Animal & Veterinary

Aquaculture Research

Aquaculture (i.e., fish farming) is an important source of fish available for human consumption. Over 90% of the US supply of seafood is imported, and over half of the imported seafood is from aquaculture. Further, the growth of the US aquaculture industry has required the development of safe and effective drugs for treating fish diseases, as well as increased regulatory surveillance of aquaculture products. In response to these needs, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, Office of Research, conducts aquaculture research in a state-of-the-art facility. The primary research objectives are designed to assist the FDA in assuring that fish derived from aquaculture production environments, whether international or domestic, are safe for human consumption.

Research priorities explore the biodistribution, residue persistence, metabolism, effectiveness, and environmental effects of drugs and other chemicals used in aquaculture. Studies include

  • Developing disease models to test drug effects,
  • Effectiveness testing,
  • Pharmacokinetics studies,
  • Depletion studies of prohibited chemicals,
  • Development of methods to test antibiotic susceptibility of aquatic bacteria, and
  • Providing tissues incurred with drug residues for development of chemical detection methods.

Other research investigates the effect of drugs on the environment, non-target species, and the pathogens associated with aquatic species. Studies also examine the development and transmission of antimicrobial resistance in both pathogens and environmental microbes.

We construct, update and currently maintain the Phish Pharm database: a searchable compilation of more than 400 articles dealing with drug residues and pharmacokinetic parameters in 90 species (64 genera) of fish. Phish Pharm can facilitate the study of aquatic species drug metabolism and can rapidly compare data between studies with different experimental conditions, such as water temperatures and salinity. This database is designed to aid investigators of drug metabolism in aquatic species as well as government and private organizations involved in the drug approval process for aquatic species.

Our aquaculture program actively collaborates with scientists at other FDA centers and other outside agencies such as the USDA, the University of Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The program has hosted college and fourth-year veterinary students interested in aquaculture and conducts hands-on training workshops for veterinarians and animal scientists. These programs are designed to educate veterinarians and animal scientists about aquatic animal research.

Contact for Information

Mr. Charles Gieseker
Research Biologist – Aquaculture Team Leader
(301) 210-4217

Figure 1.

Some of the fish species included in our research at the CVM/OR Aquaculture Facility. A. Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar; B. Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus; C. Hybrid tilapia, Oreochromis nilotica x O. aureus; D. Yellow perch, Perca flavescens; E. Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides; F. Rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss; G. Hybrid striped bass, Morone chrysops x M. saxatilis; H. Goldfish, Carassius auratus. Most of these species are currently raised or maintained in the US for food; goldfish are raised as aquarium fish.

Fish species included in research at the CVM/OR Aquaculture Facility

There are five main research rooms totaling approximately 5,200 sq. ft., as well as storage, mechanical/filtration, and support rooms. Incoming water from either a well or municipal supply goes into the primary filtration system and is stored in a 25,000 gal. water storage tank. Temperature is controlled by separate heat exchangers and chillers, which provide hot and cold running water to recirculating and flow-through aquaculture systems. Wastewater is sent to either two 20,000 gal. water holding tanks or two 10,000 gal. closed-system wastewater holding tanks.

Figure 2.

Some of the holding systems used for research at the CVM/OR Aquaculture Facility. A. flow through tanks, B. recirculating tank, C. dual recirculating tanks, D. flow through tanks - isolation room, E. living stream system.

Water tanks and holding systems used for research at the CVM OR Aquaculture Facility

Page Last Updated: 06/16/2014
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