Yucca Schidigera plant is native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Yucca and its extracts have many beneficial effects when used in poultry, livestock and aquaculture, it has shown promising results in controlling the buildup of ammonia in animal systems. Yucca has been shown to improve the health and growth of many animal species, including white shrimp, horses, Arbor Acres broilers, and growing rabbits. Dietary yucca supplementation increases protein metabolism in animals, which may reduce ammonia excretion, improve protein metabolism, increase feed utilization and lead to higher food intake and growth rates, and enhance immunity.

Yucca extract has also shown anti-protozoal effects, they also possess antioxidant, growth-promoting, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects in several species of fish. Aquaculture studies using yucca extracts showed that shrimp had increased levels of red blood cells and white blood cells. Several studies carried on mirror carp, Nile tilapia, Amur catfish (Silurus asotus), striped catfish, European perch, and other species, have found that adding yucca extract to their diets can improve immunity, reduces mortality and morbidity effects. There is also evidence that yucca extracts improve the circulatory system of shrimp and fish. Do you know how Yucca schidigera beneficial for fish health?

Anti-inflammatory effects

The anti-inflammatory effects of yucca extracts were beneficial to the health of Nile tilapia and shrimp. A number of studies have demonstrated the potential of Yucca Schidigera Extract for aquacultural use. A recent study found that yucca extracts could decrease the levels of ammonia in aquaculture systems. The concentration of saponins in yucca is a significant determining factor of its ammonia-control efficacy. However, this effect depends on the initial NH4 concentration in the water and the concentration of the extract in the water. A previous study by Dawson and Headon (1990) suggested that yucca extracts reduce ammonia levels in aquatic environments. This result suggests that the phytosterols in yucca extracts could bind to ammonia and convert it to a different chemical substance.

Promote fish growth

In studies, researchers found that yucca increased the survival rate of several species of fish. These studies have indicated that yucca extract can increase survival rates of both cultivated and wild fish species.  Research in aquaculture has proven that Yucca schidigera extracts can reduce ammonia levels and improve the growth and nutritional status of fish. These effects have been observed in studies involving channel catfish and Pacific red snapper. It has also been found to improve the survival and growth of juvenile fingerling Nile tilapia and striped catfish. It also improves intestinal status and enzyme activity. The extract reduces the level of total ammonia nitrogen in fish and also improves dissolved oxygen concentration. It also improves a variety of hepatic functions including cellular nitrogen metabolism and the production of hepatic glucose.

Yucca schidigera contains high concentrations of steroidal compounds. These compounds are effective at adsorbing harmful compounds such as ammonia. One study found that yucca extracts significantly reduced accumulated ammonia in a shrimp pond. These results were attributed to the binding of ammonia with steroidal saponins found in the plant. It significantly improved feed intake and feed conversion ratios in aquatic animals. Furthermore, yucca significantly decreased ammonia accumulation and stressed fish. In addition to lowering ammonia levels, yucca extracts can also improve the immune status of farmed fish.

Boost immune  system

The efficacy of yucca as an innate immune stimulator is attributed to its high content of bioactive ingredients such as alkaloids, terpenoids, saponins, steroids, phenols, tannins, glycosides and flavonoids. Importantly, treatment with yucca extract enhances immune responses as well as the activation of antioxidant capacity. Aquatic organisms that ingest yucca extract exhibit direct enhanced local intestinal immunity, which is associated with a general enhanced immune system because yucca acts as an antimicrobial agent against pathogenic microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). As a result, yucca reduces gastrointestinal inflammation caused by pathogens and toxins and relieves stress caused by adverse aquaculture conditions, and can increase the resistance of aquatic animals to infection by pathogenic microorganisms that may attack organisms in the pond. Moreover, the plant’s high content of iNOS (inducible NOS) may prevent the development of diseases such as fish encephalitis. It has also been observed that yucca extracts increased FBW and FCR levels in D. labrax throughout the experimental trial period.

Improving water quality

Severe ammonia toxicity can have negative effects on aquatic animals, including reduced feed consumption, worsening physiological function, gill respiratory instability, oxidative stress, decreased immunity, and gill inflammatory features. The metabolism of proteins in the body also deteriorates, resulting in high energy expenditure to balance protein levels in the body.

Castillo-Vargasmachuca et al. (2015) found that yucca extracts also improved the quality of water. The effects of Yucca schidigera extract on aquatic life have been studied by Tiedwell J.H. and colleagues. Their findings indicate that the plant extract improves water quality, ammonia excretion, and toxicity in channel catfish and hybrid tilapia (Oreo-chromis mossambicus x O. niloticus). It improved the dissolved oxygen level in the water, decreased ammonia levels, and improved the fish’s growth performance. These positive effects suggested that yucca extracts could serve as a functional water supplement for aquaculture systems.This plant has a potential as a preconditioning agent for water-recirculating systems, but should not be used directly in contact with the fish.