Heavy metals accumulation from sewage sludge in the Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (Trewavas, 1983) during a sludge-earthworm-fish short-term cycling

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Nahid A.A. Siddig *
Asma A. Ahmed
Sarra A.M. Saad
Faisal Hammad Mekky Koua
(*) Corresponding Author:
Nahid A.A. Siddig | nahid.199000@yahoo.com


Municipal sewage sludge from wastewater treatment is an important nutritional source for sustainable agriculture. Here, we report on the assessment of the accumulation of heavy metals in Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (Trewavas 1983) fed on earthworms Eisenia fetida reared on soil treated with different concentrations of sewage sludge (25% and 100%) during sludge-earthworm-fish short-term cycling. In this short-term cycling the Nile tilapia collected from the White Nile were chosen as final consumers, whereas the earthworms reared on loam soil mixed with different ratios of sludge were used as a feed for the final consumers. Our results indicate that the concentrations of Cd2+, Cr2+, Pb2+ and Zn2+ in the sludge treated soil are proportional to the sludge content in the soil. Importantly, the accumulation of these heavy metals was significantly low in the earthworms and the Nile tilapia in comparison with the treated soil and that these concentrations in the Nile tilapia were below the international limits recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (2014). Moreover, the growth and overall flesh quality of the fish were improved as indicated by the growth increase up to 146% when fed on earthworm reared in 100% sludge. Additionally, our physicochemical properties (i.e. pH, soil moisture, electric conductivity and organic matters) evaluation on the soil indicates an improvement of the soil quality when mixed with sewage sludge. These results suggest a sustainable application of sewage sludge in fish culture owing to its high nutritional values, low cost, and low risk of hazardous heavy metals when using primary consumers with heavy metals bioaccumulation capability such as E. fetida.

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