OCARD partnering with aquafarm giant to commercialize monosex fish

By Dr. Hanping Wang
Aquaculture Program Leader

The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development (OCARD) at the Ohio State University South Centers has partnered with Sandplains Aquaculture farm to commercialize all-male bluegill and all-female yellow perch. 
Sandplains Aquaculture, located in Ontario, is one of the largest aquaculture farms in the Great Lake Region. Funded by USDA and NOAA-Sea grants, OCARD has developed technology for the production of commercial-scale, fast-growing monosex yellow perch and bluegill. Both species are the top aquaculture species in the Midwest and the Great Lake Region. 

Sandplains Aquaculture wanted to try bluegill this year, since bluegill has a unique market in Toronto and New York and we can do out-of-season spawning. Bluegill males grow significantly faster and larger than females, and all-male monosex populations are needed by the aquaculture industry. OCARD at Piketon has created a technology that can generate large numbers of fast-growing, all-male bluegill populations. All-male or near-all-male bluegill populations have been successfully produced and tested. 

Results from testing all-male or near-all-male bluegill populations at two locations showed: 1) weight gain and growth rate of all-male stock were 2.1 times that of regular stocks; 2) all-male groups had significantly uniformed size and lower coefficient of variation; and 3) survival of all-male groups was significantly higher than that of mixed sex groups, due to more uniformed size. 

Successful creation of genetically male bluegill strains could have a tremendous impact on the sunfish aquaculture industry by increasing growth rate by 30-35% and saving energy expenditure by 20-30% for sex growth. 
In the past several months, OCARD has produced approximately 15,000 all-male bluegill fingerlings for this commercialization project, and we are waiting for import authorization from the Canadian government for shipping the fingerlings to Sandplains Aquaculture farm.

We will do yellow perch next year, and are conditioning perch broodfish for producing all-females next spring. Yellow perch females grow significantly faster and larger than males. OCARD at Piketon has created a technology that can generate large numbers of fast-growing, all-female yellow perch populations. A growth performance test of the all-females vs. mixed-sex group showed that all-females grew 26.3% faster than the mixed group, and 66.0% faster than males. 

We thank the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Dr. Gary Pierzynski’s support of this effort and processing of the material transfer agreement (MTA).