Increasing urbanization along riverbanks is a constant source of stressors to the aquatic community, and the use of bioindicators is suitable to detect and monitor the effect of each stressor. We investigated the parasites of the ‘cará’ fish (Geophagus brasiliensis) as potential bioindicators in a river whose banks are subject to increasing anthropogenic pressure. Samples were taken at four points of the Sangradouro River, in Florianópolis, southern Brazil, bimonthly for 12 months. Water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and salinity were measured at each point and water samples were taken for nutrient analysis (total nitrogen, nitrite, total ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus, phosphate), and total and faecal coliforms. A generalized linear model (GLM) was constructed using the abundance of each parasite species as the response variable and biometric characteristic of the fish and water variables as possible predictors. Among the 137 fish examined, 114 (83.2%) were parasitized by at least one parasite species. Two species of ectoparasites (Sciadicleithrum guanduensis and Neascus-type metacercariae) and two species of endoparasites (Pandosentis aff. iracundus and Homalometron pseudopallidum) were observed. This is the first record of the genus Pandosentis in Brazilian waters and the first record of the species G. brasiliensis as a host for this parasite. Among the analysed groups of parasites, monogeneans and acanthocephalans proved to be the most sensitive to the concentrations of dissolved oxygen, faecal coliforms and total ammonia nitrogen in the water. Our study suggests that the abundance of both monoxenic and heteroxenous parasites can be negatively affected by organic pollution in the aquatic environment, reinforcing the potential of fish parasites as indicators of water quality.