Version: B | 1.1 (2022-07-20)
Condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.
Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential
FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)
Silurus asotus is a catfish species that lives in Japan, east China, Mongolia, Russia, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. It is cultivated in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. S. asotus lives for up to 12 years and reaches marketable size within a year. It lives in shallow waters of rivers and lakes, and it is commonly found in rice-fields, where it migrates to spawn. S. asotus has a complex mating ritual and does not reproduce naturally in captivity, maybe due to a lack of effort to simulate their natural environment during spawning season. The welfare and survival of S. asotus in farms can be improved if measures are taken to prevent their aggressive and cannibalistic behaviour as well as to reduce their stress while in captivity, such as adding environmental enrichment, regular sizing, providing regular and abundant feeding, and reducing handling and environmental disturbances. Sizing becomes an arduous job due to females being larger than males, which increases the aggression rates from bigger to smaller individuals. Some farms have tried to circumvent this problem by feminising males, but this measure generates malformations in the reproductive organs, which is detrimental for their welfare. Other farms breed sterile triploid individuals to prevent them from investing energy in reproduction and prevent the negative natural impacts of possible escapes. Further research needs to be done to study the wild and farming conditions of S. asotus, especially in the areas of their social structure in the wild, specific stunning and slaughtering methods, and the measures taken in farms to provide them with their migration needs and to reduce their stress levels.
1 Home range
Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: indoor polycarbonated containers: 1.1 m diameter ⌀ 1; plastic tanks: 0.06 m3 2; paddy fields with growing rice 3 4; traditional Vietnamese integrated agriculture, land farming, and fish farming: wide range (small: average 0.1 ha, large: several ha) 5; urban aquaponics 6.
JUVENILES: WILD: 1.5-1.6 km daily movement, covering ca 193 km2 (lake area) over several months 7; usually ~50-100 m radius, distance up to 350 m 8. FARM: polyvinyl chloride flow-through outdoor tanks: 9.1 m2 (3.4 m diameter) 9; fibre-reinforced plastic tanks: 12.6 m2 (4 m diameter) 2; fibreglass tank: 20 m3 10; tank: 5 m3 11; outdoor ponds 12 13; cages 13; paddy fields with growing rice 3 4; traditional Vietnamese integrated agriculture, land farming, and fish farming: wide range (small: average 0.1 ha, large: several ha) 5; urban aquaponics 6.
ADULTS: WILD: 1.5-1.6 km daily movement, covering ca 193 km2 (lake area) over several months 7; usually ~50-100 m radius, distance up to 350 m 8. FARM: polyvinyl chloride flow-through outdoor tanks: 9.1 m2 (3.4 m diameter) 9; fibre-reinforced plastic tanks: 12.6 m2 (4 m diameter) 2; outdoor ponds 12 14 13; cages 13; paddy fields with growing rice 3 4; traditional Vietnamese integrated agriculture, land farming, and fish farming: wide range (small: average 0.1 ha, large: several ha) 5; urban aquaponics 6.
SPAWNERS: WILD: rice paddies, irrigation and drainage ditches 15; irrigation channels are not suitable alternative spawning sites 16. FARM: fibre-reinforced plastic tanks: 12.6 m2 (4 m diameter) 2; concrete ponds: 81 m2 (9 x 9 m) 17; recirculating-water tanks: 0.5 m3 12; outdoor ponds 12; traditional Vietnamese integrated agriculture, land farming, and fish farming: wide range (small: average 0.1 ha, large: several ha) 5.
2 Depth range
Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
JUVENILES: WILD: shallow water in rivers and lakes 18. In lake, 14.3 m average depth, with daily movements of 4 m in the water column 8. FARM: polyvinyl chloride flow-through outdoor tanks: 1 m (0.8 m water depth) 9; cylindrical fibre-reinforced plastic tanks: 1 m 2.
ADULTS: WILD: shallow water in rivers and lakes 18. In lake, 14.3 m average depth, with daily movements of 4 m in the water column 8. In dam, during daytime: 0.5-5.6 m, during night: 0-10.2 m 7. FARM: polyvinyl chloride flow-through outdoor tanks: 1 m (0.8 m water depth) 9; cylindrical fibre-reinforced plastic tanks: 1 m 2.
Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD: based on distribution (➝ General remarks), estimated 8-16 h PHOTOPERIOD, fresh water. 4.0-18.0 °C 8, 20-30 °C 16. FARM: 14-10 h light-dark cycle, 20 °C 9. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
ADULTS: WILD: based on distribution (➝ General remarks), estimated 8-16 h PHOTOPERIOD, fresh water. 4.0-18.0 °C 8, 20-30 °C 16. At high altitudes: overwinter in deeper channels and pools of main river, enter littoral at end of April-beginning of May, in summer, stay close to shore and river banks, and in autumn, move back to main river to overwinter 18. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
SPAWNERS: WILD: based on distribution (➝ General remarks), estimated 8-16 h PHOTOPERIOD, fresh water. 4.0-18.0 °C 8, 20-30 °C 16. Migration in the late afternoon or night after rainfall, from lake to rice fields from late April to late June, and back to lake after spawning 15. Spawning migration from lake to paddy field via a fishway 23. FARM: ➝ ADULTS.
A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.
WILD: first maturity at 2 24-9 or 4-5 18 years old. Spawning during late April-late August 19 during rainfall 19 or after irrigation 25-19 in rice fields or ditches 15 19 25-19 or in stagnant water 18 at night 25 18 or late evening-early morning 19. Complex mating behaviour 25 15 which differs by population 15 19: male enfolds female 15 19 25-19. No parental care 25-19. Males:female ratio: 1:1 15 19, 2-4:1 25. Several spawning events with different partners and in different spawning sites 15. FARM: maturity at 1 year old without environmental manipulation 9, male maturation at 3 months old 10. Natural PHOTOPERIOD 12. High water temperate induces oocyte maturation 9 and faster hatching 2. Hormonal induction of ovulation 12 9 26 2 and spermiation 9 2. Sperm collected by surgical removal of testes 9 26 27. Females are stripped to collect eggs 12 9 2. Fertilisation by mixing collected eggs and sperm 9.
Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: plastic tanks: 36,287 IND/m3 2.
SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: concrete ponds: 3 IND/m3 17.
There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: cannibalistic behaviour at 36,287 IND/m3 2, 2,655 IND/m3 1, and other densities 28, which increases in groups with homogeneous body sizes 1 and under food scarcity 1. Provision of alternative forage fish larvae suggested as a solution to cannibalism 1.
JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: cannibalistic behaviour at 20 IND/m3 10; aggressive at 10 IND/m3 when no environmental enrichment provided 11. No aggression at 10 IND/m3 when shelter is provided, even in close proximity 11.
ADULTS: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.
SPAWNERS: WILD: males were not aggressive towards other males during mating 25. FARM: no data found yet.
Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD: muddy bottoms 2. LARVAE did not survive in concrete irrigation channels 16. FARM: containers partially covered with cardboard during daytime 1. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
JUVENILES: WILD: muddy bottoms 2, turbid waters in peat-bog 30. Hid under submerged objects during the day 11. FARM: preference for cylindrical grassy structures rather than cylindrical mesh or bare cylindrical pipes 11. Stressed by lack of environmental enrichment 11. For shelter and aggression ➝ crit. 6, for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ JUVENILES. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
SPAWNERS: WILD: muddy bottoms 2. Spawn in areas with thick aquatic weed 24-12, on aquatic submerged macrophytes 18, on surface of floating water weed with some eggs dropping on mud 31-16. Spawning induced by natural (rainfall) or artificial (irrigation) increase in water turbidity and depth 19. Concrete irrigation channels: collection of eggs but low number of LARVAE and JUVENILES indicate inferiority as spawning site, probably due to missing submerged plants 16. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.
JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: stressed by vibrations 32 and noise 33. High mortality maybe caused by stress induced by handling and rearing techniques 10. For stress and enrichment ➝ crit. 7.
SPAWNERS: WILD and FARM: no data found yet.
Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE and FRY: no data found yet.
JUVENILES: abnormalities in 6.5%: spinal curvature, jawbone’s luxation, abnormality of upper lip, and malocclusion 36.
ADULTS: no data found yet.
The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
Common slaughter method: no stunning method available 37 38. High-standard slaughter method: fast and effective sedation with clove oil or MS-222 27. Further research needed to confirm for farming conditions. For Clarias gariepinus, another catfish species, several protocols available: stunning with captive pistol (8 bar pressure) and chilling in icewater 39, dry electro-stunning (0.76 A, 150 V, AC+DC for 15 s) followed by chilling and decapitation 40 or freshwater electro-stunning (1.60 ± 0.11 A/dm2, 50 Hz, sinusoidal, A.C., conductivity of 876 μS) followed by chilling and decapitation 41. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to S. asotus as well.
Side note: Domestication
Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 3 42, level 5 being fully domesticated.
Side note: Forage fish in the feed
450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?
All age classes: WILD: carnivorous 36 18. FARM: fish meal may be partly* replaced 43 44, fish oil may be completely* replaced by sustainable or non-forage fishery components 45 46, but no data found yet for ADULTS and SPAWNERS.
partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 3 = entire life cycle closed in captivity with wild inputs 42
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
FRY = larvae from external feeding on, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
IND = individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
PHOTOPERIOD = duration of daylight
POTAMODROMOUS = migrating within fresh water
SPAWNERS = adults during the spawning season; in farms: adults that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild
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