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#22581 - 03/17/06 09:02 PM My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
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Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
I built and stocked my pond in North GA with bass, bulegill, and catfish in 2000-2001. Last weekend I noticed a coulple of dead bluegill, today there are A LOT of dead bluegill (probably 40-50)around the pond. I'm not seeing any dead bass or catfish. The weather has warmed up in the last week so I thought the pond might be "turning over". IF so, is there anything I can do? The pond is 2 acres with depth running from 1 to 30 feet. Is there something else that could be happening? If anyone has any ideas on what could be wrong and how I can fix it, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks.
Glenn

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#22582 - 03/17/06 09:08 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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What sizes / lengths are the dead bgill?. Largest, smallest or lots of mixed sizes?
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#22583 - 03/17/06 09:14 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
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Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
Mostly larger ones. I haven't seen any small ones. Maybe a few medium sized ones, but most of them are larger. Any suggestions?

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#22584 - 03/17/06 09:39 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Debra King Offline
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Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 556
Loc: South Ga.
IMHO my first guess would be oxygen. Cats are generally not the first to pop up when DO levels get low, but adult BG are a different story. Do you have any form of aeration in place? This wicked weather pattern we have all seen this year has thrown some unusual twists and turns into the pot. Tell us some more about your pond in regards to size (water loss), # of fish, feeding plan in place, blooms, ...
Cody will probably be able to guide you in a more correct manner than I.

Deb
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#22585 - 03/17/06 09:52 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Bill Cody Offline
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Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Glenn - Have bgill this size been caught and handled within the last two months? Do you feed the bgill and are they currently feeding?
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#22586 - 03/18/06 10:31 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
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Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
Right now the water in the pond is static. We're supposed to get some rain Sun & Mon, and that may get some water over the pipe. I haven't caught any fish in the last 6 months, and I don't have any aeration. I haven't done any feeding since Oct of last year, but I was getting ready to fill the feeders soon. The pond was built in a hollow, so it is fairly shallow on one end and in the deepest part goes to 30 ft in one hole. I've never had this happen before, and up until now the fish have been healthy and strong. I'm over stocked on bass, but other than that, eveything has been great. I've thought about getting an aeration system, just haven't wanted to spend the $. I've noticed several BG swimming lethragically on the surface, but I haven't seen the characteristic gulping of air you read about. The pond doesn't have much vegitation, but it's not overly clear, maybe a little clearer than normal. Does any of this help solve the problem? Thanks.

Glenn

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#22587 - 03/18/06 11:40 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Dave Davidson1 Offline
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Registered: 01/04/06
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Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
Like Debra, my first thought was dissolved oxygen crash. However, the crashes I've had haven't discriminated by species. Larger catfish seem to go along with bluegill of all sizes.

What has your weather been like? You say it has warmed up. However, cloudy and no wind for three or four days, along with a heavy fish population, could possibly be a DO crash.
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#22588 - 03/18/06 11:58 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
Dave,
It has been warm (highs in the 60's and 70's) and windy. We've had a really mild winter this year. I'm wondering if I just have too many fish after reading several posts, but I'm not sure. Thanks for the help.

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#22589 - 03/18/06 01:51 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Dave Davidson1 Offline
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Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
Glenn, it is possible. Since you are losing only big bluegill, it's hard to point to an oxygen problem from having too many fish.

What about Bill Cody's post about fishing and handling? I figure he has something specific in mind.
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It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP

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#22590 - 03/18/06 02:18 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
PondsForFun Offline
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Registered: 12/24/05
Posts: 668
Loc: Central Texas
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#22591 - 03/18/06 02:33 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
My questions were designed to eliminate possibilities.

I was considering a mid-spring partial turnover and oxygen problem but now I don't think it is an oxygen problem because Carlander says bluegill and bass both quit feeding at about 1.0 ppm and death for both is around 0.8ppm at least for fingerlings. Although, for adult fish requirements for DO are usually higher than for fingerlings. IF it is a DO problem bass should also be dying. If you start losing other species of fish, esp larger bass then it is likely a DO problem.

I suggest that you cut open a couple to several dead bgill and check for body fat. If the fish are thin with no body fat I suggest the probability of starvation / crowding associated stressors. If you usually feed your fish during summer and the water is or has been in the mid-60-70F range then spring feeding should have begun already for crowded fish that are dependant on supplimental feed. Crowded fish and a lenghty, mild winter in GA could have caused extra body metabolism for fish compared to winter metabolism of other years.

Fish populations AND pond ecosystems are dynamic and always changing. These two complex variables almost always explains why "it" has not happened before.

What are your surface water temps?
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#22592 - 03/18/06 06:03 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19621
Loc: Miss.
Are all the dead BG large (8in.)? Have you seen any small ones ? Are there both male and female dead BG ? Have the smaller (not small) ones been females. Do they show any outward signs of sores or fungus or wounds? As you can tell it is often hard to tell why. Stressors of fish are many and what you see or find is a symptom not the cause. The cause is what you need to find out so as to limit or remove it if possible. See the links below.

http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000295#000000

http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=20;t=002185#000002

http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=20;t=001958#000002

If all the dead BG are large adults both male and female and your pond is 6+ years old , given the age of the fish do not rule out the possibility of natural morts. especially if they are under weight as per Bill's comment.
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#22593 - 03/18/06 09:13 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
The fish don't seem to be under weight. I had a "Fisheries" Grad out today to look at the pond. She thought it could be a combination of over-population a water turn-over. The over population I can understand. I've never really removed any fish from the pond to speak of, and I know that is not good. I saw several young bass swimming around today, and they seem to be OK. Also, I've not seen a dead bass or catfish. I'm going to check out the links everyone has provided and try to spend some more time checking things out tomorrow. I'll try to collect a bunch of the dead BG and take some photos. I have a feeling that my problem my be too many fish in too small a pond and spring water turn-over. Does that seem reasonable? Thanks.

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#22594 - 03/19/06 03:14 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Ric Swaim Offline
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Registered: 04/24/03
Posts: 1902
Loc: Surry Co NC
Glen,
You indicated your water is clearer than normal. Did your fisheries grad check visiblity? If so what was the reading? What else did the fisheries grad notice?
If vis. is 24" or more , you've had alot of wind action, & no other species of dead fish, I wouldn't think low DO to be the culprit.
You've got some phenominal guys helping you here so give them as many clues as possible.
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#22595 - 03/19/06 09:16 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 20043
Loc: Northeastern Indiana
I'm skeptical of low D.O. this time of year. I just can't think of anyone that has has that problem this time of year as cool as the water has to be even in the south. I would say Glenn's water can't be over 65. F.

I'm having a similar problem here farther north albeit on a smaller scale and think I have it figured out. I will post later on that as I have to go. It's very similar to what Bill Cody is saying along with Ewest's assessement. Low D.O. is definitely not a problem in my situation and I seriously doubt it is in yours.
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#22596 - 03/19/06 08:25 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Glenn - How does your grad student explain if turn-over and low DO are the problem, why aren't the bass affected?
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#22597 - 03/20/06 12:19 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 20043
Loc: Northeastern Indiana
Here's my hypothesis on why I'm experiencing the death of some of my smallmouth and bluegills, but very few largemouth or yellow perch in my multispecies pond. This could explain
Glenn's losses also.

The smallmouth, although pellet trained, I've observed tend to go off of the pellets, and may do so because of the aggressive feed trained largemouth bass, or simply that their species has a tendency to do that. And I've observed may of the bluegills in the pond either aren't interested in the pellets, or don't stay on the pellets due the agressive largemouth bass or again some other reason.

The smallmouth only have an average condition factor and the bluegills appear quite thin for the most part. I've even take a few bluegills though the ice that seem to be stunted (large eyes) which suprised me due to all of the predator fish present. However numerically there are not a lot of bluegills.

Conversely the largemouth bass and yellow perch* that seem to stay on the pellets have a higher conditon factor going into winter on into feeding resumes in spring.

So I believe too many fish and too many species are competing for whatever natural feed is present (pellet fed fish feed on some natural feed too) and the fish that are not pellet fed aren't getting enough feed to sustain them through winter or keep them strong enough to combat stress.

I'm not planting perch or bass into the pond this year, and will attempt to remove as many smallmouth bass as possible by angling and electroshocking. I will also probably drain the pond in the fall and start all over in the spring.


*Note: if you have read any past posts where I believed the yellow perch did not stay on pellets I now believe that was incorrect. I have had the chance to open up a few this spring and noted fatty deposits in their body cavities. I only see this in fish that are regularly fed artificial feed. Apparently they are feeding on the outskirts of the largemouth bass or feeding after the largemouth bass have quit feeding.
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#22598 - 03/20/06 12:32 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
burgermeister Offline
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Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
If hardly any fish have been taken from the pond, and CC are included in the mix; it sounds like a case of critical mass havin been reached. Not enough O2 or food. The mild winter, no vegetation and clear water didnt help. The pond is just purging. You need to go fishing!
As Ewest said, some 'natural' mortality, maybe. If being old and not enough food is 'natural'.
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#22599 - 03/20/06 07:09 AM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
Thanks for the help eveyone. I picked up some of the dead fish and took some pics that I'll try to post ASAP. I have noticed that the water is definitely clearer than normal so I guess I need to fertilize ASAP. I went fishing for a short time yesterday, and caught several bass (which seemed healthy) and 1 BG which also seemed healthy. I still have only seen dead BG, and I saw a couple with what appeared to be "sores" on them that had some kinda algae or fugus (filimentous) growth (brown)coming out of the area. I got a PIC and I'll post it. Would the clearing of the water lead lead to this problem? Thanks.

Glenn

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#22600 - 03/20/06 02:16 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12556
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Sores and fungus on your fish are not directly due to clear water. The fish's health problems are probably due to being too crowded and the resultant lack of food in the ecosystem. Indirectly clear water results in less food. Although you can still get into your dying fish situation if you increase the food resources and then the fish numbers ultimately also increase without some sort of a harvest or population adjustment. As is preached here often, Ponds, have carrying capacities or limits as to how many fish they will raise. Fisheries need to be eventually thinnned or Mother Nature does the thinning and you usually do like the way she does it; as in your and Cecil's (above) examples.

Also did youcheck for the fat content of your dying fish?
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#22601 - 03/20/06 04:04 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Glenn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 8
Loc: Gainesville, GA
Bill,
I didn't check for fat content. I'm not really sure how to do that on a fish. We've got a big rain coming in today, and after it clears out I'll go get a fish or two and dissect it if you'll tell me what to look for. I've been reading up about fertilizer, and I'm thinking about broadcasting 500 lbs of 19-19-19 into the pond. Do you think that will be enough for a 2 acre pond? Thanks again for all the help. My little "die-off" has got me paying closer attention to what is going on. I'm just going to have to start removing fish from the pond and get the population down to a proper balance. Thanks.

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#22602 - 03/20/06 08:59 PM Re: My Bluegills are DYING!
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Glenn - Cut the belly of the fish open look for cream colored, elongated, masses of fat on the outside of the guts. It is fairly easy to recognize. If all you see is guts and no whitish elongaed masses in the gut cavity then there are no fat reserves.
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