Editors’ note: The below article is provided by Installation and Environmental Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
Covella Pond is experiencing a significant fish kill as a result of a common parasite called Ichtyopthir-ius multifilius, or ick.
Ick appears as small white nodules, which cover the gills and skin of the infected fish. The disease does not pose a health hazard to humans, according to Julie Robbins, natural resources manager, Installation and Environmental Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
“Ick is most often observed in aquarium fish where it can be easily treated,” Robbins said. “In pond settings, however, ick can cause high levels of mortality when stress factors cause the fish to be susceptible to lethal rates of infection.”
The fish here have likely been infected for several weeks, but did not start showing distress until recently when they stopped eating and a small number of dead fish were observed, according to Robbins.
Breaking the parasite life cycle by removing the host fish is the best option for treatment in Covella Pond, Robbins explained.
This process will include treating the pond with chlorine, removing all of the fish and restocking fingerling catfish in January 2013.
Factors contributing to the outbreak at Covella Pond include recent fluctuations in weather, high densities of fish, irregular feeding schedules prior to installation of the automatic fish feeders and stress from handling and concentrating the fish by drawing down the pond.
Renovations of Covella Pond are scheduled to begin soon.
The goal is to have the pond ready by mid-January to be restocked with 4-inch catfish from the State.
Once the pond is restocked, a higher rate of fish food will be needed to ensure adequate growth of the catfish.
Due to the parasite, the Annual Buddy Fishing Tournament will most likely have to be moved back several months to allow the fish sufficient time to reach between 0.3-0.5 lbs.
The Fisheries biologist advised that ick has a tendency to re-infect ponds despite the best efforts to eradicate it.
However, the higher feeding rates and removal of the bluegill, will help to mitigate any resurgence of the disease, according to Robbins.
For more information, call 229-639-6261.