Growth Hormones in Aquaculture

Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic organisms in a controlled environment, which is also known as fish farming. Usually, it is done in coastal ocean waters, freshwater ponds, rivers,etc. The main aim of aquaculture is the production of food for the immensely growing population of the world. Woefully, the ocean’s natural productivity is almost done, so aquaculture can be used as an alternate source for seafood. Aquaculture is a solid solution for the provision for future generations to access healthy and eco-friendly protein sources. However, nowadays, biological tools like growth hormones are used in aquaculture to increase yield. Growth hormones help in reducing the time required for producing fishes of market size.

Growth Hormones-What are they?

Hormones are chemical messengers that are released directly into the blood and it gets carried to the organs and tissues for a specific function. The growth hormone is a kind of hormone which stimulates the growth and development of organisms. Generally, growth hormones are used in fishes when one of the genders possesses the ability to grow larger and faster. Sex steroidal hormones like Estrogen and Androgen are mostly used in Aquaculture, and these can be of natural or synthetic origin. The hormones used for sex reversal or to induce artificial reproduction are 17beta-estradiol and 17 alpha methyltestosterone. Artificial reproduction helps inconsistent production while the sex reversal of species aims at the production of a mono sex population (most profitable gender) to increase productivity weight gain.

Adverse effects of Growth Hormones

Though the hormones are very useful in terms of productivity in aquaculture, it has many adverse effects on the environment and consumer health. The main disadvantage of the hormonal technique is the possibility of the presence of carcinogenic steroid residues which may be very harmful to consumer health. Although the hormonal induction of sex reversal is beneficial in producing profitable species, it can become a stressful process, which results in low survival rates, retarded sexual maturity, and lower fertility. Overdose of hormones leads to complete sterility, contradictory sexual reverse, and suppression of growth. In addition to this, on large-scale productions, the technique of sexual reverse can also pollute the environment too. The Estrogens of natural origin are constantly liberated into the environment through human excreta, even though it is released in a low concentration it can persist for long while. The introduction of estrogen into the environment can adversely affect human beings and wildlife deranging their endocrine system like the alternation of sex ratios in offsprings, infertility, feminization effects in males, hindrance of the maturation of sexual organs. So it is very important to note that the residues of 17 beta-estradiol and 17 alpha-methyl testosterone of the hormonal treatment should not be found at a high level because it can persist at a very low concentration in the environment and can cause a more negative impact on the environment and living organisms. However, extreme care should be done to reduce the impact on the environment and human health safety.


We know that hormones play a vital role in beneficial fish productivity through sex reversal and artificial reproduction. Despite this, intense care should be taken in case of environmental pollution and the safety of food and human health to ensure sustainability in the production of the fish sector. The treatment of hormonal residues is inevitable to avoid hazards to humans and the environment.

Figure 1 : This figure illustrates the adverse effects of Growth hormones


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