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Water 2017, 9(7), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9070504

Stress and Welfare of African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus Burchell, 1822) in a Coupled Aquaponic System

1
Department of Aquaculture and Sea-Ranching, University of Rostock, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 2, 18059 Rostock, Germany
2
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 April 2017 / Revised: 3 July 2017 / Accepted: 7 July 2017 / Published: 11 July 2017
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Abstract

African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) were investigated for physiological stress parameters to assess the influence of different cultivation techniques on fish welfare. The fish were reared in two conceptually identical recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) constructed in a greenhouse. One system was combined with a floating raft hydroponic unit to culture cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) only using the process water. The second system remained without the plant cultivation unit and functioned as the control. Water quality was monitored regularly by measuring dissolved nutrients and physical water parameters. During 87 days, a total of 71 fish from each system (n = 142) were studied, with a final sampling of all fish (n = 107) at the end of the experiment. Blood from the caudal vein was analyzed for the stress hormone cortisol and the glucose concentration. In addition, fish were investigated for external injuries on their skin, fins and barbels. The results demonstrate that the system design had no influence on fish mortalities and growth rates. Furthermore, cortisol and blood glucose levels did not differ significantly between the two systems. However, the number of external injuries was significantly lower in the aquaponics, providing evidence that co-cultivation of fish and plants might offer benefits to the welfare of the fish. View Full-Text
Keywords: African catfish; animal welfare; aquaponics; cortisol; glucose; skin lesions African catfish; animal welfare; aquaponics; cortisol; glucose; skin lesions
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Baßmann, B.; Brenner, M.; Palm, H.W. Stress and Welfare of African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus Burchell, 1822) in a Coupled Aquaponic System. Water 2017, 9, 504.

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