Citation Picon-Camacho SM, Leclercq E, Bron J & Shinn A (2012) The potential utility of the leopard pleco (Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps) as a biological control of the ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Pest Management Science, 68 (4), pp. 557-563. https://doi.org/10.1002/ps.2293
Abstract BACKGROUND: Infections of the ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis Fouquet, 1876, can cause heavy mortalities in freshwater aquaculture systems. Following the ban of malachite green on fish for human consumption, currently available chemical therapies are only partially efficacious even when repeatedly applied. There is, therefore, an urgent necessity to identify more efficient and environmentally friendly control strategies. In the present study, the use of a substrate algae feeder leopard pleco, Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps, as a biological agent to control I. multifiliis infections on blue tilapia, Oreochromis aureus, reared in a warm-water, experimental tank-based system is explored.
RESULTS: The free-swimming protomont stage of I. multifiliis demonstrated selective settlement behaviour towards biofilm-covered substrates. Following a controlled exposure, the number of I. multifiliis trophonts establishing on naive blue tilapia, O. aureus, was 4.9 ± 0.4 when reared with G. gibbiceps, significantly lower than when reared in isolation (13.3 ± 0.9; ANOVA, P less than 0.001).
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates for the first time the potential of G. gibbiceps as a biological control to reduce I. multifiliis on commercially valuable fish stocks in warm-water systems. This likely originated from the grazing activity of G. gibbiceps on the biofilm layer upon which the multiplicative stage of I. multifiliis was shown preferentially to settle. Therapeutic strategies against pathogenic protozoan species like I. multifiliis could greatly benefit from incorporating, where appropriate, a biological control targeting the external multiplicative life stages of the parasite, potentially reducing the current dependence on chemical interventions.