Surgical implantation of telemetry transmitters in fish: How much have we learned?

Surgical implantation has become a well-established method for attaching telemetry transmitters in studies of fish behaviour. However, a rather large number of reports of transmitter expulsion, fish mortality and adverse effects on fish physiology or behaviour, suggests that refinement and evaluation of the methods is needed, especially when tagging fish species for which no protocol has ever been assayed. This paper summarizes the authors’ own experiences with telemetry transmitter implantation, primarily from field studies involving numerous species of fish. Where appropriate, results from existing literature are summarized and discussed. The paper focuses on how choice of surgical procedure, fish size, morphology, behaviour and environmental conditions can affect the success of telemetry transmitter implantation in fish.