Under controlled laboratory conditions we measured the electrical peak power required to immobilize (i.e., narcotize or tetanize) fish of various species and sizes with duty cycles (i.e., percentage of time a field is energized) ranging from 1.5% to 100%. Electrofishing effectiveness was closely associated with duty cycle. Duty cycles of 10-50% required the least peak power to immobilize fish; peak power requirements increased gradually above 50% duty cycle and sharply below 10%. Small duty cycles can increase field strength by making possible higher instantaneous peak voltages that allow the threshold power needed to immobilize fish to radiate farther away from the electrodes. Therefore, operating within the 10-50% range of duty cycles would allow a larger radius of immobilization action than operating with higher duty cycles. This 10-50% range of duty cycles also coincided with some of the highest margins of difference between the electrical power required to narcotize and that required to tetanize fish. This observation is worthy of note because proper use of duty cycle could help reduce the mortality associated with tetany documented by some authors. Although electrofishing with intermediate duty cycles can potentially increase effectiveness of electrofishing, our results suggest that immobilization response is not fully accounted for by duty cycle because of a potential interaction between pulse frequency and duration that requires further investigation.
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Electrofishing power requirements in relation to duty cycle