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Fish biologists Ryan Katona and Beka McCann, from the La Crosse Fish Health Center, sorting fish on Pendills Lake in Michigan. Photo by USFWS.

Fish biologists Ryan Katona and Beka McCann, from the La Crosse Fish Health Center, sorting fish on Pendills Lake in Michigan. Photo by USFWS.

Testing the Waters at Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery

Pendills Lake, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, provides a backup water supply for the Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery raises over 1 million lake trout each year for stocking in the Great Lakes. Water that is free of bacterial and viral pathogens is crucial for the health of fish at the hatchery. Each year staff from the La Crosse Fish Health Center in Wisconsin lead efforts to assess the bacterial and viral status of wild fish captured from Pendills Lake.

In mid-August, Steven Gambicki from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Michigan provided assistance to Ryan Katona and Beka McCann from the La Crosse Fish Health Center with fish sampling efforts on Pendills Lake. Pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, brown bullhead and rock bass were targeted as representative species of the fish community. Trap nets were used to capture the fish, and after the fish were collected they were assessed for bacterial and viral pathogens.

Bacterial pathogens were assessed by collecting a swab from the kidney of each fish and applying it to a media to look for bacterial growth. If bacteria are found, they are isolated into a single colony and run through a series of biochemical tests to see if any certifiable bacterial pathogens are detected. Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is then used to verify the results. Viral pathogens were assessed by placing a sample from the kidney and spleen of each fish into a saline solution, which was further analyzed at the La Crosse Fish Health Center. These samples will be diluted and placed on appropriate fish cells to see if any viruses are detected. Any positive results will be confirmed with PCR. Results from bacterial and viral pathogen testing generally take between 28 and 42 days, and can depend on how toxic the samples are, or if there are any pathogens present.

To learn more about Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery and the work that we do, please visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/pendillscreek/

By Steven Gambicki
Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

Last updated: November 5, 2014