We conducted a laboratory investigation on the consequences of feeding predatory saimonids either experimental diets low in thiamine or diets containing alewife Alosa pseudoharengus. In experiment 1, adult lake trout Salvelinus namaycush were fed experimental diets containing bacterial thiaminase. In experiment 2, adult lake trout were fed natural prey species, alewives, and bloaters Coregonus hoyi. The diets consisted of four combinations of alewives and bloaters from Lake Michigan (100% alewives, 65% alewives-35% bloaters, 35% alewives-65% bloaters, and 100% bloaters), alewives from Cayuga Lake, a casein bacterial thiaminase, and a commercial trout diet. We assessed the effects of each diet on egg thiamine concentration and incidence of an embryonic early mortality syndrome (EMS). In experiment 1, incidence of EMS ranged from 0% to 100%. Significant relationships were found between the incidence of EMS and thiamine. In experiment 2, adult lake trout fed 100% alewives from either Lake Michigan or Cayuga Lake or fish fed the casein bacterial thiaminase diet produced eggs with low thiamine and swim-up fry with EMS. At either 35% or 65% alewives in the diet, egg thiamine was significantly lowered. The number of females that produced offspring that died from EMS were low but demonstrated the negative potential if feral lake trout foraged on either 35% or 65% alewives. Depleted egg thiamine and the onset of EMS required diets containing thiaminase for a minimum of 2 years in lake trout initially fully thiamine replete. We conclude that EMS can be caused by extensive feeding on 100% alewives and dietary levels of 35% or greater may prove detrimental to sustainable reproduction of salmonids in the Great Lakes. The data are consistent with that observed in feral lake trout, and it is concluded that EMS is the result of a thiamine deficiency. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
Additional publication details
Development of thiamine deficiencies and early mortality syndrome in lake trout by feeding experimental and feral fish diets containing thiaminase