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Fish Biology Ecology Theory

Fish Biology Ecology Theory

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Published by: Jose Augusto Solis Benites on Nov 15, 2011
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Olfactory organs are paired occupying a conspicuous lateral position
in the head and consists the olfactory rosettes, bulbs, lobes and nerves.
Olfactory organs (Fig.12.8) are the receptors of the sense of smell. In fishes,
they are confined to the olfactory epithelial lining of the olfactory sacs.

Fig. 12.8. Position of olfactory organs. (A) in Tor. (B) in Channa.
(C) olfactory rosette in Mastacembelus.

Sense and Specialised Organs in Fish


Fish Biology and Ecology

The first rudiments of olfactory organs appear, close in front of the
stomodaeum, in the form of pair of ectodermal placodes. Each placode
invaginates to form the olfactory sac. Its epithelium folded forming the lamellae
and cells differentiates into the neurosecretory olfactory and the supporting
cells. Axons of olfactory cells grow and extend further to connect with the
olfactory bulbs of telencephalon.

The position of each olfactory chamber is marked externally by a
pair of dorso-ventrally oriented oval slits. They are situated half-way in
between the eyes and mouth. They are separated significantly by an internasal
distance. The nostrils lie very close to one another. Both are almost circular
and wide open, the posterior being larger than the anterior. The incurrent
opening is guarded by a hood like nasal flap on its posterior edge. This
projecting hood like structure is continuous on the internal side like a short
tube. The whole unit of internal nostril on inlet looks like a funnel which
channelizes the water to the anterior region of the cavity of olfactory chamber
bathing the olfactory rosette from its very tip. Hence by this combination of
an external hood and an internal tubular curtain, water would be deflected
during the forward progression of the fish, through the anterior nostril down
amongest the lamellae of the rosette. The posterior opening also known as
excurrent opening also known as excurrent opening or outlet, is large and
helps in expelling the used water through it.

Fig. 12.9. The relationship between olfactory organ and brain in carp.


The olfactory chamber is oval in shape. it is supported by a bony
skeleton comprising of nasal, frontal, lachrymal, ethmoid. palatine and
supplemented by maxillary. The supra-ethmoid and the lateral ethmoid are
modified for the accommodation of the olfactory organs. The postero-ventral
boundary of the olfactory chamber is marked by lateral ethmoid. through
which the olfactory tract passes from the rosette to the brain. The lateral wall
of the chamber is formed by lachrymal. and is attached to the anterior margin
of the lateral ethmoid. The floor of the olfactory chamber is supported by
palatine. The anterior region of the chamber is supplemented by maxillary.
Mesethmoid separates the olfactory chambers of the either side.

The olfactory chamber is transversely oval in shape and completely
occupied by an olfactory rosette which is cup shaped. The dorsal surface of
the rosette is concave, while the convex ventral surface is attached to a thin
membrane, which inturn attaches to the olfactory chamber. This thin membrane
is provided with a number of black pigments restricted to areas which lie
directly under the two openings i.e.. incurrent and excurrent. Overall, the
pigmentation occurs on the outer angle of the rosette. An olfactory nerve
arises from the well developed olfactory lobe of the brain and is attached to
a pear shaped olfactory bulb lying at the postero-ventral border of the
olfactory rosette. The olfactory fibres arise from olfactory lobes, along with
its olfactory stalk, lie parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body and re-
oriented in such a way that concave free surface of the rosette is directed

Each rosette has an elongated median axis, the raphae, to which are
attacehed the olfactory lamellae. The lamellae, attached at the middle region
of raphae are larger in size when compared to those of sides. This arrangement
suggests a possible addition of new larnellae towards the anterior nostril.
Each olfactory lamella is a crescentic structure, bearing a linguiform process
at its concave end. The linguiform processes of all the lamellae combine to
form a central cavity and a peripheral channel for water circulartion. The
lamellae are simple and without any lamellar ridges or secondary branch.
They are flattened leaf like structure, attached to the raphae by broader
proximal and free distally.

Sense and Specialised Organs in Fish


Fish Biology and Ecology

12.3.1. Histology of the olfactory organ

The olfactory rosette has a continuous fold of olfactory epithelium
covering the lamellae and the inter-lamellar raphae. which are a mass of
connective tissue core. A well developed basement membrane is also present.

The olfactory epithelium comprises of the various cell types which
include supporting cells, receptor cells, basal cells and goblet cells supporting
cells also known as sustentatularells, are colunmar in shape and bear cilia.
They have oval to spherical nuclei with granulated cytoplasm. The receptor
cells have found and dark staining nuclei with dendrites ending
at free epithelial surface. The inter lamellar epithelium has abundance of these
cells. The basal cells lie close to the basement membrane. They are cuboidal
in shape with fine cytoplasmic processes and prominent nuclei. On the free
surface of olfactory epithelium are distributed, profusely a number of mucous
secreting goblet cells. They are oval to pear-shaped with basal nuclear and
granular cytoplasm. The central core of lamellae comprises of loose connective
tissue, blood vessels, nerve fibrils, scaltered basal cells and few small spaces.
The raphae also shows the same cell structure except for the collagenous
and elastic fibres and areolar tissue. It is encircled by basement membrane
and provided with large blood vessels. The nasal flap, extending over the
rosette in the olfactory chamber. is made up of flattened epithelial cells,
supported over a layer of elastic connective tissue.

Fig. 12.10. Structure of olfactory organ (a) olfactory rasette of Tor;
(b) rosette of Mastacembalus, (c) composites of olfactory epitheliurn.


The olfactory organs of elasmobranchs are a pair of blind olfactory
sacs, each opening to the exterior by an aperture, the external flare. The
external nare is divided by a fold of skin into an anterior and a posterior
aperature, in order to direct water in, through one and out through other
aperture. Many elasmobranchs possess an oronasal groove, connecting each
nostril to the corresponding corner of the mouth. The olfactory epithelium
confines to the drosal part of the groove and consists of the usual folds
containing the olfactory and the supporting cells.

Olfactory organs of bony fishes are a pair of olfactory sacs, lying
dorsally in front of the eyes. Each sac is a blind pit, that lie well protected
within an ossified capsule and opens only to exterior through the external
nostril. The nostril may be single (e.g. Gasierosteus), or may bepartitioned
(as in most other bony fishes) into an anterior and a posterior nare for allowing
one way flow of water through the olfactory pit.

The olfactory epithelium of olfactory sac folds to assume different
shapes. Folding may betransverse, longitudinal, radial, or in a manner leading
to the rosette shape of teleosts (Fig. 12.10 a,b). The rosette is oval in Tor
and Labeo. elongated in Clarias, circular in Channa and in a few carps, and
feather shaped in Anguilla.

Many fishes have accessory sacs lying in close association with the
olfactory sacs. These are believed to help in maintaining the current of water
through the olfactory sacs.

Fishes being aquatic animals, depend largely on their olfactory sense
to defect their food. Oflactory organs are also employed in their social
behavior such as in recognizing themale by a female fish (e.g.Lebistes) and
in identifying different genera of fishes by minnows. Slamon responds by
olfactory sense to different odours like that of boar, dog or the human hands.

Water enters the olfactory chamber through the incurrent anterior
nare and leaves through the excurrent posterior nare. The entry into the
chamber is gained by the action ofcillia lining the sac, aided by the forward
motion of the fish or by the active pumping caused by the accessory sacs.
Function of olfaction is performed mainly by sensory receptor cells which

Sense and Specialised Organs in Fish


Fish Biology and Ecology

send their axons to the olfactory bulbs for analysis and interpretation of the


Fish consists of many sense and specialized organs like eyes, olfactory
ogans, membranous labyrinth, lateral line system, electric organs and sound
producing organs. Lateral line system consists of lateral line canals and large
number of neuromast cells. Canals are arranged on lateral side of fish from
head to tail. This system is sueful in detecting water currents.

Electric organs are found in Tarpedo. Narcine, Raia, electrophorus,
, etc. The electric orttgans are modification of muscles and
nerves. The electricity is useful for protection, predation and attrafin opposite

Olfactory organs are found in the snout region of the fish. It constists
of ofactory rosset, lamellatre, and connect to brain with olfactory nerve. It is
useful for olfaction.


1.Describe the lateral line system in fishes
2.Discuss theelectric organs in fishes.
3.Give an account on olfactory organs of fishes.




Ecology embraces an interrelationships of organisms with the
environment, the organisms and environments in a single location constitute
ecosystem (Tansley, 1935). Ecological system or ecosystem comprises
specific unit of all the organisms occupying a given area thereby producing
distinct tropic structure, biotic diversity and material cycles. The term
ecosystem was first of all coined by A.G. Tansley (1935) and defined it as an
“integrated system resulted from interaction of living and non-living factors
of the environment”. As the term ecosystem indicates ‘eco’ meaning
environmental and “system” implying an interacting inter-dependent complex.
Thus ecosystem may be defined as any unit which includes all the organisms
(i.e., communities) in a given area, which interacts with the physical
environment resulting in the flow of energy and biotic diversity as well as
material cycle. Other ecologists such as Mobius (1877) and Forbes.(1877)
used biocoenosis and micrososm, terms for ecological system. Still others,
namely, Russian ecologists (Sukachev, 1944 etc.) called ecosystem as

According to Odum (1963), organisms and physical features of the
habitat form an ecological complex or ecosystem. Thus ecosystem is the
basic functional unit of ecology embracing biotic communities and abiotic
environment both influencing each other. Every ecosystem encompasses
interacting organisms that transform and transmit energy and chemicals. These
energy and chemical flow processes support ecosystem organisation and are
responsible for the functional identities of ecosystem. The ultimate source of
energy for all the ecosystem is sun.

In nature, different types of ecosystem exist constituting giant
ecosystem so called biosphere. There are mainly two categories:


Fish Biology and Ecology

1. Natural ecosystem: These operate under natural conditions
independently without any major interference by man. On the basis of various
kinds of habitats, natural ecosystem may be further subdivided into terrestrial
type (e.g. grassland, desert, forest, etc.) and aquatic including freshwater
(ponds, rivers, etc.) and marine (sea, estuary, etc.) ecosystems.

2.Artificial ecosystem: These are man-made ecosystem being
maintained by artificial means. In them, natural balance is disturbed by addition
of energy and planned manipulations. Cultivation of crops (maize, rice, wheat
crops) represents man-made ecosystem.
Ecosystems are also classified into terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
In aquatic ecosystems, the characters and extent of community succession in
a given area depends on climate and soil condition. The climax community is
achieved only if environmental factors permit a fish sequence of serial stages.
All ecosystems resemble each other in the sense that all have same
components, i.e. autotrophic and heterotrophic, interacting upon each other
thus bringing about circulation of materials. In one ecosystem, the climate
and soil conditions are relatively uniform and they favour the growth of a
certain kind of climax community.

Aquatic ecosystems are usually, divided into (i) fresh water, (ii) marine
water, and (iii) estuarine water.

There are two categories of fresh water ecosystems (a) lentic or
standing or stagnant water including ponds, lakes and reservoirs (b) lotic or
running Water are those which occur in fast running streams, springs, rivers
and brooks. Fresh water ecosystems have low percentage of dissolved salts.
They have fluctuating physical and chemical factors affecting the flora and


A pond as a whole serves a good example of a freshwater ecosystem.
A pond indeed exhibits a self-sufficient, self-regulating system. Not only in
the pond a place where plants and animals (living organisms) live, but plants
and animals make the pond what it is physico-chemical environment. This
would become clear if you examine a bottle full of pond water or a scoop full


of bottom mud, which shall show the living organisms (plants as well as
animals) and a mixture of inorganic and organic compounds. Some larger
forms of life are also present in pond. Thus, whole system becomes much
complex indeed. However, we may study the pond as an ecosystem by
making its convenient division in some basic components, as shown in Figure
13.1 These components are as follows.

Fig. 13.1 Diagram of the pond ecosystem, showing its basic

structural units- the abiotic (inorganic and, organic compounds) and

biotic (producers, consumers and decomposers) components.



Fish Biology and Ecology


The chief substances are heat, light, pH value of water, and the basic
inorganic and organic compounds, such as water itself, carbon dioxide gas,
oxygen gas, calcium, nitrogen, phosphates, amino acids, humic acid etc. some
proportions of nutrients are in solution state but most of them are present as
stored in particulate matter as well as in living organisms. The light intensity is
measured by a Lux-photometer. Turbidity index of water at different depths
is obtained by a Sechhi disc. Rates of evapo-transpiration are calculated.
The pH of water and mud is determined by an electric pH meter. Dissolved
oxygen content, carbon dioxide content, solute contents including colloidal
suspensions, phosphate and nitrogen contents of water, and plant and animal
matter are estimated by appropriate methods (Misra, 1968). Amounts of
various organic compounds (carbohydrates, proteins, lipid etc.) are also
estimated for biomass determination.


The various organisms that constitute the biotic component are as follows: Producers

These are autotrophic, green plants-and some photosynthetic bacteria.
The producers fix radiant energy and with the help of minerals derived from
the water and mud, they manufacture complex organic substances as
carbohydrates, proteins, lipids etc. producers are of the following types

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