Capsaicin Effects on Growth and Health of Tilapia, Oreochromis Niloticus and Coho Salmon, Oncorhynckus Kisutch

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

Proceedings of the Aquaculture America 2013 - the Annual Conference of the World Aquaculture Society

Conference Location

Nashville, TN


In aquaculture, stress has been linked to a reduction in yield and a decrease in the ability of the organism to mount an immune response to infection. The use of synthetic drugs to counter the effects of stress has been common practice for decades. In recent years we have become aware of the outcome of repeated pharmaceutical application. Increased tolerances in target organisms have led to the use of increasing amounts or substitute products, and disease resistance has led to the realization that antibiotic use proactively selects for better pathogens.

Natural nutraceuticals have been used by mankind for centuries. The active components of many of these herbal remedies and the defined effects are still a mystery. Mustafa et al. have analyzed several natural substances including garlic, Kudzu, turmeric and genstein using the fish model in order to determine the effects of these products on the immune response and subsequent growth.

Capsaicin is the active ingredient of the chili pepper and has been the focus of numerous studies over several decades. In this study, natural capsaicin was supplemented to the basal diet of tilapia and Coho salmon in order to determine its effects on both growth and stress response. The effects of the two diets were compared in both chronically stressed and unstressed fish. The study took place over an 8 week period and samples from each group were taken bi-weekly. Growth rate, condition factor, blood hematocrit, plasma glucose, spleen weight, spleen somatic index and the phagocytic capacity of macrophages were analyzed. In a previously published paper entitled EFFECTS OF INDIAN HERBS ON THE MODULATION OF STRESS AND IMMUNE RESPONSE IN TILAPIA by Mustafa et al. the data indicated that the supplemental dosage of capsaicin was sufficient in reducing the stress response without effecting growth. It can be assessed from this previous study that capsaicin can be safely used to combat the effects of stress for short durations in an aquaculture system.



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