Indian Aquaculture – Factors affecting fish growth

Indian aquaculture is the second largest aquaculture producer and significant industrial sector all over the world. Indian aquaculture is broadly divided into freshwater and brackish water aquaculture production. As per the reports of 2018, the estimated fish production in India was at 6.24 million metric tons (MMT). The fish marketing system in India is highly efficient for the sustainability of aquaculture. There are around 429 Fish Farmers Development Agencies in India for the development of the aquaculture sector. The practice of aquaculture is not a new sector in India, it has been practiced since time immemorial. The preventive and
curative measures practiced by Indian farmers to keep different types of cultured fishes healthy are discussed below. This article gives an insight on how changes of different parameters like pH, DO, Ammonia, temperature, overfeeding, and infectious affects fish growth.

  • Tilapia (pH fluctuation)

The potential of hydrogen or pH is a significant parameter for aquaculture as it can influence the survival of aquatic organisms. Fishes can’t survive or reproduce under extremely high or low pH levels. From many studies, it is stated that the pH between 7-8 is more suitable for tilapia farming. It is noted that the feed conversion ratio of the tilapia species get increases when the pH is at 6 and 9. The decrease in pH value results in the decreased values of hematocrit and hemoglobin of the tilapia. The pH of the aquaculture system can get altered through the acid content in the rain, industrial pollution, etc. These fluctuations in pH can be prevented by making the bottom of the tanks or culture units filled with clays. Calcium carbonate can be used in farming to neutralize the whole system.

  • Tilapia(Increase in Ammonia concentration)

The increased concentration of nitrogenous waste like ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite is very harmful to the tilapia culture. The excess concentration of ammonia from excretions and other pollution leads to the retardation of growth or even the death of the tilapia species. The toxicity of ammonia is due to the presence of an increased concentration of NH3 and these unionized form of ammonia(NH3) can easily get diffused across the gills of the tilapia due to the ability of lipid solubility and charge less nature of the unionized ammonia. However, it is reported that tilapia fish can withstand the polluted environment to a great extent. The tilapia
fishes become lethargic and ultimately fall into a coma and die when a high concentration of ammonia. The level of ammonia can be maintained by the introduction of aquaponics to tilapia farming. The nitrogenous waste excreted by the tilapia is uptaken by the plants present in the culture water and it is an effective method to prevent ammonium toxicity in tilapia. Through several experiments, it is observed that 13% of tilapia exposed to a certain concentration of ammonia dies within 72 hours and 67% died after 120 hours of exposure.

  • Tilapia (DO drops)

When the dissolved oxygen in the tilapia aquaculture drops, the process like feeding, assimilation, innate immunity and growth of the tilapia is badly affected. It is very important to maintain a very high concentration of dissolved oxygen level for the survival and growth of tilapia. The studies state that the dissolved oxygen level below 50% of air saturation is due to the excess use of organic and inorganic fertilizers in the fish farms which eventually results in the reduction of the production of tilapia. The farmers can identify the presence of a low level of dissolved oxygen, because, at a low DO level the tilapia don’t feed and it comes to the surface of the water to breathe. The dissolved oxygen is usually measured by using an oxygen meter.

  • Tilapia(Temperature fluctuation)

The temperature level of the water from 27-32 degrees Celsius is the most suitable temperature for the rearing of tilapia fishes. The high water temperature is very harmful to the tilapia species and it can result in slower growth, decreased feeding ability as well as increased mortality rate. The gases from aerators can fluctuate the water temperature The temperature can influence the determination of sex in tilapia fishes, the fishes which get exposed to very high water temperature 35degreee Celsius during the early stage of sex differentiation was likely to have a male-biased sex ratio. Since these fishes are cold-blooded, the environmental temperature will be somewhat similar to that of the specie’s temperature and these temperatures are responsible for the behavior, growth, feeding, etc of the fishes.

  • Tilapia (Overfeeding)

The overfeeding of the cultured species is not a better way of aquaculture practice. Uneaten food can cause harm to the species by staying at the bottom of the cultured system. These particles can accumulate ammonia, nitrites, etc, and also fluctuates the DO, Ph level of the system. The way to prevent problems from overfeeding is to maintain a correct schedule for feeding the fishes an inappropriate amount. The farmers must make sure that the tanks of the
system is devoid of uneaten food.

  • Tilapia (Infectious disease)

The most common pathogen which causes diseases to tilapia species is streptococcus and at the early stages of the life cycle, the chances of getting infected by the Flavobacterium columnare is very high. The only virus which infects tilapia is the iridovirus. When the tilapia species is infected with streptococcus, the central nervous system of the fishes get disturbed and the fish become lethargic. External hemorrhage is observed when this pathogen infects tilapia. These diseases can be controlled by lowering the stocking density and by keeping the system aerated to provide appropriate oxygen. The farmers prefer antibiotics and vaccination to overcome diseases.

  • Catfish (pH fluctuation)

The optimum pH for the freshwater catfishes ranges between 5-7, which is slightly acidic. While the saltwater catfishes are a little bit alkaline due to the salt content of the sea. Catfishes are a type of opportunistic feeder, it feeds from both surface and bottom. When they feed on the bottom they move among the detritus and debris, the pH gets altered by these substances. Generally, in the aquaculture tanks, the fishes get killed due to the sudden fluctuation in pH but fortunately, catfish can tolerate the alteration of Ph. Even though the catfishes tolerate certain fluctuations, but the need to test the tanks every two weeks is necessary. In most times, when the fluctuations happen the fish tends to adjust adapt to that environment but if they show some stress or death, the problem of pH must be corrected immediately to avoid further losses. It is better to use pH balancing materials if the situation gets worst. The partial water change and the vacuuming of the bottom of the tanks are recommended in the cases of pH fluctuation.

  • Catfish(Increase in Ammonia concentration)

The increased level of ammonia in the catfish culture leads to the arrest of the growth of the fish and sometimes results in the lethal condition of the fish. The dreadful concentration of ammonia is contributed by both the external and internal environment of the aquaculture system. The major contributor is the nitrogenous wastes from the fishes and the source water used for culturing these species also contributes to the high concentration of ammonia. Ammonia is the mixture of ionized and unionized ammonia, in which unionized ammonia is believed to be toxic for the fishes. In intensive culturing of these fishes, the intermediate products of ammonia like nitrite can also contribute to toxicity. This toxicity occurs when the hemoglobin of the fish gets oxidized into methemoglobin and fails to transport oxygen. These fishes have the ability in threshold tolerance towards ammonia and nitrite, the fish can maintain normal health and physiology at lower concentrations than their limits but at higher concentration of ammonia, stress is developed from the fish and cause physiological impairments. Prolong the time of exposure can be led to the death of the species. The toxicity due to ammonia can be decreased by the addition of calcium chloride or sodium chloride into
the water.

  • Catfish(DO drops)

The increase in the dissolved oxygen may make the management of the pond very easily but it won’t make any progression in the production of the fishes. From studies, it is clear that there is no need of maintaining a concentration of dissolved oxygen more than 2.5parts per million and when the concentration is below 1.5parts per million, the problem related to production also begins. Increased aeration helps to maintain a higher minimum DO concentration which helps in the increase of growth, voluntary feed consumption, etc. The commercial catfish farm possesses permanently implemented electric paddlewheels to prevent the loss and damage to fishes due to a decrease in dissolved oxygen.

  • Catfish(Temperature fluctuation)

The optimum water temperature for the catfish for its growth ranges between 24-30 degrees Celsius. But, the catfish can survive from the temperature near to the freezing point to about 38 degrees Celsius. The retardation of growth is noted at a temperature lower than 18 degrees Celcius and the capacity of feeding ceases at 10 degrees Celsius. The sudden stress caused by the fluctuation of water temperature beyond the tolerance level of the catfish can disturb the cellular homeostasis and can leads to retardation of development and growth of the species, occurrence of death is noticed even if the condition is severe. In addition to this, functions like reproduction, metabolism, food consumption, get affected by the fluctuation of water temperature.

  • Catfish(Overfeeding)

Overfeeding of catfishes results in a huge loss in production, so the feeding of catfish must be guided by the profit-oriented farmers. The feed intake of the catfish depends on the quality of the water, water depth, water temperature, and feed quality. The quality of water plays a major role in the determination of the amount of feed consumption by the catfish species. From studies, it is observed that the catfish shows better feeding in fresh light green water. The contamination or pollution from the overfeeding will distrust the average feed intake per each fish less than the recommended amount of feed-in feed charts. Sometimes, the bigger catfish fails to position themselves during the feeding and there is a chance of accumulation of waste pellets which escapes from their mouth due to this positioning. It is important to make sure about the quality of the feed given to the catfishes. This is because the quality of the feed can enhance the healthy growth of the fishes and the way the feed is converted into body weights. Apart from other fishes, catfishes can taste the feed because they possess very strong taste organs. The time interval between feeding is an important factor to avoid overfeeding. About 10 hours is needed for small catfishes to digest their feed and bigger fishes take more time than the smaller ones for digestion. It is very necessary to maintain a schedule for feeding with a correct interval of period.

  • Catfish(Infectious disease)

The catfish aquaculture is frequently threatened by different types of disease, so the farmer needs to know about the diseases and aberrations caused by the catfishes to prevent losses. The bacteria or the fungus can cause fin rot to the cultured species. Finrot infection can be caused by both microbial infections as well as from poor water quality. It is usually seen in fishes with more wounds and these wounds get infected by the pathogens. The condition of dropsy is also observed in catfishes which is a swelling caused by the accumulation of body fluids in the cavities of the fish. It is caused either by bacterial or parasitic infection. These diseases can be prevented by maintaining good water quality, optimum feeding, and standard stock density.

  • Redbelly (pH fluctuation)

The optimal pH which favors redbelly tilapia is 6.5-7.5 and the fluctuation in pH is most common in red belly piranha which causes stress to the fishes. The fluctuation in the optimal pH causes distraction to the fishes by producing excess mucous on the surface of the skin and the skin of the fishes becomes inflamed with deteriorated and bleeding gills. The fishes tend to jump from the water by showing abnormal movements and it also shows the difficulty in respiration ad tends to move to the surface to breathe. If the fishes with these symptoms are observed, there is an immediate need to change the water and frequent measurements of the
pH is needed.

  • Redbelly (DO drops)

The oxygen consumption of the fish is directly related to the water temperature since the water temperature increase the consumption of dissolved oxygen also increases in the red belly fishes. The dissolved oxygen can be maintained by the installation of aerators and plants can also maintain the oxygen level. The less use of fertilizers is suggested for avoiding the depletion of the dissolved oxygen.

  • Redbelly (effect of ammonia)

The effect of ammonia in red belly piranhas is also directly related to the water temperature of the whole system. The ammonia is mostly produced from various
nitrogenous organic and inorganics matters and these matters are further decomposed by the bacteria and converted into nitrite and nitrate compounds to balance the whole system for the reduction of ammonia level in the water. From the studies, it is stated that the high rate of ammonia excretion was seen at 34 degrees Celsius.

  • Redbelly(temperature change)

The temperature fluctuation can develop thermal stress to the red belly piranha.Drastic fluctuation can produce significant distraction to the normal body functioning
of the fishes. The temperature which is more than the optimal temperature adversely affects the health of the red belly by increasing the frequent oxygen demand through high metabolic rates. For keeping the red belly fishes healthy, the temperature should be kept at 26.5 degrees celsius. More temperature can cause damage to the nerves, heart, and immune system, similarly, the exposure of these fishes to very cold temperatures causes damage to the immune system which eventually makes the fish more susceptible to diseases. The equipment like a heater and thermometer are inevitable in red belly cultivation.

  • Redbelly (over feeding)

The usual feed of the red belly piranha is the small crustaceans, insects, fruits, seeds nuts, etc. The practice of feeding piranha with goldfish and other feeder fishes are not safe because these fishes can easily spread diseases and are not nutritionally good. Overfeeding can cause health problems to red belly fishes and the uneaten food in the tank of the red belly fish contributes to poor water quality and makes the fishes more susceptible to diseases. The feeding of the red belly is usually done at once a day. If more food is fed to fish results in more waste production and the risk of overfeeding increases. It is necessary to keep a proper diet for the daily feed routine of the piranha. These fishes cannot metabolize animal meat products and it is highly recommended to feed the substance, which they can feed in a few minutes. The usage of live fishes to feed must be avoided to prevent contamination and diseases.

  • Redbelly (diseases)

The most common diseases in red belly piranhas are infections from parasites and bacteria. Moreover, wounds can make them more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. The advantage of the red belly fish is the ability of the resilience of the disease, where these fishes can limit the spread of disease from infected ones to healthy ones. The most common ways used by the farmers to prevent disease are through proper nutritional diets and maintaining a good environment for growing. Less stressed fishes are freer from diseases than the stressed ones so, it is necessary to keep the fishes unstressed.

  • Rohu (pH fluctuation)

The most appropriate pH for the biological and biochemical activities of the rohu ranges from 7-8.5. The sudden decrease in the pH results in the inhibition of oxygen
intake by the gills of the Labeo rohita, whereas the high pH is caused by the presence high concentration of unionized ammonia in the water. The acidification caused by the emission of oxides due to the industrialization has adversely affected the pH of the cultured species. The rohu culture at low and high pH results in the negative growth of the species. The fishes grown in the acidic pH environment endured a lot of loss in the concentration of sodium in the plasma and also resulted in the declination of the concentration of protein and glycogen content in the body muscles of the fishes. The high concentration of pH results in the rupturing of the epithelial portion in the buccal cavity of the species.

  • Rohu (Increase in Ammonia concentration)

The ammonia enters into the rohu culturing through several sources including nitrogenous wastes from the excretion, sewage effluent, industrial waste, etc. The
accumulation of ammonia causes a potential problem to the fishes due to the high toxicity of ammonia. The unionized ammonia which can readily diffuse into the body through gill membranes cause more damage than the ionized ammonia. The acute effect of ammonia depends on the pH and fish while the chronic effect of ammonia depends on the pH and temperature. The growth parameters get drastically declined in rohu with a high concentration of ammonia.

  • Rohu (DO drops)

Dissolved oxygen is one of the major water quality parameters which can cause loss to the aquaculture of rohu. Dissolved oxygen is essential for the respiration and survival of fishes. The oxygen consumption of the rohu species is a very high amount and it consumes the total oxygen at the very lowest time before its death than other freshwater species. The studies stated that the rate of oxygen consumption of rohu is very high as 5.06mg/g/hr. The declination in dissolved oxygen can result in the death of the fish species.

  • Rohu (Temperature fluctuation)

The growth rate of the fishes is directly related to the water temperature. The normal water temperature for the growth ranges from 29 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees
Celsius. The climatic change influences the temperature of the water which in turn affects the physiological condition of the cultured rohu fishes. The fish which is reared at a temperature of 24-26 degrees Celcius shows a better feed conversion ratio. mechanical aerators should be kept in the aquaculture units for maintaining adequate temperature.

  • Rohu (over feeding)

Usually, the feeding intensity varies with the size of the species, reproductive cycle,and the environment where the species are cultured. The smaller fish can feed more efficient than that of the bigger ones. The overfeeding causes the accumulation of wastes such as ammonia nitrate etc which are extremely dangerous and toxic to the health of the fish. The debris left after overfeeding gets decayed by microorganisms,since these microbes decay the waste through the aerobic process, the level of oxygen present in the water gets reduced. Thus overfeeding indirectly causes depletion of oxygen. The prevention of overfeeding can be done by maintaining a proper feed diet, frequent cleaning of the culture units, usage of scavenger fishes to remove the uneaten feeds in the tanks.

  • Rohu (Infectious disease)

The rohu fishes are infected by various pathogens and these pathogens disrupt the nutrition, metabolism, and nervous system of the fishes. Ulcers are more common in rohu species which are caused by Aeromonas and pseudomonas species of the bacteria. The symptoms of the ulcers are abdominal distention, exophthalmia, and ulceration. Other common disease in rohu is the columnaris disease caused by the falvobacterium species with symptoms of whites plaques and hemorrhagic spots on the fish body. These diseases can be prevented by adding potassium permanganate to the culture water.

  • Catla (pH fluctuation)

The fluctuation in the water pH due to acidotic or alkaline conditions develops stress in fishes and results in the swelling of erythrocytes, immature erythrocytes
production, reduction in the number of erythrocytes, serum protein count, and hemoglobin. These fluctuations also result in the increase of blood glucose and the total leukocyte counts of the fishes. Catla fishes are the most vulnerable to pH alteration among the three Indian major carp. By the application of gypsum is
efficient for high alkalinity in water.

  • Catla(Infectious disease)

The catla fishes are more infected by bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Eye diseases in catla are caused by Aeromonas bacteria which mainly affects the brain and the optic nerves of the eyes. The cornea of the eyes of catla get vascularized and become opaque which eventually leads to the death of the fish. As in rohu, the disease of ulcer is also a dreadful disease in catla and is caused by bacterial species with symptoms of ulceration, exophthalmia, and abdominal. Branchiomyosis is a fungal disease in which the fungus grows in the gill blood vessels and leads to necrosis of the neighboring tissues. This disease can be identified by the yellow-brown discoloration and damage of the gill tissues. The diseases in the catla fishes can be prevented by treating the culture water with potassium permanganate and quick lime.

  • Catla (Increase in Ammonia concentration)

Ammonia is one of the important limiting factors for the survival and the growth of the fishes. The end product of nitrogen metabolism in fishes is ammonia and urea.
Even though the fishes have a tolerance ability to a certain concentration of ammonia, the higher concentration leads to toxicity in fishes and leads to the death of the fishes. There are no significant changes that happen within catla exposed to different concentrations of ammonia. The fishes growing in lower concentration ammonia shows normal behavior and very active nature. But in a higher concentration of ammonia results in the reduced opercular movement of the fishes.
When the ammonia enters the body of the fishes, it causes respiratory problems and lethargic movements in fishes. The ammonia from water can be controlled by
managing proper waste disposal management.

  • Catla (DO drops)

The dissolved oxygen plays a very significant in the production of aquaculture and the loss of fishes due to the depletion of dissolved oxygen is common in Catla aquaculture. The low concentration of dissolved oxygen causes low appetite and decreases the growth rate of the fishes. The frequent exposure of fishes to lower
oxygen makes the catla fish susceptible to many infectious diseases. The oxygen depletion is more common in the culturing of fishes at high stocking density. the
accumulation of organic matter, the presence of algal bloom can cause a decrease in the level of dissolved oxygen. This issue can be prevented by t introducing
polyculture farming, removal of algae, reduce the use of manure and fertilizers.

  • Catla(over feeding)

The overfeeding in these fishes cause major loss to the aquaculture production by the accumulation of waste by the presence of the feed which is not eaten by the fishes.The uneaten feeds can change the chemistry of the water used in aquaculture.The all-important water quality parameter gets altered. Overeating causes many health problems for the fishes. The issues from overfeeding can be prevented by maintaining a proper diet for the fish and do not put feed according to the size of the tank. The feeding should be done according to the number of inhabitants present in the culture units.

  • Catla (temperature change)

Since the catla fishes are cold-blooded animals, the water temperature plays an important role in the survival of the fish. The temperature is the main factor that controls the physiology, distribution, and behavior of the catla fish. The metabolism of the fishes is directly influenced by the water temperature so the fluctuation In temperature can cause deleterious changes to fishes. The temperature which is below and above the temperature ranging from 25 – 32degree Celcius can induce alteration in the immune response of the catla fish. The losses from the fluctuation of temperature can be prevented by the use of proper aeration and frequent checking of water temperature using a thermometer.


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