, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 37-45
Date: 11 May 2006

Ontogeny of the Alimentary Canal and Respiratory Physiology of Larval Hoplosternum littorale (Hancock, 1828): an Intestinal Air-Breathing Teleost

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Newly hatched larval Hoplosternum littorale do not exhibit bimodal respiration upon hatching but depend initially on branchial respiration. As the respiratory intestine develops, its increasing length leads to an increasing dependence on aerial respiration. The respiratory intestine first appears when the fish is 9 days old but is microscopic at this age and becomes detectable by gross morphological examination at 13 days old. Development of the gut for the remainder of the juvenile period (up to 32 days old) consists of increasing length, mucosal folding, concentration of taste buds, gastric glands, mucous glands and goblet cells. Stage 1 commenced with newly hatched larvae until the larval fish were 11 days old. During this stage the fish did not have the capacity to air-breathe and thus behaved as oxygen conformers. Stage 2 extended from day 12 to day 23 and the fish had the capacity to air-breathe although the respiratory intestine was still developing. Stage 3 began from day 24 to day 32 and at this point the respiratory intestine was well-developed and functioned efficiently. The rate of oxygen consumption of the larval fish was found to be related to dissolved oxygen concentration, age of the larval fish and various interactions of these two factors.