Commercialization of fast-growing monosex fish on the way, says Wang

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, Canada, is one of the largest aquaculture farms in the Great Lakes 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 first try bluegill, since this spieces has a unique market in Toronto and New York, and can be spawned out of season. Bluegill males grow significantly faster and larger than females, and all-male monosex populations are needed by the aquaculture industry. Through production and testing at Piketon’s OCARD, researchers have created a technology that can generate large numbers of fast-growing, all-male bluegill populations.

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 uniform 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 the growth rate by 30-35% and saving energy expenditure by 20-30% due to increased growth due to having nearly-all-male populations.

In 2020, OCARD 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 perform research with yellow perch this summer.  We are conditioning perch broodfish for producing all-female populations 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 for supporting this effort.