Evaluation of swimming performance for fish passage of longnose dace Rhinichthys cataractae using an experimental flume


D R Dockery, T E McMahon, K M Kappenman, M Blank


Journal of Fish Biology


The swimming performance of longnose dace Rhinichthys cataractae, the most widely distributed minnow (Cyprinidae) in North America, was assessed in relation to potential passage barriers. The study estimated passage success, maximum ascent distances and maximum sprint speed in an open-channel flume over a range of water velocities and temperatures (10·7, 15·3 and 19·3°?C). Rhinichthys cataractae had high passage success (95%) in a 9·2?m flume section at mean test velocities of 39 and 64?cm?s-1 , but success rate dropped to 66% at 78?cm?s-1 . Only 20% of fish were able to ascend a 2·7?m section with a mean velocity of 122?cm?s-1 . Rhinichthys cataractae actively selected low-velocity pathways located along the bottom and corners of the flume at all test velocities and adopted position-holding behaviour at higher water velocities. Mean volitional sprint speed was 174?cm?s-1 when fish volitionally sprinted in areas of high water velocities. Swimming performance generally increased with water temperature and fish length. Based on these results, fishways with mean velocities <64?cm?s-1 should allow passage of most R. cataractae. Water velocities >100?cm?s-1 within structures should be limited to short distance (<1?m) and structures with velocities ?158?cm?s-1 would probably represent movement barriers. Study results highlighted the advantages of evaluating a multitude of swimming performance metrics in an open-channel flume, which can simulate the hydraulic features of fishways and allow for behavioural observations that can facilitate the design of effective passage structures.



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