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#548473 05/25/22 03:40 PM
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My pond is 1 1/4 acre and was stocked with channel and blue catfish from Overton Fisheries two and a half years ago. We've had a very dry winter and spring and yesterday we got a 4 1/2" rain that raised the water level 6". This morning I saw buzzards lining the bank and when I went to see why, there were two dozen big catfish floating on top. No small fish floating at all. Can this die off be weather related or has someone poisoned my pond? I've been feeding Sportsman's Choice Floating Pond and Catfish Food from TSC - hope that's not the problem. Please let me know what you think.

Thx,

fowells

fowells #548474 05/25/22 03:58 PM
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Sorry to hear about the loss.

That rain event is most likely the cause of the die off, but lets see what others have to say. I have heard, and experienced, that the bigger fish tend to expire first when a bad water event happens like lack of dissolved oxygen, so maybe you didn't have a total die-off.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

Sunil #548477 05/25/22 04:31 PM
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Thx Sunil.
I'll find out what percentage of the fish were affected when I feed today around sunset. Dissolved oxygen could be an issue - the only plant growing in the water is chara and it hasn't gotten established yet this year.

fowells #548480 05/25/22 06:28 PM
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fowells, you're welcome. Do you recall the original stocking numbers? If so, what percentage of the original stock is (24) fish?

I think sometimes when we say the bigger fish die off first, it's partly because those may also be the oldest fish, but all of your fish would be only 2-3, maybe 4 years old depending on when they were hatched before you got them.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

fowells #548483 05/25/22 07:46 PM
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fowells,

Sorry to hear about your catfish losses.

Were the catfish capable of spawning in your pond? Did you observe any catfish smaller than your stockers while either feeding or fishing?

A ton of small catfish might have pushed your pond closer to the carrying capacity and then the storm threw in a stressful event.

fowells #548494 05/25/22 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by fowells
My pond is 1 1/4 acre and was stocked with channel and blue catfish from Overton Fisheries two and a half years ago. We've had a very dry winter and spring and yesterday we got a 4 1/2" rain that raised the water level 6". This morning I saw buzzards lining the bank and when I went to see why, there were two dozen big catfish floating on top. No small fish floating at all. Can this die off be weather related or has someone poisoned my pond? I've been feeding Sportsman's Choice Floating Pond and Catfish Food from TSC - hope that's not the problem. Please let me know what you think.

Thx,

fowells


What has your fish harvest been over each of the last 2 years?


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
fowells #548505 05/26/22 06:23 AM
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Thanks for your responses. Answers to questions:

Sunil: Yes, the catfish are 3 to 4 years old (6" long when stocked). I stocked 150 channel cats and 50 blue cats. 6 months ago I caught a couple of neighbors poaching the pond. They caught a bunch of fish and 20 of them died - gut hooked. So of the original release, about a quarter of them have now visibly died.

FishinRod: Very limited opportunity to spawn in the pond. A few logs on the bottom and I have seen what look like smaller catfish at feeding time. There are bullheads in the pond though so I can't say for sure that the stockers have reproduced.

esshup: The only catfish that I am aware of having been harvested are the 20 fish that the poachers killed. So before this die off, there were a possible 150 to 180 of the original stocked fish still in the pond.

So I fed normally yesterday just before sunset. The sunfish, golden shiners and gambusia fed enthusiastically. No sign of any catfish and very significantly, no turtles coming to the pellets. There are usually 20 red eared sliders gulping pellets but none showed up yesterday. Both air and water temps are relatively low so I wouldn't have been surprised if the catfish were somewhat lethargic but I never expected a complete catfish no show. What are your thoughts on the possibility that all catfish are dead and most have settled to the bottom?

fowells #548506 05/26/22 06:35 AM
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Interesting combination. Did you stock the sunfish or did they naturally occur (eg GSF)?

Anyways, given all the information, my first impression is that your CC are probably OK but that you lost a fair portion of the blues. Did you verify the species of fish that died?


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


fowells #548508 05/26/22 06:57 AM
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Bear with me, but let's eliminate possibilities.

Were the catfish Blue's, Channel's, or both? If both, what would you guess the ratio is?

What was the water shed like when the 4 1/2" rain hit? Dirt, turf covered, life stock close, herbicides or pesticides recently applied?

Was the water muddy or clear after the 6" rise?

If you checked, were the gills red or inflamed?

Last edited by FireIsHot; 05/26/22 09:04 AM. Reason: ADD

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jpsdad: The sunfish got in when I stocked seined gambusia 7 years ago. Predominately GSF with some bluegills and hybrids of the two. The dead fish are in too bad shape for me to tell whether they are channels or blues. Quick Reply doesn't give me the option of attaching photos but I've taken some.

FireIsHot: I can't tell whether the dead fish are channels or blues. I'll have to net some out of the water to look for spots and count anal fin rays. I'll get back with that info. The pond drainage area is about 5 acres of lawn and woods. No livestock. Next door neighbor uphill applies herbicides to her lawn and in past years I've monitored very closely to see if the pond life was affected after application and there didn't seem to be any ill effects. After the rain, the water is relatively clear. I can't tell if the gills are inflamed. I'll check but the carcasses are no longer fresh so necropsy may not be accurate or conclusive.

Thanks for your help.

fowells #548572 05/27/22 08:08 PM
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Having considered all the possibilities, I've decided that it's contaminated feed that killed the catfish. Is there and independent lab I can send the feed to for analysis?

fowells #548581 05/27/22 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by fowells
Having considered all the possibilities, I've decided that it's contaminated feed that killed the catfish. Is there and independent lab I can send the feed to for analysis?

I don't know where you can send the feed. What do you think it was contaminated with? If it got wet and then moldy, that could have done it.


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fowells #548586 05/27/22 08:56 PM
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If you can't get it tested, can you hand feed some BG and use them as "guinea pigs" for the contaminated feed test?

Even better would be to put some fish in a cage and feed them. Then you would be sure to observe any fish mortality.

fowells #548588 05/27/22 09:06 PM
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fowells, you are certainly the closest person to your pond and it's results.

If the 24 fish died from bad feed, I would think other smaller fish would have also died from the same bad feed. I recall you thought it was some of your biggest fish in that 2 dozen mortalities. .


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

fowells #548590 05/28/22 06:29 AM
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Just thinking. If the rain influx was cold enough to displace water near the pond bottom and mix it into the water column ... and if the water was anoxic and laden with organics not fully decomposed ... the rain event might have created a low DO event. So part of what I am thinking is that some species are more resistant than others at surviving dips in DO. My impressions from study and personal experience is that the different species ordered from most risk of death to most probable survivors would go like this:

Blue Catfish, BG, GSF, GSH, CC, Gambusia.

If anyone sees any cracks in this order feel free to add your two cents. But if Blue Catfish and some BG/GSF succumbed then there is the possibility that the CC filled up on weakened and dead BG/GSF. Could possibly explain why the CC are not coming to feed. One way to test may be to fish for CC and remaining Blues with BG or GSF cut bait and to verify whether the proposition holds water. fowells, you need to do a little harvesting anyways so you could check stomach contents if you happen to catch any.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/28/22 06:31 AM.

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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fowells #548607 05/29/22 01:28 PM
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esshup: The feed was from one of the first two bags of 20 that I picked up at TSC. I put 2 bags at a time in a tote on the bank and scoop feed till it's gone and then I get 2 more. I noticed when I emptied the first 2 bags into the tote that the feed in one bag was grayer than the normal brown pellets but had seen some color variation before so I wasn't alarmed. The feed is on a pallet and double tarped so it hasn't gotten wet. I started feeding with that feed the day after I got it. I have sent an email to Contact Us on the Sportsman's Choice webpage asking them if they will analyze the feed. I still have the bags so they'll be able to see the age of the batch number. I'll post what they reply. Also wondering if maybe I should reach out to Tractor Supply and see if they'll pursue analysis. I've bagged up and frozen a couple of the dead fish so they can be necropsied in the event that some entity will take on the investigation.

FishinRod: I've fed normally since the die off hoping to see catfish return to feeding. I've fed the food that I now think is contaminated until day before yesterday when it occurred to me that the feed is the cause of the die off. The sunfish and other small fish feed as they normally do and I haven't seen any dead fish except for the large catfish.

Sunil: The count of large catfish that have floated to the top is now over 60. The probable count of large catfish before the die off was around 120 large CCs and 20 large blue catfish. I suspect now that the large catfish are all dead. I have not seen a single dead fish of any other species.

jpsdad: The 2 weeks prior to the rain were unseasonably low temps and so the pond water was relatively low when the rain hit. The catfish did not come to feed the day BEFORE the rain and so I'm now thinking that whatever killed them was not an effect of the rain. Your list of species most to least likely to succumb to low DO level rings true to me. As I mentioned, the sunfish are fine and feeding normally. I'll go ahead and set the bream trap and see what I catch. I don't have time to fish with rod and reel but the trap will usually catch some of each species in the pond within a half hour.

fowells #548634 05/30/22 10:30 AM
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I hear several clues.

If any of the fish food is "gray" it's likely moldy. Typically, in a bag of moldy fish food, you'll see a variety of color. You'll see some pellets gray, some are normal color, some are faded. In a normal bag of fish food the color is consistent. Moldy feed has aflatoxin, which is fatal to fish. When moisture hits feed, it molds.

Second, when your pond drew down, all that left was water. If the level dropped more than two feet, then around 1/3-1/2 the actual volume of water evaporated over months of drought. As that happened, concentrations of minerals and metals and nutrients increased. Since that happened slowly, your fish adjusted. When the rain hit, it diluted months of dissolved stuff. That can add to the issues by quickly changing osmoregulation.

Third, if you had a plankton bloom, which is likely since you are feeding the fish, a fresh heavy rain can immediately kill enough of the bloom to cause rapid water degradation and oxygen depletion.

Fourth, almost three years into a catfish feeding program, your pond is beginning to reach its capacity for fish.

When you combine an expanding standing crop, moldy fish food, a drought and rain, you have the set-up for a perfect storm to kill fish.


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fowells #548652 05/31/22 06:16 AM
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Bob Lusk,

Thank you very much for your response. All four factors ring true.

I'll still get the feed analyzed so that the manufacturer knows if there is a QC issue.

My question now is: What should I do now? Restock? Give it a rest?

I'll survey the remaining fish population but I know it's very heavy on GSF and BG.

Thanks for your help.

fowells

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.

Last edited by DaveS; 06/05/22 04:12 AM.
fowells #551444 08/15/22 08:04 PM
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Cargill accepted my request for an investigation into whether the Sportsmans Choice bad bag of feed caused my catfish die-off. Without accepting responsibility, they sent me coupons for 20 bags of feed.
Now I find that there is no feed available and am wondering how to get feed to feed my fish. Is anyone getting feed in the Decatur, Tx area?
thx, fowells

fowells #551450 08/16/22 07:46 AM
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The big feed store just North of town sells it but I don’t recall the brand.


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
fowells #551460 08/17/22 08:09 AM
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Thanks Dave.
My Tractor Supply guy says that they can't get fish feed at all. Is this a country wide shortage?

fowells #551469 08/17/22 11:12 AM
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Don’t know. You might call Purina or others and see if you can order it.

Optimal is always customer focused. Look them up and call.

Last edited by Dave Davidson1; 08/17/22 11:13 AM.

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
fowells #551478 08/17/22 11:17 PM
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I'm with Dave.. get with Optimal and they will take care of you.


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