The main objective of this study was to develop a method to discriminate between wild and hatchery-produced Japanese flounder, Paralichthys olivaceus, based on variations in otolith macrostructure. Otoliths of wild flounder were more elliptical than those of hatchery-produced fish, whereas otolith area and marginal coarseness showed no clear differences. Otolith morphometry did not vary significantly with water temperature or feeding conditions in rearing experiments. Reduced ellipticity in the otoliths of hatchery-produced fish could be caused by biotic and abiotic conditions after release. Throughout the study, it was found that otoliths of Japanese flounder reared at 15 and 20 °C regimes showed opaque zones regardless of feeding condition, while otolith of fish reared at 25 °C had translucent zones. The potential of thermal marks and secondary zones as a new mass-marking system is presented.
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