Small Pond Emergency – Saving Your Fish In An Oxygen Crisis

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Last Saturday we experienced some of the hottest weather I’ve seen in a good while.  The thermometer read a toasty 104 degrees around noon time while we checked out the local farmers market.  Needless to say the crowd wasn’t quite as big as usual.

For just about everyone out there that day it was brutal stuff.  And this got me thinking about fish.

You and I can pretty much get out of this weather when necessary, but fish are kind of stuck to deal with it.  And while heat won’t necessarily hurt them low oxygen certainly will.  Once things heat up, and they stay warm for a few days it’s not at all uncommon to find pond water temps well over 80 degrees and it’s right around that point that the capacity of the water to hold dissovled oxygen will drop dramatically.

In a small pond, you may see your fish hanging tight around any waterfall area.  You may see them gasping at the surface while they try to pick up any amount of DO that they can in a last ditch effort to survive.  They may get lethargic, much like you and I would if we are oxygen deprived.  And in a worst case scenario, you may find them dying or dead.

Now we talk a lot and often about pond aerators and how they can help in stressful times like these.  For large ponds, it’s really the end-all-be-all tool for fish protection.  And they help a lot with small ponds too so they can’t be discounted there, but what if you don’t have one on hand or running and you find your fish in trouble?

Aerating In A Crisis

While this isn’t the perfect solution, one thing you can do that may help save some fish is focus on breaking the surface of the water.  This probably sounds strange but it’s right at the surface where this magical transfer of oxygen can enter the pond.  Surface tension can create a bit of resistance to this so anything that you can do to agitate the surface a bit will help.  In large waters, wind can help a bit.  But in small ponds we have another tool that’s probably on hand.

The lawn sprinkler…

You can certainly take a garden hose and create a spray on the surface of the water but I like the idea of hooking the hose up to a sprinkler and directing this spray over the pond.  These droplets of water simulate a nice steady rain or fountain action and they can help “break the surface” and oxygen levels will go up, at least in the upper part of the pond, because of it.  As always you’ll want to make sure to dechlorinate this water if it’s coming out of a residential or municipal source but other than that, applying some water to the pond in this way may be a potential life saver for your fish.

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1 thought on “Small Pond Emergency – Saving Your Fish In An Oxygen Crisis”

  1. I let my fish have fresh well water every four days. They are in heaven. I am also running a waterfall, fountain, and skimmer back into the pond.

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