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Water pollution degrades aquatic ecosystems and also adversely affects freshwater teleosts. To assess the health status of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and hybrid catfish (Clarias macrocephalus x Clarias gariepinus), which are economically important fishes in Thailand, blood profiles and histological changes in the vital organs were examined. Haematological characteristics were studied including total red blood cell count, white blood cell count, haematocrit, haemoglobin concentration, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular haemoglobin, mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, and differential white blood cells. The occurrences of micronuclei, immature erythrocyte and nuclear abnormality were also measured. Histological changes were observed in liver and kidney under a light microscope. The results showed that the Nile tilapia had higher values of red blood cell indices than those of the hybrid catfish, but not red blood cell count and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration. In additional, Nile tilapia had more micronuclei and abnormal nuclei than the hybrid catfish. In contrast, the number of leukocytes in the hybrid catfish was higher than in Nile tilapia. Pathological alterations such as vacuolization, necrosis, haemorrhage, blood congestions and Kupffer cell aggregations were recognised in hepatic tissues. These histological changes were more severe in the hybrid catfish than those in Nile tilapia. Shrunken glomerulus, detached tubular cells, blood congestions and leukocyte infiltrations were found in renal tissues of both fishes. From our results we suggest that the alterations in haematological indices as well as in liver and kidney tissues of these fishes were the result of physiological responses to stress conditions in their habitats.
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