Chemical anesthetics induce stress responses, and most leave residues in fish tissues that require a certain withdrawal time before the animal can be released into the environment. Therefore, alternatives are needed in cases when fish must be released immediately, for example, during egg-collecting operations or after implanting elastomer tags. To evaluate pulsed direct current as an alternative method of immobilization, individual lake trout Salvelinus namaycush were electrically immobilized using various pulsed-DC voltage gradients and shock durations. Duration of opercular recovery and narcosis were measured for individual fish. Fish were euthanized 24 h after electrical immobilization and processed for lateral radiograph analysis and assessment of perivertebral hemorrhaging by dissection. Survival of lake trout after electrical immobilization at 0.6 V/cm for 30 or 40 s or 0.8 V/cm for 5 or 15 s was monitored for 81 or 84 d after immobilization. Mean narcosis duration increased with voltage gradient and shock duration. Larger fish had longer periods of narcosis at the same combination of voltage gradient and shock duration. Radiological evaluation indicated that 9 of 28 fish in the oldest age-class tested had detectable injuries of the vertebral column, but all but one were in the lowest injury category. Although vertebral column injuries were observed in most small fish, the majority of vertebral column injuries were minor compressions involving two to seven vertebrae. Of the 82 lake trout electrically immobilized to assess long-term survival, only 5 died (6%). Our data suggest that lake trout could be electrically immobilized for a sufficient period to allow field workers to collect length and weight data and implant visible implant tags or colored elastomer tags. The technique we used, however, is probably not appropriate for procedures that require immobilization for more than 2a??3 min.
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Short-duration electrical immobilization of lake trout