Fish receive oxygen needed from water that passes through their gills. If fish were isotonic to their watery environment, what problems would this pose to them?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This sounds like it might be a homework question. We try not to answer homework questions here (we use the term broadly to include any sort of coursework, as well as under researched questions where supporting information is very easily accessible), because figuring out those answers independently is an important part of the learning process. However, if you can show how you are thinking about the question and what work you have already done, then we can help out. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 29 '17 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ dependson the fish and what kind of environment they are adapted to. Some fish woun't notice others will die within minutes. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 29 '17 at 0:59

Some fish are isotonic to their environment (I read that in some book and they had examples but Google is failing me. Here is a paper instead talking about fish doing well in an isotonic environment). It isn't an issue for getting oxygen; I assume you think that because you think fish get oxygen via osmotic pressure, but "isotonic" (and "hypotonic" and "hypertonic") refer to the transfer of water via osmosis. A fish that's isotonic with its environment doesn't need to take special measures to avoid its cells swelling or shrinking as water floods in or out of them; it doesn't say anything about which specific solutes are in that water to make it isotonic.

As far as oxygen goes, oxygen is constantly being consumed by the fish's tissues so the diffusion is always going to go in the right direction (unless the water doesn't contain enough oxygen in the first place, in which case fish won't survive). In addition I imagine fish blood contains many molecules that preferentially bind to oxygen in ways that make this process even more efficient.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.