Subcutaneous injection of visible implant elastomer in sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus Linnaeus, 1758): a study on compatibility and retention

A. Nastoll, B. Feneis, T. Ring, M. Schubert, H. Wedekind, J. Geist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to mark endangered sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus) with visible implant elastomer (VIE) in order to assess mortality, compatibility, retention, persistence and histological reactions resulting from this tagging technique. It was hypothesized there would be only minor effects on the fishes' health, and assumed that acute effects would be more pronounced than long-term effects. On 11 September 2013, 20 specimens were tagged ventrally with visible implant elastomer, 20 received a subcutaneous injection with 0.9% NaCl solution, and another 20 served as untreated control. Mean total length was 28.0 ± 1.8 cm and mean body mass 64.1 ± 12.0 g. The sterlets were kept in four 4,000-L tanks filled with 2,400-L water. Acute effects were monitored for 95 days, where fish were held at temperatures between 2.4°C and 15.2°C, reflecting outdoor conditions. Chronic effects were examined 282 days post-tagging through histological sections of the tagging region in five sterlets. During the first 95 days of observation, tag retention was 100%. No signs of incompatibility were detected. Body mass did not significantly differ between VIE-tagged fish and controls. At day 282 post-tagging, however, distinct tissue reactions were visible at the tagging sites of nine fish. Histological examination of five fish revealed a variable degree of infiltration with leukocytes in the areas around the elastomer, which did not necessarily correspond with the externally visible degree of inflammation. After medical treatment, the lesions healed without complications, whereas the retention rate of the VIE tags was 5%. According to the findings, the tag location rather than the tag itself was responsible for the externally visible irritations, indicating that the ventral subcutis of sterlet is not a suitable site, even for small VIE tags in long-term studies. The results of this study also suggest that VIE marking should in general be critically evaluated before application in field studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1170
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Ichthyology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


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