Pellet-reared Largemouth Bass Competitive Ability at Various Levels of Exposure to Live Forage

We investigated the effects of exposing pellet-reared, advanced-fingerling largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) to live forage on the ability of bass to capture live forage (competitive ability). Wild and pellet-reared largemouth bass were paired in competitive trials in 75-L aquaria and offered live fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas). Prior to competitive trials, pellet-reared largemouth bass were placed into trial groups and fed fathead minnows daily for 0, 2, 4, 8, and 16 days among groups. Pellet-reared largemouth bass without exposure to live forage captured the fathead minnow in 9% of competitive events against wild fish and captured significantly fewer fathead minnows than pellet-reared largemouth bass with exposure to live forage (logistic regression; P < 0.05). Pellet-reared largemouth bass with exposure to live forage before competitions were similar to wild largemouth bass in competitive ability. Regression analysis predicted pellet-reared largemouth bass with nine days of prestocking live forage exposure would have a similar ability to compete for food as wild largemouth bass. Providing pellet-reared largemouth bass with live forage for nine days before stocking may provide the benefits of both pellet and live-forage rearing.

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