Experimental Assessment of the Influence of Fish Passage Geometry Parameters on Downstream Migrating Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Smolts Behavior

Sebastien Erpicum*, Vasileios Kitsikoudis, Pierre Archambeau, Benjamin Dewals, Michel Pirotton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The fragmentation of rivers caused by the construction of dams and weirs disturbs fish migration and poses a threat to fish populations and aquatic biodiversity. Fish passages around hydraulic structures aim to restore river connectivity; however, the effective design of fish passages is a challenging problem that depends on several processes. The present experimental study investigated how the characteristics of a trash rack at the entrance of a fish passage for downstream migration affects fish behavior and subsequently the effectiveness of the fish passage. A series of experiments
was carried out to systematically analyze the behavior of Atlantic salmon smolts in a flume with two outlets featuring the same 1:1 physical model of the entrance of a downstream passage with or without a trash rack. The parameters that were tested were the spacing of the vertical round bars of the trash rack, the location of the trash rack at the fish passage, and the velocity gradient at the
entrance of the passage. Aggregated results showed that only 34% of the fish selected the outlet with a trash rack to exit the flume while 66% preferred the unobstructed outlet. More fish swam through the outlet with the trash rack when the spacing of the vertical bars increased from 10 cm to 20 cm and when the rack was placed in the higher velocity region compared to the lower velocity one.
These results show that a trash rack acts as an obstacle to Atlantic salmon smolts passing through a downstream passage. When possible, trash racks should be avoided at the entrance of downstream fish passages.
Original languageEnglish
Article number616
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2022


  • Atlantic salmon
  • ecohydraulics
  • experimental hydraulics
  • fish migration
  • fish passage
  • hydraulic structures

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