Weakly electric fish for biomonitoring water quality

<div><p>Environmental pollution is a major issue that calls for suitable monitoring systems. The number of possible pollutants of municipal and industrial water grows annually as new chemicals are developed. Technical devices for pollutant detection are constructed in a way to detect a specific and known array of pollutants. Biological systems react to lethal or non-lethal environmental changes without pre-adjustment, and a wide variety have been employed as broad-range monitors for water quality. Weakly electric fish have proven particularly useful for the purpose of biomonitoring municipal and industrial waters. The frequency of their electric organ discharges directly correlates with the quality of the surrounding water and, in this way, concentrations of toxicants down to the nanomolar range have been successfully detected by these organisms. We have reviewed the literature on biomonitoring studies to date, comparing advantages and disadvantages of this test system and summarizing the lowest concentrations of various toxicants tested. Eighteen publications were identified investigating 35 different chemical substances and using six different species of weakly electric fish.</p> </div>