Fish can respond to stimuli from the internal or external environment with activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis and the secretion of cortisol. Stimuli that activate the HPI axis of fish include short term air exposure and increases in water temperature. The present study was conducted to determine how quickly cortisol concentrations increase in goldfish subjected to an increase in water temperature, and to compare the response to an increase in water temperature with responses to other stimuli. Plasma cortisol concentrations varied widely between individual goldfish, with concentrations ranging from 9.1 to 516.0 ng/mL in goldfish on the day of arrival from the supplier. Mean cortisol concentrations in undisturbed goldfish were low (4.5 ± 1.0 ng/mL). Mean cortisol concentrations in fish exposed to air for 3 min and in fish that experienced chasing for 10 min were markedly elevated 15 min after the beginning of the stimuli (132.6 ± 31.0 and 121.1 ± 23.9 ng/mL respectively). Mean cortisol concentrations in fish that experienced an increase in water temperature rose to 22.2 ± 7.6 ng/mL after 15 min, declined to <10 ng/mL at 30 and 60 min then increased and were elevated (79.0 ± 10.8 ng/mL) at 240 min. Cortisol measurements can be used to indicate the responsiveness of fish to changes in water temperature and goldfish will be a convenient study species for the development of studies of plasticity in responses of fish to increases in water temperature that are happening due to climate change.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology