Ultrasonic imaging as a means of monitoring gonadal development in lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus)

Frank Thomas Mlingi*, Velmurugu Puvanendran, Erik Burgerhout, Helge Tveiten, Jonna Tomkiewicz, Elin Kjørsvik, Maren Mommens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The commercial farming of juvenile lumpfish requires monitoring of gonadal development to achieve synchronized production. Conventional methods such as gonadosomatic index (GSI), sex hormone analyses, gonadal histology, endoscopy, and gene expression analyses are costly, invasive, and often involve sacrificing the fish. We assessed the efficiency of ultrasound as a non-invasive method for monitoring gonadal development in lumpfish. Based on ultrasound observations, we categorized the fish into six stages; F0 to F5 for females and M0 to M5 for males, that represented maturity levels from immature to spent. Importantly, the ultrasound gonadal stages aligned with histological gonadal stages. Additionally, ultrasound stages aligned with profiles of GSI, testosterone (T), 11-ketotestosterone, and 17β-estradiol throughout gonadal development including the spawning period. Moreover, these parameters exhibited significant positive correlations with each other reflecting their parallel trends during gonadal development. To minimize the frequency of ultrasound usage and fish handling, we established F3 and M3/M4 as arbitrary thresholds for identifying ripe females and males, respectively. By using these thresholds, the need for regular ultrasound monitoring could be reduced during most of the rearing period. Ultrasound proves to be useful and reliable for monitoring gonadal development in lumpfish, enabling synchronized production of juvenile fish.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15811
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number18
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Gonadal development
  • Lumpfish
  • Sex steroids
  • Ultrasound


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