I have to admit I’ve never dreamed of the day when the two topics in the title would ever go together. Prozac and fish. But alas that day has come.
This has to be one of the strangest articles on fish I’ve ever come across, but maybe it’s not all that strange when you think about it. For some time now, we’ve known that our water sources in the U.S. are being influenced by the release of prescription medications into the environment. These are coming not only from discarded drugs but also through a person’s normal ingestion and elimination through the normal waste channels. And researchers are now finding that these chemicals are not all being “cleaned out” by waste water management systems.
Amazing but it’s apparently true.
So that brings us to the topic of fish. It seems that fish are also being affected by these rouge prescription drugs and in the case of one study, that drug was the often used tool for depression called Prozac. Below is an excerpt outlining a recent study on Prozac and fish health and behavior.
The drug has been known to cause some unwanted side effects in humans.
It isn’t just us though — fish also react badly to Prozac (fluoxetine).
The antidepressant makes them more aggressive, and alters their behaviour.
Male minnows exposed to the drug for four weeks become far more aggressive, and start attacking the female fish. In one group, just a third of the female fish had survived, whereas normal survival rates are closer to 90 per cent. The fish that died had visible bruising and tissue damage.
Reproduction, mating, general activity and levels of aggression were all affected by Prozac, say researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The only good news was that the fishes’ behaviour returned to normal once the drug was removed from the water.
Sadly, that is not an option for fish in rivers and estuaries that are constantly exposed to pharmaceuticals such as Prozac that are flushed down the toilet. The researchers fear that fish colonies are being badly affected by the practice.
(Source: Aquatic Toxicology, 2014; 151: 77)
I’d be curious to know your thoughts (if you have any) on this interesting finding. Share those below in the comments!