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J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2010 Oct;94(5):e31-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2009.00971.x.

Echinacea purpurea and Allium sativum as immunostimulants in fish culture using Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus).

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Department of Medical Laboratory, Faculty of Applied Medical Science, Qassim University, Saudi Arabia.


The study was conducted to evaluate the efficiency of echinacea (E) and garlic (G) supplemented diets as immunostimulant for tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Seven treatments were designed including a control (C). Fish were fed on 35% protein diet at a rate of 3% body weight per day. Echinacea (1.0 ppt) and garlic (3%) were incorporated in the feed, which was administered for periods of 1, 2 and 3 months (summer season), followed by basal diet for 4 more months (winter season). Neutrophil adherence and haematocrit values increased in both supplemented groups with prolonging period of application. The neutrophils adherence was significantly increased in all treatments except group administered echinacea for 1 month. The lymphocytic counts were significantly (p < 0.004) elevated that resulted in a significant increase in the total leucocytic count in groups administered echinacea for 1 and 2 months when compared with the control and/or other treatments. The gain in the body weight and specific growth rate was significantly increased in all supplemented groups (p < 0.004) during summer, but remained without any significant increase after winter. The survival rate was significantly high (>85%) in all the supplemented groups. The percentage of protection, after challenge infection using pathogenic Aeromonas hydrophila was the highest in groups supplemented with echinacea and garlic for 3 months after summer and winter seasons. It could be concluded that echinacea and garlic improve the gain in body weight, survival rate and resistance against challenge infection. Both compounds showed extended effects after withdrawal and improved resistance to cold stress during the winter season. However, a full commercial cost benefit analysis is necessary before recommending their application in aquaculture.

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