Copper Compound Studied for Protecting
Catfish Eggs By
August 7, 2000
Farmers who raise channel catfish use a chemical called copper
sulfate to cut excessive growth of oxygen-robbing algae in ponds. This helps
keep the fish healthy and production costs down.
Now, Agricultural Research
Service scientists and cooperators are beginning to explore additional uses
of the copper compound that might make the fish less costly to raise.
Researchers at the ARS Harry K. Dupree
Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center, Stuttgart, Ark., are
working under a two-year cooperative research and development agreement with
Phelps Dodge Refining Corp., El Paso,
The cost savings generated by the copper compound would begin
with catfish eggs. Without some preventive medicine in U.S. fish hatcheries,
less than half the estimated one billion catfish eggs produced each year would
ever become small fry to stock ponds, much less become tasty entrees. The
egg-destroying culprits in hatchery tanks are cottony water-borne fungi. These
organisms cause much of the investment in four- to eight-year-old catfish
broodstock to go down the drain.
Since the 1980s, fish farmers have had only one U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA)-approved
therapeutic drug, formalin, available to save the eggs. Copper sulfate is a
less expensive, less smelly substance thats easier than formalin to apply
safely. But does copper sulfate work without harming the young hatchlings?
Thats a question the cooperative research will address.
Before entering the agreement, Phelps Dodge was seeking FDA
approval for copper sulfate as a treatment for a parasitic disease of fish
called ichthyopthiriasis. FDA restricts use of therapeutic agents to diseases
defined in an approved label claim, and only commercial companies are allowed
to formally apply for FDA approval of their products.
Research collaboration between ARS and Phelps Dodge may provide
an avenue to place copper sulfate, as a therapeutic agent, into the hands of
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.
Scientific contact: Billy R. Griffin, ARS Harry K. Dupree
Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center, Stuttgart, Ark., phone (870)
673-4483, fax (870) 673-7710, email@example.com.