(St.Joseph,MO) At Browning Lake there are over 100 trout and catfish bobbing on the surface of the water. As temperatures continue to soar, small ponds and lake throughout northwest Missouri are experiencing fish kill; the sudden death of fish due to a lack of oxygen in the water.
Tory Mason, a Fisheries Management Biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation said it's a natural occurrence that typically happens in July or August when the summer heat is at its peak.
“We’ve had such a really fast warm up and not very much rain. We have ponds that are low. We have lower oxygen levels,because warmer waters hold less oxygen.If you have a cloudy day or night that oxygen depletion will be lethal to a lot of the bigger fish in some bodys of water,” Mason said.
Fish kill typically affects larger fish in smaller, more shallow bodies of water and typically does not kill all the fish in the water.
“In oxbow lakes like Browning Lake, Big Lake, Contrary Lake, those are silted in. They used to be a part of the river and they are normally very shallow, so when we have really dry, hot conditions those are going to be the most susceptible,” Mason said.
To avoid depleting ponds of oxygen, Mason suggests keeping fertilizers and chemical runoff away to prevent the spread of algae.
“All those nutrients create an algal bloom, and if the algae all die at once then that depletes the oxygen in the water,” Mason said.
Conservations said you can prevent some fish death by adding oxygen pumps to ponds and lakes to increase circulation.
Mason recommends checking ponds on a regular basis for fish that have surfaced, but it is most likely that natural predators will dispose of the fish.
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