Mussel Program Adds New Fish Species to
Production Roster at Genoa NFH
BY NATHAN ECKERT, GENOA NFH
Freshwater mussels are host specific, not just any fish will do. Each mussel has a set of fish that will transform its’ larvae into juveniles. Usually one species will work better than the others and for restoration projects it is best to use that best available host. For the newly listed snuffbox, the best available host in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed is the logperch.
The logperch is a large darter that can grow up to approximately six inches. Restoration efforts for the snuffbox in the Upper Mississippi Watershed between Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) and other regional partners could utilize as many as 300 – 500 logperch in a year, a number too large to consistently be collected in the wild. For this reason Genoa NFH undertook the task of producing logperch on station a few years ago. This smaller cousin of the walleye isn’t pursued by anglers and thus has rarely been the target of propagation efforts.
To maintain a disease free status at Genoa NFH, wild fish are not brought to the hatchery without a health certification conducted by the La Crosse Fish Health Center. Beginning in the fall of 2011 a lot of wild collected logperch were held in quarantine during the fish health inspection process. After passing inspection those young of the year fish were then held for grow-out during 2012 when they reached maturity. Another year class was added in 2012, and more will be added in the future, to assure that we had a genetically diverse brood population.
This year the mature logperch were placed in one of the small mixing ponds at that hatchery that has a combination of gravel and cobble/boulder substrate believed to be adequate for logperch spawning. During spring harvest of our walleye ponds in June we decided to seine the logperch pond to check on their progress and were pleasantly surprised to recover a few two inch logperch along the pond edges. The pond will be drained completely in the fall to remove all the fish and relocate them to a winter home prior to mussel restoration efforts next year. It is our hope that a sufficient spawn of logperch can be achieved each year to produce enough logperch for snuffbox restoration efforts without the need for annual wild collections.