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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/205

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THE SACRAMENTO SALMON.

Compare this table with the one showing the effect of pure water on the ova. Acting upon the information gained in this experiment, we removed the unspawned ova from the fishes, washed off the blood with normal salt solution, and fertilized them just as we did other ova, thus saving a large percentage that had previously been lost.

 

Habits of the Young.

Before this series of investigations was begun, fish culturists were able to hatch artificially from 80 to 90 per cent, of the eggs taken, and it did not seem that much improvement in that line was probable. But there was considerable question as to the best methods of planting the young. We were entirely ignorant concerning the life of the young in the streams, knew nothing of their food, nor of their enemies, and knew only in a general way that they migrate to salt water. Our most important study, therefore, was that of the natural history of the young, and later of the adult also. The following are some of the results of our investigations:

PSM V61 D205 Salmon alevin and a fry.png
An Alevin. A Fry, at the beginning of the Migration.

The time required for salmon eggs to hatch is about 50 days, though it varies from one to six months, according to the temperature of the water. When the young first leaves the shell, it is attached to a large mass of yolk, and is known as an alevin. It is a very helpless creature, cannot swim and fortunately does not need to eat, the yolk supplying the needs of growth.

For three or four weeks the alevin lies quietly at the bottom of the stream in the crevices of the stones. By that time the quantity of the yolk becomes so small that there is a desire for more food, and the alevin occasionally leaves the bottom to snap at some floating particle. It is at this time, while the movements are slow on account of the unabsorbed yolk, that the young under natural conditions are in the greatest danger from other fishes. In artificial propagation they are protected during this period, and it is only after the complete absorption of the yolk that they are liberated in the streams. At this age they are known as fry.

The fry are practically without enemies. The stomachs of more than a thousand trout taken in streams inhabited by young salmon have been examined, but in no instance has a fry salmon been found, though alevins were common enough. Many Sacramento pike and striped bass have also been examined with a like result. There can be