Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 71–81 | Cite as

Surgical implantation techniques for electronic tags in fish

  • Glenn N. Wagner
  • Steven J. Cooke
  • Richard S. Brown
  • Katherine A. Deters
Research Paper


Intracoelomic implantation of transmitters into fish requires making a surgical incision, incision closure, and other surgery related techniques; however, the tools and techniques used in the surgical process vary widely. We review the available literature and focus on tools and techniques used for conducting surgery on juvenile salmonids because of the large amount of research that is conducted on them. The use of sterilized surgical instruments properly selected for a given size of fish will minimize tissue damage and infection rates, and speed the wound healing of fish implanted with transmitters. For the implantation of transmitters into small fish, the optimal surgical methods include making an incision on the ventral midline along the linea alba (for studies under 1 month), protecting the viscera (by lifting the skin with forceps while creating the incision), and using absorbable monofilament suture with a small-swaged-on swaged-on tapered or reverse-cutting needle. Standardizing the implantation techniques to be used in a study involving particular species and age classes of fish will improve survival and transmitter retention while allowing for comparisons to be made among studies and across multiple years. This review should be useful for researchers working on juvenile salmonids and other sizes and species of fish.


Telemetry Surgery Sterilization Suture Knot Fish Implantation 



This research was funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District. With appreciation, we acknowledge the technical contributions of Brad Eppard, Andrea Currie, James Boyd, Andrea LeBarge, Greg Gaulke, Jennifer Panther, Christa Woodley and Kathleen Carter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn N. Wagner
    • 1
  • Steven J. Cooke
    • 2
  • Richard S. Brown
    • 3
  • Katherine A. Deters
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Dynamics IncVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Ecology GroupPacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA

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