Does environmental enrichment promote recovery from stress in rainbow trout?

Pounder, Kieran C.; Mitchell, Jennifer L.; Thomson, Jack S.; Pottinger, Tom G.; Buckley, Jonathan; Sneddon, Lynne U.. 2016 Does environmental enrichment promote recovery from stress in rainbow trout? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 176. 136-142.

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The EC Directive on animal experimentation suggests that all protected animals should have enrichment to improve welfare yet relatively little research has been conducted on the impact of enrichment in fish. Studies employing enrichment in zebrafish have been contradictory and other fish species may require species-specific enrichments relevant to their ecology. Salmonids are important experimental models in studies within aquaculture, toxicology and natural ecosystems. This study therefore sought to establish whether an enriched environment in an experimental aquarium may promote improved welfare in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) by enhancing their recovery from invasive procedures. Trout were held individually in either barren (no tank ornamentation) or enriched (gravel, plants and an area of cover) conditions and recovery rates after a noxious stimulus and a standard stressor were investigated by monitoring behaviour, opercular beat rate and plasma cortisol concentrations. Fish were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: Control (undisturbed), Sham (handled but not manipulated), Stress (air emersion) and Pain (subcutaneous injection of acetic acid). The results suggest that for rainbow trout environmental enrichment may not be an important factor when the fish is responding to a painful stimulus. However, it does appear to promote recovery and ameliorate adverse effects following a stressor. Fish held in barren conditions were potentially more stressed as seen by increased activity following imposition of the stressor. These results have important implications for the husbandry and welfare of captive rainbow trout and suggest that enriched environments may be preferable to barren environments in experimental studies.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Parr
ISSN: 0168-1591
Additional Keywords: Oncorhynchus mykiss, environmental enrichment, fish welfare, recovery, stress, intraspecific variation
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 01 Feb 2016 16:38 +0 (UTC)

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