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#20298 - 07/09/03 11:00 PM Advice For Marking Fish?
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Can anyone provide some advice from experience of marking juvenile, subadult or adult fish by fin clipping? Which fins when clipped or nicked have the least impact on the well being of the fish? Is doral spine clipping effective? Which clipped fins have the longest time until regeneration occurs? Thanks. BC
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#20299 - 07/11/03 09:39 AM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Dave Willis Offline

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Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 2587
Loc: South Dakota State University
Well, Bill -- I guess no one else is going to "bite" on your marking question. I can give you some partial answers.

In general, I like to cut the pelvic fins (the lower of the two paired fins on most fishes, generally under the body). I think this may have less influence on maneuvering than cutting the pectoral fins (shoulder fins; the forward paired fins). Gee, I need to show a drawing!!

For the salmonids, cutting the adipose fin (that little fleshy lobe behind the dorsal fin and in front of the tail (caudal) fin) is a good choice.

You're going to run into fin re-growth on most cuts, and especially if you start with the partial cuts. I wish I could give you some straight-forward information on fin re-growth, but I can't. It's almost like it varies by fish. If I trim a pelvic fin down to its base, then it is least likely to regrow. If it does regrow, then it tends to be shorter, and the fin rays tend to be wavy. Having said that, however, there are always some fish that seem to regrow the fins, and regrow them so well that they can't be recognized. That's why I'm not a big fan of the "half cuts" on various fins. Those are more likely to regrow than complete cuts, and more likely to regrow so you can't recognize them. You'll recognize some, but not all.

We also play around a lot with paper punches for short-term marks in the dorsal, anal, or caudal fins. As long as you cut a fin ray, then a little "knob" will be visible after the fin heals. You can often recognize those for years. Again, I can't guarantee that they will be recognizable marks on all fish for a long time period.

I think that the adipose fin is less likely to regrow than other fins. So, it's a good choice for salmonids, catfishes, etc.

Well, hope this contributes a little!!

Dave
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#20300 - 07/11/03 03:27 PM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Ric Swaim Offline
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Registered: 04/24/03
Posts: 1902
Loc: Surry Co NC
David,
Has anyone experminted with injecting a small amount of dye in a fin for marking? I was thinking of trying food coloring or ink.
Ric
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#20301 - 07/11/03 04:10 PM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Dave Willis Offline

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Registered: 09/09/02
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Loc: South Dakota State University
Ric -- there are book chapters and books written on how to mark and tag fish!! So, yes, there have been quite a few attempts to dye, tattoo, etc. fish of various types. As always, results are variable, and vary by fish species and especially size of fish.

There was some success with spraying fish with luminescent material (sort of a thin, rubbery compound). That way, marked fish would shine under a fluroescent or black light. I recall that the technique works ok in the short term, but does not last for years. Other studies reported much longer retention for the fluorescent granules. I have seen this done, but not worked with it myself. Also, the fish had to be sufficiently large to handle the air pressure from the compressor.

Sometimes, people slip some colored material under the clear skin around the eyes of fish. Also, biologists sometimes put numbered tags in there. Both of these tend to have pretty high loss rates.

Many dyes and pigments have been used by fishery biologists, but a lot of that was decades ago. The dyes just were not good enough or long enough in their retention.

So, I guess that I better just stop. I can point you books or book chapters, if you really care about the subject. The fisheries folks just don't use this technique much any more.

Dave
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#20302 - 07/12/03 11:47 AM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Greg Grimes Offline
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Registered: 05/03/02
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Loc: Ball Ground, GA
Good discussion. I cut the pectoral fin on bass. It will last about two years and then I recuit if I see it growing back. I also tag most adult bass I'm tracking, and the floy tag will last 3-4 years.
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#20303 - 07/12/03 10:46 PM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12520
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Good information so far. Thanks for your thoughts. I want to mark a few individuals of a year class of yellow perch. I seem to remember that some have cut off a portion of caudal fin. Any experience with that cut or any dorsal spine cuts?

Today I was watching a 10" LMB maneuver in a large aquarium. It seemed to use the pelvic fins for right/left vertical balance and the pectoral fins seemed to be used for right and left turns. Cutting either of those fins seems to me that it will hinder agility in the fish.

A little piece cut off the tail or losing a top section of a dorsal spine seems a lot less handicapping of the fish. Comments?
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#20304 - 07/13/03 12:14 PM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Dave Willis Offline

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Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 2587
Loc: South Dakota State University
Bill - I'm afraid that I may be reaching the limit of my helpfulness. :-)

I have cut the caudal (tail) fin on quite a few fish. In my experience, you cannot always recognize the cut after a few months. Sometimes you can, but sometimes you can't. If you don't need 100% recognition (which usually is important to me), then this could be a great mark for you. I like the top corner of the fin, rather than the bottom, because a lot of natural occurrences can nip the bottom part of the fin.

Interesting observation on the LMB!! Nothing like going to the source, and seeing what is really happening. I'm a little chagrined to say that I haven't done that! :-) I guess I was just following a thought process that may not be all that valid. I thought loss of caudal fin could hurt feeding (forward thrust) more than loss of pelvic fins. However, as the LMB often are ambusher feeders, and maneuvering could be important, I'm not sure my original thought is valid.

I have not clipped the dorsal spines, and just can't tell you what to expect.

Dave
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#20305 - 07/13/03 03:40 PM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 20043
Loc: Northeastern Indiana
Bill,

I have a 3 pound largemouth in the pond that has virtually no caudal fin and seems to be doing just fine. I believe he is a male as he was guarding a nest, and is quite stocky. However, he's probably one of my pellet feeders, and I don't know how he would do on natural feed.

I have a theory on why he is missing most of his tail. I remember planting a bass a few years ago that has a deformity in his caudal region (it's kind of "s" shaped). It could have been a nutritional disorder, but its anybody's guess. Anyway, I believe this is the same fish and theorize this causes his tail to move through the water unnaturally and the other fish have nipped at his tail. Like chickens in a barnyard when there is something wrong with one of the chickens.
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#20306 - 07/13/03 10:32 PM Re: Advice For Marking Fish?
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Dave - The perch that I'm marking are pellet trained and full thrust from the caudal fin is not as impt as if these tail clipped fish had to be competitive as full time canibals. We frequently have an occasional deformed fish that survives and grows well by thriving on the pelleted food welfare. I would like to track these perch's growth for 3 to five years. I will try the spine nipping technique. Thanks to all responders for all the advice and experience.
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