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Respiration and Gills: What Factors Affect Respiration in an Aquatic Environment? *

Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


During metabolism, organisms experience physical and chemical changes. All animals need some way to exchange chemical waste generated during metabolism for fresh nutrients. One way that these metabolic chemicals are exchanged is during respiration, the process by which used carbon dioxide gas is exchanged with fresh oxygen and circulated throughout the body. How do organisms living underwater respirate? They use gills, which filter oxygen from the water and pass the oxygen into the bloodstream. You can measure the rate of respiration of a goldfish by counting the number of gill movements over a defined period of time. Using goldfish, you can design experiments to test the effect of different environmental conditions on respiration. Some environmental conditions that could be tested are: temperature, salinity, oxygenation, toxicity or acidity. (Dashefsky, 1995, 82-84; VanCleave, 1993, 133-137.) Goldfish tolerate some environmental changes better than others. To avoid killing the goldfish, research their environmental tolerances before experimenting; when in doubt, make small incremental changes, making sure to observe their reactions prior to making larger changes.

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Science Buddies Staff. "Respiration and Gills: What Factors Affect Respiration in an Aquatic Environment?" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p031.shtml>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, October 3). Respiration and Gills: What Factors Affect Respiration in an Aquatic Environment?. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p031.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-10-03


  • Dashefsky, H.S. 1995. Zoology: 49 Science Fair Projects. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
  • VanCleave, J. 1993. Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Biology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

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