Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Retention of intra-peritoneal transmitters and post-operative recovery of four Australian native fish species

Gavin L. Butler A C , Brad Mackay A , Stuart J. Rowland A and Bruce C. Pease B

A NSW Department of Primary Industries, Grafton Aquaculture Centre, PMB 2, Grafton, NSW 2460, Australia.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Port Stephens Fisheries Centre, PMB 1, Nelson Bay, NSW 2315, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: gavin.butler@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 60(4) 361-370 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF08147
Submitted: 7 May 2008  Accepted: 18 October 2008   Published: 29 April 2009

Abstract

Regulation of the world’s rivers has permanently altered the natural flow regime in many systems. Australia’s rivers have also been subject to extensive modification; however, little is known of the effect altered flows have on many native fish species. Active transmitters offer an effective method of monitoring fish movement but there is little information on tag retention and post-tagging survival for most Australian species. Four fish species from the north-eastern rivers of New South Wales were surgically implanted with dummy transmitters to determine retention and incision healing rates. Eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) were implanted with three types of dummy radio transmitters and the transmitter with the shortest externally exited antenna is recommended. In Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata), low water temperature, abdominal distention in females and the breakdown of dissolvable sutures contributed to the expulsion of dummy acoustic transmitters. Freshwater mullet (Myxus petardi) and sea mullet (Mugil cephalus) were implanted with dummy acoustic transmitters and healing rates were different between the two species. The present study demonstrated species specificity in tag suitability and recovery rates, the advantages of quarantining fish before release following the surgical implantation of transmitters and the value of controlled experiments to determine optimal transmitter design and post-operative conditions.

Additional keywords: acoustic transmitters, PIT tags, radio transmitters, suture material.


Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, North Coast Water, Country Energy and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. We would like to thank the Clarence River Monitoring Committee and in particular Tony Broderick for their support and guidance. We would also like to thank Peter Boyd, Mick Rogers, Warren Stevens, Ashley Holdsworth, Billy Ross, Gary Reilly and Neil Winters for their help in collecting fish. Thanks also to Lee Baumgartner, Bob Creese and the anonymous referees who commented and helped in the preparation of the final draft. This study was undertaken in accordance with the protocols outlined by the NSW Animal Care and Ethics Committee under Permit No. 06/06-PSFC.


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