Health and chemical burdens of fish species from polluted and hyper-eutrophic freshwater ecosystems in South Africa

G. M. Wagenaar, I. E.J. Barnhoorn

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Three aquatic ecosystems in South Africa, the Hartbeespoort, Klipvoor and Bospoort Dams, are classified as hyper-eutrophic, because of high nutrient loads and chemical pollution. Water and two fish species, Clarias gariepinus and Cyprinus carpio, were collected from these dams to assess the impact of eutrophication and chemical pollutants on their health status. Water and muscle samples were analysed for organic and inorganic chemicals. Condition factor was determined and a necropsy performed to note any macroscopic abnormalities. A histology-based fish health assessment was done on the liver, kidney, gills and gonads. A number of fish from the three dams exhibited livers with fatty change and focal discoloration, skin lesions and parasites within the visceral cavity. The prevalence and severity of histopathology in the liver resulted in higher liver index values than the index values for kidneys and gills. Aluminium, silicon and chromium were detected in the water and muscle tissue. The DDT metabolite p,p’-DDE was present in both species, as well as in fish from the reference site, Marico-Bosveld Dam. Only C. gariepinus from Hartbeespoort Dam had p,p’-DDD levels higher than 5 µg g−1 per edible portion. Water from hyper-eutrophic dams adversely affects the health of freshwater fish.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
JournalAfrican Journal of Aquatic Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2018


  • Bioaccumulation
  • eutrophication
  • fish health
  • histology
  • histopathology
  • metals
  • pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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