[en] Growth heterogeneity is a central problem in larviculture and especially in predatory species. It can be influenced by a wide range of intrinsic and environmental factors, of which the respective influences are largely unknown. The role of non-interactive (temperature, day length, light intensity, food availability and composition) and interactive factors (stocking density, initial size heterogeneity, hatching time) on growth, survival and size heterogeneity was measured in larvae and post-larvae of the European seabass Dicentrarchus labrax and Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis. Embryos hatching later than others were found less competitive than those hatching earlier in both species, but to a greater extent in perch. By contrast, the final size heterogeneity in both species was independent from the initial size heterogeneity or recurrent size sorting. High stocking density had a positive effect on perch larvae, no effect on seabass larvae and a negative impact on the post-larvae of both species, owing principally to density-dependent access to food. Day length and light intensity produced contrasting results in larvae and post-larvae. Larvae of both species performed better under bright light and continuous day length. Post-larvae of seabass performed equally well at different light levels but did better under short day lengths, whereas post-larvae of perch were unaffected by day length but performed better under reduced light levels. Increasing food availability resulted in increasing performance of perch larvae, although cannibalism was higher for submaximal than for maintenance rations. The similarity between the two species at the larval stage, and differences at the post-larval stage can be accounted for by the increasing specialisation towards specific environments and niches. Regarding the impact of rearing factors on growth, survival and size heterogeneity, interactive variables impacted essentially on growth and survival, whereas size heterogeneity was chiefly influenced by non-interactive variables, either directly or indirectly via interactive mechanisms such as cannibalism and size-dependent mortality. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.