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Fish Health Protocols. Chris MacWilliams, DVM. Principles of Disinfection Disinfection: process that reduces or eliminates pathogenic microorganisms. Cleaning is the most important step in the cleaning and disinfection process Cleaning process has 5 steps: Dry clean Wet wash

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Fish Health Protocols

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fish health protocols

Fish Health Protocols

Chris MacWilliams, DVM

Principles of DisinfectionDisinfection: process that reduces or eliminates pathogenic microorganisms

Cleaning is the most important step in the cleaning and disinfection process

Cleaning process has 5 steps:

Dry clean

Wet wash




methods of disinfection
Methods of Disinfection
  • Physical
    • Moist heat
    • UV light
    • Drying
    • Exposure to sunlight
  • Chemical
    • Chlorines (bleach)
    • Iodines (Ovadine)
    • Quaternary ammonium compounds (Diquat, Roccal)
    • Oxidizing agents (Virkon, Ozone)
chemical disinfectants
Chemical Disinfectants
  • Considerations:
    • Proven efficacy against pathogens of interest:
      • Bacteria, virus, protozoans, fungus, spores
    • Safety
      • Fish, user, equipment, environment
    • Affordable
    • Other:
      • Presence of organic matter
      • Effects on metals/fabrics/rubber
ovadine egg disinfection
Ovadine Egg Disinfection
  • Why?
    • Vertically transmitted diseases
      • On the surface of the egg
      • Within an egg
    • Disinfecting eggs significantly decreases pathogen loads
  • When?
    • During water hardening
    • After egg shocking and picking
    • After eyed eggs are transferred to a site
ovadine egg disinfection1
Ovadine Egg Disinfection
  • How?

100 ppm = 10 mls of Ovadine per litre of water

    • Determine volume of heath tray
    • Add appropriate amount of Ovadine to tray full of water
    • Gently pour rinsed, fertilized eggs into tray preloaded with Ovadine solution
    • After 10 minutes without disturbance, restore water flow
ovadine egg disinfection2
Ovadine Egg Disinfection
  • 1 volume of eggs : 10 volumes of disinfectant solution
  • Solution colour indicates efficacy

Brown = active

Yellow = inactive and should be refreshed

  • Make a fresh Ovadine solution for each lot of eggs
ovadine egg disinfection3
Ovadine Egg Disinfection
  • Spent solution disposal
    • Dilution is standard, combined with hatchery effluent, or can be disposed to ground


Sodium thiosulfate

0.78 X grams of iodine x 2 (safety factor)

or 0.15 gm per litre of 100ppm solution

Water should be colourless before discharge to ground

managing egg fungal infections
Managing Egg Fungal Infections
  • Egg picking
    • By hand
    • Mechanical pickers
  • Chemical treatments
    • Formalin (Parasite-STM)
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Salt
    • Bronophol (EDR)
    • Malachite Green
egg picking
Egg Picking
  • Dead eggs are food for fungus
  • After shocking eyed eggs – observe eggs for mortalities
formalin egg disinfection
Formalin Egg Disinfection
  • 1670 ppm for 15 – 20 minutes
  • Static bath till last few weeks till hatch
    • Then keep water flow >11 lpm
  • Hanging IV bags or chicken feeders
hydrogen peroxide perox aid
Hydrogen peroxide (Perox-Aid)
  • 500ppm for 30 – 35 minutes daily
  • Comparatively environmentally benign
  • Will not work on established fungal infections – only preventative
  • Salt – Robertson Creek every 2 – 3 days
  • Bronophol – no benefits vs approved
  • Malachite Green – absolutely not!
sample shipping to a diagnostic facility
Sample Shipping to a Diagnostic Facility
  • Mortalities are unexpected
  • Clinical signs are suggestive of a disease of concern (eg. popeye and/or swollen abdomens at a facility with a history of recurrent BKD infection)
  • Daily mortality rate exceeds 0.5% of the population
selecting the samples
Selecting the samples
  • Moribund fish preferred
  • There may be a need to randomly sample apparently healthy fish from the population
  • Ask Fish Path Lab staff re: sample type, numbers and shipping info
before shipping
Before shipping
  • Collect fish history:
    • population size
    • clinical signs
    • mortality and morbidity rate
    • diet and feed consumption
    • water quality conditions
    • records of recent stressful events (e.g. low water event, marking)
    • vaccination status
    • disease and treatment history
  • Fill out a submission form
shipping live fish
Shipping Live Fish
  • Line a cooler with ice paks or double bagged ice
  • Cover ice with newspaper
  • Live fish are added to heavy duty plastic bag filled ¼ to 1/3 full of aerated ambient water
  • Oxygen is pumped into the bag to refill it.
  • The bag is securely closed off using elastic bands or tape. Double bag and placed in the Styrofoam cooler.
  • Each bag is clearly marked with information identifying contents.
  • The remaining space in the cooler is filled with cubed ice to keep the fish and water cool.
  • The lid is placed on the Styrofoam cooler and securely fastened with duct tape to prevent accidental spillage.
  • Include a pathology laboratory submission form or an accompanying letter with more detail
  • Include copy of mortality records if available
  • Clearly mark sample bags
  • The container is addressed to the laboratory at PBS and is clearly labeled with information as to originating site.
  • Contact lab with estimated time of sample arrival
shipping fresh dead fish
Shipping fresh dead fish
  • Fresh morts (red gills, firm flesh) should be placed in labeled, sealed double plastic bags without water.
  • Ship dead fish in a container on ice as described above for live fish.
  • Fish should not come in contact with the ice or freezer packs.