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Immune Function and Disease Resistance in Aquaculture

Why is aquaculture immune function important? 

All farmed species require essential nutrients for a balanced diet. Any imbalance in the nutrient requirements can put unnecessary stress on immune systems and leave your farm more susceptible to diseases. Parasitic, bacterial and viral disease outbreaks significantly impact on aquaculture production, costing the aquaculture industry billions of dollars annually. 

Besides implementing biosecurity measurements and good farm management practices, enhancing immunity is one of the best ways to achieve excellent health and performance for fish and shrimp, in addition to protecting them against disease outbreaks.  

Signs and causes of poor immune function in fish and shrimp 

Notable signs and symptoms of fish and shrimp diseases include: 

  • Reduced growth 
  • Lethargy 
  • Rapid reduction in food consumption 
  • Sudden mass mortalities (up to 100%) 

The rigors of production, in addition to age and quality of feed, combined with external factors such as temperature, salinity and pH, can cause an imbalance in gut microflora, leading to increased susceptibility to disease. This can damage growth rates and immunity, in addition to causing financial issues.

How to prevent poor immune function and improve disease resistance in fish and shrimp 

Modern feeding technologies have been shown to promote growth, achieve a healthy immune status, adjust intestinal microflora and block pathogen access. 

Pathogens will always exist in natural environments. By promoting a robust innate mucosal system, you can help aquatic species build an effective protective barrier against opportunistic pathogens. It is critically important to take good care of aquaculture gut health and work to bolster immune systems. This can be achieved by using tailored specialty ingredients.

Promote natural defenses

Aquate® has been formulated to meet the specific requirements of each aquatic species. It enhances biomass production, boosts natural defenses and encourages healthier and more robust aquatic populations. Aquate combines the ideal amount of chelated minerals and yeast-based additives. Optimal inclusion levels aid with digestion and nutrient absorption and utilization. This will not only result in healthier fish but also lower feces production and pollution in farming systems. 

Increase bioavailability of minerals

Alltech’s chelated mineral solutions, Bioplex® and Sel-Plex®, have demonstrated higher bioavailability than their inorganic counterparts. This warrants the use of lower dietary inclusion rates via reduced wastage of unassimilated minerals.

Supplemented either separately or in combination with other feed solutions, these technologies have demonstrated many immune and growth benefits in various aquatic species. One example is supplementation with zinc and selenium. Zinc plays a crucial role in modulating immune function, resulting in shrimp and fish with increased immune capabilities. Zinc also helps maintain skin integrity and speeds up wound healing. In addition to zinc, selenium supplementation has been proven to promote shrimp and fish growth and immune health.