Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Temperature effects on skeletal formation

Producers normally attempt to rear fish at the highest temperature possible in order to achieve the greatest growth in the shortest amount of time. While this normally poses no real danger to juvenile fish, it can do tremendous harm to larval fishes. Flatfish are highly susceptible to temperature during the larval and early juvenile period with elevated temperatures shown to cause skeletal malformations and even sex reversal in many species. Understanding the root causes of these malformations will make the production of these fish better for hatchery purposes, but may also lead us to a better understanding of how a changing climate may affect wild populations.