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Survivability of Asian Carp in Barge Tanks in the Illinois River


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This study investigated whether Asian carp larvae could be entrained into barge ballast tanks, survive while in these tanks, and survive a single passage through a water pump. Entrainment and survival of eggs and very early larvae could not be assessed because none were available at the time of this study. Larvae available during the study period were 11 days or older. This study took place in the LaGrange Reach of the Illinois River in ballast tanks on a hopper barge during June 2011. Larval entrainment was determined by flooding the tanks, filtering the water pumped from the test tanks, and identifying all collected larval fish. Larval survival was tested by placing known quantities of fish larvae in cages that were then submerged in ballast tanks on the test barge. The potential for larval survival was also determined after a single passage through either a 2-inch or 3-inch portable pump. Water quality parameters measured during this study included temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, and ammonia. Study results indicated the majority of entrained fish were non-Asian carp and mainly gizzard shad. Few Asian carp larvae were entrained during the two trials conducted. Survival of Asian carp larvae in test cages was high, even when water quality conditions were not favorable (low dissolved oxygen concentrations). A very small percentage of Asian carp survived being pumped through either a 2-inch or 3-inch pump. Survival for more than 30 minutes beyond a pump event was not determined. No Asian carp eggs were found during any of the field collections. More studies are needed to determine if 1) Asian carp eggs/very young larvae can survive in ballast tanks and/or passing through a pump, and 2) Asian carp eggs/larvae in a ballast tank could survive transport across the electric fish barrier.



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