The effect of calcium and magnesium ratios on the toxicity of copper to five aquatic species in freshwater



While it is generally accepted that water hardness affects copper toxicity, the major ions that contribute to water hardness (calcium [Ca] and magnesium [Mg]) may affect copper toxicity differently. This is important because the Ca:Mg ratio in standard laboratory-reconstituted waters often differs from the ratio in natural surface waters. Copper toxicity was assessed for five different aquatic species: rainbow trout (RBT), fathead minnow (FHM), Ceriodaphnia dubia, Daphnia magna, and an amphipod (Gammarus sp.) under different Ca:Mg ratios (4:0, 3:1, 1:1, 1:3, and 1:4 mass basis) at a common hardness (180 mg/L as CaCO3) and alkalinity (120 mg/L as CaCO3). Copper toxicity increased at lower Ca:Mg ratios for RBT but increased at higher Ca:Mg ratios for D. magna. Fathead minnows (<24 h old) were more sensitive to copper in 1:1 Ca:Mg waters compared to 3:1 Ca:Mg waters. The toxicity of copper did not vary under different Ca:Mg ratios for Gammarus sp., C. dubia, and 28-d-old FHM. The effect of Ca:Mg ratios on copper toxicity changed for D. magna in softer water (90 mg/L as CaCO3) compared with hard water studies.