Keziah Nwamaka IBEMENUGA


The contamination of the aquatic systems with heavy metals from natural anthropogenic sources has become a global problem which poses threats to ecosystems and natural communities. Hence this study reviews the effects of heavy metals in freshwater fishes. Fishes bioaccumulate heavy metals (including cadmium, zinc, lead and copper) through various organs such as gills, liver, stomach and intestine. The effects of these heavy metals are highlighted.

Full Text:



AJIWE, V. I. E., NNABUIKE, R. O., ONOCHIE, C. C. and AJIOBOLA, V. (2000). Surface water pollution by effluents from some industries in Nnewi Area. Journal of Applied Science, 4(2): 810 – 820.

AKAN, J. C., ABDULRAHMAN, F. I., SODIPO, O. A. and AKAN, U. (2009). Bioaccumula-tion of some heavy metals in six freshwater fishes caught from Lake Chad in Doron Buhari, Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 4(2): 103 – 114.

BHATTACHARYA, A. K., MANDAL, S. N. and DAS, S. K. (2008). Heavy metals accumulation in water, sediment and tissues of different edible fishes in upper stretch of gangetic West Bengal. Trends in Applied Science Research, 3: 61 – 68.

BENGARI, K. V. and PATIL, H. S. (1986). Respiration, liver glycogen and bioaccumulation in Labeo rohita exposed to zinc. Indian Journal of Comparative Animal Physiology, 4: 79 – 84.

CANLI, M., AY, O. and KALAY, M. (1998). Levels of heavy metals (Cd, Pd, Cu and Ni) in tissue of Cyprinus carpio, Barbus carpio and Chondrostoma regium from the Seyhan River. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 22(3): 149 – 157.

CARDEIHAC, P. T., SIMPSON, C. F., WHITE, F. H., THOMPSON, T. N. P. and CARR, W. E. (1981). Evidence of metal poisoning in acute death of large red dram Scanops ocellata. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 27: 639 – 644.

CAVAS, T. (2007). In vivo genotoxicity of mercury chloride and lead acetate: micronucleus test on acridine orange stained fish cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46: 352 – 258.

Dirilgen, N. (2001). Accumulation of heavy metals in freshwater organisms: Assessment of toxic interactions. Turkish Journal of Chemistry, 25(3): 173 – 179.

DIANNE, R. B. and WILLIAM, J. M. (1999). Heavy metal poisoning and its laboratory investigation. Annals of Clinical Biochemistry, 36(3): 267 – 314.

DIMARI, G. A., ABDULRAHMAN, F. I., AKAN, J. C. and GARBA S. T. (2008). Metals concentrations in tissues of Tilapia galilaeus, Clarias lazera and Osteoglossidae caught from Alau Dam, Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. American Journal of Environmental Science, 4(4): 373 – 379.

ELLER, L. L. (1971). Histopathologic lesion in cutthroat trout (Salmo chunki) exposed chronically to the insecticide endrin. American Journal of Pathology, 64: 321 – 366.

EVERALL, N. C., MACFARLANE, N. A. A. and SEDGWICK, R. W. (1989). The interactions of water hardness and pH with the acute toxicity of zinc to the brown trout, Salmo trutta L. Journal of Fisheries Biology, 35: 27 – 36.

EZEMONYE, L. I. N. and KADIRI, M. O. (2000). Biorestoration of the Aquatic Ecosystem: The African perspective. Environmental Review, 3(1): 137 – 147.

EZEMONYE, L. I. N., ENOBAKHARE, V. and ILECHIE, I. (2006). Bioaccumulation of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Fe) in freshwater sanila (Pila ovate; Oliver 1804) from Ikpoba River of Southern Nigeria. Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 21(1): 23 – 28.

FOLOURNSHO, B. and ORONSAYE, J. A. O. (1990). The toxicity of cadmium to Clarias angularias in soft water. Nigerian Journal of Applied Sciences, 8: 85 – 92.

GARDNER, G. R. and YEVICH, P. P. (1970). Histological and haematological respon-ses of an estuarine teleost to cadmium. Journal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 27: 2185 – 2196.

GHIASI, F., MIRZARGAR, S. S., BDAKHSHAN, H. and SHAMSI, S. (2010). Effects of low concentrations of cadmium on the level of lysozyme in serum, leukocyte count and phagocytic index in Cyprinus carpio under the wintering conditions. Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 5: 113 – 119.

GIESY, J. P. (1978). Cadmium inhibition of leaf decomposition in an aquatic microcosm. Chemosphere, 7: 457 – 475.

HERBET, D. M. and VANDYKE, J. M. (1964). The toxicity to fish of mixtures of poisons. Annals of Applied Biology, 53: 415 – 421.

HUGHES, G. M. and TORT, L. (1975). Cardio-respiratory responses of rainbow trout during recovery from zinc treatment. Environmental Pollution, 37: 225 – 226.

KORI-SIAKPERE, O. and UBOGU, E. O. (2008). Sublethal haematological effects of zinc on the freshwater fish, Heteroclarias sp. (Osteichthyes: Clariidae). African Journal of Biotechnology, 7(12): 2068 – 2073.

MASON, C. F. (1996). Biology of Freshwater Pollution. 3rd Edition, Longman, United Kingdom.

MOBARAK, Y. M. S. and SHARAF, M. M. (2010). Lead Acetate-induced Histopathological changes in the gills and digestive system of Silve Sailfin Molly (Poecilia latipinna). International Journal of Zoological Research, 7: 1 – 18.

MURUGAN, S. S., KANIPPASAM, R., POONGODI, K. and PUVANESWARI, S. (2008). Bioaccumulation of zinc in Freshwater fish Chana punctatus (Bloch) after chronic exposure. Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 8: 55 – 59.

MUTHUKUMARAVEL, K. and PAULAY, M. G. (2007). Toxic effect of cadmium on the electrophoretic protein patterns of gill and muscle of Oreochromis mossambicus. E-Journal of Chemistry, 14(2): 284 – 286.

NSOFOR, C. I., UFODIKE, E. B. C. and ONUOHA, S. O. (2007). The bioaccumulation of some heavy metals in some organs of two commercial fish; Clarias gariepinus (Burchell) and Chrysicthys nigrodigitatus (Lacepede) from River Niger, Onitsha shelf, Anambra State, Nigeria. Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 22(1): 33 – 38.

NWANI, C. D., NWOYE, V. C., AFIUKWA, J. N. and EYO, J. E. (2009). Assessment of heavy metal concentrations in the tissues (gills and muscles) of six commercially important freshwater fish species of Anambra River south-east Nigeria. Asian Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Environmental Sciences, 11(1): 7 – 12.

OBASOHAN, E. E. (2007). Heavy metal concentrations in the offal, gill, muscles and liver of a freshwater mudfish (Parachana obscura) from Ogba River, Benin City, Nigeria. African Journal of Biotechnology, 6(22): 2520 – 2627.

OGUZIE, F. A. (2003). Heavy metals in fish, water and effluents of lower Ikpoba River, Benin City. Pakistan Journal of Science and Industrial Research, 46(3): 156 – 160.

OKOYE, B. C. O. (1991). Heavy metals and organisms in the Lagos Lagoon. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 37: 285 – 292.

OLAIFA, F. G., OLAIFA, A. K. and ONWUDE, T. E. (2004). Lethal and Effects of copper to the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus). African Journal of Biomedical Research, 7: 65 – 70.

OLOJO, E. A. A., OLURIN, K. B., MBAKA, G. and OLUWE-MIMO, A. D. (2004). Histo-pathology of the gill and liver tissues of the African catfish Clarias gariepinus exposed to lead. African Journal of Biotechnology, 4(1): 117 – 122.

OLOMUKORO, J. O. and EZEMONYE, L. I. N. (2007). Assessment of the macro-invertebrate fauna of rivers in Southern Nigeria. African Zoology, 42(1): 1 – 11.

ONUOHA, G. C., NWADUKWE, F. O. and ERONDU, E. S. (1996). Comparative toxicity of cadmium to crustacean zooplankton (Copepods and Ostracods). Environment and Ecology, 14: 557 – 562.

ORONSAYE, J. A. O. (1997). Ultrastructural changes in the gills of the stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus (L.) exposed to dissolved cadmium in hard and soft water. Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 12: 59 – 66.

ORONSAYE, J. A. O. (2001). Ultrastructural changes in the kidneys of the stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus (L.) exposed to dissolved cadmium. Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 16: 53 – 56.

ORONSAYE, J. A. O. and BRAFIELD, A. E. (1984). The effects of dissolved cadmium on the chloride cells of the gills of the stickleback, Gasterosteus acculeatus (L.) Journal of Fish Biology, 26: 253 – 258.

ROMPALA, J. M., RUTOSKY, F. W. AND PUTNAM, D. J. (1984). Concentrations of Environmental Contaminants from Selected Waters in Pennsylvania. United States Fishery and Wildlife Service Report, Pennsylvania, USA.

ROUX, D. (1994). Role of Biological Monitoring in Water Quality Assessment and a Case Study on the Crocodile River, Eastern Transvaal. M.Sc. Thesis, Rand Africa, University of South Africa, South Africa.

SURESH, A., SIVATAMAKRISHNA, B. and RADHAKISHNNIAH, K. (1993). Effect of lethal and sublethal concentrations of cadmium on energetics in the gills of fry and fingerlings of Cyprinus carpio. Bulletin of Environmental Toxicology, 5: 920 – 926.

TUURALA, H. and SOIVIO, A. (1982). Structural and circulatory changes in the secondary lamellae of Salmo gaidneri gills to dehydioabetic acid and zinc. Quarterly Toxicology, 2: 21 – 29.

USEPA (1991). Assessment and Control of Bioconcentrable Contaminants in Surface Waters. Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, US Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

VINODHINI, R. and NARAYANAN, M. (2008). Bioaccumulation of heavy metals in organs of fresh water fish Cyprino carpio (common carp). International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 5(2): 179 – 182.

VOEGBORLO, R. B., METHNANI, A. M. E. and ABEDIN, M. Z. (1999). Mercury, cadmium and lead content of canned Tuna fish. Food Chemistry, 69(4): 341 – 345.

VUTUKURU, S. S. (2005). Acute effects of hexavalent chromium on survival, oxygen consumption, haematological parameters and some biochemical profiles of the Indian Major carp, Labeo rohita. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2(3): 456 – 462.

WEATHERLY, A. H., LAKE, P. S. and ROGERS, S. C. (1980). Zinc pollution and ecology of freshwater Environment. In: NRIAGU J. O. (Ed.) Zinc in the Environment, Part 1: Ecological Cycling, Wiley Interscience, New York, USA.

WEBER, D. N., DINGEL, W. M. PANOS, J. H. and STEINPREIS, R. E. (1997). Alterations in neurobehavioural responses in fishes exposed to lead and lead-chealating agents. American Zoologist, 37 354 – 362.

WOODWARD, D. E., BRUMBAUGH, W. G., DELONEY, A. J., LITTLE, E. E. and SMITH, C. E. (1994). Effect of contaminant metals on fish in the Clark Fork River in Montana. Transactions of American Fisheries Society, 123: 51 – 62.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

A Publication of Department of Zoology and Environmental Biology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria.