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Live Transport

Live Transport

Reducing Stress Improves Transport Success

Fish Transport

It is often necessary to transport fish as part of an animals production cycle. Transport distances vary from small tank-tank transfers to much longer hatchery-growout transfers or tank-market transfers. The level of stress during transport is one of the biggest factors in the success of a specific transfer. AQUI-S® can be used to limit stress before and during transport.

Types of Transport

There are five main techniques for transporting live fish:

  • Insulated tanks or sealed plastic bags in boxes - by air
  • Tanker trucks - by road
  • Well boats - by river/sea
  • Towing of cages by tugs
  • Helicopter transport to remote locations

Transport Stress

Fish require a life support system during the transport event – water must be oxygenated, accumulation of toxic metabolites such as carbon dioxide and ammonia must be controlled, and water temperature must be maintained within the appropriate range. Stress from crowding, handling and loading before transport evokes the physiological stress response resulting in increased oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide excretion and waste production. This, in turn, can rapidly lower the water quality, perpetuating a further, more stressful environment. The prolonged effects of stress before and during transport include high mortalities, reduced resistance to disease and poor growth performance.

Reducing Transport Stress

A large component of transport stress can be accounted for in the crowding and loading phase of the operation. The delicate skin of fish is easily damaged by netting and pumping, thus increasing stress and providing a route for subsequent infection. Light sedation with AQUI-S® greatly reduces the overall transport stress and ensures fish are strong and healthy at the final destination.  A sedation level dose of AQUI-S® is all that is required to give a physiological advantage to the animal.  Sedated animals will maintain swimming motion and equilibrium, but will not display the panic response or avoidance behavior to negative stimuli.  Fish therefore don’t expend their energy trying to escape the stressor and subsequently the level of physiological stress response is mitigated. An added benefit is that water quality is maintained for longer.

The following video shows the difference in activity between AQUI-S® sedated and un-sedated Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) immediately prior to live transport.

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RAINBOW TROUT (Oncorhynchus mykiss) -- Sedated v's Un-sedated)


AQUI-S® Sedation for Live Transport

AQUI-S® is effective at low concentrations and has a wide safety margin, making it ideal for reducing stress during transport. AQUI S® has proven to be effective for short duration transport (<2 hrs) such as local smolts to sea or longer transports (>40 hrs) such as live lobster, eel or cod to distant international markets. AQUI-S® is the only aquatic anesthetic approved for use in food fish with zero withholding.  The mode and duration of transport will dictate the method of sedation and the dose of AQUI S® required. The dose range for transport is generally between 5 – 10 ppm (5 – 10 mL of AQUI-S® per 1000 L of water). An AQUI-S® stock solution is prepared, and the appropriate amount added to the transport water. Use the AQUI-S® calculator to confirm your calculations.

What Next?

We recommend you conduct a small trial to determine the appropriate AQUI-S® concentration for your animals. A trial protocol is available in our member's section.  If you require more information or have a specific question you can contact us or your local distributor directly.