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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Michael L. Brown


Largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides are valued as a top predator to maintain quality panfish fisheries. Managers use largemouth bass to manipulate the size structure and growth rates of panfish in small impoundments by reducing the number of small individuals through predation. Largemouth bass are also a highly sought‐after sport fish in South Dakota, ranking highly in surveys of anglers and competitive fishing events. Nearly one‐third of South Dakota resident anglers fish small water bodies, so maintaining small impoundment fisheries is of economic importance. Recruitment is often insufficient to maintain largemouth bass populations in South Dakota impoundments, so periodic stocking is used to maintain or supplement the populations. When some natural reproduction periodically occurs, maintenance stocking is used to increase the number of individuals in a weak year class; when natural reproduction fails completely, supplemental stocking provides all fish for one or more missing age classes. A stocking is considered introductory if no fish of the stocked species are present in the water body. Introductory stockings are used to establish a population in a new water body or to reestablish a population following a winterkill, summer‐kill, or drought. Maintenance stocking and supplemental stocking are often less successful than introductory stockings. The primary focus of this study was supplemental and maintenance stocking of largemouth bass. Age‐0 largemouth bass (48‐83 mm total length) are typically stocked during the fall, but there has been concern that these fingerlings are of inadequate size to recruit to the population as a result of insufficient energy reserves and high predation rates. A preliminary assessment found little to no recruitment of fall‐stocked age‐0 largemouth bass (75 mm total length) in small South Dakota impoundments. Producing and rearing these fish to larger sizes prior to stocking should result in higher energy reserves and lower predation rates and, as a result, increased contributions to resident populations. Cost effective production is essential for a successful stocking program. Live prey production strategies are costly and often result in highly variable yields, making production using artificial feed preferred. However, largemouth bass do not readily accept artificial feed, and a feed training period is required prior to production. Feed training success varies by study, facility, and feed. Commercial and hatchery production facilities report success rates generally as low as 60‐75%. Feed is often the largest operating cost in aquaculture production, and nutritionally imbalanced artificial feeds have been found to negatively affect fish health. There is a general need to identify cost effective and nutritionally balanced commercial starter and grower feeds that result in high feed training success, high growth, low mortality, and healthy stocking products to minimize per unit production costs of largemouth bass. Furthermore, the ability to predict consumption or growth using fish bioenergetics models could further reduce per unit production costs by maximizing feed utilization and decreasing costs associated with excess feed including nutrient loading, sedimentation, and water quality. Fish bioenergetics models have been evaluated with natural prey and widely used to address research and management questions, but few attempts have been made to evaluate and apply bioenergetics models to fish fed commercial diets, which have substantially higher energy densities than natural prey, for production purposes. Thus, the objectives of this study were: 1) to compare performance (growth, survival, and condition) of largemouth bass feed trained on commercial starter diets [BioVita Fry (BVF; Bio‐Oregon, Longview, WA), Otohime Marine Weaning Diet (OMW; Marubeni Nisshin Feed, Tokyo, Japan), and Purina AquaMax Fingerling Starter 300 (PAS; PMI Nutrition International, LLC, Brentwood, MO)], 2) to compare performance (growth, survival, health indices, and cost per unit growth) of largemouth bass reared on commercial grower diets [Purina Aquamax Grower 400 (PAG) Bio‐Oregon BioDiet Grower (BDG), Silver Cup Steelhead (SCS), and Richloam Bass Fry Diet 12 (RBF)], 3) to evaluate the largemouth bass Wisconsin Fish Bioenergetics Model 3.0 with largemouth bass reared on commercial grower diets (objective 2), and 4) to assess over‐summer and overwinter growth, survival, and stock contribution of advanced‐sized, cultured largemouth bass fingerlings supplementally stocked into small impoundment fisheries in South Dakota and physical, chemical and biological factors that may influence them. To evaluate starter feeds, fingerlings (n = 4185) were reared at 27 ⁰C in 833‐L (1.1 fish/L) circular tanks connected in parallel to a recirculating aquaculture system and fed one of three commercial starter diets to satiation 29 times per day, with three replicates per diet. At the start of the trial, 50 randomly selected individuals were measured for total length (TL) and weight. Twenty‐five randomly selected individuals per tank were measured for TL and weight at the midpoint (11 d) and endpoint (22 d) of the trial. Growth, survival, and condition were compared to assess treatment responses. Significant differences were found in all performance measures (P ≤ 0.05). Survival, a surrogate for feed training success, was 98.7% for OMW‐fed fish, 97.6% for BVF‐fed fish, and 94.3% for PAS‐fed fish. OMW‐fed fish had the highest survival, growth, and condition, with BVF‐fed fish ranking second in performance, and PAS‐fed fish ranking third in performance. Overall, performance was positively correlated with fat and negatively with protein to energy ratio in the starter‐feed trial. However, performance differences may be related to ingredient quality or secondary ingredients, such as attractants and gustatory additives. The appropriate feed choice will be dependent on specific production strategies. (See more in text.)

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Largemouth bass--South Dakota
Fish stocking--South Dakota
Fisheries--South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 110-131)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1996. Isak J. Csargo. All rights reserved.