Thursday, January 7, 2010

cultivating Barramundi

Barramundi are a salt and freshwater sportfish, targeted by many. They have large silver scales, which may become darker or lighter, depending on their environment. Their bodies can reach up to 1.8 meters long, though evidence of them being caught at this size is scarce.
Barramundi are mainly a summertime fish, but can be caught all year round, and may be found frolicking in mud. They are usually caught using hard-bodied lures.

The barramundi feeds on crustaceans, molluscs, and smaller fishes (including its own species); juveniles feed on zooplankton. This catadromous species inhabits rivers and descends to estuaries and tidal flats to spawn. At the start of the monsoon males migrate downriver to meet females, which lay very large numbers of eggs (multiple millions each). The adults do not guard the eggs or the fry, which require brackish water to develop. The species is sequentially hermaphroditic, most individuals maturing as males and becoming female after at least one spawning season; most of the larger specimens are therefore female.

[edit] Recreational
Highly prized by anglers for their good fighting ability, barramundi are reputed to be good at avoiding fixed nets and best caught on lines and with fishing lures. In Australia, the barramundi is used to stock freshwater reservoirs for recreational fishing.
Impoundment barramundi, as many anglers recognize them, are growing in popularity as a catch and release fish. Popular stocked barramundi impoundments include Lake Tinaroo, near Cairns in the Atherton Tablelands, Peter Faust Dam near the Whitsundays, Teemburra Dam near Mackay, Lake Awoonga near Gladstone and Lake Monduran around an hours drive south from Lake Awoonga.Fishing techniques revolve mainly around casting and retrieving all types of lures including soft and hard body lures. Trolling is also a favoured and productive technique for impoundment barramundi.Impoundment barramundi are also a popular target with surface lures as they are known to eat all types of foods from the surface of the water including frogs, injured baitfish and even baby swans and other birds.The distinct 'boof!' noise which barramundi make when surface feeding can easily be recognised and echo up to long distances at quiet times like still nights.Many anglers travel to Queenslands barramundi impoundments to catch the elusive 'metrey', a barramundi measuring in excess of a metre and weighing anywhere from 10kg - 25kg, depending on the fat level.When hooked on a lure, the barramundi will often clear itself from the water several times throughout the battle and make long powerful runs. This is makes it a popular target.The eating quality of impoundment barramundi is quite low, with a rating of around 1.5/5 stars.The flesh has a 'muddy' taste due to the barramundi spending all of its life in silty, freshwater environments, although there are recipes which claim to remove or mask the muddy taste.

The fish is of large commercial importance; it is fished internationally and raised in aquaculture in Australia, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. Farmed in the US by the Australis, a single facility produces up to 800 tons a year. A farmed operation in Turners Falls, MA, USA under the name of Australis Aquaculture stressed sustainability.

As food
Barramundi have white, flaky flesh, though the larger freshwater ones commonly carry a lot of body fat. Saltwater barramundi, however, have a general reputation as good eating. Barramundi are a favorite food of the region's apex predator the Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), which have been known to take them from unwary fishermen.
Nile perch—a similar fish found in Lake Victoria, Africa—is often mislabeled as barramundi. It does not fall under the recommendation for U.S. farmed barramundi. The species was originally assigned to genus Holocentrus, in the beryciform family Holocentridae.

Scientific Name : Lates calcarifer
Other Common Names
Barra, Silver Barramundi, Giant Perch, Palmer Perch.
Sometimes (incorrectly) known as Nile Perch.
Up to 1.8 m and 60 Kg (6' & 130 lb), common to 1.2 m
Conservation Status Not threatened
Inhabits a wide variety of habitats in rivers creeks and mangrove estuaries in clear to turbid water. Most common in rivers and creeks with large catchments with a slow continuous flow and water temperatures above 20°C. Shows a distinct preference for submerged logs, rock ledges and other structure in the water.

Barramundi are a catadromous species, that is it grows to maturity in the upper reaches of freshwater rivers and streams and adults move downstream, especially during flooding, to estuaries and coastal waters for spawning.

L.calcarifer has a very extensive range in tropical and semi-tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific. Its distribution extends from the Persian Gulf to southern China and southwards to the northern Australia. Within Australia its range extends from the Mary and Maroochy River systems in south-east Queensland northwards around the entire northern coast to Shark Bay in Western Australia.

Barramundi are protoandrous hermaphrodites: they start life as males, reaching maturity at around 3 to 4 years of age and later change gender and become females, usually at around age 5. Small fish are almost exclusively male with the percentage of females increasing with overall length.

The female produce large numbers of small, non-adhesive, pelagic eggs between 0.6 mm and 0.9 mm in diameter (one 22 Kg female was recorded as having 17 million eggs). The eggs appear pinkish when water hardened. The eggs hatch within 15-20 hours at which time the larvae are around 1.5 mm in length and the mouth and eyes are well developed, although the yolk sac is large. At 2.5 mm the mouth is large and open, the yolk sac is greatly reduced and the pectoral fins are beginning to develop. Above this size the larvae begin to exhibit the characteristic colouration of juveniles of this species - overall brown mottled markings with a white stripes running lengthwise along the head. At 3.5 mm the yolk sac is all but gone, fin rays are beginning to appear and the teeth are well developed. By the fifth day the yolk sac has been completely absorbed and by 8.5 mm the fins are fully developed.

A carnivore, feeding mainly on smaller fish as well as crustaceans. Juveniles take smaller fish fry, smaller crustaceans and aquatic insects.
An exciting and popular target for anglers in northern Australia, Barramundi responds well to lures either cast or trolled. Large minnow pattern lures are popular and productive when fished around snags, mangrove roots rocky outcrops, submerged timber and other heavy cover. Bright metallic gold or bronze a particularly popular lure colours for these feisty fellows. Often known for its spectacular leaps from the water during the fight, the Barramundi justifiably commands respect from those who seek it out.
Barramundi are also popular on heavier weight fly gear, and they will take live bait, especially mullet, prawns and macrobrachium (a giant freshwater shrimp). Whilst some excellent specimens have been taken on dead baits, it is not generally a recommended option.
These days many Barramundi sports fishermen practice catch and release. This practice is encouraged by NFA, although there is no reason not to take the occasional fish for the table.
On the table
Barramundi has gained a reputation as one of Australia's finest eating fish, usually with a price to match! In fact such is the reputation that there has been the occasional scandal due to substitution of other, cheaper, fish in the restaurant trade. Objectively it is probably true that the reputation exceeds the reality, but there is no denying that Barramundi are excellent table fish and specimens captured from estuarine waters are delicious, with firm, white, fine-grained meat. However, fish that have spent some time, even years in turbid, muddy water in some back water can be an entirely different story and their flesh can range from very tasty to inedible.

In the aquarium
Barramundi are generally placid in the aquarium, although the feeding reflex is still violent and sudden. They will take live or frozen bait fish, prawns and mussels. In contrast to the wild where Barramundi appear to be mainly nocturnal feeders, in aquaria, they will readily feed in daylight and become very tame.


  1. Usually in cultivating Barramundi is problems of feeding program