Fish responses to acidity in Québec lakes: A review

Research paper by J. -J. Frenette, Y. Richard, G. Moreau

Indexed on: 01 Sep '86Published on: 01 Sep '86Published in: Water, Air, & Soil Pollution


To establish the impact of acidity on fish populations,studies were conducted in 37 Québec lakes located in four regions; the réserve des Laurentides and Portneuf and the Charlevoix and Témiscamingue regions. Density (catch per unit effort) of brook chary (Salvelinus fontinalis) decreases with increasing acidity. Moreover, in the Charlevoix region, this species has disappeared from three acid lakes (4.6 ⩽pH⩽5.l) with low Ca levels. Unlike growth, condition demonstrates a close relationship to acidity in brook charr populations. The total Al concentration in gills decreases with increasing size and pH. Lake acidity and sensitivity to acidification introduces problems in gamefish management. A survey of 17 lakes of the Témiscamingue region reveals that species diversity and total fish biomass are much lower in acid lakes than non acid lakes. In addition, two acid lakes are devoid of fish. Cyprinidae and Johnny darters (Etheostoma nigrum) are abundant in lakes with a pH level of 5.9 to 7.0 but are absent in lakes with a pH lower than 5.2. The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is the only fish that appears to be tolerant to a wide pH range. This species, however, is in poor condition in acid lakes as compared with non acid lakes.