Polar Biology

, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 2499–2516 | Cite as

Characterization and husbandry of wild broodstock of the blackfin icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus (Lönnberg 1906) from the Palmer Archipelago (Southern Ocean) for breeding purposes

  • Nathalie R. Le FrançoisEmail author
  • Eileen Sheehan
  • Thomas Desvignes
  • Claude Belzile
  • John H. Postlethwait
  • H. William DetrichIII
Original Paper


The blackfin icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus represents a key component of the fish fauna surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula that may be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Although the sensitivity of adults to elevated temperature has been evaluated, little is known about the potential impact of a warmer temperature on other life history stages including embryos and larvae. To investigate thermal effects on embryogenesis and larval development, one must establish optimal zootechnical parameters for maintaining reproductively competent broodstock in captivity. During two consecutive years, we conducted an evaluation of body morphometrics and reproductive traits and investigated appropriate husbandry practices. Absolute and relative fecundities of females were estimated as 14,367 ± 5733 and 8.87 ± 2.35 (Mean ± SD), respectively. Mean wet and dry masses (±SD) of eggs were 24.5 ± 11.0 and 15.3 ± 4.8 mg, respectively and the mean egg diameter (±SD) was 0.31 ± 0.03 cm. Post-capture mortality was high and no spawning state females survived for a sufficiently long time to allow release or extraction of mature eggs. Injecting males with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) increased their gonadosomatic index by 2-fold and stimulated spermiation. Mean (±SD) sperm cell count per mL post-GnRH treatment was 9.9 × 109 ± 2.5 × 109, and the spermatocrit was 16.9 ± 3.8%. Our findings indicate that extending the duration of female survival post-capture will be necessary for the production of fertile eggs. Suggestions for future research are discussed.


Icefish Reproductive traits Breeding Husbandry Captivity Notothenioid 



The authors would like to thank the captains and crews of the Research Vessel Laurence M Gould (LMG) and Palmer Station staff and personnel for their help in collecting and maintaining our fish populations on board the LMG and at the Palmer Station facilities. We thank A. Savoie (Université du Québec à Rimouski) and L. Goetz (Northeastern University) for assistance in the evaluation of semen. The scientific and logistical support from station personnel is greatly appreciated, with a special thought for the chef M. Hiller for keeping the spirits of station personnel high during the 2014 winter. Support from la Société des Amis du Biodôme de Montréal (to N.R.L.F.) is also valued. This work was supported by NIH Grants R01AG031922 from the National Institute on Aging (J.H.P., H.W.D.) and 5R01OD011116 from the Office of the Director (J.H.P.), and by NSF Grants ANT-0944517 (H.W.D.), PLR-1247510 (H.W.D.), PLR-1444167 (H.W.D.), and PLR-1543383 (J.H.P., H.W.D, and T.D.) from the Office/Division of Polar Programs. This is contribution number 353 from the Northeastern University Marine Science Center.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 218023 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalie R. Le François
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eileen Sheehan
    • 2
  • Thomas Desvignes
    • 3
  • Claude Belzile
    • 4
  • John H. Postlethwait
    • 3
  • H. William DetrichIII
    • 2
  1. 1.Division des collections vivantes et de la rechercheBiodôme de Montréal, Espace pour la vieMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Marine Science CenterNortheastern UniversityNahantUSA
  3. 3.Institute of NeuroscienceUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  4. 4.Institut des sciences de la mer (ISMER), Université du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada

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