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Evaluation of fast green FCF dye for non-lethal detection of integumental injuries in juvenile Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

January 1, 2009

A rapid staining procedure for detection of recent skin and fin injuries was tested in juvenile Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. Immersion of anesthetized fish for 1 min in aerated aqueous solutions of the synthetic food dye fast green FCF (Food Green 3) at concentrations of 0.1 to 0.5% produced consistent and visible staining of integumental injuries. A 0.1% fast green concentration was satisfactory for visual evaluation of injuries, whereas a 0.5% concentration was preferable for digital photography. A rinsing procedure comprised of two 30 s rinses in fresh water was most effective for removal of excess stain after exposure of fish. Survival studies in fresh water and seawater and histopathological analyses indicated that short exposures to aqueous solutions of fast green were non-toxic to juvenile Chinook salmon. In comparisons of the gross and microscopic appearance of fish exposed to fast green at various times after injury, the dye was observed only in areas of the body where epidermal disruption was present as determined by scanning electron microscopy. No dye was observed in areas where epidermal integrity had been restored. Further comparisons showed that fast green exposure produced more consistent and intense staining of skin injury sites than a previously published procedure using trypan blue. Because of its relatively low cost, ease of use and the rapid and specific staining of integumental injuries, fast green may find widespread application in fish health and surface injury evaluations.

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