Examining Behavior of Lumpfish, Cyclopterus lumpus, Under Different Light Levels
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Examining Behavior of Lumpfish, Cyclopterus lumpus, Under Different Light Levels

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    Lumpfish have historically been sought after by fisheries for their nutritionally dense roe which is used to produce inexpensive caviar substitutes (Hui, 2016). Lumpfish caviar is a popular dish in Iceland, Greenland, Norway, and certain parts of Canada. The roe is made of ripened egg masses rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Some North Atlantic countries eat the meat of the fish by boiling and smoking it.

    In addition to using lumpfish for nutritional purposes, they are a valuable aquacultural tool in commercial salmon farms. Lumpfish are used as “cleaner fish” in farms to reduce outbreaks of parasitic sea lice (Morado, 2019). Salmon farms in Norway, Scotland, and Iceland benefit from using lumpfish as an alternative to chemical treatments to delouse salmon. Cleaner fish are typically denoted as a species of smaller fish that consume and remove ectoparasites, mucus, and dead skin from a host fish known as the “client fish” (Grutter, 2004). The lumpfish is categorized as a specialized facultative cleaner fish because they do not rely solely on consumption of lice (Dunkley et al., 2018). Salmon are able coexist with lumpfish when they are introduced into their salmonid sea cages, demonstrating a mutualistic interaction that benefits both the lumpfish and salmonids.

    Little research has been done regarding the behavioral activity of lumpfish. One study by Kennedy et al. (2015) has suggested that lumpfish are semi-pelagic/semi-demersal fish because their behavior between day and night varies. It was found lumpfish spend more time in the pelagic zone during the night and spend more time near the seabed during the day. The goal of our study was to determine how light exposure affects the activity of lumpfish. If light exposure has an influence on the behavior of lumpfish, it may be possible to increase their productivity as cleaner fish. By finding a way to increase activity without contributing to additional physiological stress, lumpfish may be able to become more efficient consumers of sea lice.

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