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Agonistic behaviour and feed efficiency in juvenile Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus
- de Verdal, Hugues, O'Connell, Catherine Maeve, Mekkawy, Wagdy, Vandeputte, Marc, Chatain, Béatrice, Bégout, Marie-Laure, Benzie, John A.H.
- Aquaculture 2019 v.505 pp. 271-279
- Oreochromis niloticus, aggression, animal growth, aquaculture, aquariums, body weight changes, economics, fasting, feed conversion, feed intake, fish, juveniles, rearing, refeeding
- Given the strong effects of behavioural hierarchies on growth in many cultured species and the key role of feed efficiency in aquaculture economics, understanding the nature of the interaction of these variables is important for the sustainability of aquaculture. The relationship between agonistic behaviour, growth and feed efficiency in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, was studied by rearing 120 fish in eight aquaria. Fish were video-recorded to estimate the occurrence of agonistic behaviour during a fasting and a refeeding period. Growth, feed intake and feed conversion efficiency (FCE - calculated as the inverse of feed conversion ratio (FCR)) were subsequently measured individually for each fish. Fish showed 58% less agonistic traits during the fasting period compared to the feeding period, but generally, an aggressive fish during the fasting period was also aggressive during the refeeding period. The nature of agonistic behaviours between individuals was used to assess the presence of hierarchical relationships between fish. There were dominance hierarchies established in each experimental aquarium that despite minor shifts were maintained throughout the experiment. Agonistic behaviours were strongly correlated with each other, the aggression Index (AI) and with hierarchy rank. PCA analysis of the agonistic behaviours summarising the behavioural information showed little or no correlation between agonistic behaviour, fish growth or FCE. FCE was correlated with body weight gain (BWG). These results suggest that agonistic interactions in juvenile Nile tilapia do not have a large impact on growth and feed conversion efficiency.