Microplastics are ubiquitous pollutants in aquatic habitats and commonly found in the gut contents of fish yet relatively little is known about the retention of these particles by fish. In this study, goldfish were fed a commercial fish food pellet amended with 50 particles of one of two microplastics types, microbeads and microfibers. Microbeads were obtained from a commercial facial cleanser while microfibers were obtained from washed synthetic textile. Following consumption of the amended pellet, fish were allowed to feed to satiation on non-amended food followed by fasting for periods ranging from 1.5 h to 6 days. Fish sacrificed at different time points were dissected to remove gut contents and the digesta contents retention and microplastic retention was determined. Although a small number of microplastic particles were retained in fish GI-tracts after 6 days (0–3 particles/50), the retention of microplastics was generally similar to the retention of bulk digesta contents. According to a breakpoint regression model fitted to digesta contents and microplastic particles, the 50% and 90% evacuation times were 10 h and 33.4 h, respectively. The results of this study indicate that neither microbeads nor microfibers are likely to accumulate within the gut contents of fish over successive meals.
Stefan Grigorakis, Sherri A. Mason, Ken G. Drouillard, Chemosphere, Volume 169, February 2017, Pages 233–238