Research Publication

Observations on the use of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags in teleosts and elasmobranchs at a public aquarium, 728 cases, 2007–2020

By Jessica McMurrer, Aubrey McElhiney, Kerry McNally, Charles J. Innis

Originally published in Zoo Biology in January 2022



Between 2007 and 2020 at New England Aquarium, Boston, MA, USA, we implanted passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags into 728 fish representing 105 teleost and elasmobranch species to identify animals as individuals. At the time of retrospective data analysis, mean longevity interval (median, range) after tag placement for animals that remained alive (n = 236) was 4.7 years (4.5, 0.3–13.8). Mean interval (median, range) between tag placement and death (n = 317) was 2.1 years (1.6, 0–11.2); and mean interval (median, range) between tag placement and transfer to other facilities (n = 175) was 2.5 years (3.1, 0.1–9.3). Possible adverse effects of tagging were extremely rare. Using the described methods, the equipment cost for every 10 PIT tag implantations was $2.83. PIT tag implantation in fishes is a safe and cost effective method to identify individuals, providing an opportunity to accumulate valuable data regarding individual longevity, welfare, basic demographics, and outcome of medical management. PIT tag implantation is recommended as a routine aspect of acquisition, quarantine, and medical management of fish under human care.

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Affiliated Authors
  • Dr. Charles Innis

    Charles Innis, VMD, DABVP (RA), Senior Scientist and Veterinarian, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life

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