We all know that stress in our aquarium fish is a big concern, especially for newly caught fish or recent acquisitions. Many freshwater aquarists learn of this importance very early on with the widely available Stress Zyme which is proven to protect the slime coat of fish, but a new company is looking to reduce stress in a different way.
In the United States cannabidiol (CBD) oil has risen in popularity to reduce stress in people as well as a wide range of claims for different kinds of pets. Healthy Fins is the first such company promoting the benefits of CBD extract for fish, especially in reducing stress to help make fish healthier.
The thing is, it’s easy for anyone or any company to promote the medicine of the day with lots of bold claims, Healthy Fins is no different in stating: “When added to frozen or dry fish food Healthy Fins CBD helps lower the stress levels in fish” but they never discuss how they know this. When it comes to stress there’s a very well respected path towards showing the effectiveness of a given substance.
When animals are stressed out, including fish, people and whales, we release cortisol into the bloodstream and it’s an easy molecule to test for. If Healthy Fins really believes in the effectiveness of their CBD extract for fish, it’s not enough to say “well the fish look healthier and less stressed” – they need to test cortisol levels in various fish before and after being exposed to CBD.
Even in humans the actual effects of CBD is not very well fleshed out in the scientific literature, let alone when it comes to non-human subjects. At the moment the idea of using CBD oil in aquarium fish is interesting, but if Healthy Fins actually demonstrates any effect of CBD on Cortisol levels in fish, they could be onto something much more tangible.