Applications of Probiotics in Aquaculture

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Applications of Probiotics in Aquaculture

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The need for sustainable aquaculture has promoted research into the use of probiotics on aquatic organisms. The initial interest was focused on their use as growth promoters and to improve the health of animals; however, new areas have been found, such as their effect on reproduction or stress tolerance, although this requires a more scientific development.

4.1. Growth Promoter

Probiotics have been used in aquaculture to increase the growth of cultivated species, in reality it is not known whether these products increase the appetite, or if, by their nature, improve digestibility. Some people are inclined to think that it could be both factors; furthermore, it would be important to determine whether probiotics actually taste good for aquaculture species [20]. According to Balcázar et al. [13], probiotic microorganisms are able to colonize gastrointestinal tract when administered over a long period of time because they have a higher multiplication rate than the rate of expulsion, so as probiotics constantly added to fish cultures, they adhere to the intestinal mucosa of them, developing and exercising their multiple benefits. This also depends on factors such as hydrobionts species, body temperature, enzyme levels, genetic resistance, and water quality.

4.2. Inhibition of Pathogens

Antibiotics were used for a long time in aquaculture to prevent diseases in the crop. However, this caused various problems such as the presence of antibiotic residues in animal tissues, the generation of bacterial resistance mechanisms, as well as an imbalance in the gastrointestinal microbiota of aquatic species, which affected their health [88]. In fact, the European Union has regulated the use of antibiotics in organisms for human consumption [89]. Today, consumers demand natural products, free of additives such as antibiotics; moreover, there is a tendency for preventing diseases rather than treating them. Thus, the use of probiotics is a viable alternative for the inhibition of pathogens and disease control in aquaculture species.

Probiotic microorganisms have the ability to release chemical substances with bactericidal or bacteriostatic effect on pathogenic bacteria that are in the intestine of the host, thus constituting a barrier against the proliferation of opportunistic pathogens. In general, the antibacterial effect is due to one or more of the following factors: production of antibiotics, bacteriocins, siderophores, enzymes (lysozymes, proteases) and/or hydrogen peroxide, as well as alteration of the intestinal pH due to the generation of organic acids [65].

4.3. Improvement in Nutrient Digestion

A study has suggested that probiotics have a beneficial effect on the digestive processes of aquatic animals because probiotic strains synthesize extracellular enzymes such as proteases, amylases, and lipases as well as provide growth factors such as vitamins, fatty acids, and aminoacids [13]. Therefore, nutrients are absorbed more efficiently when the feed is supplemented with probiotics [70].

4.4. Improvement of Water Quality

In several studies, water quality was recorded during the addition of probiotic strains, especially of the gram-positive genus Bacillus. Probably since this bacterial group is more efficient than gram-negative in transforming organic matter to CO2. It is suggested that maintaining high levels of probiotics in production ponds, fish farmers can minimize the accumulation of dissolved and particulate organic carbon during the growing season. In addition, this can balance the production of phytoplankton [13]. However, this hypothesis could not be confirmed on tests carried out during cultivation of shrimps or channel catfish, using one or more species of Bacillus, Nitrobacter, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter, Cellulomonas, and Rhodopseudomonas. Thus published evidence for improving water quality is limited, except for the nitrification [65].

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