Blood acid-base status and net transfers of acidic equivalents to the external environment were studied in hagfish, Myxine glutinosa, infused with ammonium sulphate (4mequivkg1 NH4+) or with sulphuric acid (3mequiv kg−1 H+). Hagfish extracellular fluids (ECF) play a greater role in acid-base regulation than in teleosts. This is because hagfish have a much larger blood volume relative to teleosts, despite a relatively low blood buffering capacity. Consequently, infusion of ammonium sulphate produced only half of the acidosis produced in marine teleosts in comparable studies, and hagfish readily tolerated a threefold greater direct H+ load. Furthermore, the H+ load was largely retained and buffered in the extracellular space. Despite smaller acid-base disturbances, rates of net H+ excretion to the external environment were, nonetheless, comparable to those of marine teleosts, and net acid excretion persisted until blood acid-base disturbances were corrected. We conclude that the gills of the hagfish are at least as competent for acid-base regulation as those of marine teleosts. The nature of the H+ excretion mechanism is discussed.

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