Hatched larvae, juveniles, and adults of the Omani abalone Haliotis mariae were cultivated in land-based tanks with filtered running seawater during 3 experiments: (1) from January 2001 to December 2005, (2) from January 2006 to November 2009, and (3) from January 2009 to December 2011. Larvae and early juveniles were fed daily with diatoms, whereas late juveniles and adults were fed with artificial food and the green algae Ulva fasciata. Shell length and total wet weight from 40–80 randomly selected specimens in various experiments were measured monthly, and sex and gonad maturity stage were defined visually. The water parameters in tanks reflected the ambient condition of the Arabian Sea. The growth pattern of the abalone was very similar in the 3 experimental trials. Larvae and early juveniles have very fast growth rates, reaching an average 53–56 mm and 19–25 g after 1 y. Better results were obtained in the second and third experiments, when at the end of 2 y of rearing, abalone mean length was 67–72 mm and the weight was 46–54 g. At the age 3 y, abalone attained a mean length of 83–85 mm and a weight of 89–93 g. After 6 y, the abalone from the first experiment (2001 to 2005) showed, on average, 88.5 mm and 110.9 g. The length increments were the highest during the first year of the culture, whereas weight increments reached maximum values during the third (second and third trials) and fourth year (first trial) of rearing. After 4 y, abalone growth increments in weight decreased significantly. Males generally but not always have larger increments in length and weight when compared with females. During cultivation, a decrease in abalone weight was sometimes observed that, in most cases, coincided with decrease in water temperature during the southwest monsoon period (June to September). Some abalone sexually matured in tanks after 1 y, and mature males and females occurred almost year-round, with peaks in April to May and November to December. The length at first maturity was found to be 65.2 mm for males and 67.1 mm for females. Growth parameters for a von Bertalanffy function were calculated using data from different experiments. The growth rate coefficient in the first experiment was lower (K = 0.65), but in third experiment it appeared higher (K = 0.80) than in natural conditions from data other authors calculated based on length-frequency distribution analysis, which indicates faster growth rates of abalone in tanks when compared with those in the wild. Results of the trials showed that it is feasible to produce Omani abalone in land-based farms from eggs to commercial size during a 3 4-y cycle.
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Vol. 32 • No. 1