, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 101-110

Osmoregulatory ability of chum salmon,Oncorhynchus keta, reared in fresh water for prolonged periods

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The osmoregulatory ability of chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), reared in fresh water for a prolonged period, was examined by transferring them directly to seawater and then back to fresh water. When fry and juveniles weighing 0.3–125g, reared in fresh water for 1.5–13 months, were transferred directly to seawater, they adjusted their plasma Na+ concentration to the seawater-adapted level within 12–24h. When they were transferred back to fresh water after having been adapted to seawater for 2 weeks, the plasma Na+ level gradually decreased during the first 12–24h, and then increased to reattain the initial freshwater level after 5–7 days. No mortality was observed during the experiment except among the smallest fry weighing about 0.3g after transfer to seawater (2.1%). The maintenance of good osmoregulatory ability of the chum salmon for a prolonged period in fresh water seems to be unique among Pacific salmon, with the possible exception of the pink salmon.

Changes in plasma levels of hormones during the transfer experiments were recorded in juveniles reared in fresh water for 13 months. Prolactin levels increased maximally 3 days after transfer from seawater to fresh water, as would be expected from its well-established role in freshwater adaptation in several euryhaline teleosts. In addition, an increase in plasma growth hormone was observed during the first 12h after seawater transfer, along with a tendency towards a decrease during freshwater transfer, suggesting an important role for this hormone in seawater adaptation. There were no consistent changes in plasma levels of thyroxine and cortisol during freshwater to seawater or seawater to freshwater transfer.