Hybrid Striped Bass

Freshwater Aquaculture May 17, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Vanessa Weldon, Extension Associate, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Hybrid striped bass is a hybrid of the striped bass, Morone saxatilis, crossed with any other of the Moronid species. The main species crossed with the striped bass is the white bass, Morone chrysops. The striped bass is anadromous (meaning it lives in saltwater and breeds in freshwater) native to the East Coast of the United States. White bass is a freshwater fish native to the Mississippi River Basin. The two species were first crossed in 1965 as a cross between a female striped bass and a male white bass to create what is called a palmetto bass (Robbins et al. 1991). The reciprocal cross, female white bass and male striped bass, or sunshine bass (Robbins et al. 1991) is what is most commonly used in commercial culture. Culturing the hybrid striped bass rather than culturing striped bass gives beneficial characteristics of both species, including that they grow faster, are easier to train to a pelleted feed, and are more disease resistant (Kohler 2004). Hybrid striped bass have been stocked in lakes throughout the United States in waters having the appropriate water quality (Table 1) to support hybrid striped bass for recreational fishing (Hodson 1989).

Table 1. Optimum water quality parameters for hybrid striped bass culture (Morris et al. 1999).
Water Temperature 25-27°C
Dissolved Oxygen >5 ppm
pH 7.5-8.5
Unionized Ammonia >0.10 ppm
Hardness (CaCO3) >60 mg/L

The hybrid striped bass industry is growing. As of the 2005 agriculture census, 67 farms produced $27.7 million dollars in market-sized fish, nine farms produced $3.2 million in fingerlings and fry, and 17 farms produced fish for stocking purposes (National Agriculture Statistics Service 2006). Fish are produced typically using wild captured broodstock; however, as the wild populations of striped bass declined, regulations on capturing broodstock became more restrictive (Morris et al. 1999). This made it necessary to develop domesticated broodstock lines available from commercial sources. Currently, North Carolina State University is the sole provider of broodstock (McGinty and Hodson 2008). However, due to restocking programs the hybrid striped bass is no longer on the decline and in some regions, such as the Chesapeake Bay, is back on the approved fishing list.

Edited by: Anita Kelly, Extension Fish Health Specialist, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Fish Health Services

Hatchery to Fingerlings
It is important when growing hybrid striped bass that you obtain broodstock and/or fry from certified suppliers. Most commercial producers obtain fry from hatcheries and grow them to marketable size. Typically, a hatchery will ship one- to two-day-old sac fry (named so because they still have a visible yolk sac), which are then acclimated to the water before they are stocked into tanks or ponds. Young fry need hard water, and a salinity of 7 ppt is ideal to prevent disease (Morris et al. 1999). Timing is critical when stocking fry. The age of the fry is important, but the ponds and/or tanks must have the proper zooplankton size for the fry to successfully feed (Ludwig 2004). Fry feed on the natural source of the zooplankton for several weeks. At four to five weeks, they begin to feed at the surface, and artificial diets can be introduced (Ludwig 2004). Fry stay in ponds between 30 and 45 days, at which time it is advisable to harvest these fish (now fingerlings) to move the larger fish to bigger ponds and reduce the chance of cannibalism (Ludwig 2004). Palmetto and sunshine basses are susceptible to handling stress, so minimizing stress during harvesting and transportation is critical to good survival. The harvest fingerlings are typically moved to tanks where they can be feed trained to accept larger artificial diets before they are sold or stocked into additional ponds.

Fingerlings to Market
Hybrid striped bass are produced in various systems including ponds, raceways, and tanks, but they are most suited to pond culture (Morris et al. 1999). Fingerlings are stocked in grow-out ponds at 3,000 to 5,000 per acre (Dunning and Daniels 2001). They are kept in the ponds for approximately 15 to 18 months when they reach market size, 1.25 to 2.5 pounds (Dunning and Daniels 2001).

Dunning, R., and H. Daniels. 2001. Hybrid Striped Bass Production in Ponds: Enterprise Budget. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and North Carolina State University. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center Publication No. 3000.

Hodson, R.G. 1989. Hybrid Striped Bass: Biology and Life History. North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina Sea Grant Program. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center Publication No. 300.

Kohler, C.C. 2004. A White Paper on the Status and Needs of Hybrid Striped Bass Aquaculture in the North Central Region. Southern Illinois University. North Central Regional Aquaculture Publication.

Ludwig, G.M. 2004. Hybrid Striped Bass: Fingerling Production in Ponds. HKD-Stuttgart National Aquacultural Research Center Southern Regional Aquaculture Center Publication No. 32.

McGinty, A.S., and R.G. Hodson. 2008. Hybrid Striped Bass: Hatchery Phase. North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina Sea Grant Program. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center Publication No. 301 (revised).

Morris, J.E., C.C. Kohler, C.C. Mischke. 1999. Pond Culture of Hybrid Striped Bass in the North Central Region. Iowa State University and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. North Central Regional Aquaculture Center Publication.

National Agriculture Statistics Service. 2006. Census of Aquaculture 2005. United States Department of Agriculture.

Robins C.R., Bailey R.M., Bond C.E., Brooker J.R., Lachner E.A., Lea R.N., and Scott W.B. 1991. Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States and Canada, 5th ed. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 20, Bethesda, Maryland.

Other Hybrid Striped Bass Publications
Analyzing the Profitability of Hybrid Striped Bass Cage Culture (pdf)
Comparative Production Characteristics of Sunshine Bass and Sunshine Bass × Striped Bass in Recirculating-Water Systems (pdf)
Comparison of Soybean-Based Practical Diets Containing 32, 36, or 40% Crude Protein Fed to Hybrid Striped Bass in Earthen Culture Ponds (pdf)
Compensatory Growth of Pond-Reared Hybrid Striped Bass, Morone chrysops × Morone saxatilis Fingerlings (pdf)
Culture and Propagation of Striped Bass and Its Hybrids (pdf)
Effects of Cyclic Feeding on Compensatory Growth of Hybrid Striped Bass (Morone chrysops × M. saxitilis) Foodfish and Water Quality in Production Ponds (pdf)
Enterprise Budgets of Pond-Produced Hybrid Striped Bass (pdf).
Evaluation of Poultry By-Product Meal in Commercial Diets for Hybrid Striped Bass, Morone chrysops × M. saxitilis, in Pond Production (pdf)
Expert Opinions on Critical Production Factors for Sustained Growth of the Hybrid Striped Bass Industry (pdf)
Hybrid Striped Bass: Biology and Life History (pdf)
Hybrid Striped Bass: Fingerling Production (pdf)
Hybrid Striped Bass: Hatchery Phase (pdf)
Hybrid Striped Bass: Pond Production of Foodfish (pdf)
Hybrid Striped Bass Production in Ponds: Enterprise Budget (pdf)
Hybrid Striped Bass Production, Markets and Marketing (pdf)
Improved Production of Hybrid Striped Bass Fingerlings through Better Feeding Practices (pdf)
Stress Response and Posttransport Survival of Hybrid Striped Bass Transported with or without Clove Oil (pdf)

The following articles can be downloaded from the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center's website:
The Status and Needs of Hybrid Striped Bass Aquaculture in the North Central Region
Pond Culture of Hybrid Striped Bass in the North Central Region

Hybrid Striped Bass Links
The Culture of Striped Bass and Its Hybrids in Cages


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.