Responses of beluga (Huso huso) to salinity exposure: a laboratory evaluation of the effect of field-based salinity levels on osmoregulatory characteristics and growth performance

Ali Jalali, Mohammad Sudagar, Seyed Mostafa Aghilinejhad, Hamed Kolangi Miandare


There is a need for a better understanding of how sturgeon, especially hatchery reared juveniles, respond to salinity challenges. Therefore, here we examined the effects of different field-based salinities (Freshwater [FW] (0.5), 3, 6, 9 and 12 ppt) on osmoregulatory characteristics and growth performance of juvenile beluga sturgeon, Huso huso, (22.1±1.1 g body weight) over a 60-day period. Survival rate was relatively high in all treatments although there was a sign of adverse effects of salinity on the survival as fish at 12 ppt salinity. Growth performance was better in fish reared at 3 ppt, followed by 6, 9 and 12 ppt. Overall, an increase in plasma sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and glucose levels was found in association with the increase of salinity, while the FW control group maintained basal levels. Haematocrit levels were also affected by the salinity and the observed levels in FW, 3 and 6 ppt salinities were lower than other salinity concentrations. The results indicated that the beluga sturgeon juveniles are able to survive and acclimate to moderate salinities. Here, we also discussed the importance of evaluating and comparing specific mechanisms of acclimation in populations across brackish waters of the southern Caspian Sea as such investigations may aid and improve aquaculture strategies.


Blood biochemistry, Juvenile sturgeon, Osmoregulation, Acclimation, Sturgeon rearing.

Full Text:



Allen P.J., Cech, J.J.Jr. (2007). Age/size effects on juvenile green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, oxygen consumption, growth, and osmoregulation in saline environments. Environmental Biology of Fish, 79: 211-229.

Allen P.J., McEnroe M., Forostyan T., Cole S., Nicholl M.M., Hodge B., Cech J.J.Jr. (2011). Ontogeny of salinity tolerance and evidence for seawater-entry preparation in juvenile green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 181: 1045-1062.

Allen P.J., Mitchell Z.A., DeVries R.J., Aboagye D.L., Ciaramella M.A., Ramee S.W., Stewart H.A., Shartau R.B. (2014). Salinity effects on Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus Mitchill, 1815) growth and osmoregulation. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 30: 1229-1236.

Altinok I., Sara M.G., Frank A.C. (1998). Ionic and osmotic regulation capabilities of juvenile Gulf of Mexico sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus de Sotoi. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, 120: 609-616.

Altinok I., Grizzle J.M. (2001). Effects of brackish water on growth, feed conversion and energy absorption efficiency by juvenile euryhaline and freshwater stenohaline fishes. Journal Fish Biology, 59: 1142-1152.

Arai E., Shikano T., Fujio Y. (1997). Identification and quantification of chloride cells in the gill of guppy Poecilia reticulata. Tohoku Journal of Agricultural Research, 47: 77-84.

Assem H., Hanke W. (1979). Concentration of carbohydrates during osmotic adjustment of the euryhaline teleost, Tilapia mossambica. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, A, 64: 5-16.

Bashamohideen M., Parvatheswararao V. (1972). Adaptation to osmotic stress in the freshwater euryhaline teleost Tilapia mossambica. IV. Changes in blood glucose, liver glycogen and muscle glycogen levels. Marine Biology, 16: 68-74.

Bemis W.E., Kynard B. (1997). Sturgeon rivers: an introduction to acipenseriform biogeography and life history. Environmental Biology of Fish, 48: 167-183.

Birstein V.J. (1993). Sturgeons and paddlefishes: threatened fishes in need of conservation. Conservation Biology, 7: 773-787.

Birstein V.J., Bemis W.E., Waldman J.R. (1997). The threatened status of acipenseriform species: a summary. Environmental Biology of Fish, 48: 427-435.

Boeuf G., Payan P. (2001). How should salinity influence fish growth? Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology Pharmacology, 130: 411-423.

Brown J.A., Moore W.M., Quabius E.S. (2001). Physiological effects of saline waters on zander. Journal of Fish Biology, 59: 1544-1555.

Cataldi E., Barzaghi C., Di Marco P., Boglione C., Dini L., McKenzie D.J., Bronzi P., Cataudella S. (1999). Some aspects of osmotic and ionic regulation in Adriatic sturgeon Acipenser naccarii. I: ontogenesis of salinity tolerance. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 15: 57-60.

Ern R., Huong D.T.T., Cong N.V., Bayley M., Wang T. (2014). Effect of salinity on oxygen consumption in fishes: a review. Journal of Fish Biology, 84: 1210-1220.

Franklin C.E., Forster M.E., Davison W. (1992). Plasma cortisol and osmoregulatory changes in sockeye salmon transferred to sea water: comparison between successful and unsuccessful adaptation. Journal of Fish Biology, 41: 113-122.

Grande L., Bemis W.E. (1991). Osteology and phylogenetic relationships of fossil and recent paddlefishes (Polyodontidae) with comments on the interrelationships of Acipenseriformes. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 11(Suppl. 1): 1-121.

He X., Zhuang P., Zhang L., Xie C. (2009). Osmoregulation in juvenile Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis Gray) during brackish water adaptation. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 35: 223-230.

Holmes W.N., Donaldson E.M. (1969). The body compartments and the distribution of electrolytes. In: W.S. Hoar, D.J. Randall (Eds.). Fish physiology, vol I. Academic Press, New York. pp: 1-89.

Hoseini S.M., Hosseini S.A., JafarNodeh A. (2011). Serum biochemical characteristics of Beluga, Huso huso (L.), in response to blood sampling after clove powder solution exposure. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 37: 567-572.

Hwang P.P., Hirano R. (1985). Effects of environmental salinity on intercellular organization and junctional structure of chloride cells in early stages of teleost development. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 236: 115-126.

Hwang P.P., Sun C.M., Wu S.M. (1989). Changes in plasma osmolality, chloride concentration and gill Na–K–ATPase activity in tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus during seawater acclimation. Marine Biology, 100: 295-299.

IUCN (2012). Red List of Threatened Species, v. 2012.2. At:, November 2012.

Jalali M.A., Hosseini S.A., Imanpour M.R. (2008). Effect of vitamin E and highly unsaturated fatty acid enriched Artemia urmiana on growth performance, survival and stress resistance of Beluga (Huso huso) larvae. Aquaculture Research, 39: 1286-1291.

Jalali M.A., Hosseini S.A., Imanpour M.R. (2010). Physiological characteristics and stress resistance of great sturgeon (Huso huso) juveniles fed with vitamins C, E, and HUFA-enriched Artemia urmiana nauplii. Fish Physiology Biochemistry, 36: 555-564.

Jarvis P.L., Ballantyne J.S., Hogans W.E. (2001). The influence of salinity on the growth of juvenile shortnose sturgeon. North American Journal of Aquaculture, 63: 272-276.

Jarvis P.L., Ballantyne J.S. (2003). Metabolic responses to salinity acclimation in juvenile shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum. Aquaculture, 219: 891-909.

Jürss K., Bittorf T. (1990). The relationship between biochemical liver status and growth in immature rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri Richardson). I. Effects of feeding and salinity. Zoologische Jahrbucher Physiologie, 94: 474-485.

Kelly S.P., Woo N.Y.S. (1999). The response of sea bream following abrupt hyposmotic exposure. Journal of Fish Biology, 55: 732-750.

Krayushkina L.S., Polls W.T.W., Gerasimov A.A., Panov A.A. (1995). Peculiarities ionic regulation in young sturgeons (Acipenseridae) during adaption to sea water. In: A.D. Gershanovichm, T.I.I. Smith (Eds.). International Symposium on Sturgeons Proceedings, VNIRO, Moscow. pp: 43-51.

Krayushkina L.S., Panov A.A., Gerasimov A.A., Potts W.T.W. (1996). Changes in sodium, calcium and magnesium ion concentrations in sturgeon (Huso huso) urine and in kidney morphology. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 165: 527-533.

Krayushkina L.S. (1998). Characteristics of osmotic and ionic regulation in marine diadromous sturgeons Acipenser brevirostrum and A. oxyrhynchus (Acipenseridae). Journal of Ichthyology, 38: 660-668.

Krumschnabel G., Lackner R. (1993). Stress responses in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss alevins. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 104: 777-784.

Kuwaye T.T., Okimoto D.K., Shimoda S.K., Howerton R.D., Lin H.R., Pang P.K.T., Grau E.G. (1993). Effect of 17α-methyltestosterone on the growth of the euryhaline tilapia, Oreochromis massambicus, in fresh water and in sea water. Aquaculture, 113: 137-152.

Lambert Y., Dutil J.D., Munro J. (1994). Effect of intermediate and low salinity conditions on growth rate and food conversion of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 51: 1569-1576.

LeBreton G.T.O., Beamish F.W.H. (1998). The influence of salinity on ionic concentrations and osmolarity of blood serum in lake sturgeon, Acipenser fulvescens. Environmental Biology of Fish, 52: 477-482.

Lugert V., Thaller G., Tetens J., Schulz C., Krieter J. (2014). A review on fish growth calculation: multiple functions in fish production and their specific application. Reviews in Aquaculture, 6: 1-13.

Martınez-Alvarez R.M., Hidalgo M.C., Domezain A., Morales A.E., Garcı´a-Gallego M., Sanz A. (2002). Physiological changes of sturgeon Acipenser naccarii caused by increasing environmental salinity. Journal of Experimental Biology, 205: 3699-3706.

Martinez-Palacios C.A., Morte J.C., Tello-Ballinas J.A., Toledo-Cuevas M., Ross L.G. (2004). The effects of saline environments on survival and growth of eggs and larvae of Chirostoma estor estor Jordan 1880 (Pisces: Atherinidae). Aquaculture, 238: 509-522.

Maxime V., Peyraud-Waitzenegger M., Claireaux G., Peyraud C. (1990). Effects of rapid transfer from sea water to fresh water on respiratory variables, blood acid-base status and O2 affinity of haemoglobin in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L). Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 160: 31-39.

McEnroe M., Cech J.J.Jr. (1985). Osmoregulation in juvenile and adult white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 14: 23-30.

McEnroe M., Cech J.J.Jr. (1987). Osmoregulation in white sturgeon: life history aspects. American Fisheries Society Symposium, 1: 191-196.

McKenzie D.J., Cataldi E., Di Marco P., Mandich A., Romano P., Ansferri S., Bronzi P., Cataudella S. (1999). Some aspects of osmotic and ionic regulation in Adriatic sturgeon Acipenser naccarii. II: Morpho-physiological adjustments to hyperosmotic environments. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 15: 61-66.

McKenzie D.J., Cataldi E., Romano P., Taylor E.W., Cataudella S., Bronzi P. (2001). Effects of acclimation to brackish water on tolerance of salinity challenge by young-of-the-year Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 58: 1113-1121.

Miyazaki H., Kaneko S., Hasegawa S., Hirano T. (1998). Developmental changes in drinking rate and ion and water permeability during early life stages of euryhaline tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus, reared in fresh water and seawater. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 18: 277-284.

Morgan J.D., Iwama G.K. (1999). Energy cost of NaCl transport in isolated gills of cutthroat trout. American Journal of Physiology, 277: 631-639.

Morgan J.D., Sakamoto T., Grau E.G., Iwama G.K. (1997). Physiological and respiratory responses of the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) to salinity acclimation. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 117: 391-398.

Natochin Y.V., Lukianenko V.I., Kirsanov V.J., Lavrova E.A., Metallov G.F., Shakhmatova E.I. (1985). Features of osmotic and ionic regulations in Russian sturgeon (Acipenser guldenstadti Brandt). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 80: 297-302.

Perry S.F. (1998). Relationships between branchial chloride cells and gas transfer in freshwater fish. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 119: 9-16.

Plaut I. (1998). Comparison of salinity tolerance and osmoregulation in two closely related species of blennies from different habitats. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 19: 181-188.

Pourkazemi M. (2006). Caspian Sea sturgeon conservation and fisheries: past present and future. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 22 (Suppl. 1): 12-16.

Potts W.T.W., Rudy P.P. (1972). Aspects of osmotic and ionic regulation in the sturgeon. Journal of Experimental Biology, 56: 703-715.

Riley L.G., Hirano T., Gray E.G. (2003). Effects of transfer from seawater to fresh water on the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-I axis and prolactin in the Tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B, 136: 647-655.

Rodriguez A., Gallardo M.A., Gisbert E., Santilari S., Ibarz A., Sanchez J., Castello-Orvay F. (2002). Osmoregulation in juvenile Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii). Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 26: 345-354.

Ruban G.I., Khodorevskaya R.P. (2011). Caspian Sea sturgeon fishery: a historic overview. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 27: 199-208.

Sardella B.A., Kültz D. (2008). Osmo- and ionoregulatory responses of green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) to salinity acclimation. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 179: 383-390.

Soengas J.L., Otero J., Fuentes J., Andrés M.D., Aldegunte M. (1991). Preliminary studies on carbohydrate metabolism changes in domesticated rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) transferred to dilute seawater (12 ppt). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B, 98: 53-57.

Soivio A., Nikinmaa M. (1981). The swelling of erythrocytes in relation to the oxygen affinity of the blood of the rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri Richardson. In: A.D. Pickering (Ed.). Stress and fish. Academic Press, London. pp: 103-119.

Shalaby A.M., Khattab Y.A., Abdel Rahman A.M. (2006). Effects of Garlic (Alliumsativum) and chloramphenicol on growth performance, physiological parameters and survival of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases, 12: 172-201.

Tibblin P., Koch-Schmidt P., Larsson P., Stenroth P. (2012). Effects of salinity on growth and mortality of migratory and resident forms of Eurasian perch in the Baltic Sea. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 21: 200-206.

Tytler P., Blaxter J.H.S. (1988). The effects of external salinity on the drinking rates of the larvae of herring, plaice and cod. Journal of Experimental Biology, 138: 1-15.

Ura K., Soyano K., Omoto N., Adachi S., Yamauchi K. (1996). Localization of Na+, K+–ATPase in tissues of rabbit and teleosts using an antiserum directed against a partial sequence of the asubunit. Zoological Science, 13: 219-227.

Wada T., Aritaki M., Tanaka M. (2004). Effects of low salinity on the growth and development of spotted halibut Verasper variegatus in the larvae-juvenile, transformation period with reference to pituitary prolactin and chloride cells response. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 308: 113-126.

Wendelaar Bonga S.E. (1997). The stress response in fish. Physiological Reviews, 77: 591-625.

Woo N.Y.S., Chung K.C. (1995). Tolerance of Pomacanthus imperator to hypoosmotic salinities: changes in body composition and hepatic enzyme activities. Journal of Fish Biology, 47: 70-81.

Zhao F., Zhuang P., Zhang L.Z., Hou J.L. (2010). Changes in growth and osmoregulation during acclimation to saltwater in juvenile Amur sturgeon (Acipenser schrenckii). Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, 28: 603-608.


  • There are currently no refbacks.