Health effects in fish from the polluted Orlando Dam and Klipspruit wetland system, Soweto, South Africa

  • T.S. Bengu
  • J du Plessis
  • L.S. Modley
  • J.C. van Dyk
Keywords: Clarias gariepinus, endocrine disruption, gonads, intersex, liver, necropsy


Pollution of aquatic ecosystems often results in adverse environmental disturbances, including physiological and/ or histomorphological changes in fish. The health of Clarias gariepinus sampled from two polluted water bodies, Orlando Dam and a pond in the Klipspruit wetland catchment, Soweto, was investigated in 2015–2016. Limited fish health-related data is available for this highly impacted freshwater ecosystem. Fish were collected between April 2015 and February 2016. A necropsy and a histological assessment were done on various target organs of each fish. Water and sediment samples were analysed for selected organic and inorganic compounds. Macroscopic assessment revealed abnormally shaped urogenital papillae, morphological alterations of the gonads, as well as discoloration of liver tissue. These observations were supported by microscopic evidence of hepatic histological alterations in fish from Orlando Dam, as well as the presence of both female and male gonadal tissue (intersex) in 13.6% and 50% of fish from the wetland pond and the Orlando Dam, respectively. Water analyses showed high levels of faecal coliform bacteria and metal concentrations and sediment analyses showed detectable levels of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Keywords: Clarias gariepinus, endocrine disruption, gonads, intersex, liver, necropsy


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914