Environmental control of reproductive activity of captive fish is feasible (or potentially feasible) but, with few exceptions, is currently impractical for most species. Therefore, chemical methods of manipulating reproductive activity continue to be widely used in fish production operations worldwide. However, the control of fish reproduction in captivity cannot be exercised without regard to adequate environmental conditions, which can differ markedly for different species. This review provides a synopsis of relevant aspects of fish reproductive physiology and addresses current and promising future chemical methods of sex control, gonadal recrudescence, and spawning. Most research on the control of reproduction in fishes has focused on female physiology because ovarian development and maturation are easily disturbed by environmental stressors. Control of sex ratios by steroid treatment has become a well-established technique for several fish species, but the technique continues to be problematic in some cases. Final gonadal growth and spawning usually can be achieved by implant treatment with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs (GnRHa), which in some species have to be applied in combination with dopamine antagonists to enhance responsiveness to GnRHa. However, efforts to accelerate gonadal recrudescence and maturational competence by chemical means have yielded mixed results, reflecting a relative lack of understanding of the basic physiological and biochemic mechanisms controlling these processes. The potential benefits of using reproductive pheromone, to manipulate gonadal development and spawning has been demonstrated in a few species, but further research is needed to determine whether this technique is applicable to fish culture. Because a reliable supply of young fish is critical for the expansion and diversification of fish culture operations, the use of chemicals in combination with adequate environmental conditions to contain gametogenesis and spawning in fishes will continue to be an important tool for the fish culture.
Additional publication details
Manipulations of the reproductive system of fishes by means of exogenous chemicals