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This study was performed to determine the thermal preferences and optimum temperature for growth of age-0 lake trout Salvelinus namaycush to help predict the thermal habitat they select when they leave the spawning grounds and to assess the risk posed to them in the Great Lakes by piscivorus, nonnative fishes whose thermal habitat preferences are known. The test fish were hatched in the laboratory from eggs taken from wild fish, acclimated to 5, 10, 15, and 18A?C, and fed to excess with commercial trout food for 47 d. The test fish grew at all of the temperatures, and the specific growth rate was highest at about 12.5A?C (3.8% wet body weight/d). Fish used in the growth study were also tested in a vertical thermal gradient tank and had a final thermal preferendum between 10.1A?C and 10.2A?C. These results, which generally agreed with those of an earlier laboratory study of the temperature preference of age-1 lake trout and the limited information on thermal habitat use by age-0 lake trout in the Great Lakes, indicated age-0 lake trout would tend to seek temperatures near 10A?C, or as high as 12.5A?C, during summer if food was abundant. Published information on thermal habitat use of age-1 and adult alewives Alosa pseudoharengus and rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax indicated they would be expected to co-occur with age-0 lake trout during much of the time when the lake trout were small enough to be eaten by these two introduced piscivores.
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Optimum temperature for growth and preferred temperatures of age-0 lake trout