Ten-week exposure to treated sewage discharge has relatively minor, variable effects on reproductive behavior and sperm production in goldfish

Heiko L. Schoenfuss, James T. Levitt, Glen Van Der Kraak, Peter W. Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is well established that effluent from many sewage treatment plants (STPs) possesses estrogenic properties; however, the biological significance of this estrogenicity to fish reproductive behavior and sperm production is unknown. This study tested the hypothesis that 10-week exposure to a STP effluent with well-established estrogenic properties compromises the reproductive vigor of mature goldfish by decreasing the intensity of their reproductive drive and sperm production. Male goldfish were exposed for 10 weeks to one of four treatments: well water, a solvent control, 50 ng/L estradiol (E2), or undiluted effluent from a major metropolitan STP. Two trials were conducted, one in the winter and one in the summer when the effluent was chlorinated. Exposure to effluent in both the summer and winter trials induced small, but nonsignificant, decreases in the frequency of male spawning behaviors but had no effect on sperm production. Exposure to E2 caused a clear reduction in spawning behavior in one trial while causing reduced sperm production in both trials. We conclude that the effect of effluent exposure from this STP on adult fish is likely to be relatively minor and that the effluent's estrogenic properties may vary over the course of the year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2185-2190
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume21
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2002

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Fish
  • Sewage
  • Sperm
  • Xenoestrogen

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