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Abstract

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.