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Keywords:

  • rearing temperature;
  • growth;
  • maturation;
  • long-term effects;
  • Arctic charr

Abstract

The effect of rearing temperature on the growth and maturation of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) was investigated. Arctic charr juveniles were reared for 6 months (phase I, October–April, size range 20–500 g) at constant temperatures of 9, 12 and 15 °C and according to two temperature-step groups (Tstep) i.e. fish transferred from 15 to 12 °C or from 12 to 9 °C. All the previous treatments were then reared either at 7 °C or at 12 °C for an additional 4 months (phase II, size range 300–1000 g) and then slaughtered in August 2008. The overall growth rate was the highest at a constant temperature of 15 °C for the first 6 months of the trial, with the fish in this group being 44% and 78% heavier than the fish reared at a constant temperature of 12 or 9 °C respectively. Arctic charr showed a negative response in terms of the growth rate when transferred from higher to lower temperatures, especially for groups previously reared at 15 °C. There was a trend for higher gonadosomatic index values at the end of the experiment for groups of fish that were exposed to higher rearing temperatures during the juvenile phase i.e. 4.18% (±0.79) and 7.29% (±0.89), for the temperature groups of 12 and 15 °C, respectively, compared with 2.49% (±0.74) for the 9 °C group. Our results suggest that for the production of fish >1000 g, moderate or low temperatures (here 9 °C) should be applied during the juvenile phase in order to reduce the negative effects arising from maturation. Farmers with access to heat sources should accordingly choose more moderate rearing temperatures during the juvenile stage, especially if the fish is to be moved down in the temperature regime during the on-growing period.