Demonstrating the Importance of Behavior and Feed Delivery on the Growth Performance of Tautog (Tautoga onitis) in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $14,537.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Pinnguo He
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology

Information Products

Marine Science Symposium Poster (Conference/Presentation Material)


  • Animals: fish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture, feed management

    Proposal abstract:

    Tautog (Tautoga onitis) is a commercially and recreationally valuable species in southern New England coastal waters, leading to high demand and depleted natural populations. To combat these ecological and commercial pressures, tautog have been identified as an ideal candidate for finfish aquaculture. The aquaculture industry is continually seeking new and more efficient means of feed delivery that improve feed conversion and feeding efficiency. The goal of this project is to provide regional aquaculture farmers and stakeholders with information pertaining to new and improved grow-out techniques for this local fish by incorporating feeding behavior. Previous work from Ward Aquafarms and UMass Dartmouth collaborators has shown that the type of food is important in order to achieve high growth rates of tautog, but improved feed delivery systems are required to make tautog aquaculture commercially feasible. This project continues to build on the previous research of tautog in recirculating aquaculture systems by focusing on how and when feed is delivered to fish. By closely examining feeding rhythms of the fish, and taking weight and length measurements bi-weekly, this project will show the effects of different feeding regimes on tautog growth over time. The use of demand feeding systems will also provide valuable insights into the rhythmic feeding patterns of tautog, which will result in cost-efficient strategies for feed delivery for regional aquaculture farmers.  Additionally, the research will provide valuable contributions to regional finfish aquaculture development and to the global scientific community on daily feeding patterns and feeding behavior of tautog.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives of this proposed project are to:

    1. Observe the effects of feed delivery on growth rate


    This will be achieved by using three different methods of feeding delivery. One method will be the control, where fish will be hand fed twice daily, at 0800 and 1600. This method is taken from previous research of tautog feeding trials. The second method will use automatic feeders that dispense pellet food regularly every 6 hours, resulting in 4 feedings per day. The third method will use a demand feeding system where tautog are able to feed themselves at will. This will allow us to understand how often they prefer to feed or be fed, and resulting growth rates, which will be quantified through weight and length of fish in each group over 12 weeks.


             2. Determine the optimal feeding rhythms of tautog

    This will be achieved by allowing the tautog to feed at will through demand feeding systems.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.