[en] tagging ; surgery ; cyanoacrilate adhesive ; fish ; eel ; Anguilla anguilla
[en] Externally attached telemetry transmitters are unsuitable to tag yellow eels Anguilla anguilla (L.), in streams where they exhibit cryptic life habits and hide in narrow cavities between rocks. We evaluated the adequacy of surgical implantation and closing procedures for tagging eels with biotelemetry transmitters. Epoxy dummy transmitters (18_8 mm, 1.6–1.7 g) were implanted in eels anaesthetised with 2-phenoxy-ethanol (0.9 ml l−1), through a 20mm mid ventral incision made in the posterior quarter of their body cavity. The incision was either left open, or closed in different ways: stitches (absorbable or non absorbable suture material) or commercial-grade cyanoacrilate adhesive (LoctiteTM). Fish were stocked in a 4 m2 flow through tank (15–17 _C), controlled daily for mortality and weekly for evaluating the healing process.
No transmitter was expelled over a 12-week period, even in eels with unclosed incisions, of which 50% healed within 28 days (t50). Regardless of the nature of the filament, suturing induced skin and muscle necrosis, caused significantly higher mortality rates (60% after 10 weeks) and paradoxically slowed down the healing rate (40 and 45 d, respectively). Cyanoacrilate suppressed the inflammatory response and granted higher survival rate (90%), but did not permit to speed up the closing process (t50 = 52 d), as eels actively bit and removed the adhesive within hours. This behaviour was suppressed when we applied a freshly cut fragment of the eel dorsal fin as a biological bandage over the drying cyanoacrilate. The adhesive remained in place for one to two days and permitted to substantially increase the healing rate (t50 = 15 d). These results substantiate the efficiency of surgery techniques for tagging eels with radio transmitters, at least for units of small weight and bulk.
Laboratory of Fish Demography and Aquaculture
Ministry of New Technologies (DGTRE) of the Walloon Government - Belgium