Fish Larvae Show Preference for Consuming Microplastic Particles

Posted on June 6, 2016

Larval perch with ingested microplastic particles

Perch larvae have been documented showing a preference to eat microplastic particles over their natural food source of zooplankton. The plastic is not nutritious for the fish larvae. It can lead to behavioral changes, stunted growth and increased mortality rates.

The research was conducted by scientists from Uppsala University. The photograph above shows a larval perch with ingested microplastic particles. The source of the plastic is large waste products that breakdown and fragment into smaller pieces. The plastic particles can also be microbeads from personal care products.

Marine biologist Oona Lönnstedt, the lead author of the study, says in a statement, "Fish reared in different concentrations of microplastic particles have reduced hatching rates and display abnormal behaviors. The microplastic particle levels tested in the current study are similar to what is found in many coastal habitats in Sweden and elsewhere in the world today."

Professor Peter Eklöv, co-author of the study, says, "This is the first time an animal has been found to preferentially feed on plastic particles and is cause for concern."

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal Science.

Image: Oona Lönnstedt