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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Leetown, West Virginia » Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #389510

Research Project: Support the Viability and Expansion of Land-Based Closed-Containment Aquaculture

Location: Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

Title: The effects of two water temperature regimes on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) growth performance and maturation in freshwater recirculating aquaculture systems

item CROUSE, CURTIS - Freshwater Institute
item DAVIDSON, JOHN - Freshwater Institute
item GOOD, CHRISTOPHER - Freshwater Institute

Submitted to: Aquaculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/19/2022
Publication Date: 2/21/2022
Citation: Crouse, C., Davidson, J., Good, C. 2022. The effects of two water temperature regimes on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) growth performance and maturation in freshwater recirculating aquaculture systems. Aquaculture. 553(2022):738063.

Interpretive Summary: There is substantial investment in land-based recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) technology for commercial Atlantic salmon production both internationally and domestically. Early maturing fish in RAS represent loss through downgraded or unusable product and is an obstacle to profitability and long-term economic feasibility. Lower rearing temperature decreased the prevalence of early maturing fish with minimal impact of growth performance; however, additional measures are required to optimize RAS for minimal maturation. This research provides producers with data that will inform decisions regarding rearing temperature that optimize operational and financial projections for land-based salmon RAS.

Technical Abstract: There is increasing investment in and use of land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) to produce market-size Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) despite limited understanding of economic feasibility at commercial scale. High incidence of early maturing fish in RAS growout is one obstacle to profitability for this production method. Well-defined, RAS-specific water temperature thresholds that maintain high fish growth performance while minimizing early maturation are needed to accurately forecast bioplans, operational costs, and gains from reduced maturation downgrades. Accordingly, the objective of this research was to compare growth performance and maturation status of diploid, mixed-sex Atlantic salmon grown to ~1.3 kg in land-based RAS at a standard production temperature of 14 °C or at a cooler temperature of 12 °C. Survival, final weight, condition factor, feed consumption, and feed conversion ratio were similar between temperature treatments while thermal growth coefficient was significantly higher at 12 °C. Maturation prevalence and gonadosomatic index of immature fish was significantly higher at 14 °C. Overall, lower water temperature reduced prevalence of maturation in RAS while maintaining similar production performance; however, more than 20% of salmon cultured at 12 °C matured indicating even lower temperature, additional manipulations to the RAS environment, or use of all-female stocks are needed to optimize Atlantic salmon growout in RAS for reduced maturation.