Fish Health (Levels 1 - 3)

VIU’s Natural Resources Extension Program offers three levels of Fish Health training. Beginning with a focus on the key principles of fish health management for aquaculture and aquarium fishes at level 1, the courses ladder up to highly applied training on advanced techniques for the detection and diagnosis of bacterial pathogens at level 3. While each level is delivered as its own distinct five-day course, they must be taken sequentially (for example, level 2 is a prerequisite for attending level 3).

Course Description

This five-day course focuses on the key principles of fish health management for aquaculture (hatcheries and net pen) and aquarium fishes. The theoretical components emphasize recognition of what is ‘non-normal’ in fish husbandry settings, along with covering types of diseases (ie. environmental, pathogenic, parasitic or genetic), prevention and mitigation, and proper techniques for fish sampling and biosecurity. Practical components include creation of standard operating procedures for recording fish health events, biosecurity monitoring and fish dissection / necropsy assessment.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe techniques to properly monitor fish health; including recognizing stress and common disease symptoms
  • Define and explain the key factors affecting disease propagation in fish culture settings
  • List the key steps to determine if a disease event was caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites or the environment
  • Demonstrate how to properly sample fish for shipment to a diagnostic laboratory
  • Compile checklists and SOPs for disease preventative measures (ie. biosecurity) and list the types of applicable (and legal) disease treatments

Course Format

Class: 5 days

Prerequisites

None

Course Description

This intensive five-day course focuses on practical skill development associated with fish health techniques for aquaculture (hatcheries and net pen) and aquarium fishes. Topics include animal welfare (including anesthetic use, blood collection and fish tagging), fish anatomy, recognition of common disease symptoms and testing for harmful algae blooms (HABs). Upon completion, students will be able to describe the diagnosis, pathology and treatment of major aquatic diseases. The hands-on laboratory component allows the student to practice various diagnostic and applied techniques essential to fish welfare, proper fish husbandry and health assessment.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of animal welfare when sampling and handling live fish
  • Describe why and when anaesthetic use is important and list the major types of anaesthetics available for handling fish
  • Define the terms: induction time, recovery time, safety margin, withdrawal time
  • Demonstrate the proper techniques for using anaesthetics on fish, including calculations of immersion baths
  • Demonstrate how to properly collect a fish blood sample, using a syringe or Vacutainer® system
  • Demonstrate how to prepare a blood smear and blood hematocrit sample
  • List common methods of marking and tagging live animals
  • Define the terms: group vs. individual marking, natural tags
  • Conduct the proper technique when marking fish with T-bar anchor tags
  • Describe and demonstrate techniques to properly monitor fish health; including recognizing stress and common disease symptoms
  • Demonstrate the key steps to diagnose diseases caused by aquatic viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites or the environment
  • Demonstrate how to set up a harmful algae monitoring program at a net pen site
  • Conduct disease preventative measures (e.g., biosecurity) and compile a series of fish health monitoring SOPs

Course Format

Class: 5 Days

Prerequisites

Level 1: Introduction to Basic Fish Health Management

Course Description

This intensive five-day course focuses on applying advanced techniques in fish health used for the detection and diagnosis of bacterial pathogens. Students will learn how to properly setup a bacteriology lab and will learn about types of culture media (including when and why they are used), bacteriology techniques, and differences between bacteria screening and diagnosis (including quality assurance and quality control applications). Students will practice common diagnostic techniques on live bacterial cultures (ie. streak plate for colony isolation, Gram’s stain, oxidative-fermentative test, antibiotic sensitivity tests).

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Perform standard screening and diagnostic techniques to detect bacterial pathogens of fish
  • Describe the importance of aseptic technique in a microbiology laboratory
  • Be able to confidently use different types of culture media and basic microbiology techniques
  • Define the terms: inoculation, differential vs. selective vs. enrichment media
  • Be able to effectively isolate bacteria cultures and correctly perform a Gram's stain
  • Define the terms: Gram negative, Gram positive, differential stain, counter stain, bacillus, coccus, spirilla
  • Describe the applications of using antibiotic sensitivity discs and conduct an antibiotic sensitivity test on live bacteria
  • Define the terms: zone of inhibition, resistance, sensitivity, bacteriostatic, bacteriocide
  • Define the terms: presumptive test, confirmatory test, oxidative, fermentative
  • Demonstrate how to use a biochemical test kit (API-20E) to identify Gram-negative bacteria
  • Define the terms: API 20E, cupule, McFarland turbidity standards

Course Format

Class: 5 Days

Prerequisites

Level 2: Practical Fish Health for Aquaculture & Fisheries Ecology

Upcoming Deliveries and Registration Information

See our program schedule for a list of all upcoming NREP course deliveries. If this course is not currently noted in the schedule, please contact nrep@viu.ca to enquire about future opportunities. Prior to registering for any NREP course, please review the program's registration guidelines, including important refund policy information.