• Age;
  • fish;
  • hematology;
  • plasma chemistry;
  • striped bass

Abstract: Hybrid striped bass (Morone chrysops × Morone saxatilis) are an important aquaculture species yet there are few diagnostic tools available to assess their health. Hematology and clinical chemistry analyses are not used extensively in fish medicine due to the lack of reference intervals for various fish species, and because factors such as age can affect blood values. There is little published information regarding age-related changes in blood values of juvenile fish. It is important to evaluate juvenile fish, as this is the time they are raised in aquaculture settings. Determining age-related changes in the blood values of fishes would further develop clinical pathology as a diagnostic tool, enhancing both fish medicine and the aquaculture industry. The results of standard hematology and clinical chemistry analysis were evaluated in juvenile hybrid striped bass at 4, 6, 9, 15, and 19 months of age. Values for PCV and RBC indices were significantly lower, and plasma protein concentration was significantly higher in younger fish. Total WBC and lymphocyte counts were significantly higher in fish at 6 and 9 months of age, while neutrophil and monocyte counts were higher at 6, 9, and 15 months. Eosinophil counts were significantly higher in 9-month-old fish. The majority of hematologic values fell within previously established reference intervals, indicating that only slight modification to the intervals is necessary for evaluating hematologic results of hybrid striped bass at different ages. The following analytes deviated sufficiently from adult reference intervals to warrant separate reference values: plasma protein concentration at 4 months, WBC and lymphocyte counts at 15 and 19 months, and thrombocyte-like-cells at 9 months of age. Values for most biochemical analytes were significantly different among age groups except for creatinine and potassium concentrations. Comparisons with reference intervals were not made for biochemical analytes, because established reference intervals were not available. Age-related changes in hematologic and biochemical values of striped bass were similar to those reported for rainbow trout and mammals.