Evaluation of Three Fish Species for Culture Using Low Salinity Groundwater in the Black Belt Region of Alabama
Type of DegreeThesis
Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
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The Black Belt region of Alabama is a rural, agricultural-based area with an economy largely dependent upon commercial catfish production. A unique fact about this region is that much of the landmass is underlain with saline aquifers. Many of the catfish farms located in this region currently have access to low salinity well water and several growers currently use it for catfish production. In recent years, the market value of catfish has fluctuated substantially largely due to increased supplies and competition from imports. Lower market prices have had a substantial effect on the already impoverished region. Producing alternative species is one way that farmers may spread financial risk. In a region with resources of this type, the potential for inland culture of marine finfish could prove to be a huge stimulus for the economy. This work evaluates potential production of three alternative species: southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma), Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus), and hybrid striped bass (Morone saxatilis ?) X (M. chrysops ?), using two sources of inland low salinity pond water. The two sources of water are both low salinity but composed of differing concentrations of ions. Fish were located at two farm sites utilizing low salinity water in the Black Belt region of Alabama. Hybrid striped bass, Florida pompano, and southern flounder were individually placed into one of the twelve tanks at each site. At the conclusion of the ninety day experiment, growth rates and survival were compared for the two locations. At conclusion of the study, mean survival at site A was 93.8% for hybrid striped bass, 0% for pompano, and 82.5% for flounder; survival at site B was 97.5% for hybrid striped bass, pompano 80 %, and flounder 91.3 %. Only mean survival of pompano was significantly different with no survival at location A. Mean feed conversion ratio (FCR) for hybrid striped bass at site A was 1.3 and 6.4 for flounder. At site B, mean FCR was 0.9 for hybrid striped bass, 7.8 for flounder, and 1.2 for pompano. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were found for FCR of hybrid striped bass at the two locations. Mean specific growth rates for hybrid striped bass were 3.6 (A) and 3.7 (B), for flounder 0.6 (A) and 0.4 (B), and 3.1 for pompano at location B. Water quality at the two locations was similar; the major difference between the two locations was irregular ion concentrations. With the current knowledge available and based upon this study, hybrid striped bass appear to be the most likely prospect for culture in the Black Belt region of Alabama because of the fish examined they were the most adaptable to growing in low salinity water and high temperatures of the region.