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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00667

Ultra-low Power Sensor Devices for Monitoring Physical Activity and Respiratory Frequency in Farmed Fish

  • 1Torre de la Sal Aquaculture Institute (IATS), Spain
  • 2University of Cádiz, Spain
  • 3Institute for Applied Microelectronics, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  • 4Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (IMB-CNM), Spain
  • 5Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Spain
  • 6Technological Center for Innovation in Communications, Institute for Technological Development and Innovation in Communications, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  • 7Center of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), Portugal
  • 8Instituto Universitario de Acuicultura Sostenible y Ecosistemas Marinos (IU-ECOAQUA), Spain
  • 9Biology, Culture and Pathology of Marine Species, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Spain

Integration of technological solutions aims to improve accuracy, precision and repeatability in farming operations, and biosensor devices are increasingly used for understanding basic biology during livestock production. The aim of this study was to design and validate a miniaturized tri-axial accelerometer for non-invasive monitoring of farmed fish with re-programmable schedule protocols. The current device (AE-FishBIT v.1s) is a small (14 x 7 x 7 mm), stand-alone system with a total mass of 600 mg, which allows monitoring animals from 30-35 g onwards. The device was attached to the operculum of gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) and European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) juveniles for monitoring their physical activity by measurements of movement accelerations in x- and y-axes, while records of operculum beats (z-axis) served as a measurement of respiratory frequency. Data post-processing of exercised fish in swimming test chambers revealed an exponential increase of fish accelerations with the increase of fish speed from 1 body-length to 4 body-lengths per second, while a close relationship between oxygen consumption (MO2) and opercular frequency was consistently found. Preliminary tests in free-swimming fish kept in rearing tanks also showed that device data recording was able to detect changes in daily fish activity. The usefulness of low computational load for data pre-processing with on-board algorithms was verified from low to submaximal exercise, increasing this procedure the autonomy of the system up to 6 h of data recording with different programmable schedules. Visual observations regarding tissue damage, feeding behaviour and circulating levels of stress markers (cortisol, glucose, lactate) did not reveal at short term a negative impact of device tagging. Reduced plasma levels of triglycerides revealed a transient inhibition of feed intake in small fish (sea bream 50-90 g, sea bass 100-200 g), but this disturbance was not detected in larger fish. All this considered together is the proof of concept that miniaturized devices are suitable for non-invasive and reliable metabolic phenotyping of farmed fish to improve their overall performance and welfare. Further work is underway for improving the attachment procedure and the full device packaging.

Keywords: Aquaculture, Swimming tests, fish welfare, physical activity, Respiratory frequency, Oxygen Consumption, Sensor

Received: 18 Dec 2018; Accepted: 09 May 2019.

Edited by:

Francesca Carella, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

Reviewed by:

Ione Hunt Von Herbing, University of North Texas, United States
Claudio Agnisola, University of Naples Federico II, Italy  

Copyright: © 2019 Martos-Sitcha, Sosa, Ramos-Valido, Bravo, Carmona-Duarte, Gomes, Calduch-Giner, Cabruja, Vega, Ferrer, Lozano, Montiel-Nelson, LÓPEZ and Pérez-Sánchez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jaume Pérez-Sánchez, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Biology, Culture and Pathology of Marine Species, Madrid, 12595, Castellón, Spain,