Effects of Swimming on Silvering and Maturation of the European Eel, Anguilla anguilla L.

  • Arjan Palstra
  • Vincent van Ginneken
  • Guido van den Thillart
Part of the Fish & Fisheries Series book series (FIFI, volume 30)

Every year at the end of the growth season in autumn, the majority of the large European eels cease feeding, become restless and start to mature. Only those with sufficient lipid stores (Larsson et al. 1990; Svedäng and Wickström 1997) will start their reproductive migration to the spawning grounds in the Sargasso. They leave in a prepubertal condition with less than 2% relative gonad mass (GSI). The smaller males leave by August (Usui 1991). The large and fatty females leave between October and December to arrive an estimated 3.5 months later (Palstra et al. 2008a) at the spawning grounds. There, in early spring, males reach gonad masses of 10% and females of 40% to 60% of the body mass (Palstra et al. 2005). They are sexually mature and ready to spawn more than one million eggs (Van Ginneken et al. 2005).

As European eels have to swim about 5,500-km to reach their spawning site, swimming is supposed to play a crucial role in natural triggering and stimulation of maturation. Fine-tuning between migration and maturation of fishes is a non-elucidated research topic that deserves much more attention. It is peculiar that the influence of swim exercise on maturation has never been thoroughly investigated, especially since fatty migrant fishes like tuna and eel are of major commercial interest but very difficult or even impossible to reproduce in captivity.


Fish Biol Lipid Mobilization FSHB Expression Dihydroxy Progesterone Hepatic Vitellogenesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arjan Palstra
    • 1
  • Vincent van Ginneken
    • 1
  • Guido van den Thillart
    • 1
  1. 1.Integrative ZoologyInstitute of Biology Leiden Van der Klaauw LaboratoriesRA LeidenThe Netherlands

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