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How to improve foraging efficiency for restocking measures of juvenile Baltic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus)

Maria Cámara-Ruiz, Carlos Espirito Santo, Joern Gessner, Sven Wuertz
Aquaculture 2019 v.502 pp. 12-17
Acipenser oxyrinchus, Chironomidae, brain, foraging, gene expression, gene expression regulation, hatcheries, juveniles, rearing, sand, sturgeon, tanks
Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), also known as Baltic sturgeon, is considered missing or extinct in German waters. Current conservation efforts focus on re-stocking activities, but classical hatchery rearing may reduce the fitness of the respective juveniles. In this study, we evaluated if foraging efficiency can be improved by short term training. Over a period of 14 d, we kept individuals of the training group in a raceway and fed them chironomids buried in a small sand spot to stimulate benthic feeding behavior while fish of the control group were fed in tanks without substrate. Thereafter, each fish was transferred to a raceway entirely covered with sand. For feeding, chironomids were randomly buried in the sand. During the first 7 days, trained fish recovered the feed significantly faster than untrained fish of the control group. Gene expression revealed an up-regulation in neurod1 in all brain regions after 14 d of training. Thus, this study suggests that foraging efficiency can be improved through short-time training thus improve fitness upon restocking into the wild.