Physiological Adaptations to Swimming in Fish


Swimming is an integral aspect of the life history of many fish species in the aquatic environment. Teleost fish show a great variety of locomotor strategies that are linked to their feeding behavior, predator avoidance, environmental (e.g. light, temperature, salinity, depth, etc.) preferences, social and reproductive behaviors, etc. The most dramatic examples of locomotor strategies can be found among those species that undergo long and lengthy reproductive and feeding migrations, such as salmonids, thunniforms and anguillids. From an organismic point of view, swimming is a behavior that occurs in intimate relation to other biological processes that fish experience throughout their life cycle, such as early development, growth, metabolic status, gonadal development and maturation, etc. Therefore, swimming is a behavior in fish that is intimately linked to their ability to develop, survive, grow and successfully reproduce in the natural environment.

Fishing pressure and global climate changes are affecting population size and structure, reproductive capacity and behaviour of wild fish. In contrast, the demand of fish for human consumption or feed manufacturing is steadily increasing. Aquaculture, i.e. the production of fish under controlled conditions, should provide an answer to this need and, therefore, domestication efforts have rapidly intensified for a number of species. However, fish in aquaculture often cannot display their normal swimming behavior due to excessive culture densities or insufficient flow streams in their holding facilities and, consequently, they may not experience the physiological benefits that swimming entitles their wild counterparts. This situation of reduced swimming exercise in captive fish has been suggested to result in fish with reduced fitness (both physical and reproductive), resulting in lower growth, survival and flesh (muscle) quality.

The aim of this topic is to provide up-to-date information on the swimming physiology of wild and farmed fish. Areas that will be covered under this topic include (1) migratory behavior, tracking and physiology of fish in the wild during their reproductive and/or feeding migrations, (2) molecular, biochemical, cellular and organismic physiological adaptations to swimming in fish and (3) development and implementation of technological approaches to study and stimulate fish swimming behavior both in the wild and in aquaculture.

Media Contact:

Liza Smith
Journal Manager
International Journal of Pure and Applied Zoology