The objectives of this study were to determine if environmental acidity reduces swimming performance in the acid-tolerant yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and to use swimming performance as an indicator of fitness in testing whether fish from naturally acidic environments perform better in acidic water. Perch from a naturally acidic lake (pH4.4) or a nearby circumneutral lake were swum after either 5–7 months of laboratory acclimation to simulated soft, natural waters or after more than 2 years of acclimation to hard, circumneutral water. The performance test was a critical swimming speed (Ucrit) determination, with 5 cms−1 velocity increments at 30min intervals. Low environmental pH (4.0) produced significant decreases in average swimming performance in each of three experimental series. Acid decreased performance in most but not all fish. The two perch populations had similar mean Ucrit values when swimming in acid water. Pre-acclimation to hard water significantly increased swimming performance. Gravid females acclimated to acid water had very low critical swimming speeds in acid water, whereas Ucrit, changed little in acid water when oogenesis occurred in neutral water.

This content is only available via PDF.