Bighead carp

Hypophthalmichthys nobilis

Hypophthalmichthys nobilis (Bighead carp)
Taxonomy
    • Osteichthyes
      • Cypriniformes
        • Cyprinidae
          • Hypophthalmichthys nobilis

Information


Author: Caroline Marques Maia
Version: 2.0 (2022-05-21) - Revision 4 (2022-07-29)

Cite

Reviewers: Pablo Arechavala-Lopez, Jenny Volstorf
Editor: Jenny Volstorf

Cite as: »Marques Maia, Caroline. 2022. Hypophthalmichthys nobilis (Farm: Short Profile). In: FishEthoBase, ed. Fish Ethology and Welfare Group. World Wide Web electronic publication. First published 2021-07-30. Version 2.0 Revision 4. https://fishethobase.net.«





FishEthoScore/farm

Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
LiPoCe
Criteria
Home range
Depth range
Migration
Reproduction
Aggregation
Aggression
Substrate
Stress
Malformations
Slaughter


Condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.

Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential

FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)

Legend

High
Medium
Low
Unclear
No findings



General remarks

Hypophthalmichthys nobilis is one of the four Chinese major carps, together with H. molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idella and Mylopharyngodon piceusH. nobilis is a native freshwater fish from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs of south and central China, but has already been introduced in many countries. This eurythermic carp dwells in the upper layer of the water column, being considered a planktivorous fish – especially feeding on zooplankton – but it can also feed on detritus and BENTHIC organisms on the bottom opportunistically. It is one important aquaculture species that has been farmed for more than a thousand years and, together with H. molitrix, is one of the most intensively cultured fish species in Asia. H. nobilis is frequently used as a filter-feeding fish in polyculture ponds in China, stocked for water quality improvement and as a biocontrol method for phytoplankton. Besides ponds, this carp is also commonly raised in pens, cages or reservoirs with other carps or other fish species as Ictalurus punctatus and Polyodon spathula. A competition for food may be expected with Labeo catla or with other FISHES with similar feeding habits in such polycultures. It is a fast growing fish that can be sold before reaching maturity. In natural conditions, this carp migrates to the upper reaches of rivers to spawn during early summer, with rising water level as the essential stimulus for this. Despite its commercial importance, most wild information is still missing for this species. After being harvested, very little handling and processing is used with this fish, as it is usually consumed fresh, mainly locally. Further research about the slaughtering process is needed as well as about substrate use, stress response, and malformations under farming conditions.

Note: The age class "Adults" for farming conditions refers to large juveniles and young adults due to farmers estimating age class by size rather than by maturity status. Also, “Adults” refers to individuals to become spawners or for algae control, as the literature does not always specify.




1  Home range

Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE and FRYWILD: no data found yetFARM: LARVAE: aquaria: 76 L 1FRY: rectangular ponds: 400 m2; rectangular concrete tanks: 20 m2 2. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 100-1,000 m2 3; tanks: 1.4 m2 (1.2 x 1.2 m) 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.

JUVENILESWILDno data found yetFARM: earthen ponds: 240-8,000 m2 4 2 5 6 7 8 9 10 11; rectangular concrete ponds: 20 m2 12; floating cages: 1,000 L 4, 9 m2 (3 x 3 m) 13, 16 m2 (4 x 4 m) 14; cylindrical cages: 450 L 15, 1.2 m diameter 5; raceways (concrete sides and substrate): 59.3 m2 (24.7 x 2.4 m) 16; pens: 360,000 m2 17.

ADULTSWILD: non-native waters: mean 0.2-6.8 km/day, with maximum daily movement rates of 64 km/day 18 19FARM: earthen ponds: 1,000-8,000 m6 7 8; floating cages: 9 m2 (3 x 3 m) 13 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS), cylindrical cages: 1.2 m diameter 5.

SPAWNERSWILD:  ADULTS. FARM: for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS  ADULTS. Indoor circular holding tanks: 5 m diameter 14, circular breeding tanks: 2 m diameter of 2,000 L 20. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 20-30 m or 2,000-25,000 m2 3; storage tanks: 200 m2 (10 x 20 m), 450 m2 (15 x 30 m) 3; breeding tanks: 3.8 m2 (2.5 x 1.5 m), 8 m2 (4 x 2 m), 18.8 m2 (7.5 x 2.5 m) 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.




2  Depth range

Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE and FRYWILD: no data found yetFARMFRY: rectangular ponds: 1.0 m 2; rectangular concrete tanks: 0.6 m 2. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 0.5-1.2 m 3; tanks: 1.2 m 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.

JUVENILESWILD: opportunistic feeder, switching between filter- or bottom-feeding (in a lake of mean 3.8 m depth) depending on the habitat 21-22 23FARM: earthen ponds: 1.0-2.0 m 2 5 6 9 11; rectangular concrete ponds: 1.2 m 12; floating cages: 2-3 m 14 13; cylindrical cages: 1.3 m 5; pens: 2 m 17.

ADULTSWILD: non-native waters: 2.4 m 24, mean 4-4.1 m, range 0.5-13.7 m 19. Opportunistic feeder, switching between filter- or bottom-feeding (in a lake of mean 3.8 m depth) depending on the habitat 21-22 23. FARM: earthen ponds: 2.0 m 6; floating cages: 2 m 13 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS); cylindrical cages: 1.3 m 5. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 0.8-2 m 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.

SPAWNERSWILD: ➝ ADULTSFARM: for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS  ADULTS. Indoor circular holding tanks: 1 m 14. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 1.0-2.5 m or deeper depending on climate zone 3; storage tanks: 1.0-1.5 m 3; breeding tanks: 1 m 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.




3  Migration

Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

POTAMODROMOUS 25 19.

LARVAE and FRYWILD: 11-14 h PHOTOPERIOD 26, maximum ~30 °C 26, non-native waters: range 23.2-26.7 °C (summer) 24, fresh water 26 24. Caught in lake of 10 km2 area 26 with unclear migration distance. FARMFRY: minimum of 24.5 °C in rectangular ponds or concrete tanks 2. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

JUVENILESWILD: 11-14 h PHOTOPERIOD 26 23, maximum ~30 °C (July-August) and minimum ~5 °C (February) 26, non-native waters: range 2-27.5 °C, with the lowest degrees in winter and the hottest temperatures during the summer 27 24, fresh water 26 27 23 24. Caught in lakes of 3.5-32 km2 area 26 23 with unclear migration distance. FARM: earthen ponds: range 2.8-33 °C 6 7 8 28 9 11, with the lowest degrees in winter and the hottest temperatures during the summer 7 8 9; raceways (concrete sides and substrate): mean 10.9 °C 16; floating net cages: range 24-32.5 °C 13; pens: range 12.7-33.6 °C 17. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

ADULTSWILD: 11-14 h PHOTOPERIOD 26 23, maximum ~30 °C (July-August) and minimum ~5 °C (February) 26, non-native waters: range: 2-29.6 °C, with the lowest degrees in winter and the hottest temperatures during the summer 27 19 24, mean 23.7 °C (spring), with a range of 24.4-28.2 °C during high river flow 18, fresh water 26 27 19 23 24. Caught in lakes of 3.5-32 km2 area 26 23 with unclear migration distance. FARM: earthen ponds: range 20-32 °C (spring-summer) 6 7 8 and 6-25 °C (winter) 8; floating net cages: range 24-32.5 °C 13 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS). For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

SPAWNERSWILD: 11-14 h PHOTOPERIOD 26, maximum ~30 °C 26, non-native waters: range 12.3-29.6 °C 27 19 24, mean 23.7 °C (spring), with a range of 24.4-28.2 °C during high river flow 18, fresh water 26 27 18 19 24. Caught in lake of 10 km2 area 26 with unclear migration distance, non-native waters: migrate upstream to spawn (triggered by flood pulses): 60-462 km 19FARM: for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS  ADULTS. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.




4  Reproduction

A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?

It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

WILD: mature at 3-5 years old 29-3, breed during monsoon (April-September, China), in flowing river waters 3. Spawning between May (early spring) and October (autumn) and probably can spawn multiple times per year in non-native waters 27FARM: mature at 2 13 20 or 3 years old 30, or even before 2 years old, especially if fed with prepared diets as supplement 14 13. Sex ratio: 1 female:2 males 13 20 or 2-3 females: 4-6 males 14. Unable to spawn in static waters of ponds or tanks 3 25; hormone injection and environmental stimuli of flowing water is essential for induced spawning 25. Successful induced spawning by hypophysation 2 or with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogue followed by stripping and together 13 or not 1 14 with human chorionic gonadotropin, especially if fed with prepared diets as supplement 14 13. Successful induced spawning with carp pituitary gland extract during natural breeding season 31 30 or with synthetic hormones Ovatide and especially with Ovaprim-C with better results when such hormones are individually combined with Profasi (human chorionic gonadotropin) for females 20. Extraction of eggs and milt by stripping 31 13 30 20. For carps in general, in storage tanks, spawners are kept separated by sex 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.




5  Aggregation

Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE and FRYWILD: LARVAE: non-native waters: 0.0-0.5 IND/m3, depending on the temperature, turbidity, and velocity of the water 24FARM: better survival of LARVAE at 28,000 IND/m3 than at 57,000 IND/m3 1FRY: rectangular ponds or concrete tanks: 37 IND/m2 2. For carps in general, earthen ponds: 1,000 IND/m2 for LARVAE in nursery ponds, 12.5-25 IND/m2 for FRY in breeding ponds 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.

JUVENILESWILDno data found yetFARM: earthen ponds: 0.1-10 IND/m2 2 5 9 11, 0.03-0.1 IND/m2 in polyculture with 1-2 other carps of overall density of 0.1-0.2 IND/m2 4 6 10  or 0.1 IND/m2 in polyculture with H. molitrix and I. punctatus of overall density of 2.8 IND/m2 4, better growth at 0.01 than 0.03 or 0.05 IND/m2 in monocultures 8 and at 0.04 than 0.08 or 0.1 IND/m2 in polyculture with I. punctatus of overall density of 1.3-1.4 IND/m2 7. Rectangular concrete ponds: 0.7 IND/m2 in polyculture with P. spathula of overall density of 1.4 IND/m2 12. Floating cages: 0.0002 IND/L 14, 1.3 IND/m2 13 or 0.03 IND/L in polyculture with H. molitrix of overall density of 0.05 IND/L 4. Cylindrical cages: 0.3-0.6 IND/L 15, 30 IND/cage of 1.2 m of diameter 5. Pens: 0.2-19.1 g/m3 in a polyculture with H. molitrix of overall density of 0.5-55.4 g/m3 17.

ADULTSWILD: no data found yetFARM: earthen ponds: 0.06 IND/m2 in polyculture with H. molitrix of overall density of 0.2 IND/m2 6, better growth at 0.01 than 0.03 or 0.05 IND/m2 in monocultures 8, but higher mortality at 0.008 than 0.03 or 0.04 IND/m2 in polyculture with I. punctatus of overall density of 1.3 IND/m2 7. Floating net-cages: 1.3 IND/m2 13 (for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS). Cylindrical cages in ponds: 12.5 IND/ m3 5.

SPAWNERSWILD: no data found yetFARM: for ADULTS to become SPAWNERS  ADULTS. Earthen ponds: 0.2 IND/m2 30, also as an overall density in polycultures with other carps 31.




6  Aggression

There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE and FRY: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: no aggression reported 4 7 and no effect on growth, survival or feed conversion ratio at different stocking densities in polycultures with I. punctatus 7 or in polycultures with other carp species 4 10. No competition for food in polyculture with C. carpio 32. Competition for food in polycultures with P. spathula, with no aggression reported 12, but mentioned as a possibility 28.

ADULTS: no aggression reported and no effect on growth, survival or feed conversion ratio at different stocking densities in polycultures with I. punctatus 7.

SPAWNERS: no aggression reported in polycultures with other carp species 31.




7  Substrate

Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: WILD: no data found yetFARM: for carps in general, double-walled hapa nets (e.g., mosquito netting and whole cloth) to protect from predators 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.

LARVAE and FRYWILD: non-native waters: LARVAE mainly at >123.5 NTU, more frequently at >163 NTU 24FARMFRY: rectangular concrete tanks: Secchi disc visibility 0.6 m 2. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

JUVENILESWILD: non-native waters: mean 59.8-119.7 NTU 24. For foraging mode ➝ crit 2. FARM: earthen ponds: 9-15 NTU 6. Relation with the bottom: in extensive production (i.e., without additional feed), better growth in ponds than in cages, probably due to inefficient filter-feeding of small phytoplankton in cages and a higher feed choice in ponds (phyto-, zooplankton, BENTHIC organisms) 4 5. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

ADULTSWILD: ➝ JUVENILESFARM: earthen ponds: 9-15 NTU 6. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.

SPAWNERSWILD: non-native waters: mean 59.8-119.7 NTU 24FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.




8  Stress

Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?

There are no findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE and FRY: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: no data found yet.

ADULTS: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS: no data found yet.




9  Malformations

Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: for carps in general, malformations due to insufficient nutrition 3. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.

JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: pugheadedness in 1% 33.

ADULTSWILD: non-native waters: 7% of intersex individuals in males 27FARM: no data found yet.




10  Slaughter

The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Common slaughter method: commonly sold live or fresh locally 25, so probably asphyxia. High-standard slaughter method: for Hypophthalmichtys molitrix, another Chinese major carp, percussive stunning (one or two blows on the head with a wooden club) followed by scaling, gutting, and filleting is less stressful than immersion in ice or gill cutting followed by the same slaughter procedures 34 35. For the related C. carpio, electrical plus percussive stunning (followed by evisceration, gill cut or destruction of the heart) 36 or immersion in clove oil (followed by percussion killing 37). Further research needed for a specific protocol and to determine whether this applies to H. nobilis as well.




11  Side note: Domestication

Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?

DOMESTICATION LEVEL 5 38, fully domesticated.




12  Side note: Forage fish in the feed

450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?

All age classes: WILD: planktonic feeder, mainly on zooplankton 3 25 26 23, but can also eat detritus 21-22 23FARM: no additional feed in polyculture or extensive culture, but applied fertiliser (animal manure or plant wastes) increases zooplankton mass 25. Zooplankton feeder 25 17, but can also feed on phytoplankton 17, especially when cultured in cages 4 5, probably by filter-feeding 5. All age classes accept artificial feed (e.g., by-products from grain processing, trout pellets) 25 4.




Glossary


BENTHIC = living at the bottom of a body of water, able to rest on the floor
FISHES = Using "fishes" instead of "fish" for more than one individual - whether of the same species or not - is inspired by Jonathan Balcombe who proposed this usage in his book "What a fish knows". By referring to a group as "fishes", we acknowledge the individuals with their personalities and needs instead of an anonymous mass of "fish".
LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
FRY = larvae from external feeding on, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
WILD = setting in the wild
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
ADULTS = mature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SPAWNERS = adults that are kept as broodstock
POTAMODROMOUS = migrating within fresh water
PHOTOPERIOD = duration of daylight
IND = individuals
NTU = Nephelometric Turbidity Units
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 5 = selective breeding programmes are used focusing on specific goals 38



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