Evaluation of Early Life-Stage Toxicity Tests with Embryos and Juveniles of Sheepshead Minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus)

    Published: Jan 1980

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    Chronic (full life-cycle) toxicity tests have been performed with freshwater fishes during the past decade to obtain data for the establishment of water quality criteria. More recently, chronic tests have been performed with a saltwater fish, the sheepshead minnow. Examination of the results of chronic tests has lead to the development of shorter, early life-stage tests for both fresh and saltwater species to estimate specific application factors (the ratio of chronic: acute toxicity). The criteria for toxic effect utilized in the early life-stage tests are hatching success, juvenile mortality, and juvenile growth. We found that the growth of sheepshead minnows during early life-stage tests was not a statistically sensitive indicator of effect in 16 of 18 (89 percent) tests surveyed. In only one test was growth found to be a more sensitive indicator of toxic effect than was juvenile mortality, and thus necessary for establishing the estimated maximum acceptable toxicant concentration. Since in all the early life-stage tests reviewed, 95 percent of all mortality had occurred by Day 14 after hatching, we suggest that early life-stage tests with sheepshead minnows be shortened to 14 days after hatching and growth be eliminated as an indicator of toxic effect. This would substantially reduce the time and effort expended, and ultimately the cost, in arriving at reasonable specific application factors for sheepshead minnows when the chemical being tested does not exhibit cumulative toxicity and has a single mode of action.


    aquatic toxicology, early life-stage tests, sheepshead minnows

    Author Information:

    Ward, GS
    Aquatic toxicologist, and director, EG&G Bionomics Marine Research Laboratory, Pensacola, Fla.

    Parrish, PR
    Aquatic toxicologist, and director, EG&G Bionomics Marine Research Laboratory, Pensacola, Fla.

    Committee/Subcommittee: E35.30

    DOI: 10.1520/STP27422S

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