Pond Boss
This is from Jim Held a respected researcher in aquaculture. I received this via a yellow perch list serve I am on. I don't completely agree with his comments on yellow perch but he does knows more about aquaculture than I will ever know.


It's been a while since we've considered the potential of walleye and
hybrid walleye (sauger x walleye) for commercial culture. Many of you
receiving this e-mail were involved in the NCRAC and SeaGrant studies
back in the 90's, so I thought I would update you on some recent
work. In a small study over the past year, the Northern Aquaculture
Demonstration Facility has come up with what we think are some fairly
spectacular results. We combined early out-of-season spawning with
intensive fry rearing (Bob Summerfelt's method) and both pond culture
and RAS of the trained fingerlings to produce extended growth
walleyes (for stocking) and food-size hybrids (for consumption).

More and more resource agencies and lake associations are requesting
extended growth (8"+) fingerling walleyes for stocking. The high cost
of small (grade 10) forage makes this a very expensive proposition.
Training the fry and maintaining them in culture until they can take
larger, less expensive forage is a big step in reducing production
costs. We also had some success at keeping the fish on formulated
feed during grow-out in the ponds. Alternatively growing the pure
bred walleyes up to the 8"+ size in RAS could provide the high value
product that makes recycle economically feasible. An added benefit of
the intensive culture protocol is protecting the fingerlings from
diseases like VHS and eye fluke that has impacted production of
extended growth walleye fingerlings here at the Lake Mills State Fish

RAS culturists have always wanted a food fish that they could
"finish" in 1 year completely indoors. It seem clear to me that
yellow perch just don't fit the bill. The current intensive fry
culture techniques (green water, artemia) are expensive and
inefficient. Additionally, because of the slow growth of the very
small fingerlings the perch just don't make it to market size within
the year. Early spawning of the walleye and hybrids gave us an extra
six weeks of culture time, and most importantly the fry culture
didn't involve the use of any live feed. Even in our first attempts,
with the advice of Alan Johnson, we were quite successful in getting
the newly hatched walleye to take feed and survive. RAS culture of
the hybrids resulted in fish that averaged 160g and 10.5" by Nov. 1st
with fillet yields in the 50% range and fillets that weighed 80g per
fish (similar to large market size perch at 3/lb). Growth rates at
the end of the study averaged 1g/day with some fish in the cohort
growing faster than 2g/day, so one could have 250g hybrids by
February. The fillets from those fish would be 125g the same as
filleting a 265g perch! Keep in mind that that these fish are less
than 1 year old!!!

Several commercial producers here in Wisconsin have expressed
considerable interest in the walleye project. They thought the "baby
walleye fillets" were very tasty and were able to market the fish we
produced. Of course this was only a pilot study and there are still
questions to be answered concerning broodstock, culture density and
economics among others. The bottom line is these walleye and hybrid
techniques can benefit both public and private sector producers in
the North Central region and provide a new direction for RAS operators.

I think that it would be great if this idea got some serious
discussion and consideration prior to and at the upcoming NCRAC
meeting. I hope that you pass this message on to any producers in
your state that may be interested.


Jim Held
Aquaculture Outreach Specialist

Thanks for posting, Cecil. I had not seen that yet. I like his throught process, and it's good to see the actual fillet weights. One of our guys is starting some work on distiller's dried grains (by product from ethanol plants) and soybean meal in fish diets. Both show a lot of potential to reduce diet costs, replacing some of the fish meal. They are doing a lot of yellow perch work. Anyway, I'll forward this to him. He may already have seen it, but perhaps not. Most of the sport fisheries demand for the hybrids dropped because of at least some concern over stocking a fertile hybrid into waters, but also because it was a little bit of a pain to get the broodstock. So, for a commercial industry, they'll have to find some way to get the broodstock consistently available.
If they had good results with the "Early spawning of the walleye and hybrids gave us an extra six weeks of culture time", why can't the same methods be used for YP, thus producing a larger finished YP product at year's end? IMO the YP are a lot easier and more successful to feed train than walleye and its hybird.
 Originally Posted By: Bill Cody
If they had good results with the "Early spawning of the walleye and hybrids gave us an extra six weeks of culture time", why can't the same methods be used for YP, thus producing a larger finished YP product at year's end? IMO the YP are a lot easier and more successful to feed train than walleye and its hybird.

That's what I thought Bill. I also think selective breeding of yellow perch can produce larger fish, as in the research they are doing at Piketon. I've even produced perch that would have been large enough to fillet in a years time if I had brought them indoors during the winter.

It kind of reminds me of those that said you couldn't get a bluegill up to market size in a year, or the hybrid bluegills grow faster. That's been proven wrong.

However I've listened to a seminar by Jim and talked to him personally. He is very knowledgeable and knows his stuff.
Bill/David - I posted this unaware that Saugeye and Hybrid WE were the same creature. Here's my post would appreciate any feedback:

Okay guys - question for the experts regarding the Saugeye. Saugeye is a WE/Sauger hybrid with limited reproduction capabilities that combines benefits of both species. Retains WE ability for growth [they can exceed 10 lbs IIRC] but are tolerant of both warmer and more turbid waters ala Sauger.

Seems there could be a niche fileed by them in midwestern and southern ponds in my inexperienced estimation. I know of several E NE reservoirs that have been successful with SE stockings and they are all warm and on the turbid side. What are your impressions?

The main problem I see is availability via hatcheries - I've never seen them advertised. Bill - David - Eric - Cecil et al....bet you have some light to shed here. I'm interested in them and would be willing to experiment in the main pond with your blessings...

TJ -- you are on-target except for limited reproductive ability. The hybrid (saugeye) is fertile, will back-cross with both parents, and will produce an F2 generation. That's what really stopped the momentum for them for sport fishing. For a while, I was hoping that someone was going to get into triploid saugeye to avoid the reproduction issue, but haven't heard anything about that lately.

The states of Ohio and Oklahoma really had some spectacular saugeye fisheries going in places where the walleye populations had been poor (turbid, high flow through). Other Midwestern states were interested and used them a little, but then the concern over the saugeyes getting into native walleye and sauger populations arose, and most states backed off on saugeyes. We used them up at Richmond Lake (880 impoundment) in SD, and really created a super black crappie fishery in a lake in which the crappies had been stunted for years (decades). We compared saugeye and walleye in a 22-acre pond near Brookings, and really saw no difference between them in this good habitat. However, it was really cool when my son caught that 30-inch saugeye last summer out there! \:\) As Cecil indicated on the other thread, we really don't expect reproduction by saugeye or walleye in ponds. However, the walleyes in one gravel pit north of town here do have a little trickle of natural recruitment. Every time we electrofish in the fall, we always got just a few age-0 fish that came from natural spawning.

Bill and Cecil -- I thought some of the early work on saugeye showed that they were easier to intensive culture than the walleye? Same thing with the tiger musky vs. the northern pike or muskellunge?

I checked with Mike Brown, our culture guy, and he wondered if Held had been using the new Otohime diet or something similar? Mike said his LMB really like it in his tank experiments. I think Otohime is the next generation of the Biokyowa diet, and that diet sure helped some of the intensive culture efforts.

We still end up at the same place. What would be the brood source for pure sauger and pure walleye for production of the hybrids?
 Originally Posted By: Dave Willis

Bill and Cecil -- I thought some of the early work on saugeye showed that they were easier to intensive culture than the walleye? Same thing with the tiger musky vs. the northern pike or muskellunge?


I can't speak for Bill of course, but I think he and I were referring mostly to that statement about getting the saugeye up to market size by hatching them earlier, made us wonder why one couldn't do that for perch also? Actually I'm guessing having multiple cohorts by manipulating the photoperiod is being done by one big producer of yellow perch here in Indiana, but I don't know for sure. I do know it's definitely a good option if you want to produce fish consistently of the same size regardless of the time of year.

 Originally Posted By: Dave Willis
We still end up at the same place. What would be the brood source for pure sauger and pure walleye for production of the hybrids?

I don't know about other states but our state of Indiana got their walleye broodstock by gillnetting and electroshocking wild fish. I really don't know how they got the sauger unless they had some kind of trade with Ohio for sauger broodstock or they simply got the saugeye with a trade, which wouldn't surprise me. Now with the potential of getting VHS in wild fish that may not be as good an option now?
 Originally Posted By: Dave Willis
Bill and Cecil -- I thought some of the early work on saugeye showed that they were easier to intensive culture than the walleye? Same thing with the tiger musky vs. the northern pike or muskellunge?

I believe it is related to hybrid vigor. Tiger musky and saugeye have a faster growth rate earlier in their lives making them easier to culture.
Hi guys,
First I want to offer my congrats on a great site (lots of good discussion going on). Here are some responses to questions and comments raised in this thread. Cecil, thanks for sharing my original letter, the more people that know about saugeye the better. Re Bill Cody's question about early spawning perch: We have done and continue to do early and late out-of-season spawning of perch. The problem we face for spawning too early is that when the fry are hatched our ponds are still iced over so we have nowhere to go with them. I have tried intensive (in-tank) fry culture of perch without being successful enough to apply it on a commercial scale. I realize that some producers are reporting success but for me a 15% return on training the fry (and the associated labor involved) just doesn't compare with the kind of numbers that I get from pond culture of the fry.
Re several comments about production: The current bottleneck is the availability of sauger broodstock. Not many hatcheries produce sauger and with good reason. They are one of the most cannibalistic critters you have ever seen. Although since you are only producing enough broodstock to supply semen, this problem will be easy to overcome (one sauger male can fertilize thousands, no make that millions of walleye eggs to produce the hybrids). Re Dave Willis' comments: Dave you are right on target about the fertility of the hybrids (as good as either parent) and about the performance of the f2 generation. The hybrid vigour (read exceptional growth)expressed in the first generation hybrid seems to peter-out in subsequent crosses, and of course the impact of a fast growing exotic on naturally reproducing populations can be a disaster. The hybrid should only be stocked in isolated waters that do not have reproducing populations of the parental stocks. This being said the Wisconsin River has sauger, walleye and naturally occurring hybrids and although no genetic studies have been conducted it would seem that all three are doing okay. We did use the Otohime diet for taining with good success. This leads to one of the real considerations for hybrids in RAS. Since we can successfully train the hybrid (and walleye) fry, there is no need for a pond phase of fry production. The hybrids can be kept indoors for their entire lives.
Hello Jim and welcome to the Pond Boss forums. It's always great to have another expert on board!
Expert indeed... Thanks for stopping by! Please don't be a stranger on here.
Welcome Jim and thanks for the comments. We have lots of good discussions like this on many topics from alewives to zooplankton. Feel free to join in.

By chance did you work on the WiscFish id project - a great resource.
I did not work on the wisc fish project but it looks like an excellent tool. I've worked on many SeaGrant projects over the years and they usually are of the highest caliber.
Someone had mentioned triploid saugeyes (can't seem to find it now). Some years back we developed a protocol for triploid saugeyes and they performed very well. Sterile, fast growing, a little touchy to produce (but not rocket science) the problem was if you wanted 100% certified triploids you had to test every fish (just like triploid grass carp). So the testing gets a little expensive since you might be stocking thousands of saugeye rather than 10-20 grass carp.
Jim -- lots of natural hybrids between walleye and sauger in our Missouri River and its reservoirs, too. Not from any purposeful saugeye stocking.
can yellow perch and walleye create hybrid together?
Hybridization of Yellow Perch and Walleye
Thomas A. Wiggins , Thomas R. Bender Jr. , Vincent A. Mudrak & Michael A.
To cite this article: Thomas A. Wiggins , Thomas R. Bender Jr. , Vincent A. Mudrak & Michael A.
Takacs (1983) Hybridization of Yellow Perch and Walleye, The Progressive Fish-Culturist, 45:2,

Development of the yellow perch female x walleye male
embryos appeared to be comparable to that of the perch
and walleyec ontrols( Table 1). The embryosd eveloped eye
pigment in 7 to 10 days but did not hatch naturally. As embryos
reached 8 to 10 days some fry were physically removed
from the egg. Forceps were used to free the individual
egg from the jelly mass and break the chorion of
the egg, thus enabling the fry to swim free. Fry not released
failed to hatch and eventually died within the egg.
Newly released fry were placed in a 6.5-L plastic incubation
unit with a continuous flow of 16ÝC spring water for
rearing. Fry appeared to be morphologically normal.
Mouth parts were functional, and fry were observed
Feeding on decapsulated brine shrimp in 2 days, however,
total mortality occurred after 3 days. Mortality could have
been due to developmental abnormalities occurring after
hatch as a result of genetic differences in the genera,
although the fry appeared to be developing normally and
were feeding. We therefore postulated that fry mortality resulted from inadequate rearingc onditions such as flow,
feed, or rearing units, similar to the difficulties encountered
when attempting to rear walleye f ry in intensive culture.
We demonstrated in the present study t hat yellow p perch
female x walleye male hybrids can be produced. Further
investigations should address those mechanisms, both
chemical and physical that will enhanced the h hybridís ability
to hatch, without seriously affecting" normal" development,
and fish culture techniques( temperature water flow,
and intensive or extensive culture) that will permit such fish
to survive.
Wanted to bump this for snipe, although I'm sure he has all of this info.
I've wondered how zander would do here in the US.
NEDOC, appreciate that! And yes, this is taking place again this coming spring in 2 forms, YPFxWAEM and YPMxWAEF.
Anthropic, Zander are in the USA already up north. Confirmed recruitment is occurring naturally where introduced and some WAY downstream of intended locations.
Interesting stuff. What is the objective? Faster growing fish to market?
The objective for this will be to see if we can get it right-everything.
The outcome will hopefully be another option to use as a tool for management that is controllable, tastes good and provides additional fishing opportunity.
It's expected at this time that the fry will be transported to grow-out locations within 3 days-just as we do SAE due to the nature of (As stated above) cannibalistic tendencies.
Having a place to take them is going to be the easy part, getting them out of the egg is the concern and the reason we are crossing both ways.
Have you been able to raise any of the hybrids to adult yet?
This will be the first attempt but what ewest listed above was one of the documents referenced in the beginning phases of planning for this. 3 other data sources are being used as reference as well and all tend to indicate the YPMxWAEF should have higher hatch success rates. Longevity of fry has been an obvious issue and the reason has not been determined yet either.
Quite a bit of thought has went into this and we've got some great folks at the Milford hatchery that live percid night and day.
Thanks for jumping in snipe. I was hoping this would generate some interesting and educational discussion.
To public knowledge has anyone attempted these crosses? YPFxWAEM and YPMxWAEF
We've looked and we can't find anything other than similar documents ewest provided above.
Milford percid gurus want to try it based on the problems that seem to be found common in the post hatch from ribbons on that combo.
There's something common to the fry dying off at 5-20 day post hatch.
The thought is having proper conditions to support the fry to get them to a larger size for study is target 1. and possibly allow continued growth.
It may be a short experiment Bill.
I suspect that the genetics of the two species are too different for hybridizing yellow perch and walleye. IMO a "good" or high percentage of genetic compatibility of the parents has to be present for the hybrid develop successfully. Just one example - structure of the eggs of the two species are quite different. YP lay eggs embedded in a hollow gelatinous ribbon and WE scatter single eggs. Taxonomists consider these two species as belonging to different genera. To my weak genetic background of knowledge, most successful hybrids are produced from species within the same genus. Crossing a YP with a WE is like crossing a LMB and BG. Incompatibility of the YP and WE is evidenced by the difficulty during hatching and short life span of the fry. I am surprised the eggs even reach hatching stage.
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