Anesthesia induces stress in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus)
Stress in response to anesthesia with benzocaine, MS-222, metomidate and isoeugenol was studied in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus), and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) with no concomitant stress from handling or confinement in association with anesthesia or sampling. All of the anesthetics tested induced a stress response in all species, displayed by a release of cortisol to the water. MS-222 anesthesia elicited the highest cortisol release rates, reaching maximum levels 0.5 h post-exposure and returning to basal levels after 3–4 h. Benzocaine anesthesia caused a bimodal response where the initial peak in cortisol release rate was followed by a second increase lasting towards the end of the trial (6 h). This bimodality was more profound in Atlantic salmon than in Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod. Metomidate anesthesia induced the lowest release of cortisol of the agents tested in both Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod, but resulted in a bimodal response in Atlantic salmon where the initial increase in cortisol release was followed by a larger increase peaking at 2–2.5 h post exposure before returning to basal levels after 5 h. The stress induced in Atlantic salmon by isoeugenol anesthesia resembled that of MS-222, but did not reach the same elevated level. Overall, the cortisol release was most profound in Atlantic salmon followed by Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod.