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Effect of electric barrier on passage and physical condition of juvenile and adult rainbow trout

June 29, 2016

Electric barriers can inhibit passage and injure fish. Few data exist on electric barrier parameters that minimize these impacts and on how body size affects susceptibility, especially to nontarget fish species. The goal of this study was to determine electric barrier voltage and pulse-width settings that inhibit passage of larger bodied rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (215–410 mm fork length) while allowing passage of smaller bodied juvenile rainbow trout (52–126 mm) in a static laboratory setting. We exposed rainbow trout to 30-Hz pulsed-direct current voltage gradients (0.00–0.45 V cm−1) and pulse widths (0.0–0.7 ms) and recorded their movement, injury incidence, and mortality. No settings tested allowed all juveniles to pass while impeding all adult passage. Juvenile and adult rainbow trout avoided the barrier at higher pulse widths, and fewer rainbow trout passed the barrier at 0.7-ms pulse width compared to 0.1 ms and when the barrier was turned off. We found no effect of voltage gradient on fish passage. No mortality occurred, and we observed external bruising in 5 (7%) juvenile rainbow trout and 15 (21%) adult rainbow trout. This study may aid managers in selecting barrier settings that allow for increased juvenile passage.