Levels of swimming activity in fishes have been divided into three categories on the basis of the time a given speed can be maintained before the onset of fatigue (Beamish, 1978): sustained (more than 200 min), prolonged (20 s to 200 min) and burst swimming (less than 20 s). The locomotory capacity of a given species reflects both its lifestyle and its body form, although definitions of performance may vary. It is generally accepted that only the aerobic ('red') muscle fibres should be active at truly sustainable swimming speeds, i.e. at speeds that can be maintained indefinitely without fatigue. However, the standard laboratory method of evaluating the maximum sustainable swimming speed (Ucrit; Brett, 1964) almost certainly entails the recruitment of at least some of the rapidly fatigable fast glycolytic ('white') fibres at sub-critical speeds and undoubtedly complicates the evaluation of maximal cardiovascular performance. It would therefore be useful to have an objective and reproducible measure of truly sustainable performance that, by definition, relies solely on aerobic muscle activity. Electromyography (EMG) has been used to examine the pattern of white muscle recruitment following thermal acclimation in striped bass, Morine saxatilis (Sisson and Sidell, 1987). We wished to incorporate this method into a study of the acclimatory responses to chronic changes in environmental temperature of the cardiovascular and locomotory systems in rainbow trout (Wilson and Egginton, 1992). The present communication presents results on the cardiovascular performance and blood chemistry, at rest and during maximal aerobic exercise, of rainbow trout acclimated to 11 °C, as a validation of the methodology currently in use with fish acclimated to seasonal temperature extremes (Taylor et al. 1992). Different acclimation temperatures are known to produce compensatory changes in the relative proportions of red and white muscle mass (Sidell and Moerland, 1989). The aim of these continuing investigations is to compare the anatomical, cardiovascular and locomotory limitations to aerobic exercise over the full temperature range of a eurythermal fish species.

This content is only available via PDF.