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Dr. Subhendu Datta Sr. Scientist, ICAR, India
Q1. I have estimated pH, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, alkalinity in my pond water. How long these estimated values remain same? Ans. The estimated values of pH, dissolved oxygen, free carbon dioxide, acidity, alkalinity etc. do not remain same over time. It changes even within a day, which is called diurnal fluctuations. Please go through the discussion below for better understanding of this answer. Fluctuations of water parameters during 24h Cycle of a day in the pond water Daytime: Two physiological processes photosynthesis and respiration governs the pH, acidity, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen and free carbon dioxide value in pond and lake waters. Photosynthesis is occurred only in presence of sunlight during daytime in chlorophyll bearing cells (plants, aquatic weeds, algae, phytoplankton etc.) where as respiration occurs through out day and night. In photosynthesis, carbon dioxide reacts with water in presence of sunlight and produce oxygen and foods. In respiration, plants and animals consume oxygen to digest foods and produce carbon dioxide. In the morning when sun rises at 6 AM photosynthesis starts and production of oxygen begins. As the day progresses, intensity of sunlight increases and the rate of photosynthesis increases and concentration of oxygen increases in pond water. As the rate of photosynthesis increases, utilization of carbon dioxide increases, thereby the concentration of carbon dioxide gradually decreases. At noon from 12 noon to 2 pm, the intensity of sunlight is highest. During this time, rate of photosynthesis is highest. Thereby production rate of oxygen and utilisation of carbon dioxide in highest. Thus the concentration of oxygen in pond water is highest, and carbon dioxide is lowest. After this as the day progresses, the intensity of sunlight gradually reduces and rate of photosynthesis also reduces. Conc. of O2 highest Conc. of CO2 lowest Water most alkaline 2 PM
Production of O2 begins Photosynthesis starts Sunrise 6 AM 5.30 AM Conc. of O2 lowest Conc. of CO2 highest Water most acidic 4 AM 12 Night
6 PM Sunset Photosynthesis stops Production of O2 ends
Production rate (i.e. concentration) of oxygen also reduces. At 6 PM when the sunset occurs, the process of photosynthesis stops in lack of sunlight and there is no more production of oxygen in pond water for rest of the 24 hours i.e. during evening, night or late nights. Photosynthesis: 6CO2+ 6H2 O Respiration: C6H12O6 + 6O2 Sunlight C6 H12 O6 + 6O2 6CO2 + 6H2O
Night hours: The process of respiration does not require the sunlight, so it is continued in the day as well as in the night. Respiration takes oxygen and produces carbon dioxide. During daytime the carbon dioxide is utilized in photosynthesis, so it does not pose any problem to aquatic life. However, after sunset as the night progresses, the concentration of carbon dioxide in pond water gradually increases. The plants and animals take necessary oxygen from the reserve in pond water which was produced during day time but not utilized. So the concentration of dissolved oxygen in pond water gradually decreases as the night progresses. Low dissolved oxygen and higher carbon dioxide is stressful for aquatic life. As there is no sunlight, the carbon dioxide reacts with water to produce carbonic acid (CO2 + H2O = H2CO3) which is a weak acid. [Note: The same carbon dioxide and water reacts differently in presence of sunlight during daytime to produce food and oxygen (as described above in the photosynthesis) the two most important requirements for sustaining the life on this planet]. The acidity also increases as the night proceeds. The situation is most severe at dawn from 4 AM to 5.30 AM. During this time, concentration of oxygen is lowest, concentration of carbon dioxide is highest in pond water and water is most acidic. In most of the cases, death of fish due to suffocation occurs during this time. The situation is further aggravated when (a) intensive aquaculture is followed (high feed and high stocking density of fish), (b). pond water is infested with aquatic weeds or algae (3).continuous cloudy days. During rainy season the photosynthesis rate may be lower due cloudy weather during daytime. This may create severe oxygen deficiency during late nights. To cope up with this situation install few pump sets in the pond dyke and rum them through out the night. Pump the pond water back into the pond itself; this will increase the oxygen concentrations rapidly. In the early morning just before sunrise, in the diffused sunlight photosynthesis may occurs, however, when the sun rises, the photosynthesis starts and the carbon dioxide is utilised and oxygen is produced. The concentration of carbon dioxide starts falling down, concentration of oxygen starts increasing and the new cycle for the next day begins in full swing. Q2. Can I apply the lime and cow dung anytime of the day in the pond water? Ans. From the above discussion, one can guess what the ideal time for application of lime and cow dung is in pond water for pisciculture. The lime is alkaline in nature; it increases the pH and applied to correct the acidity of water. So it is better to apply when the pond water is acidic. Though pond water is most acidic at dawn, it is not possible to apply the lime during the wee hours of night. However, it is recommended to complete the lime application before the 10 AM in the morning. Because after this the intensity of sunlight becomes stronger and alkalinity level of pond water starts increasing rapidly. Similarly raw cow dung is organic nature, it contains organic acids. Also for decomposition it requires oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. So it should be applied when dissolved oxygen concentration in water is high. The ideal time for the application of cow dung or any other farm yard manures (e.g. compost, poultry manure, pig 2
manure, duck manure) is, therefore, noon hours i.e. 11 AM to 2 PM. Fish feed though organic nature, should not be linked up with this phenomenon. Fish need fish when they are hungry, and feed should be supplied thrice a day for better growth and development of fish. Q3. I have found lots of dead fishes in pond when I wake up in the morning. My fishes were healthy and there was no sign of mortality day before, even when I gone to bed at night. My next door neighbour is very jealous about my progress in pisciculture. I doubt that he has applied some poison in my pond in late night. What should I do this case? Ans. In 99.99% cases, mortality of fishes occurs in late night because of suffocation due to lack of dissolved oxygen. The reason for this is discussed above in the answer of Q1. If you adopted intensive farming, when the weather is cloudy this may happen. When fish face shortage of oxygen they come to the surface to gulf air (oxygen) which is in contact with pond water. When this symptom is observed, adopt measures to improve dissolved oxygen level of pond on emergency basis e.g. (i). repeated netting by drag nets (ii) installation of one or few water pump sets (depends on pond area, 1 pump set per acre) in the pond dyke and pump the pond water back into the pond itself; this will increase the oxygen concentrations rapidly and mortality of fish will be checked. Remember, lime can't improve dissolved oxygen level of pond water during emergency. Q4. At what dose I should apply lime and cow dung to pond water? Is the dose of lime for soil treatment during preparation of pond before stocking the fish will be same as that of pond water treatment? Ans. Lime is applied to correct the acidity where as raw cow dung is applied to correct the alkalinity of pond water or sediment. The dose of lime is not same for water and soil treatment, it depends on pH of water or soil. Undecomposed feeds, manures, rotten detritus at pond sediments and other matters which are responsible for acidic soil pH are diluted by overlaying pond water. Thereby water pH is always higher (approximately by 1.0 unit) than soil pH. Lime and raw cow dung can be utilized to correct different soil and water pH of pond water. The dose of these two is given below in Table 1. Table 1. Dose of amendments for correction of water and soil pH of fish ponds pH range Productivity of Water Lime (CaCO3) Kg/ha 4.0-4.5 Unproductive 2000 4.5-5.0 Low Productivity 1000 5.0-6.0 Low Productivity 500 6.0-7.0 Average Productivity 250 7.0-8.5 Most Productive 100-200 > 8.5 Low Productivity to Nil, Apply Raw cow unproductive. dung @ 15-20 ton/ha The above dose of lime is for calcium carbonate (CaCO3). When slaked lime Ca(OH)2 or quick lime CaO is applied the dose should be 3/4th and ½ of the above dosages respectively.
Q5. During spring or early summer, adult fish in my stocking ponds starts dieing due to occurrence of some diseases. Is it related to water parameters? How can I check this menace? Ans. Occurrence of fish disease is not entirely dependent on soil and water quality parameters. However, during spring or early summer occurrence of fish disease is very common phenomenon in ponds which are not desilted. Pond bottom sediment if not dried well after the harvesting of fish and before the stocking of new fish then also this problem may arise. In many ponds dewatering and complete drying of pond bottom in sun is not possible; some ponds are deeper than normal depth of fish ponds. In that case desiltation may be carried out in every alternate year. Over time, undecomposed feeds, manures, rotten detritus and other matters which are responsible for acidic soil pH are accumulated at pond sediments. In acidic condition, fish gets prone to attacks of parasites and diseases. During the culture period the pond mud is waterlogged and under anaerobic conditions. Oxidation processes of organic matter cannot be completed and oxygen (O2) debt is built up of these partially oxidized products of fermentation. Exposure to air during drying of ponds completes this oxidation after resulting in the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) making the soils slightly acidic. The completion of oxidation releases the contained nutrient materials by mineralization and acidic condition cause these materials to remain adsorbed in the soil, ready for release when the pond is refilled. The chief advantage of dry period is the restoration of the fertility of the pond. Lime is applied when the top soil is dried and mixed well by ploughing the soil. If the above procedure is not followed before stocking of fish then chances of disease incidence and death of fish may happen during late spring/early summer. In that case following emergency management measures may be adopted to control the mortality of adult and brood fishes: 1. Collect the dead fishes from the infected pond and burry and burn them in a soil pit away from the pond site. 2. Catch the infected fishes as many as possible from the infected pond by netting and transferred them in a separate pond where fishes are not dying. Before releasing them in to the new pond, give 1h bath treatment in 10 ppm potassium permanganate solution, and then transfer the fish to a bath of 15ppm of formalin for 4-12 h. Ensure good dissolved oxygen level in the transferred pond. 3. Conduct netting operation in the infected pond several times by drag net so that bottom soil is racked well and stirred. To increase the effectiveness of this operation, one local method is found to be very effective. Few strings of iron wire used for fencing are rolled on and drag from both side of ponds like drag net. This method is more effective than netting for racking the rotten bottom sediment of culture ponds. 4. Apply lime in the turbid water side by side with the racking operation so that lime comes in contact of the sediment. Remember that lime should be applied before the sediment is settled down. The dose of lime should be 500-1000 kg/ha. On an average, 100 kg lime may be applied per bigha (where 1 ha = 7.5 bigha). The above action should be repeated continuously for 3 days. Operation (3) & (4) should be completed before 11 AM. 5. To increase the effectiveness, many experienced farmers apply botox to control ectoparasites, fresh neem leaves in smashed form to control pathogens. In absence of neem trees, farmers also apply the smashed plants of some common wetland weeds of the genus Polygonum. It was observed in CIFE, Kolkata Centre that smashed aerial parts of Polygonum hydropiper (Local name in Bengal: Lankashira, Bankalmi etc.), Polygonum glabrum (Local name in Bengal: Lal Jhaloghash), Polygonum barbatum (Local name in 4
Bengal: Sada Jhaloghash) have antibacterial and antifungal properties against fish pathogens (unpublished data). Farmers collect these weeds in gunny bags which grow in marshy lands. Smashed them in wooden hammer and apply in pond water after the application of lime. 5-6 gunny bags of Polygonum weeds or neem leaves are sufficient for the treatment of 1.0 acre pond water. 6. On 4th day one can realise the better condition of infected pond just by observing the change in colour of pond water. Transfer the infected fishes from the other ponds to this pond again. Before that give the bath treatment with potassium permanganate 4 ppm solution. Mortality of infected fish will be reduced. Farmers often will have trouble finding the proper chemicals for treating their ponds or deciding which disease the fish have and which treatment to give. Here are some general treatments; any of these treatments will help an infected pond. Baths: Potassium permanganate 4ppm, Salt 3-5%, Copper sulfate 500ppm for 1-2 minutes, Formalin 250ppm for 1 hour, Malachite green 67 ppm for 10-30 seconds or use unslaked lime (caCO3) directly in the pond as described above. Some pond owners always treat new brood stock with a one-hour bath in 10ppm of potassium permanganate, and then transfer the fish to a bath of 15ppm of formalin for 4 to 12 hours. This ensures that no parasites will be introduced into the pond with the brood stock. Q6. I have purchased around 1 lakh spawn and fry from the best hatchery and stocked them in my pond. But when I harvested the fish for selling, I catch hardly 2-3 thousands. Where the other fishes have gone? Ans. The size and stocking density of fish depends on depth and size of pond. Just like human, during delivery and after the baby is born, for 3 -4 weeks new born baby is kept in Antur Ghar in villages and in nursing home in cities. Similarly small size fishes should not be kept with adult fishes as it is a very common phenomemnon called ‘matsyanyaya' in which big fishes always eats little fishes. Different size of ponds is there for different size of fishes. Depth of pond water is also important as small fishes can't adjust their breathing capacity with the large water column of stocking ponds. Given below a table in which what fish should be stocked at what density in which pond, the depth and size of the pond are mentioned.
Name of the pond Nursery pond Rearing pond Stocking pond
Ideal depth (m) 1.0 -1.5 m 1.5 - 2.0 m 2.0 - 2.5 m
Ideal size (ha) < 0.1 ha 0.1 - 1.0 ha > 1.0 ha
Fish stocked Spawn Fry Fingerlings
Stocking density 5 to 10 million/ha 200,000/ha (20-25 mm size) 6-10,000/ ha
If spawn and small fry are stocked in stocking pond, most of them are died as they are unable to cope up with the situation. Very few of them are survived which are caught at the time of harvesting.
Q7. I have found lots of algae and aquatic weeds in my ponds. This make the netting operation difficult and I can't harvest my fish. What should I do to tackle this situation? Ans. Floating aquatic weeds e.g. water hyacinth, pistia, salvinia are found in ponds and lakes which are not managed properly. Floating weeds are easier to control than submerged weeds only thing is that action should be taken at right time. Floating aquatic weeds can be removed easily by netting operation before the weed covers the half of the pond water area. Labourers may face problem to remove it manually by netting operation due to itching in skin when they come in contact with pond water. For this, lime should be applied in water. For application of lime also some water area should remain vacant. So action should be taken in time i.e. before the weeds covered up the half of water area in pond. Remove the floating aquatic weed by netting, 23 days before netting apply lime @ 500 kg/ha water area. When the whole pond is infested with floating aquatic weeds and it can not be removed manually and the fish which are there in the pond can be sacrificed for the sake of clearance of weed, 2,4-D Na salt (Killweed®) may be applied when the pond is infested with water hyacinth, or glyphosate (Round up®) when the pond is infested with pistia, salvinia etc. @ 10 kg/ha water area. Problem is more severe when the pond is infested with algae and submerged aquatic weeds like hydrilla, ceratophyllum, chara, vallisneria, najas etc. This problem occurs due to two factors: (i). the depth of water column is less then the optimum (pl. see above for the depth of water column to be maintained for different types of ponds), (ii). The water is transparent enough to permit sunlight to strike the mud bottom of the pond. When the depth of water column is less and water is transparent, sunlight directly hits the pond bottom and promotes the growth of submerged aquatic weeds and algae. To check this menace strict management measures have to be adopted as in India no weedicide/herbicide is available to control the submerged aquatic weeds. Filamentous algae (e.g.Spirogyra, Cladophora and Pithophora) are also very difficult to control. For this maintain the optimum recommended depth of pond water. It has been observed experimentally at CIFE, Kolkata Centre that when the depth of pond water was not less than 5 ft, colour of the water was greenish brown to brownish green and density of adult fish was 8 to 10 thousands per ha the submerged aquatic weed was effectively controlled. Grass carps eats on submerged weeds and algea, therefore, 50% of Rohu fingerlings can be substituted during stocking with 50g size of grass carp. However, grass carp will find problem to survive when acute infestation of algae or submerged weeds occurs. When the water is transparent, apply raw cow dung daily for one week at split dosages to improve the colour. Cow dung should be mixed with water and spread all over the pond daily @ 0.5 kg/m2 or 500 kg per 0.1 ha water area. However, depth of water is very important. If minimum depth of water (5 ft) is not maintained application of anything (cow dung, rice bran or mustard oil cake) to maintain the colour will go waste and the nutrients will be utilized by weeds and algae. This will only add the problem of more submerged weeds and algae. If the pond water is covered with floating aquatic weeds e.g. Wolfia. sp (microweeds) or Lemna minor, Lemna major, Spirodella for one week, then also the growth of algae and submerged weeds is checked due to lack of penetration of sunlight. The adult fish dribbled the sides and bottom of pond. This reduces the occurrence of rooted submerged weeds. To avoid the problem of submerged weeds never keep this type of ponds out of fish. Stocking of fish at little higher density (i.e. 10,000/ha) will serve the purpose better. To check this incidence in the next season, some measure may be taken during pond preparation after harvesting of fish. Advantage of drying the pond bottom is discussed in the answer of Q5 above. After drying the pond bottom in sunlight lime is applied when the top soil is dried and mixed well by ploughing the soil. Two or three days when the 1 ft layer of soil is 6
completely dried, rack the soil (ladder can also be used) and remove the roots of submerged weeds manually. Don't through the roots here and there but collect them in a heap over dyke and put fire. This will reduce the chance of infestation of rooted submerged weed to a great extent.
Q8. I can't measure any water parameters. I don't have any knowledge or any facility for the estimation of water parameters. But I want to excel in aquaculture business. Are there any simple methods for estimation of water parameters with the help of which I can maintain the fish well in my ponds? Ans. Estimation of water parameters does not require any special knowledge. Even a class IV pass person can do these tests. CIFE and Directorate of Fisheries of different State government, KVKs publishes leaflets and booklets in local languages in different aspects of fisheries time to time. Interested farmers can easily collect these publications from these sources. However, for simplification and to clear the fear of tests procedure, please go through the next paragraph. Dissolved oxygen and pH are most important water parameters and decide the fate of other parameters in pond water. If one keeps these two parameters in optimum level, 95% of problems is solved. pH can be tested easily with the help of pH paper (not litmus paper). Please see the estimation procedure of pH in the previous article of this manual. If the colour chart of pH paper indicates the pH range is above 7.0 and less than 9.0 then it is Ok. Otherwise take steps to correct pH as described before. For the estimation of dissolved oxygen you need two solutions Winkler's A and Winklers'B (Please see the estimation procedure of Dissolved oxygen in the previous article of this manual). Like pH, by observing the colour of the water (250-300 ml) after addition of these two solutions (2 ml each), one can guess the level of dissolved oxygen in pond water. Whitish colour indicates poor dissolved oxygen level. Deeper the colour of the precipitate higher the dissolved oxygen level in water. Whitish colour indicates low dissolved oxygen concentration (< 3 mg/L), where as deep brown colour indicates optimum dissolved oxygen concentration (> 6 mg/L). Concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water sample when light brown colour appears may be within 3-6 mg/L. After the estimation take measures to improve the dissolved oxygen level if the colour of water after addition of Winkler's A and Winklers'B is not deep brown. Q9. I heard that application of chemical fertilizers enhances the pond fertility and productivity. What are the dosages of different fertilizers and when should I apply them? Ans. The objective of fertilizing fish ponds is to enhance growth of fish food organisms by improving the nutrient status of pond soil and water. Pond fertilization is an important and necessary step in extensive or intensive methods of farming operations. Fertilization of pond should be done after 20-25 days of liming. The main nutrient limiting phytoplankton production is phosphorus. Nitrogen is also a limiting nutrient in many ponds, but fertilizers should contain as much P2O5 as N. Optimum ratios of N: P2O5 in fertilizers are about 1:3 for freshwater ponds and 1:1 in brackish water ponds. Fertilizers should be applied at rates of 5-10 kg P2O5/ha per application at 2-4 weeks interval. Urea and ammonium fertilizers are popular and inexpensive, but if used at high rates, they can cause ammonia toxicity. Microbial oxidation of ammonia causes an oxygen demand and is a source of acidity. Nitrate fertilizers are more expensive, but have advantages over other nitrogen fertilizers; nitrate is not toxic and is fully oxidized. 7
Table: Fertilizer schedule based on nutrient requirement of ponds. Soil Conditions Fertilizers / manures Available nutrients mg/100g soil Nutrient requiremen t (kg/ha) Kg/ha/year 500-650 225-290 315-404 110-145 300-400 10,000-12,000 20,000-30,000 350-500 156-225 219-315 75-110 8,000-10,000 16,000-20,000 112-156 225-330 1256-219 54-76 5,000-8,000 10,000-16,000 Pond type Organic carbon % Material CAN or Urea SSP or TSP
N below 25 P2O5 below 3
N 200-250 P2O5 100-125
N 25-50 P2O5 3-6
N 150-200 P2O5 75-100 Org.C 480600
N above 50 P2O5 above 6
N 100-150 P2O5 50-75 Org.C 300480
Cow-dung or Gobar gas slurry CAN or Urea SSP or TSP Cow-dung or Gobar gas Slurry Urea or AS SSP or TSP Cow dung or Gobar gas slurry
Q10. I have applied phosphatic fertilizers SSP to enhance the productivity. But I didn't find any effect on pond productivity. Should I apply some other phosphatic fertilizer or some other reasons are there for this? The availability of phosphorus is important to aquatic productivity owing to the fact that PO4 ions in soil form insoluble compounds with iron and aluminium under acidic conditions and with calcium under alkaline conditions, rendering the phosphorus ion unavailable to water body. Experiments show that alkaline soil adsorbs more phosphorus than acidic soil. However, phytoplankton helps in uptake of available phosphorus, which is stored for use in their cells, and as a result it helps in production of their population, which may directly or indirectly affect pond productivity. The binding and releasing by adsorption on the pond mud applies not only to the nutrients naturally occurring in the soil, but also to fertilizer added to the pond. The phosphate in the fish pond remained in the soil, adsorbed on the oxidising layer of the mud on colloidal ferric hydroxide and in absence of the oxygen (O2). Ferric ion is reduced to ferrous ion and phosphorus is released in soluble form in the water. Phosphate is also incorporated in the bodies of micro– organisms. These two factors account for the residual effect of phosphatic fertilizers and subsequent release under suitable condition even after 4 years of application. So the phosphatic 8
fertilizers are not utilized immediately in fish ponds. For better utilization maintain a neutral pH for pond water when any phosphatic fertlizers is applied. Q11. I have observed that colour of my pond water changes to different shades of green and brown. Why is it happens? Which colour of water is good for aquaculture and what should I do to maintain the optimum colour of pond water? Phytoplankton or algae are green in colour and they serve as main food material for spawn and fry in nursery ponds. Therefore, intensity of green colouration indicates the productivity of nursery pond. Euglena is a phytoplankton and green in color owing to the presence of chloroplasts in its cell. Certain species of Euglena (e.g. E. rubra), a phytoplankton, appears red under sunlight, which is primarily because of the presence of large amount of red-pigment granules (carotenoids). Apparent colour of the organisms can be changed from green to red by the migration of red-pigment granules from a central to peripheral or more uniformly distributed position. Therefore, colour of water may be reddish in day and green in absence of sunlight. Brown water indicates that there is floating dirt and particles in the water. Rotting leaves and debris create "tanning" of the water. Netting followed by addition of lime clears the tanning of water. Fully transparent and completely clear water is not ideal for fish which signified there is no natural food material in pond water. Apply raw cow dung if the colour is transparent. Brownish green to greenish brown colouration of water is good for pond productivity.
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