Behavior of the Goldfish As an Early Warning System For the Presence of Pollutants in Water

Kurt Salzinger
Stephen P. Fairhurst
Steven J. Freimark
F. Dmitri Wolkoff

DOI: 10.2190/XHV6-X934-KK1U-VEXE


After reviewing the literature on the effects of pollutants on fish (particularly goldfish), an experiment is presented showing the effects of two very low concentrations of mercury on the behavior of goldfish. The goldfish were trained to press a lever on various schedules of reinforcement in control clean water and in two concentrations of mercury-polluted water. A reduction in rate of response followed exposure to polluted water (a reduction that exceeded that produced by clean water), thus suggesting the goldfish as a potential monitor of pollution.

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