A Fine Kettle Of Fish
is keep rooted plants from growing, which protects the pond banks from eroding," Eder said. "That keeps the shape of the pond bottoms intact and prevents seepage.
"It also keeps crayfish from establishing in the ponds," he added. "In conventional ponds, crayfish will often take up residence, and they can grow pretty big in that environment where they have plenty of fish food to eat. Of course, the fingerlings aren't big enough to eat the crayfish. When we harvest the ponds, those crayfish work their pinchers pretty hard, and they kill some fish fingerlings. By preventing crayfish, the liners eliminate incidental fish losses."
Inside the indoor facility are circular and rectangular tanks where hatchery personnel raise fingerlings into what Eder calls "advanced fingerlings." These fingerlings, larger than those those normally stocked in public waters, are put into waters where large numbers of predators would prey on smaller fish. Putting advanced fingerlings into a lake or stream usually results in a higher survival rate for the stocked fish.
"The size of an advanced fingerling depends on the species of fish," Eder said. "For a muskie, that might be 12 inches, but for a bluegill, it might be four to six inches."
Among the fish produced annually at the hatchery are largemouth bass, paddlefish, muskellunge, walleye and white bass/striped bass hybrids. It will also produce bluegills and hybrid sunfish, as well as channel catfish and fathead minnows.
Channel catfish are perhaps the most widely stocked fish in the state and are the staple of the Department's Urban Fishing Program. In the past, the Department had to purchase fish from outside sources for stocking in urban waters. Raising them at the hatchery will allow that money to be spent on other projects.
In addition, the Lost Valley Hatchery will also play a major role in helping to recover several endangered fish species, including the Niangua darter, the Ozark cavefish and the Topeka shiner.
"We made the commitment to work with endangered species," Eder said. "With Topeka shiners, we're going to raise those in a pond to see if we can get them to reproduce.
"We'll also use one of the buildings to start rearing certain kinds of mussels," he added. "Of Missouri's aquatic organisms, there's probably a greater number of those that are of concern to biologists. We've been doing that at the Chesapeake Fish Hatchery, and we have been able to transplant the mussels we've raised back to a river."