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Changes in skin colour and cortisol response of Australian snapper Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) to different background colours
journal contributionposted on 2009-03-01, 00:00 authored by B Doolan, M Booth, G Allan, Paul Jones
A two-factor experiment was carried out to investigate the change in skin colour and plasma cortisol response of cultured Australian snapper Pagrus auratus to a change in background colour. Snapper (mean weight=437 g) were held in black or white tanks and fed diets containing 39 mg unesterified astaxanthin kg−1 for 49 days before being transferred from white tanks to black cages (WB) or black tanks to white cages (BW). Skin colour values [L* (lightness), a* (redness) and b* (yellowness)] of all snapper were measured at stocking (t=0 days) and from cages of fish randomly assigned to each sampling time at 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days. Plasma cortisol was measured in anaesthetized snapper following colour measurements at 0, 1 and 7 days. Fish from additional black-to-black (BB) and white-to-white (WW) control treatments were also sampled for colour and cortisol at those times. Rapid changes occurred in skin lightness (L* values) after altering background colour with maximum change in L* values for BW and WB treatments occurring within 1 day. Skin redness (a*) of BW snapper continued to steadily decrease over the 7 days (a*=7.93 × e−0.051 × time). Plasma cortisol concentrations were highest at stocking when fish were held at greater densities and were not affected by cage colour. The results of this study suggest that transferring dark coloured snapper to white cages for 1 day is sufficient to affect the greatest benefit in terms of producing light coloured fish while minimizing the reduction in favourable red skin colouration.