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Endoparasites of the sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Burchell), from the Rietvlei Dam, Sesmyl Spruit system, South Africa

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dc.contributor.author Barson, Maxwell
dc.date.accessioned 2008-09-11T10:25:44Z
dc.date.available 2008-09-11T10:25:44Z
dc.date.issued 2008-09-11T10:25:44Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/1011
dc.description.abstract The Rietvlei Dam near Pretoria, South Africa, provides drinking water for the city and for the wild life in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, and is also used for recreational fishing. The dam is part of the Sesmyl Spruit system, which has a history of pollution, the major sources of which are industrial, agricultural and sewage from informal human settlements upstream of the reserve. With a large wetland separating the upstream Marais Dam and the Rietvlei Dam, the system has a high conservation priority status because of the high number of bird species that breed and roost in the various habitats. As part of a big aquatic health project in the Zoology Department, Rand Afrikaans University, aimed at finding suitable biomarkers for water quality monitoring in the system, this study was done to identify the major internal helminth parasites of the sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus, that can be used in fish health assessment studies, and to determine their prevalence and intensity in the Rietvlei Dam. Fish were collected during one sampling survey and examined for endoparasites, also noting any ectoparasites that are recorded in routine fish health studies. Five species of helminths were identified: the adult cestodes, Polyonchobothrium clarias (intestine and stomach), Proteocephalus glanduliger (anterior intestine), the adult nematode Procamallanus laevionchus (stomach), larvae of the nematode Contracaecum sp. and many trematode metacercariae encysted in the muscles, of which only Ornithodiplostomum sp. was successfully excysted and identified. This trematode is recorded in South Africa for the first time, but could not be specifically identified because the reproductive system was still immature. Examination of piscivorous birds in the area or experimental infection of young birds are the only means by which the adult trematodes can be obtained. The adult cestodes and nematodes had specialised structures for attachment to the stomach and/or intestinal mucosa, adaptations associated with pathological effects in the host. Polyonchobothrium clarias had a crown of 26-30 hooks on its rostellum, and this number differs from those of specimens described from catfish in other African countries. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the rostellum of the P. clarias specimens from Rietvlei Dam was different from that of specimens from other localities in South Africa. Proteocephalus glanduliger in C. gariepinus from Rietvlei Dam differed in strobila size and size of glandular organ from specimens described by Janicki (Egypt) and Mashego (South Africa), the present specimens being much longer but with smaller glandular organs. Procamallanus laevionchus is a common parasite of catfish from many African countries, including South Africa, and scanning electron microscopy showed some form of transverse markings and presence of papillae-like structures at the posterior end of female specimens, an observation which was not described in previous studies. Larval Contracaecum are also common in C. gariepinus and other fish species, and adults have been identified in several species of fish-eating birds from South Africa. The sample size of fish collected in this survey was too low for a full health assessment index (HAI) study to be undertaken. Polyonchobothrium clarias and Contracaecum, however, were highly prevalent in the host species, and Contracaecum and Ornithodiplostomum occurred at high intensity (up to 44 and 140 respectively). Endoparasites of C. gariepinus can therefore be used in the fish HAI as a bioindicator of water quality. Only two ectoparasitic species were found on C. gariepinus: Argulus japonicus (skin and fins) and Lamproglena clariae (gills). Most water quality variables from the dam were within the target limits recommended by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, but the levels of inorganic nitrogen (nitrate and ammonia) and phosphorus (orthophosphate) exceeded the limit. If uncontrolled, these may lead to eutrophication of the dam. With the parasite species and diversity known, it is recommended that fish health assessments should be conducted along pollution gradients in the system to determine whether it can be incorporated into the suite of biomarkers for water quality monitoring of the Sesmyl Spruit system. en
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. A. Avent-Oldewage en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject fish parasites en
dc.subject clarias gariepinus en
dc.subject catfishes en
dc.subject Rietvlei Dam (South Africa) en
dc.title Endoparasites of the sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Burchell), from the Rietvlei Dam, Sesmyl Spruit system, South Africa en
dc.type Thesis en

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