G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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in good condition, and were placed in a quart jar of fresh water. There were thirteen of them
altogether.

"April 19. The young White-fish are very vigorous, and are in continual motion. The water
has been changed once. Although the yelk sac has not diminished, they act as if seeking food in
their movements around the jar. They open their mouths very wide. Occasionally they take in
dust masses and eject them again as if they were unpalatable.

"April 21. Umbilical sac in one individual diminishing.

"April 22. Umbilical sacs reducing rapidly.

"April 23. Yelk sacs being rapidly absorbed. The membrane on the anterior part of dorsal
line is also slightly diminished.

"April 24. The umbilical sacs becoming minute. The fin-membrane anterior to position of
dorsal becoming absorbed. At the center of the anterior ventral section of fin-membrane a slightly
opaque white spot is apparent. In front of the anus, and on lower half of caudal, are similar ones.
The color of the head is assuming a greenish tinge.

"April 25. The globule in anterior part of yelk sac has become divided up into numerous
smaller globules, scattered like beads, or more like a row of bubbles, through the length of the sac.
When they open their mouths the gill-arches show quite distinctly. Excrement voided by some
of them.

"April 28. Umbilical sac entirely absorbed. First dorsal fin becoming well defined. Pos-
terior section of dorsal membrane contracting. Furcation of caudal slightly indicated.

"After an absence from home of six days, I returned on May G to find only one alive. A



1>K\ KI.Ol'MKNT OK THK WHITE-FISH. 521

brown confervoid growth had developed in the water, and the young fish attempting to swallow
it always got it entangled in its gills and soon died.

" In my absence I visited Clarkston and purchased for private parties from Mr. N. W. Clark
one thousand young Trout, which I brought safely to a brook two miles north of Waukegan, Illinois.
Mr. Clark gave me one hundred and fifty young White-fish, most of them with the yelk sac only
partially absorbed. The difference in temperature evidently made some difference in the rapidity
with which the umbilical sac disappeared, as the young fish I had carried home were in the same,
stage of development, April 14, as when I had visited Clarkston previously. Now, May 1, the fish
in Mr. Clark's troughs still retained considerable of the sac, while on the 28th of April the young
fish in the jar had lost it entirely. The jar had been kept in a moderately warm room, with a
temperature of about 65, while the water in the troughs at Clarkston flowed from a pond that had
been covered with ice until within a few days previous.

(Hi) Rate of Growth." Further research for the youngfish was unavoidably delayed until thelst
of July. Towards the end of June, from a seine-haul at Waukegan, a specimen of Coregonus allnm,
measuring eight and three-tenths inches in length, one of C. quadrilateralis, measuring seven and
four tenths, and one of Coregonus harengus, measuring three and four-tenths inches, were obtained.

"At Sanlt Ste. Marie, Michigan, on July 2, with an Indian in a birch canoe, the vicinity both
above and below the rapids was explored in the current and in the still water and along the shores,
to find the smallest grade of White-fishes that were to be had. Along the shore, in the sharp
current, schools were found of which the smallest taken measured four inches and nine-tenths,
and the largest six inches and one-tenth. It was quite evident that they had all been batched the
same season. Another excursion in the birch resulted in nothing materially different. The
minimum measurement of the next grade taken was eight inches and three tenths.

"At Shoal Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, a White-tlsh was taken from
the pound-net about the middle of August measuring six inches in length, and another measuring
six and one-half inches.

"On the 3d of December, at Point Edward, Canada, at the outlet of Lake Huron, two speci
inens of Coregonus aJbus were obtained from a seine, one measuring six inches and eight-tenths,
and the other seven inches and seven-tenths.

"It is very probable that the Shoal Island fishes of August and the Point Edward one* of
December 3 were the larger-grown individuals of the same generation as those taken at Sanlt Ste.
Marie in Jnly. The difficult point to decide was in what year the beginning of this generation
should be placed.

"The only positive data with reference to the growth of White-fish are found in the observa-
tions of Mr. Samuel Wilmot, of Newcastle, Ontario, in charge of the government hatching house of
Canada. Mr. Wilmot reports that in November, 1868, he placed a quantity of spawn in the hatch
ing troughs for an experiment, and in the following March and April a large number of young fry
made their appearance. He failed in finding food adapted to the young fish, but a number that
escaped through the screens were carried down to a small pond, where they seemed to thrive
and soon became well-developed young fish. In the month of September they were exhibited at
a fair in London, Canada. They were then about five inches long. In December the young fish
had attained the length of seven inches.

"Mr. N. W. Clark, of Clarkston, Michigan, visited Wilmot's hatching-house in 1871, and in an
address before the house of representatives of Michigan said: ' Enough is known, from the success
of Samuel Wilmot, esq., of Canada, to sustain as in the assertion that they (the White-fish) in-



522 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

crease in weight abont three-quarters of a pound a year, as those he had when we saw them, last
January, we judged to have weighed about one and a quarter pounds, being then about eighteen
months old.' These are the only records of observations of the growth of the White-fish, and
evidences of tliis character are the only ones of any value of the rate of growth.

"An attempt was made several times from large lifts of fish lying in the fish shanties to arrange
the different sizes of White-fish in series, with the hope that some evidence of the rate of growth
per year would result. It was always found that the row of fishes, from the larger to the smaller,
assumed the form of a spire-like pyramid, and a 'straight-edge' laid at their heads would have
touched the uoses of every one in the series, and on the opposite end it would have touched every
tail, so perfectly regular was the gradation. It was difficult to believe that the White-fishes, of
from nearly five inches to six or seven, had attained these dimensions in three mouths from the
little half-inch embryos of April and May, though none of less size were found with the most
diligent search.

"Mr. Wilmot's young fish measured about five inches in September when four months old.
Experience has proved that there is a more rapid growth of the young Trout and Salmon afterward
than during the first two months. The observation on the development of the young White-fish
from April to the first week of May showed the slightest perceptible difference of length and bulk.
If we assume them to be the fish of this season, then they had increased ten times in length in two
months, precluding the possibility of a more rapid growth afterward.

" It is altogether probable that the fish measuring from four to seven inches in July were those
of the previous season's hatching, and about sixteen months old. It is equally probable that the
Point Edward fish of seven inches are those of the same season, as the five months intervening the
1st of July and the 3d of December should have produced considerable growth. To confirm this
opinion we have Mr. Wilmot's statement that his White-fish had attained the length of seven
inches in December. These evidences of the rate of growth are the only conclusions we have been
enabled to adopt with reference to the size attained at different ages. Nor does this decide the
average size of the growth of the White-fishes the first and second seasons."

The act of spawning, with the accompanying movements, is thus detailed by Mr. Peter Kiel,
of Wolfe Bay :

"From thirty years' experience as a fisherman, and after obtaining all the information pos-
sible from others on the habits of White-fish, I beg leave to remark that during the month of
November the White-fish are known to unite, or join in pairs, male and female, and that they
approach the shore for the purpose of spawning. Should the weather be very cold they move
more rapidly and arrive at their destination about the 15th. Their favorite place is a sheltered or
land-locked bay or inlet having a sandy or gravelly bottom. When in from ten to twenty feet of
water the female, endowed with an instinctive knowledge that her time has come for depositing a
part of her spawn, selects a spot and commences to dig vigorously with her head, at the same time
moving the tail rapidly to stir the sand or gravel ; in a short time she forms a nest about two
inches deep; the male, staying close by, seems to be attentively watching her movements. When
the nest is satisfactorily arranged she ejects a quantity of spawn into it. The male immediately
darts alongside of her and impregnates it with the milt. He then moves off' a little way while she
covers it partly over with her nose and tail. They remain near the spot two or three days, until
all the eggs are deposited in the same nest, when they return to the deep in search of food, leaving
the eggs and young fish, when hatched out, to shift for themselves. In the mean tiiue the spawn,
being heavier than water, remains on the bottom, which it would do even if not partly covered



SI-AUNIM; ACT or THK \VHITK FISH. 523

*

over, nature having provided an adhesive substance which fastens it to the sand or gravel. It
remains about one hundred days, when the young ttsh emerge into life. While they were exposed
for so long a time, we cannot tail to admiiv the beautiful and mysterious laws of nature manifested
in their protection from the severity of the weather, from predaceous wild fowl, from voracious
fish, and from reptiles, which during the winter are in a semi-dormant state. As soon as the young
fish are strong enough to move off they gradually work out into the deep, where they remain three
or four years, when they attain their full or average size, and move round periodically with the
parent nsh to their various t'et-ding and spawning grounds.

" White-fish are very prolific, and would multiply very rapidly if not destroyed by a reckless
mode of fishing. Many valuable fishing grounds have been rendered useless by hauling seines
during the breeding season, since, in such case, the parent fish are not only destroyed, but the
spawn is disturbed by the seines dragging along the bottom so that it will not hatch. Another
destructive mode of fishing is to set gill-nets across the mouths of bays or inlets, where the fish,
in accordance with their habit, enter in periodically ; these nets turn their course some other way,
and it will be clearly understood that they are so social in their nature that in whatever direction
the main body of them incline the others are sure to follow. Our fishery laws have done much,
already, toward the prevention of such abuses."

Mr. John W. Kerr, overseer of the Hamilton district, Ontario, Canada, wrote the following
paragraph in a letter to Professor Baird, on the spawning of the White-fish in Lakes Erie and
Ontario :

"The White-fish spawn, both in Lakes Erie and Ontario, on the reefs and rocks, during Hie
month of November. The eggs dropping into the crevices of the rocks are protected from suckers,
a fish always on the alert at this season of the year to devour the eggs. The two specimens sent
herewith you will please find by examination differ from each other in many respects. This you
will be able to find out to be the case only by close study and observation. The Lake Ontario fish
you will find to be a finer and superior fish than the Lake Erie White-fish, both in delicious deli-
cacy of flavor and taste, and the whiteness and richness of the flesh. Still, as regards the food for
this fish, in both lakes, I have in every instance and on all occasions found it the same. The fish
live by suction.

" There is an observable difference in the shape of the White-fish of Lake Ontario as compared
with the shape of the White-fish of Lake Erie. Thus you will please find that the Lake Ontario
White-fish are rounder and broader on the back, while the Lake Erie White-fish are flatter and
sharper on the back."

ARTIFICIAL PROPAGATION. At so early a date as November, 1857, according to Mr.
Milner, the first attempt placed on record was made by Mr. Carl Muller, of New York, and Mr.
Henry Brown, of New Haven, to propagate the White-fish artificially. The lake which it was
proposed should be first stocked was Lake Saltoustall, near the city of New Haven. Eggs were
procured and impregnated artificially. The knowledge of the art was, however, crude, pisciculture
l>eing in its infancy, and the experiment was but partially successful. The eggs were packed in
moist sand and placed in the bee 1 of the stream on their arrival, the White-fish eggs on a sandy
shoal of less than three feet in depth. The presence of young fish in great numbers in the following
March and April was believed to result from the eggs, although the exceedingly common error on
the Great Lakes of mistaking the schools of small cyprinoids for young White-fish (which they very
much resemble except in the absence of the adipose dorsal), may have been repeated here. In the
fall of 1858 the experiment was renewed. There has been no reference made to any permanent
results from this experiment in the reports of the State commissioners.



524 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

"A more successful series of tests were begun in 1868 by Seth Green and Samuel Wilmot in
applying artificial culture to this species, and in the succeeding year by Mr. N. W. Clark, of
Clarkston, Michigan. They were found to be very delicate and difficult to hatch in the first few
years of experimenting, but methods were perfected that made their production as certain and
with losses nearly as small as in other species. The necessity of production of immense numbers
in attempting to multiply the market species of fishes established the fact that the apparatus used
in trout-hatching had to be extended over a wide area to accommodate them. The culture of the
White-fish and the Salmon Trout induced modifications of apparatus at the New York State hatch-
ing establishment." 1

On page 548 of the same report Mr. Milner continues his observations:

"A few extracts from a letter of Mr. Clark, to the board of fish commissioners of the State of
Michigan, will advance his arguments in favor of brook or surface waters in preference to spring
water. Mr. Clark began his experiments with White-fish in 1869, hatching a small percentage of
the eggs he procured :

"'In November, 1870, 1 started again for Ecorse for the purpose of procuring more spawn.
Mr. George Clark, at his fishery, very kindly rendered me all the aid in his power, furnishing the
parent fish for the purpose of trying further experiments in this new enterprise. I succeeded in
obtaining all the spawn needed for further trial, but he was so anxious to make it a success that
he sent his man to me with an extra lot which he thought might be in better condition. I
succeeded in hatching a much larger proportion of them than the year before, but raising them
with artificial food was attended with no better success. This second effort and failure led me to
investigate the cause, and after much thought I came to the conclusion that, if we ever succeeded
in making this branch of pisciculture a success, we must study the principles of nature more than
had ever been done before. I became fully satisfied that by arranging so as to use water taken
from a pond or lake entirely frozen over, it would retard the development of the eggs to the time
required by nature, which proved by subsequent experience to be about April 1. I then consulted
Messrs. George Clark and John P. Clark, and made known to them my convictions, and so strongly
were they convinced that I had struck the key-note to insure ultimate success that they proposed
to furnish all the necessary materials and a portion of the labor to enable me to go on and erect
a large hatching establishment. This was located about 'eighty rods below the spring where we
had been experimenting the two years previous with the unsatisfactory results above stated.
This location was supposed to be a sufficient distance below the main spring, so that by damming
the water and raising a pond it would freeze over and remain so during the period of incubation.
Our views proved to be correct, as the 500,000 of eggs which we placed in the hatching boxes
November 15 of that year were preserved in fair condition, and with one-quarter less labor in
caring for them than formerly. They did not commence to hatch until April 1, and it was estimated
that we succeeded in hatching at least fifty per cent, of the eggs we had taken four and one-half
months previously at the fishery of George Clark. Of these young fry, some 100,000 of them
were put in Detroit River, at or near his fishery place, and no doubt at this time they are thriving
finely in the waters of Lake Erie, which abounds with abundant natural food for them, and in a
year or two more they will doubtless return to the same place where they were deposited. The
balance of them we placed in three small lakes in Oakland County, some of which have been
seen within the last few months, doing finely.

"'This experiment proved so great a success that again, the next November, 1872, through



1 Milner in Report of Commissioner of Fiah and Fisheries, Part II, p. 545.



ritm'Ar.ATioN OK THH \VHITK-FISH. 525

the encouragement of the Messrs. Clark and the United States Fish Commissioner, I doubled the
opacity of this hatching house and procured 1,000,000 of the ova from the same grounds, and
proceeded as before with some improvements I made in the modus operandi of hatching, about
February 20. Mr. Miluer, deputy United States commissioner, arrived at this place for the pur-
pose of aiding me in packing and shipping a lot of the ova, which were then in an advanced stage
of incubation. We estimated from actual count that sixty-six per cent, were in such an advanced
state that they were secure from any further mortality. We then shipped to San Francisco 210,000
in the most perfect condition. About March 10 I received an order from the Commissioner at
Washington to send the same number again to the same place, which I should have done, but from
the fact that the eggs had become so far advanced that I felt quite confident they could not be
transported so great a distance successfully, and only sent 116,000, which 1 am most happy to
have heard arrived in excellent condition. Soon after this the weather became much warmer and
the ice all thawed from the pond, and by the 20th of the month the eggs then remaining in the
troughs commenced hatching. The water had then risen to a temperature of 45, which sudden
change caused the eggs to turn white, and soon all were worthless. Quite n large number had
already hatched out, and I removed part of them to the same lake where Mr. George Clark and
myself had put in a large number the year before, and placed about 25,000 in a small lake at
Clarkston Village.

" ' This sudden change in the condition of these eggs I cannot account for, only from the fact
of the change in the temperature of the water at this late stage of their development. I am fully
satisfied that if the ice had remained in the pond as late as the previous year I should not have
lost two per cent, from the time I made the last San Francisco shipment. This experience satis-
fied me that spring water, although it may not be used until it advances a long way down from its
source, is not the place to hatch White-fish. Although this pond was clear from ice March 15, the
ice remained in our lakes in this region until May 1.

" 'This species of eggs, and especially those not good and not perfectly impregnated, placed in
spring water at a temperature of 46 (which is about the same as all good springs) in winter, will
start out a growth of vegetable fungi more than four times faster than if placed in water tit 33,
which is the temperature of ice-water, and it is next to impossible to employ help enough to pick
out the dead eggs (when in spring water) when you have over a million, as I had the last two
seasons. Even in ice-water last winter, which preserved the eggs much longer than in spring
water, it required from eight to ten persons to keep them in fair condition, and then sometimes
they were necessarily left too long in an unfavorable condition.

"'These facts are conclusive proof to my mind that the ova of White-fish should be kept
entirely away from the influence of spring water, or any water which will be liable to change
during incubation, and all houses where White fish are to be hatched should be constructed upon
some lake or pond that freezes over early and does not thaw out until April 1 . It is stated as a
reason why spring water is better for batching fish eggs than lake water, that it is generally more
free from sediment, some kinds of which are highly detrimental to the successful hatching of the
fish ova. -Whereas our inland lakes freeze over early in the fall, and are not free from ice until
late in the spring, this ice is perfect protection against any agitation of the water, and gives an
opportunity for any sediment that may be in it to settle to the bottom, where it must remain until
spring, and until the eggs are hatched and distributed. Consequently the water in all of our
inland lakes is, during winter, as clear as crystal.

"'You also wish me to give my views in reference to using Detroit River water. To this I will



520 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

frankly say that I should much prefer it to any spring water in this or any other State for hatching
White-fish. But there are some objections which arise in my mind even to this water. I am
aware that this species offish are natives of our great lakes awl rivers, and consequently it would
be supposed that this water must agree with them, and that success would be certain if this water
was used. But has it not occurred to all persons who have given this subject much thought that
much the largest proportion of these fish run to the shoals of those lakes during spawning season
to deposit their oval These shoals are the first to freeze over in the fall and the last to thaw in
the spring. This keeps at nearly the same temperature during incubation. Although it may be
said that during their migration from Lake Erie to Lake Saint Clair some deposit their spawn in
the rivers, it is not very probable that much of it is hatched. I am aware that many hatch in and
about the ponds where the fishermen preserve their fish for winter use. This tends to prove that
the shoals are the place where they hatch most largely, as the ice remains in these ponds much
longer in the spring than in the strong current in Detroit River. If water is used from this
river it must change in temperature many times during the winter, as it is well known that the
ice leaves the river quite often during the four and a half months of the period of incubation. No
one can gainsay the fact that in the hatching of fish ova, if the water is of a perfectly even tem-
perature, it will be attended with more favorable results than when frequently changing, from any
cause, even if such change is not more than two or three degrees. Is it not also a fact that the ice
frequently leaves the lower part of Lake Saint Glair early in March ? If so, would not the westerly
winds roll the water in the upper part of the river? This sediment would be deposited on the
eggs, and, in consequence of its fine, clammy nature, would be injurious to them. I noticed this
was the case in a little experimental arrangement of A. M. Campau, some two years since, where
this water was used. I examined these eggs several times during this process, and found a fine
clammy substance accumulating on them. They were gradually dying, and I do not think any
were hatched. These eggs were taken from our hatching boxes, and were in perfect condition, as
they were so far advanced in development that the embryo fish could be plainly seen with the
naked eye. For these reasons I am forced to the conclusion that there is more suitable water for
hatching this species of fish eggs than the Detroit River.



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 89 of 146)