The marine-estuarine species of pufferfishes Sphoeroides testudineus and S. greeleyi are very efficient osmoregulators. However, they differ with respect to their tolerance of salinity reduction. During low tide S. testudineus remains in diluted estuarine waters, whereas S. greeleyi returns to seawater (SW). The hypothesis tested here was that the short-term mobilization of metabolic substrates stored in their main osmoregulatory organs would correlate with this differential tolerance. Fishes exposed to 5‰ (for 6 h) were compared to those kept in 35‰. Branchial and renal contents of triglycerides, protein and glycogen were evaluated, and total ATPase activity accounted for the tissues' metabolism. Plasma osmolality, chloride and glucose, hematocrit, and muscle water content were also measured. Total triacylglycerol content was higher in S. greeleyi than in S. testudineus in both salinities and in both organs. Kidney glycogen contents were higher in S. greeleyi than in S. testudineus in 5 and 35‰. Total ATPase activity was reduced in 5‰ when compared to 35‰ in the kidney of S. greeleyi, and was higher in the gills of S. greeleyi than in those of S. testudineus, in both salinities. Upon exposure to dilute SW, both species displayed a similar osmoregulatory pattern: plasma osmolality and chloride were reduced. Again in both species, stability in muscle water content indicated cellular water content control. Although the metabolic substrates stored in the osmoregulatory organs of both species were not mobilized during these short-term sea water dilution events, some differences could be revealed between the two species. S. greeleyi showed more metabolic reserves (essentially triacylglycerols) in these organs, and its gills showed higher total ATPase activity than those S. testudineus.
Fish gill; Fish kidney; Glycogen; Metabolism; Osmoregulation; Tetraodontidae