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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Improving Reproductive Efficiency of Cultured Finfish

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

2012 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine steroid levels in reproductive catfish to determine early signs of reproductive success. Evaluate the use of ultrasound estimation of ovary size, level of plasma steroids, group/family of origin, and body weight as predictors of incidence and timing of pond spawning of 2 and 3 year old channel catfish. Evaluate use of ultrasound imaging to sort female channel catfish broodfish on commercial farms into two groups based on estimated ovary size (large vs. small ovaries), and compare steroid levels and incidence and time of spawning of these two groups. Determine the influence of chemical, biological and environmental factors on channel catfish respiration, growth and production, and develop and test practical management methods to minimize limits on production. Induce early maturation in channel catfish.

1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Catfish blood will be analyzed for steroid levels using HPLC/MS. Ultrasound images of female channel catfish ovaries and plasma steroid hormone levels of male and female channel catfish will be collected prior to the spawning season. Fish will be allowed to mate at random in spawning ponds and parentage of spawns will be determined via molecular markers. Statistical analysis will be conducted to determine if ultrasound imaging or steroid hormone levels are predictive of spawning time and incidence. Female channel catfish will be sorted based on ultrasound image predicted ovary size on commercial catfish farms to determine if ultrasound image of ovary size can be used to predict spawning success of females on commercial catfish farms. Ten standard hatchery troughs will be operated during the 2008 spawning season. Spawns will be weighed and sampled prior to being placed in the incubator, and the number of sac fry produced from each trough will be determined, allowing for a calculation of hatch rate. A similar number of troughs will be operated and sampled using the traditional method. Water flow rates, dissolved oxygen concentrations, and water temperature will be monitored. Fish will be exposed to different environmental temperature regimes.

3.Progress Report:

In FY 2012 (Year 3 of the project) we completed this project by examining the effect of oxygen supplementation on troughs loaded with 45 lbs of eggs. Fifteen troughs were incubated using no oxygen supplementation and had a mean oxygen saturation of 82.4%; 17 troughs were incubated using additional oxygen added through ceramic diffusers at an average rate of 0.12 liters/min resulting in an average oxygen saturation of 124.1%. Mean swim-up fry production overall was 462,363 fry/trough (10,327 fry/lb eggs), for a survival from egg to swim-up of 71.2%. There were no significant differences between treatments, confirming that 45 lbs of eggs can be incubated per See-Saw trough without additional oxygen if the hatchery water supply is near air saturation. We believe that even higher loading densities could be incubated using supplemental oxygen with no impact on hatch rate or survival to swim-up stage. Even without a pure oxygen supplement, the See-Saw incubator can incubate 3-4 x as many eggs as traditional paddle-type incubators using half the water, a tremendous savings in both floor space and energy use. The use of this incubator across the commercial industry would result in considerable savings, particularly for those hatcheries that need to heat their well water. One see-saw unit (4 troughs) would save $1,141.56 per five-day hatching cycle in propane heating costs compared to conventional troughs hatching the same number of eggs. This incubator may have even greater application in the numerous state and federal hatcheries which are tasked with hatching a growing number of fish species. The See-Saw can reduce both the space and water flow needed to meet their channel catfish production quota, making those resources available for other priority species.

Last Modified: 4/15/2014
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