The potential of alternative lighting-systems to suppress pre-harvest sexual maturation of 1+ Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) post-smolts reared in commercial sea-cages



Leclercq E, Taylor J, Sprague M & Migaud H (2011) The potential of alternative lighting-systems to suppress pre-harvest sexual maturation of 1+ Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) post-smolts reared in commercial sea-cages. Aquacultural Engineering, 44 (2), pp. 35-47.

The aim of this study was to compare the efficiency of new candidate lighting-technologies (50W ‘blue’ light-emitting-diode (B, λmax = 465 nm); 232 W ‘green’ hot cathode, (G, λmax = 546 nm); 400 W ‘red’ tungsten-halogen, (R, λmax = 667 to 740 nm)) against a standard 400 W ‘white’ metal-halide used as control technology (C, broad spectrum) at suppressing sexual maturation of 1+ Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in sea-cages. A total of seven experimental set-ups were tested on a commercial-scale in three trials using a standardised photoperiod regime in the form of continuous artificial-light (LL) applied from winter to summer solstice during the second year at sea. The experimental stocks were raised under an ambient thermal regime that was similar across all trials. Technical performances (spectral output, light-attenuation and irradiance distance) of the individual light-units were measured and light-perception was assessed by quantifying plasma melatonin levels. Body-size parameters (BW, FL, K) were measured at the switch-on and turn-off of the photoperiod regimes. Maturation rates were estimated at the end of the light-treatments and at harvest. The B-unit provided the shortest effective irradiance distance (distance from the light-bulb to the minimum irradiance suppressing plasma melatonin to basal day-time level = 0.016 W m-2) but the longest relative to its energy consumption; while the G- and R-units did not offer a comparative advantage over the C-unit in that regard (B>C>G>R). Nocturnal plasma-melatonin and maturation rate decreased proportionally to the light-intensity provided using a range of technologies emitting distinct spectral profiles. Light-intensity rather than light-spectral composition appeared to be the prime parameter negatively affecting sexual maturation. Maximal suppression of maturation was observed in treatments depressing nocturnal plasma melatonin to a 1.2-fold but not to a 1.7-fold increase compared to daytime levels, confirming that a threshold level of light-irradiance is necessary to obtain the desired effect. Results suggest that this can be achieved under standard commercial practices by applying, over the photoperiod regime presently used, continuous artificial-illumination with an (electrical) energy consumption of 0.28 Wh m-3 generating a mean-irradiance of 0.012 W m-2 and providing a minimum volume of effective irradiance equivalent to 12% of the rearing-environment. Such a low volume of biologically effective irradiance was likely sufficient due to the strong photic attraction already reported in Atlantic salmon. Maximal suppression of pre-harvest sexual maturation can be achieved in the Atlantic salmon on-growing industry using alternative light-technologies. Present data provides methods and threshold values favouring the implementation of photoperiod-manipulation to suppress pre-harvest maturation at the most advantageous scale and cost.

Salmo salar; lighting-technology; light-intensity; sexual maturation; melatonin; Atlantic salmon; Photoperiodism; Fishes Growth

Aquacultural Engineering: Volume 44, Issue 2

Publication date31/03/2011
Publication date online21/12/2010
Date accepted by journal01/01/1990

People (2)


Professor Herve Migaud

Professor Herve Migaud

Honorary Professor, Institute of Aquaculture

Dr Matthew Sprague

Dr Matthew Sprague

Lecturer in Nutrition, Institute of Aquaculture