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Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 37, Issue 1–4, pp 389–413 | Cite as

Dynamics of fish diseases in the lower Elbe River

  • H. Möller
Fishes

Abstract

As part of a survey on population dynamics and ecology of fishesin the Elbe River, seasonal and regional fluctuations of external fish diseases were studied from the open North Sea to Hamburg in 1981–1982. Clinical signs of 11 different diseases, several of them not being recorded before, were noted in 22 fish species. Averaged over all samples, the total disease prevalence was below 1 % in 16 species. Highest prevalences were found in smelt (12.7 %), eel (9.2 %), and flounder (5.5 %). The frequency of most diseases increased in larger (older) fish. High prevalences of skeletal abnormalities in cod could be related to abnormal migration habits of diseased fish. Spawning papillomatosis, skin ulceration, and fin rot in smelt occurred predominantly during the spawning season. Most diseases observed occurred at relatively high prevalences in the central Elbe estuary between Cuxhaven and Brunsbüttel. This is most obvious for lymphocystis, fin rot, skin ulceration, and bleaching syndrome in flounder, but such a tendency also seems to occur in cauliflower disease of eel, as well as spawning papillomatosis and pharyngeal granuloma in smelt. This area is less heavily polluted and less frequently affected by oxygen deficiency than the area upstream of Glückstadt, where diseases in general occurred at lower frequencies. Therefore, it is concluded that neither pollution nor lack of oxygen are the main triggers for the outbreak of diseases in Elbe fish. It is supposed that large tidal fluctuations of salinity are a major stress factor for fish in the estuary between Cuxhaven and Brunsbüttel. Flounder from this area usually are in a relatively bad nutritional state. Their condition factor increases significantly towards Hamburg, while their disease prevalence decreases in the same direction.

Keywords

Disease Prevalence Condition Factor Oxygen Deficiency Skin Ulceration Skeletal Abnormality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Möller
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Meereskunde an der UniversitätKielFederal Republic of Germany

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