The key to successful fish culture is to understand the environmental cues that trigger spawning. In temperate fishes, photoperiod and temperature are important in many species including the family Ictaluridae. The object of this study was to examine whether natural photo-thermal conditions in the laboratory could stimulate the reproductive cycle of Neosho madtoms (Noturus placidus). For three years a small
population of Neosho madtoms were maintained under natural conditions and continually sampled using ultrasound to examine interior gonad state and exterior body measurements. The purpose was to examine the secondary sexual characteristics that normally occur during the spawning period. Every year the fish cycled in and out of spawning condition, including production and reabsorbtion of eggs. The best external measurement found to distinguish between sexes was the ratio of head length to total length. Internal measurements found the average number of eggs per female increased as the fish length increased and over time but the average sizes of the eggs were constant.
After years in the simulated environment 13 different fish were involved in ten spawns. The use of ultrasound to examine gonad in madtoms is promising, especially the lack of injury associated with the procedure. Overall laboratory conditions that simulated the natural photo-thermal environment, especially daily temperature fluctuations, were successful at stimulating the reproductive cycle of Neosho madtoms including egg cycling and spawning. These results show promise towards culture of madtoms especially for those species that are rare and endangered.
Additional publication details
The influence of photoperiod and temperature on the Neosho Madtom (norturus placidus) reproductive cycle