US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Aquaculture 562 (2023) 738853.


U.S. government works are not subject to copyright.


The feminization of green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus could expand their utility as a game fish or aquacultured species by preventing overcrowding and precocious reproduction in stocked systems. Feminization of green sunfish could also help elucidate information on their sex determination system. We report the feminization of green sunfish cohorts via oral administration of estradiol-17β (E2) during early development. A low-dose (100 E2 mg per kg of diet) and a high-dose (150 E2 mg per kg of diet) experimental E2 treatment were fed to juvenile green sunfish from 30 to 90 days post-hatch. Fish were subsequently evaluated for any treatment effect on gonadal development, survival, and growth. Both E2 treatments resulted in 100% feminization, with no morphological or histological differences detected between E2 treated ovaries and those from a control group. The control group was composed mostly of males (82.61%). Overall, there was no effect of E2 on survival (P = 0.310) and growth rate data suggested no statistical differences (P = 0.0805). However, the growth rate of the high-dose group increased slightly higher after the treatment ended than the other treatments (P = 0.042), suggesting that E2 might suppress growth in green sunfish. In addition, the control group did not exhibit a higher survival rate after the treatment period ended (P = 0.266), whereas both E2 treated groups did (P = 0.0003–0.0050). We found that the low dose, 100 E2 mg per kg of diet, was sufficient for fully feminizing green sunfish if administered during development from 30 to 90 days post-hatch and E2 dosages may result in deleterious effects on green sunfish’s health and growth.