The potential for using red claw crayfish and hybrid African catfish as biological control agents for Schistosoma host snails
The potential of red claw crayfish and hybrid African catfish (Clarias gariepinus and Clarias ngamensis) as predators for Schistosoma host snails was evaluated in 2014 by monitoring the consumption of snails by crayfish and catfish in experimental tanks over time under laboratory conditions. After 15 days, both crayfish and catfish had significantly reduced the populations of Bulinus globosus. Crayfish consumed 6.9 snails d−1, whereas catfish consumed 5.9 snails d−1. However, when supplied with an alternative prey, Melanoides tuberculata (100 individuals per tank), crayfish clearly preferred M. tuberculata (100% consumed over seven days) to B. globosus (100 individuals per tank) (54% consumed over the same period). Catfish, conversely, did not have a clear preference for either prey species, consuming 77% and 88% of M. tuberculata and B. globosus, respectively. It was also observed that young catfish were more efficient predators than older ones, because of ontogenetic shifts in their diet with age. Hybrid catfish retain the molluscivorous characteristics of their parent stock and red claw crayfish also preys on Schistosoma host snails. However, the effectiveness of both predators is affected by the presence of an alternative prey. Therefore, under suitable conditions, these species can be considered for biological control of schistosomiasis transmission.
Keywords: Bulinus globosus, Cherax quadricarinatus, Clarias gariepinus, Clarias ngamensis, Melanoides tuberculata, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Schistosomiasis