Richloam Bass Center can Produce Three Times more Fish

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
7 March 2007, at 12:00am

WEBSTER - One fish, two fish eventually make a bunch of little fish.

Rick Stout, hatchery manager for the Florida Bass Conservation Center in Webster, explains how the climate-controlled rearing facilities operate.

That’s the whole idea behind the new Florida Bass Conservation Center and fish hatchery at the Richloam State Fish Hatchery in south Sumter County.

The center was dedicated Feb. 23 and is in operation, but it won’t be open to the public until midsummer.

Even so, the hatchery is in full production with six 80-foot-long raceways where adult fish are kept for spawning and 14 30-foot-long starter tanks, where newly laid eggs are deposited to hatch.

“The center is finished, but the county will start rebuilding the road back to the facility early March,” hatchery manager Rick Stout said. “And since there is only one way in, we don’t want people trying to get in around construction trucks and paving equipment.”

The $17.5 million center is located at Richloam State Fish Hatchery on 186 acres in the Withlacoochee State Forest, land leased from the Florida Division of Forestry.

It features a two-story, 39,000-square-foot building that also houses a library, classroom, aquarium and genetics-monitoring and fish-pathology lab.

On-site biologists insert a microchip in each breeding fish. The fish are numbered, and genetic information is available that will allow staff to locate offspring through genetic testing.

“We can pull a fish from any of the lakes or places we release fish and trace them back to a set of parents,” Stout said. “This allows us to maintain quality fish.”

Newly hatched Florida largemouth bass look like grains of brown rice for several days after they hatch, Stout said. They stay at the facility until they are about 2 inches long, then they are released.

Source: The Villages Daily Sun