Effectiveness of backpack electrofishing for removal of non-native fishes from a small warm-water stream

Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science
By: , and 



Electrofishing is commonly used when renovating small streams to remove nuisance fishes but the likelihood of complete eradication of unwanted species, particularly warm-water fishes, is unknown. In October of 2008, we electrofished Bonita Creek, a small stream with base flows (<0.56 m3/s) in southern Arizona, and then treated the stream with rotenone to kill all of the remaining fish and quantify the effectiveness of single and multiple-pass electro fishing. Six, 100-m transects were electro fished on three consecutive days followed by a single treatment with rotenone. Fish caught using electrofishing were identified, counted and removed from each transect daily and then compared to numbers of dead fish collected during the subsequent rotenone application. Electrofishing effectiveness was highly variable among transects. Single-pass electrofishing caught an average of 23% (95% CI=5 to 40%) of the fish present, and three-pass electrofishing on consecutive days caught on average 55% (95% CI=28 to 83%) of the fish in each transect. Native Arizona fishes were more susceptible to electrofishing (77 % captured) than non-native species (54% captured), though native fish were rare. Transects in Bonita Creek averaged 3.6±1.5 m wide and 0.25±0.20 m deep (max depth 1.2 m). Bonita Creek is a small first-order stream which exhibits ideal conditions for backpack electrofishing, yet we captured a relatively small percentage of the fish present. This suggests that complete removal of non-native warm-water fishes using backpack electrofishing is not likely to be successful, especially in larger more complex streams.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effectiveness of backpack electrofishing for removal of non-native fishes from a small warm-water stream
Series title Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science
DOI 10.2181/036.046.0202
Volume 46
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher The Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 5 p.
First page 37
Last page 41
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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