Gaskiya Diagnostics’ affordable, quick solution will target smallholder aquaculture farms
In aquaculture, disease outbreaks are the ultimate profit killers.
Because fish are submerged in water, their overall health can be difficult to track. And when disease breaks out in a cage or in a tank, it can be nearly impossible to stop.
“There’s a period of time before you see it and recognize that you have a problem,” said Brent Whitaker, a longtime veterinarian who has worked in various capacities for the National Aquarium since 1989. “We are very limited in the sorts of medications we can use if we face a disease outbreak.”
Ken Malone, cofounder of Early Charm Ventures, a Baltimore-based investment and consulting firm, said that, when faced with disease, some farmers can lose their entire stocks in a matter of weeks.
“It’s devastating – especially for small fish farms,” added Malone. Early Charm hopes to address this problem with a new start-up effort called Gaskiya Diagnostics.
The company, which debuted at this year’s Fish 2.0 competition, is in the fundraising stage. It plans to release paper-based rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits (think: home pregnancy tests), that will allow fish farmers to test for the presence of common disease-causing pathogens – such as Aeromonas hydrophila, which causes “ulcer disease,” or Vibrio, which causes vibriosis – in fish before they impact the entire stock.