Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 149–158 | Cite as

Acid-base, plasma ion and blood gas changes in rainbow trout during short term toxic zinc exposure

  • Douglas J. Spry
  • Chris M. Wood


  1. 1.

    Rainbow trout exposed to waterborne zinc at an acutely lethal level (1.5 mg/l) or at a lower concentration close to the 4 d LC50 (0.8 mg/l) exhibited contrasting physiological responses in artificial soft water (ASW).

  2. 2.

    The changes in acid-base status and other blood parameters during the acute zinc exposure (1.5 mg/l) in ASW resulted from a rapid cascade of events in which hypoxemia, probably due to gill damage, resulted in tissue hypoxia and a mixed acidosis which were rapidly fatal. Changes in Het, MCHC, Cl and lactate reflected the acidosis. Hypoxia rather than acidosis was the primary lethal mechanism.

  3. 3.

    Lower level zinc exposure (0.8 mg/l) over a 3 day period resulted in a slight alkalosis, despite a rise in\(P{\text{a}}_{{\text{CO}}_{\text{2}} }\). No changes were observed in plasma concentrations of Na+, Cl or K+, and\(P{\text{a}}_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} }\) remained high. Possible causes for the alkalosis are discussed. Some mortality occurred, suggesting that toxic mechanisms other than hypoxemia may have operated.

  4. 4.

    Zinc accumulated in whole blood to a greater extent during the 3 day low level exposure than the short term, high level exposure, suggesting that toxicity in the latter reflected an external effect of zinc. Zinc accumulated only in plasma with no penetration of the RBC's.



Rainbow Trout Level Exposure Level Zinc Toxic Mechanism High Level Exposure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



4-acetamido-4′-iso-thiocyanatostilbene-2,2′ disulphonic acid




mean cell hemoglobin concentration


artificial soft water


plasma total protein




Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beamish RJ, VanLoon JC (1977) Precipitation loading of acid and heavy metals into a small acid lake near Sudbury, Ontario. J Fish Res Board Can 34:649–658Google Scholar
  2. Brafield AE, Matthiessen P (1976) Oxygen consumption by sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) exposed to zinc. J Fish Biol 9:359–370Google Scholar
  3. Burggren WW, Cameron JN (1980) Anaerobic metabolism, gas exchange and acid-base balance during hypoxic exposure in the channel catfishIctalurus punctatus. J Exp Zool 213:405–416Google Scholar
  4. Burton DT, Jones AH, Cairns J Jr (1972) Acute zinc toxicity to rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri): confirmation of the hypothesis that death is related to tissue hypoxia. J Fish Res Board Can 29:1463–1466Google Scholar
  5. Cameron JN (1971) Rapid method for detemination of total CO2 in small blood samples. J Appl Physiol 31:632–634Google Scholar
  6. Cameron JN (1978) Regulation of blood pH in teleost fish. Respir Physiol 33:129–144Google Scholar
  7. Cameron JN, Randall DJ (1972) The effect of increased ambient CO2 on arterial CO2 tension, CO2 content and pH in rainbow trout. J Exp Biol 57:673–680Google Scholar
  8. Christensen GM, Tucker JH (1976) Effects of selected water toxicants on the in vitro activity of fish carbonic anhydrase. Chem Biol Interact 13:181–192Google Scholar
  9. Craig GR, Beggs GL (1979) An evaluation of loading rates in regulatory static bioassays. In: Wong PTS, Hodson PV, Niimi AJ, Cairns V (eds) Proc 5th Annu Aquatic Toxicity Workshop. Fish Mar Serv Tech Rep 862Google Scholar
  10. Davenport HW (1974) The ABC of Acid-Base Chemistry, 6th edn (revised). The University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IllGoogle Scholar
  11. Dejours P (1975) Principles of comparative respiratory physiology. American Elsevier, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Eddy FB (1976) Acid-base balance in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) subjected to acid stresses. J Exp Biol 64:159–171Google Scholar
  13. European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (1973) Water quality criteria for European freshwater fish report on zinc and fresh-water fish. Tech Pap 21, FAO RomeGoogle Scholar
  14. Funder J, Wieth JO (1966) Chloride and hydrogen ion distribution between human red cells and plasma. Acta Physiol Scand 68:234–243Google Scholar
  15. Hodson PV (1976) Temperature effects on lactate-glycogen metabolism in zinc-intoxicated rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). J Fish Res Board Can 33:1393–1397Google Scholar
  16. Holeton GF, Randall DJ (1967) The effects of hypoxia upon the partial pressure of gases in the blood and water afferent and efferent to the gills of rainbow trout. J Exp Biol 46:317–327Google Scholar
  17. Lewis SD, Lewis WM (1971) The effect of zinc and copper on the osmolarity of blood serum of the channel catfishIctalurus punctatus Rafinesque and the golden shinerNotemigonus chrysoleucas Mitchell. Trans Am Fish Soc 100:639–643Google Scholar
  18. Litchfield JT Jr (1949) A method for rapid graphic solution of time-percent effect curves. J Pharmacol Exp Therapeut 97:399–408Google Scholar
  19. Litchfield JT Jr, Wilcoxon F (1949) A simplified method of evaluating dose-effect experiments. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 97:99–113Google Scholar
  20. Maetz J (1971) Fish gills: mechanisms of salt transfer in fresh-water and sea water. Proc R Soc London [Biol] 262:209–250Google Scholar
  21. Maetz J, Garcia-Romeu F (1964) The mechanism of sodium and chloride uptake by the gills of a fresh-water fishCarassius auratus. II. Evidence for NH3/Na+ and HCO3/Cl exchanges. J Gen Physiol 47:1209–1227Google Scholar
  22. Maetz J, Payan P, DeRenzis G (1976) Controversial aspects of ionic uptake in freshwater animals. In: Spencer Davies P (ed) Perspectives in experimental biology, vol 1. Pergamon Press, London, pp 77–92Google Scholar
  23. Matthiessen P, Brafield AE (1973) The effect of dissolved zinc on the gills of the sticklebackGasterosteus aculeatus L. J Fish Biol 5:607–613Google Scholar
  24. McDonald DG, Höbe H, Wood CM (1980) The influence of calcium on the physiological responses of the rainbow trout.Salmo gairdneri, to low environmental pH. J Exp Biol 88:109–131Google Scholar
  25. Perry SF, Haswell MS, Randall DJ, Farrell AP (1981) Branchial ionic uptake and acid-base regulation in the rainbow trout,Salmo gairdneri. J Exp Biol 92:289–303Google Scholar
  26. Rahn H (1966) Aquatic gas exchange: theory. Respir Physiol 1:1–12Google Scholar
  27. Riggs A (1970) Properties of fish hemoglobins. In: Hoar WS, Randall DJ (eds) Fish physiology, vol 4. Academic Press, New York, pp 209–252Google Scholar
  28. Sellers CM Jr, Heath AG, Bass ML (1975) The effect of sublethal concentrations of copper and zinc on ventilatory activity, blood oxygen and pH in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). Water Res 9:401–408Google Scholar
  29. Severinghaus JW (1965) Blood gas concentrations. In: Fenn WO, Rahn H (eds) Handbook of physiology — respiration II. Am Physiol Soc. Washington, DC, pp 1475–1487Google Scholar
  30. Skidmore JF (1964) Toxicity of zinc compounds to aquatic animals, with special reference to fish. Q Rev Biol 39:227–247Google Scholar
  31. Skidmore JF (1970) Respiration and osmoregulation in rainbow trout with gills damaged by zinc sulphate. J Exp Biol 52:481–494Google Scholar
  32. Skidmore JF, Tovell PWA (1972) Toxic effects of zinc sulphate on the gills of rainbow trout. Water Res 6:217–230Google Scholar
  33. Smith LS, Bell GR (1964) A technique for prolonged blood sampling in free swimming salmon. J Fish Res Board Can 21:711–717Google Scholar
  34. Spear PA (1981) Zinc in the aquatic environment: chemistry, distribution and toxicology. National Research Council of Canada 17589Google Scholar
  35. Sprague JB (1973) The ABC's of pollutant bioassay using fish. In: Biological methods for the assessment of water quality. Am Soc Test Mater Spec Tech Publ 528:6–30Google Scholar
  36. Spry DJ, Wood CM, Hodson PV (1981) The effects of environmental acid on freshwater fish, with particular reference to the softwater lakes in Ontario and the modifying effects of heavy metals. A literature review. Can Tech Rep Fish Aquat Sci 999Google Scholar
  37. Steel RDG, Torrie JH (1960) Principles and procedures of statistics. McGraw-Hill, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  38. Swift DJ, Lloyd R (1974) Changes in urine flow rate and haematocrit value of rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri Richardson) exposed to hypoxia. J Fish Biol 6:379–387Google Scholar
  39. Turner JD, Wood CM, Clark D (1983) Lactate and proton dynamics in the rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). J Exp Biol 104:247–268Google Scholar
  40. Watson TA, Beamish FWH (1980) Effects of zinc on branchial ATPase activity in vivo in rainbow troutSalmo gairdneri. Comp Biochem Physiol 66C:77–82Google Scholar
  41. Wolf K (1963) Physiological salines for freshwater teleosts. Prog Fish Cult 25:135–140Google Scholar
  42. Wood CM, Caldwell FH (1978) Renal regulation of acid-base balance in a freshwater fish. J Exp Zool 205:301–307Google Scholar
  43. Wood CM, McMahon BR, McDonald DG (1977) An analysis of changes in blood pH following exhausting activity in the starry flounderPlatichthys stellatus. J Exp Biol 69:173–185Google Scholar
  44. Wood CM, McMahon BR, McDonald DG (1979) Respiratory gas exchange in the resting starry flounderPlatichthys stellatus: a comparison with other teleosts. J Exp Biol 78:167–179Google Scholar
  45. Wood CM, McDonald DG, McMahon BR (1982) The influence of experimental anaemia on blood acid-base regulation in vivo and in vitro in the starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) and the rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). J Exp Biol 96:221–237Google Scholar
  46. Wood CM, Turner JD, Graham MS (1983) Why do fish die after severe exercise? J Fish Biol 22:189–201Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas J. Spry
    • 1
  • Chris M. Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

Personalised recommendations