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Swimming ability of Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis) and implications for passage over barriers


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Davies, PE (2000) Swimming ability of Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis) and implications for passage over barriers. Project Report. Hydro Electric Commission, Hobart.

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The redfin perch (Perca fluviatilis) is an exotic fish introduced into Tasmania in the mid 1800's. It is now well established and widespread in NSW and Victoria, as well as a number of catchments in Tasmania (Wasson et al. 1996). The species is known from the catchments of the South Esk and Derwent Rivers, and from a number of lower and mid altitude lakes including Lake Gordon. It is widely considered a pest species and there is active concern regarding the potential for establishment of the species in other waters, particularly lakes of the Central Highlands and Lake Pedder. There has been a recent focus on the potential for passage of redfin perch through McPartlans Pass Canal into Lake Pedder, and via the Ouse/Shannon River system into the smaller lakes of the Central Highlands. The species is well known from a number of larger farm and municipal dams, and lack of quality control during government and private stocking and translocation of rainbow trout and elvers is thought to have been responsible for some of this range expansion (Davies et al. 1997). Natural and manmade barriers to fish movement within stream drainages are common, and some stop fish passage through a combination of high velocity flow and vertical drops. Most however, are typified by a high velocity, hydraulically smooth zone through which the fish cannot pass due to limitations in swimming abilities. Fish use several swimming modes, including short bursts of high speed swimming, to negotiate high velocity water or barriers. There are two dominant modes of fish swimming - sustained swimming and burst swimming. The point at which a fish switches from using 100% aerobic metabolism, used during sustained swimming (where swimming can be maintained for > 30 - 200 min), to anaerobic metabolism (resulting in fatigue) is defined as the maximum sustainable swimming speed. Anaerobic swimming, characteristic of burst swimming, can only be maintained for brief periods, typically no more than 20 seconds. Quantification of maximum sustained swimming and burst swimming speeds is vital for determining the needs of fish passage. A third swimming category, prolonged swimming, is intermittent between 100% aerobic swimming and anaerobic swimming, where a combination of both types is employed (Beamish 1978). This latter category cannot be accurately assessed or measured (Beamish 1978), tends to be arbitrarily defined by the experimenter (e.g. see Mitchell 1989),and is not useful in defining swimming-determined limits to barrier passage. This project was instigated in order to characterise the swimming performance of redfin perch and to define its ability to pass barriers at specific water velocities. Work recently conducted by Walker (1999), and Davies and Walker (in prep.), has quantified the swimming capabilities of four common Tasmanian freshwater fish species. Their work focused on measuring maximum sustainable and burst swimming speeds for each species in flume trials. They were able to develop predictive equations from these data to relate distance traveled by each species to water velocity for a range of fish performance. These equations were then successfully validated by observing fish swimming performance in the field over a range of water velocities, using experimentally manipulated flows through culverts. Duration of fish passage was then estimated for six road culverts, and related to culvert characteristics. It was suggested to Hydro that these techniques could be used to develop a similar database and predictive equations for redfin perch. These data are needed in response to design issues and queries from Hydro in relation to construction of barriers to passage of redfin perch within Hydro catchments. This project therefore quantifies maximum sustained and burst swimming speeds for redfin perch, develops distance vs water velocity equations and makes recommendations in relation to the design of barriers to redfin perch movement.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Keywords: redfin perch, freshwater ecology, Tasmania, hydro electric power, barriers, fish passage
Publisher: Hydro Electric Commission
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2006
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:12
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