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Histopathology and culturable bacteria associated with “big belly” and “skin nodule” syndromes in ornamental Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens

Dong, H.T., Senapin, S., Phiwsaiya, K., Techatanakitarnan, C., Dokladda, K., Ruenwongsa, P., Panijpan, B.
Microbial pathogenesis 2018 v.122 pp. 46-52
Artemia, Gram-negative bacteria, aquatic bacteria, bacterial infections, granuloma, histopathology, international trade, live feeds, melanization, muscles, necrosis, ornamental fish, shrimp, signs and symptoms (animals and humans), Thailand
The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) is one of the popular aquarium ornamental fish in the global trade. Large numbers of ornamental fish farmed in central Thailand suffered from two common syndromes; preliminarily named skin nodule syndrome (SNS) and big belly syndrome (BBS): they showed noticeable clinical signs of abnormal appearances resulting in depressed saleability. Since very few specifics are known about causative agents of these syndromes, this study aimed at investigating histopathological features and culturable bacteria associated with these fish infected in the process of farming. Histopathologically, SNS fish consistently exhibited necrosis and severe melanization in the muscles and multiple internal organs. Whereas BBS fish exhibited either typical granulomas or tissue damage associated with acid-fast stained bacteria and Gram negative bacteria, respectively. Six different Gram negative bacterial species were recovered from BBS fish while 23 bacterial species belonging to 14 genera were recovered from fish suffering from SNS. Most of the culturable bacteria are new to betta fish and some of them are known to be marine bacteria, suggesting possible entry route via a contaminated live feed, commercial Artemia shrimp. The true causative agents of these syndromes remain unclear. However, histopathological changes and existence of a wide range of bacteria associated with the naturally diseased fish suggest involvement of multiple bacterial infections.