Hatchery hopes new tanks will help endangered fish breeding
NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) — Officials at a federal fish hatchery in southwest Missouri are hoping that new water tanks will provide a better breeding environment for endangered pallid sturgeon.
The Neosho National Fish Hatchery recently received circular tanks that mimic the current in a river, which officials believe could increase reproduction for pallid sturgeons, the Joplin Globe reported.
“Basically it’s just going to create an endless path for them to be able to swim,” said Bruce Hallman, an environmental education specialist with the hatchery. “There will be a little current in there that will kind of mimic the river, and the thought is just that that’s going to keep them a little happier.”
The hatchery, which is the oldest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-managed hatchery operating in the country, has been using rectangular tanks.
Pallid sturgeons have been federally recognized as an endangered species for almost 30 years, Hallman said. Their natural home is the Missouri River and parts of the Mississippi River, and they can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) long and weigh more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms), he said.
The population of pallid sturgeon species started to decline because river channelization, dams and other changes destroyed spawning grounds, reduced its prey base and altered water temperatures.
Wildlife officials and fisheries biologists have been trying to restore habitat, and create captive breeding and restocking programs. But officials said they’ve found little evidence of sturgeon reproduction in the wild.
“It’s a very complex problem, and we’re not here to solve the problem as far as the hatchery here,” Hallman said. “Our main goal is to try to breed them and try to get some new families out there.”
Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com