Demonstration of tank effect on growth indices of juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) during an ad libitum feeding trial

David J. Speare From the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology (Speare, MacNair) and Health Management (Hammell), Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3.

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Neil MacNair From the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology (Speare, MacNair) and Health Management (Hammell), Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3.

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K. L. Hammell From the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology (Speare, MacNair) and Health Management (Hammell), Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3.

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SUMMARY

Growth indices were examined in 24 identically managed tanks, each containing 120 diploid juvenile rainbow trout (initial mean body weight, 9.3 g), during a 12-week study to examine tank effects associated with tank location in a multi-user research facility. Growth indices included mean body weight, feed intake, feed conversion index, and specific growth rate. The null hypothesis that tank effect had no effect on growth over the 12-week period was rejected (P = 0.038), and mean weight in individual tanks differed by as much as 18.7%. During the study, it was determined that the proximity of tanks to common-use walkways in the facility could affect growth indices. This was indicated by significant differences in the mean fish weights among blocks of tanks served by different header tanks after 4 (P = 0.001) and 8 (P = 0.024) weeks. The block containing tanks of fish with the highest mean weight was nearest to the 2 common-use walkways in the facility. Fish in this block of tanks, compared with those in other blocks, had significantly greater feed intake but no significant differences in conversion efficiency. Compensatory growth, a well known growth attribute in fishes, diminished the difference in mean weight between these blocks of tanks by the end of the study. Comparison of paired tanks within header tank blocks indicated that fish in those located nearest to walkways had higher feeding rates over the 12-week period (P = 0.048), but less efficient feed conversion (P = 0.040) than did fish in matched tanks located farthest from walkways. However, there were no differences in mean weight of fish. Results of this trial document the risks involved in identifying fish in a tank as the experimental unit when treatments are administered to the tank of fish, the latter being the true experimental unit.

SUMMARY

Growth indices were examined in 24 identically managed tanks, each containing 120 diploid juvenile rainbow trout (initial mean body weight, 9.3 g), during a 12-week study to examine tank effects associated with tank location in a multi-user research facility. Growth indices included mean body weight, feed intake, feed conversion index, and specific growth rate. The null hypothesis that tank effect had no effect on growth over the 12-week period was rejected (P = 0.038), and mean weight in individual tanks differed by as much as 18.7%. During the study, it was determined that the proximity of tanks to common-use walkways in the facility could affect growth indices. This was indicated by significant differences in the mean fish weights among blocks of tanks served by different header tanks after 4 (P = 0.001) and 8 (P = 0.024) weeks. The block containing tanks of fish with the highest mean weight was nearest to the 2 common-use walkways in the facility. Fish in this block of tanks, compared with those in other blocks, had significantly greater feed intake but no significant differences in conversion efficiency. Compensatory growth, a well known growth attribute in fishes, diminished the difference in mean weight between these blocks of tanks by the end of the study. Comparison of paired tanks within header tank blocks indicated that fish in those located nearest to walkways had higher feeding rates over the 12-week period (P = 0.048), but less efficient feed conversion (P = 0.040) than did fish in matched tanks located farthest from walkways. However, there were no differences in mean weight of fish. Results of this trial document the risks involved in identifying fish in a tank as the experimental unit when treatments are administered to the tank of fish, the latter being the true experimental unit.

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