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A simple and affordable calorespirometer for assessing the metabolic rates of fishes


What we did: We designed and built an apparatus called a calorespirometer to precisely measure the metabolic rates of hypoxic-exposed fishes via metabolic heat and oxygen consumption rate.

What we found: The calorespirometer uses ultrasensitive Peltier cells and the thermoelectric effect to detect metabolic heat as a voltage, and oxygen optodes to measure both the oxygen level of the water and the oxygen consumption rate of the animal. Furthermore, the calorespirometer’s flow-through design allows fish to be held in the system indefinitely while their environment is modified in different ways.

What this means: Calorimetry is required to accurately measure the metabolic rates of hypoxia-exposed fishes that are partially reliant on anaerobic metabolism, but it is a difficult and expensive technique owing to the extreme sensitivity required of the heat detection device. Our novel design, however, is simple and affordable, and our hope is that researchers use it to build calorimeters to address their own metabolism-related research questions.