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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2011 Feb;158(2):207-14. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2010.10.029. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Hypoxia tolerance and partitioning of bimodal respiration in the striped catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus).

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Biological Sciences, Zoophysiology Section, Aarhus University, Denmark.


Air-breathing fish are common in the tropics, and their importance in Asian aquaculture is increasing, but the respiratory physiology of some of the key species such as the striped catfish, Pangasianodon hypophthalmus Sauvage 1878 is unstudied. P. hypophthalmus is an interesting species as it appears to possess both well-developed gills and a modified swim bladder that functions as an air-breathing organ indicating a high capacity for both aquatic and aerial respiration. Using newly developed bimodal intermittent-closed respirometry, the partitioning of oxygen consumption in normoxia and hypoxia was investigated in P. hypophthalmus. In addition the capacity for aquatic breathing was studied through measurements of oxygen consumption when access to air was denied, both in normoxia and hypoxia, and the critical oxygen tension, Pcrit, was also determined during these experiments. Finally, gill ventilation and air-breathing frequency were measured in a separate experiment with pressure measurements from the buccal cavity. The data showed that P. hypophthalmus is able to maintain standard metabolic rate (SMR) through aquatic breathing alone in normoxia, but that air-breathing is important during hypoxia. Gill ventilation was reduced during air-breathing, which occurred at oxygen levels below 8 kPa, coinciding with the measured Pcrit of 7.7 kPa. The findings in this study indicate that the introduction of aeration into the aquaculture of P. hypophthalmus could potentially reduce the need to air-breathe. The possibility of reducing air-breathing frequency may be energetically beneficial for the fish, leaving more of the aerobic scope for growth and other activities, due to the proposed energetic costs of surfacing behavior.

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