Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: West Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Waldrop, T., S. Summerfelt, P. Mazik, and C. Good. Comparing the effects of swimming exercise and dissolved oxygen on the performance, health, and welfare of early-rearing Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Aquaculture Research.


Swimming exercise, typically measured in body-lengths per second (BL/s), and dissolved oxygen (DO), are important environmental variables in fish culture. While there is an obvious physiological association between these two parameters, their interaction has not been adequately studied in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Because exercise and DO are variables that can be easily manipulated in modern aquaculture systems, we sought to assess the impact of these parameters, alone and in combination, on the performance, health, and welfare of juvenile Atlantic salmon. In our study, Atlantic salmon fry were stocked into twelve circular 0.5 m3 tanks in a flow-through system and exposed to either high (1.5-2 BL/s) or low (<0.5 BL/s) swimming speeding and high (100% saturation) or low (70% saturation) DO while being raised from 10g to approximately 350g in weight. Throughout the study period, we assessed the impacts of exercise and DO concentration on growth, feed conversion, survival, and fin condition. By study’s end, both increased swimming speed and higher DO were independently associated with a statistically significant increase in growth performance (p<0.05); however, no significant differences were noted in survival and feed conversion. Caudal fin damage was associated with low DO, while right pectoral fin damage was associated with higher swimming speed. Finally, precocious male sexual maturation was associated with low swimming speed. These results suggest that providing exercise and dissolved oxygen at saturation during Atlantic salmon early rearing can result in improved growth performance and a lower incidence of precocious parr.