Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are one of the most widespread organic environmental pollutants that pose a potential risk to marine biota. Although they occur as mixtures in the marine environment, only little information exists about their joint action on fish behavior. In 4-day tests with juvenile gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) concentration-response analyses were performed for three PAH compounds—fluorene (FE), phenanthrene (PHE), and pyrene (PY). Responses of fish to these compounds were assessed by recording visually the changes in their locomotory activities and social behaviors. Based on these concentration-response data, mixture effects were predicted by applying the model of concentration addition. The mixture was tested using a fixed-ratio design, and the resulting effects were compared to the predictions. The single compounds and the mixture were accumulated in fish muscle and produced a clear change in the overall behavioral performance of fish, as all individual parameters were affected in a dose-response way. For lethargy and swimming, we determined regression fits for all single compounds, with PY the most potent (EC10=0.031 μM for swimming and 0.039 μM for lethargy) and FE the least (EC10=0.29 μM for swimming and 0.26 μM for lethargy). Also, changes in the number of lethargic fish were always the most sensitive parameter and social interaction the least. The mixture study revealed for lethargy and swimming a good agreement between the predicted and observed effect changes, and statistically significant deviations could not be identified.
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