Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 53-73

First online:

Antibacterial Agents in Mediterranean Finfish Farming: A Synopsis of Drug Pharmacokinetics in Important Euryhaline Fish Species and Possible Environmental Implications

  • G. RigosAffiliated withLaboratory of Fish Nutrition and Pathology, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research Email author 
  • , G. M. TroisiAffiliated withEnvironmental Monitoring Unit, School of Engineering, Brunel University

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The literature pertaining to the use of registered antibacterial agents in Mediterranean finfish farming is reviewed, with an emphasis on the Greek fish-farming industry. This review provides a scientific resource dedicated to the design of future antibacterial dosing regimes in Mediterranean fish farming, where insufficient supporting information is currently available. This paper addresses the paucity in knowledge concerning pharmacokinetics and the efficacy and environmental impact of commonly used antibacterials needed to direct future research and promote good practices in the euryhaline fish farming industry. Several registered antibacterials are currently available for combating bacterial infections, including tetracyclines, (fluoro) quinolones, potentiated sulfa, penicillin and chloramphenicol derivatives. Based on the available data, oxytetracycline (OTC) and quinolone drugs (oxolinic acid – OA and flumequine – FLU) are the most widely used in Mediterranean aquaculture. As a result these drugs have received the most extensive studies, whereas, there is considerable paucity of reliable data on pharmacokinetic and the depletion characteristics of other drugs used, particularly potentiated sulfa, penicillin derivatives and florfenicol. We find there is incomplete data on drug efficacy and minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) for common antibacterials used against the major bacterial pathogens of Mediterranean fish species. Furthermore, a considerable lack of data on environmental drug concentrations around Mediterranean fish farms was also identified, highlighting the need for more extensive environmental studies to monitor contamination in environmental components i.e., water and sediment, and in non-target species (flora and fauna). Prudent selection and use of antibacterials can encourage lower dosage applications, enhance treatment efficacy, and help to minimize contamination of the environment. Selection of readily bioavailable drugs which have low environmental persistence, low aquatic toxicity and high antibacterial efficacy is advised, to reduce potential losses to the environment and associated toxic effects on target species and the development of bacterial resistance. Lack of present data made it impossible to provide thorough and accurate guidance on selection and use of antibacterials and approaches for minimizing environmental impacts for the treatment of major euryhaline aquaculture species.


antibacterial agents environmental implications euryhaline fish farming pharmacokinetics Mediterranean aquaculture