Evaluation of techniques for marking juvenile barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), for stocking


Mr D.J. Russell, Northern Fisheries Centre, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 5396, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia.


To monitor the success of stockings of hatchery-reared barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in tropical Australian waters a series of laboratory and field experiments were undertaken to evaluate a range of marking techniques. Juvenile fish of stocking size 30-85 mm total length were first used in laboratory experiments and then some were stocked into a freshwater impoundment for field evaluation. Marking techniques evaluated were fin crimping, fin removal, cold branding, polyethylene streamer (ags and coded-wire tags. The results showed that dorsal fin crimping and pelvic fin removal were relatively ineffective methods of marking, with only 53% and 63% of marks in each respective group being recognizable after 3 months. The polyethylene streamer tags were quickly shed, with 100% loss after only 77 days. Cold brands faded rapidly and were not considered to be of value as long-term marks. Coded-wire tags, inserted into the cheek musculature, were considered to be the most successful of the techniques assessed. Coded-wire tags were implanted at a rate of 250-270 tags per hour with an immediate success rate of 95-97%. These tags had no significant detrimental effect on either growth or survival and tag retention in the 2-month laboratory trials was 93%. Longer-term field studies, where fish had been stocked for about a year, also suggested little effect of coded-wire tags on growth or survival and no evidence of shedding.