Since algae is the primary food source of oysters, algal culture is essential to the success of most hatchery operations. In order to meet the nutritional needs of the oyster larvae grown in the hatchery, large quantities of certain types of algae need to be produced continuously through the hatchery season. The species of algae grown are selected based on research and industry standards and what type of algae can be grown in dense cultures at our facility.
A mixed algal diet of flagellates and diatoms is needed for better oyster larval growth and development. Currently the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery feeds the oyster larvae with a mixture of Isochrysis sp. Thalassiosira pseudonana, and Chaetoceros sp. Once the larvae are larger and older, they are also fed Tetraselmis chui, which is a larger celled algal species.
Larvae can be seen swimming and filtering algae. The small green particles in the water are phytoplankton known as PLY429.