Water Resources of North Dakota

Comparison of Mercury Concentrations in Liver, Muscle, Whole Bodies, and Composites of Fish from the Red River of the North

By Robert M. Goldstein, Mark E. Brigham, and Joseph C. Stauffer

Abstract: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 53, no. 2

Carp (Cyprinus carpio) from four sites and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) from one site in the Red River of the North in 1994 were analyzed for total mercury content. In carp, mercury concentrations differed among liver, muscle, and whole bodies (0.11, 0.31, and 0.18 microgram per gram wet weight, respectively), between large and small size groups, but not location. Mercury distribution in channel catfish tissues differed from that in carp. Liver and muscle tissue has similar mean concentrations; each was higher than whole-body concentrations (0.16, 0.18, and 0.11 microgram per gram, respectively). Mercury concentrations were not significantly different between the two size groups of channel catfish. Weighted-mean mercury concentrations from seven individual fish agreed closely (usually within 10 percent) with concentrations determined on physical composites of the same fish. The ratio of mercury in whole bodies to mercury in muscle was similar for both carp and channel catfish. Historical data indicate that this ratio may be applicable to other species and locations. The ratio of mercury in livers to whole bodies and muscle differed between carp and channel catfish, which may reflect physiological differences between trophic groups.

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