Information is lacking on preserving fish carcasses to minimize postmortem autolysis artifacts when a necropsy cannot be performed immediately. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively identify and score histologic postmortem changes in two species of freshwater fish (bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus; crappie - Pomoxis annularis), at varied time intervals and storage temperatures, to assess the histologic quality of collected samples. A pooled sample of 36 mix sex individuals of healthy bluegill and crappie were euthanized, stored either at room temperature, refrigerated at 4 C, or frozen at 20, and then necropsied at 0, 4, 24, and 48 h intervals. Histologic specimens were evaluated by light microscopy. Data showed that immediate harvesting of fresh samples provides the best quality and refrigeration would be the preferred method of storage if sample collection had to be delayed for up to 24 h. When sample collection must be delayed more than 24 h, the preferred method of storage to minimize autolysis artifacts is freezing if evaluation of the gastrointestinal tract is most important, or refrigeration if gill histology is most important. The gill arch, intestinal tract, followed by the liver and kidney were the most sensitive organs to autolysis.
George, Jami; Van Wettere, Arnaud J.; Michaels, Blayk B.; Crain, Debbi; and Lewbart, Gregory A., "Histopathologic Evaluation of Postmortem Autolytic Changes in Bluegill (Lepomis macrohirus) and Crappie (Pomoxis anularis) At Varied Time Intervals and Storage Temperatures" (2016). Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Science Faculty Publications. Paper 1226.