Muscle activity as a key indicator of welfare in farmed European sea bass

Muscle activity key indicator welfare European sea bass


Groups of adult sea bass were reared at either low (10 kg m-3) or high (50 kg m-3) stocking densities respectively for 84 and 116 days. To monitor the red muscle activity, about 20 fish from both densities were surgically implanted with EMG (Electromyograms) radio transmitters, after EMG calibration during exhaustive swimming exercise (Ucrit test). Blood samples and morphometric measurements were also taken. EMG showed that the muscle activity of fish reared at 50 kg m-3 was on average twofold higher than fish kept at lower density. Cortisol was significantly more elevated at higher density and haemoglobin, haematocrit and RBCC (red blood cells count) showed the same trend, while lysozyme decreased. Patterns for glucose and lactate were less clear. The results showed that the contemporary use of functional (EMG) and physiological (haematological and biochemical) profiles could give a more comprehensive view of the fish status validating the diagnosis of fish stress induced by culture practices.