Culturing Mummichogs for the Baitfish Industry

Background

The mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) is an abundant species in salt marshes and tidal creeks along the east coast of the United States and is used primarily as bait in the recreational summer flounder fishery. Sometimes it is difficult to collect them from the wild and shortages of this critical baitfish occur regularly during the fishing season.

Throughout the Mid-Atlantic, bait and tackle shops are the primary source of mummichogs for the summer flounder fishery. In 2009, 24 million summer flounder were caught in the recreational fishery with New Jersey anglers catching the most fish.

Objective

Develop low-cost techniques and materials for commercial culture of mummichogs

Methods

  • Develop the culture of 2 different physiological strains of mummichogs, both endemic to New Jersey waters
    • Strain at 10 ppt salinity
    • Strain at 0 ppt salinity
  • Manipulate temperature and photoperiod to reliably spawn mummichogs in months where they do not naturally spawn
  • Grow the mummichogs to adult stage
  • Share the results through education and outreach

Results

This project engaged New Jersey bait/tackle shops as well as harvesters of wild mummichogs in the development of a low-cost technology to culture these fish at local scales. As part of the education and outreach, a hands-on workshop for the bait/tackle shops and the mummichog harvesters was conducted in addition to the development and distribution of fact sheets.


Aquaculture Innovation Center