A problem with one of my trout ponds!

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by Mike in Vermont, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    Hi all:
    So, I have a serious problem with one of the two trout ponds on our property. The pond is 20 years old. It spring fed for the most part. It was dug down to ledge, and the main spring is in the deep end. (15 feet down) Until this year, there has never been any algae. Also, all of the Brook Trout are dying. The brood stock (15 to 20 inch 3 to 5 lbs) and the small trout. These fish had a successful hatch in May. (probably 1000) They were doing fine until the beginning of June. I fed them quality food every night. They also ate most of the baby fish. Then, they started dying. That's when I noticed all of the algae too. I took out a ball today about 3 feet around. The bottom is getting covered too. :(
    I made one change to the pond last August, when we moved here. There's a culvert that goes under the driveway. (Water only runs through here during heavy rain, and snow melt for about 4 weeks in the spring). Then, there's a 20 foot long ditch to the pond. It was getting pretty mucky so, I put two large pickup loads of 5 inch limestone in it last August. (about 3500 pounds) I believe limestone is acidic. Although, I saw no change to the pond until next June. Other than a dusting of powder from crushing. I see no reason this stone could cause this huge ecological change. Am I wrong? The state puts this along the road, next to trout streams all the time.
    I contacted a retired, commissioner of the fish and game department. He said is sounds like a the acidity level must have taken a huge rise. He said water tests can run about $1000 a piece. :eek:
    There's only to houses about 100 yds through the woods. No farms or anything else for that matter, above the pond.
    It has been Very wet the last two summers. I wondering if one of the houses has septic problems, The stone I put in, or something else is causing this problem.
    Any advice is appreciated. :) Here's some pics. The one of the woods is where the runoff comes from in the spring and during heavy rain.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We did 3 tests today.

    Culligan water test for hardness, nitrites and nitrates This was taken towards the inlet. That's where the algae is worst.

    Soft water
    Nitrites 0
    Nitrates 0-5 Below EPA standards


    Aquacheck PH taken toards the inlet.

    Water PH 6.2-6.5


    A Rapitest PH soil test taken from sludge/much washed in on the limestone.

    Soil PH 6-6.5

    Why has the ecosystem change so rapidly, and why are my fish dying?

    The end of the pond where the runoff comes in was dug shallow. Stones were thrown in a 6 foot circle. Springs force fresh water up over the stones. The trout spawn here. The fresh water keeps bacteria from forming, and killing the eggs. It's very rare to get a successful hatch out of a pond. Right now, the entire shallow end is heavily covered with algae. There wasn't one piece of it a year ago.

    Any suggestions?
     
    Mike in Vermont, Aug 1, 2014
    #1
    1. Advertisements

  2. Mike in Vermont

    Priscilla

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    1,161
    Likes Received:
    821
    Location:
    Cayman Islands
    Welcome and hello.

    When you say algae, is it string algae? Wondering if you had an ammonia spike with the spawn and that prompted the fish dying and then the string algae. Are the fish still dying? I'm a newbie, so I'll let one of the experts chime in.
     
    Priscilla, Aug 1, 2014
    #2
    1. Advertisements

  3. Mike in Vermont

    R.Rose

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2014
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    57
    Hi Mike & welcome.
    Your property is beautiful it looks like it is a nature preserve... Sorry that your fish are dying. I am not an expert or I wouldn't have had a major crisis with my 30 year old pond, first time ever and it came down to poor water quality. Have you looked at some of your deceased fish to see if they show any signs of disease? Some of my fish had bacterial infections - red splotches all over,others had fungus and then Ick showed up or a combo of these. I think the severe cold winter initiated the woe. Were any new fish added to your pond? My sister wanted to buy new fish for me and i told her not to because they need to be quarantined. Yes everyone I am going to quarantine my new fish when I buy them next year.
    If your fish don't show outright signs of disease maybe a poison got in. Have you found any other dead animals, like frogs or toads or birds? A section of our Rocky River in Cuyahoga County Ohio had a massive die off. A merchant dumped chemical into a storm sewer to dispose of it and 1000 fish were killed along a mile of the river. The Divisions of Water and Wildlife investigation found the culprit who finally admitted it. Part of the penalties was to pay per dead fish. Do you think that someone added a few fish or worse put a toxic liquid in for a prank or accidentally spilled something near your pond? Can you find a vet that can examine your fish? A clue might be the road salt ( does road salt contain other chemicals?) got washed in? "" There's a culvert that goes under the driveway. (Water only runs through here during heavy rain, and snow melt for about 4 weeks in the spring)"" Check your phosphate levels that can be reasons for the increase of plant growth - fertilizer run off from an adjacent land? I hope you can find the cause.. Rose
     
    R.Rose, Aug 1, 2014
    #3
  4. Mike in Vermont

    Mucky_Waters

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,788
    Likes Received:
    1,518
    Location:
    BC Canada
    My guess would be low DO levels. Trout prefer colder water and high oxygen levels, they don't do well in warm, still (stagnant) waters.
    As far as testing the water, there are pretty good test kits you can buy for around $100 that can test a lot of the parameters, and thermometers are cheap,however devices for measuring dissolved oxygen are a little pricey.
     
    Mucky_Waters, Aug 1, 2014
    #4
  5. Mike in Vermont

    dieselplower

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Messages:
    2,404
    Likes Received:
    989
    Location:
    near Kalamazoo, Michigan
    I am also leading towards low oxygen levels or high ammonia. Test kits can be found for ten to thirty dollars on amazon. Stay away from the retired fish guy lol.
     
    dieselplower, Aug 1, 2014
    #5
  6. Mike in Vermont

    fishin4cars True friends just call me Larkin Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    5,195
    Likes Received:
    1,575
    Location:
    Hammond LA USA
    You can use aquarium and pond test kits that are well under a $100 to cover most of the parameters. As for the D.O. meter, yes they are a little more but IMO, for your circumstances not a bad investment. I'm thinking one that the feeding is adding more and more nutrients as the pond continues to mature. Also with acidic water PH fluctuations can change rather rapidly from morning until night and vice versa. Some stocked farm ponds require adding fertilizer and or lime to help ,maintain the ecosystem. I would check with local farm pond dealers that stock fish or your local DWLF to ask for help in finding assistance In your area. In the meantime adding aeration is fairly cheap and with trout, never a bad thing to have running anyway.
     
    fishin4cars, Aug 1, 2014
    #6
    Troutredds likes this.
  7. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    All great info, everyone. The pond is spring fed, and the water is always cold enough for trout. It hadn't reached 50 degrees, when this started. I'll look into ordering some better test kits, and possibly get one of the fish tested, to find the cause of death, as Rose suggested.

    The water was real clear, after the ice went out. I noticed it did cloud up about when this happened. I thought it was strange for so early in the summer. The pond seems to be clearing now. I pulled out 4 dead trout about 5 days ago. I notice the remaining fish are surface feeding on bugs now. The water is much clearer, too.

    Keep in mind trout have thrived in this pond for 20 years. Even when the water level had dropped due to extreme drought, I never lost fish. The bottom is solid ledge. That keeps the water cold, in combination with the springs. I went scuba diving in it last August. The water was colder in the bottom ,than lake George in may (48 degrees). Something has changed. I feel I need to know what caused the problem to begin with. The source had to come from above the pond. Perhaps, a neighbor dumped something, or has a bad septic.

    I'll keep checking in, and post back when/if I find some answers.

    Thanks,

    Mike
     
    Mike in Vermont, Aug 1, 2014
    #7
  8. Mike in Vermont

    Mucky_Waters

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,788
    Likes Received:
    1,518
    Location:
    BC Canada
    Some sort of toxic dump is certainly possible,,, no way any of us can help you determine that, but oxygen depletion is still the most likely cause, and algae blooms are often associated with summer fish kills.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_kill
    http://keetonaquatics.com/fish-kill/summer-kill/

    You have a nice little spot there,,,, too bad about the lost fish. I would think about installing an aeration system as Larkin suggested to help prevent it happening again. You could probably just put it on a timer and run it during the wee hours of the morning.
     
    Mucky_Waters, Aug 1, 2014
    #8
    fishin4cars and Troutredds like this.
  9. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    First off, this is a great forum you people have. At this point, I have got over the fish loss. Fish can be replaced. The pond, not as easy. I am going to assume that whatever caused the string algae? outbreak is no longer contaminating the pond. (for now) I took the 10' River John, a rake and the dog out today. I got 3 heaping wheelbarrow loads of algae, out of the shallow end (4 to 5 feet deep) Stones were thrown in after digging 20 years ago, in a 6 foot circle. There's springs underneath. That's why I have been able to get a successful hatch. The fresh water keeps bacteria from killing the eggs.

    I am going to clean the pond up as best I can. I will continue to search for the cause. I may dig a very small pond above this one, in the woods. This may help contain any future pollution. Maybe put some hay bales where the water comes out of it, or something to help purify the water. Then, buy some fish in the spring.

    I'll browse the forum, when I get a chance. I would like to learn what type of plants do well in ponds. My second pond has nothing but a few cattails

    Thanks for the help,

    Mike.

    [​IMG]
     
    Mike in Vermont, Aug 2, 2014
    #9
  10. Mike in Vermont

    adavisus

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Messages:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    654
    Location:
    carolinas
    It only takes for a few minutes of low oxygen to dip below 5ppm (mg/l) to kill a trout.

    Would suspect the increase in plant life, acidic inputs, anoxic conditions are accumulating with the years on what is more or less a still pond

    If you pen trout into an area where you can apply an air diffuser you can maintain safer oligotrophic conditions

    Regards, andy
    http://www.pinterest.com/adavisus/pondering/
     
    adavisus, Aug 3, 2014
    #10
    MitchM and Meyer Jordan like this.
  11. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    So, I got home a few minutes ago to discover that I had lost my trout pond. I'm not sure what happened but, I would guess the 8 inch drain froze, and split all the way to the bottom. It's hard to tell because there's over 3 feet of snow on the ground. I do know that it has washed out under the drain. So, over 80,000 gallons has poured into my second pond. I expect that has caused quite a bit of damage there too. It's pretty much a pond lovers worst nightmare. I'll try to check back in a few days, when I know more. Bye bye fish, plants and pond. Not to mention the ice dam that caused water to come into the living room and office earlier this week. There's about 3K in damage there.
     
    Mike in Vermont, Feb 25, 2015
    #11
  12. Mike in Vermont

    Lisak1

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Messages:
    3,086
    Likes Received:
    3,197
    Location:
    Northern IL
    Ugh. Heartbreaking. Your ponds are beautiful.
     
    Lisak1, Feb 25, 2015
    #12
  13. Mike in Vermont

    MitchM

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    4,798
    Location:
    Water Valley, Alberta
    Very sorry to hear, Mike.:(

    .
     
    MitchM, Feb 25, 2015
    #13
  14. Mike in Vermont

    RobAmy

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2013
    Messages:
    2,251
    Likes Received:
    3,941
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    Very sorry
     
    RobAmy, Feb 26, 2015
    #14
  15. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    Mike in Vermont, Feb 26, 2015
    #15
  16. Mike in Vermont

    MitchM

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    4,798
    Location:
    Water Valley, Alberta
    Regarding your algae/fish dying problem from before - once you get the pond rebuilt it will probably come back - I think it was a nutrient issue that was the main culprit.
    The large amount of algae present would have dropped the O2 levels at night, probably sufficient to kill off your fish.
    I agree with adavisus's suggestion above - add some aeration. Try also to find if there has been an increase of nutrients from runoff as well.
     
    MitchM, Feb 27, 2015
    #16
  17. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    I agree with everything you said, Mitch. An aerator is definitely a must. It took a while for my thick head to understand that. I will probably take advantage of the disaster to clean out unwanted vegetation growing in the bottom too.
    .
    It would be great to find out what the actual cause was. I'll try to do a visual inspection before the vegetation arrives. Possibly some water and soil tests too.
     
    Mike in Vermont, Feb 28, 2015
    #17
  18. Mike in Vermont

    MitchM

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    4,798
    Location:
    Water Valley, Alberta
    Do you have any basic aquarium water test kits?
    The accuracy isn't all that important, but if you could test for phosphorous, ammonia and nitrates using some API kits from a pet store it might help find the source of the algae problem.
    When we moved onto our property here, we had a real problem with algae in the pond because cattle had free access to it most of the year. Once we moved in we didn't allow the cows any more access and the algae was gone within 2 years. A constantly running stream can really keep the pond free of excess nutrients, as long as the stream itself isn't the problem.
     
    MitchM, Feb 28, 2015
    #18
  19. Mike in Vermont

    Mike in Vermont

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    911
    Location:
    The Green Mountain state!
    I did some tests last year with a cheap kit. One of the tests said it was ok to drink. I think I need to buy a more expensive kit. Another idea I had was to install a bog above the ponds.
    .
    My springs in the ponds are weak. The main spring usually dries up the 1st of July. I wish I could find a water source to tap in, during the summer. It might be possible to find a spring near where I mentioned installing a bog.
     
    Mike in Vermont, Feb 28, 2015
    #19
  20. Mike in Vermont

    MitchM

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    Messages:
    5,114
    Likes Received:
    4,798
    Location:
    Water Valley, Alberta
    On the positive side, having a weak spring flow rate will make rebuilding the water transfer from the upper pond to the lower pond easier.
    On the negative side, you should probably seriously consider adding aeration to the upper pond plus it will take longer for excess nutrients to be flushed out.

    Have you ever considered circulating the water from the lower pond to the upper pond during the non-winter months?
    That would tie the two ponds together creating a single, larger, more stable body of water.
     
    MitchM, Feb 28, 2015
    #20
    addy1 likes this.
    1. Advertisements

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Similar Threads
  1. adavisus
    Replies:
    22
    Views:
    1,866
    Reel McKoi
    Feb 1, 2008
  2. koiguy1969

    trout pond feeding

    koiguy1969, Apr 22, 2009, in forum: Garden Pond Photography
    Replies:
    3
    Views:
    1,296
    1BusyBoy
    Jul 20, 2009
  3. fishin4cars
    Replies:
    25
    Views:
    2,743
    minnowman
    Aug 26, 2012
  4. Rivermist

    One pond, one problem, how to fix it ? (run off)

    Rivermist, Jan 31, 2013, in forum: Pond Construction & Equipment
    Replies:
    17
    Views:
    3,140
    addy1
    Feb 12, 2013
  5. pondpro.ca

    Trout farm / koi pond / pond pro canada owner

    pondpro.ca, Apr 20, 2013, in forum: Introductions
    Replies:
    13
    Views:
    1,552
    Becky
    Apr 21, 2013
  6. gordmar
    Replies:
    2
    Views:
    4,070
    Alfred Obst
    Mar 8, 2017
  7. Mike in Vermont

    I lost one of my trout ponds!

    Mike in Vermont, Feb 26, 2015, in forum: General Chat
    Replies:
    42
    Views:
    1,410
    RobAmy
    Apr 14, 2015
  8. Jaboog
    Replies:
    3
    Views:
    262
    gwbasley
    Jul 19, 2016
Loading...