Developed an Intelligent Device to Monitor the Behavior of Farmed Fish

intelligent device
The AEFishBIT device attached to a gilthead. / CSIC

Researchers from the Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona and the National Microelectronics Center, and three Institutes (IU-ECOAQUA, IUMA and iDeTIC) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, have developed an intelligent device to individually monitor in a non-invasive way the accelerations and the respiratory frequency of the fish in the fish farms. The results of the work, which can be applied to improve the production and welfare of farmed fish, are published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology .

Biosensor technology is increasingly used as a non-invasive measurement system in experimental studies related to health, animal welfare and genetic selection. The AEFishBIT device has been developed within the framework of the European project AQUAEXCEL 2020 , funded by the framework program H2020, thanks to the collaboration of biologists, computer scientists and engineers from the CSIC and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

El investigador del CSIC al frente del estudio, Jaume Pérez Sánchez, explica que “el dispositivo que hemos diseñado está compuesto de un acelerómetro, un microprocesador, una batería de reducidas dimensiones y un identificador pasivo que asocia cada dispositivo a un determinado individuo. La versión actual del prototipo es de reducido tamaño, con un peso máximo en el aire de aproximadamente un gramo, una vez encapsulado para un completo aislamiento del medio acuático en el que se realizan las medidas”.

Researchers from the Torre de la Sal Institute of Aquaculture have carried out several tests with the AEFishBIT device on young specimens of sea bream and sea bass. The device is implanted in the operculum of the fish, the outer bony plate that covers the gills, to measure the accelerations of movement in the spatial axes X and Y, which allows to know the physical activity. The device records the beats of the operculum on the Z axis, which serves as a measure of the respiratory rate. The anchoring of the device is very simple and is done using a metal clip that allows the device to be immobilized as if it were just another part of the animal’s body.

“We have carried out exercise tests in metabolic chambers with the fish in the study and we have observed that the oxygen consumption of animals subjected to different degrees of exercise increases to maintain their position swimming against the current. In parallel, oxygen consumption also increases, both types of measures being highly correlated with the records provided by the AEFishBIT device, “adds Jaume Pérez Sánchez.

The processing of the data is carried out by means of algorithms loaded in the device itself, which minimizes the consumption of memory and energy. In this way, the autonomy of the system is six hours of continuous recording, with the possibility of different programming times over a few days or several weeks.

“The measurements obtained in different experimental conditions over forty-eight hours are especially relevant in the case of seabream, since we have obtained information on the behavior with different degrees of diurnal and nocturnal activity according to the age of the animal, of the year, size of the tank or progression of parasitic diseases. AEFishBIT also allows differentiating reactive animals from pro-active people through hypoxia tests, in which the fish increase the respiratory rate with the decrease in oxygen concentration, and also increase their activity as an escape response in search of a less hostile environment. At present,