, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 347-361,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The interrelation between temperature regimes and fish size in juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua): effects on growth and feed conversion efficiency

Abstract

The present paper describes the growth properties of juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) reared at 7, 10, 13 and 16 °C, and a group reared under “temperature steps” i.e. with temperature reduced successively from 16 to 13 and 10 °C. Growth rate and feed conversion efficiency of juvenile Atlantic cod were significantly influenced by the interaction of temperature and fish size. Overall growth was highest in the 13 °C and the T-step groups but for different reasons, as the fish at 13 °C had 10% higher overall feeding intake compared to the T-step group, whereas the T-step had 8% higher feeding efficiency. After termination of the laboratory study the fish were reared in sea pens at ambient conditions for 17 months. The groups performed differently when reared at ambient conditions in the sea as the T-step group was 11.6, 11.5, 5.3 and 7.5% larger than 7, 10, 13 and 16 °C, respectively in June 2005. Optimal temperature for growth and feed conversion efficiency decreased with size, indicating an ontogenetic reduction in optimum temperature for growth with increasing size. The results suggest an optimum temperature for growth of juvenile Atlantic cod in the size range 5–50 g dropping from 14.7 °C for 5–10 g juvenile to 12.4 °C for 40–50 g juvenile. Moreover, a broader parabolic regression curve between growth, feed conversion efficiency and temperature as size increases, indicate increased temperature tolerance with size. The study confirms that juvenile cod exhibits ontogenetic variation in temperature optimum, which might partly explain different spatial distribution of juvenile and adult cod in ocean waters. Our study also indicates a physiological mechanism that might be linked to cod migrations as cod may maximize their feeding efficiency by active thermoregulation.