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Polyculture production of juvenile fishes for survival in nature

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Production of seed for stock enhancement projects requires consideration of the behavioural quality of the animals to be released in the wild. Our approach to improving behavioural quality of hatchery fish is to raise them in polyculture with the plants or animals that fish normally utilize as shelter in nature. Results suggest that such ‘naturalized’ systems provide a broad improvement in behaviour as both predator avoidance and feeding skills were improved relative to control hatchery fish. In addition fish in a naturalized system grew better and were more tolerant of stress than were fish reared by traditional hatchery methods. We hypothesize that the spatial heterogeneity of our ‘naturalized’ systems provided training in both hiding and seeking and that these activities improved feed conversion and stress tolerance.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: NOAA, National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, NC 28516–9722, U.S.A.

Publication date: December 1, 2004


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