Our goal was to compare the internal physiological responses to acid challenge in an acidophilic tropical teleost endemic to dilute low-pH waters with those in nonacidophilic temperate species such as salmonids, which have been the subject of most previous investigations The Amazonian tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum), which migrates between circumneutral water and dilute acidic "blackwater" of the Rio Negro, was exposed to a graded low-pH and recovery regime in representative soft water (Na+ = 15, Cl- = 16, Ca2+ = 20 mu mol L-1). Fish were fitted with arterial catheters for repetitive blood sampling. Water PH was altered from 6.5 (control) to 5.0, 4.0, 3.0, and back to 6.5 (recovery) on successive days Some deaths occurred at PH 3.0. Throughout the regime, there were no disturbances of blood gases (O-2 and CO2 tensions and contents) or lactate levels, and only very minor changes in acid-base status of plasma and red cells. However, erythrocytic guanylate and adenylate levels increased at pH's less than or equal to 5.0. Down to pH 4.0, plasma glucose, cortisol, and total ammonia levels remained constant, but all increased at pH 3.0, denoting a stress response. Plasma Na+ and Cl- levels declined and plasma protein concentration increased at pH 3.0, indicative of ionoregulatory and fluid volume disturbance and neither recovered upon return to pH 6.5. Cortisol and ammonia elevations also persisted. Transepithelial potential changed progressively from highly negative values (inside) at pH 6.5 to highly positive values at pH 3.0; these alterations were fully reversible. Experimental elevations in water calcium levels drove the transepithelial potential positive at circumneutral pH, attenuated or prevented changes in transepithelial potential at low pH, and reduced Na+ and Cl- loss rates to the water during acute low-pH challenges. In general, tambaqui exhibited responses to low pH that were qualitatively similar but quantitatively more resistant than those previously documented in salmonids.
The original publication is available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/515977