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Biol Open. 2018 Sep 3;7(9). pii: bio036301. doi: 10.1242/bio.036301.

It works! Lumpfish can significantly lower sea lice infestation in large-scale salmon farming.

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Akvaplan-niva Iceland Office, Akralind 4, 201 Kópavogur, Iceland
Department of Biology, University of Bergen, High Technology Centre, 5020 Bergen, Norway.
Lerøy Aurora, Postbox 2123, 9267 Tromsø, Norway.
Akvaplan-niva, Framsenteret, 9296 Tromsø, Norway.
Gildeskål Forskningsstasjon (GIFAS) AS, Gildeskål, 8140 Inndyr, Norway.
Nordlaks Oppdrett AS, Post box 224, 8455 Stokmarknes, Norway.
Grieg Seafood Finnmark AS, Markedsgata 3, Alta, Norway.


To assess the efficacy of lumpfish grazing on attached sea lice on Atlantic salmon, six large-scale sea cages, (130 m circumference, 37,688 m3 volume) each stocked with approximately 200,000 salmon 0+ smolts, were stocked with a 4, 6 and 8% density (8000, 12,000 and 16,000, respectively) of lumpfish. The sea cages without lumpfish acted as controls. Sea lice infestation levels on the salmon were monitored weekly and bi-weekly from 6 October to 17 May the subsequent year. Mortality of the lumpfish rose with decreasing sea temperatures to around 0.8% week-1 and did not vary between the lumpfish groups. There were clear signs of lumpfish grazing on sea lice, with significantly lower average levels of chalimus, pre-adult and adult female Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus elongatus sea lice per salmon. Lumpfish in the high density (8%) group reduced the mature female L. salmonis to levels equal to or lower than the counts recorded prior to the start of the study. Overall, the present results indicate that lumpfish are a suitable cold-water option for biological delousing of Atlantic salmon in large-scale production conditions.


Atlantic salmon; Biological delousing; Lumpfish; Sea lice

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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