Short-term Post Stocking Survival of Red Drum and Effects of Acclimation Time and Stocking Season on Survival

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Inland and Coastal Fisheries Divisions have maintained a cooperative stocking program for marine red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) in six freshwater power plant reservoirs since the early 1980s. We used experimental fish enclosures to analyze the effects of acclimation time (2.5 h vs. 5.0 h) and stocking season (summer vs. fall) on post stocking survival of red drum fingerlings in two of these power plant reservoirs. Calaveras and Tradinghouse Creek reservoirs were similar in size and depth, but Calaveras maintained total dissolved solids (TDS) and salinities twice that of Tradinghouse Creek. Mean summer and fall temperatures recorded during the study were 31.3 C and 16.6 C for Tradinghouse Creek and 32.6 C and 19.7 C for Calaveras, respectively. Overall, 10% of the fingerlings tested survived the 72-h trials, substantially better than observed in an earlier study. Slow-acclimated fingerlings had higher survival than rapid-acclimated fingerlings regardless of reservoir or season. Fall-stocked fingerlings had higher survival than summer-stocked fingerlings regardless of acclimation time or reservoir. Calaveras stocking survival was four times higher than that observed at Tradinghouse Creek. Our results show red drum stockings in freshwater power plant reservoirs should benefit from fall stockings and acclimating fingerlings for at least five hours prior to release.

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