Song, Y., Xie, S. 2024. Effects of substrate roughening on the swimming performance of Schizothorax wangchiachii (Fang, 1936) in the Heishui River: Implications for vertical slot fishway design. Journal of Fish Biology 104(2), 473–483.

Re-establishing the natural connectivity of rivers using fishways may mitigate the unfavourable effects of dam construction on riverine biodiversity and freshwater fish populations. Knowledge of the swimming performance of target species in specific regions is critical for designing fishways with a high passage efficiency. Substrate roughening with river stones of fishways is considered to improve fish swimming capacity by benefiting from reduced-velocity zones with lower energetic costs. However, the effectiveness of rough substrates in energy metabolism is rarely tested. We investigated the effect of substrate roughening on the swimming capacity, oxygen consumption and behaviour of Schizothorax wangchiachii from the Heishui River in a flume-type swimming respirometer. The results showed that substrate roughening improved critical and burst swimming speed by 12.9% and 15.0%, respectively, compared to the smooth substrate. Our results demonstrate that increased reduced-velocity zones, lowered metabolic rate and tail-beat frequency support our hypothesis that lower energetic costs improve fish swimming performance in rough substrate compared to smooth treatment. The traversable flow velocity model predicted that maximum traversable flow velocity and maximum ascent distance were higher over rough compared to smooth substrate fishways. Fishway substrate roughening may be a practical approach to improve fish swimming upstream for demersal riverine fish.

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