In this study, striped catfish larvae were gradually exposed to the increase of different salinities, and then they reached the levels of 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 psu after 10 days, followed by heat shock at 39 °C to determine stress tolerance. After the 10-day experiment, the survival rate of fish exposed to the 20 psu treatment was only 28.6 ± 4%, significantly lower than that of the other treatments. The results showed that the osmolality of the whole-body (WB) homogenate was gradually and significantly increased with salinity elevation, except in fish exposed to freshwater and 5 psu treatments, while there were no significant changes in WB Na+/K+-ATPase activity. Digestive enzymatic activities, i.e., pepsin, α-amylase, alkaline phosphatase, and leucine alanine peptidase (leu-ala) generally increased with salinity, but not aminopeptidase and trypsin. Lysozyme and peroxidase activities increased in fish larvae exposed to 15 and 20 psu. These increases proportionally improved growth performance, with the lowest and the highest final weights observed in fish reared at 0 psu (0.08 ± 0.03 g/larvae) and 20 psu (0.11 ± 0.02 g/larvae), respectively, although the average growth recorded at 20 psu could be biased by the high mortality in this group. Occurrence of skeleton deformities, such as in caudal vertebrae and branchiostegal rays, was significantly higher in fish exposed to the higher osmotic conditions (15.0 ± 1.2% and 10.3 ± 2.1% respectively at 0 psu vs. 31.0 ± 2.9% and 49.0 ± 5.6%, respectively at 15 psu). After the 12.5-h heat shock, survival rates significantly differed between treatments with the highest survival observed in fish submitted to 5 psu (68.9%), followed by those exposed to 0 (27%) and 10 (20%) while all fish died at 15 psu. These findings suggest that the striped catfish larvae could be reared in salinity up to 5 to 10 psu with a higher survival and tolerance to thermal stress when compared to fish maintained in freshwater.
- Striped catfish larvae