Skeletal anomalies in farmed fish affect animal welfare and economic return in aquaculture but very limited information exists on skeletal ontogeny and anomalies among species of the family Lutjanidae. This study describes the skeletal ontogeny and anomalies of crimson snapper Lutjanus erythropterus larvae and juveniles from hatching to 36 day-post hatching (DPH). Mandible, ceratobranchial, cleithrum and gill arches were the initial skeletal structures appeared at 3 DPH that supported the vital life functions such as feeding and respiration. Ossification of premaxilla and maxilla and dentary started at 3.21 ± 0.25 mm (9 DPH), and completed at 5.91 ± 0.34 mm (18 DPH). The head skeleton formation completed at 22.35 ± 2.26 mm (31 DPH). The axial skeleton development started with the formation of neural arches at 3.64 ± 0.07 mm (10 DPH) and ossification of axial skeleton completed at 11.01 ± 0.88 mm (24 DPH). The fins developed sequentially and the ossification of fins completed at 30.57 ± 2.44 mm (36 DPH). A total of 39.5% fish exhibited anomalies in the present study and the anomalies were: lordosis, vertebral fusion, neural spines bifurcation, connection of adjacent pterygiophores, haemal spine anomaly, neural spines anomaly, anomaly in pterygiophores and supernumerary neural spines. Results from this study add new knowledge to functional morphology of crimson snapper that would be useful to larval aquaculture of marine teleosts.
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