Delightfully named lumpfish might boost caged salmon production

Granite Geek

Sea lice hurt Atlantic salmon, steelhead trout and other salmonids, and researchers with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire believe using lumpfish as cleanerfish—fish that eat parasites off other fish—may be a sustainable way to manage these pests.

“Lumpfish eat parasites off salmonids farmed in cages in nearshore coastal waters in the northern Atlantic Ocean,” said Elizabeth Fairchild, research associate professor of biological sciences. “Sea lice are a naturally occurring parasite that feed off fish mucus, skin and blood. They cause open wounds on the fish, and in the worst cases, kill them. As a result, mitigating sea lice can be very costly to fish farming operations. We are evaluating the use of lumpfish as ‘biological delousers’ on salmonid farms in the United States.”

Currently, cleanerfish are used in all countries where salmonids are farmed in the northern Atlantic Ocean except in the U.S.

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