Effects of ambient colour on colour preference and growth of juvenile rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum)
Colour preference of individual juvenile rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss was tested at 1 and 12° C, and also at 12° C after a 42 day growth experiment under white, blue, green, yellow or red ambient colour. All experiments were carried out under controlled laboratory conditions and the preference was assessed by the location of the fish in a preference tank with four chambers. Rainbow trout showed a preference for blue and green at 1° C and for green at 12° C. After the growth experiment the fish reared in blue tanks preferred blue and green but green was the most preferred colour for the fish reared in green, yellow and red tanks. Yellow and especially red chambers were avoided, irrespective of the ambient colour during the growth trial. The final mass of fish reared in the red aquaria was significantly smaller than that of the fish in green tanks. In addition, when the data of the preference tests were correlated with the data of the growth experiment using mean values of the four tested colours, a very good linear relationship was observed between the preference (i.e. visit frequency in coloured compartments) and growth rate as well as food intake. When considering the results both from the preference and growth trials it is suggested that green is the best environmental colour for rearing juvenile rainbow trout while rearing in a red environment cannot be recommended.