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Fish Physiol Biochem. 1996 Jun;15(3):213-20. doi: 10.1007/BF01875572.

Gill morphometry of the facultative air-breathing loricariid fish,Hypostomus plecostomus (Walbaum) with, special emphasis on aquatic respiration.

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Departamento de Ciências Fisiológicas, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Caixa Postal 676, 13565-905, São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil.


Gill respiratory surface area and oxygen consumption during aquatic respiration were measured in the facultative air-breathing loricariid fish,Hypostomus plecostomus. The fish did not surface to breathe atmospheric air in normoxic water; air-breathing was evoked by environmental hypoxia (water oxygen tension=35±2, mmHg) and did not show size-related threshold differences for air breathing.During gradual hypoxia, without access to atmospheric, air,H. plecostomus was found to be an oxyregulator and showed a reduced range of water oxygen tension in which the oxygen consumption remained constant in smaller fish. The critical oxygen tensions were 55 and 33 mmHg at 25°C for fish of 14-30 g and 31-80g body weight, respectively.The gill respiratory surface area (total lamellae area) is reduced, however, the lamellar frequency per mm of gill filament is high which facilitates the gas exchange. Moreover, the increase of gill respiratory surface area (b=0.666) is higher than the increase in routine VO2 (b=0.338) showing a positive relationship between the gill respiratory surface area /VO2 ratio and body mass (b=0.328); this indicates that the fish have greater gill respiratory surface area per unit of routine VO2 as they grow.


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