Abstract When challenged with atypical Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida, exposure of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) to different humic-rich compounds resulted in a significant reduction in infection rates. Specifically, in fish exposed to (i) humic-rich water and sludge from a recirculating system, (ii) a synthetic humic acid, and (iii) a Leonardite-derived humic-rich extract, infection rates were reduced to 14.9%, 17.0% and 18.8%, respectively, as compared to a 46.8% infection rate in the control treatment. An additional set of experiments was performed to examine the effect of humic-rich components on the growth of the bacterial pathogen. Liquid culture medium supplemented with either humic-rich water from the recirculating system, the synthetic humic acid or the Leonardite humic-rich extract resulted in a growth reduction of 41.1%, 45.2% and 61.6%, respectively, as compared to the growth of the Aeromonas strain in medium devoid of humic substances. Finally, in a third set of experiments it was found that while the innate immune system of the carps was not affected by their exposure to humic-rich substances, their acquired immune system was affected. Fish, immunized against bovine serum albumin, displayed elevated antibody titres as compared to immunized carps which were not exposed to the various sources of humic substances.