Farmed salmon live on extreme energy-rich diets and are raised in an environment with little opportunity for physical challenges. Over the last five years, the salmon farming industry has been facing ~20% mortality after sea transfer. A large percentage of these losses can be attributable to diseases affecting the heart, e.g. cardiomyopathy syndrome and abnormal hearts. The Norwegian industry has been so enthusiastic about the idea of fish training that their research fund (FHF) funded our pilot project for FitnessFish in 2007-08 that resulted in compelling results.
The proposed project is based on the fact that exercise training of fish has been shown to improve a range of parameters, e.g. growth, cardiac capacity and disease resistance. Hence, our specific aim is to identify the training protocol that optimizes the positive effects of exercise. The optimization work will be founded on established knowledge from mammals and fish, namely high intensity aerobic interval training is more effective than low intensive exercise.
A major task of the project will be to test different training protocols during the freshwater stage using specially designed fish tanks that allows flexible training intensities of salmon. Training effects will be evaluated by a range of established methods:
- cardiac performance and ability to face environmental constraints (physio logical challenge tests, respirometry, histology, and analyses of hormones, blood parameters, oxidative products and gene expression)
- disease resistance (challenge tests and gene expression)
- growth responses (appetite, FCR and nutrient utilization )
The project team, which is composed of scientists and institutes that have relevant and complementary knowledge, will ensure a solid scientific foundation and the desire to accomplish the proposed project tasks.