How does artificial light affect the growth of fish? To clarify this mechanism, it is important to mention the common endocrine mechanism in fish.  The environmental factors such as temperature, rainfall, photoperiod, water current stimulate the hypothalamus of fish to synthesis gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), consequently triggers the pituitary to synthesis gonadotropin hormone (GTH). GTH then stimulates the gonad to mature by synthesizing gonadal hormone. This is also called brain-hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis (B-P-G). To do this mechanism, fish needs energy; ultimately energy is partitioned for maturation rather than growth. It is widely accepted technique in aquaculture to improve growth of fish by producing sterile fish such as hybrid, triploid etc. This sort of genetic manipulation is not only expensive but also species specific. Considering this point environmental manipulation is more useful to inhibit maturation by affecting on B-P-G axis mechanism, can be improved the growth of fish. Artificial lighting is widely used in industrial aquaculture to control maturation, improve growth of fish (Porter,, 2003, Taylor,, 2005 and Wilkinson,, 2010). Reducing the incidence of sexual maturation by photoperiod manipulation improved growth of fish (Duston et. al., 2003)

There are some monoamines acts as neurotransmitters (endogenous chemicals that transmit signal from neuron to cell through synapse) in fish such as-

  • Catecholamine
    • Dopamine,
    • Epinephrine (adrenaline),
    • Norepinephrine ( Noradrenaline)
  • Melatonin
  • Serotonin
  • Histamine etc

Though all monoamines are important for their varieties of physiological function, only the function of dopamine and melatonin has been taken in to account for this small discussion. Dopamine controls the movement of animal, inhibits the function of GnRH, is related to unpleasant mood, cause Parkinson’s disease (if low level) and Schizophrenia (if high level). On the other hand, melatonin (also called, hormones of darkness) receives dark and light information, regulates circadian (day-night cycle in animal) rhythm, remove insomnia, improves immune system, positively regulates the activity of GnRH. However, serototin converts to melatonin and regulates sleep, improves pleasant mood. Available research found that dopamine level in the brain of animal is high at day time and both serotonin and melatonin level is high at night time, indicated that light has a direct effect on them. Delgado, et. al. (2001) described that highest level of dopamine is released at day time in clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, while lowest in darkness. On the other hand, melatonin rhythmicity in fish is inversely related with light intensity (Bromage,, 2001).

After exposing the fish in the long artificial light condition, dopamine level of fish brain is increased. It is notable that Dopamine is a gonadotropin-release inhibitory factor which blocks spontaneous and GnRH-stimulated GtH release in fish (Lin,, 1989). Similarly, long artificial lighting also reduces the level of melatonin in the fish brain. Gosh and Nath (2005) showed that melatonin controlled the reproduction of cat fish (Clarias batrachus). Melatonin level is affected by photoperiod, which controls the maturation of farm fish (Porter, et. al., 2000). Artificial lights suppressed melatonin circulation and significantly affected the daily variation of luteinizing hormone (LH- triggers ovulation) (Bayarri, et. al., 2004). By this way, constant photoperiod (artificial light) showed the improvement of growth of fish by inhibiting the sexual maturation (Davie,, 2007). Expose the fish to shorter or longer artificial lights are used to advance or delay gonadal maturation and spawning time; when maturation can be delayed or inhibited until marketable size is reached, growth reductions and flesh quality deteriorations can be avoided (Bromage, et. al., 1995; Bromage, et. al., 2001; Bayarri, e.t al., 2004).
However, constant artificial light can cause stress for fish. Thus research needs to be done to confirm suitable photoperiodic length in targeted culture species in Bangladesh. Since most of aquaculture fish species in Bangladesh depend on the phytoplankton production of the pond, artificial light can also improve phytoplankton production to increase food availability in pond.


  • Bayarri, M. J., Rodrı́guez, L., Zanuy, S., Madrid, J. A., Sánchez-Vázquez, F. J., Kagawa, H., Okuzawa, K. Carrillo, M. 2004. Effect of photoperiod manipulation on the daily rhythms of melatonin and reproductive hormones in caged European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). General and Comparative Endocrinolog, 136, 72-81.
  • Bromage, N., Porter, M., Randall, C., 2001. The environmental regulation of maturation in farmed finfish, with special reference to the role of photoperiod and melatonin. Aquaculture 197, 63–98.
  • Bromage, N.R., Randall, C.F., Porter, M.J.R., Davies, B., 1995. How do photoperiod, the pineal gland, and circannual rhythms interact to coordinate seasonal reproduction in salmonid fish. In: Goetz, F.W., Thomas, P. (Eds.), Reproductive Physiology of Fish. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium, 2–8 July, 1995, Austin, TX, pp. 164–166.
  • Davie, A., Mazorra de Quero, C., Bromage, N., Treasurer, J. Migaud, H. 2007. Inhibition of sexual maturation in tank reared haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) through the use of constant light photoperiods. Aquaculture 270, 379-389.
  • Delgado, M. J., Céspedes, M. V., De Pedro, N., Alonso-Bedate, M. and Alonso-Gómez, A. L. ( 2001). Day/night variations of dopami ne ocular content during Xenopus laevis ontogeny . Neuroscience Letters. 300(3): pp129-132.
  • Duston, J., Astatkie, T. MacIsaac, P. F. 2003. Long-to-short photoperiod in winter halves the incidence of sexual maturity among Arctic charr. Aquaculture 221, 567-580.
  • Ghosh J., Nath P. (2005). Seasonal effects of melatonin on ovary and plasma gonadotropin and vitellogenin levels in intact and pinealectomized catfish, Clarias batrachus (Linn). Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 43: 224.232.
  • Lin, H.-R., Peng, C., Van Der Kraak, G. Peter, R. E. 1989. Dopamine inhibits gonadotropin secretion in the Chinese loach (Paramisgurnus dabryanus). Fish Physiology and Biochemistry 6, 285-288.
  • Porter, M. J. R., Woolcott, H. M. Pankhurst, N. W. 2003. The use of additional lighting and artificial photoperiods to recondition early maturing Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Tasmania. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry 28, 391-393.
  • Porter, M., Randall, C., Magwood, S., Futter, W. Bromage, N. 2000. Photoperiod, melatonin and the control of maturation in farmed fish. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology – Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 126, Supplement 1, 17.
  • Taylor, J. F., Migaud, H., Porter, M. J. R. Bromage, N. R. 2005. Photoperiod influences growth rate and plasma insulin-like growth factor-I levels in juvenile rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. General and Comparative Endocrinology 142, 169-185.
  • Wilkinson, R. J., Longland, R., Woolcott, H. Porter, M. J. R. 2010. Effect of elevated winter–spring water temperature on sexual maturation in photoperiod manipulated stocks of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Aquaculture 309, 236-244.

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Artificial Light: New Perspective in Aquaculture in Bangladesh

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Md. Nurul Amin

PhD Student (Marine Environment), National Centre for Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability, University of Tasmania, Australia. Email: More...

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