Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Fish physiology and welfare

Overall Course Objectives

To provide the students with knowledge of fish biology that is relevant to and applicable within aquaculture and fisheries science. The overall aim of the course is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the many physiological and biochemical processes that occur in fish, so that they may use this knowledge in the evaluation and management of biological issues that arise in aquaculture production.

Learning Objectives

  • Account for the gross morphology and anatomical organization in fish.
  • Summarize how fish sense and process input from their environment.
  • Describe the mechanisms by which fish maintain homeostasis.
  • Explain how rearing conditions and capture systems can jeopardize fish physiology, behavior and general welfare.
  • Detect signs indicating poor welfare in farmed and wild fish.
  • Explain the physiological and behavioral responses to stress/poor welfare in fish.
  • Account for the neurophysiological mechanisms controlling feeding behavior, reproduction, stress responses and immune defenses.
  • Apply gained knowledge to evaluate and propose solutions to potential problems related to fish health and welfare that may arise in fish-related industries.

Course Content

This course provides an introductory view of fish physiology and of the physiological challenges to which fish are exposed in typical aquaculture facilities and during fish capture, along with the solutions adopted in the industry to overcome those challenges. The course covers topics such as functional anatomy of fish, nervous system and sensory systems, ion and gas exchange and homeostasis, nutrition, immune system and pathological states, reproduction, stress physiology, welfare in aquaculture, nociception and analgesia, fish behavior and cognition. The constraints on all those aspects of fish physiology derived from the life in captivity or due to capture procedures, as well as the ways to mitigate them, are discussed.

Teaching Method

Lectures, case-discussions, mini-seminars, exercises.



This course provides students with competences relevant to UN SDGs, particularly #12 (Responsible consumption and production) and #14 (Life below water)

See course in the course database.





13 weeks




DTU Hirtshals Campus

Course code 25326
Course type Candidate

7.500,00 DKK