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Effects of light and turbidity on feeding, growth, and survival of larval Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus, Actinopterygii, Osmeridae)

Abstract

Understanding how environmental factors—here, light intensity and turbidity—influence the feeding, growth, and survival of larval Delta Smelt is critical for optimizing the culture of this endangered fish species. Three sets of rearing trials were conducted where larvae were cultured under different levels of turbidity and light intensity. Delta Smelt larvae feeding activity was observed throughout the initial adjustment of light and turbidity levels to ascertain feeding ability and behavior at the different levels. It was found that there is a minimum threshold of combined light and turbidity to generate their exogenous feeding response. At low turbidity conditions, early-stage larvae begun feeding and growing earlier when light levels were higher. The condition factor and survival of the late-stage larvae was increased with increased turbidity. The results suggest Delta Smelt larvae may be cultured under lower turbidity and light conditions rather than at the currently used levels. We conclude that the interaction between turbidity and light intensity plays an important role in the feeding activity, growth, and survival of larvae. The results here may inform fish culture lab methodologies, but may also provide useful baseline knowledge for light and turbidity preferences of Delta Smelt larvae in the wild.

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Acknowledgements

We extend our gratitude to FCCL staff for the support they gave in this experiment. We thank M. Nagel for some data collection and preliminary analyses, T. Mosquera for the collation of initial manuscript and A.R. Eads for statistical advice and edits. This study was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Contract R15AC00030). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporting agency.

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Correspondence to Tien-Chieh Hung.

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Tigan, G., Mulvaney, W., Ellison, L. et al. Effects of light and turbidity on feeding, growth, and survival of larval Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus, Actinopterygii, Osmeridae). Hydrobiologia 847, 2883–2894 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-020-04280-4

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Keywords

  • Delta Smelt
  • Turbidity
  • Light intensity
  • San Francisco Estuary
  • Aquaculture
  • Conservation