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Dietary Trace Metal Supplements Promote Blood Vessel Melanosis in Fillets of Juvenile Farmed Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua L.


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Chronic over-exposure to diet-borne copper has been implicated in the development of black stripes caused by melanin deposits (melanosis) around the blood vessels in fillets of farmed Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L. To test this hypothesis a 6-mo pilot study using feeds containing controlled amounts of copper has been performed. Cumulative data from each feed group showed that 56% of cod fed a diet containing 10 mg/kg of added copper had black stripe while 58% of cod on a diet containing 5 mg/kg of added copper were affected. Cod on a diet with no added copper had 33% of individuals positive for black stripe, and in a final group on a diet containing no supplementary trace metals and minerals 16% of individuals were affected. Weight gain, increase in length, hepatosomatic index, and condition factor were unaffected by the changes made to mineral supplements. Melanosis has been observed in 24% wild cod of market size (n = 30) whilst 85% of market-sized farmed cod examined have had black stripe (n = 403).