Parasitic infections of Piaractus mesopotamicus and hybrid (P. mesopotamicus xPiaractus brachypomus) cultured in Brazil

Infecções parasitárias de Piaractus mesopotamicuse do híbrido (P. mesopotamicus x Piaractus brachypomus) cultivados no Brasil

Lidiane Franceschini Aline Cristina Zago Sérgio Henrique Canello Schalch Fabiana Garcia Daiane Mompean Romera Reinaldo José da Silva About the authors

Abstracts

This study evaluated the occurrence of parasitic infections in the “pacu” fish Piaractus mesopotamicus and the “patinga” hybrid (P. mesopotamicus x Piaractus brachypomus) in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil. Fish from the following three fish farms were evaluated every two months: A, a hatchery and larviculture farm (n = 16 pacu / n = 19 patinga), B, a growout farm (n = 35 patinga) and C, a fee-fishing property (n = 28 pacu / n = 7 patinga). Thirty-five fish from each property were collected from February 2010 to February 2011 and subjected to parasitological analysis. The parasites found were the following:Mymarothecium viatorum, Anacanthorus penilabiatus, Notozothecium janauachensis (Dactylogyridae, Monogenea),Trichodina spp., Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, Chilodonella sp. (Protozoa), Myxobolus spp.,Henneguya spp. (Myxozoa), Rondonia rondoni, Contracaecum sp. (Nematoda), and Dolops carvalhoi(Crustacea). Of the fish examined, 62.9% from “A” and 100% from “B” and “C” were infested with at least one parasite species. Pacu fish (n = 44) showed a higher susceptibility to Anacanthorus penilabiatus infestations, whereas patinga (n = 61) were more susceptible to Mymarothecium viatorum (p < 0.05). Appropriate fish handling (nutrition, transport and storage), in conjunction with monitoring of water quality, can reduce the stress to which the farmed fish are exposed and is essential for pathogen control.

Handling; helminths; protozoans; storage control; water quality


Este estudo avaliou a ocorrência de infecções parasitárias em pacusPiaractus mesopotamicus e do híbrido patinga (P. mesopotamicus x P. brachypomus) procedentes da região Noroeste do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. Peixes de três pisciculturas foram avaliados bimestralmente: A - Reprodução e Larvicultura (n = 16 pacus / n = 19 patingas), B-Engorda n = 35 patingas), e C- Pesque-pague (n = 28 pacus / n = 7 patingas). Trinta e cinco peixes de cada propriedade foram coletados de fevereiro de 2010 a fevereiro de 2011, para análises parasitológicas. Os parasitas encontrados foram: Mymarothecium viatorum, Anacanthorus penilabiatus, Notozothecium janauachensis (Dactylogyridae, Monogenea), Trichodina spp., Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, Chilodonella sp. (Protozoa),Myxobolus spp., Henneguya spp. (Myxozoa),Rondonia rondoni, Contracaecum sp. (Nematoda), andDolops carvalhoi (Crustacea). Dentre os peixes analisados, 62,9% de “A” e 100% de “B” e “C” estavam infectados/infestados por pelo menos uma espécie de parasita. Pacus (n = 44) apresentaram maior suscetibilidade a infestações por Anacanthorus penilabiatus, e patingas (n = 61), por Mymarothecium viatorum (p < 0.05). A profilaxia e cuidados durante o manejo (alimentação, transporte e estocagem), associados ao monitoramento da qualidade de água reduzem o estresse o qual os peixes cultivados estão submetidos, sendo medidas imprescindíveis para o controle de patógenos.

Manejo; helmintos; protozoários; controle de estocagem; qualidade de água


Introduction

The significant increase in aquaculture in Brazil and around the world has increased the importance of studies of parasites and other pathogens of aquatic organisms, especially in those hosts that have the potential for production and sale (LUQUE, 2004Luque JL. Parasitologia de peixes marinhos na América do Sul: estado atual e perspectivas. In: Ranzani-Paiva MJT, Takemoto RM, Lizama MAP. Sanidade de organismos aquáticos. São Paulo: Varela; 2004. p. 199-215.). The monitoring of parasites and other fish pathogens is an important part of prophylactic management both for production and for public health, especially due to the zoonotic potential of some of these organisms (PAVANELLI et al., 2008).

Since the 1980s, Brazil has made great progress in the research and development of new growing techniques for fish, which have increased the number of species and strains of fish that can be reared in an aquaculture environment. For example, the fishes Piaractus mesopotamicus, popularly known as “pacu” (GENOVEZ et al., 2008Genovez LW, Pilarski F, Sakabe R, Marques MPA, Moraes FR. Controle biológico de Dolops carvalhoi (Crustacea: Branchiura) em juvenis de pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus). Bol Inst Pesca 2008; 34(1): 99-105.), and the “patinga” hybrid, which is the result of interspecific hybridisation between a female (F1) of P. mesopotamicus and male (M1) of Piaractus brachypomus, known as “pirapitinga”, are now both commonly cultured fish in Brazil. Interspecific hybridisation has been used in fish farms to produce animals with better performance than the parental species (hybrid vigour), including improvements in characteristics such as better meat quality, lower feed conversion ratio, rapid growth and resistance to pathogens. However, few studies have been carried out to determine whether hybrids have such desirable characteristics compared to the parental species, which may influence the choice of species in production.

Poor management practices and pathogen infections are important causes of economic losses in aquaculture (PAVANELLI et al., 2008; URBINATI et al., 2010Urbinati EC, Gonçalves FD, Takahashi LS. Pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus). In: Baldisserotto B, Gomes LC. Espécies nativas para piscicultura no Brasil. Santa Maria: UFSM; 2010. p. 205-244.). Parasitic infections are more relevant in the Neotropical region because of the climatic characteristics of this region, which facilitate the rapid and continuous propagation of these pathogens (THATCHER; BRITES-NETO, 1994Thatcher VE, Brites-Neto J. Diagnóstico, prevenção e tratamento das enfermidades de peixes neotropicais de água doce. Rev Bras Med Vet 1994; 16:111-128.). Data regarding the epidemiology of pathogens in the production chain of aquaculture fish are scarce, hampering the implementation of cultivation and management techniques that can reduce the need for disease control (OSTRENSKY; BOEGER, 1998Ostrensky A, Boeger W. Piscicultura: Fundamentos e técnicas de manejo. Guaíba: Agropecuária Ltda; 1998).

The aim of the present study was to evaluate the occurrence of parasitic infections in “pacu” fish and the “patinga” hybrid from three fish farms that represent different stages of the production chain in São Paulo State, Brazil.

Materials and Methods

Characterisation of fish farms

To evaluate parasite infection during each phase of pacu and patinga hybrid production, three fish farms were evaluated every two months. One farm was a hatchery, located in the municipality of Estrela d'Oeste (20° 16′ 17.26″ S 50° 23′ 30.24″ W), which produces larvae and juveniles of P. mesopotamicus, the patinga hybrid and “tambaqui” fish (Colossoma macropomum). The hatchery provides juveniles (20-30 g) for growout farms. Fish are stocked at a density of 0.4 kg/m2 in ponds with an area of 6,000 m2 and a depth of 2 m with continuous water flow. The second farm was a growout farm that is located in the municipality of Cosmorama (20° 27′ 59.70″ S 49° 46′ 06.65″ W) and provides fish (600-800 g) to fee-fishing farms. The patinga hybrid is the major species produced, followed by Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). The pond is 12,500 m2 in area and 3 m in depth and is supplied with a water flow rate of 5.10–3m3/s. Fish are stocked at a density of 1.2 kg/m2. The fee-fishing farm is located in in the municipality of Votuporanga (20° 24′ 30.31″ S 49° 58′ 05.33″ W). It contains a pond with different species and their hybrids, including “pacu”, the “patinga” hybrid, “piauçu” fish (Leporinus macrocephalus), and Nile tilapia, which are kept at an unknown density with nightly aeration. This pond has an area of 6,000 m2 and a depth of 2.8 m, and its water flow rate is 3.10–3 m3/s. There is no effective control of the stocking density due to the high marketing of the fish and the absence of harvesting to perform fallowing; however, the estimated density is approximately 1.7 kg/m2. The fishes are fed commercial diet once a week, and during the day, fishermen usually offer bait (corn, bran, etc.) to attract fish.

Parasitological procedures

Fish were collected between February 2010 and February 2011 in a total of seven bimonthly samples from each fish farm.

Five fish were collected bimonthly, totalling 105 fish (35 fish/fish farm), and were caught either with nets or with hook and line before being isolated and transported to the laboratory, where they were weighed (g), measured (cm), and analysed to verify the presence of cysts or ectoparasites on the body surface. For qualitative analysis of ciliate protozoa and myxosporidans, fish skin scrapes were performed using a glass slide, and the collected material was immediately examined under a light microscope (PAVANELLI et al., 2008). Imprints and smears of tissues from the kidney, liver and spleen were also made in order to assess the presence of myxosporidan spores.

After the skin scraping of the fish, gills were collected and fixed in alcohol for the later identification and counting of monogenoids. For the study of sclerotised structures of the haptor (anchor, bars, and hooks) and the copulatory complex and vagina, samples were clarified with Hoyer's and Gray and Wess's media (EIRAS et al., 2006Eiras CJ, Takemoto MR, Pavanelli GC. Métodos de estudo e técnicas laboratoriais em parasitologia de peixes. 2nd ed. Maringá: EdUEM; 2006.). All organs were analysed with a stereoscopic microscope. The collected nematodes were fixed in an alcohol-formaldehyde-acetic acid (AFA) solution, preserved in 70% ethyl alcohol, and were cleared with phenol for identification purposes (EIRAS et al., 2006Eiras CJ, Takemoto MR, Pavanelli GC. Métodos de estudo e técnicas laboratoriais em parasitologia de peixes. 2nd ed. Maringá: EdUEM; 2006.).

The identification of parasites was based primarily on Thatcher (2006)Thatcher VE. Aquatic Biodiversity in Latin America: Amazon Fish Parasites. Sofia, Bulgaria: Pensoft; 2006., Moravec (1998)Moravec F. Nematodes of freshwater fish of the Neotropical region. Czech Republic: Academia, Praha; 1998., and scientific articles. Morphological and morphometrical analyses were performed using a computerised system for image analysis with differential interference contrast (DIC) - LAS V3 (Leica Application Suite). Voucher helminth species were deposited in the Coleção Helmintológica (CHIBB) of the Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), municipality of Botucatu, São Paulo State, Brazil.

Water analysis of the fish ponds

Water samples were obtained bimonthly from each pond at the time of host collection. Physical and chemical parameters of the water, such as dissolved oxygen and temperature, were evaluated in situ using “YSY - Mod.50” multisensor equipment, and the transparency of the water was measured with a Secchi Disk. The pH, ammonia and nitrite concentrations were obtained using the colorimetric kit AlfaKit® and compared with parameters defined by Ostrensky and Boeger (1998)Ostrensky A, Boeger W. Piscicultura: Fundamentos e técnicas de manejo. Guaíba: Agropecuária Ltda; 1998 and Urbinati et al. (2010)Urbinati EC, Gonçalves FD, Takahashi LS. Pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus). In: Baldisserotto B, Gomes LC. Espécies nativas para piscicultura no Brasil. Santa Maria: UFSM; 2010. p. 205-244..

Data analysis

Prevalence (P), mean abundance (MA) and mean intensity of infection (MII) of parasites were calculated according to Bush et al. (1997)Bush AO, Lafferty KD, Lotz JM, Shostak AW. Parasitology meets ecology on its own terms: Margolis et al. revisited. J Parasitol 1997; 83(4): 575-583. PMid:9267395. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3284227de
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3284227de...
. Data from MII and MA are presented as the mean ± standard error followed by the range in parentheses.

The proportion of infected fish was compared to the totality ofP. mesopotamicus and the hybrid, regardless of the property sampled, using the proportion test (Z-test). The intensity of infection and abundance were compared using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney test (U-test) in accordance with the data distribution (non-normal).

Based on the data for standard length and total weight, the condition factor was calculated according to Le Cren (1951) and was then correlated with the parasite abundance of the fish from the three properties sampled using Spearmann's correlation test (rs) in accordance with the data distribution (p < 0.05). Statistical tests were performed using SigmaStat 3.1 (Systat Software Inc., California, USA).

Results

None of the fish collected showed clinical signs of parasitic infections (see PAVANELLI et al., 2008).

In the hatchery, we collected 16 P. mesopotamicus and 19 hybrid patinga. In the growout property, all 35 of the collected specimens were hybrids, and in the fee-fishing property, 28 P. mesopotamicus and seven hybrids were collected (Table 1).

Table 1.
Weight (g), standard length (cm) and total length (cm) of fish collected from three fish farms: hatchery and larviculture, growout and fee-fishing farms in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil. (Values expressed as the mean ± standard error).

During the parasitological analysis of fish from these three properties, we found the following parasites: Mymarothecium viatorum (CHIBB: 068L, 069L, 070L); Anacanthorus penilabiatus (CHIBB: 071L, 072L, 073L); Notozothecium janauachensis (CHIBB: 074L) (Dactylogyridae); third stage larvae (L3) of the anisakid nematode Contracaecum sp. (CHIBB 6986) and adults of the nematode Rondonia rondoni (CHIBB 6988); the ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis;Chilodonella sp.; Trichodina spp.; myxosporidans Henneguya spp. and Myxobolus spp.; and the branchiura crustacean Dolops carvalhoi (CHIBB 6987).

Of the fish analysed from the hatchery, 62.9% were parasitised with at least one parasite species. Considering all fish analysed from this property (n=35), the Dactylogyridae monogenoids were the most prevalent parasites (prevalence [P] = 51.4%), and A. penilabiatus (P = 64.3%) and M. viatorum (P = 35.7%) were the identified species. The prevalence of the other parasites was 37.1% for ciliate protozoans of the genusTrichodina (P = 37.1%) and 20.0% and 14.3% for myxosporidans of the genera Myxobolus and Henneguya, respectively. Only 2.9% of the analysed fish were infected with the protozoan ciliate I. multifiliis. The prevalence, mean intensity of infection and mean abundance of parasites observed in pacus and hybrids are shown separately in Table 2.

Table 2.
Mean values ± standard error of the prevalence (P), mean intensity of infection (MII), mean abundance (MA) and sites of infection of the parasites of Piaractus mesopotamicus (n=16) and the “patinga” hybrid (P. mesopotamicus x P. brachypomus) (n=19) from the hatchery and larviculture farm, in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil.

A higher intensity of infection with A. penilabiatus(41.4±15.6 [0.8-111.6] versus 2.1±0.6 [0.1-5.9]; p= 0.03) and a higher mean abundance of Trichodina spp. (133.3±96.9 [0-1498.0] versus 14.8±14.4 [0-275.0]; p = 0.04) were observed in P. mesopotamicus compared to hybrids from the hatchery. There was no significant difference with respect to the levels of parasitism of other parasite species when compared to the rates observed inP. mesopotamicus and the hybrid (Table 2).

In the growout system, 100.0% of hybrids were parasitised with at least one parasite species. The Dactylogyridae monogenoids were the most prevalent parasites (P = 100.0%). M. viatorum was found at the highest prevalence (P = 100.0%) and was followed by A. penilabiatus (P = 88.6%). Furthermore, the hybrid had a higher mean intensity of infection and mean abundance of M. viatorum (MII and MA = 261.0 ± 57.2 [1.0-1331.0]).Trichodina spp. also exhibited high prevalence and mean intensity of infection (P = 25.7%; MII = 22.9 ± 1.0 [1.0-94.0]) (Table 3).

Table 3.
Mean values ± standard error of the prevalence (P), mean intensity of infection (MII), mean abundance (MA) and site of infection of the parasites in the “patinga” hybrid (P. mesopotamicus xP. brachypomus) (n=35) from the growout farm in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil.

At the fee-fishing property, 100.0% of the collected fish were also parasitised by at least one parasite species. The most prevalent parasites in the total sample (n = 35) were Dactylogyridae monogenoids (P = 97.1%) with a high prevalence of M. viatorum (58.0%) and A. penilabiatus (41.9%). Other parasites found were N. janauachensis (P = 14.3%), the ciliate protozoanChilodonella sp. (P = 14.3%), and the crustacean D. carvalhoi (P = 3.6%). The pacu and hybrid results are shown separately in Table 4. The prevalence, mean intensity of infection and mean abundance of the pacu and patinga were not compared because the number of patinga collected was too low.

Table 4.
Mean values ± standard error of the prevalence (P), mean intensity of infection (MII), mean abundance (MA) and site of infection of the parasites of the Piaractus mesopotamicus (n=28) and “patinga” hybrid (P. mesopotamicus x P. brachypomus) (n=7) from the fee-fishing farm in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil.

Of the P. mesopotamicus analysed from the fee-fishing property (n = 28), A. penilabiatus and M. viatorumwere the most prevalent parasites. The prevalence of R. rondoni and third-stage larvae (L3) of the anisakid nematode Contracaecum sp. was also high. No larvae of Contracaecum sp. were found encysted in the musculature of the fish (Table 4).

No correlation was observed between parasite abundance and the condition of the fish in all properties (p > 0.05).

Considering all analysed P. mesopotamicus (n = 44) and hybrids (n = 61), regardless of the property from which they were sampled (Table 5), no difference was observed with respect to the prevalence of parasites that occur in common in the three properties (A. penilabiatus, M. viatorum, Trichodina spp., I. multifiliis, Henneguya spp., and Myxobolus spp.).Piaractus mesopotamicus had a higher mean intensity of infection by A. penilabiatus compared with the hybrid (p = 0.012) (Table 5). The reverse was observed for the mean intensity of infection (p = 0.005) and mean abundance (p = 0.002) of M. viatorum, which were significantly higher in the hybrids (Table 5). No influence of parasitism on the condition of either P. mesopotamicus or the hybrids was observed (p > 0.05).

Table 5.
Mean values ± standard error of prevalence (P), mean intensity of infection (MII) and mean abundance (MA) of the parasites found in common in Piaractus mesopotamicus (n=44) and the “patinga” hybrid (P. mesopotamicus x Piaractus brachypomus) (n=61) from the hatchery and larviculture, growout and fee-fishing farms in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil.

At all properties, the water quality was acceptable for tropical fish production on the sampling dates, with the exception of some observed variations in the water temperature, the concentration of ionised ammonia (NH4 +) and the nitrite level (Table 6).

Table 6.
Analysis of water quality in the samplings conducted between February 2010 and February 2011 at the hatchery and larviculture, growout and fee-fishing farms in the northwest of São Paulo State, Brazil. (Values expressed as the mean ± standard error).

Discussion

For the three properties studied, the fish presented a high prevalence of Dactylogyridae monogenoids, and the prevalence was particularly high in fish from the growout (P = 100.0%) and fee-fishing (P = 97.1%) properties. This finding may be associated with the fact that these parasites have a monoxenic cycle and reproduce quickly, especially in environments where there is a high density of hosts, facilitating their development cycle (PAVANELLI et al., 2008; TAKEMOTO et al., 2004Takemoto RM, Lizama MAP, Guidelli GM, Pavanelli GC. Parasitos de águas continentais. In: Ranzani-Paiva MJT, Takemoto RM, Lizama MAP. Sanidade de organismos aquáticos. São Paulo: Varela; 2004. p. 179-198.). The presence of ectoparasites in the ponds and cages of fish farms is also directly related to water quality and management practices (MORAES; MARTINS, 2004Moraes FR, Martins ML. Condições predisponentes e principais enfermidades de teleósteos em piscicultura intensiva. In: Cyrino JEP, Urbinati EC, Fracalossi DM, Castagnolli N. Tópicos especiais em piscicultura de água tropical intensiva. São Paulo: TecArt; 2004. p. 343-383.). Thus, the confinement of fish in ponds, cages and tanks favours the proliferation of these parasites and facilitates their spread primarily due to the proximity between hosts and the accumulation of organic matter, and this causes great economic losses (FLORES-CRESPO et al., 1992Flores-Crespo J, Velarde FI, Flores-Crespo R, Vazquez-Pelaez CG. Variacion estacional de Dactylogyrus sp. em dos unidades produtoras de tilapia del Estado de Morelos. Tec Pecu Mex 1992; 30: 109-118.; MARTINS et al., 2000Martins ML, Moraes FR, Fujimoto RY, Onaka EM, Nomura DT, Silva CAH, et al. Parasitic infections in cultivated brazilian freshwater fishes. A survey of diagnosticated cases from 1993 to 1998. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet 2000; 9(1): 23-28.)

In this study, P. mesopotamicus had higher rates of infestation with A. penilabiatus, while hybrids were infested more frequently with M. viatorum than A. penilabiatus, suggesting that these fish have a higher susceptibility to these monogenoids.Anacanthorus penilabiatus is a parasite that was previously reported in P. mesopotamicus, and M. viatorum was previously reported in P. brachypomus (BOEGER et al., 1995Boeger WA, Husak WS, Martins ML. Neotropical monogenoidea. 25. Anacanthorus penilabiatus (Dactylogyridea, Anacanthorinae) from Piaractus mesopotamicus (Osteichthyes, Serrasalmidae), cultivated in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 1995; 90(6): 699-701. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02761995000600008
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, 2002Boeger WA, Piasecki W, Sobecka E. Neotropical monogenoidea. 44. Mymarothecium viatorum sp. n. (Ancyrocephalinae) from the gills of Piaractus brachypomus (Serrasalmidae, Teleostei) captured in a warm-water canal of a Power Plant in Szczecin, Poland. Acta Ichthyol Piscat 2002; 32(2): 157-162.; PAMPLONA-BASILIO et al., 2001Pamplona-Basilio MC, Kohn A, Feitosa VA. New host records and description of the egg of Anacanthorus penilabiatus (Monogenea, Dactylogyridae). Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 2001; 96(5): 667-668. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02762001000500014
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; COHEN; KOHN, 2005Cohen SC, Kohn A. A new species of Mymarothecium and new host and geographical records for M. viatorum (Monogenea: Dactylogyridae), parasites of freshwater fishes in Brazil. Folia Parasitol 2005; 52(4): 307-310. PMid:16405294.). As the hybrid presented with a high infestation of M. viatorum only, it is possible that it has greater susceptibility to this monogenoid, the cause of which is unknown. Moreover, due to the monogenoid exhibiting specificity for the host species, confinement also favours the spread of these parasites, thus reinforcing the observations at the growout property.

Notozothecium janauachensis is a natural parasite of C. macropomum gills and has been described in specimens collected in Amazonas State, Brazil (BELMONT-JÉGU et al., 2004Belmont-Jégu E, Domingues MV, Martins ML. Notozothecium janauachensis n. sp. (Monogenoidea: Dactylogyridae) from wild and cultured tambaqui, Colossoma macropomum (Teleostei: Characidae: Serrasalminae) in Brazil. Zootaxa 2004; 736: 1-8.). This is the first occurrence of N. janauachensisin a patinga hybrid, and this finding may be related to the fact that fish from different species, including C. macropomum, are confined in the same pond, thus increasing the chances of erratic infestations. This fact may explain the low prevalence of this parasite in the sample. Moreover, fishes of the genera Colossoma and Piaractus are phylogenetically closely related (COHEN; KOHN, 2009Cohen SC, Kohn A. On Dactylogyridae (Monogenea) of four species of characid fishes from Brazil. Check List 2009; 5(2): 351-356.), which could facilitate monogenoid infestations of the same species.

With respect to infestations caused by ciliate protozoa, and trichodinids of the genus Trichodina specifically, infections were higher in the hatchery system (P = 37.1%). These protozoa have a monoxenic life cycle, which facilitates their transmission, especially in fish farms with a high stocking density.

On the sampling dates, all observed fish farms exhibited water of acceptable quality for the production of P. mesopotamicus, based on the conditions suggested by Ostrensky and Boeger (1998)Ostrensky A, Boeger W. Piscicultura: Fundamentos e técnicas de manejo. Guaíba: Agropecuária Ltda; 1998 and Urbinati et al. (2010)Urbinati EC, Gonçalves FD, Takahashi LS. Pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus). In: Baldisserotto B, Gomes LC. Espécies nativas para piscicultura no Brasil. Santa Maria: UFSM; 2010. p. 205-244.. However, the water parameters may change during the year because the renewal systems were limited in the sampled properties, which can influence variations in the water's physical-chemical characteristics, especially its transparency, temperature, nitrogen compound concentration (ammonia and nitrite) and dissolved oxygen. In addition, in the fee-fishing property, sanitary breaks are not performed regularly, favouring nutrient accumulation and an increase in the decomposition process at the bottom of the pond, as also observed by Lizama et al. (2007)Lizama MAP, Takemoto RM, Ranzani-Paiva MJT, Ayroza LMS, Pavanelli GC. Relação parasito-hospedeiro em peixes de pisciculturas da região de Assis, Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. 2. Piaractus mesopotamicus (Holmberg, 1887). Acta Sci Biol Sci 2007; 29(4): 437-445. http://dx.doi.org/10.4025/actascibiolsci.v29i4.888
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in fish farms in São Paulo State, Brazil. These alterations can contribute to an increase in parasitic diseases in fish farms.

The high density of fish observed in the growout and fee-fishing properties, which is related to the type of activity performed in these properties, also favours the accumulation of organic matter and nitrogen compounds in water. The supply of commercial foods in large quantities promotes the increased fertilisation of ponds and the accumulation of organic matter, which is often observed in growout (LIZAMA et al., 2007Lizama MAP, Takemoto RM, Ranzani-Paiva MJT, Ayroza LMS, Pavanelli GC. Relação parasito-hospedeiro em peixes de pisciculturas da região de Assis, Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. 2. Piaractus mesopotamicus (Holmberg, 1887). Acta Sci Biol Sci 2007; 29(4): 437-445. http://dx.doi.org/10.4025/actascibiolsci.v29i4.888
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) and fee-fishing systems where feed management is performed improperly, thus facilitating infections/infestations by pathogens. Interaction with fish from other species can cause stress, particularly to fish kept in captivity and in high stocking density (VAL et al., 2004Val AL, Silva MNP, Val VMFA. Estresse em peixes – ajustes fisiológicos e distúrbios orgânicos. In: Ranzani-Paiva MJT, Takemoto RM, Lizama MAP. Sanidade de organismos aquáticos. São Paulo: Varela; 2004. p. 75-88.). This contributes to the higher rates of parasitism observed in these properties.

Regarding the myxosporidans, P. mesopotamicus collected from the hatchery showed a higher prevalence of Henneguya spp. (P = 25.0%) and Myxobolus spp. (P = 18.7%) when compared with the results observed in samples from the other properties. Some species of fish parasites can affect a specific range of developmental periods (larvae/post-larval/juvenile/adult) more severely. In the case of the myxosporidans, infections usually occur during the juvenile stage, as these parasites live on the cartilaginous tissue, including cartilage close to the brain, causing lesions and destroying nerves in the brain related to motor coordination (PAVANELLI et al., 2008).

Under culture conditions, infections caused by myxosporidans can be facilitated by the accumulation of organic matter and the presence of intermediate hosts (oligochaetes) at the bottom of the ponds. Some species of myxosporidans have been described in P. mesopotamicus, such as Henneguya lutzi, Henneguya piaractus, Henneguya pellucida, Myxobolus colossomatis andMyxobolus cuneus (ADRIANO et al., 2006Adriano EA, Arana S, Cordeiro NS. Myxobolus cuneus n. sp. (Myxosporea) infecting the connective tissue of Piaractus mesopotamicus (Pisces: Characidae) in Brazil: Histopathology and Ultrastructure. Parasite 2006; 13(2): 137-142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/parasite/2006132137
http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/parasite/20061...
; EIRAS et al., 2008Eiras CJ, Takemoto RM, Pavanelli GC. Henneguya caudicula n. sp. (Myxozoa, Myxobolidae), a parasite of Leporinus lacustris (Osteichthyes, Anostomidae) from the High Paraná River, Brazil, with a revision of Henneguya spp. infecting South American Fish. Acta Protozool 2008; 47: 149-154.), but this is the first report of the occurrence of Henneguya sp. andMyxobolus sp. parasitising the patinga hybrid.

With respect to infections caused by nematodes in the fish of the fee-fishing property, the prevalence, mean intensity of infection and mean abundance of R. rondoni were considerably higher than those observed for theContracaecum sp. larvae, especially in P. mesopotamicus. Rondonia rondoni is a monoxen parasite (MORAVEC, 1998Moravec F. Nematodes of freshwater fish of the Neotropical region. Czech Republic: Academia, Praha; 1998.) and can occur at high levels of infection, but it does not seem to cause significant damage to its hosts at a histological level (MARTINS; URBINATI, 1993Martins ML, Urbinati EC. Rondonia rondoni Travassos, 1919 (Nematoda: Atractidae) parasite of Piaractus mesopotamicus Holmberg, 1887 (Osteichthyes: Characidae), in Brazil. Ars Vet 1993; 9(1): 75-81.). However, the high level of infection can lead to cases of intestinal obstruction, which can block the passage of food in the digestive tract (THATCHER, 2006Thatcher VE. Aquatic Biodiversity in Latin America: Amazon Fish Parasites. Sofia, Bulgaria: Pensoft; 2006.; PARRA et al., 1997Parra JEG, Brandão DA, Ceccarelli PS. Eficácia do fembendazole no controle de nematódeos de pacu Piaractus mesopotamicus (Holmberg, 1987). Cienc Rural 1997; 27(2): 297-299. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-84781997000200021
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-84781997...
). High levels of R. rondoniin P. mesopotamicus were also recorded by Kohn et al. (1985)Kohn A, Fernandes BMM, Macedo B, Abramson B. Helminths parasites of freshwater fishes from Pirassununga, SP, Brazil. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 1985; 80(3): 327-336. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02761985000300009
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02761985...
and Parra et al. (1997)Parra JEG, Brandão DA, Ceccarelli PS. Eficácia do fembendazole no controle de nematódeos de pacu Piaractus mesopotamicus (Holmberg, 1987). Cienc Rural 1997; 27(2): 297-299. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-84781997000200021
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-84781997...
.

The Anisakidae nematodes are parasites of aquatic organisms, such as fish, marine mammals and piscivorous birds. Adult nematodes of the genusContracaecum infect the intestines of piscivorous birds and marine mammals (MORAVEC, 1998Moravec F. Nematodes of freshwater fish of the Neotropical region. Czech Republic: Academia, Praha; 1998.). In fish, third stage larvae (L3) are located on visceral serosa and can migrate to muscles, where they encyst and, if ingested, are a potential risk to human health because they may cause a zoonotic disease known as anisakiasis (TAVARES; LUQUE, 2006). The transmission of this disease is associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked fish meat containing third stage larvae of these parasites (the infective form) (TAVARES; LUQUE, 2006; THATCHER, 2006Thatcher VE. Aquatic Biodiversity in Latin America: Amazon Fish Parasites. Sofia, Bulgaria: Pensoft; 2006.).

In the present study, larvae of Contracaecum sp. were not found encysted in the analysed fish muscles. This finding is relevant in view of the importance of this species in commercial fishing, and these fish were collected in an establishment that sells fish meat. On the fee-fishing property, where these larvae were found, regular fallowing is not performed. A sanitary break, followed by sanitisation using products such as lime, is one of the most effective ways to eliminate and control eggs, cysts, larvae and adults of parasites that may be present in the environment and to control the populations of some intermediate hosts, such as gastropods, annelids, insects and copepods (ROJAS, 2006Rojas NET. Manejo da qualidade da água em viveiros de piscicultura continental. In: Silva-Souza AT. Sanidade de organismos aquáticos no Brasil. Maringá: Abrapoa; 2006. p. 63-76.). In addition, the presence of piscivorous birds around the pond allows the entry of new pathogens into the production system, especially endoparasites, which can complete their life cycle (LIZAMA et al., 2007Lizama MAP, Takemoto RM, Ranzani-Paiva MJT, Ayroza LMS, Pavanelli GC. Relação parasito-hospedeiro em peixes de pisciculturas da região de Assis, Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. 2. Piaractus mesopotamicus (Holmberg, 1887). Acta Sci Biol Sci 2007; 29(4): 437-445. http://dx.doi.org/10.4025/actascibiolsci.v29i4.888
http://dx.doi.org/10.4025/actascibiolsci...
). Thus, the use of protective screens around the ponds is an important measure for the prevention of this disease.

In this study, P. mesopotamicus and the patinga hybrid are described as new hosts for the third stage larvae ofContracaecum sp., thus widening the knowledge of the parasite-host relationship and geographic distribution of these helminth species. Some of the parasites were observed in all three farms sampled (A. penilabiatus, M. viatorum, Trichodina spp., I. multifiliis, Henneguya spp. and Myxobolus spp.), indicating epidemiological factors due to the transport of fish between the properties that form the production chain. The transport of fish between fish farms can act as a disseminator of agents with pathogenic potential (MARTINS et al., 2002Martins ML, Onaka OM, Moraes FR, Bozzo FR, Paiva AMFC, Gonçalves A. Recent studies on parasitic infections of freshwater cultivated fish in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Acta Sci Animal Sci 2002; 24(4): 981-985.). Moreover, it also acts as a stressful element, as the animals might be exposed to water with low oxygen or high ammonia concentrations and changes in temperature and pH, which predispose the fish to various infectious and parasitic diseases (MARTINS et al., 2002Martins ML, Onaka OM, Moraes FR, Bozzo FR, Paiva AMFC, Gonçalves A. Recent studies on parasitic infections of freshwater cultivated fish in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Acta Sci Animal Sci 2002; 24(4): 981-985.).

Despite the scarcity of data on the epidemiology of fish in the production chain, it is known that prophylactic management, which involves regular disinfection of ponds, disinfection of fish (eggs, juveniles and adults), sterilisation of instruments, quarantine, transport in controlled conditions, therapeutic baths, stocking controls associated with the monitoring of water quality in ponds and tanks of fish farms, and the training of fish farm workers regarding the importance of better handling practices, are essential measures to control pathogens. In the present study, the high stocking density observed in the growout and fee-fishing properties had a large influence on the rates of parasitism. In addition, in the fee-fishing property, the coexistence of different species of fish in the same pond influenced the rates of parasitism, as did the non-regular disinfection of ponds, which increased the contamination of the site with eggs and larvae of parasites and contributed to the presence of organisms that serve as intermediate hosts for parasites with heteroxenous life cycles (i.e., oligochaetes, molluscs, crustaceans, etc.).

The authors would like to thank CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) and FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) (Process: 2010/01417-4) for financial and scientific support and M.Sc. scholarships granted; and CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) (process: 577649/2008-6) for financial support. We are grateful to Katia Suemi Gozi, Pedro Guilherme Panin Candeira, and Fernando Stopato da Fonseca for logistical support during the collections and to Prof. Dr. Maurício Laterça Martins and researcher Dr. Eduardo Makoto Onaka for the review of the manuscript.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    Jul-Sep 2013

History

  • Received
    7 May 2013
  • Accepted
    10 July 2013
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