Spawning and Grow-out Trials with Red Drum in South Carolina

Increasing interest in the farming of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) has resulted in research and development activities with this species at the Waddell Mariculture Center in South Carolina. Red drum adults were captured from tidal impoundments and held in ponds until being moved to tanks for spawning during their natural reproductive season. Three females averaging 11 kg spawned 9 million eggs, 50% of which hatched. The fry were reared to fingerlings in fertilized ponds. Survival of fry to fingerlings was 24%. Survival of fingerlings through their first winter was 57%. Simultaneously, fingerlings from another hatchery were grown to marketable size at commercial densities in a 0.10- and later in a 0.25-ha pond. Survival of fingerlings stocked in grow-out ponds in the spring was 98% during the first 9 months. During this time, fish grew to 304 grams. Survival was again very high (e.g., 97%) during the second year of grow-out. Fish averaging 1,540 g were produced in 22 months. A total of 783 kg of marketable fish were harvested from a 0.25-ha pond (3,127 kg/ha). Red drum appear to be a viable candidate for commercial cultivation in the Southeastern United States.

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