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Keywords:

  • Fish acute test;
  • Moribund fish;
  • OECD guideline 203;
  • Reporting sublethal effects;
  • Fish pain and suffering

Abstract

It has become common practice in many laboratories in Europe to introduce the criterion “moribund” to reduce the suffering in fish acute lethality tests. Fish with severe sublethal symptoms might be declared moribund and are removed from the test as soon as this occurs (premature discontinuation of experiment). Moribund fish affect main study outcomes as the median lethal concentration (LC50) derived on fish declared as moribund may be lower than the conventional LC50. This was evaluated by a retrospective analysis of 328 fish acute toxicity tests of an industry laboratory based on five different definitions of moribund, and of 111 tests from 10 other laboratories from Europe and the United States. Using the criterion of moribund 10 to 23% of the fish were being declared as moribund in 49 to 79% of the studies. In 36 to 52% of the studies, the LC50moribund was lower than the conventional LC50 depending on the definitions of moribund. An inclusion of the moribund criterion in an updated Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development guideline for the acute fish toxicity test would reduce the period of suffering by up to 92 h, lowering the value of the main toxicity endpoint by a factor of approximately 2, and maximal by a factor of approximately 16. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 1107–1112. © 2012 SETAC