Fregin, T., Bickmeyer U. 2016. Electrophysiological investigation of different methods of anesthesia in lobster and crayfish. PLOS ONE 11(9), e0162894.

Objectives: In search for methods of anesthesia of crustaceans, an implanted electrode into lobster and crayfish CNS enabled us to monitor signal propagation in the nerve system of animals undergoing different protocols. Results: Cooling (tap water 0°C, sea water -1,8°C) and anesthesia with MgCl2 (10%) were both discarded as anesthetic procedures because responses to external stimuli were still detectable under treatment. Contrarily, bubbling the aquarium water with CO2 can be considered a “partially successful” anesthesia, because signal propagation is inhibited but before that the animals show discomfort. The procedure of “electro-stunning” induces epileptic-form seizures in the crustacean CNS (lobster, crayfish), which overlay but do not mitigate the response to external stimuli. After several minutes the activity declines before the nervous system starts to recover. A feasible way to sacrifice lobsters is to slowly raise the water temperature (1°C min-1), as all electrical activities in the CNS cease at temperatures above ~30°C, whereas below this temperature the animals do not show signs of stress or escape behavior (e.g. tail flips) in the warming water. Conclusion: CO2 is efficient to anaesthetize lobster and crayfish but due to low pH in water is stressful to the animals previous to anesthesia. Electrical stunning induces epileptiform seizures but paralyses the animals and leads to a reversible decline of nerve system activity after seizure. Electric stunning or slowly warming just before preparation may meet ethical expectations regarding anaesthesia and to sacrifice crustaceans.

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