Juvenile steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss from a northern California Central Valley population were reared in a controlled laboratory experiment. Significantly different rates of growth were observed among fish reared under two ration treatments and three temperature treatments (8, 14 and 20° C). Wider circulus spacing and faster deposition was associated with faster growth. For the same growth rate, however, circulus spacing was two-fold wider and deposited 36% less frequently in the cold compared to the hot temperature treatment. In a multiple linear regression, median circulus spacing and water temperature accounted for 68% of the variation in observed O. mykiss growth. These results corroborate previous research on scale characteristics and growth, while providing novel evidence that highlights the importance of water temperature in these relationships. Thus, this study establishes the utility of using scale analysis as a relatively non-invasive method for inferring growth in salmonids.
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