Skip to main content Accessibility help

Histological development of the digestive system of the Amazonian pimelodid catfish Pseudoplatystoma punctifer

  • E. Gisbert (a1), C. Moreira (a1), D. Castro-Ruiz (a2), S. Öztürk (a3), C. Fernández (a2), S. Gilles (a4), J. Nuñez (a5), F. Duponchelle (a5), S. Tello (a2), J. F. Renno (a5), C. García-Dávila (a2) and M. J. Darias (a5)...


The organogenesis of the digestive system was described in the Amazonian pimelodid catfish species Pseudoplatystoma punctifer from hatching (3.5 mm total length, TL) to 41 days post-fertilization (dpf) (58.1 mm TL) reared at 28°C. Newly hatched larvae showed a simple digestive tract, which appeared as a straight undifferentiated and unfolded tube lined by a single layer of columnar epithelial cells (future enterocytes). During the endogenous feeding period, comprised between 20 and 96 h post-fertilization (3.5 to 6.1 mm TL), the larval digestive system experienced a fast transformation with the almost complete development and differentiation of most of digestive organs (buccopahrynx, oesophagus, intestine, liver and exocrine pancreas). Yolk reserves were not completely depleted at the onset of exogenous feeding (4 dpf, 6.1 mm TL), and a period of mixed nutrition was observed up to 6 to 7 dpf (6.8 to 7.3 mm TL) when yolk was definitively exhausted. The stomach was the organ that latest achieved its complete differentiation, characterized by the development of abundant gastric glands in the fundic stomach between 10 and 15 dpf (10.9 to 15.8 mm TL) and the formation of the pyloric sphincter at the junction of the pyloric stomach and the anterior intestine at 15 dpf (15.8 mm TL). The above-mentioned morphological and histological features observed suggested the achievement of a digestive system characteristic of P. punctifer juveniles and adults. The ontogeny of the digestive system in P. punctifer followed the same general pattern as in most Siluriform species so far, although some species-specific differences in the timing of differentiation of several digestive structures were noted, which might be related to different reproductive guilds, egg and larval size or even different larval rearing practices. According to present findings on the histological development of the digestive system in P. punctifer, some recommendations regarding the rearing practices of this species are also provided in order to improve the actual larval rearing techniques of this fast-growing Neotropical catfish species.


Corresponding author



Hide All
Baras, E, Silva del Aguila, DV, Montalvan Naranjos, GV, Dugué, R, Chu Koo, F, Duponchelle, F, Renno, JF, Garcia-Dávila, JF and Nuñez, J 2011. How many meals a day to minimize cannibalism when rearing larvae of the Amazonian catfish Pseudoplatystoma punctifer? The cannibal’s point of view. Aquatic Living Resources 24, 379390.
Baras, E, Montalvan Naranjos, GV, Silva del Aguila, DV, Koo, FC, Dugué, R, Chavez, C, Duponchelle, F, Renno, JF, Garcia-Dávila, CC and Nuñez, J 2012. Ontogenetic variation of food intake and gut evacuation rate in larvae of the doncella Pseudoplatystoma punctifer, as measured using a non-destructive method. Aquaculture Research 43, 17641776.
Beeby, EC 2012. Aquaculture and rural livelihoods in the Bolivian Amazon – systems of Innovation and pro-poor technology development. PhD thesis, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, 281pp.
Boglino, A, Gisbert, E, Darias, MJ, Estévez, A, Andree, KB, Sarasquete, C and Ortiz-Delgado, JB 2012. Isolipidic diets differing in their essential fatty acid profiles affect the deposition of unsaturated neutral lipids in the intestine, liver and vascular system of Senegalese sole larvae and early juveniles. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 162, 5970.
Cahu, C and Zambonino-Infante, JL 2001. Substitution of live food by formulated diets in marine fish larvae. Aquaculture 200, 161180.
Chen, BN, Qin, JG, Kumar, MS, Hutchinson, W and Clarke, S 2006. Ontogenetic development of the digestive system in yellowtail kingfish Seriola lalandi larvae. Aquaculture 256, 489501.
de Amorim, PM, Campos Gomes, BV, Simoes Martins, Y, Sato, Y, Rizzo, E and Bazzoli, N 2009. Early development of the silver catfish Rhamdia quelen (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824) (Pisces: Heptapteridae) from the Sao Francisco River Basin, Brazil. Aquaculture Research 40, 172180.
FAO, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department 2013. Global aquaculture production statistics for the year 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from
Gamal, AM, Elsheikh, EH and Nasr, ES 2012. Morphological adaptation of the buccal cavity in relation to feeding habits of the omnivorous fish, Clarias gariepinus: a scanning electron microscopic study. The Journal of Basic and Applied Zoology 65, 191198.
Garcia, A, Tello, S, Vargas, G and Duponchelle, F 2009. Patterns of commercial fish landings in the Loreto region (Peruvian Amazon) between 1984 and 2006. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry 35, 5367.
Gisbert, E and Williot, P 1997. Larval behavior and effect of the timing of initial feeding on growth and survival of Siberian sturgeon larvae under small scale hatchery production. Aquaculture 156, 6376.
Gisbert, E, Williot, P and Castelló-Orvay, F 2000. Influence of egg size on growth and survival of early life stages of Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baeri) under small scale hatchery conditions. Aquaculture 183, 8394.
Gisbert, E, Ortiz-Delgado, JB and Sarasquete, C 2008. Nutritional cellular biomarkers in early life stages of fish. Histology and Histopathology 23, 15251539.
Gisbert, E, Morais, S and Moyano, FJ 2013. Feeding and digestion. In Larval fish aquaculture (ed. JG Kim), pp. 73123. Nova Publishers, New York.
Gomes, LC, Baldisserotto, B and Senhorini, JA 2000. Effect of stocking density on water quality, survival, and growth of larvae of the matrinxã, Brycon cephalus (Characidae), in ponds. Aquaculture 183, 7381.
Goulding, M 1980. The fishes and the forest: explorations in Amazonian natural history. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, USA, 280pp.
Gozlan, RE, Britton, JR, Cowx, I and Copp, GH 2010. Current knowledge on non-native freshwater fish introductions. Journal of Fish Biology 76, 751786.
Jaroszewska, M and Dabrowski, K 2011. Utilization of yolk: transition from endogenous to exogenous nutrition in fish. In Larval fish nutrition (ed. GJ Holt), 1st edition, pp. 183218. John Wiley & Sons Inc., Chichester, UK.
Kamler, E 1992. Early life history of fish: an energetics approach. Chapman & Hall, London.
Kozarić, Z, Kuzir, S, Petrinec, Z, Gjurcevic, E and Bozic, M 2008. The development of the digestive tract in larval European catfish (Silurus glanis L.). Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia 37, 141146.
Lazo, JP, Darias, MJ and Gisbert, E 2011. Ontogeny of the digestive tract. In Larval fish nutrition (ed. GJ Holt), 1st edition, pp. 546. Wiley & Sons Inc., Chichester, UK.
Loebmann, D, Mai, AGC and Lee, JT 2010. The invasion of five alien species in the Delta do Parnaíba Environmental Protection Area, Northeastern Brazil. Revista de Biología Tropical 58, 909923.
Mai, MG and Zaniboni Filho, E 2005. Efeito da idade de estocagem em tanques externos no desempenho da larvicultura do dourado Salminus brasiliensis . Acta Scientiarum 27, 287296.
Martínez-Espinosa, M and Pedini, M 1998. Aquaculture in Latin America and the Caribbean. FAO Aquaculture Newsletter 18, 2024.
Mendoza, D 2011. Informe: Panorama de la Acuicultura Mundial, en América Latina y el Caribe y en el Perú. Dirección General de Acuicultura, Ministerio de la Producción, Lima, Perú, 66pp.
Mitchell, EG 1904. Oral breathing valves of teleosts, their modifications and relation to the shape of the mouth. The American Naturalist 38, 153164.
NACA/FAO 2001. Aquaculture in the third millennium. In Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20–25 February 2000 (ed. RP Subasinghe, P Bueno, MJ Phillips, C Hough, SE Mc Gladdery and JE Arthur), 471pp. NACA/FAO, Bangkok/Rome.
Nuñez, J, Dugué, R, Corcuy Arana, N, Duponchelle, F, Renno, JF, Raynaud, T, Hubert, N and Legendre, M 2008. Induced breeding and larval rearing of Surubí, Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum (Linnaeus, 1766), from the Bolivian Amazon. Aquaculture Research 39, 764776.
Nuñez, J, Castro, D, Fernández, C, Dugué, R, Chu-Koo, F, Duponchelle, F, García, C and Renno, JF 2011. Hatching rate and larval growth variations in Pseudoplatystoma punctifer: maternal and paternal effects. Aquaculture Research 42, 764775.
Papadakis, IE, Zaiss, MM, Kyriakou, Y, Georgiou, G, Divanach, P and Mylonas, CC 2009. Histological evaluation of the elimination of Artemia nauplii from larval rearing protocols on the digestive system ontogeny of shi drum (Umbrina cirrosa L.). Aquaculture 253, 334342.
Pearse, AGE 1985. Histochemistry. Theoretical and applied, Vol. 2, analytic technology. Churchill Livingstone, New York, NY.
Pradhan, PK, Jena, JK, Mitra, G, Sood, N and Gisbert, E 2012. Ontogeny of the digestive tract in butter catfish Ompok bimaculatus (Bloch) larvae. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry 38, 16011617.
Pradhan, PK, Jena, JK, Mitra, G, Sood, N and Gisbert, E 2013. Effects of different weaning strategies on survival, growth and digestive system development in butter catfish Ompok bimaculatus (Bloch) larvae. Aquaculture 424–425, 120130.
Rasband, WS 1997–2012. ImajeJ. US National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. Retrieved from
Saelee, T, Kiriratnikon, S, Suwanjarat, J, Thongboon, L and Pongsuwan, K 2011. The development of the digestive system in Clarias nieuhofii larvae: histology and histochemical studies. Journal of the Microscopy Society of Thailand 4, 1619.
Sarasquete, C and Gutiérrez, M 2005. New retrachromic VOF stain (Type III-G.S) for normal and pathological fish tissues. European Journal of Histochemistry 49, 105114.
Sarasquete, MC, Polo, A and Yúera, M 1995. Histology and histochemistry of the development of the digestive system of larval gilthead seabream, Sparus aurata L. Aquaculture 130, 7992.
Stroband, HWJ and Kroon, AG 1981. The development of the stomach in Clarias lazera and the intestinal absorption of protein macromolecules. Cell and Tissue Research 215, 397415.
Subasinghe, R, Soto, D and Jia, J 2009. Global aquaculture and its role in sustainable development. Reviews in Aquaculture 1, 29.
Treviño, L, Alvarez-González, CA, Perales-García, N, Arévalo-Galán, L, Uscanga-Martínez, A, Márquez-Couturier, G, Fernández, I and Gisbert, E 2011. A histological study of the organogenesis of the digestive system in bay snook Petenia splendida Günther (1862), from hatching to the juvenile stage. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 27, 7382.
Tso, P 1994. Intestinal lipid absorption. In Physiology of the gastrointestinal tract (ed. LR Johnson), 3rd edition, pp. 18671907. Raven Press, New York.
Verreth, JA, Torrelle, E, Spazier, E and Sluiszen, HW 1992. The development of a functional digestive system in the African catfish, Clarias garipinus . Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 23, 286298.
Yang, R, Xie, C, Fan, Q, Gao, C and Fang, L 2010. Ontogeny of the digestive tract in yellow catfish Pelteobagrus fulvidraco larvae. Aquaculture 302, 112123.
Yashpal, M, Kumari, U, Mittal, S and Mittal, AK 2006. Surface architecture of the mouth cavity of a carnivorous fish Rita rita (Hamilton, 1822) (Siluriformes, Bagridae). Belgian Journal of Zoology 136, 155162.
Zambonino-Infante, J, Gisbert, E, Sarasquete, C, Navarro, I, Gutiérrez, J and Cahu, C 2008. Ontogeny and physiology of the digestive system of marine fish larvae. In Feeding and digestive functions of fish (ed. JEO Cyrino, D Bureau, BG Kapoor), pp. 277344. Science Publishers Inc., Enfield.
Zambrano, L, Martínez-Meyer, E, Menezes, N and Peterson, AT 2006. Invasive potential of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in American freshwater systems. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63, 19031910.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed