Dietary metals are increasingly recognized as key determinants of total metal burdens in fish, yet their ecotoxicological significance remains unclear. In this study, a pairwise experimental design was used to assess reproductive performance of zebrafish (Danio rerio) fed diets supplemented with a natural Pb-enriched polychaete, Nereis diversicolor. Zebrafish were fed 1% flake food (dry wt diet/wet wt fish/d), 1% brine shrimp, and 1% N. diversicolor collected from either Gannel estuary, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK), an estuary with legacy Pb contamination, or Blackwater estuary, Essex, UK, a reference site with low background metal concentrations, for 63 d. Mean daily dietary doses of Pb were 0.417 and 0.1 mg/kg/d (dry wt feed:wet wt fish) for fish fed N. diversicolor from Gannel and Blackwater estuaries, respectively. With the exception of Ag, which was higher for fish fed N. diversicolor from Gannel estuary, there were no differences in daily dietary exposures to other metals (As, Cd, Cu, Fe, and Zn) between treatment groups. Fish fed Pb-enriched Gannel N. diversicolor exhibited no significant impairment to incidence of spawning, numbers of eggs per breeding pair or hatch rate of embryos compared with pre-exposure levels, when N. diversicolor was omitted from the dietary regimen. Nevertheless, metal analysis revealed significant increases in whole-body Pb burdens of male fish fed polychaetes from Gannel estuary, Ag in female fish fed Gannel worms, and Ag and Cd in male fish fed the Blackwater worms. These data demonstrate that Pb naturally incorporated in N. diversicolor is bioavailable to fish, and fish exhibit sex-dependent dietary metal accumulation patterns, but after 63 d of the experimental feeding regimen, reproductive performance was unaffected. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:708–714. © 2009 SETAC
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