Ingestion and egestion of polyethylene microplastics by goldfish (Carassius auratus): influence of color and morphological features

Xiong Xiong, Yenan Tu, Xianchuan Chen, Xiaoming Jiang, Huahong Shi, Chenxi Wu, James J. Elser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


It is vital to understand processes of microplastic ingestion and egestion by aquatic organisms in order to evaluate the potential effects and impacts of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems. In this study, goldfish (Carassius auratus) was used to investigate ingestion and egestion of polyethylene (PE) microplastics and how these processes were affected by size, color, and shape of microplastics. Results showed that goldfish ingested white PE microplastics only in the presence of fish feed and that microplastics larger than 2 mm were rejected even after being ingested. However, in the presence of food, more green and black microplastics were ingested compared with red, blue, and white microplastics while significantly higher amounts of microplastic films were ingested compared with fragments and filaments. Microplastics ingested by goldfish were egested within 72 h. However, the egestion rate of filaments was the lowest among all tested microplastic shapes. The presence of food appeared to reduce film and filament residues in fish after 72 h. Results of this study imply that different features of microplastics result in different exposure risks for fish. Thus, the specific features of microplastics (e.g. their shape, color, and size) should be considered in future ecotoxicological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03063
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Egestion
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Environmental features
  • Environmental hazard
  • Environmental pollution
  • Environmental risk assessment
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Fish
  • Ingestion
  • Microplastics


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