Using critical thermal maximum (CTMax) tests, we examined the relationship between upper temperature tolerances and fish size (fry-adult or subadult lengths) of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (41-200-mm TL), Apache trout O. gilae apache (40-220-mm TL), largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides (72-266-mm TL), Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (35-206-mm TL), channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus (62-264 mm-TL), and Rio Grande cutthroat trout O. clarkii virginalis (36-181-mm TL). Rainbow trout and Apache trout were acclimated at 18°C, Rio Grande cutthroat trout were acclimated at 14°C, and Nile tilapia, largemouth bass, and channel catfish were acclimated at 25°C, all for 14 d. Critical thermal maximum temperatures were estimated and data were analyzed using simple linear regression. There was no significant relationship (P > 0.05) between thermal tolerance and length for Nile tilapia (P = 0.33), channel catfish (P = 0.55), rainbow trout (P = 0.76), or largemouth bass (P = 0.93) for the length ranges we tested. There was a significant negative relationship between thermal tolerance and length for Rio Grande cutthroat trout (R2 = 0.412, P < 0.001) and Apache trout (R2 = 0.1374, P = 0.028); however, the difference was less than 1°C across all lengths of Apache trout tested and about 1.3°C across all lengths of Rio Grande cutthroat trout tested. Because there was either no or at most a slight relationship between upper thermal tolerance and size, management and research decisions based on upper thermal tolerance should be similar for the range of sizes within each species we tested. However, the different sizes we tested only encompassed life stages ranging from fry to adult/subadult, so thermal tolerance of eggs, alevins, and larger adults should also be considered before making management decisions affecting an entire species.
Additional publication details
Relationship between fish size and upper thermal tolerance