Bubbling Ponds Native Fish Research Facility

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Supporting Conservation of Arizona’s Native Fishes Through Research

Facility Staff

There are two employees that work at the Bubbling Ponds Hatchery Native Fish Research Facility. David Ward, who manages the facility, and Colton Finch, a student intern. We love our native fish and are happy to be a part of their conservation!

David Ward

David Ward

Colton Finch

Colton Finch

Current Projects

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New propagation facility for spikedace and loach minnow

New propagation facility for spikedace and loach minnow
Construction of a new spikedace, Meda fulgida, and loach minnow, Tiaroga cobitis, propagation and research facility was completed in June 2007 at Bubbling Ponds Fish Hatchery in Arizona. The goal of this facility is to maintain backup populations of spikedace and loach minnow stocks and to propagate these fish for reintroduction and repatriation projects. The new facility contains 24, 6-foot diameter circular fiberglass tanks. Artesian well water at 68° C flows through each tank at 2-3 gallons per minute. Each tank is set up to mimic a natural environment with rock and sand substrates and submerged logs for structure. Overhead lights are controlled by a timer to manipulate photoperiod and induce spawning. Successful reproduction of both species has already occurred in the new facility and methods to produce large numbers of offspring are currently being evaluated.

Effects of disease treatments on growth of razorback sucker

Effects of disease treatments on growth of razorback sucker
Captive-reared razorback suckers commonly experience high predation when stocked into natural environments. This creates the need to rear fish to larger sizes in captivity and to find new ways to improve growth of captive-reared fish. Potassium permanganate and copper sulfate are two chemicals commonly used to prevent Ichthyophthirius outbreaks in razorback suckers at Bubbling Ponds Fish Hatchery. These chemicals are needed to prevent loss as a result of disease outbreaks, but the side effects of these chemical treatments are not known. Chemicals such as copper sulfate have been shown to significantly reduce growth of channel catfish in production ponds but it is unknown whether razorback suckers experience similar reduced growth as a result of treatment with these chemicals. We are conducting replicated research on razorback suckers in 8 foot diameter circular tanks to quantifying the impacts of these chemical disease treatments on growth. This information may help to interpret some of the wide differences in growth rates that are observed at various razorback sucker production facilities. If one chemical is found to have less detrimental impacts on growth than another then it may be preferred for use as a disease treatment.

Evaluation of exercise conditioning to prevent downstream displacement of razorback suckers

Evaluation of exercise conditioning to prevent downstream displacement of razorback suckersRazorback suckers (Xyrauchen texanus) are commonly reared in ponds for later stocking into streams with depleted populations. Fish reared in standing water commonly experience downstream displacement (Mueller and Foster 1999, Mueller et al. 2003), are rarely captured again (Modde et al. 1995), or suffer high predation mortality (Marsh and Brooks 1989) when stocked into flowing water. Razorback suckers unaccustomed to flowing water may lack the skill or stamina to maintain position in swift streams. Razorback suckers that are displaced downstream in Fossil Creek below the existing barrier, which excludes non-native predatory fish, will likely have high mortality. If exercise conditioning can reduce initial downstream displacement of stocked razorback suckers it may be a valuable management tool to increase survival of stocked native fish.

Natural antiparasitic properties of the Little Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Natural antiparasitic properties of the Little Colorado River in Grand Canyon
The Little Colorado River in Grand Canyon possesses unique water chemistry which may prohibit development of external protozoan fish parasites such as Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifillis). The Little Colorado River is the only known location where humpback chub (Gila cypha) spawn and produce large numbers of offspring on a yearly basis. The naturally high salinity of the Little Colorado River may be one factor allowing high survival of these larval and juvenile humpback chub. In our laboratory tests, juvenile roundtail chub (Gila robusta) infected with Ich recovered when placed into water from the Little Colorado River, but died if placed into fresh water. We compared salinity readings from the Little Colorado River to those reported in the literature as being effective at removing protozoan parasites from fish. The naturally high salinity of the Little Colorado River below Blue Springs (0.22 – 0.36 %) appears high enough to kill Ich.

Translocation of humpback chub into Shinumo Creek in Grand Canyon

Translocation of humpback chub into Shinumo Creek in Grand Canyon
Approximately 200 young-of-the-year humpback chub from the Little Colorado River in Grand Canyon are currently being held in the quaratine facility at bubbling ponds. These fish are being held in captivity until after the monsoon flooding. They will be treated with Salt and Dimilin to remove parasites such as Ich and lernea prior to being translocated into Shinumo Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

Techniques for intensive spawning of woundfin

Techniques for intensive spawning of woundfin
We have recently constructed a new 4X18 foot outdoor stream that recirculates 200 gallons per minute and closely replicates a natural stream. This artificial stream will be used to evaluate methods to induce spawning of woundfin in captivity including manipulations of water flow, temperature, photoperiod, salinity and turbidity levels as well as investigations into the use of synthetic hormones to induce synchronized spawning of woundfin to facilitate rearing of larval fish. We will investigate methods to rear larvae and juveniles that will prevent cannibalism by the adults and allow for large numbers of offspring to be reared intensively.

Gila Topminnow propagation for repatriaton

Gila Topminnow propagation for repatriaton
The Safe Harbor Agreement for Gila topminnow and Pupfish has recently been completed. This allows for private pond owners to house populations of Gila topminnow or pupfish in their ponds and actively participate in the conservation on an endangered species. We are currently rearing Gila Topminnow so that a readily accessible supply of fish is availabe for those participating in Safe Harbor Agreements. Excess fish will also be used for repatriation into areas where populations have been depeleted.

Propagation of Colorado pikeminnow for research studies

Propagation of Colorado pikeminnow for research studies
Rare fish often cannot be removed from the wild for research studies. At the Bubbling Ponds Native Fish Reserach Facility we are propagating captive stocks of these rare fishes so that animals are available for research without the need to remove fish from wild populations

Use of high salinity to control bullfogs in small ponds?

Use of high salinity to control bullfogs in small ponds?
Bullfrogs can prey on native fishes and displace native frogs. Bullfrog tadpoles can utilize much of the biomass in small ponds making it unavailable for native species. We are experimenting with using high salinity (3-6 ppt) during the spring to kill bullfrog tadpoles at early life stages and eradicate them from small pond environments where they have become problematic.

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