Comparison of color preservation techniques for fish specimens used in research and teaching

Students: Aura Weaver, Alexandra Reed

Graduate/Undergraduate: Undergraduate

Abstract:

“Fish preservation is an important aspect of fisheries research and teaching, yet the effect of preservative type on color preservation has seldom been assessed. We monitored color intensity of twelve male rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum), a local species with striking red-orange and blue coloration, preserved in four types of preservative: ethanol, formalin, ethyl alcohol hand sanitizer, and phenoxyethanol. Fish were photographed every two weeks over 14 weeks, and color intensity was compared qualitatively. Results showed high variation in color preservation, with phenoxyethanol best preserving color, followed by formalin. Ethanol and hand sanitizer caused a complete loss of coloration. An unexpected drawback of phenoxyethanol, however, was severe body shrinkage, which would be highly problematic for morphometric studies of preserved fish. Mixture of phenoxyethanol with some sort of buffer solution (yet to be identified) to preserve osmotic balance may be an optimal preservative for color preservation in fish.

Fish preservation is an important aspect of fisheries research and teaching, yet the effect of preservative type on color preservation has seldom been assessed. We monitored color intensity of twelve male rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum), a local species with striking red-orange and blue coloration, preserved in four types of preservative: ethanol, formalin, ethyl alcohol hand sanitizer, and phenoxyethanol. Fish were photographed every two weeks over 14 weeks, and color intensity was compared qualitatively. Results showed high variation in color preservation, with phenoxyethanol best preserving color, followed by formalin. Ethanol and hand sanitizer caused a complete loss of coloration. An unexpected drawback of phenoxyethanol, however, was severe body shrinkage, which would be highly problematic for morphometric studies of preserved fish. Mixture of phenoxyethanol with some sort of buffer solution (yet to be identified) to preserve osmotic balance may be an optimal preservative for color preservation in fish.

Fish preservation is an important aspect of fisheries research and teaching, yet the effect of preservative type on color preservation has seldom been assessed. We monitored color intensity of twelve male rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum), a local species with striking red-orange and blue coloration, preserved in four types of preservative: ethanol, formalin, ethyl alcohol hand sanitizer, and phenoxyethanol. Fish were photographed every two weeks over 14 weeks, and color intensity was compared qualitatively. Results showed high variation in color preservation, with phenoxyethanol best preserving color, followed by formalin. Ethanol and hand sanitizer caused a complete loss of coloration. An unexpected drawback of phenoxyethanol, however, was severe body shrinkage, which would be highly problematic for morphometric studies of preserved fish. Mixture of phenoxyethanol with some sort of buffer solution (yet to be identified) to preserve osmotic balance may be an optimal preservative for color preservation in fish.

Presentation:

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