Disturbances of early development of fish caused by heavy metals (a review)


Jezierska Barbara, Sarnowski Pioter, Witeska Małgorzata, Ługowska Katarzyna


Department of Animal Physiology, University of Podlasie, Siedlce, Poland.

e-mail: jezbar@ap.siedlce.pl


Abstract: Waterborne metals adversely affect development and viability of early developmental stages of fish, larvae being the most susceptible to intoxication. In the present study, the effects of Cd and Cu intoxication during embryonic and larval development were evaluated, and discussed at broad literature background.

 The effects of metals on developing eggs involved malformation of embryos  Structural and functional disturbances during embryonic development resulted in an increase in mortality of embryos before and during hatching, and reduced number of hatched larvae. Metal exposure of embryos resulted in high share of deformed newly hatched larvae. The larvae obtained from metal-exposed eggs showed poor quality, and reduced viability.

Exposure of larvae to waterborne metals reduced their survival and development rate. Cd and Cu intoxication inhibited yolk sac resorption, and swim bladder inflation. Metal strongly impaired feeding activity of fish, reducing their ability to perceive, search and capture prey. The exposure to heavy metals resulted in decreased growth of fish which is one of the most sensitive responses to Cu and Cd intoxication.

 Long metal exposure increased the frequency of body malformations in fish, mainly vertebral curvatures, that were related to metal-induced inhibition of bone calcification.

Metal intoxication increases mortality of fish offspring, and weakens their condition, resistance and viability.


Key word: heavy metals, fish, early development


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