First Advisor

Larry I. Crawshaw

Term of Graduation

Spring 1986

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Alcohol -- Physiological effect, Body temperature -- Regulation, Goldfish



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 48 pages)


In an attempt to elucidate the mechanism by which ethanol affects vertebrate thermoregulation, the effect of ethanol on temperature selection was studied in the goldfish, Carassius auratus. Ethanol was administered to 10 to 15 g fish by mixing it in the water of a temperature gradient. The dose response curve was very steep between 0.5% (v/v) ethanol (no response) and 0.7% (significant lowering of selected temperature in treated fish). Fish were exposed to concentrations of ethanol as high as 1.7%, at which concentration most experimental fish lost their ability to swim upright in the water. At concentrations higher than 0.7%, the magnitude of the effect did not increase with increasing concentration of ethanol; treated animals continued to select temperatures about 2 C below temperatures selected by controls. Experiments alternating exposure to 1.0% ethanol and water showed that the rate of onset and disappearance of the ethanol effect was rapid (within 10 min). Other experiments exposing fish to 1.0% ethanol for up to 3 hr showed that the effect remained stable for this period of time. The thermoregulatory responses of fish are behavioral, and therefore relatively easy to observe and quantify. Ethanol produces a prompt, stable and reproducible depression of selected temperature in the goldfish. Because the temperature at which fish regulate is controlled by a central nervous system set point and not altered by effects on peripheral effector systems, it appears that ethanol may cause hypothermia in goldfish by directly acting to lower the set point.


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