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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 3:125-133 (2013)  -  DOI:

Modifying Atlantic salmon behaviour with light or feed stimuli may improve parasite control techniques

Samantha Bui1, Frode Oppedal2, Øyvind J. Korsøen2, Tim Dempster1,3,*

1Sustainable Aquaculture Laboratory − Temperate and Tropical (SALTT), Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
2Institute of Marine Research, 5984 Matredal, Norway
3Centre for Research-based Innovation in Aquaculture Technology (CREATE), SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture,
7465 Trondheim, Norway
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The aquaculture of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar faces severe health, environmental and economic concerns caused by the parasitic sea lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus spp. An experimental delousing method exists whereby the surface jumping behaviours of salmon are combined with a floating, oil-infused chemical therapeutant, resulting in the fish dousing themselves passively. We tested whether a light stimulus or feed event, or a combination of both, during submergence (denial of surface access for the fish) increased the surface-oriented behaviours of salmon. Groups of 10 salmon were submerged in a sea-cage for 19 h and exposed to a light stimulus, feed event, or both. Control treatments involved submergence only. For a 2 h period after surface access was reinstated, light and feed treatments induced a higher proportion of individuals to exhibit surface behaviours. On average, 84 and 82% of salmon in the light and feed treatments jumped, respectively, which was 1.6 times higher than fish in the control group (50%). Salmon exposed to light or feed jumped an average of 1.7 and 1.5 times after exposure to light or feed treatments, respectively, compared to 0.92 jumps fish–1 for the control. The combined light and feed treatment did not produce a synergistic effect. The average time until first jump was 31 to 50 min, with no difference in times among treatments. The elevated surface-oriented behaviours effectively crowded the majority of the fish in the surface waters within a short period of time. This increased surface activity may be used for a range of salmon farming applications, including improving the efficacy of sea-lice treatment techniques.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture · Salmo salar · Sea lice · Swim bladder · Buoyancy · Surface behaviours · Submergence · Caligus spp. · Lepeophtheirus spp. · Environmental impact

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Cite this article as: Bui S, Oppedal F, Korsøen ØJ, Dempster T (2013) Modifying Atlantic salmon behaviour with light or feed stimuli may improve parasite control techniques. Aquacult Environ Interact 3:125-133.

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