The Quest begins

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Staff member
Nov 19, 2002
We've now established aquarium facilities at Kelly Tarlton's underwater world in Auckland (a rather neat aquarium) - pics to follow shortly. What we've been up to today is collecting mysid shrimp for stocking in the aquaculture facilities. This close to Auckland (5 mins away from the city centre) we found a small saltwater/brackish stream, where thousands of appropriate-sized (for larval squid food) mysid shrimp were collected by dipnet in the shallows over the course of an hour.

Friday (2 days away) we hope to be at sea, collecting the first of many larval squid and octopus to admit into the new tanks.

If you ever try to rear larval squid yourself you'll need to do this sort of thing, so I've gone slightly overboard on posts (many pictures) so that you know what to do. Remember, the key to keeping many oceanic/pelagic larval squid alive is a live prey that swims free of the tank walls, that swims in a jerky manner, and is of a size 1-1.5 times the size of the squid larva. Remember also, prey becomes predator, so never super-saturate the larval-rearing tanks with prey - only ever include enough to keep them going for any one 24 hour cycle (and preferably no more than 12 hours).

The first 3 pics are of the type of environment to target for mysid shrimp.

Happy squiding



These images are of Kat (aka Tintenfisch) catching the little devils. Work upcurrent, hold the net low to the stream bed, and gently push the net forward (into the current). The objective is to collect good-condition mysid shrimp, so GENTLE is the key word. Empty the net into a bucket (full of water) every minute or so, rather than swish it back and forth until you've got a million shrimp/mysid patty in the net.



.... and if you're really lucky you can get a pic of the tiny wee shrimp (they were hard to focus). Tomorrow I'll put a few of these under the microscope (not this evening) to check out their rostrum (the pointy thing at the front of the shrimp carapace). If it is a great long spear then I'll not use these as food for the squid (I've seen these mysids gang up on squid before - piercing them ... not really the desired outcome).

We feed the mysid shrimp simple fish flakes. You have to keep them satiated, so that they don't immediately turn on the squid larvae when you add them to the tank (the mysid stocks are kept separate fom the squid larvae, added only as required, as per the first posting).

Tomorrow we'll have the mysid stocks set up at Kelly Tarlton's (they're presently in the office); the day after, hopefully, some sea shots (and squid).



Hi Steve and Kat!

They look like the shrimp I catch here for Ink. How many squid and octopi do you intend to collect? The first picture, were they tree stumps? Looks like they totally submerge at high tide. Are you "Going to Sea" in your new vessel?

Yup, themz the roots of a mangrove indeedy.

Just posting a few more pics; there are many tanks in this room - didn't get 'em all in (and we've got a few more to install). There's a couple of Kat & the mysid tank, a pretty shocking close up of the mysids, and 3 of the cylinders (that will eventually have larval squid in them).

The clock is ticking .....



Those tanks look great. What's the volume?? flow rate???????SST??????????? nice and smooooooooth!

Another place you can look from mysids is where a field drain empties into an estuary. There is one like that near Portobello tis where we get all ours. The very cool thing is that it's adjacent to extensive sea grass meadows and you can get copious quantities on amphipods there....a one stop shop :smile:

Right now things are chaos in those tanks Jean; the end one has no flow at present (this will be flow-to-waste); the central of the three visible tanks has both filter and chiller draw and discharge hoses, 2 x current regimes and massive eddies (this one is recirculating); the right of the 3 visible is on filtration pump only (this will be recirculating), and a fourth (out of frame) will be flow-to-waste. None has proper spray bars in there yet, and I've yet to set the flow (I'm just cycling everything through right now, making sure that the gear works - that's why there are hoses everywhere - quite unsightly ... but temporary).

Volume .... well .... I've yet to calculate (and don't have the tank specs on hand), but will do so morrow.
Looks like a cool set-up, an a mad thing to get paid for!!! Not bad eh!!

I also note you kiwi's bein well hard an goin out there without your wellies!!!! :biggrin2:

Wish we had some nice clean water (within several light years travel anyway!) to pluck live thingy-me-bobs out for pet food!!!

Out of pure intrest what is the approx temperature of the water were your netting, oh an also out at sea were your pickin up the baby squid an octo's?
Hi Scouse; ja, I love my job(s) (at times), though I need to take on a little less than I do.

Re the clean water, unfortunately kiwi's are occasionally messy too (ok, quite disgusting litterbugs actually - see attached, just metres from where we were). The reason we were wearing gumboots was because there was so much broken glass in that mud, in addition to TV sets, rabbits ears (of the costume variety), shoes, tires ..... I'll use the disgusting nature of this so-called clean environment in one of the lectures next year).

The middle tank (of the squid tanks) has a chiller/heater unit attached, so we can manipulate the temperature to duplicate the environmental conditions. I'll also bring back 350 litres of oceanic water, drain that middle tank, fill it again with the oceanic water, and admit the squid into it (salinity changes are fatal for squid; the objective right now is to cycle the system, make sure that the equipment is working, and sort out the currents and flow). With squid eggs (Sepioteuthis australis), I'll add them directly to the existing water (not using oceanic), as they're in there long enough to 'get used to it'.

The temperature in the tanks right now ranges from 17.5-18.6°C. I've got surface-temperature sensing equipment on the boat, so we'll duplicate whatever temperatures we experience at sea in the tank environments (they are presently in the same sort of range, but it does depend on whether you sample within/outside any warm-water eddy system), then slowly/incrementally increase temperature in the tanks to a maximum of ~ 22°C. Increasing the temperature makes the larval squid grow faster, but it also makes them eat more, and procuring the appropriate food is the most difficult part of the exercise; it is catch 22 - quick growth can lead to quick mortality, and we're interested in keeping the animals alive for as long as possible (to trial the tank environments, rather than food). This is why we have several tanks running at any one point in time, to allow for some degree of experimentation.

Jean, the tank volume is 350 litres (acrylic cylinders); each has a bio filter and protein skimmer; we'll probably look at a flow rate in the order of 60 litres/hour (not much), so I'll have to slow the flow considerably.


Thanks for the info Steve, we have some about that volume fitted with spray bars and banjo filters (originally used for echinoderm larvae) which some folks here want me to put squid in volume etc is good but................... they're fibreglass (coated with something on the inside to make them smooth!) and I'm just not sure that they'd be suitable.

We have a 5000L acrylic in the aquarium which I'm trying to persuade the senior aquarist would be GREAT for a school of small squid, but it looks like it's gonna be salmon for a while :frown: !

Alright Steve,

Nice one mate it sounds like your coverin all angles there, looks like a v. intrestin project, not surprised you love your job!!!!

Although I am surprised at the level of waste in the water, I know aussie are v.good on recycling and waste management (only through chat thou) therefopre assumed kiwi's would be aswell. hmmm. such a shame.

You have to forgive me!!! i thought you didnt have wellies on or gum boots as you call em!!! But sounds like a good job you did!!!

I was intrested in the water temp to compare to ours over here mainly although, as usual you answered my next questions!! quality!!!!

Well hope all goes well with the experiment/project, an keep us posted, its intrestin to see.

p.s. Steve Ive gotta say, as ive been meanin to for a while! i was glad when you posted the pic on your avatar (for confirmation really) of what you look like as i always, even now occasionally, get the impression your that steve o'shea off the telly who chases croc's etc!!!!!! LOLOL!!!! :lol: :biggrin2: Forgive me, but thought it was funny to tell you since you share the same name!!!!!
.... you're not the first to confuse me for croc hunter, or the other chap Mark O'Shea of Animal Planet; afraid I'm nowhere near as well known (thankfully) as either - I'm a rather quiet, low-profile kinda guy, and that's the way I like it.

Even though it looks like we'll have 3 docos/programmes in production between Dec and March, a further one just completed, I'll always be the unknown as I'm not prepared to dive in the water with the things, yell out 'Crikey Mate', or prepared to unduly sensationalise things for the benefit of the camera. Viewers tend to watch this sort of thing - keeps their attention - just loses mine.

Off boating in a few hours - gonna get that new puppy wet!