What causes fish deaths: common causes and prevention

Part of taking an active role in conserving our country’s fisheries is understanding how you can help protect and preserve our natural ecosystems. This includes learning the causes of fish deaths, reporting a fish death if you see one, and taking steps to prevent damage to our waters whenever possible.

What causes fish deaths?

If you are wondering what causes fish deaths in lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and oceans; There is not only one answer, but the most common cause is a lack of oxygen in the water. The lack of dissolved oxygen can be due to factors such as drought, algal blooms, overcrowding, or a sustained rise in water temperature, but it can also be due to human activities adding nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to our waterways (nutrients obtained from fertilizers, automobiles, Sewage and other sources).

However, fish deaths not only occur when there is a lack of oxygen in our waters, they can also occur when toxic compounds are released into a water body or when infectious diseases and parasites occur.

Reported fish death

If you encounter a fish death, it is very important that you report it to your state fish and wildlife agency. The information you provide will help scientists and biologists study disease and mortality in fish populations, and respond to events that cause fish to die.

If you are wondering how to report a fish death, contact your state fish and wildlife agency. Government agencies have usually set up a toll-free number for this purpose. These toll-free lines provide information on how and where to report fish deaths, fish with parasites, or other fish anomalies.

Conservation and Prevention

Now that you have more information about what causes fish deaths and how to report fish deaths, you know that there are certain steps you can take to prevent them. Start by using natural, slow-release nitrogen or low-phosphorus fertilizers in your home or garden and follow directions for correct application. Second, don’t apply fertilizers or pesticides before it rains. Third, when looking at the landscape around your home, use drought-resistant native plants that require less fertilizer and less water.

If fertilizers or pesticides are not used properly, they can wash your lawn or garden down into storm sewers and end up in our lakes, rivers and the ocean. These chemicals can cause algal blooms and are toxic to our natural wildlife and plants.

By making small changes to our daily habits, we can help preserve and prevent pollution and fish deaths.


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