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Fish Physiol Biochem. 2013 Apr;39(2):243-56. doi: 10.1007/s10695-012-9695-0. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Air-breathing behavior and physiological responses to hypoxia and air exposure in the air-breathing loricariid fish, Pterygoplichthys anisitsi.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, Federal University of São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil.


Hypoxic water and episodic air exposure are potentially life-threatening conditions that fish in tropical regions can face during the dry season. This study investigated the air-breathing behavior, oxygen consumption, and respiratory responses of the air-breathing (AB) armored catfish Pterygoplichthys anisitsi. The hematological parameters and oxygen-binding characteristics of whole blood and stripped hemoglobin and the intermediate metabolism of selected tissue in normoxia, different hypoxic conditions, and after air exposure were also examined. In normoxia, this species exhibited high activity at night and AB behavior (2-5 AB h(-1)). The exposure to acute severe hypoxia elicited the AB behavior (4 AB h(-1)) during the day. Under progressive hypoxia without access to the water surface, the fish were oxyregulators with a critical O2 tension, calculated as the inspired water O2 pressure, as 47 ± 2 mmHg. At water O2 tensions lower than 40 mmHg, the fish exhibited continuous apnea behavior. The blood exhibited high capacity for transporting O2, having a cathodic hemoglobin component with a high Hb-O2 affinity. Under severe hypoxia, the fish used anaerobic metabolism to maintain metabolic rate. Air exposure revealed physiological and biochemical traits similar to those observed under normoxic conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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