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Ch1. Disease development in fish Significance of fish diseases in relation to aquaculture.

Aquaculture has developed into a science and an industry following the declining trend of capture fisheries sector in the last two decades. In order to increase profitability, the culture practices has turned from semi-intensive to intensive systems, leading to indiscriminate increasing of stocking density resulting in increased stress to the animals and consequent incidence of diseases. Disease has now become a primary constraint to aquaculture growth and addressing health questions has therefore become an urgent requirement for sustaining the growth of aquatic animal food production. Host, pathogen and environment interaction in the disease development in fish and shellfish and role of stress in disease development As could be seen from the classical description of Snieszko in 1970, the incidence of disease is due to the breakdown of the delicate balance between host, pathogen and environment. The host in many cases could resist invasion of most of the pathogens if it is healthy and free from stress. In many of the aquaculture systems however, such a situation rarely exist, as there are a multitude of variables that need to be kept under check for a balanced and optimum requirement of the cultured species. The aquatic environment by itself is highly dynamic and the body functions of fishes which are poikilothermic are controlled by temperature and other water quality parameters. Fish has to continuously adjust to the changing environmental parameters, else it leads to low productivity, reduced weight gain, reduced feed conversion, decreased immunity, reduced natural disease resistance, increase in infectious diseases, death and reduced profits for commercial fish farmer. Irresponsible use of chemical disinfectants and antibiotics is also a potential environmental hazard. In fish, stress is usually related to stocking density, environmental quality, handling or transport. Additionally, intensive culture practices with poorly controlled feed use and waste production adversely affect the environment. Variations in the environmental and biological parameters from the optimum range introduce stress to the animals under culture, which has a direct bearing on their immune system. In fish, stress response is initiated by adaptive changes due to the stimulation of hypothalamus-pituitary-inter renal (HPI) axis and consequent production of corticosteroids. Although these stress hormones help the animal in its effort to regain internal homeostasis, they significantly lower the defence mechanisms due to their immunosuppressive nature. Role of water quality in fish diseases Maintenance of good water quality by making inlet water free from toxic substances and pathogens is one of the integral parts of the health management in aquaculture. It has been advised that the shrimp farmers maintain a reservoir pond for pre-treating the inlet water. Water quality deterioration if noticed in a farm has to be attended immediately. Increasing aeration, reduction of feeding rates, control of phytoplankton bloom and water flow management are the important steps that are to be undertaken without any delay for abating low dissolved oxygen

content. Water exchange during periods of poor water quality also helps to regain the health status of the cultured fish. Uneaten food, faecal waste, dead plant matter will increase the organic load. Addition of calcium hydroxide or calcium carbonate enhances respiration of acidic soils. For optimum oxidation and respiration of organic matter, soil moisture has to be between 12% to 20% and at pH 7.5 to 8.0. Low or fluctuating pH, low alkaline or low hardness condition can be corrected by adding agricultural lime in recirculation or flow through systems by dipping lime into the water or passing water through a bed of oyster shells. Introduction of biofilter has been found to be very much essential in closed circulatory system to keeping up the water quality. It is also advisable to sterilise the incoming water to hatcheries for fear of entry of potent viral pathogens, which could often be accomplished by the ozone treatment.

Water quality criteria for optimum fish health management of warm water and cold water species of fish (mg/l, except pH) Characteristic O2 pH Ammonia (un-ionised) Calcium CO2 H2S Iron (total) Manganese Nitrate Phosphorus Zinc Total Hardness (CaCO3) Total alkalinity (CaCO3) Nitrogen (gas saturation) Total solids Cold water 5 Saturation 6.5 8 0 0.125 4 160 0 10 0 0.002 0 0.15 0 0.01 0 3.0 0.01 3.0 0 0.05 10 400 10 400 <100% 0 80 Warm water 5 Saturation 6.5 9 0 0.02 10 160 0 15 0 0.002 0 0.5 0 0.01 0 3.0 0.01 3.0 0 0.05 10 200 10 400 <100% 1. -500

A disease is the sum of the abnormal phenomena displayed by a group of living organisms in association with a specified common characteristic or set of characteristics by which they differ from the norm of their species in such a way as to place them at a biological disadvantage. The reason for the occurrence of disease out breaks is varied, representing complex interactions

between the host and the disease-causing situation. Some bacteria are primary pathogens while others are opportunistic, (saprophytic) water borne bacteria that would colonize the exposed tissue. The opportunistic pathogen can cause a disease when the resistance of the fish reduces (in an adverse physiological state) as in an environmental stress and an increase in number and/or virulence of the pathogens. A disease may even result from the synergistic interaction of two or more organisms. Within fish farms, outbreaks of disease may begin suddenly, progress rapidly usually with high mortalities and disappear with equal speed (acute diseases) or develop quite slowly with less severity but persist for greater periods (chronic out breaks). According to Kinne (1980) four major groups of diseases may be identified in terms of epizootiology. These include sporadic disease which occur sporadically in comparatively few members of a population; epizootics which are large scale out breaks of communicable animal disease occurring temporarily within limited geographical areas; panzootics, which occur in large areas; and enzootics which persist or re-occur as low level out breaks in certain areas. The importance of diseases in aquaculture is dependent on the type of culture system employed. There are three basic types of culture systems in use in modern day fish or shrimp farming.; 1) Intensive culture system, in which animals are raised in high density, intensively managed tanks and ponds 2) semi intensive systems in which fish or shrimps are raised in moderate densities in ponds , cages or tanks with some management of the system practised and 3) extensive systems where they are grown in low intensity ponds or pens in natural bodies of water and where little or no management is practised. Hatcheries are a part of the intensive or semi intensive culture systems. As the stocking density in a culture system increases the possibility of disease occurs. Many bacteria causing diseases in aquaculture are a part of their normal microflora. They establish lethal influence as a result of other primary conditions such as nutritional disorders, extreme environmental stress and wounds. In the ponds when the waste materials like uneaten feed, and metabolites of animals increases, bacteria multiply in large numbers. When the load of bacteria in the medium is high and the animals are stressed due to any of the conditions, opportunistic bacteria can cause diseases.