Zhang, Z., Fu, Y., Zhang, Z. et al. 2021. A comparative study on two territorial fishes: The influence of physical enrichment on aggressive behavior. Animals 11(7), 1868.
Intraspecific aggression is detrimental to body/fin damage, physiological stress, and other problems in aquaculture. Environmental enrichment has been proposed to have positive effects on fish aggressive behavior, physiological stress, and fish welfare, but there are mixed results. Here, we examine the impact of physical enrichment levels (i.e., the intensity of physical enrichment) on aggression in black rockfish (Sebastes schlegelii) and fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii). Generally, with the increase in the enrichment level, the frequency of the aggressive behavior of black rockfish gradually decreased. In contrast, a non-monotonous effect of the enrichment level on aggression was observed for fat greenling, with low and intermediate levels leading to no or more aggression, while a high enrichment level reduced aggression. After three days, the high-level enrichment groups in both rockfish and greenling reached social stability (i.e., a relatively stable social structure indicated by lower aggression), while aggression in the other groups continued increased. These results show the significant regulatory effect of enrichment levels on the aggressive behavior in both black rockfish and fat greenling. This study may promote the development of environmental enrichment measures, and it provides useful information for reducing fish aggression and improving fish welfare in aquaculture.