The effects of food deprivation and environmental salinity (<1, 10 and 20) on survival, fish morphology, organization of the digestive system and body lipid reserves in European eel Anguilla anguilla during the transition from glass eel to elver, were evaluated. Fasted elvers kept in fresh water were able to withstand starvation for >60 days, while those in brackish environments (salinity 10 and 20) reached the level of irreversible starvation at 37 and 35 days, respectively. The high level of lipid reserves contained in liver inclusions and the abdominal cavity (perivisceral deposits) in elvers might explain their long resistance to starvation and differences in fasting tolerance under different salinities. Fasting resulted in a significant reduction of the elvers’ condition factor and body depth. There were severe histopathological changes in the digestive system and musculature, such as the alteration of the liver organization, and hepatic glycogen and lipid content, shrinkage of enterocytes and reduction of their height, pancreas degeneration, autolysis of the oesophageal and intestinal mucosa and disarrangement of myofibrils and degeneration of trunk musculature. Degeneration of the oesophageal and intestinal mucosa as a consequence of fasting might have impaired digestive and osmoregulatory functions in feed‐deprived fish, directly affecting the tolerance to starvation and survival. Length of food deprivation was associated with a significant increase in mortality, coefficient of variation, cannibalism and point of no return at high salinities. Mortality was dependent on food deprivation and salinity concentrations. Environmental salinity directly influenced the ability of elvers to withstand starvation; once glass eels metamorphosed into elvers, they tolerated starvation better in fresh water than in brackish environments.
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Document Type: Regular Paper
Centre d’Aqüicultura, Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentaries (IRTA), Aptat. Correus 200, E-43540 Sant Carles de la Ràpita, Tarragona, Spain.
Laboratorio de Acuicultura, Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal, 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain and
Publication date: 2005-08-01