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Effect of cage colour and light environment on the skin colour of Australian Snapper Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
journal contributionposted on 2007-09-01, 00:00 authored by B Doolan, M Booth, Paul Jones, G Allan
A two-factor experiment was performed to evaluate the effects of cage colour (black or white 0.5 m3 experiment cages) and light environment (natural sunlight or reduced level of natural sunlight) on the skin colour of darkened Australian snapper. Each treatment was replicated four times and each replicate cage was stocked with five snapper (mean weight=351 g). Snapper exposed to natural sunlight were held in experimental cages located in outdoor tanks. An approximately 70% reduction in natural sunlight (measured as PAR) was established by holding snapper in experimental cages that were housed inside a 'shade-house' enclosure. The skin colour of anaesthetized fish was measured at stocking and after a 2-, 7- and 14-day exposure using a digital chroma-meter (Minolta CR-10) that quantified skin colour according to the L*a*b* colour space. At the conclusion of the experiment, fish were killed in salt water ice slurry and post-mortem skin colour was quantified after 0.75, 6 and 22 h respectively. In addition to these trials, an ad hoc market appraisal of chilled snapper (mean weight=409 g) that had been held in either white or in black cages was conducted at two local fish markets. Irrespective of the sampling time, skin lightness (L*) was significantly affected by cage colour (P<0.05), with fish in white cages having much higher L* values (L*≈64) than fish held in black cages (L*≈49). However, the value of L* was not significantly affected by the light environment or the interaction between cage colour and the light environment. In general, the L* values of anaesthetized snapper were sustained post mortem, but there were linear reductions in the a* (red) and b* (yellow) skin colour values of chilled snapper over time. According to the commercial buyers interviewed, chilled snapper that had been reared for a short period of time in white cages could demand a premium of 10–50% above the prices paid for similar-sized snapper reared in black cages. Our results demonstrate that short-term use of white cages can reduce the dark skin colour of farmed snapper, potentially improving the profitability of snapper farming.