Friday 2 February 2024

Fish Kill

    This unusually warm weather that we have been getting, has started to melt the ice on the edges of my pond.  The other day when I was walking around the pond I noticed a lot of what I thought were white willow leaves floating on the surface of the open water along the edge of the pond.  A couple of days later, on another walk, I began to question why willow leaves would be on the pond, and that prompted me to take a closer look.

    To my dismay, I discovered that instead of willow leaves, the floating objects I saw were actually the corpses of 100’s of Red-sided Shiners, the minnow-sized fish that live in my pond.  It was very depressing.

    Water bodies can often cause die-offs of fish during the winter due to oxygen depletion.   When ice forms over the surface of the pond, it cuts off the supply of oxygen in the water from the air.  All of the decaying plant debris on the bottom of the pond use up all the rest of the oxygen in the water as they decompose and there is a lot of plant debris in my pond.  This decomposition leaves no oxygen for the fish to breathe and they suffocate.

    Normally during the winter, some fresh oxygen gets into the water from from our waterline which I keep draining into the pond during the winter.  This winter, when our waterline froze up, I guess there was just not enough oxygen in the pond to keep the fish alive.

    I have been worrying every spring about whether the fish made it through the winter, because I just don’t see any as early as I used to, but I have never seen fish corpses floating on the water before.  I sure hope that there are a few fish left in the pond that survived, and can repopulate it.  If not I will have to go try to catch some more in some of the other ponds in the area, because I like to see the fish dart around as I walk the path around the pond.  The fish are also what attract the diving ducks and kingfishers to the pond.

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