140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shinoda A, Aoyama J, Miller MJ, Otake T, Mochioka N, Watanabe S, Minegishi Y, Kuroki M, Yoshinaga T, Yokouchi K, Fukuda N, Sudo R, Hagihara S, Zenimoto K, Suzuki Y, Oya M, Inagaki T, Kimura S, Fukui A, Lee TW, Tsukamoto K (2011) Evaluation of the larval distribution and migration of the Japanese eel in the western North Pacific. Rev Fish Biol Fisher 21:591–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shirai K, Otake T, Amano Y, Kuroki M, Ushikubo T, Kita NT, Murayama M, Tsukamoto K, Valley JW (2018) Temperature and depth distribution of Japanese eel eggs estimated using otolith oxygen stable isotopes. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 236:373–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sørensen SR, Tomkiewicz J, Munk P, Butts IAE, Nielsen A, Lauesen P, Graver C (2016) Ontogeny and growth of early life stages of captive-bred European eel. Aquaculture 456:50–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tanaka H (2015) Progression in artificial seedling production of Japanese eel Anguilla japonica. Fish Sci 81:11–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tanaka H, Kagawa H, Ohta H (2001) Production of leptocephali of Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) in captivity. Aquaculture 201:51–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tsuchida S, Tabata S (1997) Changes of the preferred temperature in striped beakperch, Oplegnathus fasciatus, during the juvenile growth. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 61:64–69 (in Japanese with English abstract) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tsukamoto K, Uchida K (1990) Early life history and oceanic migration of the eel, Anguilla japonica. La mer 28:188–198Google Scholar
  38. Tsukamoto K, Aoyama J, Miller MJ (2009a) The present status of the Japanese eel: resources and recent research. In: Casselman J, Cairns D (eds) Eels at the edge. Am Fish Soc Symp 58, Bethesda, Maryland, pp 21–35Google Scholar
  39. Tsukamoto K, Yamada Y, Okamura A, Kaneko T, Tanaka H, Miller MJ, Horie N, Mikawa N, Utoh T, Tanaka S (2009b) Positive buoyancy in eel leptocephali: an adaptation for life in the ocean surface layer. Mar Biol 156:835–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tsukamoto K, Chow S, Otake T, Kurogi H, Mochioka N, Miller MJ, Aoyama J, Kimura S, Watanabe S, Yoshinaga T, Shinoda A, Kuroki M, Oya M, Watanabe T, Hata K, Ijiri S, Kazeto Y, Nomura K, Tanaka H (2011) Oceanic spawning ecology of freshwater eels in the western North Pacific. Nat Commun 2:179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yamada Y, Okamura A, Mikawa N, Utoh T, Horie N, Tanaka S, Miller MJ, Tsukamoto K (2009) Ontogenetic changes in phototactic behavior during metamorphosis of artificially reared Japanese eel Anguilla japonica larvae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 379:241–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2019
corrected publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mari Kuroki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Akihiro Okamura
    • 2
  • Yoshiaki Yamada
    • 2
  • Shunsuke Hayasaka
    • 1
  • Katsumi Tsukamoto
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Aquatic Bioscience, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.IRAGO Institute Co., Ltd.TaharaJapan

Personalised recommendations