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Implanting 8-mm Passive Integrated Transponder Tags into Small Brook Trout: Effects on Growth and Survival in the Laboratory

J. O’Donnell, Matthew, Letcher, Benjamin H.
North American Journal of Fisheries Management 2017 v.37 no.3 pp. 605-611
Salvelinus fontinalis, fish, models, researchers, summer, transponders
Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags are commonly used to investigate relationships between individual fish and their environment. The recent availability of smaller tags has provided the opportunity to tag smaller fish. In this study, we implanted 8-mm PIT tags into small Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis (35–50 mm FL; 0.35–1.266 g) and compared tag retention, growth rates, and survival of PIT-tagged fish with those of fish subjected to handling only or to handling plus fin clipping. We also examined how initial size at tagging affected absolute and specific growth rates of PIT-tagged individuals over time. We found that survival was 100%, tag retention was 96.7%, and fish size did not vary across treatments at 29 and 64 d posttagging. Additionally, there was no evidence that growth rate (FL or mass) was influenced by the initial size of the fish that were PIT tagged. Our results indicate that retention rates of 8-mm PIT tags surgically implanted into small Brook Trout are high and that there is no discernible effect on growth or survival in the laboratory. The ability to implant smaller PIT tags into smaller fish earlier in the season would allow researchers conducting PIT tag studies to expand demographic models to estimate survival of age-0 fish through the summer of their first year. Received May 27, 2016; accepted March 9, 2017 Published online May 4, 2017