By means of in vivo 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) we measured energy stores and intracellular pH at 10-min intervals in the myotome of unanesthetized carp and goldfish before, during, and after a period of anoxia (1 h for carp and 4 h for goldfish). The fish were mounted in a modified bioprobe, and their gills were irrigated with a constant flow of aerated or anoxic water. Anoxia caused a steep decline of phosphocreatine and intracellular pH in carp muscle. After the phosphocreatine stores had been exhausted by greater than 85%, [ATP] fell, whereas IMP and phosphodiesters accumulated. In goldfish muscle, initial changes followed the same pattern, but after 20 min a steady state of high-energy phosphates was reached and the development of acidosis was dampened. The resistance of goldfish to anoxia is due to metabolic suppression and a switch from lactate to ethanol and CO2 as the anaerobic end products. In both species, recovery was complete within 3 h. The fast pH recovery seems to be mainly caused by H+ and lactic acid efflux.
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