Water Research 37 (2003) 959–964
Age- and size-speciﬁc patterns of heavy metals in the
organs of freshwater ﬁsh Abramis brama L. populating
a low-contaminated site
Anna Farkas*, J
Balaton Limnological Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, P.O.B. 35, Tihany 8237, Hungary
Received 29 August 2001; received in revised form 23 May 2002; accepted 9 September 2002
Concentrations of cadmium, copper, mercury, lead and zinc were determined by atomic absorption spectro-
photometry in the muscle, gill and liver of bream Abramis brama L. to study the relationship between the heavy metal
load of ﬁsh and their age and size, and the seasonal variation of pollutant loads. Fish were collected from the Western
basin of Lake Balaton (Hungary) in October 1999 and May 2000. The average metal concentrations of different organs
varied in the following ranges: Cd 0.42–2.10; Cu 1.77–56.2; Hg 0.01–0.19; Pb 0.44–3.24; Zn 10.9–82:5 mgg
weight. The highest Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn concentrations were detected in the gill or liver of ﬁsh, whereas the highest Hg
concentrations were measured in the muscle. In the liver of bream for cadmium, copper and mercury the Pearson
correlation analysis revealed positive associations related to age and size (length, net weight), as well as for the mercury
load of all three investigated organs. In the muscle and gill the copper, lead and zinc concentrations, similarly to the
lead and zinc concentrations of the liver, the associations related to age and size were negative. The correlations
between the heavy metal concentrations of organs and the individual condition factors of ﬁsh samples proved to have
opposite trends compared to those related to the age and size of ﬁsh. The seasonal variations in the heavy metal load of
bream could be attributed rather to the seasonal change in the condition factor of ﬁsh than to variations in the pollutant
load of the site.
r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Bream; Heavy metal load; Age; Size
Aquatic organisms are widely used to biologically
monitor variation in environmental levels of anthropo-
genic pollutants [1,2]. Much of the variability in trace
metal tissue concentrations in aquatic organisms has
been attributed to variability in size and age of
individuals [3–5], to their life cycle and life history,
feeding habits [3,6] and to the season of capture [3,5].
Even the lipid content of tissues appears to be an
important variable in explaining the differences in the
pollutant concentrations accumulated in the organs of
In biomonitoring studies regarding variations in the
heavy metal pollution of Lake Balaton, common bream
(Abramis brama L.) proved to be a useful bioindicator
species due to its high abundance and very good
accumulation capacity especially for zinc, copper,
cadmium and lead [8,9]. In these studies, in general,
signiﬁcant positive correlations could be observed
between the level of heavy metals accumulated in the
organs of ﬁsh and the pollutant load of the water .
However, in comparisons among ﬁsh sample groups
with visible differences in size and physical condition,
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +36-87-448-244; fax: +36-87-
E-mail address: email@example.com (A. Farkas).
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