The Effect of Hypoxia on Fish Swimming Performance and Behaviour

  • P. Domenici
  • N. A. Herbert
  • C. Lefrançois
  • J. F. Steffensen
  • D. J. McKenzie


Oxygen depletion, hypoxia, can be a common stressor in aquatic habitats, including aquaculture. Hypoxia limits aerobic swimming performance in fish, by limiting their aerobic metabolic scope. Hypoxia also elicits changes in spontaneous swimming activity, typically causing a decrease in swimming speed in sedentary species and an increase in active species. However, fish do have the capacity to avoid hypoxia and actively choose well-oxygenated areas. Hypoxia causes differences in fish behaviour in schools, it may reduce school density and size and influence activities such as shuffling within schools. Hypoxia also influences predator–prey interactions, in particular by reducing fast-start performance. Thus, through effects on swimming, hypoxia can have profound effects on species distributions in the field. In aquaculture, effects of hypoxia may be particularly significant in sea cages. It is therefore important to understand the nature and thresholds of effects of hypoxia on swimming activity to extrapolate to potential impacts on fish in aquaculture.


Swimming Speed Swimming Performance Standard Metabolic Rate Specific Dynamic Action Maximum Metabolic Rate 
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.



PD received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement No. 266445 for the project Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors (VECTORS).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Domenici
    • 1
  • N. A. Herbert
    • 2
  • C. Lefrançois
    • 3
  • J. F. Steffensen
    • 4
  • D. J. McKenzie
    • 5
  1. 1.CNR-IAMC Loc. Sa MardiniTorregrandeItaly
  2. 2.Leigh Marine LaboratoryUniversity of AucklandWarkworthNew Zealand
  3. 3.UMR 6250 LIENSS (CNRS-University of La Rochelle)La RochelleFrance
  4. 4.Marine Biological Laboratory, Biological InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenHelsingørDenmark
  5. 5.UMR 5119 Ecologie des Systèmes Marins CôtiersUniversité Montpellier IIMontpellierFrance

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