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Appreciate anyone's insight on what may be going on with my pond...

We're in middle TN, with a dug pond of about 1/10 acre. 6.5' at deepest point. Dug about a year ago, currently has toadpoles, bullfrog tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders living in it (they've been in it for the past year). pH tested with (understood to not be the most accurate) pool test strips measures consistently around 6.8.

About a week and a half ago we stocked with ~2lb FHM and have had them dying off since (maybe 8-10 a day), followed by what looks like a pretty big die-off over the weekend. I expect some to die after transport, but these aren't just the scrawny/weak-looking ones.

We stocked last spring as well, shortly after digging the pond, and had the same issue. I wrote it off to being "too early". But at this point everything is well established, and the amphibians seem to be doing really well.

Any guesses as to what's going on, or what I can test to figure it out? If it were an oxygen issue I would think the tadpoles and salamanders would have issues also (granted, over the past month I've seen two dead bullfrog tadpoles and two dead salamanders in the water). Our house is being built about 100' from the pond, but the slope of the land shouldn't allow runoff from the build site to the pond.

Thanks for any help!

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I've seen other larger fish die off in a pond where there was a huge population of fatheads minnows which were NOT dying off.

Sounds like bad news to have a die off of fatheads.


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Is your FHM supplier the same for both cases?
I'd get a box of medium FHM from Anderson fish farms and see if the same occurs ..unless you have another supplier you can get 2-3lbs from, close by.
I might be wrong but the mortality you are seeing sounds more like stress than water quality.

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Transportation stress, differential in hauling temp and pond water temp (not tempering the fish prior to stocking), etc. all have effects on the fish. The GSH and FHM are starting to spawn now, and are more fragile than usual. I moved 40# of Fatheads and 40# of Shiners Thursday, stocking them in a holding tank on Friday. I lost 0 FHM, 5 GSH since then. Transport water temp was 60°F, holding tank water was 45°F. It takes time to temper them down, go too fast and they will croak.


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Are just the big ones dead or all sizes? Any chance you fertilized the grass around it with weed n feed, etc?

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Thanks for the responses all. See if I can answer everything:

* Yes, same supplier in both cases (I'd need to look it up - a fish farm up in KY is all I know off-hand)
* Dead are off all sizes
* No, I haven't fertilized the grass around the pond or anything

I did not measure the temp between the pond and the transport water, nor really temper them (only for a few minutes) this time as the supplier suggested based on temps it was best to just dump them in. For the first few days things looked good - they were moving about the pond and organized into schools. I did temper them for about 5 mins the first time around (as well as mix some pond water into their bag).

I'll see if any survive and if they succeed in spawning. If not, I'll try ordering some from Anderson fish farms and see if we get better results.

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I agree with Snipe and esshup, FHM deaths sound like fish holding and handling stressors to me. FHM are pretty tough fish. That is why they are often called 'tuffies". If it were me, I would be very suspect of the overall quality of fish coming from this supplier. His dying FHM are showing his true fish management "colors". As a rule - the toadpoles, bullfrog tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders thrive in good water quality that your pond likely has, I would think about using a different fish supplier. The customer has no idea of how many individual fish that were weak, dying, or dead in the fish farm facility tanks each morning before the fish were loaded for delivery. Especially if the fish had been held in their tanks prior for 7-14 days. Been to various fish farms early in the morning before opening. Often they are removing fish that have died during the night. Swimming fish are not always healthy fish.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 04/05/23 05:37 PM.

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Agree with Bill. FH are tough fish and can survive bad water conditions.
















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I still have those minnows in the holding tank, and I have lost 0 more since I lost those initial 5 GHS. They have been in the tank for 6 days now. I am feeding them some Optimal Starter feed daily. It took 4 hours to temper the water down from the transport temp of 60° to the holding water temp of 44°. My supplier raises the minnows on a farm, they are not wild caught fish. They hold them for 3 days without food prior to me picking them up.


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Thanks again for all the input folks.

The die-off continues, as each day we're out there (we live about an hour away but while we're building are out there 3-4 days a week) there seem to be 5 or so fish floating on the surface. The tadpoles seem to make quick work of the carcasses so we're probaly not seeing all the fatalities.

I did see at least 3 live fish yesterday so hopefully some will be able to spawn. The tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders continue to do well, though I saw another dead salamander in there the other day.

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If it were me, I would change suppliers of your fish. They apparently do not have qualms of selling less than healthy fish to naïve customers. This assumes that you after purchase that you handled and tempered the fish properly upon introduction to the pond.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 04/26/23 07:33 AM.

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Did you fertilize or weed kill in the yard at all? You still could have gotton surface run off into the pond from any slope or the contour of yard.
Minnows could be more sensitive to any change than the tadpoles?

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Originally Posted by H20fwler
Did you fertilize or weed kill in the yard at all? You still could have gotton surface run off into the pond from any slope or the contour of yard.
Minnows could be more sensitive to any change than the tadpoles?

Nope, no recent fertilization or weed killer (no weed killer at all).

We have seen minnows in the pond, though the visible numbers seem to be dwindling. A few weeks ago I'd say there were maybe a hundred in there. A week ago I saw a school of maybe 30. This past week I've not observed any live minnows, just two dead ones - one quilte large ~3" or so that maybe was a grizzled survivor from last year's stocking based on size.

Tadpoles, toadpoles, frogs, and salamanders continue to thrive. It's fun just to enjoy all the life in and around the water, but I'd be happier seeing fish swimming around!

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Originally Posted by drumminj
Originally Posted by H20fwler
Did you fertilize or weed kill in the yard at all? You still could have gotton surface run off into the pond from any slope or the contour of yard.
Minnows could be more sensitive to any change than the tadpoles?

Nope, no recent fertilization or weed killer (no weed killer at all).

We have seen minnows in the pond, though the visible numbers seem to be dwindling. A few weeks ago I'd say there were maybe a hundred in there. A week ago I saw a school of maybe 30. This past week I've not observed any live minnows, just two dead ones - one quilte large ~3" or so that maybe was a grizzled survivor from last year's stocking based on size.

Tadpoles, toadpoles, frogs, and salamanders continue to thrive. It's fun just to enjoy all the life in and around the water, but I'd be happier seeing fish swimming around!


I agree with Bill, I'd find a different fish supplier. A bait store near me that's been in business for over 50 years recently has had a heck of a time getting Fatheads to live in the bait tank. I brought her some fatheads and the problem of them dying on her stopped. So, I believe in the bait shop's case it was how the minnows were handled prior to them getting the minnows.


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Again, thanks for all the replies.

I'll see what I can do about finding another source. This supplier is convenient as they come by the local farm co-op twice a year, and the co-op is only 15 mins away. Last fall I tried calling around to local fisheries and couldn't get anyone to call me back, but will try again to see what I can do.

Are bait shops generally a good place to source minnows for a pond?

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Originally Posted by drumminj
Again, thanks for all the replies.

I'll see what I can do about finding another source. This supplier is convenient as they come by the local farm co-op twice a year, and the co-op is only 15 mins away. Last fall I tried calling around to local fisheries and couldn't get anyone to call me back, but will try again to see what I can do.

Are bait shops generally a good place to source minnows for a pond?
They usually charge by the dozen and not by the pound. Least that’s the way it is down here

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Originally Posted by drumminj
Again, thanks for all the replies.

I'll see what I can do about finding another source. This supplier is convenient as they come by the local farm co-op twice a year, and the co-op is only 15 mins away. Last fall I tried calling around to local fisheries and couldn't get anyone to call me back, but will try again to see what I can do.

Are bait shops generally a good place to source minnows for a pond?

Bait shops usually aren't the best just because their fish are handled more times than a typical pond stocker's fish.


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Wanted to post an update here -- the die-off has mostly subsided, but this is expected as the population dwindles wink. That said, apparently enough survived and successfully acclimated that we've had very successful spawning - lots of fathead fry in the pond.

Still see a mature fish fatality every now and again, but haven't really seen the adult minnows around. Hoping the new generation is healthy and better adapted and we'll be in good shape come next spring.

I'll chalk up our issues stress and not properly tempering/acclimating them. I'm sure the supplier isn't top-tier either but at least some of the population was healthy and robust enough to survive the ordeal.

Thanks again for everyone's input.

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You will see morts-usually black headed males-throughout summer months as the rigors of spawning take it's toll, absolutely normal so don't be surprised to see one every few days.
You will probably have some of the earliest fry that hatched-actually spawn themselves at years end, but the fact you have fry should be a good measure of success.

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Originally Posted by Snipe
You will see morts-usually black headed males-throughout summer months as the rigors of spawning take it's toll, absolutely normal so don't be surprised to see one every few days..

Yep, that's pretty much what we've seen. Poor guys getting all worn out smile


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