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DAO
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 134:25-32 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03362

A neglected fish stressor: mechanical disturbance during transportation impacts susceptibility to disease in a globally important ornamental fish

N. Masud, A. Ellison, J. Cable*

School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The transport of fish in aquaculture and the ornamental trade exposes fish to multiple stressors that can cause mass mortalities and economic loss. Previous research on fish transport has largely focussed on chemical stress related to deterioration in water quality. However, mechanical disturbance during routine fish transport is unpredictable and is a neglected potential stressor when studying fish welfare. Stress-induced immunosuppression caused by mechanical disturbance can increase the chances of contracting infections and can significantly increase infection burden. Here, using a model host-parasite system (guppy Poecilia reticulata and the monogenean ectoparasite Gyrodactylus turnbulli) and a new method of bagging fish (Breathing Bags™), which reduces mechanical disturbance during fish transport, we investigated how parasite infections contracted after simulated transport impact infection trajectories on a globally important ornamental freshwater species. Guppies exposed to mechanical transport disturbance suffered significantly higher parasite burden compared to fish that did not experience transport disturbance. Unfortunately, there was no significant reduction in parasite burden of fish transported in the Breathing Bags™ compared to standard polythene carrier bags. Thus, transport-induced mechanical disturbance, hitherto neglected as a stressor, can be detrimental to disease resistance and highlights the need for specific management procedures to reduce the impact of infectious diseases following routine fish transport.


KEY WORDS: Animal transport · Fish welfare · Aquarium trade · Infectious disease · Guppy · Poecilia reticulata · Gyrodactylus turnbulli


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Cite this article as: Masud N, Ellison A, Cable J (2019) A neglected fish stressor: mechanical disturbance during transportation impacts susceptibility to disease in a globally important ornamental fish. Dis Aquat Org 134:25-32. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03362

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