Effects of stocking density and sustained aerobic exercise on growth, energetics and welfare of rainbow trout

David J. McKenzie, Erik Höglund, A. Dupont-Prinet, Bodil Katrine Larsen, Peter Vilhelm Skov, Per Bovbjerg Pedersen, Alfred Jokumsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Two stocking densities, “low” (L, between ~19 and ~25 kgm−3) and “high” (H, between ~75 and ~100 kgm−3) were compared for effects on specific growth rate (SGR), feed conversion, energetics and welfare of rainbow trout reared at 14 °C either in static water (S) or swimming in a gentle current of ~0.9 bodylengths s−1 (C). Trout (initialmass ~110 g)were reared for 9 weeks in circular tanks (volume 0.6 m3), in triplicate of four conditions (LS, LC, HS, HC). Fish were fed ad-libitum daily; waste pellets were swirl-collected at the outflow to calculate
feed intake. SGR was measured each three weeks for the last six weeks of the trial. The tanks functioned as intermittent-stopped flow respirometers, to permit metabolic rate to be measured as instantaneous oxygen uptake once per hour. Mean (±SD) SGR was significantly lower at H than L (1.51±0.03 vs 1.44±0.04%
day−1, respectively, n=6) and lowest in HC. When compared over a similar interval of mass gain, H groups had approximately 25% higher metabolic rates than L, with the highest rates in the HC condition. As a result, fish in the H groups dissipated a greater amount of feed energy as metabolism and, across all groups, there was a direct negative relationship between the quantity of energy dissipated and their SGR. There was no evidence of a neuroendocrine stress response, plasma cortisol was around 1 ng ml−1 in all conditions. An acute crowding stress increased plasma cortisol to above 120 ng ml−1 in all groups, but C groups recovered to control levels within 8 h whereas S groups required 20 h. Respirometry on individuals revealed that H fish had approximately 14% higher metabolic rates than L fish, indicating that increased metabolic rate in rearing tanks was in part physiological. TheHgroups had approximately 15% lower critical swimming speeds than the L groups which, together with their raised metabolic rate, indicated a physiological impairment. Thus, high density
reduced SGR by raising energy dissipation, at least partially as a physiological response by the fish, although there was no evidence of an endocrine stress response. The only beneficial effect of C was in recovery from acute stress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-222
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this