gy. The American Physiological Society published the study.
The carp developed this remarkable physiological adaptation as a way to avoid troublesome neighbors: predators. But the predator-free ponds where they live are inhospitable and require the fish to survive several months in only a few feet of water covered by several feet of ice and snow.
The oxygen content of Finnish ponds drops dramatically when the ice and snow cover them, preventing diffusion of oxygen from the air and cutting off aquatic plants from the light needed for photosynthesis, Paajanen said. The ponds in Finland gradually lose oxygen following the summer, and from February to April the ponds have virtually no oxygen.
Members of the carp family are known for their ability to adapt to anoxic conditions. The crucian carp's cousin, the goldfish, was the pet fish of choice before the advent of equipment to aerate tanks. But the crucian carp is a standout even within the carp family at surviving without oxygen.
When crucian carp live in larger bodies of water such as lakes, they make another remarkable adaptation to avoid the mouths of predators: They shift shape to make themselves shorter and fatter, making it much more difficult for predators to get their jaws around them. In ponds, the fish elongate, but they move much less during the winter and don't eat at all. They may remain immobile for up to two minutes when removed from the cold water, Paajanen said.
Matter of supply-demand
To measure energy demand, Paajanen and Vornanen looked at sodium-potassium pump activity. The sodium pump is the body's chief way of keeping cell function in balance in the face of extreme conditions. The pump is necessary to transmit information among cells, including the neurons in the brain. The quieter the pumps, the less active and energy-consuming the brain is. However, if the pumps shut down, the cells die.
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