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Invitation to Come Play in the Water

Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery (NFH), located in Northern Middle Tennessee, sits in the middle of some of the most diverse aquatic fauna in the United States.  This location makes Dale Hollow NFH a prime facility to begin expanding the roles of federal cold water hatcheries, historically tasked to supply trout for mitigation of federal water development projects, into mitigating for the loss of freshwater mussels.  Working with Tony Brady, mussel biologist from Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery, and in cooperation with a number of partner agencies, Dale Hollow NFH is moving forward to implement proven mussel culture techniques focusing on the grow-out of juvenile freshwater mussels in Dale Hollow Lake. 

The culture technique being proposed is to use floating cages to house inoculated fish through the metamorphose period of the mussels life cycle.  As the mussels break free from the fish they will settle into the substrate in the base of the cage where they will begin to grow.  Two species of mussels are being used to determine if Dale Hollow Lake is a suitable location to culture freshwater mussels.  By floating these cages in Dale Hollow Lake,   it is hoped that the mussels will be supplied a natural diet from the lake water.  We are testing the ability of Dale Hollow Lake as a mussel culture location by constructing three floating arrays that will house a total of 12 cages. 

Host fish were inoculated with glochidia from two species of mussels on Tuesday, April 23.  The fish are being kept in two separate tanks at the hatchery.  Next Tuesday (May 14), Tony Brady will be here to place the floating racks out into the lake.  On Wednesday (May 15) we will place the inoculated host fish into the cages and hang the cages on the floating racks.  For those of you who took part in building the cages, in December 2012, you might want to be here to see the fruits of your labor.  We could use the help.

A U-tube video
Volunteers help clean raceway aerators

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