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Fish kills near Springfield

August 25, 2007 at 02:59 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the Aug. 25, 2007 edition of the Springfield State Journal-Registers

BY CHRIS YOUNG

The recent hot summer weather has contributed to a series of fish kills that have alarmed pond owners and kept fisheries biologist Dan Stephenson’s phone ringing.

“In the past two weeks, I’ve had two dozen phone calls from pond owners experiencing summer fish kills,” he says. “This is a particularly bad year probably due to the higher than normal temperatures.”

Stephenson, a regional fisheries biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, says late summer often brings frantic calls from pond owners that find dead or dying fish in their ponds.

“Although the pond owner is concerned about chemical run-off or insecticides entering his pond, 99 percent of the fish kills in ponds are a natural condition brought about by low oxygen levels — and there is very little he can do to stop it,” he says.

Fish kills are a symptom of a larger problem — an aging pond.

“Ponds go through an aging process,” he says. “The older they are the more problems they have and expenses they incur.”

Fish kills are brought on by a combination of low water levels and high fertility, usually occurring on ponds more than 15 years old and less than 12-feet deep.

“Ponds lose depth, filling in with sediment over time, and along with the sediment washing in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that add to a pond’s fertility,” he says.

The short-term fix, Stephenson says, is an aeration system.

“The long-term fix is to cut the dam, let the bottom sediments dry, and remove those sediments with bulldozers and backhoes and then rebuild the dam,” he says. “In effect, the pond owner is creating a new pond and the aging process can start all over again.

“The problem is, this is a very expensive effort.”

In an emergency situation, pond owners can use a 2- to 3-inch water pump to take water from just below the surface and spray it out of the discharge, creating a water fountain.

“This oxygenates the water and may help,” he says.

Most pond owners lack access to a large water pump, and are helpless to keep their fish from dying.

“There is very little that can be done to stop it while it is occurring,” Stephenson says of fish kills in progress. “If the oxygen levels are too low, however, even (the use of the water pump) may not make a difference.”

The recent hot summer weather has contributed to a series of fish kills that have alarmed pond owners and kept fisheries biologist Dan Stephenson’s phone ringing.

“In the past two weeks, I’ve had two dozen phone calls from pond owners experiencing summer fish kills,” he says. “This is a particularly bad year probably due to the higher than normal temperatures.”
Stephenson, a regional fisheries biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, says late summer often brings frantic calls from pond owners that find dead or dying fish in their ponds.

“Although the pond owner is concerned about chemical run-off or insecticides entering his pond, 99 percent of the fish kills in ponds are a natural condition brought about by low oxygen levels — and there is very little he can do to stop it,” he says.

Fish kills are a symptom of a larger problem — an aging pond.

“Ponds go through an aging process,” he says. “The older they are the more problems they have and expenses they incur.”

Fish kills are brought on by a combination of low water levels and high fertility, usually occurring on ponds more than 15 years old and less than 12-feet deep.

“Ponds lose depth, filling in with sediment over time, and along with the sediment washing in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that add to a pond’s fertility,” he says.

The short-term fix, Stephenson says, is an aeration system.

“The long-term fix is to cut the dam, let the bottom sediments dry, and remove those sediments with bulldozers and backhoes and then rebuild the dam,” he says. “In effect, the pond owner is creating a new pond and the aging process can start all over again.

“The problem is, this is a very expensive effort.”

In an emergency situation, pond owners can use a 2- to 3-inch water pump to take water from just below the surface and spray it out of the discharge, creating a water fountain.

“This oxygenates the water and may help,” he says.

Most pond owners lack access to a large water pump, and are helpless to keep their fish from dying.

“There is very little that can be done to stop it while it is occurring,” Stephenson says of fish kills in progress. “If the oxygen levels are too low, however, even (the use of the water pump) may not make a difference.”

 

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Installing an aeration system is more than just a short term fix. The benefits of a properly installed aeration system are too numerous to list.

If the system is installed early in the spring, in the right location in the pond, we can totally eliminate a fish kill due to low oxygen levels, regardless of how old the pond is.

Aeration is a major key factor in overall pond management, but the system has to be the right system, and installed properly.

Nate Herman
Herman Brothers Pond Management

Posted by PondGuy on 08/26 at 09:08 PM

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