Version: B | 1.3 (2022-07-29)
WelfareScore | farm
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
WelfareScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)
Mylopharyngodon piceus is a freshwater carp native to rivers and lakes of Asia that was introduced in Europe, the United States, and other countries. This species is a carnivorous bottom-dweller fish that does not leap out of the water and, consequently, is not easily detected or caught in large and deep rivers. M. piceus is considered one of the four Chinese major carps (among Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, H. nobilis, and Ctenopharyngodon idella), which has a high growth rate and an apparent great invasion potential. Large juveniles and adults use their heavy pharyngeal teeth to crash molluscs shells, mainly feeding on these animals. Thus, besides culturing M. piceus to sell as meat because of its good flavour and highly marketable potential, this species is also cultured in polycultures with other carps or other fish species for biological control, to feed from molluscs (mainly gastropods) that are potential intermediate hosts for diseases or that can cause other problems. In the United States, this species is mostly used for snail control in catfish ponds. Spawners migrate upstream during spring to early summer to spawn in open and turbid waters. An increase in the river flow is the key triggering factor to spawning. Wild information about this carp species is rare and much information related to farm conditions is also still missing, especially related to aggression, substrate, stress response, malformations, and slaughter process. Further research about basic information from wild and cultured M. piceus is needed.
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?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: earthen ponds: 2,025 m2 1. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 100-1,000 m2 2; tanks: 1.4 m2 (1.2 x 1.2 m) 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: earthen ponds: 600 m2 (20 x 30 m) 3, 45,000 m2 (at 0.4% of stocked triploid IND, for biological control of Planorbella trivolvis) 4; floating cages in reservoirs (polyculture with other carp species): 56-64 m3 5.
ADULTS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: earthen ponds: 10,000 m2 1 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS) .
SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: earthen ponds; 10,000 m2 1; cement tanks: 140 m2 6. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 20-30 m 2, 100-140 m2 7-8 or 2,000-25,000 m2 2; storage tanks: 200 m2 (10 x 20 m), 450 m2 (15 x 30 m) 2; breeding tanks: 3.8 m2 (2.5 x 1.5 m), 8 m2 (4 x 2 m), 18.8 m2 (7.5 x 2.5 m), 2 m diameter 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
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?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: earthen ponds: 0.5-1.5 m 7-8. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 0.5-1.2 m 2; tanks: 1.2 m 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ JUVENILES. FARM: earthen ponds: 1.5 m 1 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS). For carps in general, earthen ponds: 0.8-2 m 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
SPAWNERS: WILD: ➝ JUVENILES. FARM: earthen ponds: 1.5 m 1. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 1.0-2.5 m 7-8 2 or deeper depending on climate zone 2; storage tanks: 1.0-1.5 m 2; breeding tanks: 1 m 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
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?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: 10-16 h PHOTOPERIOD 16-8 17-8, 9-15 h in non-native waters 9 11, fresh water 16-8 17-8 9 11. FARM: earthen ponds: 11-13 h PHOTOPERIOD 1, range 25.2-33.4 °C 3, salinity 0.01%, fresh water 3 1. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ JUVENILES. FARM: ➝ LARVAE and FRY.
SPAWNERS: WILD: 10-16 h PHOTOPERIOD, fresh water 16-8 17-8. Migrate upstream to spawn in open waters (channels) 12-8 13-8 14 15, with more eggs when the water level is higher by flow increase 14. FARM: ➝ LARVAE and FRY.
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 of theses circumstances?It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
WILD: mature at 6-11 years old, but can be earlier depending on the latitude 7-8 18-8 19-8 17-8; males mature slightly earlier than females 20-8. Spawn spring-early summer 12-8 13-8 14 15. Spawning triggered mainly by temperature, but also by rising water 7-8. FARM: mature at 6 years old 1; females reach maturity at 6-7 years, males probably are mature 1 year earlier 21. Chinese fish farmers were unable to naturally spawn M. piceus in ponds 8. Successful induced to spawn with pituitary extract from C. carpio or a commercial preparation of gonadotropin 18-8, a single hormone injection of a combination of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and fresh carp pituitary gland 6, pituitary gland extract or synthetic hormone FlashTM 1. Sex ratio: 1 female:1 male 1. Eggs and seminal fluid collected by stripping and mixing them 1. For carps in general, in storage tanks, spawners are kept separated by sex 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
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: earthen ponds: 1.2 g/m2 1, 100 IND/m2 7-8. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 1,000 IND/m2 for LARVAE in nursery ponds, 12.5-25 IND/m2 for FRY in breeding ponds 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: earthen ponds: 0.01-0.24 IND/m2 7-8, higher growth at 0.2 than 0.3-0.4 IND/m2 in polyculture with 5 other carp species of overall density of 1 IND/m2 22, 0.004-0.006 IND/m2 (triploid IND) to control P. trivolvis in a polyculture with I. punctatus of overall density of 1.5 IND/m2 4; floating cages in reservoirs: 12 IND/m2 of M. piceus and C. idella in a polyculture with 2 other carps and Megalobrama amblycephala of overall density of 300-450 IND/m2 5.
ADULTS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: earthen ponds: 0.005 IND/m2 or 0.3 kg/m2 1 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS).
SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: earthen ponds: 0.005 IND/m2 or 0.3 kg/m2 1.
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?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: no aggression of triploid IND reported in a polyculture with I. punctatus 4.
ADULTS: no data found yet.
SPAWNERS: 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 medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
Eggs: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: for carps in general, double-walled hapa nets (e.g., mosquito netting and whole cloth) to protect from predators 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
LARVAE and FRY: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
JUVENILES: WILD: non-native waters: caught in turbid rivers 15. For foraging mode ➝ crit. 2. FARM: ➝ LARVAE and FRY.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ JUVENILES. FARM: ➝ LARVAE and FRY.
SPAWNERS: WILD: for foraging mode ➝ crit. 2. For Asian carps, sand and gravel (not mud) and water with mud and sand, showing yellowish turbidity 23-8. Further research needed to determine wether this applies to M. piceus as well. FARM: ➝ LARVAE and FRY.
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?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: stressed by handling 24.
ADULTS: no data found yet.
SPAWNERS: 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: for carps in general, malformations due to insufficient nutrition 2. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to M. piceus as well.
JUVENILES: no data found yet.
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: for the related Cyprinus carpio, 85% are sold alive, of the 15% processed in plants 25, the common methods are a) asphyxia (followed by evisceration 25 or percussive killing 26), b) percussive stunning (followed by evisceration 25 27, gill cut or destruction of the heart 27), and c) electrical stunning (followed by evisceration 25 27, gill cut or destruction of the heart 27). High-standard slaughter method: for Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, another Chinese major carp, percussive stunning (one or two blows on the head with a wooden club) followed by scaling, gutting, and filleting is less stressful than immersion in ice or gill cutting followed by the same slaughter procedures 28 29. For C. carpio, electrical plus percussive stunning (followed by evisceration, gill cut or destruction of the heart) 27 or immersion in clove oil (followed by percussive killing 26). Further research needed for a specific protocol and to determine whether this applies to M. piceus 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 4 30, 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: old JUVENILES and ADULTS prey heavily on molluscs 19-8 31, also in non-native waters 9 10, but could feed from a wider variety of insects and other invertebrates with flexibility in foraging behaviour, both in native 32-8 and in non-native waters 11. FARM and LAB: (triploid) JUVENILES feed on molluscs (P. trivolvis) 4 33. LAB: fish oil may be mostly* to completely* replaced by sustainable sources 34; fish meal may be partly* replaced by non-forage fishery components (with fish oil slightly increased) 35.
*partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%
BENTHIC = living at the bottom of a body of water, able to rest on the floor
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 = entire life cycle closed in captivity without wild inputs 30
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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