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Here’s Why Scientists Gave Fish Weed

Adam Drury

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Here's Why Scientists Gave Fish Weed

Everyone knows cannabis is big business. And this prospect of economic growth and opportunity, of course, is one of the most persuasive arguments in the case for legalization. From seed to smoke, the cannabis industry stretches across multiple sectors of the economy. But who could have guessed that weed would attract the attention of the aquaculture industry as a means to increase profit margins?  But some in the aquaculture, or fish-farming industry, are hoping cannabis can help their bottom line. Here’s why scientists gave fish weed.

Fish Farmers Hope Weed Will Help Fish Chill Out

Like other food industries, the aquaculture industry is fast-moving toward a large-scale, factory-style production system. Where once fish were farmed from extensive pond systems, now they’re grown and harvested from what are essentially barrels.

You’ve probably seen videos of factory farms, with animals packed into tight cages and pens, writhing in their own feces. For intensive fish farms, the situation is much the same.

Fish are packed into cramped, congested tanks. And this, predictably, leads to all sorts of grossness. The water quality is terrible, diseases are more rampant.

And it turns out, the fish don’t much like this, so they turn violent and aggressive toward each other.

The problem for the aquaculture industry is that the move toward intensive farming, which was supposed to increase profits, is turning out to be quite costly, as dead or diseased fish don’t make it to market.

But rather than returning to old methods, fish farmers are looking for an innovative solution. And here’s why scientists gave fish weed. Aquaculturists are hoping weed will help the fish chill out, given their fish-in-a-barrel situation.

Cannabis, of course, can help people relax. So researchers wanted to see whether weed pellets mixed in with fish food would have the same effect.

Does Weed Help Fish Relax?

No. No, it doesn’t.

At least, according to the researchers who fed cannabis oil to the fish. They had hoped that THC-rich cannabis oil would decrease stress and therefore instances of disease in factory-farmed tilapia.

These scientists also investigated whether THC oil would help the fish grow more quickly and improve their immune system. Here’s why scientists gave fish weed: they wanted to give them the munchies in hopes they’d fatten up faster.

But, alas, the researchers did not get the effects they were hoping for.

Apparently, the THC did increase the metabolic rate of the fish. Studies into the effects of weed on human metabolism have shown that cannabis does have a positive metabolic effect. But researchers are still trying to understand exactly why.

The increase in fish metabolism, however, did not lead to an increase in fish growth. Like humans, stoned fish ate more food, but their increased metabolism simply burned through the calories, rather than increased their body mass.

In other words, cannabis oil had the opposite effect fish farmers were looking for. Profit margins would suffer from having to feed fish more food for the same product.

And since, the researchers argued, their results “suggest that cannabis does not improve immune response of tilapia or body composition,” and instead “reduce[s] growth rate,” it looks like weed is not the answer the aquaculture industry was looking for.

No, weed didn’t chill the fish out at all. Bummer.

Scientists Have Been Getting Fish High Since The ’70s!

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time scientists gave weed to fish to see if they would chillax.

Here’s why scientists gave fish weed back in 1971. They wanted to see if THC would lower the aggressive behavior of Siamese Fighting Fish, or ‘Betta’ fish (Betta splendens).

That results of that study, which appeared in the journal Pharmacology, indicated that THC was, in fact, a “strong suppressor” of aggressive behavior.

But after about 10 treatments of THC-laced food, the fish actually developed a tolerance to weed! So there’s only so much you can do to chill out an aggressive Betta fish. The more you know…

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