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Water Quality and Fish


Dr. Subhendu Datta
Sr. Scientist
Kolkata, India

Health condition of any animal deteriorates when the environmental
environmental condition
is not congenial.

A simple example may be when the temperature started dropping during
during the
onset of winter season, we face all the symptoms associated with cold and
cough (e.g. sneezing, running nose occurs).

Good water quality is the key to successful fish/prawn production.
production. Fish and
prawn under normal condition is in a state of equilibrium with its
its environment
and disease-
disease-producing organisms.

Any alteration in the environment disturbs this equilibrium resulting
resulting in stress to
the fish/prawn and they become more vulnerable to disease producing

The presence of harmful impurities in water is mainly due to natural
contamination or as a result of human activities polluting water may cause
health problems to fish/prawn.

A number of abiotic factors beyond optimum levels are responsible for poor
health of fish/prawn.

Fish/prawn respond to an increase in environmental temperature
particularly in summer season by increasing the respiration rate as
well as cardiac rate and cardiac output.

Fish/prawn eventually dies from abnormally high temperatures
because of lack of oxygen and malfunction of enzyme systems.

Most of the tropical species may die when temperatures drop below
6°C. Exotic carps and Indian major carps cannot survive at
temperature above 500C.

Optimum water temperature range for major carps is 20°

Fish/prawn can tolerate upward changes in temperature better than
downward changes.

It is always advisable to gradually acclimatize fish/prawn to water
temperature change of 3° 3°C in either direction.

Temperature (contd…)
During extreme summer due to high temperature fishes/prawns
refuse feeding or become easily prone to intestinal inflammation.

When temperature exceeds tolerance capacity, excitability and
convulsive movement of fishes are observed with dark colouration
throughout the gills followed by collapse and death.

Low temperature affected by cold shocks (3-(3-5°C) with the symptom
of disturbances in fish equilibrium causing damage of skin, oedema,
intestinal damages, haemolysis and death due to paralysis of
respiratory centres.

Sudden drop of water temperature causes pathological changes in
gills resulting impaired respiration and abnormally copious mucus
production, gills turn white indicating circulatory disorders and it also
causes disarray in the embryonic development in fishes.

It is the most important environmental factor influencing the health
condition of fish/prawn in a water body and thus being the limiting
limiting factor
in fish production.

Dissolved oxygen value of 5-10 ppm is optimum for normal growth and
reproduction in tropical waters.

At levels below 3 ppm fish/prawn may live but will not feed or grow but
the concentration < 1 ppm is lethal to many species if sustained for a
long period.

Low oxygen levels are frequently a problem during the summer due to
high temperature with heavy algal and or phytoplankton bloom.

As a result of photosynthesis during bloom period the dissolved oxygen
values fluctuate during the day with maximum values during late
afternoon (2-
(2-3 PM) and minimum values in early morning because
during night dissolved oxygen in water is utilized for respiration
respiration but no
production of oxygen due to lack of photosynthesis.

Oxygen (contd…)
On the other hand, during day time both production and
utilization of oxygen takes place by photosynthesis and
respiration respectively.

Typically, the fish/prawn will be found dead or in severe stress
at dawn when oxygen levels may approach zero. zero. Typically
larger fish die first and water often changes in smell and colour.

Inadequate supply of oxygen leads to embryonic mortality.

Sudden death of vegetation and blooms further complicate the
problem by increasing the biological oxygen demand (BOD) in
the decay/decomposition/oxidation process.

Algae growth is restricted in the winter that is why low oxygen is
not a problem during colder months.

Oxygen (contd…

The basic problem during summer months is generally overcrowding with an
abundance of water nutrients (nitrates, phosphates) resulting from
from fish/prawn
wastes, decaying of artificial fertilizers, sewage, feeds, and organic
organic manures.

This decaying process also reduces the available dissolved oxygen
oxygen from the
water due to oxidation process.

High salinity, low atmospheric pressure, shortened day length, and
and cloudy
weather also decline the dissolved oxygen levels from the water body.

The basic requirement of dissolved oxygen for fish/prawn varies between

Besides, younger fish/prawn requires more oxygen than adult, active
active fish/prawn
requires more oxygen than resting fish, fish normally requires more
more oxygen as
temperature rises, oxygen requirement increases after feeding because
because oxygen
is required to digest the food, stressed fish/prawn requires more
more oxygen and
when fishes are transferred suddenly from cold to warm water and vice versa.

In deficiency of oxygen the defensive mechanism of fishes/prawns is no longer
maintained at optimum level, hence the possibility of infestation
infestation with various
pathogens is maximum.

Oxygen (contd…

When water is having lower concentration of oxygen, fish begin to to rise to water
surface or crowd near inlets particularly in the early morning hours gulping air
with the mouth wide open and the gills of stressed fish become pale.

If the low dissolved oxygen condition persists for a long period in a pond it may
produce significant sub lethal and lethal effect in fish.

In extreme depletion of dissolved oxygen level, fish may die due to asphyxia.
The oxygen can be elevated manually by splashing the water with bamboo
sticks, which helps in dissolving atmospheric oxygen in water or by use
use of
commercial aerators or by pumping the water and spraying over the surface

Low levels of potassium permanganate (2- (2-4 ppm)
ppm) have been used as
algaecides as well as to quickly raise the oxygen; however, the increased BOD
resulting from decaying algae will further complicate the problem.

Surface agitation, increased inflow of aerated water, and thinning
thinning the population
of fish are effective methods used singly or in combination to remedy the

Following precautionary measures may be taken
to minimize the oxygen depletion in the pond:

Feed should be given in the afternoon or evening not in early
morning as oxygen requirement in fish after feeding increases
and dissolved oxygen is minimum in pond during early

During application of organic manure in the pond, by
determining the BOD value of the manure from dry matter
content of it the maximum amount of oxygen that would be
consumed for stabilization of a given quantity of manure at a
particular temperature can be predicted.

Thus, the quantity of manure to be applied daily without the
hazard of oxygen depletion can be calculated taking into
consideration the availability of dissolved oxygen during 24
hours in the pond water.

Oxygen (contd…)
Proper care has to be taken during death of
phytoplankton and/or algal blooms to
compensate the oxygen used for decomposition
of dead blooms by microorganisms.

During summer season as the oxygen declines
due to higher temperature and increased
respiration of bacteria, proper oxygenation
methods should be applied.

The total ammonia concentration in water comprises two forms, viz.,
NH3 (unionized ammonia) and NH4 (ionized ammonia). They
maintain equilibrium as per the equation-

NH3 + H2O NH4 + OH-
The unionized ammonia fraction is more toxic to fish and the amount
of the total ammonia in this form depends on the pH and
temperature of the water.

As a general rule, higher the pH and temperature, the higher the
percentage of the total ammonia is present in the toxic unionized

In aquatic systems ammonia accumulates as a result of the normal
metabolism of the fish where it is excreted by kidneys as well as
as by
the gill tissue.

Ammonia (contd…

Ammonia is also formed by the normal decomposition processes of protein
(uneaten/excess artificial fish or prawn feed), organic manure, inorganic
ammonia based fertilizers and dead phyto or zooplankton.

Industrial and domestic wastes released in the water areas produce
ammonia. In ponds, high ammonia levels are result of insufficient
insufficient water flow
for the amount of fish/prawn stocked.

Fate of ammonia in the water body depends on oxygenation of the water.
Such as in oxygenated water; ammonia produced is oxidized to nitrite and
harmless nitrate (nitrification process) whereas in deoxygenated waters
nitrate is converted to harmful nitrite and ammonia (denitrification
(denitrification process).

Two types of bacteria facilitate the oxidation of ammonia: Nitrosomonas sp.
converts ammonia to nitrite and Nitrobacter sp. converts nitrite to nitrate.

Nitrates are utilized by plant and bacteria or denitrified to gaseous
gaseous nitrogen
and eventually fixed into plants by specific bacteria.

Ammonia (contd…
Generally closed systems do not have enough plant life to remove nitrates,
leading to the necessity of clearing nitrates by water replacement.

Nitrates are not toxic but they act as growth promoting substances
substances for many
bacteria, which are undesirable in closed system of fish/prawn culture.

0.02-0.04 ppm ammonia is considered as safe concentration for many tropical
fish and prawn species whereas 0.05-
0.05-0.39 ppm and 0.40-
0.40-2.5 ppm produce sub-
lethal and lethal effects on the many fish/prawn species respectively depending
on the oxygen, pH, and temperature of the water.

Ammonia stress in fishes/prawns causes gill hyperplasia, reduced activity, and

Liver, kidney and brain damage also occur. In prawn surfacing occurs.
occurs. Ammonia
in water is a predisposing factor to bacterial gill disease.

High level of ammonia probably interferes with respiration resulting
resulting in
physiological oxygen depletion.

High levels of nitrite produced from denitrification process also cause mortality to

Measures to reduce the effects of ammonia

Appropriate measures should be taken for maintaining
safe ammonia concentration in water for successful
aquaculture to produce healthy fish/prawn.

Normally at high salinity, low dissolved oxygen, and high
carbon dioxide concentration, the toxicity of ammonia to
fish/prawn is increased.

Aeration will increase the dissolved oxygen concentration
and decrease the pH thereby reducing toxicity.

Aeration will bubble out some of the gaseous unionized
ammonia from water. Ammonia will get oxidized to water
and gaseous nitrogen (4 NH3 + 3O2 = 2 N2 + 6H2O).

Measures to reduce the effects of
ammonia (contd…)

Healthy phytoplankton population removes ammonia
from high ammonia content. The manure should be
dried to allow ammonia gas to escape and then
applied in the pond.

Sodium chloride is used to reduce the toxicity of
ammonia in water. For example in Clarias farming,
sodium chloride is used at the rate of 200-
kg/1600 m2 to reduce toxicity of ammonia.

Biological filters may be used to treat water for
converting ammonia to nitrite and then to harmless
nitrate through nitrification process.

Nitrite is an intermediate product in the biological oxidation of
of ammonia
to nitrate called the nitrification process.

In most natural water bodies and in well-
well-maintained ponds nitrite
concentration is low. In water bodies with high organic pollution
pollution and/or
low oxygen concentration nitrite concentration may increase.

Less than 0.02 ppm nitrite concentration in water is considered to be safe
to the fish/prawn life, whereas, 0.02-
0.02-0.90 ppm and 1.0-
1.0-10 ppm are sub
lethal and lethal levels for many warm water fish species respectively.

Nitrite is highly toxic to fish. When fish absorbs nitrite it reacts
reacts with
haemoglobin to form methaemoglobin.
methaemoglobin. This methaemoglobin gives brick
red colour to fish gills and it also unable to carry oxygen leads
leads to death of

To maintain safe nitrite level in water, correct stocking, feeding,
feeding, and
fertilization practices should be maintained. The pond should be kept well
oxygenated. Biofiltration is done through special filters by which
biological conversion of nitrite to harmless nitrate occur.

pH (Hydrogen Ion Concentration)
Fish can tolerate wide range of pH and the optimum pH range for most fish and prawn
species is from 7 to 8.5.

Too acidic and alkaline pH is detrimental to fish. pH 9.0 produces sub lethal effects on
many fish species, pH 10-
10-10.9 is lethal to many fish/prawn species if exposed over a
prolonged period otherwise in short duration sub lethal effects occur, pH 11 is lethal to
all fish/prawn species.

At pH 5-
5-6, poor pond productivity and reduced fish/prawn growth occurs, pH 4.1- 4.1-4.9
produces sub lethal effects, and at pH 4, direct mortality occurs
occurs in many fishes.

There are several factors that influence the acidity of waters. As mentioned earlier that
high level of free carbon dioxide increases the toxicity of acids.

The primary effect of acidity is to disrupt the ionic balance of fish/prawn. Thus, an
increase in the concentration of calcium, magnesium, sodium and chloride cations will
help to protect fish from the harmful effects of acids.

The fry stage or hatchlings of fish are normally most vulnerable to acids.
acids. Some acid
ponds can be successfully used for fish farming if fingerlings rather
rather than fry are

Several measures can be taken for rectifying
alkaline and acidic water bodies
For alkaline waters

Ensuring good water management may rectify rapid fluctuations in pH caused by
excessive phytoplankton populations. Water body should have an alkalinity
alkalinity of more than
50 ppm as calcium carbonate.

By application of acid forming fertilizers.

By application of gypsum (5-
(5-6 tons/ha) or raw cow dung 20 tons/ha.

Apply Dolomite in saline water

For acidic waters

By application of lime: Limestone CaCO3, slaked lime Ca(OH)2, quick lime CaO or
dolomite are used to rectify the acidic water bodies depending upon
upon the pH.

Salt water like seawater may be flushed through water bodies of coastal farms to
neutralize acidity.

Alkalinity refers to the concentration of bases in water and the capacity of water
to accept acidity i.e. the buffering capacity.

If the water contains various dissolved salts or bases such as carbonates,
bicarbonates etc., not only will the pH be naturally higher than neutral but these
negatively charged ions will combine with hydrogen ions which essentially
avoids a pH drop.

Proper alkalinity in ponds is important for successful fish production.
production. Waters
with a low alkalinity i.e. total alkalinity less than 20 ppm as CaCO3, have a very
low buffering capacity and consequently are very vulnerable to fluctuations in
pH, for example, during rainfall and phytoplankton blooms.

Such fluctuations may be directly harmful to fish populations. Ponds with low
alkalinity also tend to be much less productive than high alkalinity
alkalinity ponds,
although ponds with alkalinity greater than 500 ppm may also be unproductive
because of limitations carbon dioxide availability at such high concentrations.

Alkalinity value ranging between 100-
100-250 ppm is ideal for fish/prawn,
fish/prawn, whereas
the value less than 20 ppm creates stress in fish/prawn, Low alkalinity ponds
can be treated with lime to rectify it.

Total Hardness
Cations of alkali earth metals; mainly calcium and magnesium constitute
constitute the
total hardness of a water body.

The total hardness concentration in majority of the water areas should be
similar to the total alkalinity. This is because the calcium and magnesium ions
are commonly bound to the main alkalinity bases, carbonate and bicarbonate.

There are several factors that influence hardness in water areas.
areas. In water
bodies where the total hardness concentration is more than total alkalinity the
calcium and magnesium cations are bound to anions other than carbonate
and bicarbonate viz., sulphate and chloride.

Total hardness value of more than 50 ppm is satisfactory for pond productivity
and should help to protect fish/prawn against harmful effects of pH fluctuations
and metal ions but total hardness value of less than 20 ppm creates stress in

Ponds with low hardness can be treated with lime for rectification.

Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is present in the atmosphere in very
small quantity. For this reason, in spite of its high
solubility in water, its concentration in most water bodies
is low « 6 ppm.

It occurs in waters in three closely related forms viz., i)
Free carbon dioxide ii) bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) iii)
carbonate ion (CO3-2).

The amount of each forms present; depend on the pH of
water. For example, in neutral or acidic waters high
concentration of free carbon dioxide i.e. the toxic form is
frequently found.

The concentration of free carbon dioxide may rise
under following circumstances:
If it is an acidic ground water.

In water areas with large phytoplankton bloom, carbon
dioxide may reach high levels due to
a) respiration of phytoplankton at nighttime
b) during cloudy weather
c) decay of dead phytoplankton.

In water area is heavily loaded with organic manure
and feed.

In natural waters high concentration may occur after
herbicide treatment.

High external concentration of carbon dioxide interfere
the uptake of dissolved oxygen from water causing
respiratory problems and stress.

Thus the effects of high carbon dioxide are acute at low
dissolved oxygen concentration.

Up to 11.9 ppm of carbon dioxide is tolerable to fish at
low oxygen concentration.

12-49.9 ppm produces sub lethal effects may include
respiratory stress and the development of kidney stones

50-60 ppm is lethal to many fish species with prolonged

Several measures can be taken for controlling high carbon dioxide
concentration. Such as,

Repeated aeration of water

Increasing the pH of water by adding hydrated lime (calcium
hydroxide). It acts according to the reaction:
Ca(OH)2 + 2 CO2 Ca(HCO3)2

Experiments have shown that approximately 1 ppm of hydrated lime
can remove1.68 ppm of free carbon dioxide. Therefore in water
bodies with low alkalinity care must be taken not to apply excessive
lime because it may cause the pH to rise, creating stress to fish.

The phytoplankton population and the organic loading in a water
body should be regulated by correct stocking, feeding, and

Hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide above optimum level in water can cause stress to
to fish and

Hydrogen sulfide is the product of the anaerobic action of bacteria
bacteria during
organic matter degradation, which accumulates and forms a thick layer of
organic deposit at the bottom.

The bottom soil turns black and a rotten smell is discharged when
when it is
disturbed. Unionized hydrogen sulfide is toxic to fish, but the ions resulting
from its dissociation are not very toxic

(H2S = HS + H+, HS = S+2 + H+).

Hydrogen sulfide concentration of 0.01-
0.01-0.5 ppm is lethal to fish and any
detectable concentration in water creates stress to fish.

At a concentration of 0.1-
0.1-0.2 ppm,
ppm, prawn loses their equilibrium, creates sub
lethal stress, and at a concentration of 3.0 ppm prawns die instantly.

Some measure can be taken to rectify
increase in hydrogen sulfide. Such as

frequent exchange of water to prevent
building up of hydrogen sulfide in the
water body

if pH of water is increased by liming the
toxicity of hydrogen sulfide decreases.

Suspended solids
Lots of solid materials are present in the water body, which are retained when
the water is filtered through a 0.45 µm mesh size filter paper.

Natural weathering of the rocks, land erosion, or pollution is the
the factors
responsible for origin of the suspended solids in the large water
water body.

But in the small culture area suspended solids in water is constituted
constituted by
phytoplankton bloom, uneaten feed particles, and faeces.

The effects of suspended solids depend on the nature of the solid.

Abrasive particles such wastes from coal washing or long spined diatoms or
sometimes, copepodic zooplankton is harmful to various stages of fishes than
soft materials. Gill tissue is the most susceptible.

Gill damage through excessive mucus production or clogging. Bacterial gill
disease is common to high levels of suspended solid load in water.

Suspended solids and turbidity are important in reducing the penetration
penetration of light
in the ponds, reducing the productivity, and increasing the risk of deoxygenation.

Adequate water depth is needed not only for optimum growth of fishes
and prawns but also to provide enough space and oxygen to them.

The ponds where water source is monsoon rain, after the end of thethe
season water levels starts decreasing gradually and shortage of water is
quite common during summer season, which is the most crucial time for
fish culture since the fish growth rate is faster in this period.

In fact, during the time of lowest water level the ponds contain the
maximum biomass.

In shallow and seasonal ponds sufficient phytoplankton population
population fails
to appear and soft sediment layer is vigorously stirred up by fish,
fish, making
the water more turbid, thereby reducing the photosynthetic process
process by
limiting light penetration.

Eventually total amount of dissolved oxygen may not be at time sufficient
to meet the demand for respiration of total community and the chemical
oxygen demand of the sediment, resulting sometimes in mass mortality
of fish and planktonic collapse.

On the other hand in the dipper perennial ponds where
the water column is more than 3 m, fish life is again
adversely affected.

In such ponds, the photosynthetic or oxygen producing
zone is less in comparison with oxygen consuming zone,
which leads to negative oxygen balance and create to
stress to fish health.

Suspended solid concentration of up to 10,000 ppm (up
to 4% by volume) is tolerable to freshwater carps,
carps, Tilapia
sp. and catfishes, although effect will depend upon the
nature of the suspended particles.

Persistent turbidity problems in water if caused by fine
clay mineral particles can be treated with alum @ 25-
kg/ha or lime.

Originally the natural weathering process determines the background
background level
of metals in a particular water body.

Though it is a natural process, the rate of weathering is influenced
influenced by man
made changes in land use pattern and by acid rain.

Effluents from mining, industry, and domestic use are also the source
source of
metals (Zn, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb,
Pb, Cd,
Cd, Cr, AI, Fe etc.) in the water body. If the
water is hard (300 ppm as CaCO3) with a pH of 8, heavy metals will
precipitate as carbonates or sulphates.

In softer, low pH water (less than 100 ppm as CaCO3) the metals are in
their ionic form and are more toxic to fish.

In acid waters high levels of metals with low pH are recorded during
during period
of high rainfall. Most metals dissolve more easily in acid water of pH < 7 and
therefore acid water usually contain higher concentrations of metals
metals than
neutral or alkaline waters.

Following factors influence toxicity of metals to fish/prawn

The presence of organic substances like sewage effluents, organic manure, humic acids
have all been shown to reduce the toxicity of metals, because organic
organic substances complex
the free ions, i. e. the toxic component of metal and render them
them harmless.

Calcium is one of the most important inorganic substances affecting metal
metal toxicity. High
levels of calcium in water protect the gills from metal damage by
by slowing down the
diffusion in of metal ions.

Acidity and low alkalinity make many metals more toxic because they change the metal
into the more harmful soluble form.

Increased temperature and low oxygen level usually increase toxicity of metals because
at low oxygen concentration fish pumps more water hence more toxic
toxic metals over their
gills. Moreover at higher temperature, water contains less oxygen
oxygen making the problem

More than one metal can act together to produce more pronounced toxicity than a single

Fish acclimated relatively high concentration of metal in water are better able to
withstand a potentially toxic concentration than non-
non-acclimated fish.

In general small fry are more vulnerable than older fish.

The toxic effects of most metals are non-non-specific. Acute
responses exhibit gill damage in the form of swelling of
epithelial cells, separation of gill epithelium, severe
osmoregulation problems, and mucus production.

This results in loss of body salts, poor oxygen exchange,
and eventual death.

Chronic effects range from proliferation of epithelial cells,
fusion of secondary lamellae, clubbing at the end of gill
filaments and changes in the blood chemistry.

The response of fish to some metals is more specific e.g.
the neurotoxic effects of lead.

However, since most effects are non-
non-specific it is essential
in many suspected case of heavy metal poisoning to carry
out analysis of heavy metal content of water and fish tissues
together with measurements of oxygen, alkalinity, hardness
and pH to establish the cause of death.

Recommended safe level of metals suggested by EPA
AI Cd Cu Fe Pb Hg Ni Zn
i) 0.005 ppm
in water
having 10
i) 0.004 i) 0.005 ppm 1.0 ppm is i) 0.01
ppm of
ppm in in water safe but 1.2- ppm in
hard having 10 10.5 ppm is water
ii) 0.03 ppm i) 0.01
water ppm of lethal to i) 0.0002 having
in other ppm
i.e.400 CaCO3 common ppm in 10 ppm
types of at 20 ppm
0.1 ppm of ii) 0.02 ppm carp, death water of
water hardness
ppm CaCO3 in water attributed ii) 0.0005 CaCO3
iii) 0.05 ppm of water
at pH ii) having 50 to the ppm in Ii) 0.05
produces ii) 0.04
5.2- 0.0004 ppm of precipitation tissues ppm in
sublethal ppm at
5.4 ppm in CaCO3 of ferric (wet water
effects, toxic 320 ppm
soft iii) 0.04 ppm ydroxide weight having
to nervous hardness
waters in water on gills basis) more
systems in of water
i.e. 40 having 100 forming than 50
fishes, black
ppm of ppm of brown ppm of
tails are
CaCO3 CaCO3 deposit on it CaCO3
diagnostic of

The widespread use of pesticides in pest control of crops and forestry
forestry has
threatened the fishery waters.

Although many pesticides are useful in fishery management there are many
others, which are dangerous for fish life and can produce several
several types of
deleterious effects.

Three types of pesticides such as organochlorines,
organochlorines, organophosphate, and
carbamates are of importance causing pollution in waters.

These pesticides may come into the water bodies accidentally or by
deliberate application.

Accidental entry may happen due to i) run off from sprayed agricultural
agricultural field
ii) washing of sprayed equipments, plants crops in water etc. deliberate
application occurs during i) control of aquatic weeds ii) control
control of mosquito
larvae iii) elimination of unwanted fish from the pond iv) control
control of insects
v) control of parasite.

Formulation and chemical stability of pesticides are two important
factors, which can influence the toxicity of pesticide in water.

The active ingredients of any pesticide are the main toxic
components and its formulation in oil emulsion, wettable powders, or
granules very often determines the toxicity to fish.

For example, it is reported that DDT is more toxic to fish in an oil
base emulsion than in water.

Water based pesticides are more easily washed away than oil
based emulsion, which tend to be more persistent. Granule
formulation releases the toxic component of the pesticide over a
longer period of time thereby reducing the toxicity to fish due to

As per as stability is concerned organochlorines are very stable and
are recorded to persist in the environment for a longer duration.

Other pesticides e.g. organophosphates are known to be less stable
and easily degradable becoming less toxic to fish.

Following factors can influence the toxicity of pesticides to fish

The joint action of mixture of pesticides can often be lethal to fish
than effect of a single pesticide.

The toxicity of pesticides to fish varies with fish species and the size
of fish. For example, fish fry are most susceptible than adult fish.

Fish is more susceptible to pesticide poisoning if the water quality
quality is
bad. For example, at a higher temperature and low dissolved
oxygen condition in water most fishes pump in more water and
hence more pesticides over their gills.

In water bodies with high turbidity the effect of pesticide pollution is

Most pesticides are easily bound to the large amount of organic
matter present in such water bodies and are consequently rendered
less toxic.

Recommended safe levels of different pesticides in
water and tissue suggested by EPA
Safe Level (ppm)
Common Name Trade Name
Water Tissue
DDT Gesarol Neocid 0.002 -
BHC - < 0.18 -
Dieldrin Octalox 0.005 0.1
Endosulfan Thiodan 0.003 0.1
Endrin Tafdrin 0.002 0.1
Dichlorvos Nuvan < 0.003 -
Captan < 0.005 -
Zineb < 0.010 -
Dimethoate Rogar 0.11 -
Edifenphos Hinosan < 0.003 -
Malathion Cvthion 0.008 -
Parathion Folidol < 0.003 -
Metacid-50 <0.003 -
Carbaryl Sevin < 0.006 -
Carbofuran Furadan 0.001 -
Quinalphos Ekalus < 0.0015 -

Other environmental mediated diseases
Gas bubble disease:

Gas bubble disease can occur in fish under condition in which
there is an excess of gases (CO2, N2, O2 and H2S) in the water and
normally happens due to high organic load at pond bottom.

During decomposition of fertilizers and manures gases are
released in the form of bubbles.

The fingerlings of fish try to ingest them mistaking it for
planktonic food and accumulate in the intestine.

Sometimes gas bubbles may enter into the blood circulation and
transported to brain or heart, fish can die suddenly with no other
Bubbles just under the surface of the skin may be seen.

The young fishes show erratic movement and gradually die
exhibiting the whirling movement.

The abdomen is swollen and the balance of fish is lost due to
accumulation of large gas bubbles in the intestine.

Haemorrhaging of the fins is common due to the occlusion of
small blood vessels by gas bubbles.

With stopping application of unfermented fertilizers and
addition of fresh water in the ponds, the condition can be

Algal toxicosis
The pea soup coloured bloom of algae (Microcystis sp. and
Anabaena sp.) may occur in the ponds due to excessive use of
fertilizers and feeds.

Overcrowding of algae causes its mass mortality because of lack
of nutrients or lack of carbon dioxide.

The dead and decomposing cells release enough breakdown
products or toxins called algal toxins, which are harmful to
fish/prawn and produce serious loses in pond culture.

There is clogging of gills by the algae causing respiratory

Small fishes die first after erratic swimming movement and
convulsions occur with acute kidney inflammation in severe
cases followed by death.

For controlling the condition following
measures can be taken
Copper sulphate is applied in the pond @0.5 ppm.

(Suspended particles may be settled by application of lime)

Algal bloom can be restricted by application of Takazine – 50
Cymazine) @ 2-4 kg / acre.

If the pond water is covered by floating weeds, Wolfia.
Wolfia. sp (microweeds
or Lemna minor, Lemna major, Spirodella for one week then also the
algal growth is checked due to lack of penetration of sunlight.

Dry Cow dung cakes @ 200 kg/ha is sprinkled over the surface of
water. These process blocks the sunlight penetration in water.

Some surface area of pond is covered with water hyacinth thereby
blocking sunlight penetration in water.

In aquatic environment fishes continually adjust
themselves to the change of physico-
physico-chemical parameters
which impose a great stress on their limited homeostatic

Such stress causes totally upsetting the defensive
mechanism or immune system resulting in susceptibility of
various diseases.

Besides abnormal environmental quality also causes direct
adverse effect on fish.

Proper monitoring and management of culture system can
only help in healthy fish/prawn production and make the
culture operation profitable.