PARASITIC INFESTATION OF SOME MARINE FISHES BEFORE AND AFTER CONFINEMENT IN FEEDING CAGES 1

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1 25 PARASITIC INFESTATION OF SOME MARINE FISHES BEFORE AND AFTER CONFINEMENT IN FEEDING CAGES 1 ERNEST H. WILLIAMS, JR. Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture Agricultural Experiment Station Auburn University Auburn, Alabama ABSTRACT A sample of 20 specimens each of pompano, Trachinotus carolinus; Atlantic croaker, Micropogon undulatus; gafftopsail catfish, Bagre marinus; and sea catfish, Arius felis, were examined for parasites before and after stocking in feeding cages used in a mariculture experiment at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Spot, Leiostomus xanthurus, were examined before stocking only. Trichodina infested all of the species. Scyphidia infested pompano, Atlantic croaker and gafftopsail catfish. Trichodina infestation of the gills greatly increased during cage confinement. Monogenetic trematodes infested all species of fish studied. Before confinement, digenetic trematodes infected 75% and 50% of the pompano and Atlantic croaker, respectively, and infected sea catfish and spot to a lesser degree. No digenetic trematodes were recovered after the culture period. Cestodes infected pompano, Atlantic croaker, gafftopsail catfish and sea catfish and nematodes infected all species. Leeches were found on pompano, Atlantic croaker and spot; copepods on pompano, gafftopsail catfish and sea catfish; and isopods on pompano. INTRODUCTION Interest in mariculture has increased in recent years. Thirteen organizations are currently conducting mariculture research along the northern Gulf of Mexico. 2 With intensive culture of fishes parasites often become an extremely important problem, and knowledge of the parasites encountered under mariculture conditions is necessary. Past research with parasites of fishes in the Gulf of Mexico has been largely concerned with general surveys and taxonomy. In June 1969, a mariculture experiment was initiated by the Alabama Department of Conservation, Seafoods Division, at the Alabama Marine Resources Laboratory on Dauphin Island, Alabama to develop techniques of culturing marine fishes in floating cages. Fishes were examined to determine the abundance of parasites before the mariculture experiment and at its conclusion in November The fishes were held in wire cages at stocking densities of 150 to 450 per cubic yard. Salinity ranged from 15 ppt to over 30 ppt. No massive mortalities occurred while the ¹Supported by the Southeastern Cooperative Fish Disease Project (In part by Sport Fish Restoration Funds and Rockefeller Project RF 65061) ²Summary of Technical Information Presented at the Mariculture Subcommittee Meeting, Grand Terre, Louisiana, January 31-February 2, 1969.

2 26 fishes were in confinement, although many were lost during Hurricane Camille. MATERIALS AND METHODS Pompano, Trachinotus carolinus (Linnaeus); Atlantic croaker, Micropogon undulatus(linnaeus); spot, Leiostomus xanthurus (Lacepede); gafftopsail catfish, Bagre marinus (Mitchill); and sea catfish, Arms felis (Linnaeus) were collected from July 1 to July 29, 1969 by trawl and seine and held in indoor tanks prior to stocking. Twenty specimens of each of the five species were examined prior to stocking in cages. All fishes, with the exception of most of the pompano, were held overnight in a solution of 10 ppm formalin as a prophylactic treatment after examination. Twenty specimens of four of the species were examined at the conclusion of the mariculture experiment during November All spot escaped during Hurricane Camille in August Examination of all fishes included the body and fin surfaces, gill filaments, gill and oral cavities, alimentary system, and coelomic cavity. Head sinuses, urinary bladder, and other tissues of many were examined. Smears from approximately 5 cm 2 of the mucosal surface of body and fins and approximately 1 cm 2 of gill filaments were placed on slides under cover slips and examined with a compound microscope. Gill filaments, gill cavity, oral cavity, body and fin surfaces, alimentary canal, coelomic cavity, and mesenteries were examined under a dissecting microscope. Protozoans were relaxed using the 1:4,000 formalin method of Rogers (1966) and preserved in 5% formalin. Monogenetic and digenetic trematodes, cestodes, and acanthocephalans were fixed in hot 5% formalin. Copepods and isopods were fixed in 5% formalin. Leeches were flattened between slides and fixed in 5% formalin. s were removed, counted and recorded as very light (VL=1 to 5 parasites), light (L=6 to 10 parasites), moderate (M=ll to 50 parasites), and heavy (H=50 + parasites). Location of collection and occasionally more specific data were also recorded. The parasites were separated into taxonomic groupings that may be controlled by similar prophylactic treatments. More detailed identifications will be reported elsewhere. Trichodina spp., Scyphidia spp., and Vorticella spp. are referred to as Trichodina, Scyphidia, and Vorticella. RESULTS Pompano. The incidence of Trichodina on the gill filaments of pompano increased greatly after confinement (Table 1). The incidence of Scyphidia on the gill filaments remained approximately the same, but the average intensity of infestation increased in postculture samples. The incidence of monogenetic trematodes increased in the postculture sample. Isopods occurred in the preculture samples, but were absent in the postculture sample. The incidence of Trichodina and Scyphidia on the skin of pompano decreased, but the average intensity of infestation increased after confinement. Leeches were present in moderate numbers and copepods occurred rarely in the preculture sample. Both were absent in the postculture sample. The incidence of cestodes (primarily immature) increased greatly in the postculture sam-

3 TABLE 1. Summary of parasite examinations of pompano, Trachinotus carolinus, prior to stocking and at the conclusion of a mariculture experiment. Percentage of Average intensity fish infested of infestation 1 27 Maximum intensity Percentage with of infestation 1 maximum infestation Gill s: Scyphidia VL M L H Trichodina VL H M H Monogeneans 5 20 M VL M VL 5 20 Isopods 10 0 VL VL 10 0 Scyphidia L L L M 40 5 Trichodina VL L L M Vorticella 5 0 VL VL 5 0 Copepods 5 0 VL VL 5 0 Leeches 10 0 VL VL 10 0 parasites : Cestodes 5 75 VL H M H 5 70 Digeneans 75 0 H H 60 0 Nematodes VL VL VL VL 'VL Very light infestation (1 to 5 parasites) TABLE 2. Summary of parasite examinations of Atlantic croaker, Micropogon undulatus, prior to stocking and at the conclusion of a mariculture experiment. Percentage of Average intensity fish infested of infestation 1 Maximum intensity of infestation 1 Percentage with maximum infestation Gill Monogeneans 40 0 VL VL 40 0 Trichodina 0 50 L H 0 10 Vorticella 0 5 VL VL 0 5 Scyphida 5 0 VL VL 5 0 Trichodina 10 0 VL VL 10 0 Leeches 5 0 VL VL 5 0 Cestodes L VL L M 5 5 Digeneans 50 0 M M 25 0 Nematodes VL VL M M 10 5 Mesentery Nematodes VL VL M H 10 5 'VL Very light infestation (1 to 5 parasites)

4 28 ple compared to the preculture sample. Fifty-five per cent of the preculture specimens contained cestodes with 5% being heavily infected. Seventy-five per cent of the pompano examined at the conclusion of culture were infected, with 70% being heavily infected. The incidence of digenetic trematode infection decreased from 75% with heavy infection in the preculture sample to no infection at the conclusion of culture. The incidence of nematodes remained approximately the same in the preculture and postculture groups. Atlantic croaker. The incidence of monogenetic trematodes on the gill filaments of Atlantic croaker decreased after confinement (Table 2). The infestation of Trichodina on the gills increased in the postculture compared to the preculture sample. Scyphidia, Trichodina, and leeches were encountered rarely on the skin in the preculture sample and were not present in the postculture sample. The incidence of digenetic trematodes and nematodes decreased after confinement and the incidence of cestodes increased after confinement. The incidence of mesenteric nematodes (larval) remained approximately the same in the preculture and postculture samples. Gafftopsail catfish. The incidence of Trichodina and Scyphidia on the gills of gafftopsail catfish increased in the postculture sample (Table 3). Copepods were absent in the preculture sample and were rare in the postculture sample. The incidence of monogenetic trematodes remained approximately the same in both samples. The incidence of Trichodina and Vorticella on the skin decreased in the postculture sample. Scyphidia did not occur in the preculture sample and occurred rarely in the postculture sample. Cestode infection remained approximately the same in preculture and postculture samples. Nematodes occurred rarely TABLE 3. Summary of parasite examination of gafftopsail catfish, Bagre marinus, prior to stocking and at the conclusion of a mariculture experiment. Percentage of fish infested Average intensity of infestation 1 Maximum intensity Percentage with of infestation 1 maximum infestation Gill Scyphidia L 0 5 Trichodina VL VL H M 5 5 Monogeneans VL VL VL VL Copepods 0 5 VL VL 0 5 Scyphidia 0 5 VL VL 0 5 Trichodina VL VL L VL 5 10 Vorticella 5 0 VL VL 5 0 Cestodes VL M VL 5 15 Nematodes 5 0 VL VL VL Very light infestation (1 to 5 parasites)

5 in the preculture sample and were in the preculture sample and did not absent from the postculture sample. occur in the postculture sample. The incidence of Trichodina on the skin Sea catfish. The incidence of mono- decreased during confinement. Digenetic trematodes on the gills of sea genetic trematodes were uncommon in catfish decreased during confinement the preculture sample and none were (Table 4). Copepods occurred rarely found in the postculture sample. Ces- TABLE 4. Summary of parasite examinations of sea catfish, Arius felis, prior to stocking and at the conclusion of a mariculture experiment. Percentage of Average intensity fish infested of infestation 1 Maximum intensity of infestation 1 29 Percentage with maximum infestation Gill Monogeneans VL VL M VL 5 10 Copepods 5 0 VL VL 5 0 Trichodina 20 5 VL VL L VL 5 5 Digeneans 5 0 M M 5 Cestodes 0 85 VL M 0 5 Nematodes 0 5 VL VL 0 5 'VL Very light infestation (1 to 5 parasites) TABLE 5. Summary of parasite examinations of spot, Leiostomus xanthurus, prior to stocking. Percentage of fish infested or infected Average intensity of infestation 1 Maximum intensity of infestation 1 Percentage with maximum infestation Gill Trichodina 20 VL L 10 Monogeneans 10 VL VL 10 Copepods 60 VL L 5 Leeches 5 VL VL 5 Nematodes (in cysts) 5 VL VL 5 Vorticella 5 VL VL 5 Trichodina 20 VL L 5 Digeneans 5 VL VL 5 Nematodes Mesentery 25 VL VL 25 Nematodes 15 VL VL 15 _ VL Very light infestation (1 to 5 parasites)

6 30 todes were absent in the preculture sample but were present in 85% of the specimens in the postculture sample. Nematodes were not found in the preculture sample and were rare in the postculture sample. Spot. Sixty per cent of the spot in the preculture sample were infested with copepods (Table 5). Monogenetic trematodes, Trichodina, leeches, and encysted nematodes occurred on the gills. Trichodina occurred on the skin more frequently than Vorticella. Mature nematodes occurred in the alimentary tract and larval nematodes were present in the mesenteries. Digenetic trematodes were found in the intestine. No postculture examination of spot was made because the fish escaped during Hurricane Camille. DISCUSSION The percentage of fish with no parasite types increased in the postculture sample of two study species (Table 6). The percentage of fish with 1 to 3 parasite types increased from 62.5% to 72.5% and the percentage of fish with 4 or more parasite types decreased from 27.5% to 10.0%. Protozoan parasites are an extremely important problem in the intensive culture of freshwater fishes. Two genera of protozoans associated with mortality in freshwater fish culture are Scyphidia and Trichodina (Davis, 1961; Allison, 1965; Wellborn and Rogers, 1966). In the present study, Trichodina infested the gill filaments and body surface of all species examined and Scyphidia infested the gill filaments and body surface of pompano, Atlantic croaker, and gafftopsail catfish. At the conclusion of the mariculture experiment, the incidence of protozoans had increased on pompano, Atlantic croaker, and gafftopsail catfish. Incidence of Trichodina on the gills greatly increased in these three species. Monogenetic trematodes are also an important problem in intensive culture of freshwater fishes. Croaker, gafftopsail catfish, and sea catfish were heavily infested with monogenetic trematodes which were found in all species prior to stocking and in pompano and both species of catfishes at the conclusion of the mariculture experiment. parasites are seldom a problem in intensive warm, fresh- TABLE 6. Changes in number of parasite types per host. 1 Species Sample No parasite types Percentage of fish with 1-3 parasite types 4-8 parastite types Pompano Preculture Postculture Atlantic croaker Preculture Postculture Gafftopsail catfish Preculture Sea catfish Postculture Preculture Postculture Total Preculture Postculture When the same genera of protozoa occurred on the gill filaments and on the skin it was counted as different types.

7 31 water fish culture. Digenetic trematodes infected all species of fish examined prior to stocking except gafftopsail catfish, however, none were recovered from the specimens examined at the conclusion of the experiment. Prior to stocking, 50% and 75% of the Atlantic croaker and pompano, respectively, were infected with digenetic trematodes. Cestodes infected all species except spot, and nematodes infected all species. Leeches were found on pompano, Atlantic croaker and spot. Copepods were found on pompano and both species of catfishes, and isopods were found on pompano prior to stocking. Copepods were found on one gafftopsail catfish examined at the conclusion of the mariculture experiment. No leeches or isopods were found on any fish examined at the end of the mariculture experiment. In general, the parasite types encountered in the mariculture experiment were similar to those of intensive freshwater fish culture. Additional research is needed to determine effective chemical treatments for fish parasites in brackish and salt water. The prophylactic treatment used on fish in this experiment was ineffective on external parasites. Since this study, it has been found that prolonged treatment of 15 ppm formalin is ineffective in eliminating Trichodina and monogenetic trematodes on pompano and striped mullet, Mugil cephalus. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks are extended to Dr. Wilmer A. Rogers for directing this research and to Wayne E. Swingle, Hugh A. Swingle, Johnie H. Crance, and other members of the Seafoods Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation for their help and for use of facilities at the Alabama Marine Resources Laboratory. LITERATURE CITED Allison, R epidemics affecting channel catfish. Proc. S. E. Assoc. Game and Fish Comm. 17: Davis, H. S Culture and diseases of game fishes. Univ. California Press. 332 p. Rogers, W. A Three new species of Pseudomurraytrema (Trematoda: Monogena) from gills of catostomid fishes. J. Parasit. 52: Wellborn, T. L. and W. A. Rogers A key to the common parasitic protozoans of North American fishes. Zool-Entomol. Dept. Ser. Fish No. 4. Agr. Exp. Sta. Auburn Univ. 17 p.

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