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Trout Spawning Guidelines

I. Checking Females

  1. Anesthetize the females with about 0.3-0.5 gram of MS-222 (tricaine methane sulfonate) and 2 grams of baking soda (NaHCO3) per gallon of water using a 30 gallon trash can or comparable container. The females should succumb in about one minute, at which time they can be handled safely.
  2. Check females once per week for ripeness starting 2-4 weeks prior to expected spawning period. A ripe female should have an enlarged abdomen, the vent should be extended and redish in color.
  3. With the index finger GENTLY squeeze the female behind the pelvic fins and work toward the vent, feeling for a possible plug of old eggs, which must be worked out before the eggs will flow freely. Ripe eggs will flow freely with little pressure, will be yellow to orange in color and will be translucent. Allow a few eggs to drop into the water. If a milky coating is seen or dots are seen in the eggs, this indicates the eggs are over-ripe and cannot be fertilized.

II. Spawning

  1. Anesthetize females and an appropriate number of males to spawn one male per female if genetics are important. Strip the eggs from the female into a dry plastic pan and immediately apply milt from the male. Add enough water to cover the eggs and swirl to mix. Allow to stand for 2 minutes then rinse the eggs by filling the spawning pan with water and slowly pouring off the excess water and milt. Do this 3 or 4 times until the water left in the spawning pan is clear. Place eggs in a clean 5 gallon bucket filled with a 25 parts per million active iodine solution (Argentyne and Betadyne – 9.5 ml or almost 2 teaspoons/gallon of water; Wescodyne – 6 ml or slightly more than 1 teaspoon)/ gallon of water).
  2. Repeat these steps until all ripe females are spawned. Females will yield 1000- 4000 eggs per female depending on fish size, age, and health.
  3. Allow eggs in 5 gallon bucket to water-harden for one hour while providing adequate aeration.

III. Incubating

  1. Place a suitable number of eggs in incubator(s) to maintain adequate flow of water to eggs (see SRAC Publication 220 – Handling Eggs and Fry).
  2. The eggs may need to be treated daily with 1:600 concentration of formalin (48 fluid ounces/4 gallons per minute of flow) for 15 minutes to prevent fungus from forming (See Trout Egg Formalin Treatment).
  3. Incubate until eggs hatch (20-50 days dependent on water temperature), remove from incubators, and place in troughs or tanks.

Written By

Photo of John Dorner, IVJohn Dorner, IVArea Agent, Information Management (828) 290-9876 john_dorner@ncsu.eduMadison County, North Carolina
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