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Assessing the suitability of a non-lethal biopsy punch for sampling fish muscle tissue

Henderson, C. J., Stevens, T. F., Lee, S. Y.
Fish physiology and biochemistry 2016 v.42 no.6 pp. 1521-1526
Lethrinus, Lutjanus, antiseptics, biopsy, fish, genetic analysis, mortality, muscle tissues, sampling, stable isotopes, stress response
Samples for the analysis of stable isotopes, genetics and other tissue sampling methods of small fish are often taken via lethal techniques. The aim of this study was to determine the suitability of a non-lethal sampling method for removing muscle tissue from fish under 30 cm total length (TL). A 4-mm biopsy punch was used to remove muscle tissue from two different species, Lutjanus russelli (Lutjanidae) and Lethrinus laticaudis (Lethrinidae). Several scales were removed from the sampling location, and then the biopsy punch was inserted to remove the muscle tissue. Immediately following this, a mixture of Fish Bandage™ and three drops of Betadine™ antiseptic solution was applied to the wound to reduce the chance of infection. The biopsy punch removes an average of 8 mg of muscle tissue from the fish, more than is required for stable isotope and genetic analyses (1 mg). The condition of fish subjected to our three treatments, biopsied fish, a handling controls and a tank control, was compared via gill beat counts at the time of biopsy and 3, 6, 9, 12 and 24 h after treatment. Overall, no instances of mortality were recorded across the study for all species and all treatments. This method has been found to be a suitable non-lethal method in the removal of muscle tissue from these two fish species, potentially also other species under 30 cm TL, by eliminating mortality and minimising stress responses in sampled fishes.