Developing Sustainable Cleaner Fish - A Lumpfish Conundrum

The use of cleaner fish such as lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) to control sea lice in aquaculture is rapidly emerging as an effective alternative to medicinal treatments. However lumpfish are a relatively new species to aquaculture and as a result, there still exists a number of knowledge gaps that need to be filled in order to develop sustainable lumpfish production.

Credit  Happy Come/Flickr  (CC BY 2.0)

Credit Happy Come/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

At the Aquaculture Canada and Coldwater Harvest 2016 Conference held in St John’s Newfoundland, Mr Paul Howes, aquaculture technical manager at Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) explained some of the research being done to bring lumpfish as a sea lice control into reality.


At CSAR research into lumpfish reproduction, sperm quality and female fecundity, as well as fertilization and egg survival is being carried out. One of the successes in this area is the use of extenders for lumpfish milt (seminal fluid).

Research from the group has demonstrated how milt extenders can be used to increase the optimal viability of milt, from 2 – 3 days up to 9 days. The benefit of this is that the number of males needed for the fertilization rates can be reduced by up to 80%. Other measures include the development of a sperm bank, reducing the research group’s dependence on wild lumpfish populations.

Further research is ongoing into developing standard operating procedures for egg collection...

This article was written for (and can be read in full at) The Fish Site