The effect of fasting period on swimming performance, blood parameters and stress recovery in Atlantic salmon post smolts
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionComparative Biochemistry and Physiology A. 2021, 255 . 10.1016/j.cbpa.2021.110913
In this study, Atlantic salmon post smolts (~250 g, ~29 cm) were fasted for four weeks at 12 °C in full strength seawater. During this period, the critical swimming speed (Ucrit) was measured after 1, 2 and 4 weeks of fasting, as well as in a fed control group. Furthermore, blood samples were taken in each treatment group prior to the swim test, at fatigue, and following 3 h and 24 h of subsequent recovery. Four weeks of fasting gradually reduced the condition factor from 1.03 to 0.89. However, the Ucrit remained statistically unaffected at 3.5 body lengths s−1. Exhaustive exercise stress caused large increases in plasma osmolality, [Cl−], [Na+], [Ca2+], [lactate] and [cortisol], while haematocrit and [haemoglobin] also increased. Plasma ions and lactate had increased further after 3 h recovery, and osmolality, [Cl−] and [Na+] were still elevated above control levels after 24 h while other blood parameters were fully recovered. Osmotic disturbances may therefore be considered the most challenging stressor during strenuous exercise in seawater. Only minor effects of fasting period on blood parameters in response to exhaustive exercise were detected, which included slightly higher osmotic disturbances and a repressed response in red blood cell recruitment at fatigue in fasted fish. Furthermore, the 4-week fasting group had a reduced cortisol response following fatigue compared to the other treatment groups. In conclusion, these results show that Atlantic salmon maintain their full swimming capacity as well as their ability to respond and recover from acute stress during an extended period of food deprivation.