Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Reviews in Fisheries Science, 9(1): 1–11 (2001)


Several nonlethal methods have been developed to determine the stomach contents of fish, including gastroscopes, tubes, stomach suction, stomach flushing, emetics, forceps, and chronic fistulas. By reviewing the literature on this subject, we found that the effectiveness (ability to remove all stomach contents) of the different methods depends on size, age, species of fish, and the size of the food items in the stomach. Overall, various methods of stomach flushing were the most effective method of recovering stomach items from a variety of fishes. Mechanized pressure appeared to be the most efficient method of stomach flushing for most large fishes. The use of syringes allowed stomach flushing to be performed on most young and small fishes. The use of tubes and stomach suctions, much simpler and less expensive methods than stomach flushing, were nearly as effective for some fishes such as black bass (Micropterus spp.) and salmonids.