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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 9:145-153 (2017)  -  DOI:

Oxygen gradients affect behaviour of caged Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

Tina Oldham1,*, Tim Dempster2, Jan Olav Fosse3, Frode Oppedal3

1Aquatic Animal Health Group, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania 7250, Australia
2Sustainable Aquaculture Laboratory - Temperate and Tropical (SALTT), School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
3Institute of Marine Research, Matredal 5984, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Dissolved oxygen (DO) conditions in marine aquaculture cages are heterogeneous and fluctuate rapidly. Here, by temporarily wrapping a tarpaulin around the top 0 to 6 m of a marine cage (~2000 m3), we manipulated DO to evaluate the behavioural response of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar to hypoxia. Videos were recorded before, during and after DO manipulation at 3 m depth while vertical profiles of temperature, salinity, DO and fish density were continuously measured. The trial was repeated 4 times over a 2 wk period. Temperature and salinity profiles varied little across treatment periods; however, DO saturation was reduced at all depths in all replicate trials during the tarpaulin treatment compared to the periods before or after. In 3 out of 4 trials, swim speeds were 1.5 to 2.7 times slower during the tarpaulin treatment than the before or after periods. Significant changes in vertical distribution of fish density and DO were observed between treatment periods in all replicate trials; salmon swam either above or below the most hypoxic depth layer (59 to 62% DO saturation). In a regression tree analysis, the relative influence of DO in determining fish distribution was 17%, while temperature (39%) and salinity (44%) explained the majority of variation. Our results demonstrate that salmon are capable of modifying their distribution and possibly activity levels in response to intermediate DO levels, but that DO is not a primary driver of behaviour at the saturation levels examined in this study.

KEY WORDS: Hypoxia · Dissolved oxygen · Behaviour · Salmo salar · Fish distribution · Aquaculture

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Cite this article as: Oldham T, Dempster T, Fosse JO, Oppedal F (2017) Oxygen gradients affect behaviour of caged Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Aquacult Environ Interact 9:145-153.

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