The lampricide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) has been used in the United States and Canada for more than 35 years to control larval sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) in tributaries of the Great Lakes. Occasionally, during stream treatments with TFM, nontarget-fish mortality reaches unacceptable levels. These losses could be due to the presence of sensitive fish species, excess TFM, or a combination of factors that influence the toxicity of TFM, such as delays in daily stream reaeration by algae resulting in extended periods of low pH and low dissolved oxygen (DO). We determined the effects of a broad range of TFM concentrations on net DO production and respiration by two species of algae, in two culture media (high alkalinity and low alkalinity). The pH and DO in cultures of Chlorella pyrenoidosa and Selenastrum capricornutum were recorded at time zero and again after a 9-h exposure to TFM under either lighted or dark conditions. Algal cultures exposed to TFM concentrations typical of those used to control sea lampreys in streams showed only small changes in pH (<0.1) and small reductions in DO (about 8% in lighted conditions and 11% in dark conditions). Changes in pH and DO of this magnitude probably do not change the efficacy of TFM or cause nontarget fish mortality if algae are the predominant photosynthetic organisms in the stream.
Additional publication details
Effects of the lampricide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) on pH, net oxygen production, and respiration by algae