A humane protocol for electro-stunning and killing of Nile tilapia in fresh water

E. Lambooij, M.A. Gerritzen, H.G.M. Reimert, D. Burggraaf, J.W. van de Vis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Behavioural, neural and physiological parameters were scored after electro-stunning of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in three positions to an electric field in fresh water. An overall current density, 1.0 Arms/dm2, 50 Hz sinusoidal, applied for 1 s top-to-bottom in water (700 ¿S/cm), induced a general epileptiform insult on the EEG for 26 ± 10 s (n = 24). The ECG revealed fibrillation for 9 ± 4 s in 15 out of 24 fish. To kill without recovery, the current was applied for 5 s, followed by chilling in ice water for 15 min. Killing of the stunned fish by gill-cutting instead of chilling is not recommended, as 2 out 4 tilapias responded 10 min post stun. When electricity was applied head-to-tail on tilapia (n = 8), the overall current density could be reduced to 0.4 Arms/dm2, 50 Hz sinusoidal, to induce a general epileptiform insult, which lasted 27 ± 10 s. A pulsed square wave alternating current (overall density of 0.6 Arms/dm2, 133 Hz and 43% duty cycle) was applied for 1 s side-to-side on tilapia in water (650 ¿S/cm). This induced a general epileptiform insult for 51 ± 37 s (n = 14). Fibrillation occurred for 16 ± 7 s (n = 10). Free-swimming fish righted between 68 and 95 s (n = 5) and between 438 and 1139 s (n = 5) after 1 and 5 s electro-stunning, respectively. Our results show that protection of welfare of tilapia at slaughter can be obtained with electro-stunning followed by killing the stunned fish in ice water.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-95
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • catfish clarias-gariepinus
  • anguilla-anguilla l.
  • fish
  • consciousness
  • slaughter
  • quality
  • pain

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