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Keywords:

  • hatchery fish;
  • movement;
  • red snapper;
  • site fidelity

Abstract  Hatchery-reared age-0 red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus (Poey), were released onto artificial habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. Fish showed 12.7% survival after 7 months on small habitats (0.86 m3) and 3.1% survival after 8 months on large habitats (3.9 m3). Emigration was estimated by the movement of fish to unstocked habitats and accounted for 76.8% of the total decline in abundance at release sites after 26 days. Fish showed higher survival and growth rates on small habitats (27.6% at 26 days; 0.33 mm day−1) compared with large habitats (13.2% at 34 days; 0.26 mm day−1), which may have been due to increased predation and competition on large habitats. Fish became evenly distributed among adjacent habitats 26 days after release, indicating that stocking densities at release habitats were above carrying capacities. These observations suggested that providing additional habitat around red snapper release sites would increase survival.