Developing sustainable aquaculture methods for the mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, with emphasis on egg production

2011 Annual Report for GNE11-023

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2011: $14,909.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Grant Recipient: Delaware State University
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dennis McIntosh, Ph.D.
Delaware State University

Developing sustainable aquaculture methods for the mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, with emphasis on egg production


The mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, is the most common salt marsh fish along the Atlantic coast of North America. As such, it serves as an essential vector of primary productivity to higher trophic levels. This minnow is also a popular marine baitfish throughout this range. However, supply is seasonally limited since the product is wild caught, though anglers would prefer to use this bait year-round. A multi-season demand, in combination with extreme tolerance to a variety of environmental conditions, makes the mummichog an ideal candidate for aquaculture production. Aquaculture is regarded as a sustainable alternative to wild catch fisheries. Development of aquaculture methods for the mummichog can provide economic benefit to farmers, distributors, and bait retailers while alleviating pressures caused by the wild fishery to the fragile estuarine habitats this species is found in.

My project will examine aquaculture methods for this species, with particular attention to the hatchery stage and associated labor costs. In an effort to optimize mummichog production, I aim to: 1) assess the effect of egg collector depth on egg production and viability, and 2) assess egg collecting intervals to determine a sustainable labor-cost to yield ratio. At this time I am in early preparation for my experiment, which will begin in early 2012.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Currently I am finalizing the experimental design and constructing the egg collectors for my experiments that will begin early 2012. All performance targets (experiments and outreach) are designed to be met in 2012.


August/ September 2011 – I was able to obtain broodstock for my project by collecting them from the wild. The fish are being overwintered in a freshwater pond at our Aquaculture Research and Demonstration Facility, where they will be held until my experiment begins.

October/November 2011 – Following the conclusion of our previous years’ research trials, the Aquaculture Research Lab was cleaned and prepared for the coming winter/spring. Preparations include the seeding of our bio-filters, a process that takes eight weeks or longer to reach the capacity necessary for our systems.

December 2011 – I have proposed an experimental design (Table 1) that can address both of my objectives in one multifactorial experiment. My thesis committee is currently reviewing this design prior to the initiation of the research to ensure that the results will be statistically valid.

December 2011 – I am also in the process of obtaining quotes for my lab materials so that I will have all of my supplies stocked and equipment (egg collectors and incubation tubs) built before my experiment begins.

March 2012 – I will be transferring broodstock into the laboratory from the holding pond and will begin my experiment after a short conditioning period.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

None have been made, nor are planned for 2011.


Dennis McIntosh
Faculty Advisor
Delaware State University
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
1200 N. DuPont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901
Office Phone: 3028576456