Date of Award

Winter 2016

Project Type


Program or Major

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

William H. Howell

Second Advisor

Elizabeth A. Fairchild

Third Advisor

Winsor H. Watson


Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) is a semi-pelagic species that is broadly distributed in the temperate portions of the North Atlantic. The lumpfish is also a commercially important species in Iceland and the Netherlands, where it is fished for roe that is used for caviar. Moreover, several recent studies have shown that lumpfish juveniles are useful ‘cleaner fish’ in the Atlantic salmon aquaculture industry. Despite the importance of the species, little is known about its physiology and ecology. The overall goal of this research was to investigate if, and how, salinity affects the physiology and ecology of juvenile lumpfish.

To determine the effect of salinity on oxygen consumption rates of juvenile lumpfish, juveniles were exposed to five salinity treatments (10, 15, 20, 25, 30 ppt) and oxygen consumption rates were measured. Standard metabolic rates (SMR) were calculated using SMR = (V*∆Cwo2)/ (∆t*Mf), where V is the volume of the respirometry chamber, ∆Cwo2 is the slope of the decrease in dissolved oxygen, ∆t is the change in time, and Mf is the mass of the individual fish. Results showed that juveniles had the lowest SMR at 10 ppt and the highest at 20 ppt. However, they were able to tolerate salinities down to 5 ppt for a week without visual signs of stress. This information will be helpful in informing the management of coastal and fishery resources, as well as those who wish to use lumpfish in aquaculture operations.

Little is known about the distribution of juveniles, therefore to determine the temporal and spatial distribution of juvenile lumpfish in the Great Bay Estuary, NH, sampling took place in 2015 and 2016 from June through September. Juveniles were caught, using dip nets, from macroalgae growing on floating docks at four different locations along the Piscataqua River and Great Bay. Lumpfish were found at all locations, except for the mouth of the Great Bay site (JEL) in all four months. Water temperatures ranged from 8.6 – 22.3 °C, and salinities ranged from 21.9 – 33.95 ppt where lumpfish were found. While juvenile lumpfish were never captured at the Great Bay sampling station, there is some anecdotal information they are occasionally found in the Bay, and thus that they are able to tolerate lower salinities and warmer temperatures than previously thought. With the changing climate, it is important to fully investigate the abiotic factors that influence the temporal and spatial distribution of juvenile lumpfish.