The general macrocirculation and branchial microcirculation of the air‐breathing climbing perch, Anabas testudineus, was examined by light and scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion replicas. The ventral aorta arises from the heart as a short vessel that immediately bifurcates into a dorsal and a ventral branch. The ventral branch distributes blood to gill arches 1 and 2, the dorsal branch to arches 3 and 4. The vascular organization of arches 1 and 2 is similar to that described for aquatic breathing teleosts. The respiratory lamellae are well developed but lack a continuous inner marginal channel. The filaments contain an extensive nutritive and interlamellar network; the latter traverses the filament between, but in register with, the inner lamellar margins. Numerous small, tortuous vessels arise from the efferent filamental and branchial arteries and anastomose with each other to form the nutrient supply for the filament, adductor muscles, and arch supportive tissues. The efferent branchial arteries of arches 1 and 2 supply the accessory air‐breathing organs. Arches 3 and 4 are modified to serve primarily as large‐bore shunts between the dorsal branch of the ventral aorta and the dorsal aorta. In many filaments from arches 3 and 4, the respiratory lamellae are condensed and have only 1–3 large channels. In some instances in arch 4, shunt vessels arise from the afferent branchial artery and connect directly with the efferent filamental artery. The filamental nutrient and interlamellar systems are poorly developed or absent. The respiratory and systemic pathways in Anabas are arranged in parallel. Blood flows from the ventral branch of the ventral aorta, through gill arches 1 and 2, into the accessory respiratory organs, and then returns to the heart. Blood, after entering the dorsal branch of the ventral aorta, passes through gill arches 3 and 4 and proceeds to the systemic circulation. This arrangement optimizes oxygen delivery to the tissues and minimizes intravascular pressure in the branchial and air‐breathing organs. The efficiency of this system is limited by the mixing of respiratory and systemic venous blood at the heart.
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