Pupfish Can Hold Its Breath For Five Hours

by | Sep 13, 2015 | Fish, Science | 2 comments

pupfishA new study reveals that the desert dwelling Pupfish can hold its breath for up to five hours. Researchers this week at the American Physiological Society’s Experimental Biology Meeting said the ability to hold its breath is an adaption which allows the fish to survive in ever changing environmental conditions. Researchers at the University of Nevada wanted to see how the critically endangered pupfish has been able to survive serious climate changes. The cool lakes they once thrived in have now reached temperatures up to almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Researchers attribute the fish’s success to physiological plasticity, or essentially doing whatever it takes to adapt to environmental changes. The Desert Pupfish stops breathing for up to five hours at a time, thereby breaking down inhaled oxygen. This process does not come without its risks, and the process can lead to excess production of free radicals. The Pupfish randomly alternate between oxygen-based, or aerobic, respiration and oxygen-free, or anaerobic, respiration. The fish generate and breakdown ethanol to get energy without using any oxygen. “Sometimes organisms have to take the lesser of two evils, but it doesn’t necessarily mean this alternative is a great option,” Frank Van Breukelen from the University of Nevada says. “We think this process is really tough on the fish.” It is possible that this process also contributes to the pupfish’s shorter life span. MORE

  • Francis Yupangco

    Francis is a marine biologist with an MBA and over 20 years of professional aquarium experience. Francis is the former Aquatic Development Manager at Hagen USA., makers of Fluval brand aquarium products. He co-stars on Nat Geo WILD's reality TV series Fish Tank Kings where he is the resident "Fish Geek" and was Director of Marketing at Living Color Aquariums. He is an avid explorer having visited over 45 countries and lived in 7. At 17, he was among the youngest aquarists ever hired by the Vancouver Aquarium, where he worked for 7 years. His aquatic biology experience ranges from larval fish rearing to the design, construction and operational management of renowned public aquariums around the world. Francis is currently head of marketing at the world's largest vertically integrated fish farming company.


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