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Is total serum protein a good indicator for welfare in reared sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)?

  • Jean-Luc Coeurdacier (a1), Gilbert Dutto (a2), Eric Gasset (a2) and Jean-Paul Blancheton (a2)

Abstract

Reared sea bass were submitted to six stressful situations: hyperoxia with or without hypercapnia, increased stocking density in an open flow or recirculating system, transfer to another tank and nodavirus injection. The potentially negative impact of these factors on the lives of sea bass was investigated by measuring 9 water parameters and 19 fish parameters including total serum protein (TSP). TSP has already been used to evaluate stress. The present study investigates data of previous and new experiments, concentrating on the potential use of TSP as a routine indicator to assess welfare in sea bass reared on fish farms. In the current experiment, oxygen and carbon dioxide were seen to affect levels of TSP, but alterations were too erratic to enable proper comparison, probably because they are normal components of the fish environment and become toxic only by dose increase. TSP decreased when stocking density increased. After transfer to another tank, TSP decreased to 14% for three weeks and then increased during the fourth week through compensative overproduction, before returning to normal levels after 2 months. The results confirmed that transfer is an important stress factor for fish, with cumulative effects for successive transfers. TSP alteration of nodavirus-injected fish depends on the type of symptoms, which can be divided into 3 groups: (i) dying fish, in which TSP increased sharply due to over-production of protein involved in non-specific defences and inflammation, then decreased dramatically before death; (ii) whirling fish, a group that included both fish that later died, in which TSP decreased, and fish that subsequently survived, in which TSP increased due to development of specific immunity; and (iii) asymptomatic fish, in which TPS was similar to control levels and which were probably insensitive to nodavirus and/or had developed defences. In this paper, different mechanisms of TSP alteration are proposed and the interest of TSP as a field parameter is discussed. TSP is a non-destructive parameter that is robust, easy to measure everywhere and cheap, representing a suitable way of monitoring the overall welfare of fish by its regular increase. It can be used only as a “warning” of poor rearing conditions, however, and further investigations would be needed to identify the specific stress or health disorder.

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Corresponding author

a Corresponding author: jlcoeurd@ifremer.fr

References

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Is total serum protein a good indicator for welfare in reared sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)?

  • Jean-Luc Coeurdacier (a1), Gilbert Dutto (a2), Eric Gasset (a2) and Jean-Paul Blancheton (a2)

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