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Bull Math Biol. 2012 Apr;74(4):981-1000. doi: 10.1007/s11538-011-9709-6. Epub 2011 Dec 13.

Computational fluid dynamics of fish gill rakers during crossflow filtration.

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Department of Mathematics, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


We study crossflow filtration mechanisms in suspension-feeding fishes using computational fluid dynamics to model fluid flow and food particle movement in the vicinity of the gill rakers. During industrial and biological crossflow filtration, particles are retained when they remain suspended in the mainstream flow traveling across the filter surface rather than traveling perpendicularly to the filter. Here we identify physical parameters and hydrodynamic processes that determine food particle movement and retention inside the fish oral cavity. We demonstrate how five variables affect flow patterns and particle trajectories: (1) flow speed inside the fish oral cavity, (2) incident angle of the flow approaching the filter, (3) dimensions of filter structures, (4) particle size, and (5) particle density. Our study indicates that empirical experiments are needed to quantify flow parameters inside the oral cavity, and morphological research is needed to quantify dimensions of the filter apparatus such as gill rakers, the gaps between rakers, and downstream barriers. Ecological studies on suspension-feeding fishes are also needed to quantify food particle size and density, as these variables can affect particle retention due to hydrodynamic processes during crossflow filtration.

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