Fish may be poisoned by a wide range of polluting substances, including pesticides, acids, ammonia, phenols, cresols, compounds of metals, detergents, or cyanides. Many of these substances are used in industrial processes or in agriculture and are released through drains or are accidentally spilled into waterways. Acid rain, derived from industrial pollutants in the atmosphere, causes rivers to become toxic for various kinds of fish. Some types of toxic algal blooms kill fish. During the 1990s the dinoflagellate Pfeisteria piscicida caused fish kills, ranging from a few hundred to a million fish at one time, in estuaries of the southeastern United States.

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