The phenomenon of incidental sex reversal was observed in experiments originally designed to determine the importance of feeding duration and feed quality in the optimization of masculinization and feminization treatments of Oreochromis niloticus (L.) fry by oral application of hormones. Four separate experiments were conducted: (1) masculinization and (2) feminization using three feeding durations and (3) masculinization and (4) feminization using three alternative feed mixtures. Masculinization experiments incorporating 17 α-methyltestosterone (MT) into the feed at 40 mg kg−1 were applied to putative monosex male progeny whilst feminization treatments were applied to putative all female fry using diethylstilboestrol (DES) at 1000 mg kg−1. Treatments were applied outdoors in small cages suspended in 900-l circular concrete tanks with a flow through rate of 1-l min−1. Replicate cages for all treatments and the controls in each experiment were reared together in the same tank. Only the first experiment produced significant differences in sex ratio, with the control treatment producing a slightly lower proportion of males than the three MT treatments at different durations. The most significant finding was that in all experiments the sex ratio of the control differed significantly from expectations and in all but experiment 1, did not differ from those of the treated fish in which sex reversal had clearly been effected. It appears likely that incidental sex reversal occurred in the control fish as a result of the accumulation of active metabolites from the treated fish and/or leachates from uneaten food given to fish in the same water body. The results are discussed in the context of improving the efficiency and safety of hormonal sex reversal treatments.
Abucay, J.S.; Mair, G.C. Hormonal sex reversal of tilapias: implications of hormone treatment application in closed water systems. Aquaculture Research (1997) 28 (11) 841-845. [DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2109.1997.00878.x]