Gills are made up of three parts: gill arches, which support the rest of the structure, gill filaments, which bring deoxygenated blood to the surface, and lamellae, where the gas exchange takes place. The lamellae have a large surface area so they are exposed to as much oxygen in the water as possible, and the fish pumps blood directly from the heart to the gils in the opposite direction of the water flow. This allows the fish to extract as much oxygen from the water as possible, through a process of diffusion. If you’d like a more in-depth explanation, click the citation link.
Gills don’t turn water into oxygen, but simply remove the free dissolved oxygen from the water, much in the same way human lungs remove oxygen from the air. Gills are made up of a lot of very thin membranes called lamellae, which are filled with blood vessels. Water enters the fish’s mouth, is forced through the gills, across the lamellae, and some of the dissolved oxygen in the water diffuses through to the blood vessels. The water then exits the gill slits back out into the water. This is very similar to how blood vessels in the alveoli (the working units of the lungs) make use of diffusion to take in oxygen and excrete CO2.
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