Ammonia distribution and excretion in fish

Fish Physiology and Biochemistry
D J Randall, P A Wright

Abstract

This paper reviews the literature concerning ammonia production, storage and excretion in fish. Ammonia is the end product of protein catabolism and is stored in the body of fish in high concentrations relative to basal excretion rates. Ammonia, if allowed to accumulate, is toxic and is converted to less toxic compounds or excreted. Like other weak acids and bases, ammonia is distributed between tissue compartments in relation to transmembrane pH gradients. NH3 is generally equilibrated between compartments but NH4 (+) is distributed according to pH. Ammonia is eliminated from the blood upon passage through the gills. The mechanisms of branchial ammonia excretion vary between different species of fish and different environments, and primarily involves NH3 passive diffusion and NH4 (+)/Na(+) exchange. Water chemistry near the gill surface may also be important to ammonia excretion, but a more accurate measurement of the NH3 gradient across the gill epithelium is required before a more detailed analysis of NH3 and NH4 (+) excretion can be made.

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Related Concepts

Protein Degradation, Regulatory
Branchioma
Protein Degradation, Metabolic
Epithelium
Integral to Membrane
Blood Ammonia Measurement
Body Excretions
Ammonia Inhalants
Excretory Function
Gill Structure

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