Hybrid Striped Bass

The ”Hybrid Striped Bass”’ is a hybrid between the striped bass and the white bass. It can be distinguished from the striped bass by broken rather than solid horizontal

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass

Hybrid Striped Bass specs

stripes on the body; Hybrids have two dorsal fins, a spinous fin with 8 – 9 spines and a soft-rayed fin with one spine and 13 – 14 rays. Hybrid Striped Bass are considered better suited for culture in large tanks or ponds than either parent species because they are more resilient to extremes of temperature and to low dissolved oxygen.  Its fillets sell for significantly more per pound than that of any of the other fish listed here and they can be raised in high density tanks in Aquaponic systems quite readly.

Fingerlings – Most producers purchase the fish young as fry or fingerlings and raise them in large fresh water tanks and ponds.

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass Fingerlings

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass Fingerlings

 Currently about 10 million pound pounds are produced annually in the United States. Hybrid Striped Bass are used both as a game fish and a food fish. Hybrid Striped Bass are not always sterile like most other hybridized fish. There have been reports that Hybrid Striped Bass have naturally spawned in reservoirs that have been stocked only with hybrids. Similar to the parental stock, Hybrid Striped Bass are egg-laying fish. Most Hybrid Striped Bass are produced by fertilizing egg from white bass with sperm from Striped Bass; the resulting fish are also called “sunshine bass” or “Cherokee Bass”.

Hatchery info – There are several hatcheries in the United States; however, one large hatchery located in Arkansas supplies the majority of the U.S. industry. Some hatcheries maintain a large number of brood stock of Hybrid Striped Bass and have maintained them for years.[[File:Fingerlings.gif|right|frame| Fingerlings ready to stock your tank or pond

Grow out of Hybrid Striped Bass – Grow out may occur in ponds, cages, or large tanks. Methods for culture in each of these systems will be addressed individually.


Flow-through tank systems – Tanks can be used to produce Hybrid Striped Bass of all sizes. The tanks can be either flow-through, single-pass systems, or they can recirculation water through biofilters and various other components to remove waste from the water. Flow-through tank systems are used by several producers of Hybrid Striped Bass in Florida. These tanks vary from rectangular raceway tanks to round tanks of various sizes. Some producers use the discharged water for additional purposes, for instance, to culture other species of fish or to water traditional agriculture plants. Some producers recirculation water through a series of large ponds and reuse the water by passing it through a production tank and then removing waste products by passage through wetlands and/or settlement ponds. This method allows the water to be cleaned of nitrogenous and particulate wastes before being passed through the production tanks again.

This reduces water discharge versus a single-pass, flow-through type of system. In Florida, producers must obtain permits for water usage from the regional water management district (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/) and water discharge is regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture. For further information, consult the Aquaculture Best Management Practices Rule (FDACS 2007). Flow-through tank production facilities in Florida commonly stock 10g fish at a density of 0.33 fish per gallon (1.25″ long) in raceways and 0.5 fish per gallon (1.9″ long) in round tanks. Time to market size of 1.75 pounds (795g) is 14 months in raceways and 12 months in round tanks. Survival typically exceeds 80%.

Recirculating aquaculture tank systems – Recirculating aquaculture tank systems (RAS) can be used to produce Hybrid Striped Bass of all sizes. Without going into much detail in this document, typical components to a recirculating aquaculture tank system are the tank to hold the fish, a biological filter to remove nitrogenous waste, various components to remove large particulate waste, and foam fractionators to remove microparticulate waste. Additionally, aeration, lighting, and temperature control are provided. RAS production commonly reaches 0.33 – 0.5 pounds/gallon of water. If a 100g fish is stocked, after 5 – 7 months of grow out the fish will weigh 1.25 – 2.0 pounds each. Feeding Hybrid Striped Bass requires changing particle size and composition of their diet as the fish grow. Phase III fish are fed 1/4 to 3/8 inch particles of 40 – 45% protein. Managing the amount of feed provided is critical for the financial success of an aquaculture operation. Periodically measuring growth will help determine if the amount fed is sufficient. At harvest, feed conversion ratios (amount fed / amount gained) can be calculated if the amount of feed supplied has been recorded.

Water quality – Water quality is critical for all production systems because it determines the survival, health, and growth of the farmed organism. The most important water quality parameters are dissolved oxygen, pH, and metabolic nitrogenous wastes (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate). Dissolved oxygen (DO) must be maintained above 5 mg/L (ppm), below which supplemental aeration must be used. In high-density RAS, aeration will be required at all times, and depending on density and feeding rates, there may be periods of time requiring pure oxygen to be used (gas or liquid). The unionized ammonia should be less than 1.0 ppm. The pH should be between 7.5 and 8.5. As pH increases, the percentage of unionized ammonia increases.

Cold-blooded organisms – Since fish are cold-blooded organisms, their growth declines as temperature declines; therefore, growth in ponds or flow-through systems will decrease or cease during winter months. Feeding is commonly suspended when water temperature is below 60°F (15.6°C). In south Florida, water temperatures in the winter months will normally be conducive to growth of Hybrid Striped Bass, and feeding should continue throughout the year. However, summer temperatures often exceed those temperatures which allow Hybrid Striped Bass to maintain optimal feed conversion. Research conducted with Hybrid Striped Bass at various temperatures showed that when temperatures exceed 90°F, the feed conversion ratio (food consumed converted to weight gained) decreases greatly. At these high temperatures, Hybrid Striped Bass feed heavily but do not efficiently use the food consumed for growth. Therefore, at temperatures greater than 90°F, a producer should be conservative with feed allocation even though the fish want to eat. Research should be conducted to evaluate less expensive feed formulations that provide necessary energy and essential nutrients but limit protein thus decreasing feed costs when water temperatures exceed 90°F.

Off-flavor fish – Fish can be off-flavor. That is, they can have a musty or muddy smell and flavor. This is caused by chemicals produced by certain algae, fungi, and bacteria in the water or production system. This condition can persist as long as the organism causing the off-flavor is at a high density within the culture system. Off-flavor fish must be purged of these chemicals by removing them from the culture water long enough for the bad tasting chemicals to leave their bodies. This is only an issue when fish are ready to be harvested and sold to food markets. There are methods to dissipate the chemicals causing the off-flavor in all production systems. This can greatly effect marketing of your fish.

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass in submerged cages

Cage Production – Cages have been used to culture many species of fish, have been made of many materials, and have been constructed in many different shapes. Cages are suspended in ponds,lakes, and barrow pits. Cages are stocked per unit of volume to maintain sufficient water quality. High densities are possible in cages if sufficient water quality is maintained by circulating water through the cage and back into the water body. Common cage sizes are square 4x4x4 and 8x8x4 foot and rectangular 8x4x4 or 12x4x6 foot. The size of the mesh material depends on the size of fish to be cultured. For fingerling Hybrid Striped Bass (3 – 10g), typical mesh size is 0.5 inch; for larger fish, the mesh size can increase.

Cage design – Cages are designed with a float, which is commonly made of 4-inch PVC pipe. The PVC pipe will float if it is properly sealed, but if a leak occurs, the entire cage could sink. Provide back up flotation by filling the PVC pipe with foam available in a spray cans or a foam material such as swimming pool noodle floats. Cages are also equipped with a feeding ring of smaller mesh material (1/8 to 3/16 inch) that surrounds the top 12 inches of the cage and is used to prevent feed from being splashed through the outer mesh of the cage where fish cannot consume it. All cages should have lids to prevent the fish from escaping and to protect them from predation. Cages are usually positioned at a dock for ease of feeding and harvesting and to enable easy assessment of fish health. If the cage is not located at a dock, access will be limited to a boat. Fouling of the cage material can limit the exchange of water; periodic cleaning with a broom or brush will help prevent this.

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass

Aquaponics Hybrid striped Bass in other type of submerged cages

Stocking densities – Stocking densities of 5 – 7.8 fingerlings per cubic foot are commonly used. Some producers stock a smaller 2 to 3 inch fish and grow them in 0.25-inch mesh cages until they are 6 – 8 inches long. Other producers stock 6 to 8 inch fish and grow them in 0.5-inch mesh. If 6 to 8 inch fish are stocked, market size of 1.5 pounds can be attained in 4 – 6 months. If 2 to 3 inch fish are stocked, culture time can take 12 – 14 months and usually involves harvest and restocking at a reduced density at 6 months. Production of 5.78 pounds per cubic foot is commonly achieved.

Harvesting from cages – Harvesting fish from cages is accomplished by partially lifting the cage out of the water to concentrate fish, which are then removed by nets, weighed, and loaded into live hauling trucks or transported for packaging whole on ice. The use of an anesthetic other than carbon dioxide to sedate the fish before harvesting and handling is not allowed for food fish without subsequent periods of withdrawal before they enter food markets. Some cage culture occurs in water exceeding 10 feet in depth. Stratification of these deep water bodies commonly occurs. Typically cages are positioned on the surface and don’t penetrate more than 4 ft. deep.

This positions the fish in the warmest water and subjects them to the potential of large diurnal fluctuations in dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. Therefore, the use of aeration is necessary. Deep water bodies stratify according to temperature and can divide into more than two layers. During at least one time each year, this can cause problems, particularly if the water body is divided into three strata. The deeper strata of water are typically much lower in DO than the surface strata. In the fall, as warm surface water temperatures cool rapidly following rain or a rapid change in atmospheric temperature, the water in this layer becomes denser and sinks, causing lower layers to exchange with the top layer, bringing deeper water with low DO to the surface (termed a turnover). The problem with this is the rapid rate of DO change.

Surface aerators – Surface aerators cannot quickly compensate for these sudden shifts and thus cannot consistently maintain adequate DO concentrations in the top layer where the cage with a high density of fish is located. Therefore, aquaculturists growing fish in cages in water bodies deeper than 6 ft. must consider this risk and be prepared to immediately supply supplemental oxygen to the fish. Pure oxygen or additional emergency aeration can be provided directly, or the cage can be surrounded with a plastic tarp and pure oxygen can be provided via airstones inside the cage until the surface aerators can increase the DO throughout the water body. Turnover of water strata can be anticipated by diligent measurement of the temperature and DO of the various water strata. When surface water is within 1 – 2°F of the deeper strata, emergency procedures should be ready for implementation when the turnover occurs. Conducting additional measurements of DO and temperature of the various strata can prevent problems from occurring. Emergency procedures will only have to last for a few hours until the surface water oxygen concentrations are increased by the aerators.

Pond Production – Traditionally, fish are cultured until they attain an individual mean size between 3 1/2 to 8 ounces at which time they are sold for stocking at densities between 3000 and 4000 per acre for grow out to market size. Typical production ponds are levee style and are 1 to 10 acres in size. Depth should not exceed 5 feet. Freshwater is the norm, but Hybrid Striped Bass can attain similar growth in low-saline ponds up to about 5 g/L (ppt). Generally, aeration is provided by paddlewheel aerators at 2 hp per acre, and dissolved oxygen is maintained above 4 mg/L (ppm).

Marketing – Hybrid Striped Bass are commonly marketed live, whole on ice, or filleted. Of the Hybrid Striped Bass produced in the United States, approximately 81% is sold whole on ice, 19% is sold live, and 0% is sold as fillets. Market price has been relatively stable since 1990, averaging $2.50 – 2.75 per pound. Market price is based on the size class of the fish. Fish 0.75 – 1.0 pound are very small, 1.0 – 1.5 pounds are small, 1.5 – 2.0 pounds are medium, 2.0 – 2.5 pounds are large, and those greater than 2.5 pounds are very large. The larger the size class, the greater the value. Despite increasing supply over the past decades, market prices have remained stable.

Whole on ice – Many large producers use this marketing method; fish are packaged into Styrofoam boxes with ice or dry ice and shipped directly to retail markets including seafood markets and restaurants. This type of marketing is usually arranged by a broker, who arranges sale and delivery of fish between the producer and the retailers. The producer receives a purchase order from the broker for fish and then harvests, packages, and overnight-ships the Styrofoam box to retail outlets. Live.

Live-hauling wholesalers – Typically, live-hauling wholesalers will schedule to pick up fish and the harvest will commence when the haulers arrive at the farm. Fish are harvested, weighed, rinsed if necessary, and immediately placed into live-hauling tanks with the original culture water. Dissolved oxygen is maintained with pure gaseous oxygen through fine-bubble airstones. The wholesalers will normally pay the producer upon receipt of the fish and will assume all risk of mortality after leaving the production facility.

Fillets – Few Hybrid Striped Bass produced in the United States are processed. Fillets are becoming more common as an imported product from Taiwan. They are packaged skin-on and individually quick frozen. Fillets are about 45% of the whole fish by weight.

Conclusion – Hybrid Striped Bass culture is a very successful and potentially profitable aquaculture enterprise in Florida an delsewhere in the United States. Hatchery production of Hybrid Striped Bass fingerlings and grow out in ponds, tanks, and cages has been well documented in several locations. In addition, there are well-established wholesale and retail markets and growing consumer demand for this domestically farmed seafood product.

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