ISSN 1063-0740, Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 2007, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 227–231. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2007.
Original Russian Text © R.R. Borisov, A.B. Epelbaum, N.V. Kryakhova, A.G. Tertitskaya, N.P. Kovatcheva, 2007, published in Biologiya Morya.
The red king crab,
(Tilesius, 1815) is one of the most important species of
commercial crustaceans. Uncontrolled harvesting of
this species has caused a decrease in the density of nat-
ural populations. In this connection, there have been
active attempts in recent years to introduce the king
crab into marine aquaculture. It is known that cannibal-
ism is widely occurring among members of the order
Decapoda, especially if they are maintained as objects
of mariculture. Data is available showing that cannibal-
ism in the red king crab is possible at different stages of
development [2, 11, 15]. However, no special studies
dealing with these problems have been performed thus
far, with the only exception being the paper by Stewens
and Swiney  on the young of this species. The target
of our study was to estimate the level of cannibalism in
red king crabs reared under artiﬁcial conditions at dif-
ferent stages of life cycle and also to reveal the factors
affecting the intensity of cannibalism.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
All the experiments with larvae, postlarvae and
juvenile specimens of the red king crab were performed
in the Aquarian Laboratory for the Reproduction of
Crustacea in the Russian Federal Research Institute of
Fisheries and Oceanography (Moscow).
Prezoea, zoea (I–IV).
In 2005 several females with
eggs at the ﬁnal stage of embryonic development were
delivered to Moscow from the Barents Sea. The ﬁrst
larval stage of prezoea passed in the vessels where the
females were maintained. The duration of the prezoea
stage was usually less than 1 h and during this period
the larva did not feed. After molting to the stage of zoea
I the larvae were transferred into a 160-liter nursery
aquarium with a stocking density of 50 specimens/liter.
Throughout the larval period the water temperature was
maintained within the range of 7–8
C. The larvae were
fed twice a day with the nauplii of
every day the aquarium was cleaned. Every three days
a sample of 100 dead larvae was collected and the
causes of their death were identiﬁed as follows: (1) can-
nibalism, appendages or certain parts of the body were
damaged or absent; (2) unsuccessful molt, a portion of
the old exuvium was retained, or the beginning of the
formation of a new carapace beneath the old one was
recorded; and (3) the reasons could not be identiﬁed,
the specimen showed no visible morphological devia-
tions or injuries.
To reveal the inﬂuence of stocking density on the
intensity of cannibalism, the larvae were placed into 6
aquariums, each of which was 0.8 l in volume (with
stocking densities of 50, 75, and 100 specimens/liter).
Once a day we introduced food into each aquarium,
removed surplus food and dead larvae, and determined
the causes of their death. The water was entirely
exchanged once every three days.
In the period of the molt of zoea IV to
the stage of glaucothoe we installed substrates for set-
tlement into the nursery aquarium that were made of
tangled plastic ﬁlaments. Water temperature at the glau-
cothoe stage was raised to 10
C and the feeding of the
animals was stopped, as the glaucothoe do not feed.
To answer the question of whether juvenile specimens of
the ﬁrst stage can feed on glaucothoe, we placed one
glaucothoe and one juvenile specimen in each of 20 cells
(with a bottom area of 14 cm
). They were fed once a
day for total of 7 days.
From the nursery aquarium 294 specimens
at the 1–2 juvenile stages (with a carapace 1.8–2 mm
wide) were transferred into 18 containers (12
Cannibalistic Behavior in Red King Crabs Reared
Under Artificial Conditions
R. R. Borisov, A. B. Epelbaum, N. V. Kryakhova, A. G. Tertitskaya, and N. P. Kovatcheva
Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), Moscow, 107140 Russia
Received February 1, 2007
—The cannibalistic behavior during all life history stages of the red king crab
(Tilesius, 1815) raised under laboratory conditions was studied. All feeding stages were found
to be cannibalistic. The major factors affecting the level of cannibalism were identiﬁed, and methods were pro-
posed to reduce cannibalism intensity under laboratory conditions.
red king crab, cannibalism, aggressive behavior, crustacean aquaculture.