Art. XXVI.—History of Fish Culture in New Zealand.
[Read before the Otago Institute, 18th February, 1881.]
The experience of other countries, as France, Germany, England, and America, has demonstrated the fact, that the cultivation of water, acre for acre, can be made more profitable to a community than the cultivation of the land. Fish culture, begun as a scientific experiment in natural history, has expanded into a great national industry—and, with the exception of
that of England, the respective Governments of the above-named nations have assisted actively by money votes, and otherwise, in this most useful work. Breeding establishments-or fish hatcheries, as the Americans call them-have been set agoing in Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Canada, and the United States-and in every case the results have been surprising. By means of ova and young fish distributed from these hatcheries, and with the assistance of wise fishery laws, duly and strictly enforced, streams and rivers where previously the yield of salmon had been steadily decreasing yearly, or had ceased altogether, have been replenished and stocked again in a surprisingly short space of time. Mr. Ashworth, in the west of Ireland, among other achievements, has actually stocked a river and lake with salmon, where no such fish ever had been or could have got before,—the principal means used being the construction of a salmon ladder to let the fish get up past an impracticable waterfall. In the United States, also, Professor Baird has reported that Canadian salmon in 1878 (the produce of fry liberated there in 1874) were seen running up the Connecticut river in hundreds, and some which were caught were as heavy as 19 lbs. in weight. He adds, that these are the first salmon seen in that river for three-quarters of a century! What then, I ask, may we not accomplish in New Zealand-but particularly in the South Island- where we have lakes, rivers, and burns of the finest water, cool, clear, and perennial? Virgin waters where no ruthless pike-the scourge of trout lurks amid reeds and rushes-waters which even now, with our fish culture in its infancy, have yielded a return of a hundredfold. Our inland fisheries are yet destined to become a source of valuable fish supplies to our population, and our legislators therefore have a grave responsibility on their shoulders, because of their past neglect in the matter of the conservation of our rivers with their water rights; and because of the scanty and doubtful assistance given hitherto to those societies which have been struggling to people our tenantless waters with valuable food fishes.
In laying before you a record of pisciculture in New Zealand, I propose to give an epitome of the work in other countries for easy reference-next, as shortly as possible, the work done by the various Acclimatization Societies in New Zealand, in geographical order from Auckland to Southland; and lastly, I shall endeavour to describe our actual operations in fish hatching, as carried on at our breeding ponds on the Opoho Creek, immediately to the north of Dunedin; illustrated by a few drawings; as such a description may be useful, not only here but for comparison with the process and results in old countries. In addition to this arrangement, I shall attach an appendix giving results, so far as practicable, in a tabulated form, with dates when obtainable.
Epitome of modern fish culture.—In the year 1763 a German, named Jacobi, has been chronicled as having rediscovered the lost secret-the natural process of fish propagation-as known to Don Pinchon in the fourteenth century. For thirty years, it would appear, Jacobi practised successfully the breeding of fish, by placing the ova of salmon and trout in gravel under water, contained in wooden boxes. In 1834, in Scotland, Mr. Young at Invershin and Mr. Shaw at Drumlaurig began the same artificial process with the salmon, as an experiment to determine (as they did determine) the identity of the parr with the salmon. These experiments, with the subsequent success of the celebrated salmon ponds at Stormontfield on the River Tay (begun November, 1853), may be said to have inaugurated and given that impetus which has set agoing fish-breeding establishments in so many different parts of the world. In the year 1840, Joseph Remi, a Frenchman living on the Moselle, in ignorance of what had been long known, himself discovered by long and patient watching that the female deposited the eggs and the male fish then impregnated them. The outcome of this was the erection of the well-known French fish hatchery at Huningue, established in August, 1852. Thaddeus Norris in his work on American fish culture gives the year 1864 as that in which salmon and trout were first reared artificially in the United States. This was accomplished by Mr. Johnston of New York. Mr. Samuel Wilmot was the first to succeed in hatching out and bringing up to 1lb. in weight many of the whitefish (Coregonus albus). This he did in 1867 at his breeding ponds, Newcastle, Ontario, Canada; and it would appear that Canada took the lead as to time in establishing in America the now great industry of fish hatching. Mr. Wilmot in his report to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa, for 1878, says: “Although fish culture was not adopted as a governmental work in any of the States of the Union till after its practical application in Canada, it has nevertheless made prodigious strides since, quite eclipsing in its onward course any other country in the world. At the present time no less than twenty-seven State Legislatures enact laws and grant aid towards the encouragement and advancement of artificial fish culture, etc.”
But a new era in pisciculture has been established, by the successful transport of salmon ova alive from England to Australia, in 1864. This is known as the “Norfolk” shipment, and out of it 3000 young salmon fry were hatched out in Tasmania, on the river Plenty. Many were lost in some unaccountable manner, but eventually 500 were turned into that river. Since then there have been various reports that the Salmo salar had returned from the sea and been identified as grilse. This may or may not be; but it should be remembered that salmon-trout were also introduced into Tasmania, and ova of the bull-trout (S. eriox) appears to have come by
mistake among the salmon ova-these three species, at certain stages of their growth, being very difficult of distinction from one another. This much seems certain, that salmon in Tasmania are not an undoubted or complete success as yet, but the feasibility of conveying fish eggs in ice from England to Australia, through the tropics, has been abundantly demonstrated.
Operations of the various Acclimatization Societies in New Zealand.
This society was formed by a few gentlemen in February, 1867. Four acres of land, obtained from the Domain Board of the city of Auckland, were fenced in, the ground cleared drained and planted, a house built for a curator, together with aviaries, and water was laid on.
Prussian Carp, the first fish introduced by this society, were obtained to the number of 114, whereof 12 were placed in the Takapuna Lake, during 1867. The advisability, or otherwise, of getting perch was also discussed at this, time, as it was reported to be as objectionable as pike. Other societies have got it-whether it deserves its bad name or not-and I would only remark that I do not think it a valuable fish, unless perhaps for reservoirs.
Brown Trout ova were first received from the Salmon Commissioners of Tasmania in the year 1870, whereof 60 young fish hatched out, and were put into Edgecumbe's Creek, Western Springs. In subsequent years a considerable number more were distributed. (See appendix.) In 1875, Californian Salmon ova were introduced by the Napier Society, but the ice failed on these getting as far as Auckland, and part of the ova was accordingly left there as a precaution. Of this lot 10,000 ova were put in the upper waters of the Thames and Waikato rivers by Mr. Firth and nearly as many more retained to be hatched at the society's ponds. Only a few of the latter came to anything, and these (some hundreds) were distributed in the Thames, Wairoa, and Tauranga districts. By subsequent shipments many thousands more were liberated in the rivers.
The Whitefish ova (Coregonus albus), in 1877, were for the first time imported from San Francisco. These proved almost a total loss; only nine fish hatched out, of which only two survived in the ponds. In 1880 better success was got, the ova being put in Lakes Taupo, Rotorua, etc.
The American Brook Trout (Salmo fontinalis) were introduced this year, (1877), in the form of 5000 ova. But of these 400 only came to life, whereof half were put in a tributary of the Waikato, near Cambridge, and the remaining 200 into the top waters of the Kaukapakapa stream, Kaipara district.
The Catfish, (Pimelades cattus) was also obtained in 1877, by Mr. T. Russell, from America. In all 140 living fish arrived, and these were put in St. John's Lake. This fish is esteemed good eating, and may be caught by hook and line.
Besides other shipments of brown trout and Californian salmon, this society in 1871 got a direct consignment of salmon ova from England, by way of New York; but this was altogether a sad failure. The acclimatizing of salmon and of trout does not seem as yet to be a success in the province of Auckland. The temperature of its rivers and lakes is, I believe, not too high for Californian salmon (these can live in water at 83°), but I fear it is so for the brown trout. Unless in high mountain ranges, where the streams flow in a southerly direction, and other conditions are favourable to a mean temperature of 48° or 50° Fahr., it is doubtful if trout will succeed at all; or, if they do, will they thrive and propagate? I ought to mention, however, that when fishing in the Deep Stream some years ago I found its temperature up to 62° Fahr. A gentleman just arrived in Dunedin from Victoria has assured me that the trout in that colony are fat, sluggish, and give no sport when caught with rod and line. The secretary of the Auckland society, Mr. Cheeseman, F.L.S., in a letter which I received in May last, thus summarizes the results of their principal venture in fish rearing:—“With regard to trout, you will find in the report for the last year a statement of all our introductions; but I am sorry to say that we have no evidence to prove that trout exist in any of our streams at the present time. With respect to the Californian salmon, repeated statements have been made during the last year of specimens having been caught, in the Thames, Waikato, and their tributaries, and it is probable that there is some foundation of truth in them, although I have not myself seen a young salmon.”
Hawke's Bay Society.
This society, which has been at work for a number of years, has evinced considerable spirit and perseverance in the introduction and establishment of brown trout and Californian salmon, and with a fair amount of success. I cannot illustrate this better than by giving here the chief incidents of fish culture in Napier, as communicated to me by the secretary, Mr. J. N. Williams, of Hastings, on May 17th, 1880. He says:—“In reply to yours of the 20th April, I am sorry to say I cannot give you much information about fish-breeding in this district, as so little has been done, and there are no annual reports. I cannot find any record of importations previous to 1876, and it was not until the following year that any attempt was made to form regular fish-breeding ponds. This has been done by making artificial ponds, similar to those in the Christchurch gardens. These ponds are fed from two artesian wells, giving together a water supply of about fifty or sixty gallons a minute.
“The fish placed in these ponds in 1877 have done well, and are now large enough for giving ova, of which wehope to get a plentiful supply this winter.
“With the exception of 300 fish received from Christchurch, we are indebted to Otago for the whole of our trout. The trout placed in the Ngaruroro river have done well, and large fish have occasionally been seen. In the other streams they have not been observed as yet, as the Maraetotara, Tukituki, Mangaone, Korokipo, Porongahau, Pakowhai, Maharakiki, Maraekakaho, Upper Rangitikei, etc.
“The rivers in which the salmon were placed are many hundreds of miles in length, and all take their rise in a wooded, broken, uninhabited country. It is therefore scarcely a matter for surprise that no fish have been seen tip to this time.*
“The attempt to import whitefish last year was not successful. We were informed from Wellington that, as the ova would hatch immediately on arrival, it would not be necessary to incur the expense of making the patent boxes advised by the American Government. The ova were consequently placed in the ordinary hatching trays used for trout. The fish began to come out a few hours after arrival, but did not live longer than from twenty-four to thirty-six hours. We removed numbers of the young fish to a box fed directly from the well, but with no good result, as they died just in the same way as those in the race. As an experiment, I removed the last dozen eggs left in the trays to a box fed from, the well, in imitation of the American plan. These all hatched, and were observed in the box for twelve days after, but, unfortunately, owing to a defect in the arrangements, which were hastily made, the young fish then escaped into the trout pond, and were probably eaten by trout. The conclusions I have drawn from the above facts are:—That the fish died from fungus, and not from the temperature of the water, which was 54 degrees. That an attempt to hatch either trout or salmon ova in the same way in the month of January, would have been attended with equally fatal results from the cause above-named. That our climate and waters may be too warm for the successful production of whitefish, but that it yet remains to be proved.
“Enclosed you will find a statement of the fish distributed, and of the rivers in which they have been placed.” (See appendix.) “Carp are plentiful in some of our lakes, but I have not considered them worthy of mention.”
Wanganui Acclimatization Society.
The operations of this society in fish-culture, will also be best recorded in Mr. Brewer's, the secretary's, own words. Writing to me in May, 1880 he says:—“Our first successful consignment of brown trout arrived here
[Footnote] * These rivers are Ngaruroro, Mangaone, Mohaka, Tuktuki, Waipowa, Manawatu. 16
about three years and a half ago, and were turned out in a stream about ten miles from Wanganui. The consignment consisted of 300, and they were procured from Mr. A. W. Johnson of Opawa. I have been informed by credible witnesses that they have seen specimens of goodsized fish in this stream. We have had since then about 3,000 young trout partly from Johnson and partly from the Christchurch Acclimatization Society. Our first hatching of any number took place last year, from the 4000, ova you were good enough to, send, and 100 sent by Johnson as a sample. The water used for the purpose is not very good, but I succeeded in hatching out about 3600, which after they had lost their egg-sac were turned into, the various streams of the district. What we consider our most valuable work, however, was the introduction of salmon into the Wanganui river. This river is a perfect paradise for salmon. When you get a few miles up, it flows over long shingly beds, interspersed here and there with deep, dark pools. In some places the water is not much more than three to four feet deep on the gravel beds, and in other places there are rapids, forming at their base the turbulent rocky water in which salmon delight. The only other fish except eels in this river, is the opokaroro, or native grayling. I was very anxious to get this river stocked, and when the last lot of ova arrived from San Francisco, about two and a half years ago, a portion of them were sent to Mr. Johnson's establishment to be hatched out. From him I got 3000 young fish, but to my intense disgust the weather came on hot and muggy, a great portion of them died, and the rest had to be turned out in Wellington to save their lives. This was disheartening, but I would not give up, but got another consignment of 3500. These luckily arrived in fair order; I had canoes with Maori crews ready, blankets well watered, rigged up over the cans, and we took them straight off the ship forty miles up the river.”
“Another valuable consignment we had about three years ago, consisted of fifty dozen of perch from Ballarat. After being taken from the lake there, they were acclimatized for some time in the Yan Yean, at Melbourne. They were then put into canvas bags filled with water, and slung on frames on board ship. These arrived in capital order, but a few were lost by a bag bursting, and a few I believe were stolen. With a second consignment we were not so successful, only about half arriving in fair order. These fish have been used to stock the lakes in the district. We have not interfered with them at all, although the first lot were turned out some three years ago; as we thought it best to give them ample time to reproduce their species. Our fish experiments having been so recent, we are not in a position to give much reliable information; but we know that both salmon
and trout have been seen, some of the latter a good size, and we hope in another year to be able to give a good account of them. It has been decided to devote more than two-thirds of our income this year to procure salmon ova from San Francisco, the whole of which, if they arrive in good order and are successfully hatched, will be put in the Wanganui river.”
“The following little incident will show how easily a slight accident may mar the best efforts of those engaged in fish acclimatization, and cause them to lose all the fruits of their labours. On the arrival of the last consignment of salmon, which consisted of about 3,500 young fish, I had a canoe manned by a Maori crew all ready for the purpose of taking them some fifty miles up the Wanganui. I was accompanied by Major Nixon, a very old resident here, who was personally acquainted with the various tribes of Maoris living in the up river district, and who was much liked and respected by them. It was about midday when the fish arrived, and we started immediately. It was an exceedingly hot day, and when we came to a part of the river where the banks were high and precipitous the heat was almost unbearable. We had a framework rigged up over the cans, over which we placed blankets, leaving both ends open so as to get all the air possible. One of our party was detailed off to keep the blankets constantly wet by pouring water over them. The fish were rather sickly on arrival, caused, no doubt, by their long confinement on ship board. However, we were glad to find that in spite of the heat, thanks to the precautions we adopted, they freshened up wonderfully after a quantity of the cold river water had been put into the cans; and I had great hopes of bringing them all safely to their destination. My crew were not afraid of work and poled and paddled away until about nine o' clock, when we arrived at the pah, where we were going to stop the night. The place seemed all that could be desired on account of the fish, as, although the pah was on the top of the cliff, there was a shingly beach at the landing place, with water varying from two inches up to three or four feet. The Major explained the object of our visit to the natives. They were very much interested, and rendered us every assistance. In a few minutes we had the cans out of the canoes and placed in the river so that the water could (as I thought) flow just over the top of the cans. I thought this was splendid, and as nay blankets had been carried up, I went up myself to find out what sort of a sleeping place I was going to get. I found we were to be accommodated in a large whare, where there were at least a dozen more, and our luxurious bed consisted of a Maori mat laid on the earthen floor. However, as I had seen a bit of campaigning in my early days, I did not think this an intolerable hardship.
The Major being deep in confab with the old chief, recounting some of the stirring scenes of olden days, and fighting their battles o' er again, I found it was of no use going to bed for a time, so lighting my pipe I strolled down to the river to have one last look at the cans. The scene was a marvellously pretty one. High precipitous cliffs clothed with dark foliage threw a dense shadow over part of the river, but the moonlight irradiated with a silvery sheen that part of the water in which the fish had been placed. It looked like a good omen, and I stood there rearing fancies, and in imagination almost saw an angler with his long rod whipping the stream, and by and bye landing one of the speckled beauties. Turning to go up again, some indefinable impulse for which I cannot account, made me stoop down and put my hand in the water, when, to my horror, I found it quite warm! I gave a yell which made the Maoris and the Major come tumbling down the declivity in double quick time, and which the latter described as being something like that of a Red Indian on the war-path. In a few seconds we had the cans in the canoes and taken into the centre of the river. Upon examining them I found the fish were just beginning to turn over on their backs, and were looking as if their last day was come. However, we got cold water in the cans from the deep part of the river, and they began to revive. We then lowered them by ropes to the river bottom and there left them, I going up to keep a lively company with the fleas, which seemed to very much appreciate a change of diet from Maori to pakeha! At the first glimmer of dawn we were up, got the cans from the river, and found the salmon as fresh as paint. Starting at once without waiting for breakfast, we had the fish all turned out at their destination by 11 o' clock, and we then camped on a gravelly shingle bed and cooked our breakfast, which I can assure you we enjoyed, in fact I myself put away nearly a whole ‘billy’ full of new potatoes. On returning past our first camping place I found out the reason of the water being warm. That part of the river where the canoes landed was a kind of back-water. At night it looked like a rippling stream, but in the day time you could see that there was scarcely any motion in the water. Being shut in by cliffs and a hot sun pouring on it all day, it naturally became warm, and if I had not put my hand in the water just before retiring for the night, we should have had to come back to Wanganui with the sad report that all the salmon were dead, which would, no doubt, have been attributed to our own carelessness and mismanagement. The Wanganui river flows for miles over gravelly reaches interspersed with rapids and deep dark pools, looking a very paradise for salmon and trout. A number of the latter, as well as some perch, have been put in, and we hope in a year or two more to have some good fishing.”
Fish rearing in the province of Wellington, which was started in 1874, does not appear to have been either very extensive or very successful. I am indebted to Dr. Hector for the following summary of the work there:—
“Trout were liberated by the Wellington Acclimatization Society in the Kaiwarawara Creek, the Hutt River, and the Wainuiomata, in 1874. From the first they have disappeared, and in the latter they keep to the higher waters, where they get more congenial food.
“Californian Salmon were turned out in 1877 in the Hutt, seven miles from the sea; the Manawatu, in the gorge, thirty-five miles from the sea; Wairau, fifteen miles up; Wanganui, ten miles up. Except two doubtful fish in Wellington Harbour, nothing has yet been seen of them.”
Reviewing the above somewhat statistical history of fish breeding in the North Island of New Zealand, I find that the Auckland society has taken the lead. It got the first imported fish into New Zealand, Prussian carp in 1867, but its first trout in 1870; and Californian salmon in 1875, unintentionally howowever, as regards the salmon. The American brook trout and catfish have also been introduced by it. The results, however, as regards trout and salmon, as well as whitefish, are doubtful as yet. In Napier, Wanganui, and Wellington, there is every prospect, from the number of large fish seen in different rivers, that the trout (Salmo fario) will succeed; but as to the Californian salmon it would be premature to hazard any decided opinion, beyond repeating this, that the temperature of the rivers need not of itself operate hurtfully, as in California the adult fish at least, lives in water sometimes as high as 83°. At the same time I must observe that the best authorities say that the fry descend, or are carried down to the sea by the floods consequent on the snow melting every summer on the mountains, and as these floods are of cold water, we have but a partial approach here to such a condition in our rivers.
In the South Island of New Zealand, I may say that the rearing of trout and Californian salmon, also of English salmon and sea trout, has chiefly occupied the attention of the various societies in so far as regards fish culture. And, owing no doubt to the fact of the streams discharging colder water, and that the work was begun sooner—the success has been much greater than in the North Island.
Grey District Society.
This society has introduced trout (S. fario), and Californian salmon, (S. quinnat). Of the former, several thousands of ova were got from the Otago society in the years 1878, ′79, and ′80. The 1879 lot was almost entirely a failure, owing I believe to the length of the voyage (some ten
days) occupied by the steamer Wanganui between Port Chalmers and Greymouth-to the hot weather of October, 1879, and to the ova being considerably advanced in development when shipped. But the ova received from Dunedin, in September, 1880, arrived in splendid condition-some 4,000-which were packed in ice. I have not heard anything as to the growth of trout on the West Coast, more than that some have been seen 14 inches long. Neither as to the Californian salmon introduced in 1877, further than that the West Coast Times of October, 1879, reported that the Chinese whitebait fishermen had been taking numbers of young salmon in the Hokitika river. But of course this report requires confirmation. Also they are said to have been seen in the Grey river, in 1880.
This society has successfully introduced the brown trout, and for several years past angling has been permitted in one or two rivers. In December, 1877, about 25,000 young Californian salmon were put into the Wairoa and Motueka rivers. In May, 1880, the Nelson society reported that their American whitefish experiment was a failure. (Parliamentary Papers for 1880). I have not been able to get any more information regarding fish culture in Nelson.
This society has worked perseveringly, since 1878, in getting fish for its rivers, and with very good prospects as to the final results, It was formed in the year 1874, and began operations by introducing birds. Regarding fish breeding, the secretary, Mr. Paul, has communicated the following in May of this year. “Up to the year 1878, no systematic attempts had been made to introduce fish. H. Redwood, Esq., of Spring Greek, had brought from Christchurch, in 1876, 200 young -trout. For three years it was doubtful whether they had survived; the river they were placed in being fed by water which is filtered underground, through shingle, for some considerable distance. The matter, however, is now placed beyond doubt. Several fish of about two pounds weight have been seen, which means that a considerable number have survived. In 1878 the society procured from Dunedin 3,000 ova. Of these only 700 were reared, owing, we believe, to the very advanced stage in which they were received—they were hatched out a few hours after arrival. These were fed on raw liver forced through a colander, for about four months, and then liberated.
“In the beginning of the same year 500 young American salmon, part of a Government shipment, were received.
“A few of the young fish of 1878 have been seen, but nothing is known of the fate of the salmon. Last year we procured 800 young fish from Nelson and 9,000 ova (trout) from Dunedin. We were more successful in
the hatching than on the previous occasion, obtaining about 70 per cent, of live fish. These were distributed in eighteen different small streams, as well as in the three large rivers of this portion of the province. The native trout and eels are very plentiful in our rivers, and kawai ascend some six miles from, the sea, making the natural enemies, of the Salmonidæ, in their early stages of growth, masters of the situation. We do not, therefore, intend to relax our efforts in propagation, until we are certain that there are in the rivers such numbers of trout and salmon as will keep the native fish in check.
“So far as we can learn, the trout are the English lake trout * which attain a large size, but we are not able as yet to give any information as to the quality of the fish.
“There is no portion of the colony so well watered in comparison with its extent as the plain of the Wairau, on which the chief town, Blenheim is situated. The principal river is the Wairau; besides there are the Opawa, Omaka, and Waihopai, all excellent trout streams, with innumerable mountain rivulets. In other valleys of the province are the Pelorus, in which 200 trout and 200 American salmon have been placed. The head waters of the Awatere received 200; the river itself, from the large quantities of floating clay it holds in solution, not being considered suitable. Flaxburne, further south, received 200; besides these, there is the Clarence, a very rapid and large river, which we have not been able to reach as yet. The plain of the Wairau is a large alluvial deposit of about 120 square miles in extent. The portion adjacent to Cook Strait, about 80 square miles, is very flat and more or less subject to be flooded. Being only a few feet above sea-level, the river and its branch the Opawa, get backed up by the tide for a distance of eight miles from the sea. This extent of water swarms with trout feed-large quantities of whitebait also ascend the rivers at the season in which salmon would ascend for spawning. In fact the amount of feed, is unlimited, and what is a danger now, will be of great benefit in the future, when we get trout and salmon well established. In the meantime the young fish run great risks, and hence our endeavours to place them in the mountain streams, where they will not run so much risk. We therefore intend to make an effort to procure ova every year, until complete success is ascertained.
“We hatched the ova in long narrow boxes, partially filled with clean gravel and fed by an artesian well. To these was attached a long wooden tank, 10 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 3 feet deep. The water always remained uniformly cool and pure. We attribute the deaths (about thirty per cent.
[Footnote] * This is a mistake, the original ova were from tributaries of the Thames and from the Itchen.—W.A.
last season) to the imperfect aeration of the water in the large tank. It was remarked that when the fish came to the surface they had great difficulty in descending again. Many died in this state, and the distention of the abdomen led us to believe that the water required more air. A few died from fungoid growth on the gills. This is probably a blood disease, from impure or insufficient oxidation of the blood. We intend to experiment next season, in order to find out the cause of such a large percentage of deaths, and remove it if possible.
“So far as feeding went, we found the raw liver answer very well. Two of our members of committee, who are large farmers, and kill a considerable number of sheep, built some small tanks and fed a few hundred trout each on maggots from the sheepskins. It was surprising to see the avidity with which the young fry seized them. These did much better than those fed in the central pond; but they had a much better flow of water, so that it would not be safe to predicate that the difference in success resulted from the manner of feeding.”
Canterbury Acclimatization Society.
The records of trout rearing in Canterbury do not appear to be so complete and accurate as they might have been. However, from some Annual Eeports, and a pamphlet on “Trout Culture” in Canterbury, by Mr. S. C Farr, kindly sent me by that gentleman, I am enabled to give a condensed statement of what has been done.
I find that, in 1867, the Salmon Commissioners of Tasmania placed 800 trout ova at the disposal of the Canterbury society. These were brought from Tasmania to Christchurch by Mr. Johnson, the society's curator, but although apparently packed very carefully in ice, when placed in the hatching boxes at Christchurch, in September of above year, only three hatched out. By some fatality, these three young fish escaped, and although two were captured by Mr. Hill, in a “box-race” their subsequent existence seems involved in much doubt, as nothing in the form of a report now exists. Altogether, this experiment was a failure.* The consignment of trout ova, however, in 1868, from Tasmania, through the Otago society, seems to have been under better guidance, as 433 young trout were reared and distributed in such rivers as the Avon, Heathcote, Little Rakaia, etc., and in Lake Coleridge. Other lots of ova were obtained from the same source, also from trout kept in confinement at the society's ponds; so that now (1880) the waters of Canterbury may be said to be fairly stocked with Salmo fario. But how have they thriven in their new habitat?
[Footnote] * The water used for hatching at the ponds was got from an artesian well, I believe, in Christchurch.
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From year to year since 1876 they have been found to be so numerous and to have attained so great a size that angling has not only been permitted but some very excellent baskets of trout have been taken in the Avon and the Cust. In fact there could be hardly finer fishing anywhere— so far as numbers and weight go—the local Press during the season publishing almost daily an account of the success of some keen angler. In 1877, Mr. Farr states that he saw trout which weighed 11lbs. and 14lbs., and had heard of others weighing 20lbs.;, and a Christchurch paper of November 24th, 1880, has the following:—“A trout weighing 21lbs. was caught in the River Avon yesterday.” I could easily add othercases of heavy trout being caught, but these will suffice to show the rate at which brown trout have gained weight in the Avon and the Cust. Supposing the heaviest of these fish to be one of those hatched out in 1868, then it shows an average yearly growth of 1¾ lbs. This indicates the capacity of the particular breed to become heavy, and the present excellence of the food supply.
As to the trout in Lake Coleridge, I have heard that they have done well, but I have no corroborative facts in my possession in support of this.
Salmon (British).—Two boxes of salmon ova brought from England to Melbourne, as part of a large shipment by the “s.s. Durham,” were obtained by the Canterbury society from Mr. Macandrew, of Otago. These were received at Lyttelton in April, 1876, but only 175 ova appear to have hatched out, which were placed in the river Ashley in 1878. Nothing is to be found in any of the society's reports, showing whether these English salmon have survived or not, so their fate is involved in doubt as yet.
But the Californian salmon (Salmo quinnat) introduced from San Francisco in November 1876, and in the following year, appear to have been a great success, so far at least as hatching out the ova and distributing the young fish go. About 80,000 ova altogether were hatched, and 65,000 parr liberated in different rivers of Canterbury, these rivers being the Waimakariri, Rangitata, Shag, Hurunui, Heathcote, Ashley, Opihi and Little Rakaia. As usual rumours have arisen from time to time regarding specimens of these salmon having been taken in the rivers. It was reserved, however, for Dr. Campbell and other members of the society to put the question to the test. Provided with the proper authority from the Governor they netted the Cam, a branch of the Waimakariri river, in July, 1880, and succeeded in getting three salmon from 5 to 8lbs. in weight. These were compared and found to be identical with the specimens of Salmo quinnat confined in the society's ponds, and which had been retained there from the original hatching of Californian salmon. At the same time, curiously
enough, a gentleman happened to be in Christchurch who had been engaged for years on “Canneries” on the west, coast of America. He was shown the fish in Dr. Campbell's surgery, and identified them as Californian salmon. This, however, is scarcely proof of identity of species or genus. But from a description and drawing (fig. 1, one-fourth nat. size) of part of the 8lb. fish sent me through Dr. Campbell, I have had no difficulty in recognizing it as of the genus Oncorhynchus, the distinguishing feature in which is the possession of more than 14 rays in the anal fin (Güinther); but there are not enough data in my possession to determine the species. The Salmo quinnat is the species said to have come here, and it is of the genus Oncorhynchus, quite a distinct fish from the Salmo salar. The fin rays in this specimen (which has been preserved) are these:—
Coregonus albus (American whitefish).—In February, 1878, 20,000 ova of this fish were received from San Francisco through the New Zealand Government, whereof 12 hatched out, and 8 survived, which were placed in a tributary of Lake Coleridge by Sir J. Cracroft Wilson. Very much better results attended the next experiment in January, 1880, when 500,000 ova, less bad ones, were placed in the hatching boxes at Christchurch, immediately on their being landed from San Francisco, January 17th. Hatching began on the 20th, and ended on the 29th, the temperature, by means of ice in the water, being kept at 54°. The number hatched out was estimated at 50,000, but great numbers died from fungoid disease. These were removed daily until February 24th, when about 25,000 remained. The race water used averaged 56° Fahr. On February 24th, these fish, by the society's admirable arrangements, and under the care of the Messrs. Farr and Sir Cracroft Wilson, were successfully conveyed from Christchurch by rail and buggy to Lake Coleridge in twelve hours, and
there liberated, only 200 being lost en route. Two cans, of the capacity of six gallons each, were used, and these put inside larger ones, the space between filled with water, the temperature of which was kept low by ice. Blood was used to feed the fish from the first. Describing the liberation of these whitefish, Mr. Farr says, “looking after them for a few seconds, we noticed that they took a spiral course to the depth of about eight inches, then dived suddenly downwards, and were lost to sight in the deep azure water.”
“The temperature of the water at the surface was 60°, and at 50 feet it was 59°.” Of other fish, I find that perch were obtained from Hobart Town prior to 1877, but owing to their not thriving in the gardens, it was determined to turn them out in the Heathcote river. Tench, also goldfish, were obtained and reared; 20 of the former and 26 of the latter being in the society's possession in 1879.
Otago Acclimatization Society.
This society, which was founded in January, 1864, devotedits efforts for some years to procuring English insectivorous and song birds, wherein great success was attained. But in 1868 it sent its manager, Mr. Clifford, to Tasmania, who got from the Salmon Commissioners there, 800 ova of the trout (Salmo fario) asmentioned in my paper on Brown Trout, read before this Institute in July, 1878.* A subsequent lot of 1000 was obtained in the following year from the same source, and both were very successfully hatched at the society's ponds at Opoho, by or under the immediate care of Mr. Clifford; 720 of the former, and nearly all the latter, being hatched out. In July, 1870, Mr. Clifford brought from Tasmaniar fully 1000 ova of brown trout, and 140 ova of the sea-trout, and successfully hatched out at the society's ponds every ovum. No such feat had ever before been achieved in fish-culture, so far as I have read or seen. These young trout formed the original stock, from which most of the streams in Otago may now be said to be stocked in measure.* I should, however, mention here that a previous lot of 400 ova brought from Tasmania for the Otago society, in September, 1867, by Mr. Johnson, Curator to the Canterbury Acclimatization Society, proved to be all dead on arrival in Dunedin. The original trout ova from England, brought successfully to Tasmania, were obtained from the river Weycombe, Buckinghamshire, and the Wey and Itchen, Hampshire. Our brown trout are descendants of these, but I have not been able to trace the identity further, nor to find out more than that all the ova from the above three English streams did not hatch out equally well in Tasmania.
[Footnote] * For a list of streams in which brown trout have been put, see paper “On Brown Trout in Otago,““Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xi., p. 208. But nearly every river and stream has received some.
Since 1868, and up to the end of 1880 the society has distributed about 110,390 trout ova to different provinces in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. For the season of 1880 just past, there were 57,500 thus disposed of. The method of packing these, recently and successfully carried out by Mr. Deans, has been in small deal boxes about 15 inches square by 6 inches deep. A good layer of soft damp moss is laid on the bottom, which carries a layer of eggs or ova of the trout, with gauze above and below. On the top of these eggs another layer of wet moss is carefully spread, then another layer of eggs, and so on, the top being well protected by moss, also the sides of the box. Not more than three layers of eggs are at any time put into one box, as it has been found, or is believed, that too much pressure is injurious and often fatal. A top of deal is then screwed on, having a hole in it, there being one or two also in the bottom. Two or more boxes of ova thus packed are then secured inside of a larger box or case. They rest on sawdust, and the spaces—two to three inches—left clear at the sides are also filled with sawdust, a bag containing the same non-conductor of heat being spread out flat on the top of the ova boxes. Next the lid of the larger box or case is screwed down—which also with the bottom of this box has several holes for the passage of water. Of cold fresh water a couple of pints daily, during the transit of the ova, are poured through the hole in the cover to keep the moss wet and cold. We have found the ova has carried thus for a week or eight days successfully to places as far off as Napier and Auckland. But during this last season ice has been used, a sufficient quantity being packed on top of the ova boxes. The result has been eminently good, not five per cent. of the ova having gone bad. I may add that our system is just a modification of the American plan, and as I think an improvement on it. The Americans use scrim or gauze to separate each layer from the moss, and pack six or seven layers thus with moss between, one on top of the other. This causes too much weight to come on the lower tiers of eggs, and consequently losses are increased.
Of young trout distributed throughout Otago during the same period, I find from the society's records that 150,000 have been put into 150 streams, rivers, and lakes; whereof about 40,000 were turned out from January to end of December, 1880. These trout have in the Shag River, Water of Leith, Fulton's Creek, Lee and Deep Streams, Waiwera, Kuriwao, Teviot, and about Lake Wakatipu and Hayes Lake, increased enormously in numbers, and that in the face of losses caused by such enemies as shags, ducks, eels, large trout, bad floods during spawning time, poaching, and so on. In many other waters they have also increased and established themselves, but not to so great an extent as in those above-named. Into the Deep Stream 100, and into the Lee 98 young trout were turned in 1869, and no additions
have been sent to these at any time (till lately, when some were sent to the Lee), yet these rivers are full of trout ! As to the growth of these trout I may give the following facts: in December, 1879, I caught trout in the Oamarama weighing 5lbs. each. I also hooked and played for half-an-hour (in company with Mr. J. A. Connell) a trout which I know must have weighed about 8lbs., but which was lost in netting. Trout were first put into this stream in 1875. One of the young Messrs. Grieves of Rocklands station, in February or March, 1880, caught a trout in the Upper Taieri which weighed 20lbs.; and Mr. John Roberts informs me that his shepherds have seen them 30lbs. weight, and have caught and weighed them a good deal over 20lbs. Trout were first put into this river in 1870. Now supposing the 5lb. and 20lb. fish to be survivors of the original stock in these two rivers, their yearly growth shows an increase at the rate of 1¼ lb. and 2lbs. respectively ! This is a wonderful rate, and shows that at the present time there must be abundant and suitable food in the two streams I have selected for examples. (See specimen of a trout, pl. XII). In my previous paper already alluded to, I stated that I found the rate of growth from 1lb. to 2¾ lbs., according to the stream the specimens were taken from.
Salmo umbla (the charr).—Of this fish 1,000 ova were presented to the Otago society, and arrived in the “Timaru” in April, 1875. Of these, 300 hatched out at the ponds. From a growth on the umbilical bag many died, and of the twelve left at last, the whole lot escaped, and have disappeared in the Opoho Creek.
The English salmon (Salmo salar) was successfully introduced to Otago in 1868, by the Provincial Government. The ova came out in the “Celestial Queen,” having been taken from Tweed and Tay salmon, Severn Salmon, and Irish salmon. Messrs. Youl and Ramsbottom appear to have had most to do in England with the collection and despatch of these ova—numbering 200,000. The ship got to Port Chalmers on 2nd May, 1868, after a very long passage of 107 days; the ova, together with those of sea trout, brown trout, and Salmo umbla (the charr), and some live gudgeon, carp, and tench, with some English oysters, having been put under the charge of Mr. Dawbin. The live fish all died on board, and the ova of the fish just mentioned, excepting those of the salmon, appear all to have died also. (Of the oysters two only survived, and these were given to Mr. Seaton, Portobello, to plant in the bay). The numbers shipped were, sea trout, 1,500 ova; brown trout, 1,500; and Salmo umbla, 6,000. The trout ova were along with those of the Salmo umbla given to the Acclimatization Society to hatch out at Opoho; but, though every care was taken, they all died. The salmon and sea trout ova were sent round by sea to the breeding ponds erected at that time on the Waiwera stream, and all arrived safely. Mr. Dawbin put about 40,000
good salmon ova into the hatching boxes, and the sea trout ova. The result of this experiment is now a matter of history. About 1,500 were reared as far as the smolt stage (specimens of these may now be seen in the Otago Museum), when they became greatly reduced in numbers by escaping into the Waiwera, and by the depredations of shags. At the last the remainder, only 250 in number, were turned out into the river Waiwera by Mr. Dawbin in 1869, and none have ever been seen again, while it is almost certain now that none ever will. Thus ended miserably that large venture in the acclimatizing of the English salmon; and in reviewing the operations, at this distance of time, I am of the same opinion as then, that the Government acted very unwisely in the selection of a tributary of the Molyneux, polluted as the latter was and is by “tailings” from the gold diggings, as the best stream into which to put the young of the salmon. The Aparima, or even the Wyndham, would have been far more likely rivers in which success might have been reckoned on.
Subsequent shipments from England by steamers via Melbourne, were more successful, (although one or two were wholly failures). The ova in these former cases were entrusted to Mr. Howard, of the Wallacetown Salmon Ponds, near Invercargill, an enthusiast, and a well informed man in fish culture, and this important trust was not misplaced. Of the “Oberon” shipment, 96 young English salmon smolts were put into the Aparima, or a pond adjoining it, in 1874. In 1876, of the “Durham” shipment, 1,400 were liberated in the same river; and of that by the “Chimborazo,” 2,500 were growing in the boxes in June, 1878, these being afterwards, I believe, turned out in the same river. The first of the above ova were got from the rivers Severn, Tweed, Tyne, Ribble and Hodder, the second from the Ribble, Hodder, Lune, Severn, and Dart, and the last from the Tyne, Avon, and Lune. I am indebted to Mr. Howard for these particulars. From the printed report of the “Durham” Durham lot, it would appear that the ova packed in Sphagnum moss by Mr. Buckland, arrived in far better condition than those sent in common moss, and which were packed by Mr. Youl. The latter was covered with mould, while the former moss was found to be perfectly clean and free from fungoid growths. For two years past I have occasionally received information from Riverton residents that young salmon had been seen in the estuary of the Aparima. And lately, Mr. Ellis, of Merrivale, made particular enquiries, and assured me there could be no doubt of the fact, for he knew a party who had bought from fishermen young salmon and eaten them ! On the other hand Mr. Howard went specially to Riverton to try and settle the question, and he has kindly written to me that as yet there is in his opinion no proof of the return of salmon to the above river. Under these circumstances, it must
be admitted that we have no certainty of the fish referred to being salmon. At the same time no better river in New Zealand could have been fixed on for salmon “planting,” than the Aparima. There is nothing more to add here but to explain that Mr. Howard's experiments were conducted under directions, first of the Salmon Commissioners, of Southland, and latterly by those of the Colonial Government—the Otago society not having had anything to do in the matter.
Sea trout (S. trutta). Of these, 140 ova were brought from Tasmania, in July, 1870. From these 80 young fish were put into the Shag river by Mr. Young, in 1871. Also Mr. A. C. Begg informs me that some sea trout were put into the Water of Leith, about the same time, by Mr. George Duncan. I have tried to find from what river in England the original ova sent to Tasmania, came, but the secretary to the Salmon Commissioners there, assures me that he cannot now possibly find any record of this fact. This valuable fish has, however, thriven well in Otago Harbour and along, the coast to the north, as specimens from 1 lb. up to 20lbs. have been taken by fishermen, and many are still taken illegally. It is, however, curious that no undoubted sea trout has as yet been caught, or found spawning, in any of our rivers. The number of ova of sea trout brought from Tasmania by Mr. Clifford in July, 1870, was 140, and he succeeded in rearing every one! Of these 134 were sent to Mr. Young on December 22nd, 1870, and put into his pond at Palmerston.
The Californian salmon (Salmo quinnat, or Oncorhynchus quinnat) was first introduced into Otago by the Colonial Government of New Zealand from San Francisco. A box supposed to contain 50,000 ova was presented to the Otago society by the Government, and this got to Port Chalmers on 7th November, 1877, by the s.s. “Taupo.” One lesser box containing the ova was found inclosed in the larger one, surrounded by sawdust, and having a pad of the same on top. Ice had been used to keep the temperature low and the moss wet all the voyage. The ova, in seven layers in the ova-box, lay each between two webs of scrim, supported on moss and covered by the same. The ova on examination were found healthy-looking; only from two to five per cent., I estimate, were actually dead, and these were often found in clusters adhering to the cotton web. The bad eggs were either white or variegated white and red, while the healthy ones had a fine dark pink colour, and were transparent or comparatively so. On opening the boxes I found the temperature of the moss to be 47° Fahr., of the melted ice 40°, of the air 52°. The water in the filter supplying the hatching-boxes stood at 50°, and the water in the troughs or hatching-boxes themselves, reduced by ice, showed the temperature of 48° when the ova were placed in them. The following morning at 6.30 o' clock, I found the air at the hatching-boxes, Opoho, to read 44°, and the water 47° in the boxes.
For the first four days many ova died, but others began to hatch, and this operation was completed in a fortnight. Only 15,000 ova, however, were estimated to be the result, so there could not have been the full number as supposed in the box. Of these, 2,000 were deformed and died, and the 13,000 survivors were put into the Kakanui river in January, 1878, being then very vigorous, and about 2½ inches long each. Nothing has been seen or heard of them since.
The whitefish (Coregonus albus) were brought from San Francisco by the New Zealand Government, and on 21st February, 1878, two boxes were presented to our society, one to be handed to the Oamaru society if applied for. On opening one box at the Opoho ponds we found the ova all dead or hatched out, so the other box was opened to endeavour to save some few ova if not too late. There were many good eggs in this box, out of which we succeeded in hatching about 1,000 young whitefish. The two boxes were supposed to contain 50,000 eggs each, and on being opened I found the temperature of the moss 46° Fahr., of the water flowing from the creek into the hatching-house 54°, and of the water in the hatching-boxes themselves 53°. (See table of temperatures in the Appendix.) The young fish were hatching out as the eggs were being put into the hatching-boxes, and came out in one day or two. On 19th March Mr. Deans started with the young fish for Lake Wanaka, but they all unfortunately died ere he got half way. Probably they were neither old enough nor strong enough to stand the journey. During hatching water varied from 49° to 57°, and when a week old the young fish were fed with blood. In the case of the last shipment sent us in January, 1880, we had the boxes conveyed straight from the Bluff to our hatching-boxes, near Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, on the 19th. The water used was from a cold spring, but no gravel was put in the boxes, which were covered over to exclude light, and an awning formed a roof for the hatching place. The ova were hatching when put into the water, which had a temperature of 48° to 52°, but none lived longer than thirty-six hours. Mr. Deans observed that some of the fish before they died appeared to have fungus, the tails getting quite white in appearance. So great was the mortality that Mr. Deans turned them all out into Lake Wakatipu, part at Beach Bay and part at Half-way Bay, 21st January, 1880, but nothing more has been seen of them. The surface water of the lake had a temperature of about 56°. Dr. Black kindly made an analysis of the water of this spring used at Queenstown, also of Wakatipu and of Opoho water, with this result:—
|Rowell's spring||1.1grs. per gal.|
|Wakatipu||3.1", very soft|
|Opoho||3.6", " "|
|Rowell's||A very little|
|Wakatipu||Scarcely a trace|
|Opoho||A little more than average|
Of other fish, I find that perch, 21 in number out of 24 got from Tasmania in 1868 by Mr. Clifford, survived the voyage, and these were put into the Water Company's reservoir, Dunedin. They have thriven so well that numbers have, during succeeding years, been transferred to various lakes and lagoons, as the Waihola and Wakatipu lakes, and lagoons at Tomahawk, West Taieri, Clutha, Gore, etc. Tench and goldfish were also introduced about this time, and some of these are now in the society's ponds at the Botanic Gardens. The first tench, 18 in number, were put into the Dunedin reservoir in 1868. Mr. Worthington at Queenstown has reared successfully many thousands of young trout during the last few years, and distributed them in various rivers there.
Brown trout, 400 in number, were got by this society in 1868, through the Otago society, from Tasmania. They formed the parent stock at the Wallacetown salmon ponds, whence the young fish were distributed in numerous rivers and streams of Southland to the number of 9,944 from 1869 to 1876.* Such of the breeding fish as had been confined to the ponds for a number of years grew to a great weight (10lbs. in some cases), but otherwise they were not healthy. Fungus attacked them, which, though temporarily cured by dipping in salt water, carried off. a number subsequently, so that Mr. Howard deemed it best to liberate the most of the remainder in the Makarewa river. The water supplying the ponds is obtained from a spring flowing out of a shingly terrace beside Mr. Howard's house, and close to the ponds. It is difficult to account for the disease just mentioned developing itself in apparently strong fish; and the report of the Commissioners on the salmon disease in England at present throws very little light on its cause. It appears at the same time that the germs of this fungoid growth are present more or less in all waters, and that if the individual salmon is not in sufficiently vigorous condition, it is very liable to contract the disease. This disease also it seems shows itself first on the bare or scaleless parts, as the gill-covers, fins, etc. Thorough
[Footnote] * The chief rivers stocked are Waiau, Waihopai, Waikiwi, Puni, Oreti, Centre Creek, Eyre Creek, Makarewa, Winton, Upper Mataura, Benmore, Otemaiti, Waimatuku, and Morley.
aeration of water is an essential to the health and even life of the Salmonidæ. It is fair, therefore, I think to assume that the proximate causes of the appearance of fungus on these breeding fish were want of sufficient aeration of the spring water, and a diminution of constitutional vigour due to their confinement. On the other hand I must state that I had this spring water analyzed by Dr. Black, of the Otago University, when nothing at all injurious to fish life could be discovered in it. Also that fish have been confined in wells where they seemed to live without any discomfort or ailments. Yarrell gives, for instance, the case of a trout which was kept in a well on Dumbarton Castle, where it lived for 28 years, each detachment of troops when stationed there being careful in feeding and protecting it. My opinion, therefore, as expressed above, I give with diffidence; at the same time I believe there is some truth in it.
Sea trout.—The Salmon Trustees report that the fry bred in 1870 spawned in 1875. In the year 1876 there were 850 put into the Oreti river (ten large fish being retained at the Wallacetown ponds).
In English salmon rearing Mr. Howard bears off the palm as the most successful of any in New Zealand who have tried it. The results of his care and skill at the Wallacetown ponds I have already chronicled above, so I need not repeat them here, further than this, that if these fish succeed in the Aparima, Mr. Howard will have been the means of securing to posterity in New Zealand the finest fish ever brought here.
Of Californian salmon there were reared and distributed by the same gentleman, many thousands. In 1876–7 he liberated in Shag Creek 3,600, Winton Creek, 1,200, and Irthing, 12,800, these streams being tributaries of the Oreti River. And in the season 1877–8, he put into the Oreti River 35,000; in the Makarewa, 18,000; and in the Waipahi, 10,000. Reports have reached me of strange fish having been seen in the Oreti, in the summer of 1880, but there is no evidence whatever that they were salmon. On 1st May, 1877, Dr. Hector liberated about 500 healthy young Californian salmon in Revolver Bay, Preservation Inlet. In February, 1878, Dr. Hector was also successful in hatching some hundreds of American whitefish ova in a stream at the Te Anau Lake, but nothing has since been seen of these fish. In January, 1880, Mr. Howard had a great many hatched out in Lake Wakatipu, but these died, and the rest were turned adrift in the Frankton arm of the lake.
The efforts of the Southland society appear to have ceased in 1875, the subsequent distributions of young fish having been under the direction of the Salmon Trustees, or Trustees under the “Southland Acclimatization Grant Act,” and latterly under the orders of the Government, Mr. Howard being entrusted with the actual operations.
The success of the brown trout in such rivers of Southland as the Waimatuku, Makarewa, Oreti, Waikiwi, Waihopai, and Puni has not been very decided as yet. Whether it will be in the future is a matter of some uncertainty.
In reviewing the operations of the various societies in the South Island of New Zealand, it is manifest that they have given better results than those obtained by the societies in the North Island, and that probably for the reasons already given above. In the case of the whitefish ova in 1880 the Canterbury society alone were successful, and it is significant that they only of all the societies fed the young fish with blood from the first. Of private individuals who have done a great deal with their own breeding ponds in fish culture, Mr. Johnson, of Opawa, Canterbury, and Mr. W. A. Young, of Palmerston, Otago, have specially distinguished themselves. Mr. Young in past years has reared and liberated in different streams many thousands of trout.
Fish hatching, as practised in Otago with Trout Ova.
This interesting process, in pursuance of the arrangement proposed in the beginning of this paper, I will now endeavour to describe. As at home so here, the winter season is that during which we find our acclimatized trout effect their spawning. Or rather I should say that while trout in England and Scotland spawn in October and November, we find that in Otago they do so later, that is from the latter end of June to the end of July, and sometimes on to the middle of August, which months correspond to December, January, and February in Britain. Previous to the winters of 1879 and 1880, besides ova taken from spawning fish in the Water of Leith, ova had been got from the natural spawning beds or “ridds” in Lovell's Creek, Fulton's Creek, Lee Stream, and Shag River. This was done by the Acclimatization Society, by whom the trout were introduced, and who have power by law so to do; Mr. Clifford, the original and successful acclimatizer of these fish, being now succeeded by Mr. Deans, the society's manager, a most careful and trustworthy operator. But during the winters of 1879 and 1880 the ova have been entirely got from fish caught in the Leith.
The spawning fish. A mild night, without moon but not too dark, and the water clear, are the most favourable conditions under which the fish may be taken. Provided with a lantern throwing a good strong light, attached to a waist belt or carried in the left hand, a large scoop net in the right hand, and his legs enveloped in gum boots or waders, the manager quietly enters the bottom of a pool. His attendant, carrying a large metal bath or tub for transport of the fish, moves along the bank of the Leith, and keeps near him. On approach, a fish, which can readily be seen by an experienced person, moves up stream, slowly, however, as compared with what its movements in daylight would be. By quickness the net can generally be passed under the fish ere it can get away, and should the fish
be near spawning or milting, it is at once transferred to the tub with a sufficient supply of water. Thus confined the trout shows considerable restlessness at first, but gets soon more reconciled seemingly to its novel habitation, as it becomes more quiescent. But should the fish when taken not be near maturity or ready to propagate, it is returned to the river for a time. Working thus up stream, pool by pool, and stream by stream, so much only of the river is gone over as gives a number of fish sufficient to transport in the tub. When this is attained, Mr. Deans and his man carry the tub and its contents carefully to an enclosed stream or small pond, within the gardens. This is called the “hospital” or the “lying-in pond,” and there the milters and spawners are kept till ripe or ready for stripping. More than a score of trout, some 10 lbs. to 12 lbs. weight, have thus been caught on a good night, but some nights scarcely a fish can be seen or taken in the Water of Leith. A deep hole with a weir and apron below Anderson's flour mill, is a favourite resort where numbers of large fish congregate.
As regards the greater ease of taking fish by a lantern or torch at night, than without that and during daylight, it has long been held as an opinion that the fish become so dazzled or dazed by the light as to be incapable of swimming away. From my own observations, however, when assisting in the capture of trout in the Leith, I can only admit that the above opinion is partially correct. The light appears (particularly when a dark-lantern is used) to rivet the attention or eyesight of the fish, to the exclusion of the darker body of the man, so that but for the motion of the light the fish would probably not recognize its danger. But as the light moves, so does the fish, and should the rays fall on part of the man's body or on the net, its motion is quickened, and it makes off.
The proportion of males are few compared with the number of female fish captured, so far as I have seen. Thus I was present on the 10th of July last at a stripping of trout at the lying-in pond, when only three or four males were got, while there were twenty-four females handled ! So also in angling I always catch far more females than males, as on March 26th, 1880, out of thirteen trout I caught in the Deep Stream on that day and the following one, there were not more than two undoubted males. In connection with this I may refer to the fact that some years ago I and others caught male trout in the Lee Stream, which were lean and emaciated and evidently wasting away from some unexplained cause. That cause was certainly not want of power or inclination to feed, as they took the fly or bait greedily.
The colours of the trout during the spawning season here, are deepened, just as has beeen remarked with the Salmonidæ at home. For example, on the occasion of stripping just mentioned above, I noticed that the males, and more particularly the larger ones, were very dark and golden tinted, the fins, and notably the adipose and caudal, having much deep pink; while the
spots ‘ black and crimson ’ were very conspicuous. The females were clear and silvery, like sea trout, and crimson spots were visible, which probably in the summer season would not be discernible on the same individuals. The hook on the lower jaw of the males seems to grow larger and softer during the spawning season in our rivers, just as observed elsewhere.
As the Water of Leith is a small stream, and the trout taken for stripping are often of great size, 10lbs. to 16lbs. in weight, the manager when done with the fish, and on their recovery, has for the last few years returned only the lesser fish to the Leith, the larger ones being removed to the Waikouaiti, Waitati, Silverstream, Waitahuna, Clutha, and Waipahi rivers; or put them into the Waihola and Tuakitoto Lakes, and the Tomahawk lagoon. The object of this is to make room in the Leith for the growth of the younger trout.
Stripping the fish.—A crockery basin or bowl being ready, having a small quantity of pure water in it, the female fish ripe for stripping is removed from the tub wherein she and others have been placed temporarily. The fingers of the left-hand, if a heavy fish, are passed through the gills and the tail is seized by the right. Lifted thus from the tub, so soon as she becomes manageable, the left hand and knees keep her in position over the basin, while the fingers of the right passed gently down her belly from above the ventrals to near the vent, effect the stripping. If the female be very ripe the eggs will flow with little or no pressure from the fingers, but if not, then a certain number only may come away, when she is returned to the lying-in pond at once, and allowed to mature. * When stripped the poor female trout has a very collapsed appearance; the belly, which before was full and distended, being empty, straight, and doubled in! On being, however, returned to the pond she soon recovers, very few ever dying from the effects of this artificial spawning. A short time—not more than a minute and a half or two minutes—suffices for handling thus a fish. Next in order, when the basin is full enough (it should not have too many) of eggs, a male is got, and similar handling with that just described gives the necessary quantity of milt, provided the fish be ripe. The milt from one male we find quite sufficient to impregnate the ova of several females, and that of a young male seems to be as efficient as that of a more mature trout. The milt and eggs are stirred gently with a spoon to ensure thorough contact. The female eggs are of a glossy dark pink colour on passing from the ovaries, but I have noticed a faint yet distinct alteration to a semiopaque and slightly milky tint, on impregnation taking place. I have preserved specimens of unimpregnated and impregnated eggs in glycerine, so as to retain the natural colours, and this difference in certain lights I believe I can still distinguish.
[Footnote] * Mr. Howard, of Wallacetown ponds, uses a board with netting attached to one side to secure the fish during stripping.
Occasionally, but not often, we have found a female give eggs of a light straw colour, and these have hatched out quite as well as those of the ordinary hue, with no difference in time, or in the appearance of the fry. On August 28th, 1880, we had in the hatching boxes at Opoho, ova of this colour from two females of 5lbs each, it was also much smaller than the pink ova from equally heavy female trout. This peculiarity in colour has been observed to occur sometimes with trout in English rivers, as mentioned by Mr. Frank Buckland, in his book on “Fish Culture.” In this last season's stripping one female gave 30 eggs much larger, twice the diameter of her other eggs, and as big as Californian salmon ova. They were of a light violet colour, and most hatched out, but 17 only survived, and these are thriving well and are kept by themselves. Her other ova were of the usual size and colour.
As to the number of ova produced by our trout, we find it to be 800 to 1000 for every pound weight of the fish.
Hatching boxes.—The hatching boxes and house, dam, and ponds for the young fish, are on the banks of the Opoho Creek, at the north end of Dun-edin. The place is awkward of access, but excellently chosen as regards coldness of water and protection from the sun's rays. The creek, flowing as it does down the shady side of Signal Hill and through bush, is cold, but has a considerable quantity of vegetable matter in solution (see analysis given above); not too much, however, as we have found, by the health and success attending our young fish, reared in it. The arrangement of these breeding ponds and the water supply is shown by a diagram which I have made to accompany this paper (pl. XIV). The water passes from the dam through a small fluming of timber four inches by four inches, past the hatching house to the fish ponds, and after flowing through these is allowed to discharge into the creek. At the hatching house a small pipe connects this fluming and the filter-box. The filter-box consists of two chambers, into the first of which, containing the filtering materials, the water flows from the box fluming. The water then passes through the bottom of the partition into the second chamber, where it rises and is drawn off by the several pipes as wanted, which supplies the hatching boxes. These boxes, twelve inches by six inches, built of planks one inch thick, and from four to seven feet long, are placed in parallel rows on either side of the hatching house. Each has sufficient inclination given to it to secure a gentle flow of water, the water passing through a zinc grating from one box to another. Clean gravel about an inch deep, being the debris of trap rock from the Opoho Creek, covers the bottom of each box, and the water, to the depth of two inches, covers this layer. The hatching house is boarded with Hobart Town palings, and has a calico or scrim roof resting on battens.
Hatching the ova.—In these boxes, as just described, the impregnated ova are carefully put and distributed all over the gravel in a single layer, wooden covers being then put upon the top of each box. Wide-mouthed bottles drop in the ova well. Notwithstanding all care, there is always more or less of a deposit from the water on the eggs, particularly at the lower ends of the boxes (see note in appendix). This, however, we have never found injurious, though it is objectionable. It can be removed by a camel hair brush, moving the water with a spoon, or increasing the flow of water, the latter being a cure to be avoided if possible. I may here mention in passing, that Mr. Frank Buckland made some experiments to ascertain what weight would be required to crush the eggs of the salmon, when he found it to be 5lbs. 6ozs. I have not tried what trout eggs will bear, they are considerably smaller than those of salmon of equal weight, but that fact does not indicate lesser strength, and it is very probable that they are as strong as those of the nobler fish. This astonishing strength seems to be a wise provision of nature, as in the natural ridds the ova of both these fish are liable to rough treatment and great pressure from superincumbent gravel.
The period of incubation, if I may use the expression, is found at the Opoho ponds to average 78 to 88 days under ordinary conditions of weather and the time from impregnation till the eyes of the fish appear, 45 to 50 days. A difference in the temperature of the water of 1½ degrees is found to make a difference of 10 days in the time of hatching. The average temperature ranges from 42° to 52°, but the strongest and healthiest trout hatch out in water at 48°. The period of hatching is from 8 to 14 days, that is between the first and the last trout breaking out of the egg. The umbilical bag in the young trout hatched in September and October, 1880, took from 50 to 56 days before it was entirely absorbed. From the time of the sac being absorbed the fry are fed with grated raw liver until liberated, the sac being supposed to contain all necessary nourishment up to the time of its disappearance. In Yarrell's “British Fishes,“p. 269, experiments in trout rearing in Germany are referred to, where the time from impregnation to the eye appearing was 21 days, to the hatching out of the fish five weeks or 35 days; and from hatching out to the absorption of the umbilical sac three or four weeks or 28 days. Thus it would appear that the trout reared at the Opoho ponds take as nearly as possible twice as long as fish in Germany to pass through the same stages from impregnation to absorp-tion of the bag. Some tables at the end of this paper may be found useful, giving a few details of temperature and hatching out in Otago. The 1879 fish grew much quicker than those of 1880, which were remarkably backward.
The young trout.—After hatching, the young trout (as stated above) are fed with grated raw liver, and this food is continued to them for some time after. They thrive very well on it, and feed, as we believe, on small water
insects besides. After hatching the young fry will be ready for turning out into the rivers in from 30 to 50 days, and will carry best whenever they begin to feed, which is from 25 to 28 days after birth. When they are about six weeks old, if well fed, they average 1½ inches in length, and at 100 days three inches. Parr marks or dark bands distinguish the young trout, just as in young salmon and sea trout, and in number I find these to be from 10 to 13; but the same individual does not always have an equal number on either side, just as they seldom or never have been found by me to have equal numbers of spots on the gill-covers on either side of the head. The parr marks disappear when the trout is four to five inches in length.
In transporting these young fish, Mr. Deans prefers to do so when they are from three-quarters to an inch long. He used to put water-cress into the water in the cans, but more recently he has not used anything but water, and has conveyed the young trout just as successfully the one way as the other. The great objects to be kept in mind in this operation are coldness and thorough aeration of the water, and also avoidance of crowding too many fish into one can. The cans used are conical in shape, the base being from 12 to 15 inches in diameter, and the top or mouth about 6 or 7 inches in diameter, and furnished with a lid which fits exactly. The height of each can is about 15 inches, and it has a perforated false bottom fixed in about one inch above true bottom. Aeration is generally found to be secured by the motion of the railway train or other vehicle conveying the fish. At other times a pannikin used occasionally will do as well. A can of the above dimensions will carry about 500 young trout of one inch in length, but that number should not be exceeded.
On arrival at the river or stream destined to be the future habitat of the young fry, they are liberated if possible in shallow water, with a coarse gravelly or stony bottom. On their escape from the can to the river, they rest for a time on the bottom, as if fatigued, thereafter going off according as their instinct directs them. On one occasion in January, 1880, I remember in company with Mr. Shennan, of Conical Hills, putting about 500 young trout thus into a shoal part of the Pomahaka River, and on our return in a day and a half, we could not see a single one, not even a dead one, of which there were some dozens at least. The river had been up a little in the interval and was slightly discoloured, so possibly they had shifted their quarters, or been compelled to do so by the action of the water.
It need only be added here, that as it is believed that the stock in any river will decrease (where fishing occurs) from year to year if left to itself, (indeed the experience of Europe and America has demonstrated the fact), the Otago society is very properly spending a large portion of its funds yearly in those operations which I have given now in detail as above. Thus only will the stock of trout in the rivers be maintained.
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|Ova when impregnated.||First fish hatched.||Last fish hatched.||Total time.|
|Box 5 and 6||July 28||October 11||October 24||88 days|
|" 9||" 31||" 6||" 17||79 "|
|" 10||" 31||" 6||" 18||80 "|
|" 11||August 7||" 10||" 23||78 "|
|Or a mean duration or period of incubation of||81 "|
Boxes 5 and 6 were in hatching house; 9,10 and 11 in open air at lower pond.
One stripping in 1880 took from June 20th to September 8th, and another from July 27th to October 30th, to hatch out. Mean time of hatching, 87 days.
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|American Brook Trout||400||400|
|Prussian Carp (1867)||114|
|Hawke's Bay Society—|
|British Salmon (by Government||250||250|
|Southland Society and Mr. Howard—|
Note—Some of above numbers are approximate, or given by estimation not by actual enumeration.
|Date.||In upper boxes in house.||In lower boxes at lower pond.||Date.||In upper boxes in house.||In lower boxes at lower pond.|
|August 20||Fahr. 44 deg.||Fahr. 45½ deg.||September 29||Fahr. 46 deg.||Fahr. 48 deg.|
|" 21||46 "||48 "||October 3||48 "||49½ "|
|" 22||42 "||43½ "||" 9||49 "||50½ "|
|" 26||40 "||41 "||" 11||50 "||52 "|
|" 30||46 "||47½ "||" 12||50 "||52 "|
|September 4||46 "||48 "||" 14||48 "||48 "|
|" 8||42 "||44 "||" 15||48 "||48 "|
|" 17||45 "||47 "||" 21||48 "||48 "|
|" 23||44 "||46 "||" 23||51½ "||51½ "|
|Feb. 22||7 a.m.||50 deg.||2 p.m.||54 deg.||Mar. 6||9 a.m.||50 deg.||6.30 p.m.||49 deg.|
|" 23||9 "||52 "||6 "||57 "||" 7||7.30 "||50 "||6.30 "||50 "|
|" 24||9 "||53 "||6.30 "||59 "||" 8||8.30 "||51 "||6.30 "||50 "|
|" 25||9.30 "||54 "||" 9||8.30 "||51 "||4 "||54 "|
|" 26||11 "||54 "||6.30 "||54 "||" 10||10 "||49 "||4.30 "||51 "|
|" 27||10 "||51½ "||12.30 "||53 "||" 11||7.30 "||50 "||6 "||49 "|
|" 28||9.30 "||53 "||6 "||54 "||" 12||7 "||50 "||6.30 "||49½ "|
|Mar. 1||9 "||52 "||7 "||53 "||" 13||7.30 "||52 "||6 "||53 "|
|" 2||8.30 "||51 "||6 "||53 "||" 14||12 noon||54 "||7 "||55 "|
|" 3||11 "||51 "||9 "||51½ "||" 15||8.30 "||52 "||7 "||54 "|
|" 4||6.30 "||50½ "||6 "||50½ "||" 16||8 "||53 "||7 "||54 "|
|" 5||10.30 "||49 "||4.30 "||50 "||" 17||12 noon||54 "||5.30"||55 "|
The American whitefish were received February 21st, 1878. First box opened all were dead. Second box yielded some good eggs, which began to hatch at once, on being put into the boxes, as already mentioned. All the hatching was over in about one day; so that above table shows the time during which the fish remained in the boxes, as well as the daily thermal readings.
Note.—Clark's Patent American Hatching-box has layers of trays of brass wire gauze, one above the other, enclosed in a box watertight except at the bottom. The water flows downwards through these, out at bottom and rising to the top of an outer box, flows over into the next set of boxes, and so on. This seems likely to remove all sediment.