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J Fish Dis. 2003 Sep;26(9):553-61.

Feed deprivation of channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque), influences organosomatic indices, chemical composition and susceptibility to Flavobacterium columnare.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Aquatic Animal Health Research Laboratory, Auburn, AL 36831, USA.


Withholding feed has been suggested as a strategy to manage infectious disease of channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque). In a previous study, we demonstrated that deprivation of feed for as little as 7 days reduced innate resistance of catfish to Flavobacterium columnare. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of feeding regimens [no feeding (NF), fed once every other day to satiation (FEOD) and fed once daily to satiation (FD)] on organosomatic indices, physiological changes and susceptibility of channel catfish to F. columnare. Fish that were not fed for 2 and 4 weeks had a significant increase (P < 0.05) in gutted weight:-wet weight ratio and decrease in other organosomatic indices [gut index (GI), mesenteric fat index (MFI) and hepatosomatic index (HSI)]. Haematology was not effected by feeding regimen except at week 4, when a significantly higher haemoglobin level was observed in the NF fish. Serum protein did not differ at week 2, but the level at week 4 of the NF fish (35.91 mg mL(-1)) was significantly lower than that of the FD fish (41.77 mg mL(-1)). Significantly lower (P < 0.05) blood glucose (39.5 and 40.3 mg dL(-1)) and liver glycogen (1.7 and 1.8 mg g(-1)) were seen in the NF fish at weeks 2 and 4, respectively, as compared with blood glucose and liver glycogen levels of FD fish (67.5 and 92.8 mg dL(-1) and 46.5 and 52.6 mg g(-1) at weeks 2 and 4, respectively) and FEOD (82.8 and 85.5 mg dL(-1) and 45.1 and 51.4 mg g(-1) at weeks 2 and 4, respectively). Mortality in the NF fish caused by F. columnare (78%) was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than mortality in the FD and FEOD treatments (0.0 and 1.7%, respectively). Blood glucose and liver glycogen showed the same trend of low values for NF fish following challenge (week 6). Blood glucose, liver glycogen, GI and HSI are sensitive indicators for channel catfish deprived of feed (NF) for 4 weeks. Blood glucose and liver glycogen levels around 40 mg dL(-1) and 2 mg g(-1), respectively, are indicative of starvation in juvenile channel catfish. Moreover, NF fish were susceptible to F. columnare infection. Thus, it is suggested that in the absence of natural food, juvenile channel catfish should be fed at least once every other day to apparent satiation to maintain normal physiological function and improve resistance to F. columnare.

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