Due to financial and time constraints, it is often necessary in fisheries studies to divide large samples of fish and estimate total catch from the subsample. The subsampling procedure may involve potential human biases or may be difficult to perform in rough conditions. We present a prototype gravity-fed splitter apparatus for dividing large samples of small fish (30–100 mm TL). The apparatus features a tapered hopper with a sliding and removable shutter. The apparatus provides a comparatively stable platform for objectively obtaining subsamples, and it can be modified to accommodate different sizes of fish and different sample volumes. The apparatus is easy to build, inexpensive, and convenient to use in the field. To illustrate the performance of the apparatus, we divided three samples (total N = 2,000 fish) composed of four fish species. Our results indicated no significant bias in estimating either the number or proportion of each species from the subsample. Use of this apparatus or a similar apparatus can help to standardize subsampling procedures in large surveys of fish. The apparatus could be used for other applications that require dividing a large amount of material into one or more smaller subsamples.
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A prototype splitter apparatus for dividing large catches of small fish