Fish generally perform routine swimming behaviors during food digestion; thus, changes in swimming performance and adjustments to spontaneous behavior resulting from digestion can have important ecological significance for wild fishes. The effects of feeding on metabolism, spontaneous activity, fast-start escape movement, and critical swimming speed (Ucrit) were investigated in five cyprinids with different habitat preferences, specifically the Chinese crucian carp (Carassius auratus), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), Chinese bream (Parabramis pekinensis), and qingbo (Spinibarbus sinensis). Generally, species in still water exhibited increased feeding metabolism, whereas species in flowing water showed higher spontaneous activity and locomotion performance. Digestion had no significant effects on either spontaneous activity or fast-start escape movement in the five cyprinids. These results could be due to the small meal sizes (approximately 2% body mass) and active foraging modes of cyprinids. The changes in aerobic swimming performance due to feeding were more complex. No effect of digestion on Ucrit was observed in crucian carp (still water, high feeding metabolism, and low Ucrit), common carp (widely distributed, high feeding metabolism, and high Ucrit), and qingbo (flowing water, low feeding metabolism, and high Ucrit), but digestion resulted in a significant decrease in the Ucrit of Chinese bream (moderate feeding metabolism but high Ucrit) and black carp (moderate feeding metabolism and low Ucrit), suggesting no connection between postprandial Ucrit changes and feeding metabolism (or between Ucrit and preferred habitat). The maximum metabolic rate (MMR) of common carp and crucian carp increased after feeding, whereas the corresponding values for the other three cyprinids remained the same. The oxygen uptake capacity appears to meet the oxygen demand of both aerobic swimming and digestion in common carp and crucian carp, whereas qingbo sacrifices digestion for locomotion, and black carp and Chinese bream sacrifice locomotion for digestion under postprandial swimming conditions. The locomotion-priority mode of qingbo is adaptive to its active foraging mode in the demanding swimming habitat of rapidly flowing water, whereas the high respiratory capacities of postprandial crucian carp and common carp and hence the maintenance of their aerobic swimming performances might be a by-product of natural selection for hypoxia tolerance rather than for swimming speed.
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This study was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC 31670418).
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the Key Laboratory of Animal Biology of Chongqing (permit number: Zhao-20140313-02) and performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Animal at the Key Laboratory of Animal Biology of Chongqing, China.
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