University of Oulu

Juvenile years of Atlantic salmon in the wild and in the hatchery: ecophysiological differences

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Author: Heinimaa, Sirkka1,2
Organizations: 1Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Inari Fisheries Research and Aquaculture
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2003
Publish Date: 2003-12-12
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on December 12th, 2003, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Professor Lars-Ove Eriksson
Senior Researcher Lars Petter Hansen


This study investigated the ecophysiology of one of the world’s northernmost Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) stocks in the River Teno. The juvenile years of salmon of same genetic background were studied in the wild and in the hatchery conditions. In addition, the maternal size effect on reproduction was studied in wild females.

Benefit of body size was not only quantitative but also qualitative in reproduction success of the wild female salmon in the River Teno. Total number of eggs and energy content of eggs were higher in big females than in smaller ones.

In the hatchery, under natural day length and water temperature conditions, the growth rate, liver glycogen content and condition factor of the parr was higher than in the wild. The liver glycogen content of the hatchery-reared parr increased throughout the growing season and decreased during winter, whereas that of the wild parr was the lowest in summer, and stayed relative stable from September to May. The observed differences in annual fluctuation in liver glycogen content may reflect the differences in carbohydrate content of feed and in behaviour between the hatchery and wild.

Overall, the hatchery-reared juveniles maturated and smoltificated 1–2 years earlier than the wild fish. The mean age of wild precocious males was 3 years and that of wild smolts 4 years. However, there was considerable variation in the age of precocious males (1–6 yr) and smolts (2–8 yr) in the wild. The maturing and smolting juvenile age groups were restricted to two (1–2 yr and 2–3 yr, respectively) in the hatchery.

In June, the hypo-osmoregulatory ability of hatchery smolts was developed parallel to the wild smolts. Some differences in physiological parameters between different smolt groups could be observed in the wild and between hatchery-reared and wild smolts indicating that completing of smolting process varies to some extent under different conditions. However, the hatchery-reared smolts showed higher levels of fin damage and body energy stores than the wild smolts.

As the hatchery practices should aim at controlling the quantity and quality of the juvenile salmon in production, the environmental conditions governing the physiological development of the juvenile fish should be taken into account. Hatchery practices should be planned so that the seasonal timing of smolting would follow the wild fish as close as possible.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 951-42-7220-X
ISBN Print: 951-42-7219-6
Issue: 407
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2003. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.