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Sustainable production and use of cleaner fish for the biological control of sea lice: recent advances and current challenges
  1. Adam J Brooker1,
  2. Athina Papadopoulou1,
  3. Carolina Gutierrez2,
  4. Sonia Rey1,
  5. Andrew Davie1 and
  6. Herve Migaud1
  1. 1 Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  2. 2 Marine Harvest Scotland Ltd, Fort William, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondenceInstitute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK; hm7{at}


Currently, cleaner fish are one of the most widely used sea lice control strategies in Atlantic salmon aquaculture. Two species are currently being farmed in North Atlantic countries, ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) and lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus), and the sector in most countries is rapidly expanding towards self-sufficiency. The species are very different both in terms of their biology and life histories and, consequently, production and husbandry methods must be tailored to each species. There are numerous health challenges currently experienced in both species, with bacterial and parasitic diseases being the most prevalent, and cohabitation with salmon may increase the risk of disease. Good husbandry and routine health monitoring are essential, although treatment is often required when disease outbreaks occur. Ballan wrasse and lumpfish are both proven to be effective salmon delousers, although delousing efficacy can be variable in farmed fish; the provision of suitable habitat and acclimation to net-pen conditions may encourage natural behaviours, including delousing, and the use of operational welfare indicators can highlight potential welfare issues. Cleaner fish research is progressing rapidly, although much of the basic knowledge regarding the species’ biology remains unknown. The simultaneous domestication of two new marine aquaculture species is a significant challenge demanding sustained effort and funding over a prolonged period of time. Research must focus on enhancing the robustness of the farmed stocks and increasing hatchery outputs to meet the urgent demands from the salmon sector and protect wild stocks from overfishing.

  • ballan wrasse
  • lumpsucker
  • cleaner fish
  • health
  • deployment
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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