Fish Health and Welfare

This two-day course will give you a solid understanding of the biology of fish, fish health and disease, disease prevention, fish welfare and relevant legislation.

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Key facts

  • Start date March 7, May 2, June 20, August 29, Oct 24, Dec 5 2024
  • Duration2 days
  • Fees Couse only: £650. Course and accommodation: £750.
  • Mode of study full time
  • Delivery on campus


This two-day course is aimed at all aquaculture stakeholders and is designed to provide a solid understanding of the biological particularities of fish, fish health and disease, disease prevention, fish welfare and relevant legislation, and an overview of salmon production in Scotland.

The core course includes a mix of classroom lectures and laboratory practical sessions and allows for up to 12 participants. It has a duration of two days and runs six times each year, approximately every two months. Dates for 2024 are:

  • August 29th - 30th
  • December 5th - 6th
  • June 20th – 21st
  • March 7th – 8th
  • October 24th - 25th
  • May 2nd – 3rd

The CPD programme is offered by the Institute of Aquaculture and is focused on Animal Welfare. Our unique training services strive to stimulate the knowledge required as a basis for operational excellence of the workforce that will support the continuous growth of the industry.

Bespoke courses can also be developed if you have specific needs for your organisation.

Entrance requirements

This is a foundation course and there are no entry level requirements as it is designed for all backgrounds.


By attending this course you will gain insight into:

  • fish welfare;
  • why does fish welfare matter;
  • industry standards, good practice and legislation;
  • fish biology, anatomy and physiology;
  • salmon life cycle and smolt production;
  • handling techniques, dissection and tissue sampling;
  • fish stress, health and disease;
  • how vaccines work;
  • main fish diseases and pathogens;
  • sea lice monitoring and control;
  • preventive and therapeutic strategies;
  • managing gill problems;
  • biosecurity, veterinary health and welfare plans and record keeping.

Structure and content

Welcome, course enrolment and introduction.

Welfare: what is it and how do we measure it:

  • What is welfare?
  • Welfare in Aquaculture.
  • Five freedoms.
  • Why fish welfare matters.
  • How can we measure welfare – Operational Welfare Indicators (OWI).

Welfare standards:

  • Ethical food labelling scheme.
  • What are RSPCA welfare standards.
  • How we work with the Aquaculture sector.
  • Current areas of welfare importance.

Fish physiology – refresher:

  • Brief outline of fish external and internal anatomy.
  • Basic processes and functions of fish systems.
  • Salmon life cycle and smolt production.
  • Smolt assessment and monitoring.

Practical session:

  • Applied external and internal gross examination of the fish.
  • Blood sampling and processing.
  • Skin scrapes and gill fresh preparation.
  • Bacteriology samples: transport swabs and inoculation on an agar plate.
  • Organ fresh smears/imprint with Gram stain.
  • Histology sampling procedure.
  • Sampling for virology and PCR.
  • Operational Welfare indicators.

Health: what it is and how do we measure it:

  • Stress, health and disease.

Main diseases and transmission in farmed fish:

  • An introduction to infectious and non-infectious diseases.
  • Main viral, bacterial, fungal diseases in aquaculture.
  • Key parasitic and environmental diseases.
  • Notifiable diseases.

Sea lice case study:

  • Sea lice biology and life cycle.
  • Sea lice identification and monitoring.
  • Fish anaesthesia during the lice count – best practice.
  • Impact of lice burden on fish condition.
  • Medicinal and non-medicinal sea lice control.

Case studies - health and welfare.

Delivery and assessment

This is a two-day face-to-face course with a mix of classroom learning and laboratory practice. Training is provided by our experienced, world-class researchers from various disciplines and guest speakers from the aquaculture sector. The course runs at the teaching and laboratory facilities of the Institute of Aquaculture. 

Module coordinator

For enquiries about this course, please contact the Institute of Aquaculture:

Telephone: +44 (0) 1786 467878


What next?

Contact us

If you have any questions about entry requirements for our continuing professional development and short courses, contact our Admissions team.

For all other questions, please use our enquiry form.