Effect of flow velocity on the growth, stress and immune responses of turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) in recirculating aquaculture systems.
Land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are widely utilized for turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) culture. Flow velocity in the tank is essential to maintain water quality, conservation of energy and fish welfare. However, little is known about how turbot respond to different velocities in the long term. In this study, water quality was kept constant, allowing the effect of flow velocity on the feeding intake, growth, plasma biochemical indexes, innate (non-specific) immunity and immune-related stress gene expressions in the skin to be examined in isolation in RAS. Turbot (average body length 20.10 cm) were reared for 60 days in RAS under three velocities, 0.06 m s-1, 0.18 m s-1, and 0.36 m s-1, corresponding to approximately 0.3 body length per second (bl s-1), 0.9 bl s-1 and 1.8 bl s-1, respectively. The results showed that at velocities of 0.36 m s-1 (1.8 bl s-1), juvenile turbot were subject to stress accompanied by a reduced growth rate. A velocity of 0.36 m s-1 was also found to significantly reduce SOD and GSH activity, and the concentration of total protein in plasma, while concentrations of urea nitrogen (BUN) and total bilirubin (TBIL) increased. There was an up-regulation of cathepsin D and lysozyme (LZM) in the skin at the highest velocity, implying the activation of stress and immune responses. At the medium velocity of 0.18 m s-1 (0.9 bl s-1), turbot increased their feed intake, obtained an elevated special growth rate (SGR), and exhibited significantly higher AKP and ACP activity in plasma. Overall, the results suggest that excessively high velocities are a stressor for turbot inducing an immune response in the skin, which is sensitive to environmental changes. A velocity of approximately 0.9 bl s-1 is suggested to promote growth and obtain better innate immunity of cultured turbot.