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Q:
Is it safe to eat fish especially catfish from farm ponds that hold runoff from crop fields? I usually just buy some farm raised catfish at the gro store when I want fish. Tomorrow another story about my friend Otto K.

Question by Del in KS. Uploaded on June 07, 2009

Answers (19)

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from jay wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

I guess it depends on how much insecticide runoff there is. I eat fish I catch in the Mississippi in the St. Louis area about twice a month. The information I have for that pool says not more than twice per week.

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from steve182 wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

Is there an inexpensive way to test water quality/ pollutant levels?

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from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

I don't think it would be a good idea.

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

I would not eat fish from a farm pond that gets run off from treated crops. I have my aggriculteral restricted herbicide and pesticide license for farming. What I learned and know about the chemicals opened my eyes to some of the nasty stuff that is out there. It only takes a very minute amount of exposure to do damage to you being. I was talking to an inspector for the DNR and she said a farmer had a pin sized hole in a sump pump hose that he was using to pump water out of a local river. The pumped turned off the chemical mix in the tank started to back syphon. only a very little bit got into the river but the area was destroyed by the chemical and the farmer was fined $25,000. If I thought there was even the slightest risk of run off contamination I would not eat the fish. If you are not sure get the water tested by the county or the extension service.

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from Hunter Savage wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

jay now we know why your super man its from the chemicals in the fish you eat.
i on the other hand just get mercury from the smoke stacks out west . by the way thanks for the acid rain thats killing my brook trout here guys thanks : (

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Eat the smaller fish. Larger fish tend to absorb the chemicals.

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from matouse3 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I would do some reading on the farmed raised catfish as well. Some of those fish contain just as high contaminant levels as anywhere else. Everyone out there should read up on farm raised salmon. They add chemicals to make the flesh pink/orange ( make it look like wild caught), that chemical is known to cause ocular cancer among other things. Anytime you order "atlantic salmon" I can almost guarantee you are getting farm raised salmon. Just getting the water tested won't tell you everything you want to know as to whether the fish are safe to eat. Some compounds are not water soluble and are held in the soil. These compounds are taken up by plants, insects and then by the fish, or directly by the fish.

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from ken.mcloud wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Does the pond have large algae blooms? Where it goes in cycles of no algae -> tons of algae -> no algae -> tons of algae... and so on ?

This is a sure fire sign of fertilizer chemicals getting into the pond.

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from hunterkid94 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Sorry but i wouldnt eat it. the chemicals that are used to keep bugs off are not good for the human body. the fish meat is probly disgusting. But im sure a lil catch & release cant hurt.

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from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

In the 60's and 70's it probably wasn't a good idea to eat fish out of a pond with a great deal of run off. Those long chain chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides were able to persist for long periods.

Farming is a business like any other. One doesn't waste resources like fertilizer and pesticide products by over use, quite frankly they cost too much money! Farmers have to figure how to use the least product they can to stay in business. They don't just go about spraying eveything in sight. There are rules concerning buffer zones, vegetated waterways, application intervals, wind drift, etc, which are referred to as best management practices. The farming community will adhere to these by and large.

Fertilizers are not typically problematic unless the pond receives a tremendous amount of surface run off, then the problem would be related to issues of heavy algal blooms or over growth of aquatic vegetation.

As far a fertilizers go, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the same weather they come from manure, compost or a bag of fertilizer. These plant nutrients are only usable in the inorganic forms, in other words they must be in the form of a compound ( 2 or more chemical elements bound together) for a plant to be able to utilize them.

As for insecticides, fungicides and herbicides the application rates, timing intervals and cost of the products self limit the application. These products are also designed not to persist in the environment, they break down rapidly when exposed to heat, cold, sunlight, pH changes or even microbes.

Most moratoriums on consumption are based on the accumulation of heavy metals or mercury in the tissue of older fish. Heavy metals and mercury are not used in production agriculture.

In a farm pond with proper fertility planktontic populations will occlude visibility at a depth of 18 inches. What helps keep plankton at a productive level, fertilizer!

If the habitat looks healthy; in other words if there is no dead weeds of grass along waterways running into the pond. The water looks and smells healthy, fish are healthy with no sores or deformity and dead fish are not floating, I would eat the fish. Bon apatite!

PS

Rabbit Police,

That same DNR EPD employee has been telling that same story for years and it keeps getting bigger!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Eat and enjoy.

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Beekeeper,
Well that is interesting to know. You are also correct that farmers never wast anything, restricted or not. I also know all about the buffer zones and which chemicals they go with. Call me paranoid if you want but I have mixed the stuff and don't like it one bit. It only takes a little exposer to really mess you up.

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from Del in KS wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Thanks Bee I suspected you would have the most informative answer to that one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from matouse3 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Beekeeper, I'm going to have to disagree with you. Though buffer zones and minimizing spray usage is a grand idea, it does not get implemented in most areas where I live. Farmers farm right up to the water edge (to the point where they drop tires in the ditch) and they over spray right into the ditch (you can tell by the dead grasses in the ditch channel). These ditches run right to ponds, streams, and rivers that all of us fish out of. I've grown up on a farm, and my grandfather and father have never mentioned limiting herbicide, insecticide, fertilizer for the good of the watershed. They spray it on and walk away. This is something that this generation needs to change- but thats for another conversation.
You're claim that if the habitat "looks good" and "no dead fish are floating" then go ahead and eat - is very misinformed. Those persistent compounds from the 60's and 70's are called persistent for a reason: They're still here, and will continue to be here for decades. Dioxins, Furans, PCB's, and all the metals you mentioned are a very real problem and the water or substrate doesn't have to stink or look bad in order for them to be there.
Most importantly- Women of childbearing age and children should not be risking eating considerable quantities of fish from impacted areas. Middle aged males, like myself can eat plenty of impacted fish without any issues, but much reduced amounts for children or pregnant women can have effects. I'm not saying that no fish is safe to eat, just saying that you need to do your homework on the areas you fish. There is a lot of good info out there.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Beekeeper,
Did you know that the herbicide Grazon P plus D has an active ingredeant that stays in the hay and all the way through the horse or cow into it's manure? If you put the manure into a garden of any kind it will kill the garden because the active ingrediant is still there. This is just Grazon ( restricted yes but there are a lot worse things out there than Grazon) think of what that chemical would do to you! The Chemical does not just go away over night or even in a week. It takes up to a month depending on how much was applied. Then there are insecticides that stay on the plants for longer periods of time to kill the bugs that would otherwise eat and destroy them. All this to say that the herbicides and pesticides do not just go away or evaporate into nothingness.

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from goldylocks wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I don't know much about farming chemicals.
But we have a lot of farms around the Wabash River and a friend of mine practally lives off the fish she catches out of the river. (the DNR mainly puts out warnings for Mercury) I have heard of people putting the fish and turtles in clean water for a couple of days and that will clean them out. Don't know if that is really true or not.

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from matouse3 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Putting them in clean water for a few days will do nothing for Mercury.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Matouse.

You make some valid points concerning the persistance of the long chain hydrocarbons from decades ago. Unfortunately there are areas where the chemicals were dumped or over(mis)used where problems are persistent. Those chemicals are not typical of the average farm pond however.

I am well familiar with over spray and drift issues. I am a degreed professional who has worked in the agro-forest industry for 23 years. I also grew up on a farm and was and still are involved in the use of farm chemicals and fertilizers personally.

I am involved every day in helping producers make decisions concerning the use of fertilizers and agroforest chemicals. Cost is very relavent in limiting use, if you don't believe it check out chemical prices vs. profit margins. I am also well aware of chemical half life and persistance as well as toxicology and mode of action. I do not make recommendations or speak from a non-informed platform.

My recommendaion to my friend Del concerning the keys to look for signs of chemical contamination are useful, valid and meaningful, you your self used them in your description. I also speak from experience in this area. I have been privy to or have personally conducted sound science based research on the persistance of farm/forestry chemicals in such aquatic environments, this work also includes heavy metals, methy mercury and chemicals from bygone eras. I am not blinded by my industry nor by science and understand that there are real concerns over the use of such products. That is why I have taken the time to further educate myself to such. I do not make my decisions from what I read in the popular press, the internet (unless from and "edu" site) or TV, not to mention my shirt sleeve. I stand on educated and informed ground and you and I will ahve to agree to disagree.

Rabbit police,

I am well aware of the mode of action of GRAZON P + D. Picloram, the active ingredient of which you speak does persist and go through the digestive tract of cattle. It has been determined by reseach to cause no problems in such animals. Research has shown that it also does not translocate to streams and other water sources. It does show about 4-5 months of activity against labeled weeds and grasses on site after application.

The problem you speak of with vegetable gardens is most closely associated with tomatoes which have a very low tolerance of picloram, unfortunately. This problem is usually associated with green unrotted manures or the use compost which has not completed the composting process as you stated. Green unrotted manures are not recommended for application to vegetable gardens because of naturally occuring disease pathogens such as lysteria which can cause devastating illness.

Insecticides with systemic action typically are not used in conjunction with food crops and are more closely associated with fiber crops. If they are used on food or forage crops the products are applied in the early stages of production and will break down by harvest. Sorry Rabbit... they do break down. We are not speaking of DDT, Deldrin, Aldrin or lead arsenate here.

Unfortunately life does have its risks. We must weigh these risks each day of our lives. I am a champion of clean food and water. I am also a champion of agriculture. Farmers are and always have been champions of the environment. The good earth is where each successive generation MUST make their living.

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from goldylocks wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I did not mean that the mercury would be cleaned out by putting them in clean water. People around here always say the the river is dirty etc and many people wont eat the fish some do and they say putting the fish and or turtles in clean water cleans them out (not the mercury) they say they taste better by doing that. I am more of a lake fisher I don't worry about it. If I die from eating fish then so be it!!!

(The DNR just says to limit the fish eatin from the river due to mercury levels)

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from matouse3 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I would do some reading on the farmed raised catfish as well. Some of those fish contain just as high contaminant levels as anywhere else. Everyone out there should read up on farm raised salmon. They add chemicals to make the flesh pink/orange ( make it look like wild caught), that chemical is known to cause ocular cancer among other things. Anytime you order "atlantic salmon" I can almost guarantee you are getting farm raised salmon. Just getting the water tested won't tell you everything you want to know as to whether the fish are safe to eat. Some compounds are not water soluble and are held in the soil. These compounds are taken up by plants, insects and then by the fish, or directly by the fish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

In the 60's and 70's it probably wasn't a good idea to eat fish out of a pond with a great deal of run off. Those long chain chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides were able to persist for long periods.

Farming is a business like any other. One doesn't waste resources like fertilizer and pesticide products by over use, quite frankly they cost too much money! Farmers have to figure how to use the least product they can to stay in business. They don't just go about spraying eveything in sight. There are rules concerning buffer zones, vegetated waterways, application intervals, wind drift, etc, which are referred to as best management practices. The farming community will adhere to these by and large.

Fertilizers are not typically problematic unless the pond receives a tremendous amount of surface run off, then the problem would be related to issues of heavy algal blooms or over growth of aquatic vegetation.

As far a fertilizers go, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the same weather they come from manure, compost or a bag of fertilizer. These plant nutrients are only usable in the inorganic forms, in other words they must be in the form of a compound ( 2 or more chemical elements bound together) for a plant to be able to utilize them.

As for insecticides, fungicides and herbicides the application rates, timing intervals and cost of the products self limit the application. These products are also designed not to persist in the environment, they break down rapidly when exposed to heat, cold, sunlight, pH changes or even microbes.

Most moratoriums on consumption are based on the accumulation of heavy metals or mercury in the tissue of older fish. Heavy metals and mercury are not used in production agriculture.

In a farm pond with proper fertility planktontic populations will occlude visibility at a depth of 18 inches. What helps keep plankton at a productive level, fertilizer!

If the habitat looks healthy; in other words if there is no dead weeds of grass along waterways running into the pond. The water looks and smells healthy, fish are healthy with no sores or deformity and dead fish are not floating, I would eat the fish. Bon apatite!

PS

Rabbit Police,

That same DNR EPD employee has been telling that same story for years and it keeps getting bigger!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Eat and enjoy.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Thanks Bee I suspected you would have the most informative answer to that one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from matouse3 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Putting them in clean water for a few days will do nothing for Mercury.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

I guess it depends on how much insecticide runoff there is. I eat fish I catch in the Mississippi in the St. Louis area about twice a month. The information I have for that pool says not more than twice per week.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

Is there an inexpensive way to test water quality/ pollutant levels?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

I don't think it would be a good idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

I would not eat fish from a farm pond that gets run off from treated crops. I have my aggriculteral restricted herbicide and pesticide license for farming. What I learned and know about the chemicals opened my eyes to some of the nasty stuff that is out there. It only takes a very minute amount of exposure to do damage to you being. I was talking to an inspector for the DNR and she said a farmer had a pin sized hole in a sump pump hose that he was using to pump water out of a local river. The pumped turned off the chemical mix in the tank started to back syphon. only a very little bit got into the river but the area was destroyed by the chemical and the farmer was fined $25,000. If I thought there was even the slightest risk of run off contamination I would not eat the fish. If you are not sure get the water tested by the county or the extension service.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter Savage wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

jay now we know why your super man its from the chemicals in the fish you eat.
i on the other hand just get mercury from the smoke stacks out west . by the way thanks for the acid rain thats killing my brook trout here guys thanks : (

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Eat the smaller fish. Larger fish tend to absorb the chemicals.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Does the pond have large algae blooms? Where it goes in cycles of no algae -> tons of algae -> no algae -> tons of algae... and so on ?

This is a sure fire sign of fertilizer chemicals getting into the pond.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunterkid94 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Sorry but i wouldnt eat it. the chemicals that are used to keep bugs off are not good for the human body. the fish meat is probly disgusting. But im sure a lil catch & release cant hurt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Beekeeper,
Well that is interesting to know. You are also correct that farmers never wast anything, restricted or not. I also know all about the buffer zones and which chemicals they go with. Call me paranoid if you want but I have mixed the stuff and don't like it one bit. It only takes a little exposer to really mess you up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from matouse3 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Beekeeper, I'm going to have to disagree with you. Though buffer zones and minimizing spray usage is a grand idea, it does not get implemented in most areas where I live. Farmers farm right up to the water edge (to the point where they drop tires in the ditch) and they over spray right into the ditch (you can tell by the dead grasses in the ditch channel). These ditches run right to ponds, streams, and rivers that all of us fish out of. I've grown up on a farm, and my grandfather and father have never mentioned limiting herbicide, insecticide, fertilizer for the good of the watershed. They spray it on and walk away. This is something that this generation needs to change- but thats for another conversation.
You're claim that if the habitat "looks good" and "no dead fish are floating" then go ahead and eat - is very misinformed. Those persistent compounds from the 60's and 70's are called persistent for a reason: They're still here, and will continue to be here for decades. Dioxins, Furans, PCB's, and all the metals you mentioned are a very real problem and the water or substrate doesn't have to stink or look bad in order for them to be there.
Most importantly- Women of childbearing age and children should not be risking eating considerable quantities of fish from impacted areas. Middle aged males, like myself can eat plenty of impacted fish without any issues, but much reduced amounts for children or pregnant women can have effects. I'm not saying that no fish is safe to eat, just saying that you need to do your homework on the areas you fish. There is a lot of good info out there.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Beekeeper,
Did you know that the herbicide Grazon P plus D has an active ingredeant that stays in the hay and all the way through the horse or cow into it's manure? If you put the manure into a garden of any kind it will kill the garden because the active ingrediant is still there. This is just Grazon ( restricted yes but there are a lot worse things out there than Grazon) think of what that chemical would do to you! The Chemical does not just go away over night or even in a week. It takes up to a month depending on how much was applied. Then there are insecticides that stay on the plants for longer periods of time to kill the bugs that would otherwise eat and destroy them. All this to say that the herbicides and pesticides do not just go away or evaporate into nothingness.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goldylocks wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I don't know much about farming chemicals.
But we have a lot of farms around the Wabash River and a friend of mine practally lives off the fish she catches out of the river. (the DNR mainly puts out warnings for Mercury) I have heard of people putting the fish and turtles in clean water for a couple of days and that will clean them out. Don't know if that is really true or not.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Matouse.

You make some valid points concerning the persistance of the long chain hydrocarbons from decades ago. Unfortunately there are areas where the chemicals were dumped or over(mis)used where problems are persistent. Those chemicals are not typical of the average farm pond however.

I am well familiar with over spray and drift issues. I am a degreed professional who has worked in the agro-forest industry for 23 years. I also grew up on a farm and was and still are involved in the use of farm chemicals and fertilizers personally.

I am involved every day in helping producers make decisions concerning the use of fertilizers and agroforest chemicals. Cost is very relavent in limiting use, if you don't believe it check out chemical prices vs. profit margins. I am also well aware of chemical half life and persistance as well as toxicology and mode of action. I do not make recommendations or speak from a non-informed platform.

My recommendaion to my friend Del concerning the keys to look for signs of chemical contamination are useful, valid and meaningful, you your self used them in your description. I also speak from experience in this area. I have been privy to or have personally conducted sound science based research on the persistance of farm/forestry chemicals in such aquatic environments, this work also includes heavy metals, methy mercury and chemicals from bygone eras. I am not blinded by my industry nor by science and understand that there are real concerns over the use of such products. That is why I have taken the time to further educate myself to such. I do not make my decisions from what I read in the popular press, the internet (unless from and "edu" site) or TV, not to mention my shirt sleeve. I stand on educated and informed ground and you and I will ahve to agree to disagree.

Rabbit police,

I am well aware of the mode of action of GRAZON P + D. Picloram, the active ingredient of which you speak does persist and go through the digestive tract of cattle. It has been determined by reseach to cause no problems in such animals. Research has shown that it also does not translocate to streams and other water sources. It does show about 4-5 months of activity against labeled weeds and grasses on site after application.

The problem you speak of with vegetable gardens is most closely associated with tomatoes which have a very low tolerance of picloram, unfortunately. This problem is usually associated with green unrotted manures or the use compost which has not completed the composting process as you stated. Green unrotted manures are not recommended for application to vegetable gardens because of naturally occuring disease pathogens such as lysteria which can cause devastating illness.

Insecticides with systemic action typically are not used in conjunction with food crops and are more closely associated with fiber crops. If they are used on food or forage crops the products are applied in the early stages of production and will break down by harvest. Sorry Rabbit... they do break down. We are not speaking of DDT, Deldrin, Aldrin or lead arsenate here.

Unfortunately life does have its risks. We must weigh these risks each day of our lives. I am a champion of clean food and water. I am also a champion of agriculture. Farmers are and always have been champions of the environment. The good earth is where each successive generation MUST make their living.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goldylocks wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

I did not mean that the mercury would be cleaned out by putting them in clean water. People around here always say the the river is dirty etc and many people wont eat the fish some do and they say putting the fish and or turtles in clean water cleans them out (not the mercury) they say they taste better by doing that. I am more of a lake fisher I don't worry about it. If I die from eating fish then so be it!!!

(The DNR just says to limit the fish eatin from the river due to mercury levels)

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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