Author(s): Madison BN, Wang YS
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Abstract Nitrite (NO2-) is a toxic intermediary of the bacterial oxidation of nitrogenous wastes (e.g. ammonia) in an aquatic environment. It becomes most lethal when oxygen becomes limited due to high fish densities or in the presence of high bacterial activity due to waste build-up-both situations commonly found in intensive aquaculture. To date however, little is known about how this toxin affects the physiology of walleye, an intended culture species, particularly in intensive re-circulating systems. This study aims to define threshold concentrations of nitrite that affect haemoglobin-oxygen affinity and carrying capacity in walleye. During in vivo tests, fish (N=20) were subjected to a medium effective concentration (EC50) of nitrite (0.9 mmol L(-1)) for 48 h while the effects of nitrite accumulation on blood properties were measured. The effects of oxygenation state on red blood cell (RBC) nitrite uptake and metHb formation was further investigated by in vitro tonometry. In vitro nitrite exposure to 3 mmol L(-1) resulted in a significantly higher methaemoglobin formation in 50\% air saturated than 100\% air saturated RBCs. Both cell water content and haematocrit decreased with time in 50\% air saturated treatments, whereas total Hb remained constant, suggesting a reduction in RBC volume. Similar effects were observed during 48 h in vivo and in vitro nitrite exposure tests, indicating the reduction in RBC volume likely was not the result of a catecholamine response. Walleye were found to be tolerant to an accumulation of blood-NO2- levels similar to common carp, a highly Mean Cellular Volume (MCV) tolerant species, before succumbing to methaemoglobinemia. The elevated tolerance to nitrite of walleye is a beneficial characteristic for successful rearing in a culture setting, where reduced oxygen and elevated MCV levels are prevalent. The findings from this study may be used in developing guidelines for species-specific management of nitrogenous wastes in aquaculture.
This article was published in Aquat Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development