Measurements of aerobic metabolism of a school of horse mackerel at different swimming speeds


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Oxygen consumption rates were measured in a school of 56 horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus while at rest and while swimming at steady sustained speeds. Resting values of 38.76 and 42.10mg O2 kg−1 h−1 were measured in a sealed cylindrical tank (535 l) while observing that the fish school remained neutrally buoyant and inactive with only gentle pectoral fin movements and no swimming motion. The same school was trained to swim with projected light patterns within a 10-m diameter annular doughnut respirometer. The oxygen consumption increased from the resting level through 51 mg O2 kg−1 h−1 at the slowest swimming speeds of 0.29 m s−1 (0.95 L s−1) to around 259 mg O2 kg−1 h−1 at the higher measured swimming speed of 0.87 m s−1 (2.82 L s−1). The data fitted a curve where oxygen consumption rose in proportion to velocity to the power of 2.56 with the intercept at the resting level. The maximum sustained speed (80 min) of 1.12 m s−1 (3.63 Ls−1) was not achieved within the respirometer but corresponded to an estimated oxygen consumption of 458.33 mg O2 kg−1 h−1 giving a scope for aerobic activity of 419.02 mg O2 kg−1 h−1. At a speed of 0.87 m s−1, there was a lower bound on the aerobic efficiency of at least 38% and at 1.12 m s−1, the highest aerobic speed, of 40%. Sustained speeds swum in a curved path as here should be increased by 5% for a straight path giving a maximum sustained 80 min speed of 1.18 m s−1.