The walleye is one of the fish being evaluated at Kentucky State University for its potential as an aquaculture species. Walleye is one of the most important commercial and recreational fish species, and a popular food fish in the north-central United States and Canada.
The commercial walleye aquaculture industry currently produces fingerlings for stocking public and private lakes, but has potential to eventually supply larger food size fish for retail markets and restaurants.
The climate in Kentucky appears to be well suited for pond production of coolwater fish such as walleye. Production of 1.0 pound walleye should take approximately 30 months in ponds in Kentucky according to growth rates found in research at KSU. Walleye appear to require relatively high protein levels so feeds containing, greater than 40% protein and 10% fat diets should be fed.
It was observed that walleye appear to be sensitive to temperature fluctuation and high light intensity, as determined by lack of feeding activity with changing weather patterns and bright sunny days. Larger, deeper ponds (greater than 0.5 acres, greater than 5 feet deep) may reduce this effect as temperature would change more slowly and light intensity would be reduced.
Also, feeding is best at dawn and dusk. Walleye are amenable to high density culture. However, average size at harvest may be increased at lower stocking densities. Walleye also appear to have slow growth in the third season grow-out as compared to the second.
This may indicate that third-year walleye have passed their rapid growth phase and are becoming sexually mature. Refinement of culture methods and domestication would likely reduce the time required (a reasonable goal would be 30 months) to produce harvest size fish.
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