Individual growth rates of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) depending on water exchange rates in recirculating aquaculture systems

  • Kathrin SteinbergEmail author
  • Jan Zimmermann
  • Stefan Meyer
  • Carsten Schulz
European Percid Fish Culture


The main focus of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) is to achieve the highest possible growth rates of the cultured fish at lowest possible cost implications. Growth rates of fish are species- and life stage–specific. Detailed knowledge on the growth rates of the reared species is thus indispensable. Commercial culture of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) in RAS has been growing for the last decades, but knowledge on growth rates is still scarce. The aim of the study was to closely monitor the growth rates of pikeperch in RAS for a total of 98 feeding days. Three common water exchange rates (1000 L kg feed−1, 500 L kg feed−1 and 200 L kg feed−1) were used to simulate different intensities of RAS and evaluate the effect on individual pikeperch from 250 g onwards. Pikeperch were tagged individually and weighted every 2 to 3 weeks. Whole body composition was analysed after 56 and 98 feeding days. The water exchange rate did not show a significant effect on the individual fish. Detailed information on individual pikeperch showed that 75% of pikeperch experienced low or even negative growth during at least one of the time periods. The body composition analysis showed similar results among all treatment groups with slight increases in lipid content at the end of the experiment. Growth of pikeperch in the monitored weight range (191.9–603.1 g) was neither linear nor exponential but indicates a sigmoidal shape. The equation for the average growth of pikeperch within this experiment was y = − 0.012 ± 0.004 x2 + 3.21 ± 0.33 x + 249.76 ± 5.27 with an R2 of 0.53. Based on this equation, pikeperch would experience positive growth in average until day 134 (ranging between day 90 and day 221) of the experiment. The average absolute growth rate among all fish over the whole experimental time period was 1.79 ± 1.00 g day−1, and the average specific growth rate was 0.52 ± 0.26% day−1. Further studies on a wider weight range need to be conducted in order to evaluate the shape of the overall growth curve and determine pikeperch-specific growth models for RAS.


Aquaculture Growth performance Body composition Pikeperch RAS Water exchange rates 



We thank the guest auditorial team for the invitation to submit a paper to this special issue. Special thanks to Dr. Claudia Torno, Anna Fickler, Cornelius Söder and Dr. Johann Torno for the assistance during the experimental period. Special thanks to Dr. Mario Hasler for his detailed statistical advice. We are furthermore grateful for the guidance provided by Michael Schlachter and the help of the whole team at the GMA during sampling.

Funding information

This research was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Project number 031A290A).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gesellschaft für marine Aquakultur mbHBüsumGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Marine AquacultureChristian-Albrechts-Universität zu KielKielGermany

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