Special Issue "Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes"

A special issue of Fishes (ISSN 2410-3888).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2019).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pablo Arechavala-Lopez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Fish Ethology and Welfare Group, Faro, Portugal
Interests: marine ecology; fish biology; fish behaviour; biochemistry; morphometry and welfare in aquaculture
Dr. Joao Luis Saraiva
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Marine Sciences at University of Algarve and FAIR-FISH, Faro, Portugal
Interests: animal behaviour; chemical communication; reproduction; invasive species; physiology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Welfare is a complex, multidimensional concept that can be broadly described as the state of an animal as it copes with the environment [1]. Rearing conditions of finfish aquaculture and experimentation can impair welfare of captive fishes through stress, negative emotional states, health problems, and even mortality [2].

Chemical, physical, social and other variables in captive environments can initiate changes at different levels within the individual, especially due to the high complexity of the sensory world of fishes [3]. Vital aspects in fish biology such as swimming capacity, thermoregulation, orientation, chemoreception, feeding, defense or evasion of predators or aggressions, and learning, can be affected under stressful conditions [4]. Behavioral indicators of welfare are easy to observe, and they reflect how a fish is feeling and responding to its surrounding environment. Therefore, knowledge of the specific ethology of a species is essential to ensure the welfare of the fish, and the interpretation of behavioral responses in rearing contexts (aquaculture or experimental) demands knowledge of the underlying mechanisms responsible for those behaviors: Physiological, developmental, functional and evolutionary. In a natural environment, the stress response has evolved to help the animal survive in demanding conditions. However, natural stressors tend to be brief and/or avoidable, while stressors of anthropogenic origin may be unavoidable and prolonged or repetitive. Under such circumstances, chronic or repeated activation of stress responses is not adaptive and can cause severe damage to the animal. Therefore, it is essential to use indicators of welfare that draw attention to early signs of problems related to captivity conditions and allow intervention before harmful states are reached [4].

As welfare in captivity is affected in multiple dimensions, there are multiple possible indicators to assess the welfare state of captive individuals [5]. These indicators should be based on the natural responses of each species to adverse stimuli. In the past, research on welfare has been focusing largely on health indicators of captive fish and was prominently based on studies of physiological stress [4]. Ethological studies, however, also integrate a mental perspective of the individual and have been gradually taking an important role in welfare research: Behavioral responses to stressful stimuli are an early response to adverse conditions, easily observable, and demonstrative of emotional states. In addition, many behavioral indicators are specific for a single type of stressor, and therefore can be used as a non-invasive measurement of welfare in a practical context, such as aquaculture and experimentation [4,6–8].

Presently, research in fish welfare is growing in importance and interest, either by the growing economic importance of fish farming, by the comparative biology opportunities that experimental fishes provide, or by the increasing public sensitivity to welfare issues. 

 

References

  1. Broom D.M. Indicators of poor welfare. Vet. J. 1986, 142, 524–526
  2. Ashley, P.J. Fish welfare: Current issues in aquaculture. Anim. Behav. Sci. 2017, 104, 199–235.
  3. Saraiva, J.L.; Castanheira, M.F.; Arechavala-Lopez, P.; Volstorf, J.; Heinzpeter-Studer, B. Domestication and welfare of farmed fishes. 
  4. Huntingford, F.A.; Adams, C.; Braithwaite, V.A.; Kadri, S.; Pottinger, T.G.; Sandøe, P.; Turnbull, J.F. Current issues in fish welfare. Fish Bio. 2006, 68, 332–372.
  5. Volpato, G. L. Challenges in assessing fish welfare. ILAR J. 2009, 50, 329–337.
  6. Poli, B.M. Farmed fish welfare-suffering assessment and impact on product quality. J. Anim. Sci. 2009, 8, 139–160.
  7. Martins, C.I.; Galhardo, L.; Noble, C.; Damsgård, B.; Spedicato, M.T.; Zupa, W.; Beauchaud, M.; Kulczykowska, E.; Massabuau, J.C; Carter. T; et al. Behavioural indicators of welfare in farmed fish. Fish Physio.l Biochem. 2012, 38, 17–41.
  8. Sopinka, N.M.; Donaldson, M.R.; O’Connor, C.M.; Suski, C.D.; Cooke, S.J. Stress indicators in fish. Fish Physiol. 2016, 35, 405–462.

Dr. Pablo Arechavala-Lopez & Dr. João L. Saraiva
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • welfare
  • behavior
  • stress responses
  • physiology
  • development
  • functional adaptations
  • evolutionary mechanisms

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Welfare of Fish—No Longer the Elephant in the Room
Fishes 2019, 4(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4030039 - 03 Jul 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2174
Abstract
The concept of fish welfare is fairly recent and was overlooked for many years, based on a popular misconception that fish were “stupid” creatures devoid of any kind of sentience or mental capability [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)

Research

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Article
Influence of Age on Stress Responses of White Seabream to Amyloodiniosis
Fishes 2019, 4(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4020026 - 08 Apr 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1639
Abstract
Amyloodiniosis is a disease that represents a major bottleneck for semi-intensive aquaculture, especially in Southern Europe. The inefficacy of many of the treatments for this disease on marine fish produced in semi-intensive aquaculture has led to a new welfare approach to amyloodiniosis. There [...] Read more.
Amyloodiniosis is a disease that represents a major bottleneck for semi-intensive aquaculture, especially in Southern Europe. The inefficacy of many of the treatments for this disease on marine fish produced in semi-intensive aquaculture has led to a new welfare approach to amyloodiniosis. There is already some knowledge of several welfare issues that lead to amyloodiniosis as well as the stress, physiological, and immunological responses to the parasite by the host, but no work is available about the influence of fish age on the progression of amyloodiniosis. The objective of this work was to determine if stress, hematological, and histopathological responses are age dependent. For that purpose, we determined the mortality rate, histopathological lesions, hematological indexes, and stress responses (cortisol, glucose, lactate, and total protein) in “Small” (total weight: 50 ± 5.1 g, age: 273 days after eclosion (DAE)) and “Big” (total weight: 101.3 ± 10.4 g, age: 571 DAE) white seabream (Diplodus sargus) subjected to an Amyloodinium ocellatum infestation (8000 dinospores mL−1) during a 24-h period. The results demonstrated a strong stress response to A. ocellatum, with marked differences in histopathological alterations, glucose levels, and some hematological indexes between the fish of the two treatments. This work elucidates the need to take in account the size and age of the fish in the development and establishment of adequate mitigating measures and treatment protocols for amyloodiniosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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Article
Social Behavior and Welfare in Nile Tilapia
Fishes 2019, 4(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4020023 - 27 Mar 2019
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 2826
Abstract
Fish social behavior can be affected by artificial environments, particularly by factors that act upon species that show aggressive behavior to set social rank hierarchy. Although aggressive interactions are part of the natural behavior in fish, if constant and intense, such interactions can [...] Read more.
Fish social behavior can be affected by artificial environments, particularly by factors that act upon species that show aggressive behavior to set social rank hierarchy. Although aggressive interactions are part of the natural behavior in fish, if constant and intense, such interactions can cause severe body injuries, increase energy expenditure, and lead the animals to suffer from social stress. The immediate consequence of these factors is a reduced welfare in social fish species. In this paper, we consider the factors that impact on the social behavior and welfare of Nile tilapia, an African cichlid fish widely used both in fish farms and in research; this species is frequently used as a model for physiology and behavior research. This is a polygynous species whose males interact aggressively, establishing a territorial based hierarchy, where a dominant male and several subordinate males arise. When social stability is shrunk, the negative effects of prolonged fighting emerge. In this paper, we summarized how some of the common practices in aquaculture, such as classifying individuals by matching their sizes, water renewal, stock density, and environment lighting affect Nile tilapia social aggressive interactions and, in turn, impact on its welfare. We also discuss some ways to decrease the effects of aggressive interactions in Nile tilapia, such as environment color and body tactile stimulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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Article
Enrichment Increases Aggression in Zebrafish
Fishes 2019, 4(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4010022 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2808
Abstract
Environmental enrichment, or the enhancement of an animal’s surroundings when in captivity to maximise its wellbeing, has been increasingly applied to fish species, particularly those used commercially. Laboratory species could also benefit from enrichment, but it is not always clear what constitutes an [...] Read more.
Environmental enrichment, or the enhancement of an animal’s surroundings when in captivity to maximise its wellbeing, has been increasingly applied to fish species, particularly those used commercially. Laboratory species could also benefit from enrichment, but it is not always clear what constitutes an enriched environment. The zebrafish, Danio rerio, is used widely in research and is one of the most commonly-used laboratory animals. We investigated whether changing the structural complexity of housing tanks altered the behaviour of one strain of zebrafish. Fish were kept in three treatments: (1) very enhanced (VE); (2) mildly enhanced (ME); and (3) control (CT). Level of aggression, fertilisation success, and growth were measured at regular intervals in a subset of fish in each treatment group. The VE fish were more aggressive over time than either ME or CT fish, both in the number of attacks they made against a mirror image and in their tendency to stay close to their reflection rather than avoid it. Furthermore, VE fish were shorter than CT fish by the end of the experiment, though mass was not significantly affected. There was no significant effect of treatment on fertilisation success. These findings suggest that the way in which fish are housed in the laboratory can significantly affect their behaviour, and potentially, their growth. The zebrafish is a shoaling species with a dominance hierarchy, and so may become territorial over objects placed in the tank. The enrichment of laboratory tanks should consider aspects of the species’ behaviour. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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Article
Welfare Challenges Influence the Complexity of Movement: Fractal Analysis of Behaviour in Zebrafish
Fishes 2019, 4(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4010008 - 07 Feb 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3037
Abstract
The ability to assess welfare is an important refinement that will ensure the good condition of animals used in experimentation. The present study investigated the impact of invasive procedures on the patterns of movement of zebrafish (Danio rerio). Recordings were made [...] Read more.
The ability to assess welfare is an important refinement that will ensure the good condition of animals used in experimentation. The present study investigated the impact of invasive procedures on the patterns of movement of zebrafish (Danio rerio). Recordings were made before and after fin clipping, PIT tagging and a standard pain test and these were compared with control and sham handled zebrafish. The fractal dimension (FD) from the 3D trajectories was calculated to determine the effect of these treatments on the complexity of movement patterns. While the FD of zebrafish trajectories did not differ over time in either the control or sham group, the FDs of the treatment groups reduced in complexity. The FD of fish injected with different strengths of acetic acid declined in a dose-dependent manner allowing us to develop an arbitrary scale of severity of the treatments. The 3D trajectory plots from some groups indicated the presence of repetitive swimming patterns akin to stereotypical movements. When administered with lidocaine, which has analgesic properties, the movement complexity of fin clipped fish reverted to a pattern that resembled that of control fish. Fractal analysis of zebrafish locomotion could potentially be adopted as a tool for fish welfare assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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Article
Effects of Ortho-Phosphate on Growth Performance, Welfare and Product Quality of Juvenile African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus)
Fishes 2019, 4(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4010003 - 23 Jan 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2113
Abstract
Ortho-phosphate inside recirculation aquaculture systems is limited as a consequence of precipitation and regular water exchange rates. To improve plant growth in coupled aquaponics, phosphate fertilizer addition to hydroponics can increase PO43−-P concentrations inside the process water. We investigated the [...] Read more.
Ortho-phosphate inside recirculation aquaculture systems is limited as a consequence of precipitation and regular water exchange rates. To improve plant growth in coupled aquaponics, phosphate fertilizer addition to hydroponics can increase PO43−-P concentrations inside the process water. We investigated the effects of four PO43−-P concentrations (<10 (P0), 40, 80, 120 mg L−1) in rearing water on growth performance, feed efficiency, and welfare traits of juvenile African catfish (Clarias gariepinus Burchell, 1822). By trend, optimum specific growth rate of 2.66% d−1 and feed conversion ratio of 0.71 were observed at 40 and 80 mg L−1 PO43−-P. Higher PO43−-P significantly affected skin coloration, swimming activity and external injuries, with the palest and inactive fish combined with most external injuries in the P120 group. Mineral and protein contents in the fish remained unaffected, while fat content inside the fillets enriched with increasing PO43−-P. Inorganic P in blood plasma increased significantly, while phosphate concentrations inside the fillet remained unchanged. We suggest that PO43−-P concentrations of 40 to 80 mg L−1 do not reduce the performance of African catfish aquaculture, while increased values of 120 mg L−1 affect fish welfare. This allows limited addition of PO43−-P fertilizer in coupled aquaponics with African catfish to support plant growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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Article
Air Exposure in Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula) Modify Muscle Texture Properties: A Pilot Study
Fishes 2018, 3(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes3030034 - 04 Sep 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1569
Abstract
Sharks are captured by tons for human consumption. Improving the quality of their meat will produce fillets that may have a higher economic value in the market, and thus be beneficial for the management of this fishery. In other animal species destined for [...] Read more.
Sharks are captured by tons for human consumption. Improving the quality of their meat will produce fillets that may have a higher economic value in the market, and thus be beneficial for the management of this fishery. In other animal species destined for human consumption, a negative relationship between pre-slaughtering stress and meat quality has been demonstrated. By studying the commercial small-spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula), this work aimed at linking pre-slaughter handling of captured sharks and muscle fillets quality. An experimental group of adult and subadult living catsharks captured by hand and exposed to air (for 18 min, which is the minimum time this species is exposed to air in the fishing deck during fisheries procedures), and an undisturbed group, were evaluated. After air exposure, catsharks returned to water for recovery. Muscle lactate and water content were quantified after acute exposure (for 18 min), 5 h and 24 h. This challenge elicited stress responses in the muscle such as increased lactate levels and immediate dehydration, followed by recovery of lactate levels and overhydration. Muscle consistency, a relevant variable describing quality of seafood according to its ability to be swallowed by the consumer, paralleled muscle water content changes. The results indicated for the first time that handling alive sharks exposed to air results in muscle fillets with different texture properties. Whether these changes in muscle texture induce higher quality fillets has yet to be proven. Our recommendation is to minimize time of air exposure experienced by sharks when captured, including fast slaughtering instead of leaving them to die by asphyxia, as current on-board procedures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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Review

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Review
Positive Welfare for Fishes: Rationale and Areas for Future Study
Fishes 2019, 4(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4020031 - 23 May 2019
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3364
Abstract
Traditional animal welfare paradigms have focused on maintaining physical health and mitigating negative impacts to wellbeing. Recently, however, the field has increasingly recognized the importance of positive welfare (i.e., mental and physical states that exceed what is necessary for immediate survival) and accordingly [...] Read more.
Traditional animal welfare paradigms have focused on maintaining physical health and mitigating negative impacts to wellbeing. Recently, however, the field has increasingly recognized the importance of positive welfare (i.e., mental and physical states that exceed what is necessary for immediate survival) and accordingly introduced manipulations and indicators of positive welfare for use in agriculture, laboratories, and zoos/aquaria. The creation and monitoring of positive welfare requires an in-depth knowledge of species-specific behavior and biology, which necessitates species-specific or, at a minimum, taxa-specific standards. Research on positive welfare in fish is lagging in this regard and therefore merits further consideration. In this paper, we aim to merge what is already known about positive welfare with the existing fish behavior literature to develop a plan of action for fish welfare research that will ultimately contribute to the development of positive welfare standards and assessment strategies for fish. We begin by exploring the origins of positive welfare research and then outline the physical, psychological and species-specific areas of inquiry that can be investigated in fish. In addition to presenting current findings on fish motivation, emotion, potential sources of positive welfare such as fulfillment of motivational urges (establishing agency, engaging in exploration and learning), and play behavior, we also identify promising areas for future research aimed at developing accurate and appropriate indicators of positive welfare in fish. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
Review
A Global Assessment of Welfare in Farmed Fishes: The FishEthoBase
Fishes 2019, 4(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes4020030 - 16 May 2019
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3853
Abstract
Fish welfare is an essential issue that needs to be tackled by the aquaculture industry. In order to address it, studies have been limited to a small number of species and the information is generally scattered. In order to have a consistent overview [...] Read more.
Fish welfare is an essential issue that needs to be tackled by the aquaculture industry. In order to address it, studies have been limited to a small number of species and the information is generally scattered. In order to have a consistent overview of the welfare of farmed fishes, we present the FishEthoBase, an open-access database that ultimately aims to provide information on the welfare of all fish species currently farmed worldwide. Presently with 41 species, this database is directed to all stakeholders in the field and targets not only to bridge the gaps between them but also to provide scientific information to improve the welfare of fish. The current text explains the database and presents an analysis of the welfare scores of 41 species, suggesting that (i) the general welfare state of farmed fishes is poor, (ii) there is some potential for improvement and (iii) this potential is related to research on species’ needs, but (iv) there are many remaining knowledge gaps and (v) current fish farming technologies do not seem to fully address welfare issues. The existence of a framework, such as the FishEthoBase, is proposed as fundamental to the design of strategies that improve the welfare of farmed fish. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes)
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