Fake plants have real benefits for farmed tilapia
A study taking place in Brazil revealed that environmental enrichment, in the form of artificial aquatic plants and shelters, can significantly improve tilapia welfare by reducing stereotypical and aggressive behaviour.
An analysis of aggressive behaviour showed lower numbers of confrontations in the tanks where the food had been supplemented with tryptophan food-supplemented treatment compared to the control and environmental enriched treatments. This is because it is a serotonin precursor, a neurotransmitter involved in the control of aggressive behaviour and the susceptibility to stress.
On the other hand water hyacinth and shelter presented high levels of confrontation.
“Despite the benefits, enriched environments can generate competition between territorial fish, which means more confrontations,” the researchers noted.