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

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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.


  • 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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MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Respiration and Gills: What Factors Affect Respiration in an Aquatic Environment?" Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Zoo_p031/zoology/gills-aquatic-respiration. Accessed 7 June 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Respiration and Gills: What Factors Affect Respiration in an Aquatic Environment? Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Zoo_p031/zoology/gills-aquatic-respiration

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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