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November | December 2013 Herbal medicine in aquaculture

International Aquafeed is published six times a year by Perendale Publishers Ltd of the United Kingdom. All data is published in good faith, based on information received, and while every care is taken to prevent inaccuracies, the publishers accept no liability for any errors or omissions or for the consequences of action taken on the basis of information published. ©Copyright 2013 Perendale Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner. Printed by Perendale Publishers Ltd. ISSN: 1464-0058

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Herbal medicine in aquaculture
by Dr Sagiv Kolkovski, R&D Director, Nutra-Kol, Australia ith the continued expansion of cultured fish and shellfish species, aquaculture has become a key component of the animal health industry. Aquaculture is the fastest growing industry around the world with around 80 million tonnes produced annually. With an average annual growth rate of 7 percent, more then 60 percent of the global seafood is currently supplied from aquaculture. However, this growth is not without its problems, as demonstrated by the latest outbreak of Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) in the shrimp industry, sea lice in the salmon industry and an array of other diseases.


to antibiotic or other chemotherapeutics residues are an almost daily occurrence, and yet there is currently no alternative solution to antibiotics and other chemotherapeutics. During the past decade, several outbreaks of disease devastated the aquaculture industry around the world. In the past three years, the Southeast Asian and Mexican shrimp industries were affected by EMS outbreaks. The Chilean salmon industry suffered (and still does) a devastating outbreaks of sea lice and the infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) virus, causing losses of hundred of millions of dollars. These outbreaks drove the authorities to review and revise the use of chemotherapeutics in this industry.

larvae susceptibility and low immune system development. In fact, this situation is true to most marine and freshwater organisms reared in intensive systems. Although banned in most countries, in many cases antibiotics are used to combat this problem, whether as growth promoters or specifically against bacterial infection (Hernández Serrano, 2005).

Alternative therapy
Phytotherapy (the use of herbal extracts in human medicine) has been known for thousands of years. In China, India, Southeast Asia and some countries in South and Central America, phytotherapy is considered mainstream, while in the West naturopathy and herbal medicine are becoming more and more acknowledged. Different medicinal plants and herbs, and/ or combinations of them, are known to have various health benefits, including antibacterial and antifungal properties, hormonal balancing and support for the immune and digestive systems. The world market for herbal medicine has been estimated to have an annual growth rate between 5 and 15 percent, with an estimated value of US$62 billion (Citarasu, 2009). Strategies for prophylaxis and control of pathogens include improvement of environmental conditions, stocking of specific pathogen free (SPF) shrimp post-larvae, and enhancement of disease resistance with immunostimulants such as glucans. Immunostimulants are substances that enhance the non-specific defence mechanism and provide resistance against pathogenic organisms (Citarasu et al., 2006). Many plant-derived compounds have been found to have non-specific immunostimulating effects in animals, of which more than a dozen have been evaluated in fish and shrimp (Citarasu et al. 2002, 2006, Sakai, 1999). Many herbs and plants have been used as home remedies in cultures around the world for millennia, for human and animal consumption. Some of these remedies have potent

Disease in aquaculture
Due to the intensification of rearing methods and systems, diseases and pathogens have been an integral part of, and a formidable obstacle to, the aquaculture industry worldwide. Moreover, antibiotic resistance has become a major issue affecting the aquaculture industry. Already in 1994, the American Society of Microbiology stated that ‘the increasing problems associated with infectious diseases in fish, the limited number of drugs available for treatment and prevention of these diseases, and the rapid increase in resistance to these antibiotics represent major challenges for this source of food production worldwide’ (ASM 1994). Currently, almost every sector of the aquaculture industry, from fish to crustaceans and shellfish, is using some sort of chemotherapeutic agents including antibiotics and many other chemicals. Although the use of drugs such as Fluoroquinolones, Nitrofurans, Chloramphenicol are prohibted in many countries, the use of these these drugs is still a common practice. Banning and rejection of seafood imported to the United States or EU countries due

Misuse of antibiotics
This misuse of antibiotics in all areas – human medicine, veterinary medicine, animal production and plant protection – led the FAO to write a 2005 paper, ‘The responsible use of antibiotics in aquaculture’, to raise awareness of the antibiotic resistance problem in fish farming and related sectors. The document focuses on antibiotics misuse and the concomitant threat of resistance development, which is seen as a public health concern affecting the population worldwide. In its opening statement the authors remarked: ‘Antibiotic resistance as a phenomenon is, in itself, not surprising. Nor is it new. It is however, newly worrying because it is accumulating and accelerating, while the world’s tools for combating it decrease in power and number.’ Diseases and pathogens are part of all intensive farming. In aquaculture a ‘natural mortality’ of 10-25 percent is considered to be normal in grow-out systems. Marine finfish larvae (such as sea bream, sea bass, yellowtail kingfish etc) survival in intensive hatcheries is 5-40 percent (Kolkovski, personal comment). These low survival rates are usually the result of combined factors, such as environmental conditions, non-specific pathogens,

34 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | November-December 2013

Table 6:annual Wheat production flour The of olive oil is esti- tional feeds and hence food. OP Table 1: Chemical composition of olive pomace (OP) and is now used in several agricultural mated to be at least 2.9 million tonnes with Wheat flour withAfla ZEN DON FUM OTA Table 1. Plants and herbs antibacterial effects in aquaculture Co-occurance fish oil (FO) diet (% wet weight) (Nasopoulou et al., 2013a) some 15 million tonnes of OMW being pro- and aquacultural applications with Biological effects in Ingredient OP diet FO diet * Botanical name Family countries, Useful The parts Reference Number ofMediterranean tests 172 341 Distribution 434 189 186 promising results. novelty of aquaculture duced annually. In is that we the production of olives has been part our Percentage of positive (%) 5 a major 31 70 approach 10 though 13 are not only interested in produc- Crude protein of the agricultural produce of these countries 44.95 ± 1.3 46 ± 4.3 Average (µg/kg) 0 38 842 33 0 Antibacterial amd ing (novel) fish but also for many decades (if not centuries). For every Daemia extenas Asclepiadeae Sivaram 19.4 et al., 2004; Jinish, 2012 India Leaves and roots we are Fat ± 1.7 21 ± 2.1 immunostimulant Maximum (µg/kg) 11.1 2,991 12,000 2,273 30 100 kg of olives, 35 kg of OP are produced; it assessing the nutritional value of Moisture ± 0.6 Psoralea corylifolia Papilionaceae Citarasu 8.6 et al., 2003 b 9.1 ± 1.3 this (novel) fish Seeds in terms of cardio- Antibacterial could, thus, be suggested that the production India † Table Adathoda 7: Rice bran 1.8 ± 2005 0.3† Dietary fibre 5.2 ± 0.3 vasica Citarasu et al., 2001 Minimol, Acanthaceae Whole plant protection, aiming, ultimately, in Antibacterial of OMW and OP are sustainable and the India Rice bran Afla type of ZEN DON and FUM OTA Co-occurance Ash ± 8.3 ± 1.4 creating patenting novel func- Antibacterial availability of OP for useEuphorbiaceae in any feed India Acalypha indica Citarasu 6.0 et al ., 0.9 1999 Whole plant 21.8 ± 2.1 23 ± 2.6 production and thus aquaculture should be tional fish feeds, fish and health Energy (MJ/Kg) Direkbusarakom, Andrographis 2004; Citarasu et Number of tests Acanthaceae 22 22 21 22 India22 Whole plant Antibacterial supplements. straightforward. OP is not expensive ( € 0.1paniculata , 2003b; Protein digestibility al. (%) 89 Rani, ± 4.4 1999; Jinish, 90 ± 2002 6.2 Percentage of positive (%) 45 41 18 24 32 In detail, Whole two diets 0.2/kg), it is thus a price-competitive raw Azadirachta indica et al. , 2004 Meliaceae India, Burma planthave been Antibacterial Vitamin A (IU/Kg) Sivaram 7 000 ± 210† 20 000 ± 410† Average (µg/kg) 1.5 56 128.2 181 one being the1.3 commercial ingredient compared to other vegetable oils. compared: Vitamin D (IU/Kg) Shagnliang 3 150 110 et ± al., 1990 3 000 ± 120 Japan Whole Antibacterial, Antiviral Maximum (µg/kg) 61 165India, one 648for gilthead 220 1.7 (Sparus seaplant bream This Artemisaia cost linkedvulgaris to the fact Compositae that 4 to 8 percent † 258 ± 19† 180 ±17 of OP is needed to be included in the fish aurata) called fish oil diet (FO diet) Vitamin E (mg/Kg) Elephentopus scaber Alex Rajan, 2002 Compositae India, Bengal Roots and leaves Antibacterial † developed and shrimp. or even higher levels K3 aquaculture farms to † miniindicated that processed products are increasVitamin (mg/Kg) 10 must ± 0.7be 33 ± 7.3 and the novel one Similar where OP (8 perfeed formulation make OP as a promising lipid trout Citarasu et al., 1998of b; mycotoxins Alex Rajan, on were found in several ingredients. 60 ppb of mize the negative impact ing the risk of mycotoxin contamination in the cent w/w at the final pellet) has been source for aquaculture. Ixora coccinea Rubiaceae India Root Antibacterial Vitamin C (mg/Kg)2002 200 ± 20 168 ± 14 most fish asthe trout, panga- the performance and health of exposed fish. feeds. Afla, the ZEN and OTA higher used in (OP diet). In species our first such part of Finally, problem of presented transferring OP Afla Cu (mg/Kg) 7.5 ± 1.1 7.0 ± 1.1 Citarasuthe et al., Immanuel et sius, tilapia, shrimp, catfish, European seabass Moreover, risk1998; for consumers needs contaminations percent, 19 percent, and work, the total lipids of sea bream fed Antibacterial from Mediterranean countries to northern Leucus (18 aspera Labiatae Southern India Whole plant *Data of FO diet from al.,2004b; Jinish, previous study2002 a risk of low to medium. † to be addressed as mycotoxin residues were 26 percent, in soybean meal. with OP diet contained statistically Europe or respectively) to other places of the world represents Statistically significant according to Wilcox on test Melia azedarach Citarasu et al., 2001 Meliaceae Whole Plantacids, while Antibacterial found in fish muscle beyond acceptable levels. In regards to wheat flour, ZEN and decreased levels of fatty could be rationalised by extracting theDON polar India Murraya koenji Sivaram et al., Rutaceae Leaves Antibacterial that, further research needed in this were most prevalent mycotoxins with 31 India Conclusion experiments, the OP2004 diet is and FO diet (i.e. exhibited the most potent biological activity For lipids the of OP that they are the active feed and of course, an effective mycotoxins percent and 70 percent of positive samples The platelet available studies on the by effects of topic pellets) have been analysed for a number aggregation induced platelet components and therefore reducing the against Direkbusarakom, 2004; Citarasu et Antibacterial antiviral, Ocimum sanctum al., 1998a; Rani, 1999; Praseetha, Labiatae Whole Plant management must be taken into account. and average levels of 38 needs ppb and 842transppb, India mycotoxins in fish andIn shrimp show that of nutritional parameters and the results are activating factor (PAF). other words, the risk volume of material that to be anti stress 2005 References available request respectively. performance andhad health status are nega- given in Table 1 (Nasopoulou et upon al., 2013a). OP-fed sea bream stronger cardioprotective ported (Nasopoulou and Zabetakis, 2013). Finally, rice bran was mostly contaminated tively affected. The analysed Greece, Asia, Values are means of three individual measproperties when compared toconcentrations the FO-fed one.of Quercus infectoria Citarasu et al., 1999 Cupuliferae Galls and Bark Antibacterial Syria with Afla, ZEN and OTA testing positive mycotoxins in feed ingredients used in aquaurements; results are expressed as mean ± These data have suggested that OP could OP-enriched fish feeds and fish at 45 percent, 41 percent and 32 percent, feeds, shows the importance of management M ORE I NFORMATION : SD (95% confidence limits); data of FO diet be used as a partial substitute of fish oil in fish The research focus in our group has Solanum surattense Sivaram et al., 2004 Fruits and Roots protective Antibacterial respectively. Levels 100 Solanaceae ppb of exploitation DON have India strategies for theits mycotoxins problem. from our previous work and are given feed improving cardio proper- areWebsite: been towards the of commercial www.biomin.net been reported to to cause harmful effects in tiesThe awareness of in here to enable easy comparison; † indicates (Nasopoulou et mycotoxin al., 2011).problems In further of OP in order produce novel func-

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Table 2: Plants and herbs with antiviral effects in aquaculture

Botanical name



Useful parts

Biological effect in aquaculture Antibacterial and antiviral Antibacterial and immunostimulant Antibacterial and antiviral Antibacterial and immunostimulant Antiviral Antiviral Antiviral Antiviral Antiviral Antiviral Antiviral Antiviral and antibacterial Antiviral and antibacterial Antiviral and immunostimulant


Oenothera biennis Solanum trilobatum Stellaria aquatica Acorus calamus Cassia alata Calophyllum inophyllum Tinospora crispa Momordica charantina Phyllanthus niruri Phyllanthus urinaria Psidium guajava Ocimum basilicum Tephrosia purpurea Tinospora cordifolia

Onagraceae Solanaceae Caryophyllaceae Aroideae Caesalpiniaceae Guttiferae Menispermaceae Cucurbitaceae Euphorbiaceae Euphorbiaceae Myrtaceae Labiatae Papilionaceae Menispermaceae

Japan, Eastern N. America, UK India Japan India, Burma Tropics Sea coast of India Tropical, Subtropical India India India, Sri Lanka India, USA India, Bengal India Southern India Southern India

Seeds, flowers and root Whole plant Whole plant Rhizome Leaves Bark, leaves and seed Root and leaves Fruits, seeds and leaves Whole plant Whole plant Bark, fruit and leaves Whole plant Leaves and root Leaves and stem

Shangliang et al., 1990 Citarasu et al., 2003b Shangliang et al., 1990 Magdelin, 2005; Minomol, 2005; Praseetha, 2005 Direkbusarakom, 2004 Direkbusarakom, 2004 Direkbusarakom, 2004 Direkbusarakom, 2004 Rani, 1999; Direkbusarakom, 2004; Immanuel et al., 2004b Direkbusarakom, 2004 Direkbusarakom, 2004; Anita, 2001 Direkbusarakom, 2004; Citarasu et al., 2001 Direkbusarakom, 2004; Rani, 1999 Citarasu et al., 1998a; Direkbusarakom, 2004; Jinish, 2002

antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects. Natural plant products have been reported to have various other properties making them useful as anti-stressors, growth promoters, appetizers, tonics and immunostimulants. Moreover, these substances also possess other valuable properties: they are non-toxic, biodegradable and biocompatible. No herbalresistance immunity has been found by any pathogen to date. Although the properties of herbs and plants are well known, documented, and in use in human medicine around the world, currently very few commercial remedies exist for use in large-scale aquaculture.

Medicinal plants in aquaculture
It is well known and documented that medicinal plants have strong antibacterial effects. Phenolics, polysaccharides, proteoglycans and flavonoids are known to play an important role in preventing and controlling bacterial infections. Herbs such as S. triblobatum, A. paniculata and P. corylifolia were found to reduce vibrio in P. monodon by a third when

supplied in enriched Artemia (Citrasu et al. 2002, 2009). Several plant products have been found to have potent antiviral effects against fish and shrimp viruses. For example, Direkbusarakom et al. 1996 found that shrimp fed ethanol extract of Clinacanthus nutans had 95 percent survival rates when exposed to yellow head virus (YHV), compared to only 25 percent survival in control group of black tiger shrimp. Several species of Indian herbs and plants such as A. marmelos, C. dactylon, L. camara, M. charantia and P. amarus showed strong antiviral activity against white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) when extracted with organic solvents such as ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate, methanol and ethanol. Many other studies have been published looking at the antibacterial and antiviral effect of herbal extracts with different species (see Table 1). Herbal extracts are also known to have antifungal and antiparasitic properties. Adiguzel et al. (2005) controlled infection of Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium oxyspoum with extract of O. basilicum. A novel anti-fungal

molecule, was isolated from the plant Datura metel L. (Dabur, 2004). This molecule was shown to have anti-Aspergillus properties, as well as acting against 10 clinical isolates of Candida, 19 clinical isolates of Aspergillus and a few marine fungi. The herbal extracts involve the fungal cell wall lysis, altering the permeability, affecting the metabolism and RNA and protein synthesis, and ultimately leading to death (Citarasu, 2009). Herbal extracts have been used for centuries against internal and external parasites in humans, through direct effect on the parasite and/or by strengthening the immune system. For example, garlic was used against skin parasites, with sweat containing the garlic’s active ingredients acting as a repellent. Similarly, a mix of herbal extracts added to fish feed assists with gill and skin flukes such as Benedenia seriolae. It is assumed that the mucus on the fish skin containing the herbal active ingredients acts as repellent, and reduces parasitic infection.

36 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | November-December 2013


Table 3: Plants and herbs used as growth promoters and immunostimulants in aquaculture

Botanical name



Useful parts

Biological effects in aquaculture Growth promoter Growth promoter and immunostimulant Growth promoter Growth promoter Growth promoter and appetizer Growth promoter and appetizer Hepeto tonic, immunostimulant and antistress Hepeto tonic, immunostimulant, antiviral and antistress Immunostimulant and antibacterial Immunostimulant and antibacterial Immunostimulant Immunostimulant Immunostimulant Immunostimulant Immunostimulant and antistress Immunostimulant and growth promoter

Hygrophila spinosa Ipomea digitata Solanum nigrum Terminaelia arjuna Boerhaevia diffusa

Acanthaceae Convolvulaceae Solanaceae Combretaceae Nyctaginaceae

India, Sri Lanka Hotter part of India India India, Burma, Sri Lanka India, Tibet

Whole plant Root Berries Bark Leaf and root Fruit Whole plant

Herbal compounds have Carica papaya Caricaceae India the ability to inhibit the generation of oxygen anions Eclipta erecta Compositae India and scavenge free radicals, hance reducing stress effects. Herbal antioxidant effects Eclipta alba Compositae India were demonstrated by Citrasu et al. (2006) when P. Cymodon dactycon Gramineae India kurroa (picrorhiza) was used as an antistress compound Emblica officinalis Euphorbiaceae India for black tiger shrimp. Other herbs including Astragalus Europe, Turkey, Urtica dioica Urticaceae membranaceus, Portulaca olerIndia acea, Flavescent ophora and Vernonia cinera Compositae India A. paniculata are known to India, have specific and non-specific Viscum album Loranthaceae Himalayas, antistress effects. Turkey Medicinal plants are also India, China, Zingiber officinale Scitaminaceae known to have hormonal Bengal boosting effects with some herbs being used in herbal Picrorrhiza kurvooa Scrophulariaceae India medicine as natural ‘viagra’ and in hormonal replaceWithania somnifera Solanaceae India ment therapy for menopausal woman. Significant increases in fecundity and gonadal weight Issues and reduced intermoult period in P. monodon Although herbal remedies have been used were observed when the shrimp were fed in human therapy for millennia, there has a maturation diet containing W. somnifera, been relatively little research into the use of Mucuna pruita, Ferula asafoetida and Piper medicinal plants in aquaculture. longum extracts (Babu, 1999). Standardisation is an issue when the whole Currently, several hatcheries around plant or herb is used during the extraction procthe world are using the herbal extract mix ess. Moreover, in many countries including the NutraBrood Enhance specifically designed to United States, Australia and the EU, the same boost and modulate the hormonal system herbal and plant extracts approved for use in in aquatic animals. The herbal extracts are human naturopathy and herbal medicine are used with out-of-season broodstock and/or treated as drugs when used in aquaculture. species with fertilization and gonadal developThis means herbal remedies have to be ment problems such as groupers (low sperm registered, a process that can take years, motility and volume) and many other species and costing hundreds of thousands or even (Table 2). millions of dollars. A review of this legislation Another commercial semi-moist matura- needs to be carried out, taking into account tion diet, NutraFeed, that included herbal the benefits of herbal remedies over currently extracts was fed to P. vanamei, resulting in a used chemotherapeutic agents. more than 40 percent increase in total nauplii Herbal extracts can be used not only produced, with a 44 percent reduction in as remedies, but even moreso as growth mortality compared to the normal fresh feed promoters, stress resistance boosters and preand nutritional boosters used (Kolkovski et ventatives for infections. Therefore, the use of al., 2013). Similar results were found with the herbal extracts as feed additives can significantly Black tiger prawn P. monodon (Kolkovski et benefit any organism reared under intensive al., 2010). conditions. Legislation needs to be reviewed

Whole plant Leaf and root stalk Whole plant Whole plant Whole plant Berries and leaves Rhizome Rhizome Root

and the use of herbal extracts as feed additives allowed.

The development of drug-resistant pathogens has been reported from all areas of aquaculture. Treating microbial infections in fish and crustaceans involves dissolving high quantities of broad-spectrum chemotherapeutic agents in the culture medium, or supplying it in the food. Most of these antibiotics and drugs are now banned for use in the EU, United States and many other countries. Natural plant products present a viable alternative to antibiotics and other banned drugs, being safer for the reared organism and humans, as well as for the environment. Authorities should review the current legislation regarding the use of herbal and natural remedies in aquaculture, taking the above issues into consideration and allowing more flexibility in the use of herbal medicine in aquaculture. MORE INFORMATION:
Website: www.nutrakol.com

November-December 2013 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | 37

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