Effect of dietary cortisol administration on growth and reproductive success of channel catfish
The effect of cortisol administration on reproductive performance was investigated in channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus broodfish. Cortisol was added to a commercial catfish feed by dissolving in ethanol and spraying the feed to yield a dietary concentration of 150 mg kg−1 feed. The cortisol diet and the control (no cortisol) diet were offered at a rate of 1% of biomass to three replicate ponds each containing 28 female and 14 male broodfish, respectively, three times per week for 11 weeks. Spawning began 10 days after the start of the experiment, and continued for 10 weeks. In fish fed cortisol, body mass and the hepato‐somatic index were reduced (P ≤ 0·02) and concentrations of plasma cortisol and glucose were significantly higher (P ≤ 0·0003) compared to those of controls. The relative frequency of spawning was similar between the two treatments; however, cortisol‐fed channel catfish had an average of 47·1% more spawns than the control‐fed fish. On average, there were 25·5 spawns per pond in the treated groups compared to 12·3 spawns per control pond (P = 0·10). No effect was observed on egg production, with individual egg mass, fecundity, and hatching success being similar (P ≥ 0·27) for both treatments. Despite the observed negative effects of cortisol on somatic and hepatic growth, the increased reproductive output coupled with no observable effects on the eggs or hatching success demonstrates that cortisol does not suppress channel catfish reproduction.
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