Ginger Essential Oil as Anesthesia for Transporting Fish

Jenn Hoskins
19th April, 2024

Ginger Essential Oil as Anesthesia for Transporting Fish

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a Brazilian study, ginger oil was found to effectively sedate pacu fish for safe transport
  • A specific dose of ginger oil (200 mg L-1) provided surgical anesthesia without harming fish blood health
  • Lower ginger oil dose (30 mg L-1) during transport reduced fish stress and maintained their oxygen levels
In the aquaculture industry, the transportation of fish is a critical process that can induce stress and physiological changes, potentially leading to health issues and mortality. One way to mitigate these effects is through the use of anesthetics and sedatives, which can calm the fish and improve their welfare during transport. A recent study by researchers at the Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul (UEMS)[1] has explored the use of the essential oil of Zingiber officinale (EOZO), commonly known as ginger, as a potential anesthetic and sedative for juvenile pacu, a species of South American freshwater fish. The study conducted two experiments. The first experiment aimed to determine the ideal concentration of EOZO for inducing anesthesia in pacu, as well as to observe the fish's hematological responses and the presence of EOZO components in their plasma post-anesthesia. Researchers tested various concentrations of EOZO and found that a dose of 200 mg L-1 was effective for surgical anesthesia without causing significant changes in most blood parameters, and it also prevented an increase in the levels of certain types of white blood cells, monocytes, and neutrophils. The second experiment focused on the impact of EOZO during transport, examining water quality, blood variables, and the residue of EOZO in the plasma and tissues of the fish. The use of 30 mg L-1 EOZO in the transport water was found to have a sedative effect on the fish and helped to reduce their oxygen consumption—a critical factor in maintaining fish health during transport. This concentration also helped to maintain stable levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit, two indicators of the fish's oxygen-carrying capacity. These findings are significant as they suggest that EOZO could be a viable option for fish sedation and anesthesia, with specific benefits for the transport of juvenile pacu. The study also demonstrated that EOZO components were directly detectable in the plasma and tissues of the fish, indicating absorption and a direct relationship between the administered concentrations and the levels detected in the fish. The results of this study align with earlier research that has investigated the use of other essential oils and extracts as anesthetics in fish transport. For instance, a study on silver catfish[2] showed that the essential oil from Lippia alba leaves reduced total ammonia nitrogen levels and net ion loss during transport, which are indicators of water quality and fish stress. Similarly, the current study's observation that EOZO can prevent an increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit levels during transport correlates with the findings on rainbow trout[3], where different environmental conditions affected these hematological parameters. Moreover, the UEMS study complements earlier research on the use of ginger extract to improve water quality and reduce stress during the transportation of pearl gentian grouper[4]. Both studies[4] provide evidence that ginger-derived compounds can be beneficial in aquaculture practices by enhancing the welfare of transported fish. The study also builds upon the methodology used for detecting anesthetic residues in fish, such as the SDME-GC/MS method applied to measure residual menthol in tilapia[5]. The detection of EOZO components in the pacu's plasma and tissues after anesthesia and transport is crucial for ensuring food safety and establishing guidelines for the use of EOZO in aquaculture. In summary, the research conducted by UEMS provides valuable insights into the use of ginger essential oil as an anesthetic and sedative agent for fish transport. It not only confirms the efficacy of EOZO in maintaining water quality and physiological stability in pacu but also contributes to a growing body of evidence supporting the use of natural compounds for fish welfare in aquaculture operations. This knowledge can help in the development of improved transport protocols, potentially leading to better survival rates and reduced economic losses in the aquaculture industry.

BiotechAnimal ScienceMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Efficacy of essential oil from ginger (Zingiber officinale) for anesthesia and transport sedation of pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus).

Published 17th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Pre-sedation and transport of Rhamdia quelen in water containing essential oil of Lippia alba: metabolic and physiological responses.

3) The nature of hematological response in fish : Studies on rainbow troutOncorhynchus mykiss exposed to simulated winter, spring and summer conditions.

4) Effects of Ocimum basilicum essential oil and ginger extract on serum biochemistry, oxidative stress and gill tissue damage of pearl gentian grouper during simulated live transport.

5) Residual determination of anesthetic menthol in fishes by SDME/GC-MS.

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