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Q: Fish biology ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Fish biology
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: lancasterad-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 23 Feb 2005 13:44 PST
Expires: 25 Mar 2005 13:44 PST
Question ID: 479592
We need a list of compounds commonly released into the water by an
injured freshwater fish. I read an article on this years ago but
cannot find it.
Subject: Re: Fish biology
Answered By: hummer-ga on 23 Feb 2005 18:39 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi  lancasterad,

I'm sure you are thinking of the alarm pheromone "Schreckstoff".
Unfortunately, little is know of its chemical makeup so I can't
provide you with a "list of compounds".

Alarm Pheromones in Fish: Functional and Evolutionary Aspects
"Karl von Frisch (1941) first demonstrated that when the  European
minnow Phoxinus  phoxinus is eaten by a predator, damage to the skin
releases an alarm substance ("Schreckstoff", or scary  stuff) that
elicits a fright reaction in conspecifics.  Fish dart randomly when
they first detect the substance, then form a tight  school and retreat
from the source."
"Unfortunately, very little is known of the  chemistry of any fish
alarm pheromone, and pure pheromone has never been isolated for
detailed chemical analysis."

"Chemically-mediated alarm responses (behaviours that appear to reduce
predation risk) are common in fish (Chivers & Smith 1998), although
the identity of the active chemicals has only been proposed in
Ostariophysans (e.g., Cypriniformes, Siluriformes, Characiformes)
which also possess epidermal club cells for their production (e.g.,
Pfeiffer 1977; Smith 1992). Argentini (1976) suggested that the cue
used by minnows might be hypoxanthine-3-N-oxide, although neither the
olfactory activity of this compound, nor its presence in fish water,
have as yet been demonstrated (Kasumyan & Ponomarev 1987; Smith 1999).
Recently, however, Brown et al. (2002, 2003) showed that this compound
and related compounds induced alarm responses at concentrations
expected of a pheromone. Perhaps hypoxanthine-3-N-oxide is one
component of a more complex cue."

Additional Links:

NOAA Glossary of Terminology: S 
schreckreaktion - an alarm response in some fishes as a result of an
alarm substance (schreckstoff), or alarm pheromone being introduced
into the water via rupture of specialized dermal club cells.
Presumably a fish attacked by a predator releases schreckstoff into
the water, resulting in the conspecifics making a variety of
coordinated escape or fright actions
schreckstoff - a chemical alarm substance (a pheromone) produced by
the skin of some groups of fishes when injured. It stimulates
conspecifics and perhaps some other fishes to exhibit fright and
escape movements "

"Minnows, like the yellowfin shiners in spawning coloration on this
page, belong to a large and disparate superorder of fishes called
Ostariophysi, which also includes suckers, loaches, catfishes,
characins, knifefishes, and the electric eel, among others. One
ostariophysan trait is the ability to produce a chemical substance
called Schreckstoff (from the German words for fright and stuff). When
an ostariophysan fish is bitten by a predator, special skin cells
release Schreckstoff into the water. This sends a message to
schoolmates and other closely related species to take a variety of
escape actions.
Some ostariophysan fishes have lost their ability to produce
Schreckstoff for adaptive reasons. For example, piranhas do not
release an alarm substance since many of their prey are
ostariophysans, and it wouldn't make sense for them to flee each time
they bit into a fish."

Schreckstoff: "An alarm response in these fishes is the result of an
alarm substance (Schreckstoff) being introduced into the water via
rupture of specialized dermal club cells. Presumably fish are
traveling in some kind of school or shoal when one or more of them are
damaged (attacked). Release of Schreckstoff into the water
(Schreckreaktion) results in the remaining conspecifics making a
variety of coordinated escape actions. It is also believed that a
predator that has recently consumed an Ostariophysian will secrete
Schreckstoff in its feces, also warning other Ostariophysians of the
predator's presence."

Schreckstoffes: Alarm Substances of Fishes:
"Likened unto the "alarm calls" of birds, zebras and monkeys, alarm
substances of fishes are ecto- or social hormones (pheromones)
communicating the presence of danger to conspecifics (members of the
same <or closely related> species). Pandey retells a history of as Von
Frisch (1938) describing his accidental discovery of a fright reaction
in a European minnow Phoxinus phoxinus . He noted that on introduction
of an injured fish the school dispersed, retreated and hid. Von Frisch
further discerned that this fright substance (schreckstoff) was
deriveable only from the fish's skin extract. Subsequently, other
investigators have been busy studying the distribution of alarm
substances and fright reactions in fishes. These inquiries have mainly
centered on the important pet fish SuperOrder Ostariophyi (minnows
<barbs, danios, rasboras, goldfish, koi, "sharks">, tetras, catfishes,
many knifefish families (the suborder Gymnotoidei)), and two of the
important food-fish orders Gonorhynchiformes (milkfish), and
Salmoniformes (salmons and trouts, of course). These pheromonal
behavior effects have now been demonstrated in virtually all living
orders of fishes."
"Alarm substances have been isolated from excretions, body slime and
most-celebratedly, in large, specialized goblet or club cells
(Kolbenzellen) located in the skin of fishes in the principal groups
listed above. These cells do not open to the surface, but rather
release their contents after mechanical injury."

I trust this is what you are looking for. If not, or if you have any
questions, please post a clarification request *before* closing/rating
my answer and I'll be happy to reply.

Thank you,

Google Search Terms Used:

Alarm Substances among Fishes
Schreckstoff analysis
lancasterad-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Great info. Thanks!

Subject: Re: Fish biology
From: hummer-ga on 24 Feb 2005 06:37 PST
You're welcome, lancasterad, thank you too!  Sincerely, hummer

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