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Research Project: Pathogen Characterization, Host Immune Response and Development of Strategies to Reduce Losses to Disease in Aquaculture

Location: Aquatic Animal Health Research

Title: Ornamental aquaculture medicine in the United States - past, present and future

item Shelley, John - Johnny
item Yanong, Roy P.e. - University Of Florida
item Francis-floyd, Ruth - University Of Florida
item Lewbart, Gregory - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Aquatic Fish Health International Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/12/2018
Publication Date: 9/1/2018
Citation: Shelley, J.P., Yanong, R., Francis-Floyd, R., Lewbart, G.A. 2018. Ornamental aquaculture medicine in the United States - past, present and future [abstract]. International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health. p. 102.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Ornamental fish aquaculture is a multimillion dollar industry in the United States concentrated in Florida. With roots in the 1930s, Florida’s weather, water, and transport hubs fostered major expansion by the 1970s. As with other burgeoning livestock industries, health and disease management became increasingly important. In the 1970s John B. Gratzek of the University of Georgia pioneered aquarium fish medicine, becoming the go-to veterinarian for Florida fish farmers. In 1987, Ruth Francis-Floyd began working with Florida producers on health issues via the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). In 1988, extension agent Craig Watson joined Francis-Floyd at UF/IFAS to work on health and production issues. The two initiated a Fish Health Management Workshop for the ornamental fish producers in the late 1980s that is still taught to this day. In 1988, Greg Lewbart, who received training from Gratzek, began working for aquarium fish wholesaler O’Beirne Tropical in Philadelphia, PA as the first veterinarian employed full-time in the ornamental fish industry. Lewbart helped establish an import station in Naples, FL and developed contacts with the Florida fish producers. In 1992, Lewbart facilitated Roy Yanong’s employment at 5D Tropical Inc. as the first full-time veterinarian employed by an ornamental fish commercial production facility. In 1995, Segrest Farms, one of the largest wholesalers in the U.S. hired veterinarian Denise Petty, who also worked with partner farms. John Slaughter worked with the industry through the University of Florida CVM from 1995-96. In 1996, under the leadership of Watson, the University of Florida opened the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory (TAL) in Ruskin, FL; Yanong began work there as an extension veterinarian later that year. In 1997, TAL began its aquaculture veterinary student externs program. In 2003, based at TAL, Kathleen Hartman joined USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) as its first field aquaculture Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO). In 2015, after Hartman’s promotion to National Aquaculture Program Leader, Kat Starzel joined as an import/export VMO. Concurrently, with TAL and others, USDA APHIS VS began more targeted biosecurity programs with Florida producers. Various diseases of concern with widespread financial implications have cropped up over the years, but through veterinary involvement the ornamental aquaculture industry has been able to identify and address these issues. UF/IFAS continues to support the industry through diagnostics, research and training support; state and federal agency engagement; aquaculture training for current and future veterinarians; and by other venues including online publications, social media and webinars.