Fish Swimming in Turbulent Waters
CHANSON, H., and LENG, X.(2021). "Fish Swimming in Turbulent Waters. Hydraulics Guidelines to assist Upstream Fish Passage in Box Culverts." CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Leiden, The Netherlands, 202 pages and 19 video movies
(DOI: 10.1201/9781003029694) (ISBN 978-0-367-46573-5 [Hardback]; 978-1-003-02969-4 [e-book]).

Author's website :
Publisher's website :

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Supporting material
19 video movies
Order form and flyer: {Leaflet & description}


Low-level river crossings, including culverts, are important for delivering a range of valuable socio-economic services, including transportation and hydrological control. These structures are also known to have negative impacts on freshwater river system morphology and ecology, including the blockage of upstream fish passage, particularly weak-swimming fish species. Given the enormous environmental problems created by road crossings, new guidelines are proposed for fish-friendly multi-cell box culvert designs. The focus of these guidelines is on smooth box culverts without appurtenance, with a novel approach based upon three basic concepts: (I) the culvert design is optimised for fish passage for small to medium water discharges, and for flood capacity for larger discharges, (II) low-velocity zones are provided along the wetted perimeter in the culvert barrel, and quantified in terms of a fraction of the wetted flow area where the local longitudinal velocity is less than a characteristic fish speed linked to swimming performances of targeted fish species, and (III) the culvert barrel is smooth, without any other form of boundary treatment and appurtenance. The approach relies upon an accurate physically-based knowledge of the entire velocity field in the culvert barrel, specifically the longitudinal velocity map, given that behavioural observations showed that fish prefer to swim upstream in low-velocity zones (LVZs) next to the walls and bottom corners. While the focus of the guidelines is on the upstream passage of weak-swimming fish, including small-bodied native fish species and juvenile of larger fish, the approach and methodology are relevant to most standard box culvert structures. The present monograph develops a number of practical considerations, in particular relevant to box culvert operations for less-than-design discharges. It is argued that upstream fish passage capabilities would imply a revised approach to maintenance, in part linked to the targeted fish species. Ultimately the design of a culvert structure intended to be constructed should require the certification of a professional civil engineer.

Keywords: Standard box culverts, Upstream fish passage, Hydraulic engineering, Design guidelines, Small-body-mass weak-swimming fish, Low-velocity zones, Smooth culvert barrel.

Corrections & Errata



Review papers
   CHANSON, .H., LENG, X., and WANG, H. (2021). "Challenging Hydraulic Structures of the 21st Century - From Bubbles, Transient Turbulence to Fish Passage." Journal of Hydraulic Research, IAHR, Invited Vision Paper, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 21-35 (DOI: 10.1080/00221686.2020.1871429) (ISSN 0022-1686). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)
    LENG, X., and CHANSON, H. (2020). " Hybrid modelling of low velocity zones in box culverts to assist fish passage: Why simple is better!" River Research and Applications, Vol. 36, No. 9, Review Paper, pp. 1765-1777 (DOI: 10.1002/rra.3710) (ISSN 1535-1467). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)

Novel research on baffles
   Small corner baffles
SAILEMA, C., FREIRE, R., CHANSON, H., and ZHANG, G. (2020). "Modelling Small Ventilated Corner Baffles for Box Culvert Barrel." Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 433-457 (DOI: 10.1007/s10652-019-09680-2) (ISSN 1567-7419 [Print] 1573-1510 [Online]). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)

   Sidewall baffles
   LENG, X., and CHANSON, H. (2020). "How Full-Height Sidewall Baffles affect Box Culvert Capacity: Balancing Fish Passage and Discharge Requirements." Australasian Journal of Water Resources, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 248-256 (DOI: 10.1080/13241583.2020.1824367) (ISSN 13241583). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)
   LENG, X., and CHANSON, H. (2020). "Asymmetrical Wall Baffles to Assist Upstream Fish Passage in Box Culvert: Physical Modeling." Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, ASCE, Vol. 146, No. 12, Paper 04020037, 10 pages (DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)IR.1943-4774.0001514) (ISSN 0733-9437 [Print]; ISSN: 1943-4774 [online]). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)
   LI, Y., and CHANSON, H. (2020). "Hydrodynamic Instabilities in Open-Channel Flow past Lateral Cavities." Proceedings of 22nd Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference AFMC2020, Brisbane, Australia, 7-10 December, Published by The University of Queensland, Editors H. CHANSON and R. BROWN, Paper 26, 4 pages (DOI: 10.14264/4bf0316) (ISBN 978-1-74272-341-9). (Deposit at UQeSpace)

   Longitudinal rib
   SANCHEZ, P.A., LENG, X., VON BRANDIS-MARTINI, J., and CHANSON, H. (2020). "Hybrid Modelling of Low Velocity Zones in an Asymmetrical Channel with Sidewall Longitudinal Rib to Assist Fish Passage." River Research and Applications, Vol. 36, No. 5, pp. 807-818 (DOI: 10.1002/rra.3600) (ISSN 1535-1467). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)
   SANCHEZ, P.X., LENG, X., and CHANSON, H. (2021). "Hydrodynamics and Secondary Currents in an Asymmetrical Rectangular Canal with Streamwise Beam." Journal of Hydraulic Research, IAHR, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 88-99 (DOI: 10.1080/00221686.2020.1714761) (ISSN 0022-1686). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)

Novel research on pipe culverts

   Smooth pipe culverts
CHANSON, H. (2020). "Low Velocity Zone in Smooth Pipe Culvert with and without Streamwise Rib for Fish Passage." Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, ASCE, Vol. 146, No. 9, Paper 04020059, 10 pages (DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001789) (ISSN 0733-9429). (PDF file) (Preprint at UQeSpace)

   Unsteady flow and surges
DARA SOECHIARTO, E., WÜTHRICH, D., and CHANSON, H. (2020). "Unsteady Surge Characteristics in Semi-Circular Channels." Proceedings of 22nd Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference AFMC2020, Brisbane, Australia, 7-10 December, Published by The University of Queensland, Editors H. CHANSON and R. BROWN, Paper 25, 4 pages (DOI: 10.14264/805a21a) (ISBN 978-1-74272-341-9). (Deposit at UQeSpace)

Swimming performances of small fish
    Bibliographic references
    PAVLOV, D.S., LUPANDIN, A.I., and SKOROBOGATOV, M.A. (1994). "Influence of Flow Turbulence on Critical Flow Velocity for Gudgeon (Gobio gobio)." Doklady Biological Sciences, Vol. 336, pp. 215-217. (Translated from DokladyAkademii Nauk, ~l. 336, No. 1, 1994, pp. 138-141.)
    HURST, T.P., KAY, B.H., RYAN, P.A., and BROWN, M.D. (2007). "Sublethal effects of mosquito larvicides on swimming performances of larvivorous fish Melanotaenia duboulayi (Atheriniformes: Melanotaeniidae)." J Econ Entomol, Vol. 100, No. 1, pp. 61–65.
    KAPITZKE, I.R. (2010). "Culvert Fishway Planning and Design Guidelines." Report. James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, version 2.0.
    KOEHN, J.D., and CROOK, D.A. (2013). "Movements and migration." In:Humphries P, Walker K (eds) Ecology of Australian Freshwater Fishes. CSIRO Publishing, Australia, pp 105–130.
    JONES, P.E., SVENDSEN, J.C., BORGER, L., CHAMPNEYS, T., CONSUEGRA, S., JONES, J.A.H., and GARCIA de LEANIZ, C. (2020). "One size does not fit all: inter- and intraspecific variation in the swimming performance of contrasting freshwater fish." Conservation Physiology, Vol. 8, Vol. 1, 12 pages (DOI: 10.1093/conphys/coaa126).

Audiovisual references

Fish-friendly waterways and culverts - Integration of hydrodynamics and fish turbulence interplay & interaction - {}

Challenging hydraulic engineering of the 21st century - {}

Useful Links

UQ subject CIVL3140 Introduction of Open Channel Flow
Gallery of photographs in hydraulic engineering and environmental fluid mechanics
{} Photographs of culvert structures including culvert operations
{} Hydraulics of Minimum Energy Loss (MEL) culverts and bridge waterways
{} 2016 Icarus project on Fish passage in culverts: hydrodynamic investigation


Inline with the recommendations of the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (Australia), Hubert CHANSON declares a competing interest and conflict of interest with Craig E. FRANKLIN.

Hubert CHANSON is a Professor in Civil Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering and Environmental Fluid Mechanics at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research interests include design of hydraulic structures, experimental investigations of two-phase flows, applied hydrodynamics, hydraulic engineering, water quality modelling, environmental fluid mechanics, estuarine processes and natural resources. He has been an active consultant for both governmental agencies and private organisations. His publication record includes over 950 international refereed papers and his work was cited over 6,000 times (WoS) to 21,500 times (Google Scholar) since 1990. His h-index is 42 (WoS), 45 (Scopus) and 72 (Google Scholar), and he is ranked among the 150 most cited researchers in civil engineering in Shanghai’s Global Ranking of Academics. Hubert Chanson is the author of twenty books, including "Hydraulic Design of Stepped Cascades, Channels, Weirs and Spillways" (Pergamon, 1995), "Air Bubble Entrainment in Free-Surface Turbulent Shear Flows" (Academic Press, 1997), "The Hydraulics of Open Channel Flow: An Introduction" (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1st edition 1999, 2nd editon 2004), "The Hydraulics of Stepped Chutes and Spillways" (Balkema, 2001), "Environmental Hydraulics of Open Channel Flows" (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004), "Tidal Bores, Aegir, Eagre, Mascaret, Pororoca: Theory And Observations" (World Scientific, 2011), "Applied Hydrodynamics: an Introduction" (CRC Press, 2014). He co-authored three further books "Fluid Mechanics for Ecologists" (IPC Press, 2002), "Fluid Mechanics for Ecologists. Student Edition" (IPC, 2006) and "Fish Swimming in Turbulent Waters. Hydraulics Guidelines to assist Upstream Fish Passage in Box Culverts" (CRC Press 2021). His textbook "The Hydraulics of Open Channel Flows: An Introduction" has already been translated into Spanish (McGraw-Hill Interamericana) and Chinese (Hydrology Bureau of Yellow River Conservancy Committee), and the second edition was published in 2004. In 2003, the IAHR presented him with the 13th Arthur Ippen Award for outstanding achievements in hydraulic engineering. The American Society of Civil Engineers, Environmental and Water Resources Institute (ASCE-EWRI) presented him with the 2004 award for the Best Practice paper in the Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering ("Energy Dissipation and Air Entrainment in Stepped Storm Waterway" by Chanson and Toombes 2002) and the 2018 Honorable Mention Paper Award for  "Minimum Specific Energy and Transcritical Flow in Unsteady Open-Channel Flow" by Castro-Orgaz and Chanson (2016) in the ASCE Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. The Institution of Civil Engineers (UK) presented him the 2018 Baker Medal. In 2018, he was inducted a Fellow of the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society. Hubert Chanson edited further several books : "Fluvial, Environmental and Coastal Developments in Hydraulic Engineering" (Mossa, Yasuda & Chanson 2004, Balkema), "Hydraulics. The Next Wave" (Chanson & Macintosh 2004, Engineers Australia), "Hydraulic Structures: a Challenge to Engineers and Researchers" (Matos & Chanson 2006, The University of Queensland), "Experiences and Challenges in Sewers: Measurements and Hydrodynamics" (Larrate & Chanson 2008, The University of Queensland), "Hydraulic Structures: Useful Water Harvesting Systems or Relics?" (Janssen & Chanson 2010, The University of Queensland), "Balance and Uncertainty: Water in a Changing World" (Valentine et al. 2011, Engineers Australia), "Hydraulic Structures and Society – Engineering Challenges and Extremes" (Chanson and Toombes 2014, University of Queensland), "Energy Dissipation in Hydraulic Structures" (Chanson 2015, IAHR Monograph, CRC Press). He chaired the Organisation of the 34th IAHR World Congress held in Brisbane, Australia between 26 June and 1 July 2011. He chaired the Scientific Committee of the 5th IAHR International Symposium on Hydraulic Structures held in Brisbane in June 2014. He co-chaired the Organisation of the 22nd Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference held as a hybrid format in Brisbane, Australia on 6-10 December 2020.
 His Internet home page is He also developed a gallery of photographs website {} that received more than 2,000 hits per month since inception.

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  Tidal bores Energy Dissipation in Hydraulic Structures Applied Hydrodynamics Environmental hydraulics of open channel flowApplied HydrodynamicsHydraulics of open channel flow (2nd edition)The Hydraulics of Stepped Chutes and SpillwaysThe Hydraulics of Open Channel Flow: an IntroductionAir bubble entrainment in turbulent shear flowsHydraulic design of stepped cascades, channels, weirs and spillwaysFluid Mechanics for Ecologists  McGraw-Hill Interamericana 13th Ippen award (IAHR)