The effects of bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis on native planktivores in the USA is unknown. The objectives of this study were to experimentally test for competitive interactions between age-0 bighead carp and age-0 paddlefish Polyodon spathula. Differences among water chemistry variables, invertebrate densities, and relative growth of fish were assessed in mesocosms. Water chemistry variables were similar among treatments throughout the experiment and only exhibited a temporal effect. Zooplankton density declined in mesocosms after fish were introduced. In general, zooplankton densities did not differ among treatments but did differ from the control. The relative growth of paddlefish was negative in the paddlefish and paddlefish-bighead carp treatments. The relative growth of bighead carp was negative in the bighead carp treatment but positive in the paddlefish-bighead carp treatment. Age-0 paddlefish exhibited the greatest decrease in relative growth in mesocosms with bighead carp. Bighead carp exhibited the greatest increase in relative growth in mesocosms with paddlefish. These data suggest that bighead carp have the potential to negatively affect the growth of paddlefish when food resources are limited.
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Competitive Interactions between Age-0 Bighead Carp and Paddlefish