Brook trout eyed eggs and subsequent alevins were exposed to pH 5.0, 6.5, and 7.0 in soft reconstituted water and to pH 8.2 in hard well water for up to 72 d. Hatching was delayed and hatching success reduced (p < 0.05) in eyed eggs exposed to pH 5.0 and 6.5. Alevin growth was not affected. Fish in all treatments rapidly accumulated monovalent ions in a similar pattern and in the order of Na+ > K+ > Cl- during yolk absorption and early exogenous feeding. Whole-body monovalent ion concentrations were reduced for short periods during yolk absorption in alevins exposed to pH 6.5 and throughout most of the experiment for those exposed to pH 5.0. Whole-body Mg2+ concentrations were not affected by treatment pH and remained near their median hatch level throughout the exposure. The whole-body concentration of Ca2+ was reduced in fish exposed to pH 5.0, particularly near the end of the experiment. Calcium accumulation in fish was influenced by the interaction of pH and time at pH 5.0 but not at the other pH levels. Alevins exposed to pH 5.0 experienced delayed ossification of skeletal structures associated with feeding, respiration, and locomotion that usually persisted for up to 10 d. The detection of skeletal abnormalities early in life might aid in identifying fish populations at risk in acidified waters.
Additional publication details
Hatching, growth, ion accumulation, and skeletal ossification of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) alevins in acidic soft waters