Effects of passive integrated transponder tags on survival and growth of juvenile Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

Martin Hage Larsen, Aske N. Thorn, Christian Skov, Kim Aarestrup

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Abstract

Background: A laboratory experiment was conducted to assess the potential impacts of surgically implanted 23 and 32 mm passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags on survival, growth, and body condition of juvenile Atlantic salmon
Salmo salar. Rate of tag retention and healing of the tagging incision were also evaluated. Atlantic salmon of three different size classes (I: 80 to 99 mm fork length (FL), II: 100 to 119 mm FL, III: 120 to 135 mm FL) were allocated to each
of five experimental treatment groups: control, sham-operated (surgery without PIT-tag implantation), 23 mm PIT-tag implantation with and without suture closure of the incision, and 32 mm PIT-tag implantation without suture closure.

Results: Over the 35-day experiment, mortality occurred only among fish tagged with 32 mm PIT tags (14%) and all fish larger than 103 mm FL survived. Non-sutured Atlantic salmon between 80 and 99 mm FL implanted with 23 mm PIT
tags had a significantly lower mean specific growth rate of mass compared with untagged (control and sham-operated) and sutured conspecifics. However, no significant difference in growth was found between untagged fish and 23 mm
PIT-tagged fish 100 to 135 mm FL. Implantation of 32 mm PIT tags decreased growth in all size classes. Regardless of size class, body condition of the fish was not affected by PIT tagging. Retention rates of 23 mm PIT tags with and without suture closure were 100% and 97%, respectively; retention of 32 mm PIT tags without suture closure was 69%. At the end of the experiment, tagging incisions without suture closure were generally well-healed. Fungal infection and inflammation around the incision site occurred only when suture was used, in 46% of size class I, 21% of size class II and 38% of size class III.

Conclusions: Although suture closure of the incision following 23 mm PIT-tag implantation had a positive impact on growth of fish smaller than 100 mm FL, we advise against the use of sutures due to high rates of fungal infection around
the incision site. Hence, results suggest that surgical implantation of 23 mm PIT tags without suture closure of the incision is a feasible method for marking juvenile Atlantic salmon 100 to 135 mm FL. Further, we caution researchers about the use of 32 mm PIT tags in juvenile Atlantic salmon 80 to 135 mm FL due to high rate of tag rejection and reduced survival and growth
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Biotelemetry
Volume1
Issue number19
ISSN2050-3385
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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