Friday, 30 November 2012

Fighting fish 'take a breather'

Siamese fighting fish take gulps of air from above water so they can continue to clash, say scientists.

Males of the species, known for their aggressive territorial displays, can also take in oxygen from both the air and water.

Scientists analysed how the fish harness this ability in order to maintain energy during a fighting bout.

They found that males incorporate visits to the surface into their battles to boost their oxygen uptake.

"It seems their smaller gills, a result of living in low oxygenated water, cannot keep up with the vigour of the fight, and more air breathing is required," explained Dr Steven Portugal from the Royal Veterinary College, London.

He worked with colleagues from the University of Queensland, Australia on the study published in the journal Comparative Biology and Physiology Part A.

Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) are found throughout south-east Asia where they live in low-oxygenated pools and rice paddies.

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