Visible implant elastomer

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Figure 1. Injection of visible implant elastomer (NMT)
Figure 2: Example of VIE inside fish (NMT)

Quick summary

Developed by: Northwest Marine Technology, Inc.


Type: Device


Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) Tags are coloured tags ( They are implanted in translucent tissue of several animals, mainly used in fish, but also in crustaceans, cephalopods, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, etc. (Figure 1). VIE consists of two liquid components (colour component and curing agent) which are mixed just before the tagging, changing into a solid state in a short time (1-2 hours). VIE are injected subcutaneously with syringes or specialist injection systems in clear tissue areas, and there are several colours available, with and without fluorescence.


The main goal of tagging with VIE is the visual recognition of individuals (Figure 2). This can be achieved with a unique code, depending on the number of animals, colours and tagging places available. Obtaining results is based on mark and recapture techniques, and usually as a complement of another tracking system. The main application is focused on temporary habitat use studies. In the case of fishways, tagging fish downstream, upstream and inside the fishway, and recapturing some of them, can provide information about their movements. In contrast to other tag devices smaller individuals (even less than five centimetres) can be tagged with VIE and the cost per tag is quite low (€ cents per tag per millilitre of product and day of tagging). However, about costs, it is necessary to also take into account the need for fish samples, or video recording devices that are required for the recaptures

Relevant mitigation measures and test cases

Relevant measures
Baffle fishways
Bottom-type intakes (Coanda screen, Lepine water intake, etc)
Bypass combined with other solutions
Construction of a 'river-in-the-river'
Construction of off-channel habitats
Fish guidance structures with narrow bar spacing
Fish lifts, screws, locks, and others
Fish-friendly turbines
Fish refuge under hydropeaking conditions
Fishways for eels and lampreys
Migration barrier removal
Mitigating rapid, short-term variations in flow (hydro-peaking operations)
Mitigating reduced annual flow and low flow measures
Mitigating reduced flood peaks, magnitudes, and frequency
Nature-like fishways
Operational measures (turbine operations, spillway passage)
Other types of fine screens
Placement of dead wood and debris
Placement of spawning gravel in the river
Placement of stones in the river
Pool-type fishways
Removal of weirs
Sensory, behavioural barriers (electricity, light, sound, air-water curtains)
Skimming walls (fixed or floating)
Truck transport
Vertical slot fishways
Relevant test cases Applied in test case?
Altusried test case -
Bannwil test case -
Guma and Vadocondes test cases Yes
Schiffmühle test case -

Other information

More information about range size and species with links to research papers can be found here: There are other types of tags with similar characteristics and/or applications. For example: VI Alpha tags (, Anchor tags (, piercing tags (

Contact information

Relevant literature

  • Hohn, C., Petrie-Hanson, L.(2013)Evaluation of visible implant elastomer tags in zebrafish (Danio rerio)Biology Open 2: 1397-1401;
  • Jacoby, D.M.P., Fear, L.N., Sims, D.W., Croft, D.P.(2014) Shark personalities? Repeatability of social network traits in a widely distributed predatory fish. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 68, 1995–2003 .