Rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri Richardson) were subjected to 15 min anaesthesia with unbuffered MS 222, neutralized MS 222 and benzocaine with and without physical stress. Blood samples were taken through cannulae inserted into the dorsal aorta. The Hct values and Hb concentrations increased with all the anaesthetics, which also caused swelling of erythrocytes. The initial values were restored within 4–12 h of recovery. Each anaesthetic elevated the blood lactate concentration, but the initial level was regained within 12 h. The blood glucose level decreased the most during anaesthesia with unbuffered MS 222, but the initial level was rapidly restored. Benzocaine caused the least hypoglycaemia during anaesthesia, but the subsequent hyperglycaemia, as in the fish anaesthetized with neutralized MS 222, lasted 24 h. Neutralized MS 222 and benzocaine elevated the plasma K + concentration more rapidly than unbuffered MS 222. The initial levels were regained in 4 days. All anaesthetics raised the Mg ++ concentration.
The Po2 in the dorsal aorta decreased during anaesthesia with unbuffered MS 222 by about 85 mmHg, while the Pco2 increased by about 1.5 mmHg. Their initial levels were regained within 20 min. During anaesthesia the pH value decreased by 0.3 units and returned to the initial value within 2–4 h of recovery. MS 222 seemed to be an asphyxiant.