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Atlantic salmon salmo salar L. parr were reared for 3 months under standard hatchery conditions or in a structurally enriched tank (containing plants, rocks and novel objects). Half of each of these fish had prior exposure to live prey in the form of live bloodworm while the other half were fed hatchery-pellets. After 12 days all fish were tested on a novel live prey item (brine shrimp). A significant interaction between the two factors (prior exposure to live prey and rearing condition) revealed that foraging performance was only enhanced in fish that had been reared in a complex environment and exposed to live prey. It appears that the ability to generalize from one live prey type to another is only enhanced in fish that had been reared in an enriched environment. The findings support the assertion that the provision of enriched environments in combination with exposure to live prey prior to release may significantly improve the post-release survival rates of hatchery-reared fishes. As both the environmental enrichment and the prior foraging experience procedures were comparatively simple, the provision of such pre-release experiences are likely to prove cost effective to hatcheries.


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