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Oxygen Depletion

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

“All I need is the air that I breathe” may just be an old song by The Hollies, but if your fish are singing it to you, and you better listen!

We’re halfway through these blistering hot, dry days of July and August when ponds most often suffer oxygen depletion which causes fish populations to drop.

If your pond is experiencing fish die-off, you can almost bet it is from oxygen depletion, as a lack of dissolved oxygen is the most common cause of fish kills in ponds.

When trying to determine if your pond has sufficient aeration, it can be a simple as seeing your fish at the surface in the morning, gulping for air. Morning is the time when there is the lowest amount of dissolved oxygen, as photosynthesis (photo = light and synthesis = make) does not operate at night, so it will be most obvious in the morning if this condition exists. If you see your fish gasping for air, or if your fish are not consuming their pellet feed, the problem is acute and must be addressed immediately.

Gasping fish are a good indicator that oxygen is low, as oxygen is vital to fish, and integral to the ecological processes that keep water inhabitable to aquatic life – both fish and plants. And the factors that add oxygen to your pond water – wind, rain, and waves – they all help, but sometimes oxygen depletion threatens, and it is up to you to stop this thief in its tracks.

Weather is often a direct cause of depleted oxygen, but too hot of temperatures and low water levels are not the only culprits! Yes, oxygen depletion typically occurs when water levels are low, during drought conditions. But rainy and cloudy weather with reduced daylight means less photosynthesis, which means lower levels of oxygen production from plants, which in turn means less oxygen available to your fish on the following day. High winds can do it too, racing across shallow ponds, causing a mixing of the low oxygen water throughout the pond, even more toxic to your fish when dense blooms of algae are present. On the other hand, when there is a case of algae death, you’ll see a change in color from green to gray or brown, with a loss of oxidation within one to two days. As summer weather conditions considerably deviate from those beautiful, spring days with moderate temperatures where easy-going, single celled algae thrive – it’s time to put on your cape and guard your pond against the evils of oxygen depletion!

As August arrives and mid-summer thrives, water warms and so retains less oxygen than cooler water. Consider this: fish are cold-blooded, and they have a rise in metabolic rate when water temperatures rise, which in turn spurs the need for oxygen at the same time that less oxygen is available! So it is a double whammy right about now, as fish often are not getting their oxygen needs met!

This is even more likely when ponds are overstocked, that being too many pounds of fish per surface area of water. It is important to examine the ratio of pounds of fish to the available surface area of water. Knowing surface area is the key element in good pond management, affecting not only determination of adequate aeration for your fish but also impacting many other areas including fish stocking and harvest, herbicide, chemical, fertilization, and alkalinity applications. It is critical that the initial effort is made to correctly measure surface area. Should a pond be of irregular proportions, it can be plotted and broken into a variety of geometric shapes, such as circles, rectangles, triangles and ellipses, then simply apply the proper geometric formula(s) to compute surface area. You can get your formulas from most high school geometry books, or see the links below on measurement procedures. Measure out your pond en masse, or do it in pieces, by feet, then compute the surface area of your pond in acres. Tip: there are 43,560 square feet in an acre.

Once you determine your pond’s surface area, then you can use a rule of thumb that your total pounds of resident fish should not exceed 1,000 pounds per surface acre. Even close to this puts your pond in line to experience oxygen depletion. And don’t talk yourself out of this concern when you have a deep pond, as the water column may stratify, with the upper, warmer layers saturated with oxygen, and the deeper levels depleted of oxygen. This can stress fish and cause a drop in population.

Once you have a good estimate as to the surface area of your pond, you need to estimate your fish population. You know what you stocked and what you’ve taken out so far. To estimate the pounds of fish, simply catch a few fish and weigh them. Multiply your average weight by the estimated number of fish in your pond and you can now compare your pounds of finned friends to the available surface area with confidence. Alternatively, you can shoreline seine, but this is best done during June. If your resident fish population exceeds the recommended population, you have a perfect reason to go fishin’!

But before you’re sauntering off with your reel, you still need to get more oxygen into your pond. And you know, it’s not just your fish that need the oxygen, either! Oxygen is needed for aerobic digestion of algae, ammonia, and nitrates. Plus oxygen is vital in the bacterial decomposition of fish waste, debris and many types of organic matter. The whole pond ecosystem depends on oxygen. It’s time to swing into action!

Aeration is the best way to halt oxygen deprivation. To increase oxygen levels, pond water must be brought into contact with air.

If you have a motorboat, a quick and efficient fix is to back your trailer into shallow water or lodge your boat and allow the motor to run in place, thus aerating the water and saving your fish. You’re a hero!  The prop will function to aerate the water as long as it is stationary; if you are cruising around the pond, then the prop is pushing the boat, not the water, which results in substantially less oxygen absorption.

Another way to aerate is to use a pump, but remember to position the intake a good two to three feet below the surface. Alternately, you can pull water from near the surface and spray it back across the pond. There are many types of pumps and aeration systems to help you combat even the murkiest water and pond muck via submerged and surface equipment, but take care to consider the pros and cons of each approach, to see what best addresses your situation. For example, when extreme masses of anaerobic material are present, as toxic hydrogen sulfates may escape and poison your fish, you must continue with caution and knowledge to properly handle your particular situation.

Should you discover you have an emergency situation, you can put together a paddlewheel to run off the PTO of a farm tractor. The paddlewheel is used to break up the water into droplets which absorb oxygen from the air.

So the next time you hear The Hollies’ winsome tune, give a thought to your fish! Don’t wait until they’re gasping at the surface.

 

Further reading:

Stock My Pond visits Hollister, MO

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
Sep
9
9:00 am

Stock My Pond visits HollisterStock My Pond visits Tractor Supply in Hollister, MO.  The truck will have channel cat, large mouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, hybrid bluegill, red ear bream, fathead minnows, and grass carp.  Find out more on our website.   The truck provides containers for all fish but the 11″ channel cats, so please bring your own containers for them.

It is not necessary to pre-order the fish, but if you are looking for a large quantity we suggest you call.  Questions?  Call Stock My Pond at 501-676-3768.

Tractor Supply
2949 S Business 65, Hollister, MO 65672
(417) 334-4428

Fish Truck Visits Springtown, TX

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
Sep
8
9:00 am

Fish Truck Visits Springtown, TX

Fish Truck Visits Springtown, TX FishlogoStock My Pond fish truck visits Springtown, TX stopping at Springtown Feed & Fertilizer.  The truck will have channel cat, large mouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, hybrid bluegill, red ear bream, and fathead minnows.  Find out what type and size fish we offer on our website.   The truck provides containers for all fish but the 11″ channel cats, so please bring your own containers for them.

It is not necessary to pre-order the fish, but if you are looking for a large quantity we suggest you call.  Questions?  Call Stock My Pond at 501-676-3768.

Springtown Feed & Fertilizer
128 S Main St,
Springtown, TX 76082

 

 

Stock My Pond Visits Harrison, AR

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017
Sep
9
11:00 am

Stock My Pond Visits HarrisonStock My Pond visits Quality Feed & Grain in Harrison, AR.  The truck will have channel cat, large mouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, hybrid bluegill, red ear bream, fathead minnows, and grass carp.  Find out what type and size fish we offer on our website.   The truck provides containers for all fish but the 11″ channel cats, so please bring your own containers for them.

It is not necessary to pre-order the fish, but if you are looking for a large quantity we suggest you call.  Questions?  Call Stock My Pond at 501-676-3768.

There are two (2) locations in Harrison, Arkansas.  Please see the dates and locations below:

Quality Feed & Grain
311 E Prospect
Harrison, AR 72601
Phone: 870-741-0303

 

Summer Months Stress Fish & Water Quality

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Heat From Summer Months Stress Fish in Your Ponds

Ponds, especially small ones, are entering most stressful months of the season. Carefully monitor changes in water color or odor. Closely watch fish behavior such as gulping at the surface. Quick, corrective action could prevent harmful effects to fish.

Professor Billy J. Higginbotham and Asst. Professor Todd Sink with the Texas A&M AGRILIFE Extension Service has found small ponds intensively managed for catfish are most susceptible to die-offs. Other common causes are large quantities of vegetation, heavily fed ponds, or sudden die-off of dense phytoplankton. Here are questions they ask to help frantic pond owners:

1) When did fish start dying and how long have they been dying?

This helps determine if the incident was rapid or prolonged. Rapid fish loss typically occurs from oxygen depletion, lasts a few hours, and mortality ends. Chronic or prolonged events span days or weeks and stem from disease or parasite symptoms. Exposure to pesticides or herbicides may cause rapid or chronic mortality, depending on the dose of chemical in the water column.

2) How many fish have died and what size are they?

Loss of a single or small number of fish is not considered a die-off. Biologists define a fish-kill as mass mortality involving 10-percent or more of the entire population of a single or multiple species. It’s disappointing to lose a big bass or catfish, but some occur from natural causes or old age. This may occur during stressful times such as spawning or low oxygen levels during hot summer months. Small fish are less mobile and more susceptible to localized, rapidly changing environmental conditions. Heavy rain runoff may alter pH or cause a turnover. Although they require less oxygen, small fish are more sensitive to depletions.

Most oxygen depletion die-offs occur near sunrise

3) How many different species are dying?

If one or more species is dying, you probably are faced with a water quality problem. If only one species is affected, it may be a disease. If there is only one species in the pond and you experience a die-off, you’ll need more information for a diagnosis.

4) Have pesticides or herbicides been used or introduced into the pond?

Pasture spraying could wash-in with rain. Cattle treated with insecticides could wade into the pond. If these sources are suspected, determine if such products had been applied within 250 to 500 feet of the pond four to seven days prior to the last rain. If you recently treated a large area of aquatic vegetation, oxygen depletion from plant decomposition could be the culprit.

5) How big is the pond?

Learn the surface acreage of your pond. It’s valuable information for many management projects. Measuring tools are available on Google Earth and similar sites. The professors point out, excessive depth does not make up for a small surface area when it comes to fish production. In fact, excessive depth can cause a fish kill. Deep lakes stratify with distinct temperature zones during summer months. Warm, upper areas contain oxygen. Cold, deep areas are void of oxygen. If a rapid destratification or turnover is triggered by specific weather events or heavy, cold rain, a fish kill may occur.

6) Was there a water color change?

A change in color and oxygen depletion is common. Ponds can go from light green or clear to a brown, coffee color. Such action signifies phytoplankton loss and a corresponding drop in oxygen. This often occurs when extended periods of cloud cover prevent direct sunlight from reaching the pond.

Oxygen Depletion

Professors Higginbotham and Sink remind when a pond exceeds its carrying capacity for fish during summer months, the stage is set for a die-off. Why in summer months? Because warm water cannot hold as much oxygen as cool water. Fish require higher oxygen this time of year because their metabolism increases as water temperatures rise. Oxygen levels show lowest readings at daylight. This is the best time to check for piping or fish gulping at the surface. Here are other conditions that cause oxygen depletion:

  1. Successive, hot, still, cloudy days reduce photosynthesis and oxygen production.
  2. Overfeeding or excess fertilizing prompts nutrient decomposition.

How do you correct low oxygen?

  1. Reduce fish volume below 1,000-pounds of fish per acre.
  2. Have an emergency aeration plan. Back a boat on a trailer into the pond. Run the motor in a fixed position to circulate water and increase oxygen.
  3. Add fresh Well water, but aerate it well before it enters the pond.
  4. Circulate water with a pump. It’s important to intake water from the surface and spray outflow over the surface. Don’t draft from the bottom.
  5. Add bottom diffused aeration systems to prevent stratification.

Let’s make a plan to prevent these potential events in your pond.

Source: Bob Lusk Outdoors

Summer Temps Toll on Big Fish

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

How High Summer Temps Toll Impact Big Fish

During summer months, we hear reports of big bass dying from stress of landing and handling in warm temperatures. One lake recently had heavy weekend fishing pressure with catches to 10 pounds,10 ounces. The following day, the ranch manager found two floating carcasses. Even though turtles had consumed part of one, remains still weighed over eight pounds. The second tipped scales near seven pounds. There were no other dead fish to suggest a damaging water quality event. Years ago, I watched a companion land an eight and one-quarter pounder in August temperatures. He never removed her from the water and executed quick release. Sadly, she rolled on her side and didn’t survive extended efforts at resuscitation. At least the grand lady holds a place of honor in his den.

big bass

Cradle lunkers. Don’t hold by the jaw.

We understand your frustration. You followed a successful plan and invested five or more years growing eight to 10-pound hulks. It’s time to celebrate by catching and admiring a few. Safely savoring that moment requires a little patience this time of year. Keep in mind; eight to 10-pound bass are entering senior citizen age. The average life expectancy of a largemouth is 10-years. Those fish could be six to eight years old. Imagine yanking them from a shaded, cool 10-foot depth to a shocking near 90-degree surface temperature. That’s stress! Like leaving air-conditioned comfort and getting in a sweltering car. Some of us relate when recalling that mowing the lawn at age 65 isn’t as easy as it was at 35.

     From now through fall is a stressful time for fish. Please follow these hot weather handling tips:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Fish early morning and late afternoon to sundown. Working a topwater on a moon-lit night is exciting.
  • Land and release fish quickly. Keep them in the water while unhooking. Please don’t hold them for extended periods to photograph. A bass can live out of water about as long as we can hold our breath.
  • Soft plastic baits are popular this time of year. If one swallows the hook, cut the line and leave it. Surprisingly, body chemistry will erode the hook and cause less injury than attempted removal.
  • Don’t hold big bass horizontally by the jaw. It could break the jaw. If holding horizontally, place your hand under their stomach to support weight.

Harvested fish should be placed in a cooler with ice. They will not survive current surface water on a stringer or in a live well.

Source: Bob Lusk Outdoors

Pond Stocking Slow Down

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

The heat of summer means a pond stocking slow down, where we suspend fish and pond stocking deliveries. Transporting fish during the heat of summer can lead to fish kill. You won’t find any deliveries to feed stores during July and August, it’s just too hot.

Pond stocking is a seasonable business.  You won’t find deliveries during the heat of the summer (traditionally July & August), or during the winter months (Dec-Jan).

Deliveries and updates to our website and Facebook page will start back up again in August. Look for schedules on the website starting in August, with deliveries Sept – November.

Want to know when we start back up? Sign up for our FREE newsletter here. We’ll send you an email with the latest schedules twice a month.

In the meantime, you can check out articles on our Facebook page and website about caring for your pond and fish. We partner with some of the best in the industry including Bob Lusk (aka the Pond Boss) and Outdoor Water Solutions.

Have a question for us? Send us an email or give us a call. If we’re a bit slower in responding, it’s because we’re out fishing.

Pond Stocking Truck visits Farmington AR

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Pond Stocking Truck visits Farmington ARThe “Stock My Pond” Pond Stocking Truck visits Farmington AR, stopping at the Tractor Supply store.  The truck will have channel cat, large mouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, hybrid bluegill, red ear bream, fathead minnows, and grass carp.  Find out what type and size fish we offer on our website.   The truck provides containers for all fish but the 11″ channel cats, so please bring your own containers for them.

It is not necessary to pre-order the fish, but if you are looking for a large quantity we suggest you call.  Questions?  Call Stock My Pond at 501-676-3768

Tractor Supply Store

215 E Main St, Farmington, AR 72730

Introducing Fish To Your Pond

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

We hear this question a lot, and we should. We deliver fish to feed stores around the South. Folks want to know how to protect their investment and bring it safely back to their ponds or lakes.

How can we transport our fish? The fish truck provides containers (bags) for all fish except the 11″ channel cats, so please bring your own containers for them. Suggestions for the larger containers include trash cans or water troughs. The fish are added to a bag with water and oxygen.

How long can the fish be in the bag? No longer than 1 hour! Determine how far a drive you have before purchasing your fish. Transport the fish in a cool and shaded area of your vehicle. This is key. Many folks think they can travel longer than an hour and end up with dead fish.

Once you arrive at your pond or lake it’s time to introduce your fish their new home. Here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

    1. Introduce the fish to their new habitat as quickly as possible.  Don’t delay in getting the fish to the water.
    2. Once on site, let the fish rest while in their bags in a cool, shady area.  Be aware that the sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.
    3.  Introduce your fish slowly to the pond, pouring a small amount of the pond or lake water into your open bag to even out the water temperature and acclimate your fish. Do not dump the fish from the bag into your pond or lake!  Take time to acclimate them to the temperature of your pond or lake.
    4.  After a few minutes, a few fish should swim away.  If they do, release the rest in that bag.
    5.  If the fish do not swim away, repeat the process, adding more pond/lake water to the bag to let the fish adjust to the water temperature.
    6. Floating the bags is discouraged as the sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.

8 Ways to Introduce Fish to Your Pond or Lake

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Fish in bag2You’ve invested in new fish for your pond or lake!  Make sure to treat your fish with care when handling and transporting them from the hatchery or fish truck to your pond or lake.  Introducing the fish to their new habitat causes stress.  Here are ways to minimize the experience.

  • Introduce the fish to their new habitat as quickly as possible.  Don’t delay in getting the fish to the water.
  • Transport your fish in a cool and shaded area of your car.
  • Once on site, let the fish rest while in their bags in a cool, shady area.  The sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.
  • Introduce your fish slowly to the pond, pouring a small amount of the pond or lake water into your open bag to even out the water temperature and acclimate your fish.
  • Do not dump the fish from the bag into your pond or lake!  Take time to acclimate them to the temperature of your pond or lake.  
  • After a few minutes a few fish should swim away.  If they do, release the rest in that bag.  
  • If the fish do not swim away, repeat the process, adding more pond/lake water to the bag to let the fish adjust to the water temperature.
  • Floating the bags is discouraged as the sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.  Instead pour a small amount of pond or lake water into an open bag, allowing the fish to adjust to the water temperature.

fish in bag

 

 

 

 

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