Observations On Spawning And Growth Of Four Species Of Basses (Micropterus) In Ponds

Brood stock of basses were obtained from the following locations during March to April, 1969; Micropterus coosae (Alabama race), Alabama River system; M. coosae (Apalachicola rate), Apalachicola River system; M. notius, Suwannee River system; M. punctulatus henshalli, Tallapoosa River system; M. p. punctulatus, Apalachicola River system; M. dolomieui, Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery, Arkansas. Adult bass of each stock except Suwannee bass spawned during April 5 to May 19, 1969, in 0.04- to O.l-acre earthen ponds when stocked at 50 to 100 per acre. Suwannee bass possibly had already spawned in their native habitat. However, Suwannee bass spawned in April during both 1970 and 1971. Surface water temperatures and dates when eggs were first observed were as follows: M. p. henshalli--69 F (April 5, 1969); M. coosae (Alabama race)-73 F (April 14, 1969) ; M. dolomieui--73 F (April 16, 1969); M. p. punctulatus-74 F (May 3, 1969); M. coosae (Apalachicola race)-79 F (May 5, 1969); M. notius-68 F (April 9, 1970), and 68 F (April 17, 1971). Egg sizes varied considerably among species, M. p. henshalli having eggs 1.9 mm in diameter, while the smallest of adult basses, M. coosae (Alabama race) had the largest eggs at 3.5 mm in diameter. Fry from each bass form except M. notius were stocked during May 9 to June 11 into O.l-acre ponds which contained abundant fathead minnow, Pimephale8 promelas. Bass were 17 to 41 mm in total length and were stocked at rates of 800 to 3,000 per acre. Rates of growth varied with species and stocking rate, and survival at draining was lowest in M. dolomieui (63.7 per cent) and highest (89.9 per cent) in M. coosae (Apalachicola race). Another experiment was a comparison of growth of M. p. henshalli, M. coosae (Alabama race), M. coosae (Apalachicola race), and M. dolomieui, in a single fertilized pond. In the pond, survival of the Alabama redeye bass was 100 per cent, while that of the Apalachicola redeye bass was only 67 per cent. The Alabama race had the least growth rate of the four basses. M. notius fry stocked at 25 mm (272/A) on May 21, 1970, into a pond containing abundant fathead minnow forage grew to 94 mm by July 13, 1970. All fish were lost at this time from oxygen depletion.

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