Genoa NFH Helps State Partner Start
Snuffbox Recovery Efforts
BY NATHAN ECKERT, GENOA NFH
For over 10 years Genoa National Fish hatchery (NFH) has been culturing sub-adult freshwater mussels in culture cages placed out in lakes and streams. During this time the design of the cage has changed a few times, but the current model has been in place for several years and is strikingly similar to the original. The mussel culture cage consists of a rectangular frame wrapped with galvanized wire to hold fish and a plywood base with legs to hold the cage several inches from the stream bottom. These cages have been used at multiple locations to produce sub-adult freshwater mussels of several species. One of the species that has been raised in the Genoa style mussel culture cage is the snuffbox, a species that was recently added to the Federally Endangered species list.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources recently requested that Genoa NFH construct 20 mussel culture cages for them to begin a restoration program for the snuffbox. The staff at Genoa NFH was able to find the time during December to cut and weld the frames and then attach the plywood and wire screening. Existing jigs and designs were used to assure the cages match previously constructed cages, and that the parts are interchangeable.
The snuffbox uses the logperch, a slender bottom dwelling fish, as a host. Because the logperch is smaller than the bass, catfish or walleye that are normally stocked in mussel culture cages; smaller screen had to be used to assure that the host fish could not escape while carrying their mussels. In addition, a sorting table was also built so that sand and mud from the cages can be sieved to easily reveal sub-adult mussels that survived. The cage tops, bottoms and sorting table are now loaded on a trailer waiting for schedules to match up for us to take them down to their new home in Indiana where state biologists will put them to use. If their efforts are fruitful the snuffbox will thrive again in Indiana and Genoa NFH will have played a small role in the recovery of this endangered species.