Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Wildlife and Fisheries Resources

Committee Chair

Stacy A. Gartin.


The goal of this research was to compare the cost of purchasing, installing and operating a new plastic "U" shaped raceway (fish tank) to the traditional concrete flat-bottomed raceways used in many federal, state, and private fish hatcheries. Potential benefits of this new design include lower fixed (purchase and installation) costs, ease of mobility due to its light weight, reduced operational cost due to the rapid cleaning process that the "U" shape allows, and the simplicity with which modifications can be made to the tank to suit the operation. Limitations include width and depth restrictions and greater vulnerability to vandalism than concrete.;Nine 2000 gallon plastic tanks were stocked with 1000 four inch rainbow trout fingerlings in November of 2006. The same batch of trout (cohorts) was used to stock a flat-bottomed concrete tank of similar volume and at a similar density in a commercial hatchery with a similar biosecure water source. Both populations were fed a high energy commercial trout feed throughout the 31 week growout period. Growth, mortality and fin condition were measured.;Results from this research showed that the high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic tanks cost 47% less to purchase, install, and operate, than the similar volume pre-cast concrete tanks. At market size (1 lb.) fin condition of the trout in the plastic tanks were similar to trout in concrete tanks. A rapid bioassessment of the receiving stream during the research resulted in a diverse group of benthic macroinvertebrates, which indicate the production levels appear to be sustainable at this site.;West Virginia University has received a provisional patent on this design and plans to license a U.S. based manufacturer to make the low cost tank. An international aquaculture supply company is interested in obtaining the rights to sell this new product.