Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bluegill Production

The bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is a species of freshwater fish that is native to a large region of North America, from Quebec to Northern Mexico. The species is a popular sport fish and a member of the sunfish family(Centrarchidae), which is also the family of several other species of sport fish popular in Missouri, including crappies (Pomoxis spp.) and the black basses (Micropterus spp.).
Bluegill, often called bream, brim or perch, are among the most popular and widely known sunfish species as they are an enjoyable sport fish for anglers. Besides being an excellent sport fish, bluegills can be produced and sold to various aquaculture markets, including recreational pond stocking or food-fish production. Various marketing opportunities are available at three primary bluegill growth stages:
* Fingerlings (2 to 4 inches) for initial pond stocking and for remedial stocking
* Sub-adults (4 to 7 inches) for remedial or advanced pond stocking or for stocking in cages for food fish production
*Larger size classes for food markets, remedial pond stocking and trophy fish stocking for special fishing programs
Each of these products provides a marketing opportunity for Missouri producers.
Food markets typically demand a bluegill that weighs from 3/4 to 11/4 pound at harvest. Production of a food-sized fish with a marketable fillet has typically taken over three years, precluding the bluegill from being a profitable aquaculture species to produce. However, research conducted to better understand bluegill feeding preferences, hybrid growth and vigor has resulted in the development of improved brood stock and culture techniques. These techniques have reduced the production time needed to raise food-sized fish in a sustainable and profitable manner.
To learn more about bluegill production in Missouri, check out the new MU Extension publication titled "Bluegill Sunfish Production in Missouri."

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