Observations on the use of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags in teleosts and elasmobranchs at a public aquarium, 728 cases, 2007–2020

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Jessica McMurrer, Aubrey McElhiney, Kerry McNally, Charles J Innis
Zoo Biology
Wiley Online Library
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Between 2007 and 2020 at New England Aquarium, Boston, MA, USA, we implanted passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags into 728 fish representing 105 teleost and elasmobranch species to identify animals as individuals. At the time of retrospective data analysis, mean longevity interval (median, range) after tag placement for animals that remained alive (n = 236) was 4.7 years (4.5, 0.3–13.8). Mean interval (median, range) between tag placement and death (n = 317) was 2.1 years (1.6, 0–11.2); and mean interval (median, range) between tag placement and transfer to other facilities (n = 175) was 2.5 years (3.1, 0.1–9.3). Possible adverse effects of tagging were extremely rare. Using the described methods, the equipment cost for every 10 PIT tag implantations was $2.83. PIT tag implantation in fishes is a safe and cost effective method to identify individuals, providing an opportunity to accumulate valuable data regarding individual longevity, welfare, basic demographics, and outcome of medical management. PIT tag implantation is recommended as a routine aspect of acquisition, quarantine, and medical management of fish under human care.


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