Bacteriological, virological and chemical evaluation of a wastewater-aquaculture system

Thomas W. Hejkal, Charles P. Gerba, Scott Henderson, Mike Freeze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Levels of fecal coliforms (FC), fecal streptococci (FS), Salmonella spp and enteric viruses were monitored in the water, sediment and fish in experimental wastewater-fish ponds near Benton, Arkansas, U.S.A. Concentrations of five heavy metals were also monitored in the fish and wastewater. Concentrations of indicator bacteria were reduced by as much as 99.7% through the series of six ponds which had a calculated total retention time of 72 days. Two filter-feeding species of Chinese carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (silver carp) and Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp), grown in the last three ponds accumulated FC and FS in their digestive tracts and skin at levels as great or greater than in the surrounding water and sediment. Only low levels of FC and FS were found in the fish muscle tissue (maximum of 25 FS per 100 g) even when concentrations of bacteria in the gut exceeded 105 per 100 g. Concentrations of bacteria in the water and sediment were not good predictors of concentrations in the fish. No Salmonella and no enteric viruses were isolated from the fish, but this lack of isolates was attributed to the extremely low levels which were present in the influent wastewater. Higher levels of copper and mercury were found in the fish flesh than in the surrounding water, with three of eleven fish samples containing higher than acceptable levels of mercury in the edible portion. Based on the efficiency of wastewater treatment, an aquaculture system using silver and bighead carp was judged to be a viable treatment system for domestic sewage resulting in a product suitable for animal or human consumption if proper precautions are taken in harvesting and processing the fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1749-1755
Number of pages7
JournalWater research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1983


  • aquaculture
  • bacteria
  • fish
  • heavy metals
  • pesticides
  • sediment
  • viruses
  • wastewater
  • wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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