This article is intended to be a General Guide for transporting live Shad.
Always check the Laws of your state before
catching or transportation of shad or any bait fish.
Many factors have to
be weighed in your decision to catch and haul shad.
Results depend on many factors:
- The size and type of tank used in transporting.
- Netting and handling of shad.
- Number and size of the shad.
- Time of day, the time of year and current weather conditions.
- Water Quality and temperature in body of water where you catch shad as well as water condition and temp. in travel tank.
Most fish losses from hauling are the result of the
activation of latent disease organisms or osmoregulatory problems. Poor
water quality, overcrowding and improper tempering cause serious fish
losses. The ultimate goal is to provide healthy fish that survive after
Water quality during transportation:
Fish health and loading densities are affected by water
quality parameters in the tanks during the transportation process. The
parameters to be considered are temperature, dissolved
oxygen, pH, carbon dioxide,
ammonia and the salt balance of the fish's blood. The
rate of change of each parameter is affected by the weight and size of fish
to be transported, size of tank and the duration of transport.
Water quality is an important factor to manage while fish
are crowded and stressed in hauling. The major parameters that limit the
loading density of fish are adequate oxygen levels and buildup of toxic
waste products such as ammonia and carbon dioxide. Temperature, pH, loading
density and trip duration affect the severity of these problems. A suitable
water supply is needed for short-term holding and hauling. Cool,
uncontaminated well water is preferred. Oxygenate well water thoroughly
before it is used in the transport tank to remove carbon dioxide and add
dissolved oxygen. Beware of high levels of ammonia and iron that can occur
in well water. Ammonia can be removed by aging water in a tank, and iron can
be removed by aerating water before use. Pond water is less desirable
because it often has a heavy algae bloom and other organisms that remove
oxygen from the water and produce ammonia as a waste product. Pond water
also is more likely to have harmful fish pathogens than well or spring
water. Clear pond water without a heavy algae bloom can be used for short
trips. Special care is needed when any surface water is used to make sure
that no harmful contaminants are present.
The most important single factor in transporting fish is
adequate concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO). The importance of
supplying adequate levels of DO cannot be overemphasized.
do so results in severe stress which may kill quickly and / or
contribute to killing fish two to three days after they have been put
in home tanks.
The amount of oxygen that can be dissolved in fresh water is based
primarily on water temperature. The water is referred to as 100 percent
saturated when the upper saturation level is reached. DO saturation is
higher for cool water than for warm water. For example, at sea level DO
saturation of 45 degrees F water is 12.1 parts per million (ppm) but at
60 degrees F, saturation is 10.0 ppm. By using pure oxygen during
transport, DO levels in the water will be better saturated and the low
oxygen levels usually will not be a problem.
The quantity of hydrogen ions (H+) in the water will determine if it is
acidic or basic. The scale for measuring the degree of acidity is called
the pH scale, which ranges from 1 to 14. A value of 7 is considered
neutral, neither acidic nor basic; values below 7 are considered acidic;
above 7 basic. The acceptable range for fish growth is between pH 6.5
and 9.0. The pH of water will be influenced by the alkalinity (buffering
capacity) and the amount of free carbon dioxide. The pH of the transport
water will also affect the toxicity of ammonia. Even in well-buffered
transport water the pH will sometimes decrease by one pH unit.
Ammonia build up occurs in transport water as a result
of fish metabolism and, to a lesser extent, bacterial action on fish
waste excreted into the water. Two forms of ammonia occur in transport
water: ionized (NH4+), and un-ionized (NH3). Unlike the ionized form,
the un-ionized form of ammonia is extremely toxic at concentrations as
low as 0.2 ppm. In tests for ammonia, both forms are grouped together as
"total ammonia nitrogen" (TAN). The percent of ammonia that is
un-ionized will depend on both temperature and pH.
Total ammonia concentrations may reach more than 14 ppm during
transport. The easiest way to reduce toxic ammonia buildup in transport
water is to lower the temperature of the transport water.
Fish are cold-blooded, so the metabolic rate of fish is
affected by the temperature of the environment. The metabolic rate of
fish will double for each 18 degree F increase in temperatures and be
reduced by half for each 18 degree F decrease in temperature.
A reduced metabolic rate will decrease the oxygen consumption, ammonia
production and carbon dioxide production. Therefore a cooler tank is a
better tank. While it is not always possible, transport fish in as low
of a temperature as possible. Shad do best being transported in 60 to 75
degree water. The warmer the water the more critical dissolved oxygen
As fish respire they produce carbon dioxide as a
byproduct. Carbon dioxide reacts with water to form a weak acid. This
weak acid will in turn decrease the pH of the water. High levels of
carbon dioxide (greater than 20 ppm) will interfere with the oxygen
uptake in the fish's blood. High levels of carbon dioxide sometimes are
found in well water. Excess carbon dioxide in well water can be reduced
by mechanical aeration or by passing the water through a degassing
Numerous chemical additives can be added to the
transport water to alleviate several problems associated with
transporting fish. Overdoses of chemical can cause death, care must be
taken when measuring the dosage of each chemical. It is essential to
double check every calculation and to use an accurate balance when
weighing chemicals of your choice.
The most common chemical added to transport water is salt (NaCl).
Salt is used to relieve stress
associated with maintaining a water balance in the fish. Freshwater fish
have a blood salt concentration higher than the salts of the transport
water. As a result, the fish are continually losing salts to the
Salt concentrations of 0.1 to 0.3 percent (1,000 to 3,000 ppm, or 3.8g
to 11.4g / per gal) is generally used in transporting shad. Use
non-iodized salt that contain no anti-caking compounds.
If the alkalinity of the transport water is less than 100 ppm, some type
of buffering compound should be added to the water. Properly buffered
water will help remove freed carbon dioxide which causes drops in pH.
Sodium bicarbonate (Na2CO3) is one of the fastest reacting buffers and
should be added at a rate of 1g ( 0.035273oz) per gallon of water.
The fish will suffer stress because they are being netted and
transported usually in crowded conditions. Sometimes a chemical
anesthetic may be beneficial by producing a light sedation. The only
anesthetic approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food fish
is Finquel (tricaine methanesulfonate). Finquel may be used at a rate of
0.06 to 0.25 g per gallon. of water. Research has shown that
anesthetics can produce the same stress response as handling. However,
anesthetics are beneficial for calming excitable fish that might injure
themselves in transit.
The carrying capacity depends on the water temperature,
air temperature, water condition where shad were caught and type
of handling from netting to transportation tank, duration of haul,
type of transportation tank water conditions in tank and fish size.
Dupree, H.K. and J.V. Huner, 1984. Third Report to Fish
Farmers. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.
Piper, R. G., I.B. McElwain, L.E. Orme, J.P. McCraren, L.G. Fowler, and J.R.
Leonard, 1982. Fish Hatchery Management. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Washington, D.C. 517 pp.
S.K. Johnson, 1988. Transport of Fish and Crustaceans in Sealed Containers.
Inland Aquaculture Handbook. Texas Aquaculture Association, College Station,