Propagation and Culture of Paddlefish
Steven D. Mims, Richard J. Onders, and William L. Shelton
Abstract.—Paddlefish Polyodon spathula populations in North America have long been exploited commercially for meat and roe; however, the history of paddlefish propagation and culture is more recent. Early efforts to artificially propagate and culture paddlefish were motivated by conservation following the construction of dams and destruction of spawning habitat on major rivers of the central United States. From these beginnings, paddlefish propagation and the species itself have spread from native U.S. waters to other countries, including Russia and China. In the United States, conservation is still an important aspect of paddlefish culture, although sport fishing and aquaculture production have been added to the mix. However, in those countries where paddlefish have been introduced, the motivation has been the perceived potential for producing food for domestic consumption and valuable products for export, including one of the most exotic and expensive food products in today’s world—caviar. The collective efforts of state and federal hatchery personnel in the United States, along with university researchers from the United States and worldwide have resulted in a more complete body of information on paddlefish propagation and culture. Included in this collection are methods for handling broodstock, induced spawning, and nursery stages of production, along with cryopreservation of milt and manipulation of sex ratios in the hatchery to produce a preponderance of female fish. We have assembled this collection here to provide a single source reference and have added information concerning hatchery design, regulations, and the grow-out stages of aquaculture food fish production.