The objective of this study was to compare circulating blood cell counts and morphology of three eel species: Muraena helena (moray), Conger conger (European conger) and Anguilla anguilla (European common eel). Moray and conger were collected from the Adriatic Sea at the Elaphite Islands near Dubrovnik, Croatia; common eels were collected in the Neretva River, Croatia. Hematological comparison was conducted using Natt-Harrick’s and May-Grünwald Giemsa staining methods. The hematocrit of moray and conger were similar, while common eel had higher values by 60%. Manual cell count showed that common eel had the highest erythrocyte count. Conger had a higher erythrocyte count than moray, with a higher percentage of proerythrocytes and senescent erythrocytes compared to moray and common eel. The leukocyte count was similar in common eel and moray and slightly lower in conger. The thrombocyte count was highest in conger and lowest in moray. In all three species, the neutrophil (heterophil) nuclei appeared as either circular or bi-lobed. Moray had the highest neutrophil (heterophil) percentage and a subtype with intensively basophilic cytoplasm appearing in a similar percentage as the normal type. In common eel, neutrophils (heterophils) were the only detected granulocytes. Basophils were detected in conger eels. Eosinophils were not detected in any of the sampled fish. The size of all cell types in moray was slightly larger than in other two species. In conclusion, our findings reveal major differences in the cell count and diversity in cell subtypes between three kin species of eels.
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