Marine Institute

New landmark book published on cleaner fish

Dr Jack D’Arcy, Dr David Jackson (Marine Institute) and Majbritt Bolton-Warberg (NUI Galway)The Marine Institute is delighted to congratulate two of our scientists, Drs David Jackson and Jack D'Arcy for their contribution to a landmark new publication entitled Cleaner Fish Biology and Aquaculture Applications.

Cleaner Fish Biology and Aquaculture Applications brings together the wealth of knowledge assembled on optimising the use of cleaner fiCleaner Fish Biology and Aquaculture Applicationssh for parasite control in fish farming. The book is an authoritative and comprehensive review of the topic, including an important chapter on the use of cleaner fish in Irish aquaculture. It highlights the cleaner fish contribution towards the sustainable production of organic farmed salmon in Ireland.

Cleaner fish are bred as a biological control for sea lice. In the tropics, cleaner fish set up "cleaning stations" on coral reefs and remove external parasites from other fish, including often quite large predators, which become docile and patiently allow the cleaners to swim through their gills and into their mouths to remove troublesome parasites. This phenomenon was observed in native wrasse in the 1970's in a public aquarium in the UK and early studies in Ireland in the 1980's showed that this behaviour could be successfully used to control sea lice on farmed salmon.

The Marine Institute is currently carrying out research into cleaner fish behaviour and welfare in salmon pens. Artificial kelp is deployed in the salmon pens to provide the cleaner fish with a more natural habitat. These "hides" help to improve the living conditions of the cleaner fish. It is believed healthy cleaner fish make the best "cleaners". A selection of other measures is being used to help optimise the welfare status of the cleaner fish. It is hoped that some of these measures will reduce the overall number of cleaner fish needed to remove sea lice. 

Cleaner Fish Biology and Aquaculture Applications is published by 5m Publishing Ltd and available to purchase on their website.