Acoustic conditioning and ranching of black sea bass Centropristis striata in Massachusetts USA Academic Article uri icon


  • Acoustic ranching consists of training fish to school to an area via sound stimulus that is coupled with a food reward (classical Pavlovian conditioning). It may present an opportunity to raise fish with less environmental impact and at less expense than typical open ocean fish farms. Some advantages include (1) low capital and operating costs to construct, install, and maintain a feeding and recapture station, (2) low feed costs because fish have opportunities to forage on wild food as well as formulated diets, (3) low impact on the environment due to natural dispersion of fish and their wastes, and (4) the technology could aid stock replenishment efforts by weaning hatchery-raised fish from pelleted diets to fending for themselves in the wild. This project represents the first attempt to farm marine fish with acoustic ranching in North America. In June 2008 we erected and installed an AquaDome super(TM), a 10 m wide by 5 m high geodesic dome in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts USA. The AquaDome super(TM) was fitted with a feeding tube, an underwater speaker, and underwater cameras to monitor and record fish behavior. Approximately 5,000 tagged black sea bass (50 to 80 g) were stocked into the AquaDome super(TM). The fish were trained in the cage by feeding them twice a day in tandem with a sound cue. Once the training was completed, 2.54 cm mesh on the AquaDome super(TM) was replaced with 10.16 cm mesh so the fish could swim out and back in when cued to sound. Many set up residency on the nearby rocks. We conclude that fish have longer memories than previously thought and are readily adaptable to acoustic training. However, the application of this technology in the field is fraught with risks, especially when there is the threat of predators.

publication date

  • 2012