Aquaculture International

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1599–1612 | Cite as

Effects of stocking density on stress response, innate immune parameters, and welfare of turbot (Scophthalmus maximus)

  • Baoliang LiuEmail author
  • Fan Fei
  • Xiaotian Li
  • Xinyi Wang
  • Bin HuangEmail author


This experiment was conducted to investigate the growth performance, stress and immune responses, and welfare of juvenile turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) under three different densities (initial density 9.3, 13.6, and 19.1 kg m−2) for 120 days in a recirculating aquaculture system. Turbot were measured every 20 days to evaluate growth biometrically and sampled every month to measure biochemical parameters and mRNA levels of some stress-related genes. No significant differences were detected in the parameters and gene expression among density groups until the final sampling, except Fulton’s condition factor, lysozyme, immunoglobulin M, and complement C3. At the end of the experiment (final density 26.11, 38.22, and 52.25 kg m−2), turbot reared in the high-density (HD) group had lower body mass increase, specific growth rate, and Fulton’s condition factor, as well as higher feed conversion ratio and coefficient of variation for weight than those reared in the low-density (LD) group (P < 0.05). Fish in the HD group had higher serum cortisol, glucose, lactate, and cholesterol levels than fish in the other groups, whereas they had lower lysozyme, immunoglobulin M, and complement C3 and C4 contents (P < 0.05). Fish reared in the HD group also had higher serum chloride and osmolality levels and higher sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase (Na+,K+-ATPase) activity and higher Na+,K+-ATPase gene expression levels in gills compared to the other groups (P < 0.05). The mRNA levels of cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A) and heat-shock proteins 70 and 90 (HSP70 and HSP90) were significantly upregulated, whereas glutathione S-transferase (GST) mRNA levels were significantly downregulated in the head kidney of fish in the HD group relative to fish in the other groups at the end of this trial (P < 0.05). These results indicated that overly high stocking (~50 kg m−2) density can negatively affect the growth performance, serum biochemical parameters, osmolality levels, stress-related gene expression, and overall welfare of turbot.


Crowding stress Growth performance Immune and physiological parameters Welfare Scophthalmus maximus 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (grant number 2017YFD0701701), the Central Public-Interest Scientific Institution Basal Research Fund, CAFS (2017HYZD04), and the Modern Agriculture Industry System Construction of Special Funds (CARS-47-G24).

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the guidelines and ethical standards of Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Sustainable Development of Marine Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research InstituteChinese Academy of Fishery SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine Fisheries Science and Food Production ProcessesQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Dalian Ocean UniversityDalianChina

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